by Sam DiMascio
In my last piece I focused on an aspect of lucha libre that has drawn me in further in 2014, the young talent. For this edition, I would like to focus on something that attracted me from almost the very start and that is the varying match types and structures that happen in lucha. It provides variety that when big matches happen they stand out and have meaning.
Here are the major styles:
Lightning matches are one fall and have a ten minute time limit. It is rare that this format produces something truly special, but at the same time with having a short amount of time to fill, filler is often left at the door. The main two ways I have seen this match play out is either a mat based exhibition or a high spots bonanza. Imagine them as the short films of lucha. Often they are not remembered as well as their longer counterparts, but they are art in their own right and possibly could be expounded into a feature match.
This is the match type most associated with lucha for it is easily the most common. One of the reasons why I enjoyed WWE in 2013 was in no small part due to The Shield and a near weekly good to great match. A trios matches with the right workers is something special. A trios match with a few good workers is still a totally enjoyable watch. That is the beauty of these matches. There are enough wrestlers in there that there is a good chance that at least a good performance will come about from somebody. You might see some cool stuff once they hit the mat or see a spectacular aerial display. Plus, you get a variety of pairings, which makes it potentially even more fun.
If you want beautiful wrestling, lucha title matches are what you want. I am talking about more traditional lucha title matches, ones in CMLL, since AAA is much less a “traditional” lucha libre promotion. I am talking about matches that may best show wrestling as art. It is often the fantastic technical aspects of lucha libre that are on full display in these matches. At their best they demonstrate a performance through three acts that the viewer sees escalate into an incredible finale. A well done final fall in a title match for me outdoes a “hot finishing stretch” in a Japanese or indie match nine times out of ten. One of the positives of lucha is that it can end on any move and a title match sinks you into that more than any other. Currently Virus would be the king of this type of match that even when he is wrestling so-so competition he can elevate to something very good. Then of course if he has someone more on his level magic is created.
Lucha brawls might very well be my favorite matches to watch play out. This is the one type of match where modern CMLL should not be your go to, but AAA will deliver a couple good ones per year. Honestly, in today’s lucha landscape one would be lucky to find a handful of worthwhile brawls throughout the span of a year, but when they come they are the most stripped down version of “wrestling” you can find. It is a match that totally deviates from what most associate with lucha. It is pure violence. You will find blood, you will find stiff strikes, and you will find some of the rawest emotion possible when done right. It is not about highs pots or beautiful mat exchanges, it is about a fight similar to one you would see in a bar. These brawls often occur during wager matches but as the amazing LA Park vs. Dr. Wagner, Jr. showed in 2013 they may simply occur because the rivalry has earned it and the performers are willing.
As you can see, lucha offers plentiful variety with different stakes and different aesthetic appeals. Lucha is not one thing, but many things. Get to know it. Get to love it.
If you’re interested in more of my work you can find it here, here and here.
Photos 1, 3: mediotiempo.com
Photos 2, 4: en.wikipedia.org
Categories: Smooth Runs