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CMLL Arena Mexico results: Universal tournament finals

Images: CMLL. Photography by Alexis Salazar.

Two outstanding matches on Friday night in Arena Mexico highlighted a lucha libre card that featured the finals of the annual CMLL Universal tournament.

Volador Jr. won his first Universal Championship in the main event against Ultimo Guerrero for a crowd-pleasing match in Mexico City. Fans showed their appreciation by throwing money into the ring after the main event, which they also did the same for in the semi-main.

A dream team of high-flyers wowed the crowd in that semi-main as Dragon Lee teamed with Mistico and Caristico for a trios match with Los Hijos del Infierno.

Elsewhere on the undercard, Vangellys lost his hair in a match with Pierroth. Seemingly the goal of their feud itself was trying to increase Pierroth’s worth as a member of Los Ingobernables.

While he is a veteran and the father of stable leader Rush, Pierroth’s role in Los Ingobernables was previously more likened to being part of the supporting cast. That is until the departure of La Mascara from CMLL. Winning a hair match ideally elevates Pierroth, but a lackluster match with Vangellys might not have accomplished the goal. Time will tell.

One feud that looks to have gained momentum is the ongoing struggle between Sam Adonis and Blue Panther. Adonis wore a Love Machine mask to the ring for a trios match with himself and Panther as opposing team captains.

Their feud involves nationalistic pride, with Adonis continuing his Trump supporter gimmick on Mexican soil. The Love Machine mask added a new element to the feud, and wearing the mask is an ode to a memorable feud from Panther’s past.

The late Art Barr portrayed the masked Love Machine while feuding with Blue Panther in the early 1990s. In front of a sellout crowd at Arena Mexico in 1992, Love Machine lost his mask to Panther and revealed himself as Art Barr. Though Barr would leave EMLL (now CMLL) for AAA and gain greater fame in a tag team with Eddy Guerrero, the feud with Blue Panther remains legendary in lucha libre.

Adonis donning the Love Machine mask took his issues with Panther to such a heated level that Panther on Friday night issued a challenge for a singles match between the two. What seemed like an aimless feud is now a full-fledged grudge.

With all that aside, the main focus of the card was the finals of the Universal tournament. The annual tradition in CMLL is a tournament involving the promotion’s champions as everyone entered holds a title of some sort.

The winner of the tournament becomes the Universal Champion, though the title is not actually defended throughout the year. Nonetheless, the Universal tournament is probably the most high-profile tourney of the year in a promotion filled with tournaments.

The Friday night card featured many plugs for the upcoming Grand Prix. Also plugged throughout the show was the Copa Natalia Vazquez, which is a women’s tournament that headlines next Friday night in Arena Mexico.

The full show from Friday is available on the CMLL YouTube channel (along with other shows from the past week). Watch it below:

Metalico, Akuma & captain Arkangel de la Muerte defeated Sensei, Astral & captain Star Jr.

This match got much more time than it probably needed, and arguably it was not all that good. After a botched spot, Astral rolled up rudo captain Arkangel for a pinfall to mercifully end the first fall. With the tecnicos winning the opening fall, the rudos would go to win the next two.

For the second fall, Akuma eliminated Sensei after pinning him with a splash off the top rope. Metalico then tied up Astral in a leglock for a submission as the rudos evened the falls.

In the third fall, Akuma dispatched Astral with a powerbomb on the floor. Metalico eliminated Sensei via pinfall with an ugly backdrop. Star Jr. went for a Frankensteiner off the top, which Arkangel blocked to set up a super powerbomb for a pinfall.

Amapola, Zeuxis & captain Dalys defeated Vaquerita, Silueta & captain Marcela

The rudas won the first and third falls to take the match. In gaining an early advantage in the first fall, Zeuxis eliminated Vaquerita by pinning her after a Spanish Fly off the top rope. Marcela became tied in the ropes, allowing Dalys to take her out with a dropkick. That left Amapola to pin Silueta after giving her the Angel’s Wings.

The rudas continued to dominate until the tecnicas made a comeback in the second fall. Setting up a captain pinning a captain, Marcela jumped off the top rope with a double foot stomp on Dalys for the cover and a three count.

The third fall had teammates making saves on pinning attempts. The rudas made a save that allowed Dalys to escape a camel clutch applied by Marcela. Dalys then applied a Scorpion Deathlock to submit the tecnica captain, winning the match for the rudas.

Dragon Rojo, Negro Casas (w/ El Perico Zacarias) & captain Sam Adonis defeated Soberano Jr. (w/ KeMonito), Diamante Azul & captain Blue Panther

Adonis wore the Love Machine mask to the ring to compliment his heel American persona. A commissioner at ringside was highly upset at him wearing such a mask. That led into a disqualification of the rudos in the first fall for excessive violence as they ganged up on Blue Panther.

The commissioner got on the apron and demanded that Adonis take off the Love Machine mask. Maybe the commish thought a confused audience would actually think Adonis was Art Barr, who passed away in 1994.

The commish distracted the rudos long enough for Panther to regroup. Panther unmasked Adonis and they began brawling around ringside until their fight spilled out into the crowd. They continued to brawl in the crowd for several minutes.

Meanwhile, Casas submitted Soberano for an elimination when he applied a Scorpion Deathlock. Dragon Rojo then did a double foot stomp off the top rope to pin Azul to give the rudos the second fall.

The match settled down in the third fall as Panther and Adonis also returned to the ring. The action picked up again, leading to Soberano showcasing his high-flying skills. In a wild spot, Azul launched Soberano over the ropes with a monkey flip into a dive. Panther sent Adonis sailing with an arm drag off the ropes for a near fall.

Heading into the finish, Panther applied an armbar. Adonis was out of bounds underneath the ropes to break the hold. Panther thought he won, and he began arguing with heel referee Tirantes. With Panther distracted, Adonis scooped him up for a Michinoku Driver. Adonis covered Panther, and cheated by holding the bottom rope for leverage, as he pinned him to win the third fall.

Blue Panther then got a microphone and challenged Adonis to a one-on-one match. As Panther was cutting a promo on Adonis, Azul snatched Adonis’ American flag that is emblazoned with the face of Donald Trump. Azul broke the flagpole and threw the flag into the crowd, where Adonis went to retrieve it.

Panther kept cutting his promo, which started a "Mexico" chant. Adonis slunk away after retrieving his flag, with Panther close behind still cutting a promo. The crowd was hot and wanted a singles match between the two. Looks like that will happen in the near future even if Adonis never actually accepted the challenge.

Pierroth defeated Vangellys in a hair match

Vangellys did a dance routine with a troupe of female dancers during his entrance. They each got a grand entrance, though Pierroth got a much grander one. Pierroth wore a white suit while he literally had the red carpet rolled out for him. Vangellys attacked Pierroth on the red carpet to start the match.

Pierroth never had a chance to take off his suit as Vangellys overwhelmed him in a very short first fall. Vangellys quickly pinned Pierroth with a fisherman’s buster. Between falls, Pierroth was able to regroup and finally remove his suit.

Pierroth evened the falls with a pinfall after a senton off the middle rope for the second fall. That is about when they started having an actual match, and it was not pretty at times.

Heading into the third fall, they fought out into the crowd with Vangellys getting to look strong since he was losing. Back in the ring, Vangellys missed a somersault senton off the top rope. Pierroth soon finished him off with a Gotch tombstone for a pinfall.

Though Los Ingobernables henchmen were at ringside for the duration of the match itself, Rush was noticeably absent. After Pierroth won, a beaming Rush appeared before the crowd. He gloated for a bit before the guest barber came to the ring wearing a tuxedo that looked good enough for prom.

The barber shaved the head of Vangellys as he continued to sell the piledriver. Since Vangellys had short hair anyway, the haircut took very little time. Before long, Vangellys was bald.

Dragon Lee, Caristico & captain Mistico defeated Ephesto, Luciferno & captain Mephisto

The tecnicos were referred to as the “Dream Team” in this match against Los Hijos del Infierno. The rudos hold the Mexican National Trios Championship, but this was a non-title match.

The first fall came quickly after some initial grappling. Ephesto took out Dragon Lee with a tope suicida that sent Lee over the barricade into the first row. In the ring, Mephisto pinned Caristico after executing a Styles Clash. Ephesto then gave Mistico the Devil’s Wings off the top for a pinfall, ending the first fall with the rudos gaining the early advantage.

The rudos continued their onslaught as the second fall began. The tecnicos eventually made a comeback that led to Mistico and Caristico doing dives to the outside. Dragon Lee hit a running Spanish Fly on rudo captain Ephesto to cover him for a pin. Suddenly, the match was tied.

The third fall gave way to spectacular flying by the tecnicos. It began with all three tecnicos diving off the stage. The action exploded from there with more wild dives. A series of high spots led into many pinning attempts and saves. The crowd was bonkers by this point.

With Mistico and Caristico on the receiving end of a Tower of Doom spot, Dragon Lee eliminated Ephesto with a frog splash and followed with the pinfall. Dragon Lee himself was soon also eliminated when he ran into a Canadian Destroyer by Luciferno for a pin.

In the closing moments, Caristico applied La Mistica and submitted Luciferno to win the match for the tecnicos.

The crowd threw money into the ring, and for good reason as the third fall was fantastic.

Volador Jr. defeated Ultimo Guerrero to win the Universal Championship

For the seconds, Soberano Jr. was in Volador’s corner and Luciferno was in Guerrero’s corner. They were ringside to witness a helluva great match for the finals of a tournament featuring various champions in CMLL. Guerrero came into the tournament as the NWA World Historic Middleweight Champion. Volador holds the NWA World Historic Welterweight Championship, and he won his first Universal Championship in this match.

The first fall started with grappling and chain wrestling with the crowd already hot for this main event. The luchadores would not disappoint. The first big high spot saw Volador attempt a tope con hilo. Guerrero caught Volador and powerbombed him on the floor. Ouch.

After rolling Volador back into the ring, Guerrero applied Pulpo Guerrero for a submission en route to capturing the first fall.

The second fall was short as Volador made a quick comeback. After a hurricanrana on the floor by Volador, they returned to the ring. Volador went for a Code Red, and Guerrero tried to block it to no avail. Volador went on to execute the Code Red, and then he pinned Guerrero to even the falls.

The third fall was much longer and much more spectacular, and the match was already pretty great before that final fall began. A subplot in the third fall was Tirantes' biased officiating. Volador fighting from underneath with the referee clearly against him got the crowd even hotter.

Early in the third fall, Volador countered a vertebreaker to roll up Guerrero for a two count. Tirantes made a slow count as Guerrero kicked out. They began to trade near falls.

Volador went for a handspring back elbow, only to get caught with a German suplex for a near fall. Guerrero delivered a superplex for a two count. Guerrero then executed a super gourdbuster, and Volador narrowly kicked out. Volador countered with a lungblower for a cover, but Tirantes' slow count allowed Guerrero to get a shoulder up.

Volador went for a Frankensteiner off the top, but Guerrero turned it into a super powerbomb. Volador kicked out just before Tirantes' hand hit the mat for three. Tirantes was beside himself in disbelief.

Guerrero went for a second super powerbomb, and Volador countered with a super Frankensteiner. Once again, Tirantes’ slow count allowed Guerrero to kick out. The action spilled outside, where Guerrero did his signature leap over the barricade into a body block. When they returned to the ring, there was a double down.

Guerrero recovered to hit a Rainmaker for a near fall. Volador hit another super Frankensteiner for a slow two count. Guerrero set up and delivered the Guerrero Special (reverse superplex), but Volador rolled out of the ring to avoid a cover. Guerrero deadlifted Volador for a superplex back into the ring, and Volador somehow miraculously kicked out. What a match!

For the finish, Guerrero climbed up the turnbuckles. Volador dashed up the ropes and leaped off with Guerrero into a Spanish Fly. Volador rolled over to cover Guerrero for the three count. The crowd immediately started throwing money at the ring.

As the seconds gathered the money being thrown in, Volador was presented with the Universal Championship belt.