By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
Havana Brother I vs Volador Jr. 9/12/03
CMLL World Super Lightweight Championship Match
With the world growing smaller everyday as we are able to travel to far flung corners of the globe for holidays and to make a living, it isn’t surprising that some wrestlers seek fame and fortune in multiple places. Whether this is due to a difficulty in breaking through in their home country or more of a desire to experience a different wrestling culture, the communication across borders and the ability to watch promotions from around the world allow wrestlers the freedom to work practically wherever they want.
Rocky Romero is the perfect example of an independent wrestler who has benefitted from an increasingly fluid movement of talent. With a significant amount of success in the United States arguably usurped by title victories in New Japan, it is actually CMLL and Mexico where Romero has had the most success in singles contests in terms of being decorated at least. Romero would hold the CMLL World Super Lightweight Title three times and for over four years (though relatively inactive during a large portion of that time).
Indeed, it was the arrival in the promotion of Romero (as Havana Brother I), Ricky Reyes (II) and Puma (III) that spurred CMLL to reactivate the CMLL Japan Super Lightweight Championship after the Havana Brothers tag team had feuded with Ricky Marvin, Virus and Volador Jr. The rebranded belt would get its first champion following a cibernetico tournament that left Romero (still wrestling as Havana Brother I) and Volador Jr. the two men remaining to compete to be crowned the CMLL World Super Lightweight Champion.
Fought under two out of three fall rules, the involvement of a title instead of hair or a mask meant that the match was more likely to be fought with a more technical style than some of the blood and thunder apuestas matches. Title matches were more often about showing the fans who the better wrestler was, as you would expect titles to be but isn’t always the case elsewhere in the world.
This was definitely the case in the early exchanges as the two men traded leglocks and battled over a top wristlock as the feeling out process gave way to a quick wheelbarrow into an armdrag by Romero. Volador, yet to lose his mask, offered a handshake after some quick pin attempts, a gesture that Romero accepted but followed up with a shove and a chop that dropped the Mexican to the mat. Volador was always likely to come off worse on any strike exchanges with Romero known for his kicks in particular. It would actually be a missed Volador kick which helped to end the primera caida as Romero slapped on an anklelock and forced the submission.
Romero’s continued kick-based offense earned him a two count early on in the segunda caida, though an attempted armbar takedown saw him almost gift Volador the fall by pinning himself. Sensing a weakspot, Romero returned to the ankle lock, but Volador was able to reach the ropes and force the break. Out of nowhere, Volador used a rolling leglock to trap Romero in the middle of the ring and even up the contest at one fall apiece.
Unlike the occasionally epic tercera caidas that we’d see in title or apuestas matches, this one was over within a couple of minutes as both men ratcheted up the pace in an effort to take the title. A modified Northern Lights Suplex allowed Romero to put Volador in an armlock, whilst an attempt by Volador to fly with a suicide dive was cut off by a Romero kick to the head. A rope break saved Volador, who subsequently shoved off an attempted jumping armbar by turning it into a version of a powerbomb. Heading to the top, Volador would be caught with what effectively was a super jumping armbar which caused the submission that saw Romero crowned the first CMLL World Super Lightweight Champion.
This match is in no way unmissable, with the lineage of the title also not exactly stellar (names wise, definitely; match and legacy wise, less so), but it is somewhat of an interesting quirk of the modern wrestling world to see a Mexican promotion go out of their way to restart a division based purely on the perceived value of a Cuban wrestler best known for wrestling in tag teams in the US and Japan. It is indeed a small world after all.