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Espanto Jr. vs El Hijo Del Santo (8/31/86)


Phil Schneider
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  • 4 weeks later...

Another classic.  The little kids going up to Santito and encouraging him while he was on the floor between the first and second falls was so great.  Espanto dominants for much of the beginning, doing some cool back work during the second fall, ramming the small of Santo's back into the top turnbuckle and whipping him face first off the ropes into a back kick.  Santo's comeback is just amazing, sending Espanto out through the ropes on a Feurza bump followed by a big dive, right in front of the camera.  Third fall is off the charts, tons of mask ripping, dives and blood.  Santo staging his second comeback and his tearing at Espanto's mask and dragging him across the ring by it ruled.  Espanto hits a big dive on the opposite side of the ring as the camera and then the camera cuts to the other side where they're laying in the wreckage and blood is streaming down Espanto's mask.  A shame about the VQ and some clipping but it's not even close to masking a match this great.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I love the structure of this match. This isn't a wild brawl with lots of punches but it is a fiercely competitive wrestling match where both competitors give everything they have to hold on to the masks that represent their family's honor. Espanto Jr. is a beast and he just dominates throughout much of this match with his very physical grappling. Every throw looks like he's trying to put Santo right through the mat and he may have the best snapmare ever. Santito has a major hope spot before he ultimately succumbs to Espanto's brute force and loses the first fall. That image of the children coming to console Santo between falls is one of those classic pro wrestling images. As it turns out staying outside the ring is the only place Santo can rest and regroup as Espanto is on quite the roll. I love that Santo is completely dominated before the comeback that wins the second fall for him. In addition to his always incredible dives he throws some awesome kneelifts to get himself back into the match. Espanto also has one of the best Fuerza bumps I've ever seen. The third floor is just a war with perfect revenge spots. Espanto tears Santo's mask so Santo tears his. Espanto posts Santo and beats him with a chair so Santo slams Espanto into the turnbuckle until it is a bloody mess. It's only after Espanto's tope when both of them are recovering on the arena floor that we really get to see just how much punishment both have taken. The VQ gets funky so we don't get to see one of Santo's dives but we still hear the crowd losing it and how often has Santo fucked up one of his flying moves? Santo eventually sinks in the deepest camel clutch in wrestling history for a hard earned victory. This is a classic.

 

This is probably my MOTY for 1986 which is my favorite year for wrestling. I also think this is one of the greatest matches of all time so it says something about how great this set is that there is a chance this could end up being number 2 or number 3. I'm probably going to end up watching the top matches again because I can't commit myself to putting my top 5 in order at the moment. On the right day this could end up being number 1.

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This opens with Santito just getting ragdolled by Espanto Jr., who does the very Japanese thing of throwing his opponent back into the ring so he can beat on him more. The little kids coming up and comforting Santito after the first fall was just adorable. Espanto beats on him some more and rips his mask, but then he comes back and despite the truly horrendous audio you can hear the crowd erupt. Man I love the camerawork on this, right up in your face. Espanto does the through-the-ropes Psicosis bump skidding to a stop on his knees. That hurts to watch. Then Santito hits a tope and senton for the second pinfall. We get a great posting shot with Santo flying straight at the camera which Espanto turns to his advantage, chairing him and biting the cut. Awesome Lucha Thing #184: Spitting your opponent's blood in the air after you bite him. Then it's Espanto's turn. He busts out a tope that sees him vanish below the apron from the camera angle, they cut to the two and Espanto is just covered in gore. Both guys are just wore out at this point but Santo still busts out a plancha that the VQ buries. Of course Santito wins with the camel clutch and we get the unmasking of Espanto Jr., noble in defeat. 

 

I don't care about the VQ, the clipping, the pauses. This is in the top five of the set easily. Maybe #2 or #3 actually.

 

EDIT: I scroll up and Graham said basically the same thing, wow. 

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  • 1 month later...

I'm glad we have the Espanto/Eskeletor tag from the previous disc so that I'm a little more familiar with Espanto and the rivalry. These guys have to know each other like brothers by this point in their feud. I like the feeling out stuff early on. There are a lot of touches like Santo getting a leg up after he gets tossed to make sure he's protected and the way he does an extra little bounce bump or twist in the selling while still making it believable (if especially iconic). He's really good at inspiring sympathy and Espanto is especially cruel in his execution. All of his fireman's carry based offense is especially cool. I think the finish to the first fall is really well put together with Santo having a flurry only to get cut off by a HUGE flapjack and then put into the nasty submission. The first fall was "Even feeling out process, Espanto's viciousness giving him the advantage, Santo coming back despite the odds only to get caught and defeated." As far as first falls go, that's pretty good, but it's made all the better by Santo's selling/praying/emotional kneeling between falls (and yeah, the kids don't hurt).

 

Espanto is just a really great villain. It must have been such a fun character to play. The honing in on the back is a nice touch and the roll back stump puller pin is something more people should steal. It was a legitimate near fall at a point in the match that should have been impossible. It's followed by a bunch of dickish power move offense (and it's a testament to Espanto and Santo that they can make a neckbreaker seem like a power move) and general grinding down. I think I would have liked a hope spot right around here, but it's almost not necessary. There's a sense of hopelessness and despair that continues to build, maxing out at the mask pulling. It's a real testament that wrestling isn't one size fits all. Santo is like a bullet coming off the ropes as he starts his comeback and the crowd turns around instantly. The assisted Chris Hamrick bump is pretty much the best set up to a dive imaginable and the bodyslam on the outside is the exclamation point driving it all home. Hugely emotional second fall comeback where the substance lives up to the hype. 

 

The third fall transition off of the bulldog works well, with the posting and chair shot that follow really working as equalizers. Somehow Espanto biting at Santo's head is more evil than Satanico biting at Chicana's head or something. There's an element of the profane about it. It's a disquieting counterpoint to the sort of over the top bumping and offense that Santo does. It raises the stakes. I particularly love the folly of Espanto not going for the cover after the first senton leading to the Santo comeback. This is absolute folk hero stuff, especially once Espanto tries to escape and ends up getting a Fleischer Superman style beating on the turnbuckle. 

 

Then, out of nowhere, Espanto makes his comeback and the crowd is just electric on the two nearfalls. Santo gets one of his own but then gets dropkicked out of the ring. The framing of the dive due to the camera angle is pretty awesome, with Espanto just sort of running the length of the shot before diving out of it. Back in the ring Santo sidesteps Espanto, utilizing cleverness and finesse clear him out of the ring and it's downright criminal we miss the dive here. After the cut, we have Espanto, his mask looking almost completely different due to the tears, missing a huge splash (and we can figure out how they got into that position from all the other matches we've seen on the set). I'm glad that the two fall here isn't the finish, because that would show a lack of agency on Santo's part. Instead, after the kick out, with a burst of energy, he puts on his camel clutch and good triumphs over evil.

 

It's funny but I especially love this match because, coming into the lucha set, this is sort of what I thought the high end lucha stuff would all look like, just with maybe a bit more matwork in the early going. I thought it'd all be larger than life and expressive and iconic, and it's not that I don't really enjoy the brawls, but this match takes a lot of the best elements of them and does something completely different with it. It's very, very cool.

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  • 4 months later...

This has to be a top-10 match for me.  Espanto was a beast.  I have to agree with Matt D about Espanto's biting in the third fall.  Due to the poor video quality, it almost looked like "found footage" of some grisly act taking place.  Quite harrowing!  Espanto's knee-first fall to the floor during the second fall was a cool move.  The camel clutch submission for the mask loss was kind of novel.  This reminded me a bit of the Tully/Magnum I Quit match in terms of blood and intensity.  Good stuff!

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  • 6 months later...

Really great match that resolved from vicious back work and snap mares from Espanto in the first fall into biting, blood, and diving in the final caida. I thought some of the visuals here was stunning even with the grainy video quality such as the kids consoling Santo, Espanto father (?) crying after the unmasking and the sheer amount of blood Espanto was losing. Tremendous  stuff and this disc is relentless. (****1/2)

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I was falling asleep and didn't think much of this on the first watch but read the reviews here and realized I needed to rewatch this so I did that before the 1988 match. I don't think this will make my top 5 but I could definitely see this in my top 10. Really awesome stuff here, loved seeing the kids coming up to Santo and giving him encouragement after the first fall. I always love the visual of ripped and bloody masks and this match definitely delivers there. I can't believe Espanto could even walk after taking that between the ropes bump squarely on his knees.

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