To those uninitiated the much respected website Death Valley Driver Video Review is putting together a list of 1001 matches to see before you die called the DVDVR 1001. This is my project where I am reviewing every match in the DVDVR 1001, continuing with #13,
This is a Masks vs. Hairs Two Out of Three Falls Elimination Match.
I grew up loving this match, and that has never really changed. Older me is able to recognize that there are warts on the outside and some wobbly points here and there. Those blemishes exist, and they cannot be discounted. But, they never truly impact the match and they don’t hurt the match in any significant way. It’s important to note that they are present though, and that’s why present day Bill can’t agree with the Bill of twenty years ago who thought La Pareja del Terror versus El Hijo del Santo and Octagon was wrestling perfection.
It’s still wrestling greatness though, as pure and unadulterated as such a thing can be. The type of match that transcends any blemishes that may be present and becomes, for lack of a better word, special. I recall reading a rather prominent Lucha Libre fan’s opinion that this match was beginner’s Lucha and the sort of match that gave birth to lots of fake Lucha fans. It had been years since I had seen this match when I read that comment. Going into this rewatch said comment was in the back of my head, because it’s safe to say this match played a role in my becoming a Lucha Libre fan.
The truth of the matter is, there’s a reason this match spawned so many Lucha fans; it’s a great freaking match. There’s a tremendous story being told, excellent action, and drama that builds and builds until the roof is ready to come off of the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. All four men deliver what I like to call great wrestling; and it is addictive. I can’t watch something like the Diving Doomsday Device Frankensteiner from Eddy Guerrero or the greatest Frog Splash ever hit from Love Machine and not form a grin from ear to ear. The tone of this match is infectious, the action is contagious, and as the match washes over you it makes you want to see this again. It becomes a high that you chase, a gateway drug into the larger world of Lucha Libre, if you will.
As for the ins and outs of the actual action; what can I say other than it is fantastic. The star of the match has to be the Santo and Octagon story. Specifically I’m referring to the fact that in both falls one and two it is Santo who is eliminated first. This means that it is left all up to Octagon to keep the famous Santo mask intact in the second fall. The third fall sees Octagon eliminated first, which now places the weakest wrestler in the match, storyline wise at least, in Santo as the guy who has to beat the odds and win it all. The match manages to tell two different underdog stories, and tell them impeccably.
This is all aided by the Terror, or Los Gringos Locos if you prefer that moniker. They are the perfect heels, slimy and sweaty and dirty all rolled into one. They cheat when they can, but what makes them so easy to hate is that they hardly need to cheat. They are great wrestlers who can beat you all on their own. When Love Machine shouts “That’s America!” after hitting a move it is galling because one can’t deny the technical precision and power on display from Machine and Guerrero. They embody what it is to be a great rudo, and there isn’t a moment in this match where their mannerisms, facial expressions, and general attitude are not exactly what the match needs.
I told you at the start that I’ve long loved this match. I also told you that my opinion of the match hasn’t really changed, and that is still true as I type out this review. The warts don’t matter, they are negligible compared to the story being told and the overall engagement brought about by the in-ring work. I hope more people use this as a gateway drug into the wonderful world of Lucha Libre. I know I have a hard time coming up with a better match to introduce people to the style and to show them how much pleasure can be derived from the Mexican version of the art form.