Today, we're off to Japan for stuff from EMLL's trip over there in February 1997. The tapes is two hours and heavily edited for the time constraints, but no worse than the heavily edited stuff on EMLL TV todays.
There is much clipping, so I'll hold off on the rankings, and just give an overall ranking.
We open with video of the stars signing autographs outside the shows. Of course, they retain their masks. Also, match highlights and a grand posing in the ring.
1. Cadaver de Ultratumba/Espectro Jr/Arkangel vs. Shinobi/Mascara Magica/Ultraman Jr
CdU & EJr both wear black/white and green masks respectively and wigs, while wrestling barefoot. Shinobi is not Al Snow, but is another ninja gimmick.
Highlights of the opening pairings - EJr/Magica. Ultraman's segment with Arkangel sees a tope con hilo and a somesault off the ring apron. Shinobi does a bunch of wicked ranas on CdU. The clips to the end, which sees the trainwreck of topes and planchas. Ultra topes Espectro. Cadaver follows with a pescado. Moonsault to the fllor by Shinobi. Arkangel tope con hilos everybody, then Mascara Magica springboard planchas everybody. Back to the ring, Shinobi victory rolls Cadaver to eliminate him. They clip forward to Espectro getting an armbar on Shinobi and the submission. Magica topes Arkangel during another clip, followed by Ultraman meeting Espectro with a missile dropkick. 2 count. Especro hits one powerbomb on Cadaver for a near fall, but his second one is turned into a rana for 3.
I'll point out that I love the graphics they use for trios matches. They show all 6 men, and the captains are highlighted. If a non-captain is eliminated, they X out his picture in that in an on-screen graphic after the fall.
2. Lady Apache/Esther Moreno vs. Mariko Yoshida/Chapparita Asari
Apache and Moreno are both veterans on the lucha side. The Morenos are to lucha as the Sutter brothers are to hockey. Asari worked the 1995 Survivor Series, and also ate a stiff back fist from Aja Kong on a later RAW. No wonder Madusa jumped ship. Asari has done some EMLL work though against Apache a few months prior to this. As for Yoshida, I'll let the Joshi nuts fill in the blanks on her.
When this starts, we see Apache splattering Asari with a somersault to the floor, as Yoshida finds herself in Moreno's camel clutch. Clip forward to ASARI getting put in a rolling tapitia. Asari after escaping, does a handspring dropkick in the corner to Apache. Another clip forward to Mariko getting double teamed, then hit with a pair of Moreno moonsaults and a 2. Apache can't get the pin either after a senton. The Japanese women come back after that, kicking the luchadettes to the floor. Another clip forward to the series of topes and planchas, then Asari is eliminated with a top-rope Moreno rana. Moreno is then pinned after a sloppy Magistral from Mariko. Apache moves in and goes for a Tapitia, but no submission. Apache climbgs the buckles, but Mariko gets the boots up. Another sloppy Magistral for 2. Apache tries to go up again, but is brought down with a belly-to-back for 2. Mariko to the top, but Apache is up to catch her and armdrag her down. One strange pinning combo later, Apache has the 3. 3. Rayo de Jalisco/Kendo vs. Felino/Apolo Dantes
Kendo is another ninja gimmick. This was a couple months before Felino's tecnico turn.
Pretty much all comedy and work the crowd spots to start, and Japanese fans give a healthy 'Ole' to it. Jalisco may suck, but his plancha off the top turnbuckle to the outside is a thing of beauty. The chops echo nicely in these surroundings. Apolo wins the match with a small package.
4. Rey Bucanero/Black Warrior/Pirata Morgan vs. Mr. Niebla/Shocker/Lizmark
The oldsters are the captains. Most of the clips show the crazy spots from the youngsters. Highlights - Moonsault to the floor by Niebla on Rey. Warrior doing the same to Shocker after a fake-out. Shocker topes Bucanero 4 rows deep into the crowd. Warrior does a weak pescado on Lizmark. Niebla does an insane over the post tope on Pirata, then Bucanero does a tope con hilo. Warrior will get the win for his team with a strange looking submission.
5. Bestia Salvage/Hijo del Santo vs. Negro Casas/Super Astro
They show the entrances, so maybe this one will air in full. Super Delfin presents Santo with a bouquet of flowers for whatever reason.
Bestia & Astro exchange chops before hitting the mat. CLip ahead to Santo/Casas, who are trading front facelocks before the mat segment starts. A whole bunch of crazy headscissors and takedowns are worked into this, and it all gets the expected Japanese applause reaction. The segmentd with Bestia & Astro get somewhat less reaction than the Casas/Santo stuff. Santo works his swanton bomb onto a held opponent, then get up and tope someone else spot. Astro then blasts Santo with a corner tope, and even Bestia breaks one out. Astro's back up, and he does the rolling headbutt to the floor. Back in the ring, he tries the back headbutt to Santo, but Hijo sidesteps, and submits the tecnico with a camel clutch. Santo slams Casas, and Bestia goes to the top. The splash misses, and BEstia is eliminated with a Magistral. Then Casas goes to the top turnbuckles, but he gets met by Santo. One superplex, and camel clutch later, the rudos take this.
1. Cadaver de Ultratumba/Espectro Jr vs. Ultraman Jr/Shinobi
They don't clip the opening mat segment between Espectro & Shinobi. It's reasonably competent. Ultra's wearing a kickass half-green, half-white skull mask that I want to be buried in. The Ultra/CdU segment is better, but it is also given more time. Shinobi's return is more spot-oriented, ending it with a moonsault to the floor in his segments with both rudos. When Ultra comes in, he gets quickly double-teamed, and submits to your average goofy lucha submission hold. Shinobi briefly fights off both men, but his moonsault misses, and he submits to a double team Gory Special. (CdU has the hold on, while Espectro pushes on Cadaver's chest with his feet)
2. Lady Apache vs. Mariko Yoshida
No chain wrestling to start off this one. It looks like a Gory Special spot is botched, as Yoshida falls right on her head. Yashido comes back, and does a nice combo, holding on to a monkey flip, and applying a cross armbreaker as Apache flips over. The next few minutes are pretty pedestrian, although there are some qeubradoras from Apache thrown in. There is one neat spot, as MAriko jumps off the apron and DDTs Apache on the floor. At least that's what it looked like. Apache does come back, and get some nearfalls off suplexes. Both get 2 off an Apache rana, then MAriko's roll through. Mariko to the top. Apache meets her with an armdrag off the top, but only for 2. It ends with a much less sloppy Magistral Cradle, following a Samoan Drop/Death Valley Driver combo.
3. Apolo Dantes/Arkangel/Felino vs. Kendo/Rayo de Jalisco Jr/Mascara Magica
Didn't stink, but was unspectacular enough that neither poor work or amazing work stands out. No matwork from Magica & Felino, which disapointed me - their stuff around this time was beautiful to watch. The rudos win the match as Arkangel gives Magica to Felino, so Felino can deliver a splash mountain off the top.
4. Black Warrior vs. Mr. Niebla
YES! The chain wrestling segment is really good, as both were really starting to hit their stride around this time, starting the move to the top level they are at now. It ends after an electric chair as Warrior tries for a Victory Roll. Among the highspots were a springboard back headbutt by Niebla to the floor, a nice tope from Niebla and a tope con hilo by Warrior. Sadly, no Black Warrior between-the-ropes tope of imminent death. The consolation prize of Warrior swatting away a missile dropkick and getting the win after a goofy submission makes up for it. Sad that this only got 9 minutes, though.
5. Kendo/Lizmark/Super Astro vs. Rey Bucanero/Pirata Morgan/Bestia Salvage
Probably the worst match on the tape, but better than most of what you see on a Monday. Kendo small packages Bestia out of nowhere for the tecnico win.
6. Negro Casas vs. Hijo del Santo
Disappointingly, we only get a minute of mat wrestling, before the crazy spots start. It is very disappointing when these two have to go to their dives at the 2-minute mark. Nits to pick. Nits to pick. Back to the ring, Negro gets Santo in a body scissors/sleeper combo, but Santo is right by the ropes. Negro then goes to the chinlock. Back to their feet, we see headbutts, kneelifts and chops. At least in Japan, they're not afraid to work stiff. Santo kicks down Casas and goes for a tapitia, but Negro gets his arms free, and teases a scorpion deathlock on the escape, which Santo rolls to get out of before Negro turns him over. Santo does get in a nice armbar takedown, but this time it is Casas right by the ropes. Finally, we also get some mask ripping, the first on the tape. Santo's so upset, he dropkicks Negro outside and planchas him. Santo dives at Casas with a headbutt as they return to the ring, and then tries for the camel clutch. Casas fights it, so Santo gives up and slams Casas. Up to the top for Santo, but his splash misses, and he is easy pickings for a Magistral cradle and a 3.
It looked like everything on the second night was unclipped, since the match times shown match what my VCR says. The clips one the first night are really annoying, but the atmposphere, and especially the one-fall rule is worth checking this out for alone. Very different than Arenas Coliseo & Mexico. Good for a lucha completist, otherwise, it is in the middle of any other EMLL TV you can pick up from 1997, but with more spots, and less wrestling. Definitely not lucha for a first-timer, but worth picking up if you're a lucha fan. Let's call it 83 overall.
I got it in a trade, but it appears you can get it here:
Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org) says Joey Matthews, born 1979, debuted in 1996. The article for his partner Christian York says York's first match was against Matthews in December 1996. They teamed in MEWF from 1997.