Vandal’s Musings #2: Rush vs. Negro Casas, Ernie Ladd & El Minotauro!
Written by Vandal Drummond
RUDOS & HEELS! I finally watched the Negro Casas vs Rush Hair vs Hair match earlier today. Damn, the chemistry these two have together is dynamite! Beautifully worked match; Rush came off as a cocky rogue who has both the youth and energy to surpass Casas. That said, Casas did not play a weathered, tired old-timer, but a veteran who still has a fuckuva lot of fight in him, but is in an uphill battle with Rush’s freshness. Negro Casas works a smart match, and this was no exception.
Now— my lucha pals who know me well are aware how much I love a clean finish in Mexican style title matches and stipulation matches. This was the exact opposite; in fact, the most exaggerated and blatant screw finish I’ve seen in such a match. For those who have not seen the match, at one fall apiece (surprise, surprise!), Rush has Casas laying down, head nested on the bottom turnbuckle, then runs to the opposite turnbuckle so he nail Casas with his patented Face-Smash dropkick. Casas, however, perks up, runs across the ring, and nails Rush that classic turnbuckle dropick he’s known for; Rush collapses, then Casas nails him with Rush’s own dropkick, right in the kisser! Casas then prepares to deliver La Casita, but Rush shoves him off, and into referee Babe Richard, who takes the ref bump.
This final move is something I got a kick out of. Seeing Babe Richard is down, Rush blatantly, obviously, beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt fouls Negro Casas! In no way does it look like a move out of desperation, as is usually the case in lucha. You know, the rudo is exhausted, overpowered, and then BAM in the loins for either a DQ, or if undetected by the ref, cover the tecnico for a pin that looks credible before the ref’s eyes. NOT HERE! He pauses briefly after Casas collapses, and clearly Rush has a lot of gas left in his tank. But no, he just calmly plants his palms across Casas’ prostrate body for the three count. No deception with a crooked inside cradle, he doesn’t even hook the leg to fake credibility, he just sprawls across his foe, sticking out his tongue for added insult.
Like I said, he fouled him not out of desperation. Oh, he had fuel left; he just couldn’t be bothered! Let’s get this match over with!
It was a finish that saw fans throwing beer and food at Rush. Not the wildest food fight I’ve seen in the ring, but still effective.
TIME FOR MY CROSS-GENERATIONAL COMPARE & CONTRAST! As I always do, I think back on what had an effect on me when I first started wrestling when I was a child. While I wanted to see heels get their butts kicked for being sons-a-bitches, Ernie Ladd was the one heel that actually gave me a fright when I was ten years old. Standing at 6’9”, the former San Diego Chargers footballer’s size was monstrous for the early 70s. What made him terrifying to this little kid was that while he towered over the jobbers and looked like he could just step on them like a bug, that easy victory wasn’t enough to satiate him. Ladd claimed he had a permanently injured thumb, so he wore a suspiciously large bandage. After toying with his opponents, he would start jabbing them in the throat with his first aid piece, and the jobbers would start spitting up blood.
What was really cool –and unusual- about Ernie Ladd as difficult as he could be for promoters to work with, he took great pride at working with his opponents. LaBell publicist Jeff Walton told me when it was time for the heel to “get his,” Ladd purposely handpicked smaller opponents to kick his ass when it was time. I remember one instance very clearly: Ladd had just beaten Mil Mascaras clean in a Texas Death Match (I had no idea at the time how monumental it was at the time to see Mascaras job!), and as he continued to push Mil around, Raul Mata hit the ring and started wailing on Ladd. Ladd sold the punches, then raked Mata across the eyes. He then put his taped thumb to Mata’s throat; NOBODY sold Ladd’s thumb like Mata. In addition to spitting up a fountain of blood –it was lurid- Mata’s eyes went half-shut as he went into death spasms! And then— Ruben Juarez, all FIVE FOOT THREE of him, hit the ring, took off one of his dress shoes, and began wailing Ladd repeatedly across the head with it.
Not only did Ladd sell for Juarez, not only did he juice for Juarez, he began foaming at the mouth for Juarez!
Two weeks later, Ernie Ladd put over Ruben Juarez clean in the Freddie Blassie cage. Ladd was a true heel who took pride in getting the product over, not just himself.
Ladd was the tough guy who was a sadist to top things off; Rush is the talented rookie who just has to be a prick and not only take a shortcut, but flaunt it! Casas came off as the ultimate face, offering no resistance to the barber’s clippers, despite how obvious he was robbed.
And on the subject of Rudos – SOMBRA! I wildly disagree with folks who say Sombra lacks presence. I dug his charisma as a tecnico, but his DAZZLE-POINTS have tripled since joining Rush as “partners in prickishness!” His body language is so effective that he could get over if his mask were nothing more than a blank slate!
Straight from the shoulder, I think like a soldier
I know what’s right and what’s wrong!
I’m The Original Discriminating Buffalo Man
And I’ll do what’s wrong as long as I can!
—The Minotaur’s Song by The Incredible String Band
TITANES EN EL RING! Yes, I shall bombard each Musings column with tidbits about the history of Titanes En El Ring. While I was about to begin writing a piece on Pepino The Clown, one of Martin Karadagian’s most enduring icons, I happened upon a post on Facebook of EL MINOTAURO! I had to check this out immediately, and save dear Pepino for my next column. After one click-of-a-Youtube, I came across a portion of a 1983 episode of TEER that was a Greek Mythology smorgasbord! Not only did it contain The Minotaur, but also Jupiter (who wrestled a singles match, but will soon align with Mars), Polyphemus, and Capitan Zum! Totally bitchin’, though I have to confess being unawares to The Greek God Captain Zoom. I ditched a lot of my junior year in high school.
Check this out! Theseus would be totally bummed to learn that Dink-C had an easier time battling The Minotaur than he did. While Facebook chattin’ with my dear friend Samantha Cohen, I thought a super-team could happen if Theseus turns heel or El Minotauro turns face. Greek mythology can –and shall- be rewritten!
El Minotauro was Juan Domingo Vera, a Titanes mainstay who also worked as Ulus El Mongol, Neron, but was best known at the company’s peak in 1972-73 as El Coreano Sun.
NON WRESTLING RETRO! They just don’t have regional pitchmen like this guy anymore!
Til next time, may all your delusions be happy ones!