By Liam Byrne @tvtimelimit
El Hijo Del Santo and Octagon vs La Pareja del Terror 11/6/94
Double Mask versus Hair Match
The AAA/IWC pay-per-view, When Worlds Collide, was an opportunity to try and bring lucha libre to the masses. Run by the same production team as WCW, with Eric Bischoff managing to make it the first time a non-US based wrestling promotion had put a show on pay-per-view, the show took place in Los Angeles and had commentary teams that allowed the viewer to listen in both English and Spanish. With a significant mix of known American entities (wrestler such as Too Cold Scorpio and Tito Santana were on the card, for example) and the best of Mexican wrestling, the card was a critical success.
Though not the main event, the match that earned the majority of the plaudits was the apuestas match between El Pareja del Terror (Eddie Guerrero and Art Barr) and the native team of El Hijo Del Santo and Octagon. Guerrero had turned on Santo with the gentle nudging of Barr, leading to a tag title run that came off of the back of a bribery scandal involving the referee, Tirantes. Not only were Guerrero and Barr pushing their American ways as being better, they also had the tag titles to prove it. The apuestas match was the ultimate feud ender normally, but this took on a whole different level of heat with it becoming as much about the lucha libre way versus the arrogance of America.
With Mike Tenay and Chris Cruise providing English commentary, Guerrero and Barr would both initially be outwrestled by Santo and Octagon respectively, only for Guerrero to attack Octagon from behind to wrestle control from the tecnicos. A sloppy looking huracanrana that saw Guerrero jump off the top rope and take Santo off of Barr’s shoulders ended Santo’s fall; Octagon was subsequently pinned after a superplex/frog splash combination. Tenay made it clear: we were one fall away from seeing the faces of Santo and Octagon.
The segunda caida carried on in the same way as Guerrero dumped Santo with a beautiful fallaway slam and suplex. Two standing dropkicks on Octagon had Barr doing star jumps in the middle of the ring as the tecnicos just couldn’t fight their way back into the match. However, they ripped a page out of the rudos playbook with Santo jumping Barr from behind, leading to a double suicide dive by Santo and Octagon that had the fans on their feet. Still, they were not able to fully capitalise, and Guerrero pinned Santo once more with a huracanrana off of the top rope. Unlike many lucha contests, the second fall didn’t happen within moments to see El Pareja del Terror win – instead, Octagon managed to take Guerrero out with a huracanrana of his own and force a submission on Barr to take the caida out of nowhere and with a man down.
It was all down to the tercera caida as neither team had managed to fully take control of the contest. Each team were paying lip service to the rules as each submission and pinfall would see the illegal man enter the ring to break the hold, most notably when a Barr superkick knocked Santo off of a camel clutch attempt. Octagon would return the favour shortly afterwards, a punt to the stomach breaking a Barr STF. No-one was able to find the momentum needed to take crucial control of the final fall.
A double suicide dive from the rudos saw Guerrero come up a little bit short, but to no noticeable effect. With Santo landing a sunset flip on Guerrero to the floor, Octagon would be dropped on his head with a tombstone piledriver, an illegal move. Not only was Octagon out of the contest, he was stretchered away. Santo was left on his own, fighting for his mask. The superplex and frog splash combination that earned a pin in the first fall was not enough to finish off Santo and as the rudos collided and Santo landed a top rope splash to the outside, Blue Panther would piledrive Barr behind the referee’s back to even the tercera caida at one apiece.
It felt prescient for the two former tag partners to see out the contest and it was Guerrero who seemed to be closest to picking up the victory with a belly to belly superplex and a German suplex. Just as it looked like the legends would be defeated, Santo turned an attempted Dragon suplex into a roll-up for the victory. As Octagon was carted out of the arena, he may not have looked like a winner, but thanks to Santo, Barr and Guerrero lost their hair and were shown up for good.
The tragic aftermath of this story is what makes it feel somewhat seminal. Only seventeen days after this contest, a match that showed the world how good Barr could be, he was found dead. Guerrero would adopt the frog splash finisher as a tribute, riding off of the back of the pay-per-view success to raise his profile and springboard into prominence in the US in particular. As a denouement to Barr’s career and life, it is bittersweet that he went out on one of the best matches of all time.