I am a huge pro wrestling fan, most notably of the Mexican lucha libre variety.
Three down, two to go on the quest to find the best of WCW lucha libre. We’re now in the top ten, which means things are, amazingly, about to get even more out of control. And why wouldn’t it; this is the best of the best, the alpha and the omega, the (Randy Savage voice) CREAM OF DA CROP, YEAH! If you don’t have fun reliving these gems then I’m pretty sure we can classify you as someone who doesn’t like good things. Or maybe you’re just having a bad day, in which case we won’t judge till you view these matches in a better mood. And now I’m rambling! Let’s get this show on the road shall we? Cíclope, start us off again. It’s only right seeing as our good readers will be watching you cheat death in a few minutes. Be sure to check out parts one, two, and three.
10. More Insanity at the Clash (Psychosis, Silver King and the Villanos vs. Super, Calo, Hector Garza, Juventud Guerrera and Lizmark Jr., Clash of the Champions
If you thought that lucha match featuring Chris Jericho at the first Clash of 1997 was something, wait till you see this masterpiece of chaos theater. It’s like Mad Max: Fury Road out there; the match never slows down and…actually now that I think about it isn’t like Fury Road at all because at least Fury Road relents. This match does not relent! It merely gets faster and faster until the next thing you know Super Calo is making funeral plans yet again, Villano IV and Lizmark are doing suicide dives and Juvy leaps off Hector Garza’s back in a moment that would’ve marked the first time Kevin Harlan uttered the phrase “WITH NO REGARD FOR HUMAN LIFE!” if he had been so fortunate to be viewing this live.
But while all that is cool, the actual story of this match is Garza, he who defeated Scott Hall one month later in a match that did nothing for anyone. What a shame because Garza is an absolute marvel, with a look Vince McMahon would drool over, a slightly bigger build than his partners and a yet just as much, if not more, athleticism. His sequence with Silver King in this match, which features them going 9,000 mph while doing awesome classic lucha libre, is what really gets it going and his amazing tornillo dive (which we’ll cover extensively later) puts the exclamation point on the match before Psychosis and Calo take it home. This match stole the show on a very good Clash show, but Garza is the man who stole the show within the show. How did this man not become an international superstar?!
9. Lucha at the Beach Parka (Hector Garza, Juventud Guerrera and Lizmark Jr. vs. La Parka, Psychosis and Villano IV, Bash at the Beach 1997)
I think we reached this point with the last match, but I forgot to mention it so I mention it here; we’re now at a place where you can make an argument for any of these matches to be the best in the history of WCW Lucha. I mean you’d be wrong because (in my opinion) there’s three clear standouts, but still. This one is a bit on the lower end because of some sloppiness here and there but holy hell is it still fun. La Parka beefs with everyone on his team at certain points and needs to be bribed by Sonny Ono to stay on the side of evil. Lizmark becomes the tallest man in history to do a handspring into a moonsault. Villano IV and Villano V try the old switcheroo tactic towards the end of the match, only for it to backfire spectacularly. Earlier, Villano IV and Garza have an absolutely spectacular sequence that gets everything humming. And of course there’s that one sequence where everything goes haywire and you’re left wondering why these guys are so gifted and you’re destined to spend your days wondering why you aren’t as gifted while you write about them. Whoa, I started thinking out loud there! Anyways, this was great and I’d argue probably the finest hour of Lizmark Jr. in WCW, as well as the best trios/atomicos match Super Calo wasn’t involved in (I’m pretty sure this is the first one on the list he wasn’t!). And with that, the only thing left to do is change around the quote to that Wolfmother song; GOTTA GET BACK GIRL ON THE DIVE TRAIN!
8. Rey-Ultimo (Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Último Dragón, World War 3 1996)
In many ways this clash between Rey and Último Dragón is almost a prelude to the legendary Eddy-Mysterio match a year later that we will totally, absolutely not be covering at all in this column (did they buy it? I think they bought it!). It’s very un lucha like in a lot of ways, one of the reasons I struggled with including it on the list and a reason why a lot of the great matches these two had (including the Spring Stampede 1997 match) were left off. But in the end it makes the list and makes it so high up the list because the story is about Dragón, a Japanese luchador trained both in lucha and Japanese Junior style, knowing his best chance for victory is to take the lucha out of the match and make Mysterio beat him another way. So see, it is all about lucha in the end! Besides that, it’s also an amazing match, with Dragón controlling a large chunk of the action, only Rey is Rey so he never quits and eventually makes his comeback as only Rey Mysterio can. We’d officially welcome Mysterio as one of the most complete performers in the world just a year later, but if you pay close enough attention, this match reveals he was already there.
7. In the House Ray Stevens Built (Super Calo, Cíclope and Juventud Guerrera vs. Konnan, La Parka and Villano IV, SuperBrawl VII, 1997)
And we’re back to the chaos! This match took place only a month after the first Clash of the Champions lucha extravaganza and I’d argue is the match that made the insane amount of trios/atomicos matches we’ve read about possible. It’s also the match that inspired what you see almost every time CMLL runs a show these days. No joke; we get the two sides trading Wishbone Submissions (with one guy crawling the others to get a near fall), “The Star” double submission complete with a submission in the middle of it (in this case Parka putting Juvy in the Romero Special), a couple dives, one dive that goes horribly wrong and nearly leaves the guy trying it dead (poor, poor Cíclope) and, of course, a referee potentially screwing up the finish. I wouldn’t doubt Paco has this as mandatory viewing before every CMLL match! If only those same CMLL matches featured Parka doing suicide dives onto guys sitting on chairs, Super Calo on his never ending quest to meet his maker, Villano IV being technically sound and Konnan destroying everyone within a two inch radius. How WCW didn’t just make Konnan into a Lucha Destroyer is beyond me; I could watch him powerbomb dudes and toss Juvy to the floor all day.
6. It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Lucha! (Hector Garza, Juventud Guerrera and Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. La Parka, Psychosis and Silver King, Nitro, December 22, 1
Just two days before Christmas and not even a week after Juvy and Rey teamed up to beat Psychosis and Kraft’s new spokesperson La Parka (see yesterday’s column for more details!), the four were at it again only with Silver King and Hector Garza involved. Clearly WCW knew what to get lucha fans for Christmas that year! Honestly the only thing that makes me sad about this shindig is that it was pretty much the only time Rey, Juvy and Garza teamed together on a Nitro. Only in America can you get three of the most revolutionary high flyers ever in the same company and only have them work as a trio a handful of times.
Alas, they make the most of that one time! Seeing as this is one of the last Nitro’s of the year, this match is pretty much a combination of every awesome lucha match from 1997. Garza and Silver King starting things off with a simple yet electrifying sequence and just like that everything gets super fast and super fun. Everyone misses a dive off the top in rapid succession, Air Juvy makes another appearance as Juvy guns for Super Calo’s “most suicidal wrestler” title, La Parka hits that suicide dive on a seated Juvy, Garza’s corkscrew plancha tops all that came before it and then immediately gets topped itself by an ending sequence that features Rey and Silver King replicating the reverse rana spot from their awesome September encounter. Only poor Psychosis is left out in the cold, though I’m going to say that’s a good thing; the only way he was going to top any of that was by jumping from the rafters and that’s a no go unless you’re Aerostar. At least he can say he was part of the best holiday lucha match of all time and, if you want to take this in a super dark direction, the last great match WCW had before they fucked everything up six days later by ruining the finish to Sting-Hogan. If only Sting had gone over clean. If only…
Fin! We’re just one day away from wrapping up the best of WCW Lucha Libre folks. I expect to see you bright and early tomorrow for the conclusion. Till then, why not one last sneak peak that I’m sure is going to have you all marking out?