Monday, August 01, 2011

"Project 33" - Match #155: Averno vs La Mascara

Averno vs La Mascara
17 June, 2011
Arena Mexico; Mexico City, Mexico
Mascara vs. Mascara Match

Just to forewarn everyone, this is a series of handheld videos from the match (probably from a mobile phone).  I am reserving the right to revisit this match if the whole match pops up (perhaps after it airs in Japan).

Part 2  Part 3  Part 4  Part 5  
Part 6  Part 7 Part 8

This match was touted as a possible "Match of the Year" when it occurred.  There is not enough footage here for me to conclude "yes" or "no" on that, but there is enough here to say that it is very good.  Mesias/Park and Wagner/RVD from Triplemania the next night were also exceptional matches, but I do not know where to rank it among those without seeing the whole thing... especially the finish.  Sadly, this might be all that we ever see of the match, unless CMLL decided to show it on a "rerun" or "best of" show later this year (perhaps the weekend of Anniversario?).

This match had a massive build up.  Averno was the arch-nemesis of Mistico.  When Mistico jumped to the WWE at the beginning of 2011, Averno was left as the top rudo in the company, but without a top rival.  Although Sombra is obviously CMLL's top young tecnico, he has been busy in Japan, and milking feuds with a variety of CMLL's top rudos.  Mascara Dorada and La Mascara were the two main tecnicos who were pushed into Mistico's spot opposite Averno, and both seemed to be failing in capturing the magic Mistico had. 

Then suddenly, something funny happened. 

As spring began, the feud between Averno and Mascara began to intensify, with lots of mask ripping, and challenges for apuesta matches.  Then, days before CMLL was to announce the main event of their big June show ("Jucio Final"), a Mexican lucha magazine broke news that Averno had signed a contract to jump to the WWE and renew his feud with Mistico (now Sin Cara). 

Suddenly the main event of Jucio Final was in trouble, as the general public was going to assume that Averno was going to lose his mask on the way out the door.  The publication that broke the story did no favors to CMLL by reporting that Averno would be wrestling without a mask in the WWE. 

CMLL rolled with the punches, and completely denied in the press that Averno was leaving the promotion.  As a credit to his professionalism (or perhaps telling the truth?!) Averno did the same - when he even was willing to talk about his future beyond the apuesta match.  In turn, CMLL began to hype the "Brazo" aspect of the match, and the "Curse of the Brazos".

You see, Mascara is a member of the "Brazo family" - a third generation wrestler whose family tree is traced back to patriarch Shadito Cruz.  Cruz had a slew of sons who all took up some form of a "Brazo" moniker, inspired by their father's nickname of "El Brazo de Oro", or the "Man with the Golden Arm".  Brazo de Oro, Brazo de Plata, El Brazo, Brazo Cibernetico, Super Brazo, and Brazo de Platino were the second generation of wrestlers, and starting in 1988, the entire generation began to lose their masks in very high profile matches.  After losing their masks, the Brazos become known for losing apuesta matches with their hair on the line.  Because of this association with losing big matches, the elder Brazos forbade the third generation of wrestlers from using the Brazo name.  It is pretty much openly acknowledged which wrestlers are in the Brazo family, masked and unmasked, and with Maximo and Brazo de Plata frequently losing their hair, the "curse" of losing was alive and well.

So, CMLL went to work, and pushed the fact that as a Brazo, La Mascara was actually the underdog here, as he had to not only overcome Averno, but the "Brazo Curse", and that the pressure and expectation to uphold the family name was also weighing on his shoulders.  This strategy led to an interesting proposition for fans: Checking out the show to either see Mascara break the curse and unmasking Averno before he heads to the WWE, or to see Averno prove the curse real by beating Mascara and taking his mask on his way out the door. 

Plus, these guys got pretty damn violent, and had a solid in-ring build to the match.  The result was a sell-out of Arena Mexico, and a molten hot crowd. 

The videos above are not the best gauge for the match itself, but are a great way to read the atmosphere of the arena.  There isn't any over-excited commentator trying to sell you on the excitement, there aren't any closeups or replays.  What you have are 17000 fans going apeshit over everything in the match - from the elaborate high-production entrances, to each nearfall, to the bloody mask ripping, the fans are going nuts. 

When the match happened I was listening to a radio stream of the event, and the reaction was enormous when Mascara got the pinfall on Averno... I wish we had video of that here.  What we have here is probably about 90% of the third fall - which appears to be very good. 

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