Destino Final – Tijuana Review

The local promotion in Tijuana presented their biggest super card in recent memory on April 6th, 2001. Entitled “Destino Final”, it was headlined by Hijo del Santo vs Nicho El Millionario in a mask vs hair match. On March 16th in a match pitting Santo and Rey Misterio Jr. vs Nicho and Sabu, Nicho scored a fall on Santo with a low blow. Santo, enraged, challenged his mid90s rival to a mask vs hair match. Nicho refused and said Santo had to defeat him in a ladder match for a vacant title on March 23rd first. Nicho ended up winning that in somewhat of a shock, but the promoter arranged a mask vs hair match anyways. They expected a “record overflow crowd” for this one and maybe got just that. I was told several days after the event by some friends in Mexico that the Auditorio de Tijuana can hold 7,000 maximum but they fit over 10,000 into the arena. if the 7,000 figure is correct, then I can totally believe 10,000 were in there since there were people EVERYWHERE. Seats, aisles, stairs, railings, structures, etc. etc., people all over the place. We bought our tickets at 7:30, got inside at 7:50, and found some seats in the upper level before the entire building had become jam packed. Before the show there was a clown performing tricks for the audience.

The show itself was an easy thumbs up. The main event was a MOTYC, and Nicho’s best match since last year’s ECW match against Yoshijiro Tajiri under the Psicosis gimmick. He wrestled just like the Psicosis of old and Santo carried things brilliantly.

The semi-main event with Misterio vs Guerrera was somewhat disappointing considering some of the past classics they had in Tijuana but was ok, none the less. The rest of the matches were all entertaining at points. The Parkas were predictably hilarious in their match; they seemed to point towards a Rey Sr. vs La Parka program afterwards. The eight man tag started out ok but fell apart in the second and third falls. I liked the second match quite a bit, especially Arandu, Colibri, and Depredador. In the opener both Angel and Bull Rider were impressive at points but everyone in the match showed a lot of greenness. Overall a fun card and one that needs to be seen on videotape, if anyone actually taped the show.

El Gato/Angel de Tijuana vs Bull Rider Jr./Neon

The rudos in this match consist of Gato and Angel. Bull Rider and Neon make up the technicos. I’m told by my Mexican friend that this may be one of Neon’s first matches. Who knows.

First fall was mostly mat wrestling, with Angel carrying things. He did not impress me much in the last show, but the solid stuff on the mat made him look good in comparison to the rest of the curtain jerkers he was with here. El Gato is by means fittingly named, as he is clearly the most un-athletic of the bunch here. Bull Rider wears a cowboy costume and mask, while Neon wears the most hilariously bright costume/mask I’ve ever seen. NEON! Technicos won the first fall in 6:00. This first fall was much better than last show’s pretty hideous first fall.

Rudos evened up the score at 10:45 by winning the second fall. The match really degenerated into a pish-like substance of filth, here. Gato and Angel controlled the fall with brawling, and generally, were pretty sloppy. Gato is once again one un-athletic idiot.

The technicos won the final fall at 14:00. Bull Rider hit a nice looking plancha, followed by a good tope by Neon. The flurry of high risk moves signaled to everyone that the match was about to end. Gato was real bad in the fall again. My friends and I agreed Bull Rider probably has the most potential. He was pretty crisp and showed good athleticism throughout. Angel was the most polished of them all but he has this stubby, dwarf-like look that makes stardom but a cruel dream to those like him. Match was not horrible due to the solid first fall and some exciting dives in the last. Nothing real impressive, nothing real memorable, other than Neon’s blinding costume.

Depredador/Pandillero I/Pandillero II vs Principe Arandu/Colibri/Guepardo

I had low hopes for this one, not knowing any of the performers except for Depredador and Arandu, neither of which impressed me much on the last show. The low hopes created low expectations, which were easily met and passed up thanks to great performances from the aforementioned two and Colibri. The crowd, for whatever reason, absolutely loved Arandu, especially all the women. He is a pretty boy, but an older pretty boy. Depredador has a military gimmick, his partners have “gangsta” gimmicks, Colibri has Rey Misterio Jr.’s old “humming bird” gimmick, and Guepardo wore a bright yellow/green suit with cool mask.

The rudos dominated the first fall in chaotic matter, winning in just 3:35. They basically just beat down on the technicos. Depredador chopped and chopped and fucking chopped the hell out of Arandu’s chest. Last show, Depredador’s partner Zumbido was the one that chopped Arandu and Tony Riviera to death. Zumbido was scheduled for this show at one point but was later pulled, so Depredador did his best to make up for that awesome lucha stiffness that could have been missed.

The technicos, lead by Arandu, jumped the rudos for fall two. They made short order of their foes with some nice team work and various high flying moves. Colibri shined with some nice head scissors and ranas. Guepardo fucked up what appeared to be an attempted Rider Kick to the outside, slipping off the ropes before he could execute it. They evened up the score at 7:30.

The flow continued with the technicos controlling fall three until the heel ref began showing his colors. He “accidentally” tripped up Arandu at one point, and looked the other way while the rudos cheated. Throughout all of this Arandu showed amazing intensity and charisma, which got the crowd to back him even more throughout the match. Depredador worked pretty stiff but did not show any great moves or charisma. Arandu clearly carried this match. As the fall wound down, the technicos rolled out their high spots. Guepardo hit a plancha. Colibri hit an awesome running somersault plancha off of Arandu’s back while he stood on hands and knees. He hit real good height and speed, getting nice applause from the audience. Depredador accidentally struck the heel ref, knocking him out momentarily. He low-blowed Arandu and went for the cover, with the heel ref slowly moving over to make the count, but the face ref stopped his partner at two and awarded the match to the technicos by DQ. Good match that mostly focused on Arandu vs Depredador. The crowd (especially women) LUV Arandu. Colibri looks like a young Rey Misterio Jr., although not quite as awe inspiring, naturally.

Rey Misterio Jr. and Nicho came out to talk on the mic. I thought they would hype up their matches or something, but Ruben informed me all they did was plead with everyone standing in the aisles to find somewhere, anywhere to sit so as not to obstruct everyone in seats’ viewpoints. I found all that quite humorous. People basically sat on the stairs, in the aisles, on railings, and even on these metal structures that went up the walls. It was the most crowded building I had ever seen.

Hijo del Diablo/Silver King/Super Boy/The Kiss vs Tinieblas Jr./Solar/Mascara Sagrada/Kato Kun Lee

Silver King works the mic pre-match, drawing tons of “asshole” chants in Spanish. Super Boy and Kiss are fat, fat men with some agility, or in Super Boy’s case, tons of agility. Diablo is one hell of a fantastic rudo. He can work well and is a hilarious comedian. The four rudos threatened to walk out on the match after getting negative reactions, but were eventually pulled back in by the technicos.

Sagrada and Lee are old guys, not too good. Solar is real solid and Tinieblas is gigantic compared to all the rest of the luchadores. Unfortunately, there is no Alushe present. BOO!

The first fall was pretty long compared to the rest of the card up until this point. It was pretty good with some nice spots by Super Boy, including a back flip off the top rope. This guy is short and FAT and he’s doing that? Tinieblas and Diablo worked a funny comedy sequence focusing on the huge height difference between the two. Solar and Silver King carried the two teams with sold work in-between the comedy spots. The technicos ended up winning the first fall at 11:40.

The second fall was a mess and did not seem to have any planning at all. All eight men seemed to brawl aimlessly throughout. The one polished sequence of the entire fall was Kato Kun Lee dancing around the middle rope around all four corners of the ring as the four rudos chased after him. The rudos ended up taking the second fall at 15:50. Messy, hard to watch stuff. Sagrada hurt his arm at some point and had a doctor look at it.

Third fall was more of the same until they finally decided to bring it home. Super Boy hit an awesome looking Asai Moonsault onto some of the technicos. Tinieblas hit a huge plancha afterwards. The technicos ended up winning the final fall at 23:20. Disappointing match since the final two falls were nowhere near the quality of the first. Solar and King looked good and the storyline between Diablo and Tinieblas was entertaining for the first part. I do not think they put much, if any, plan into the second fall. Really bad, but average match overall. I would have liked to have seen Senor Alushe the Legend 🙁

Rey Misterio Sr./Damien 666/Halloween vs La Parka/Super Parka/Mil Mascaras

The two Parkas teaming up was one huge ass highlight for my friend Ruben. Their partner, Mascaras, did not seem too excited to be there. Both Parkas worked comedy spots with “The Tijuana Family” rudos. Various combinations of patting/grabbing their asses and manipulating them into thinking it was one of their fellow rudos that was doing it. La Parka did the “I hump you in the corner, who will in turn hump the ref in the corner” spot that Super Parka and Dr. Wagner Jr. did with the ref last show. Homoerotic humor at its best, folks. First fall ended at 8:00 when both Parkas did their hilarious strut into the corner, drawing Halloween and Damien into a Mascaras cross body block for the pin.

The rudos dominated the second fall, ending it at 10:45. Very interestingly enough, Mascaras was one to submit here. I always read about how egotistical he is and how much he hates to job, but here he was submitting in the second fall. Interesting.

Third fall had virtually no comedy and saw Super Parka and Mascaras more or less sit out the entire fall after being beat down by the rudos. La Parka and Rey Sr. worked a pretty intense series of chops that had the crowd going crazy. They did a near fall sequence that was pretty well worked, showing that La Parka can still work in addition to the comedy. Both refs ended up being knocked out. Upon seeing this, Rey Sr. faked being hit in the groin to try and draw a DQ once the refs were revived. La Parka, the suave guy he is, did the same, so they repeated the same finish from last show involving Rey Sr. vs Rey Jr. The refs appealed to the audience who was the one to foul first, with the crowd naturally siding with Parka, so the technicos won by DQ at 20:35. Entertaining match with real well rounded work from La Parka. Mil Mascaras was the only negative to the match, looking very uninterested and unmotivated. I’m told the fans in Tijuana and much of Mexico see him as the luchador to achieve greatest success outside of Mexico, but they don’t view him as such a legend in the country, or at least Tijuana, since the fans did not give him the kind of reaction I expected a legend to receive. La Parka and Rey Sr. cut promos on each other after the match and showed “respect” for each other. They seemed to tease a mask vs hair match, interestingly enough.

After the match, La Parka tried to get a fat woman in the audience to dance with him but she just stood there, Three more fit women jumped up on the ramp to dance with him afterwards. Humorous stuff.

[IWC Cruiserweight Title/One Fall] Rey Misterio Jr. vs Juventud Guerrera

Juvi was seconded by Silver King and Rey Jr. was, I think, seconded by Neon. I could not make out the identity of his second for sure. They all posed with the IWC CW title for pictures before the match. Apparently the IWC title is a Northern California indy title that Juvi took with him to defend in Mexico. Guerrera cut a heel promo pre-match to make sure the fans saw him as the rudo, here.

The match was only one fall and they worked an American style TV match. There was no mat work at all or any kind of slow build. They did high spots right off the bat. Juvi landed a pescado early on. Shortly after Rey hit a good looking tope suicida. They were leaping all over the place, reversing each other’s moves. The crowd was very silent for the match except for the two dives. They did some near falls at the end that got zero reaction from the crowd. Juvi hit a Michinoku Driver for what would have seemed to be a dramatic two count but the crowd was very quiet. Rey Jr. got some roll ups that were met with similar reaction. Juvi missed a 450 splash and Rey eventually pinned him at 9:40 for the title. The crowd absolutely exploded for the finish; it was easily the loudest pop of the entire night up until that point. It was very strange for the crowd to be dead the entire match but be so loud for the finish. The match probably would get rave reviews if it happened on a Nitro since it was action packed, had some high spots, and had decent near falls at the end. The dead crowd hurt and the lack of build in an environment that supports such things hurt the match in this setting, though. A good match, but nowhere near some of their past classics, including the famous 3-16-96 Tijuana match that has been raved about for years. Neither was anywhere close to the quality they were in that match five years ago. Unfortunate how banged up Rey is these days, and how drugged up Juvi reportedly is. A bit depressing.

[Mask vs Hair] Hijo del Santo vs Nicho El Millionario

Both men got huge pops coming out. The crowd support was basically even for both. Santo is a legend, but Nicho is a home town boy. His victory and performance at last show’s ladder match also earned the respect of many people in the crowd. The two men shook hands before the match, although Nicho played a subtle heel roll, acting more like a prick, more aggressive than Santo.

Primera Caida: The match predictably started off with some mat work once they locked up. They both stalled for the first minute or so, taking turns getting reactions from the crowd Santo knows how to pace matches, unlike Juvi and Rey Jr, apparently. He controlled the work, getting huge pops from the crowd anytime he hit a reversal on Nicho. They did the Tiger Mask spinning head scissors spot twice to big reactions. I have never really known Nicho to be a great mat wrestler but he looked real fluid with Santo here, most likely due to Santo’s mastery of the art. Near the end of the fall Santo opened up with some high spots, including some of his usual impressive arm drags. Nicho got thrown to the outside and while he was still on his knees getting up, Santo hit a tope suicida, crashing into him on the ground. He pulled Nicho back into the ring, dropped him with a flapjack, and locked on his La de Caballo camel clutch for the victory at 12:15. The crowd erupted for the finish, even louder than the Misterio win.

Segunda Caida: Nicho took control of the second fall early on. He tried to bring a chair into the match but the ref would not let him. They ended up on the top turnbuckle fighting over a superplex. Nicho eventually took control and hit a top rope inverted suplex for the fall at 17:30. This was the weakest fall due to the length, lack of big spots, and lack of any real story. Nicho had to even up the match so they sort of aimlessly went about until the big finish. The chair spot was good psychology, though, as it teased what would come in the third fall. Many times when one wrestler has to even up the score in the second fall, he’ll win by some sort of submission, causing the opponent to sell that body part into the third fall. This creates an additional in-match storyline that can put more interest into the bout but they did not do that hear. Nicho is not about submissions and winning with a high spot fit him.

Tricera Caida: They brawled a little bit, with Nicho’s subtle heel routine gradually getting the crowd further and further behind Santo. No juice in this match, unlike the ladder match that saw both guys bleed. I’ll never forget the sight of half Santo’s mask covered in his own blood. Santo hit his great, out of control-looking, tope suicida by the ring post. They traded chair shots in the fall to up the intensity. Nicho set Santo up for a top rope rana but Santo just shoved him off to the ground. It was a great unexpected bump that highlighted a match of good bumping from Nicho. The bump came out of nowhere and looked super hurtful the way he fell. It seemed like he was making up for lost time spent doing nothing in WCW for years by bumping all around for Santo this match. While Nicho laid on the ground, Santo turned a tope into senton for another great high spot. Nicho had swung the chair, accidentally knocking out the ref. Another ref eventually ran in for the near falls. Santo hit his Tope de Christo flying headbutt for a near fall. He rolled Nicho up for another near fall. Santo won the fall and Nicho’s hair at 26:30 when he hit a victory roll near the ropes. Nicho had his hand around the bottom rope, but the ref did not see it. Post-match, Nicho told Santo he respected him and congratulated him. Santo said their feud could continue due to the screwy nature of the match, but he must shave his head as per the match stipulation.

I thought this match was awesome, with great performances by both men. They had some great matches in the mid90s and I think this one holds up to those. I thought it was paced brilliantly going from stalling to mat work to high spots in the first fall. As pointed out above, the second fall was weakest due to the length but it succeeded in getting over Nicho’s high impact moves and teased the involvement of a chair. The third fall had fantastic drama that had the crowd on the edge of their seat even though I would think everyone in the audience knew Santo was going over. There were not any bad blown spots, nonsensical transitions, or bad selling. I suppose the strongest negative to the match was the ref bump and screwy way Santo won. The match was not perfect since some of the execution left some to be desired. I do not think its possible for Nicho to come all the way back to top form after wasting away in WCW for years. This match compares very favorable to his match with Yoshijiro Tajiri in ECW last year, perhaps even better. They are different matches since this one had Santo’s fingerprints all over it with pinches of Nicho craziness thrown in. It was a lucha match while the Tajiri match was more puroresu-centric in its stiffness, build, and moves. Both matches are great, but seeing this one live in the building I feel this was slightly better. I’ll try to watch it on tape to see how it holds up but right now this is definitely by MOTY for 2001 so far.

Nicho shaved off most of his hair and gave several clumps to Santo. The crowd left happy. Great show. Thumbs Up. If it gets out on tape, GET IT.