CMLL 89th Aniversario Report

Brandon
Brandon
27 Min Read

CMLL’s annual birthday show, “Aniversario,” took place Friday, September 16th. The show included a women’s mask match and, as a result of a tournament, a men’s mask match.

CMLL’s annual birthday show, “Aniversario,” took place Friday, September 16th. The show included a women’s mask match and, as a result of a tournament, a men’s mask match. Both matches were suitably dramatic for the stakes. The Reyna Isis versus La Jarochita match wildly exceeded expectations and will go down as one of the year’s best matches in Mexico. The rest of the show was enjoyable and continued a string of CMLL delivering on their most prominent events.

CMLL announced a sellout two days before the event. Sellouts in CMLL are rare; sellouts before the day of the show are unheard of. CMLL does not announce attendance numbers; the historical capacity of the building is around 16,800. There were a few empty seats here and there, possibly un-resold scalped tickets. The event seemed to have the most iPPV interest in CMLL’s two years of appearing on the TicketmasterLive platform, but no hard numbers are known there either.

CMLL offers live-only broadcasts of these shows; there’s no VOD option as you read this. The event will air on TV next week, and that TV version will go up on CMLL’s YouTube channel on October 10/02.

CMLL’s show began with the announcers welcoming everyone to the show and a video package hyping the matches for tonight and the ten most recent Aniversario mask match matches.

Dulce Gardenia, Espíritu Negro, Rey Cometa © vs Arkalis, Guerrero Maya Jr., Stigma for the Mexican National Trios Championship (15:15)

Los Dulce Atrapsuenos (brothers Espiritu Negro & Rey Cometa and their exotico friend Dulce Gardenia) are making their third defense. Guerrero Maya, Stigma, and Arkalis are part of Fuerza Poblana, a collective of luchadors from the state of Puebla. The combination of Maya, Arkalis, and Pegasso challenged and lost for these titles back in July. Stigma is also the CMLL Super Lightweight champion, the smallest of CMLL’s regular divisions. Mascot KeMonito, out of action for a few weeks following minor surgery, accompanied the challengers. Ciudad de Mexico lucha libre head commissioner El Fantasma appeared to endorse the championship match. This match was one fall, the new CMLL rule for all title or stip matches. The match was fun for an opener though without a lot of depth.

Both teams are tecnicos and worked cleanly. The crowd seemed to prefer the champions over the challengers, reacting negatively to Guerrero Maya Jr. more than the rest. The match stayed in a pattern of relays, the champions getting the advantage briefly only for the challengers to gain control in the following sequence. Dulce Gardenia landed the first significant move, a springboard corkscrew plancha onto Arkalis. The most dramatic moment was Cometa dropping Stigma hard with a sit-down style piledriver. Stigma’s head appeared to collide strongly with the mat, and everyone involved seemed worried he was injured. Stigma got out of the ring and laid on the apron for a bit but did continue. The battle proceeded through a series of everyone landing a signature move before Fuerza Poblana got its only close near fall of the match. Stigma dropped Dulce with a behind-the-back sit-down piledriver while Arkalis landed a top rope double stomp, something not far off from the Lucha Brothers’ double team finisher. Fenix usually follows with a dive, and Arkalis did the same, though not quite as gracefully. Gardenia kicked out. This near fall led to a dive train peaking with a Cometa tornillo. Everyone made it back in, and the champions instantly landed finishing moves for the win. Cometa & Espiritu hit their top rope moves so quickly that the referee was signaling the match over before Gardenia had a chance for his move.

Euforia, Hechicero, Mephisto beat Negro Casas, Star Jr., Titán in 19:19

Hechicero, Euforia, and Mephisto are the latest version of Los Infernales, a CMLL faction originating in the 80s. Hechicero is the CMLL World Heavyweight Champion, though that championship doesn’t hold the same weight here as in most other promotions. Mascot Zacarias was with Los Infernales. This match was the only two out of three falls match. CMLL seems to be moving away from these, about 50 years after everyone else. The match turned into a celebration of Negro Casas by the crowd who comes to these shows once a year, with everyone playing off those reactions.

Hechicero, as captain of his team, was cast as the lead villain against Casas. He overpowered him physically and would outmaneuver him, but Casas kept coming back to the crowd’s approval. Hechicero nailed Casas with a running jumping knee in the corner in the first fall’s high point, and his partners soon after beat Casas’ partners.

The rudos maintained control in the second fall with a few double teams. Titan & Star Jr. were able to pull Hechicero out to give Casas at least a 1 v 2 chance against the others, and he fought back. This section most exposed Casas’ age and diminishing abilities. The crowd still loves him, but his body isn’t doing what his brain wants sometimes, and there were some sloppy moments. Titan & Star Jr. cleared out Euforia & Hechicero with springboard headscissors and tope con giros, and Casas pinned Hechicero with his La Casita cradle to tie the match.

The third fall gave a lot more time to the other tecnicos, allowing Star Jr. and Titan to show off some of their best moves. Titan’s springboard spinning DDT still looks excellent, as did a sequence where he dove onto Euforia from the apron for a headscissors and posed on top of the barricade in celebration. Casas both played at being unable to move Euforia and struggled a little more in his offense, but the fans had no problem with it. Star Jr. landed a ramp running middle rope springboard 450 splash for a near fall, though he could not pull together a more spectacular dive a few months later. Titan’s attempt at a tope con giro was caught by Euforia, who managed the task despite being knocked back a few meters. It was an impressive show of strength. Euforia powerbombed Titan on the outside, and Mephisto and Hechicero beat Star Jr. & Negro Casas to win the match. The crowd sent off Negro Casas with another big chant.

Ángel de Oro beat Místico and Volador Jr. to win the Copa Independencia (19:20)

The Copa Independencia is a one-off tournament celebrating Mexico’s Independence; today is Mexico’s Independence day. Angel de Oro and Volador went to a draw in the final of the second block of this tournament, turning this final into a three-way match. Volador wore a Green Goblin-themed outfit. Angel de Oro and Mistico wore Mexican flag colors.

Three-way matches and ties that lead to three-way matches are standard in other promotions. CMLL doesn’t do that; this was the first known traditional three-way match. It was novel for CMLL but felt like the three-way match anyone who watches other promotions has seen many times. It was novel only in that it lacked long periods of one person sitting out the match, but much of the action was each wrestler taking turns at moves to little long-term effect. It was occasionally exciting and rarely creative. The opening sequence illustrated the pattern:

  • Angel de Oro landed dives on both men.
  • They all got back in.
  • Volador landed dives on both men.
  • They both got in.
  • Mistico landed two dives on both men.

There was no stretch where one person got control of the match, or two people worked together; momentum kept getting traded around in a circle. The match was also an elimination match where wrestlers constantly broke up pins. It suffers from recapping and works if you’re taking it in casually and not paying attention to the details. The Aniversario crowd seemed to have vocal fans for and against Mistico and Volador, then anti-Angel de Oro at the end. Even that wasn’t absolute: there was a moment where everyone took a turn giving a destroyer to everyone else, all three guys laid on the mat, and there wasn’t the expected big reaction.

That led to the finish. Volador shoved Angel de Oro into referee Edgar el Guero, temporarily distracting him. Mistico immediately got La Mistica onto Volador, only for Angel de Oro to unmask Mistico. Volador reversed into a cradle, and Edgar recovered to count the three. Mistico was out, and Volador immediately walked into Angel de Oro’s campana finishing hold to give Oro the win. Mistico complained bitterly about the cheating post-match. He went as far as posing on the buckle to draw a reaction as Angel de Oro was giving the tournament winner’s trophy, and it did get Mistico the most cheers he’d gotten that night.

CMLL brought some traditional Mexican dancers and the Air Force band for an Independence Day-themed music performance/intermission. The fans seemed to enjoy it.

Atlantis Jr. & Dragon Rojo Jr. defeated Fuerza Guerrera & Averno in a seeding match (3:03)

This match existed only to set up the first-round matches in the main event tournament, with one representative from each team participating. Eliminations were via pinfall and submission. CMLL runs these matches all the time for tournaments, and they rarely amount to much. This one was a little better than usual because they did believable near falls. It also included wrestlers breaking pinfalls in matches when breaking up pinfalls didn’t make much sense. Atlantis Jr. beat Fuerza Guerrera, and Dragon Rojo beat Averno to set the tournament bracket.

Averno & Ultimo Guerrero defeated Atlantis & Ultimo Guerrero in 8:21

This match held together better than it should’ve given the time. Both Atlantis & Fuerza Guerrera looked very old in moments. Ultimo Guerrero and Averno did a lot of easy brawling and mask-pulling to cover for the lack of action. Fuerza & Atlantis both teased, getting their masks removed without fully exposing their faces. Fuerza’s big match spot was an armdrag diving off the apron. The Arena Mexico crowd did react hugely to Atlantis and Ultimo Guerrero facing off, playing off their mask match on this same show seven years ago. Guerrero avenged that loss by tripping Atlantis and making him submit to the Pulpo Guerrero, while Averno defeated Fuerza Guerrera with a reverse figure four. Fuerza made a surprising choice to dive off the apron with an armdrag, Averno caching him. Atlantis and UG made it back in. The crowd reacted loudly to the old Aniversario rivalry, and they stopped to play off that history. Atlantis handled UG and Avenro efficiently when the action restarted, but Guerrero tripped up Atlantis and captured him in the Guerrero Special for the submission. Averno beat Fuerza with a reverse figure four, finishing the night for Atlantis & Fuerza.

Stuka Jr. & Atlantis Jr. defeated Soberano Jr. & Dragon Rojo Jr. in 9:49

These two younger teams came off hot from the start. Dragon Rojo landed his Dragon Bomb rebound powerbomb finish almost immediately on Stuka, with Atlantis needing to make a save. Soberano crashed face first into the barricade on a flying axehandle, leading to a series of dives by the other participants. Atlantis Jr. accidentally hit his partner Stuka Jr. with a dropkick, leading to Soberano & Dragon Rojo landing big winning moves (a springboard moonsault and a top rope double stomp) for near falls. The fans didn’t seem to recognize those as finishes, though. Stuka Jr. & Atlantis rebounded and connected on a tope/Asai moonsault combination from Stuka’s tag team with ex-CMLL wrestler Fuego. The two set up Dragon Rojo for Stuka’s Torpedo Splash finish, but Soberano broke it. Dragon Rojo turned the tables with a powerbomb; Soberano hit his splash and covered for a deep 2.9 count. That was the first time the fans believed Atlantis was in danger. Soberano & Dragon Rojo continued to double team Atlantis Jr., keeping Stuka out of the ring, and got a three count of a low blow dropkick. These are elimination matches, so Stuka continued alone and used the enthusiasm of his opponents to suplex one into the other. Stuka landed his torpedo splash on Soberano to pause him, then inside cradled Dragon Rojo to even the match. Soberano got one more near fall off a tornillo, but Stuka surprised him with a Canadian Destroyer to even the match.

Stuka Jr. & Atlantis Jr. defeated Averno & Ultimo Guerrero to advance to a mask vs. mask match (2:36)

The final tournament match started right away – Averno & Ultimo Guerrero rushed the ring to attack the recovering winners – and didn’t last long. Atlantis repelled the attack enough to land a tope on Ultimo Guerrero. A tope on Averno backfired, nailing Stuka instead. Averno and UG brought Stuka back in and quickly finished him off. Ultimo Guerrero landed the Senton de la Muerte, Averno the Devil’s Wings, and Averno pinned Stuka Jr. for three. Atlantis Jr., this time, had to make the save for his team and rapidly did so. Ultimo Guerrero was too casual on a wheelbarrow spot and Atlantis turned into a front cradle for one pin, then cradled Averno for the second victory. This result was the happiest Arena Mexico was with Atlantis Jr. all night – they didn’t want to see the Averno/Ultimo Guerrero hair match. (That idea of a match may have only existed so Atlantis Jr. could thwart it.)

La Jarochita defeated Reyna Isis, mask vs. mask (18:23)

La Jarochita’s second was Lluvia, her partner as part of the national women’s tag team champions. Hijo del Villano III accompanied Reyna Isis. Isis & Hijo del Villano III aren’t linked in CMLL storylines but are known to be a couple. This match was outstanding. At times, there was some imperfect execution, mostly on Isis headscissors spots, but the drama and intensity were off the charts.

Like the previous two matches (and the next), this started hot with Isis jumping Jarochita immediately. Jarochita turned it around and wiped out Isis with a tope; the height difference makes those look more devastating for some of the women. Jarochita went for a second; Isis moved and waved Jarochita into colliding with the barricade. Jarochita turned over a bit to protect herself, yet it still looked out of control and unexpected. It immediately boosted the tension, which lasted the rest of the match. Isis followed up with big moves, controlling the match for a few minutes, and seemingly came close to a quick victory but couldn’t put Jarochita away. Isis went for a corner charge too many and met a dropkick as Jarochita rallied back. Jarochita fought Isis up the entrance ramp and to the CMLL stage before doing a plancha off the upper level. (Mistico had done the same in his match.) The crowd was loudly behind Jarochita at this point. Isis returned fire as they returned to the ring, headscissoring Jarochita out and following with an apron tope con giro and a top rope tornillo. The two fought a bit more on the outside before remembering the 20 count, broke that count, then fought on the apron until Isis suplexed Jarochita on that edge. Jarochita trapped Isis in an anklelock after they made it in, and Isis had a long struggle to the ropes to break it. A few moments later, Isis pulled out a legscissors cradle for a two count. Jarochita broke the pin by grabbing the ropes, something the cameras hadn’t shown originally. Both were making every cover count, in the way usually only done for a winning fall, and it was making the near falls feel more authentic. Jarochita got the better of the subsequent few exchanges, including a cradle suplex for a two count. Isis landed a tornillo and a top rope headscissors for near falls but got caught in a lengthy submission and barely got the ropes. Isis surprised Jarochita with her new Arkangelina submission – a tribute to her deceased mentor Arkangel de la Muerte – and the crowd believed that was it. Jarochita stayed trapped for a moment before escaping to a cradle, which Isis immediately reversed to a Muta Lock. Jarochita had her own battle to reach the ropes.

Both got up and battled to a standstill – equal chops, equal running hair pull. This double down got the crowd crazy, chanting “Esto Es Lucha”, the Mexican wrestling equivalent of “This is awesome!” Isis and Jarochita exchanged more big spots, with Isis getting an ugly but effective middle rope arm drag takedown before lifting Jarochita. It took a moment for Isis to get her opponent in position for her move. Still, it was a big deal when it landed: Isis gave La Jarochita a martinete, the variation of a tombstone piledriver banned in CMLL (and by some commissions) since the late 80s. Universo 2000 famously lost his mask at the 2004 CMLL Aniversario show after being disqualified for using a similar move and, for a moment, it seemed history was repeating itself. The match continued, with the announcers quickly explaining that the martinete was now legal. (The idea they explained is there’s no point in it being illegal if a Canadian Destroyer is legal. This commentary was the first mention of a lifted ban.) Isis covered, and Jarochita survived the long-time killer move. Isis landed a top rope splash and still couldn’t get the three. She had nothing left, slowly recovered in the corner, and got absolutely run over by La Jarochita’s signature running corner boot to the face. Jarochita covered and got the three.

Reyna Isis unmasked in the ring. She is Yaksiry Palacios, 29 years old and 10 years a wrestler.

Atlantis Jr. defeated Stuka Jr. in a mask vs. mask match (16:17)

Atlantis dove into the ring onto both Stuka Jr. and Hijo del Stuka, the son of the current wrestler and a future CMLL wrestler. Atlantis Sr. arrived to second his son, so fathers and sons on both sides. Atlantis knocked Stuka out of the ring and followed with a tope con giro, pausing a bit to let everyone gain their breath. Stuka turned the tables on the floor, reversing a whip to send Atlantis over the barricade and beating him among the fans. Stuka brought Atlantis back to the ring and ignored warnings about going after the mask. Stuka sent Atlantis out and followed with his signature top rope moonsault over the post. Stuka brought Atlantis back in and started on a plan of going after Atlantis’ neck. He used a top rope superplex, a flipping neckbreaker, a hanging spinning neckbreaker, and a swinging neckbreaker. Stuka even pulled out a Cross Rhodes for a two count. It was about a four-five minute stretch of Atlantis Jr. just getting beat. Stuka ate it when he went for another moonsault to the floor and got counted by upraised Atlantis feet. Atlantis seized the moment for his running plancha over the top rope, connecting well. The crowd started to boo Atlantis Jr. more here, and he slightly played into it. Atlantis went to the ramp for another plancha into the ring, only for Stuka to roll through it for a two count. Atlantis recovered to land a Destroyer in the ring, though Stuka turned it back around and landed a Torpedo Splash on the ramp. Stuka and Atlantis slowly made it back in, and Stuka was frustrated after his pin didn’t count because they were too far into the ropes. He argued with the referee, and Atlantis dramatically cradled Stuka for a two count. Atlantis knocked down Stuka with a superkick and slowly went up top. His following frog splash met knees, Stuka small packaged Atlantis, and a surprising number of fans thought it would be three. It was still two, enough to get the crowd to chant louder. Atlantis rolled out to refresh, Stuka gathered speed for a dive, but Atlantis pulled him out instead. Atlantis went for his dive, Stuka moved, and Atlantis went straight into the barricade and over into the front row. This missed dive looked more damaging than the Jarochita one earlier, though it suffered by being the second match in a row with that spot. Doctors quickly checked Atlantis, though Stuka determined the match must go on. He returned to the head attack with a brainbuster, then went back up. The crowd sensed this might be it; Stuka landed the torpedo splash and got the closest 2.9 count possible. Stuka was undaunted, giving Atlantis another brainbuster, landing the torpedo splash again, but this time Atlantis reversed Stuka’s recoil bounce into a cradle for another close 2.9 count. Both men got their feet, Stuka charged Atlantis, and Atlantis lifted Stuka into his family’s signature Atlantida submission. Stuka could not escape for a moment, then slid into an inside cradle for two. The two charged each other again, Atlantis again lifted Stuka into La Atlantida, and this time there was no escape for Stuka. He submitted and lost his mask.

Stuka Jr. was unmasked as Omar Alvarado Garcia, 48 years old, 30 years a wrestler. Stuka Jr. and Atlantis Jr. hugged post-match.

CMLL ended that show with promotion for upcoming events in September and October, then a teaser for next year’s 90th Aniversaro show.

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