Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Project 33" - Match #34 & #35 - Copa Jr. Madness!

La Sombra vs. Dragon Rojo Jr.
10 December, 2010
Arena Mexico; Mexico City, Mexico
2010 Copa Junior Quarter-Final

Volador Jr. vs. Dragon Rojo Jr.
10 December, 2010
Arena Mexico; Mexico City, Mexico
2010 Copa Junior Semi-Final

Kinda cheating here, because both matches are short, and in the same video clip.  But, I have done a number of longer matches, so cut me some slack. 

The gist of what is going on here is that CMLL is holding a tournament called "Copa Junior", which is supposedly a tournament for second generation wrestlers only.  "Supposedly" because often CMLL has wrestlers who are billed as second generation stars, but in fact are not.  The tournament is held over three weeks.  Two blocks of eight each week, with the winners of each block facing off on the third week.  The matches for each block, in traditional lucha libre style, were determined by a seeding battle royal, where the order of elimination determines the first round matches.  The unique difference here is that the winner in the battle royal was getting a bye to the block final. That would be Volador Jr. 

The Semi-final of this block was La Sombra (son of Brillante, grandson of el Toro) against Dragon Rojo Jr. (There isn't really a Dragon Rojo Sr., although there was an old-tyme guy who used the name Dragon Rojo).  This was the third match of the night for both men, and that is why the match starts off the way that it does - both men are selling the fact that they are somewhat injured from wrestling earlier in the night. 

With that in mind, I really liked this match.  I thought this was above average for such a short match.  To an average gringo who usually only watches WWE, this match might seem of normal length, but by lucha standards it was pretty damn short (due to the tournament format).  However, Sombra and Dragon started off hot, and began exchanging near-falls trying to get the win as quick as possible, so they could be fresh for the next match against Volador.  With Sombra and Volador being former tag team partners who are now rivals, the fans fully expected a big win here by Sombra to set-up the Volador-Sombra final for this block, but Dragon Rojo pulled of the win, which was a pretty big surprise.  Not only did this win give us a Rudo-Rudo block final, but it gave us a match we havent ever seen before in Arena Mexico - Dragon Rojo vs Volador Jr.

Volador hit the ring pretty much immediately to start the final, and started ripping apart Dragon's mask - establishing himself as the rudo in the process, and making Dragon the tecnico.  In fact, the match started pretty slow and non-eventful - probably to allow Dragon to catch a breather after just finishing a high impact match.  Volador puts a beatdown on for a bit, but then Dragon battles back and gets to rip at Volador's mask, which the crowd eats up. 

Neither one of these kids know how to rip a mask apart for some reason.  Both of them just rip straight back, which makes it damn near impossible for them to do anything, because the masks keep falling off then.  In fact, CMLL even blurred out their faces on a few occasions during the match, as they were essentially wearing their masks around their necks like scarves. 

Once the two men started exchanging big moves and attempting pinfalls, the crowd got behind Dragon big time, which was somewhat of a surprise.  When Dragon actually got the pinfall, the place actually popped pretty big for him, which made me happy as I am a big fan of Dragon's work. 

So, here is what I didn't like about the two matches.  Sombra and Dragon essentially wrestled a clean match, which would not be all that unusual.  Sombra is one of the top tecnicos in the company, and should wrestle cleanly.  Dragon was pretty much doing the same, which would normally be somewhat standard in a tournament (or a big title match).  In hindsight, this tournament block was obviously designed to make Dragon Rojo a star, as he gained two big victories over Maximo and La Mascara prior to the match with Sombra.  Maximo is a pretty popular act in the midcard, while Mascara is pushed constantly as one of the company's top tecnicos (and is also pretty damn popular).  I assume that in those matches (which I haven't watched yet) that Dragon is his usual rudo self, or wrestled cleanly. 

What kinda confuses me is that in the finals, Volador is clearly made out to be the rudo.  That is acceptable, as Volador is generally programmed as a rudo.  However, Volador was an amazingly popular tecnico up until his feud with Mistico earlier this year, when Mistico was turned rudo, but when the dust settled, Volador ended up on the rudo side, and Mistico the tecnico.  The whole flip-flop hurt Mistico quite a bit (in my opinion) because he distanced himself from the tecnico fans, and a lot of those fans began supporting Sombra.  The problem is that Volador is still pretty popular, unless he is programmed against Sombra. 

With this rudo-rudo final, Volador was clearly established as the rudo, which is fine.  In fact, that was probably a great idea. However, Dragon working as a tecnico and getting a huge fan reaction doesn't make a lot of sense, because Dragon is a rudo.  Not only is he a rudo, but he is half of the tag team champions with the company's number one rudo Ultimo Guerrero, and part of the biggest heel stable, the Guerreros. 

Like I said, I am a big fan of Dragon Rojo's work, so good for him.  However, I hope that long term thinking either indicates a tecnico turn for Rojo, or that perhaps he will be clearly booked as a rudo in the final.  The only way that will happen is if he is working against a massive fan favorite - and two of the best possible candidates for that were Sombra and La Mascara, who were in Dragon's block. 

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