[A long time ago in a War Rig far, far away, a young War Boy named 'Plan wrote an excellent column series called 101 WWE Matches to See Before You Die. It was perfect, so perfect that it's now a book you can buy on Amazon! There was just one problem; it only focused on WWE matches! Thus, as a fellow War Boy, I've taken it upon myself to take a look at the other stuff, compiling a list of 201 Non WWE Matches to See Before You Die. This right here is entry #9. Enjoy! And buy 'Plan's book!]
Last year there was a brief moment in wrestling where “Divas Revolution” became one of the most talked about storylines in the business. It ultimately turned out to be an unnecessary storyline, a) because it was panned by almost everyone under the sun and b) because the so called Revolution had already been happening. In fact women’s wrestling, or more appropriately women’s wrestlers, have been moving away from the era of poorly trained models into legitimate competitors capable of telling just as good of stories in ring as the men. Not only has this new movement been as refreshing as a Sunkist on Chill Zone Day, but it’s also presented the opportunity for wrestling to become innovative again. Let’s face it; we’ve seen the men do everything at this point, from invasion angles to falling off cages to falling off ladders too pretty much anything you can think of. We haven’t gotten quite that far with women’s wrestling yet and in some instances we may never. But compared to ten years ago or even five years ago, we’ve entered a wrestling world where women can kick ass, go further and tell stories just like the men can. It’s a whole other canvas than before.
When Lucha Underground opened its doors nearly two years ago, the woman immediately put front and center was Sexy Star. A luchadora from AAA who had primarily worked as a ruda her whole career, Sexy was transformed into a plucky technico out to prove to young girls/women everywhere that they could do everything men could do and do it better. In many ways it was a nod to the way the business was going, and Sexy Star largely lived up to her word. The first season of Lucha Underground mostly saw her tangle with the guys; Son of Havoc (who she wrestled on LU’s first episode), Chavo Guerrero, The Crew, Big Ryck, Pentagon Jr. and Super Fly all squared off with Sexy and more often than not found themselves on either the losing end or a struggle. By the end of the season you could safely say that Sexy wasn’t just a top woman’s star in Lucha Underground but a top star; a performer just as much a focal point to the budding promotion as Prince Puma, Pentagon Jr., Mil Muertes and others were (the same could also be said for Sexy’s fellow LU female compatriot Ivelisse). A new era of women in wrestling was dawning and Sexy Star appeared to be at the forefront of that movement.
As per usual, things would start to change both on and off screen. On screen Sexy’s first major storyline would find herself being kidnapped at the end of season one by one Marty “The Moth” Martinez, a story that would see Marty and his sister Mariposa turn Sexy from an empowered warrior into a woman broken by fear. Off screen some fans began to question just how good Sexy really was, especially as she continued to get pushed while fan favorites like Ivelisse and King Cuerno were seemingly set aside in smaller roles. In both instances all roads led a No Mas match (LU’s version of an I Quit match) between Sexy and Mariposa with an Aztec Medallion on the line. As important as that Medallion was though (winning one gives you a chance to win the Gift of the Gods Championship after all!), it was completely and utterly secondary. For Sexy Star the character, this match served as a chance to conquer her fears and her captor, to find a way back to the empowering woman who backed down from no man or woman during season one. For Sexy Star the performer, it served as the chance to prove the doubters wrong, to make a statement and to show everyone that there was more to her than meets the eye. In many ways, it was a make or break match for both versions of Sexy Star.
Fittingly the beginning of this match illustrates that, with Mariposa coming out of the gate as the aggressor. Note that this doesn’t mean the match is one sided; Sexy gets her share of shots in at Mariposa as the two battle back and forth from the ring to the floor. But the back and forth is misleading; Sexy’s offense is a Leicester City style of face paced counterattacking, as if she’s trying to catch Mariposa in a mistake and end it quickly. As such she never truly feels in control, unlike Mariposa who continues to fight her way and grind Sexy into the ground every chance she gets. The crowd reflects this style; for the first several minutes they are either silent (waiting for the other shoe to drop one way or the other) or split between Sexy and Mariposa, almost as if Mariposa’s devilish charisma has overpowered Sexy’s loss of confidence entirely.
A brief moment seems to change things. After a chair assault by Mariposa, Sexy seems to find a second wind and has her rival lying against the railing right of the Temple’s famous steps. It’s then she does something I’ve never seen before; she takes a chair, puts it in between Mariposa’s legs and with a Mark McGuire swing connects. It’s as unique and violent a moment as they come, and not just because it featured a woman taking a conchairto to the vagina. With one swing, Mariposa is now the one crawling away in fear and Sexy appears to have discovered her mojo once more, trapping Mariposa in a quick submission. The crowd also starts to come alive as well, rallying around Sexy for the first time. Has she done it? Has she overcome her fears and found herself?
Not quite. As it turns out chair shots to the privates can only do so much and Mariposa easily rallies after a few minutes. The two eventually work their way up the Temple stairs and once more Mariposa takes total control; there’s mask tearing, there’s dragging Sexy’s back up the steps (ouch) and most importantly there’s Sexy making a break for it again, this time climbing up a ladder all the way to the Temple rafters. Now once more completely in control, Mariposa follows and corners Sexy, leading to a sequence where it briefly seems like Sexy could fall all the way down to the crowd below. Oh, and there was blood too.
Many wrestling fans who have been around longer than a minute will know that a woman wrestler bleeding isn’t as rare as one thinks; Lita famously bled during several matches in 2000, while indie legend Candice LeRae’s biggest moment of her career involved her bleeding like a stuck pig after getting kicked with a thumbtack filled shoe by Nick Jackson. But even still, the violent image of Sexy Star’s blood dripping onto the fans below and she struggles to keep from falling is haunting, a moment where it becomes pretty clear that Sexy has fallen all the way to rock bottom with seemingly little chance of picking herself back up. This is evident as she manages to break free of Mariposa and make her way back down below. It’s not a moment where one feels the tide has turned; it’s a moment where it feels like Sexy is running for her life. And yet as all of this is going on, the crowd has completely turned. As stated before, the first half of this match showed a crowd unsure, seemingly split between Sexy and Mariposa. Not now; Sexy has gained the sympathy and respect of the crowd, and they appear ready to latch onto the fallen luchadora if she’s even given the smallest of chances.
This is where the tide officially turns. Marty the Moth, as expected, arrives on the scene, ready to put the finishing touches on Sexy as his sister looks on. His attack is interrupted by The Mack, the lovable, Stone Cold loving brawler whose friendship with Sexy (formed at the beginning of the season) had thus far severed as the only thing keeping Sexy from falling apart altogether. Big Willie quickly takes care of Marty and for the first time since that painful chair shot Sexy and Mariposa appear on equal footing. The match degenerates into a violent back and forth as the two make their way back ringside; Mariposa viciously swings Sexy’s head into the announcer’s table three times, followed by Sexy rallying and delivering the best toss of a trashcan I’ve ever seen. Eventually the two make it back to the ring, where an attempted Butterfly Effect (aka the Vertebreaker) by Mariposa is countered by Sexy before she walks right into a clothesline. Twisting Sexy into a pretzel, Mariposa appears to have the match won as referee Marty Elias holds the mic up to Sexy. And that’s when magic happens.
I say this often in these pieces; every match has a turning point. Sexy’s defiant, primal scream of “Fuck You! Fuck You Mariposa” was said moment here. Everyone in the Temple, from the crowd to Melissa Santos to Striker and Vampiro erupted, a combination of disbelief and joy, with a side of realization that the Sexy Star from season one had found her way home. Her defiance effectively rattles Mariposa, who inexplicably lets go of the hold and tries to attack, allowing Sexy to apply a choke. Once again Marty the Moth makes an appearance, saving his sister from being choked out and preparing his own attack on Sexy. Unlike last time however, Sexy dodges Marty and scrambles away long enough for The Mack to appear and deliver a Stunner. With Marty gone and Mack rolling outside, Mariposa makes one last run towards Sexy, only to find herself caught in an armbar. And well, a few minutes of struggling serve to only delay Mariposa from delivering those two words; “No Mas!” The Temple explodes again. Sexy, acting on advice given to her by Dario Cueto before the match, doesn’t let up despite victory, keeping the armbar on, pushing poor Marty Elias out of the way when he tries to break the hold and then applying the submission again. Only after a few more minutes does she finally let Mariposa go and collapse against the ropes in triumphant, bloody exhaustion. The Mack returns again, presenting Sexy with an Aztec Medallion and the two embrace as the Temple delivers the same chant over and over again; “You deserve it! You deserve it!” Damn right she did.
After all of that, you’re probably wondering what the hell happened next; where did these two women go from here? The answer is I don’t know, mainly because the match only took place a little less than two weeks ago. Already however the match has become some parts legendary and some parts infamous. Many have declared the match a masterpiece, most notably Forbes and even luchablog’s cubsfan, one of the several people out there who wondered whether Sexy Star had this type of match in her. Others have been left uncomfortable by the level of violence, while an even fewer number have come away unimpressed. Whatever the side of the coin you fall on, it almost doesn’t matter. The fact that a woman’s match featured an I Quit stipulation and went as far as it did is more than enough for this match to deserve your attention, good or bad.
But at the end of the day, the reason this match stands out so much isn’t because of how far Sexy Star and Mariposa went in regards to violence, but how far they went in regards to the story. This wasn’t violence just for the sake of violence, it wasn’t just competition for a shot at a prestigious title and it wasn’t two women fighting each other because they were catty and crazy. This was a nuanced, three dimensional story and quite frankly the best one I’ve seen told during a wrestling match since Vampiro-Pentagon from Ultima Lucha. In many ways those matches were kindred spirits; neither one will be remembered as matches loaded with technical wizardry and neither needed to be. Vampiro-Pentagon was a thrilling duel tale of violence; it had Pentagon looking for respect from his master and Vampiro in search of one last great day. And Sexy Star vs. Mariposa? Why it was one evil woman trying to keep her the woman she victimized in her place, and the heroine rising up to overcome the fears and doubts to make a statement. If that doesn’t sound revolutionary, think about the last time a woman’s wrestling match on a wrestling TV show told a story like that.
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