Today we're looking at a wrestler just beginning to make a stir in the United States but has been on the rise in Mexico for a decade: Arez.
Arez, known as the Master of Strange Style, has recently joined MLW and made immediate impact. Between his match with Aramis on Fusion Alpha and the big fatal four way at Fightland, Arez has looked amazing, and that's no surprise. Arez has been slowly building his craft since 2010, and has had some epic encounters along that road. Today we're going to take a look at Arez's rise, the world of independent Lucha Libre that he comes from, and some of his best matches against both legends and names that you may not have heard of, but show that Lucha is alive and well.
Arez was trained by the legendary Blue Demon Jr. and it shows. He has a great grasp of the fundamentals, but truly makes the ring his own. We've actually talked about Arez once before back in the Daniel Garcia Indie Talent Showcase, and as much as I love it, that match won't be here. I want to focus on matches that I haven't covered yet, and boy do I have some good ones in store. Arez made his wrestling debut in a few shows for Wrestling in Pachuca. In his first ever match, at NWA Mexico, he was part of a Trios team with Fenix, and stood opposite Pentagon Jr. From that moment on, Arez would continue to face some amazing luchadores. From there Arez would compete in places like PDM and XMW in 2011 as well as a UK tour. By 2014 he had won his first ever title, the PDM Light Heavyweight Championship.
Also in 2014, Arez made his Lucha Memes debut at the company's first ever show. It was Lucha Memes where I first saw Arez in that fantastic match with Daniel Garcia, and so he has truly became a key member of their roster. We're going to see a lot of Lucha Memes on this list, as Arez won their 2020 Battle of Coacalco Tournament, and made it to the semifinals in 2021. The other main company we're going to see multiple matches from is RIOT Lucha. He won a title tournament there in 2019, and still holds their belt to this day.
I mentioned that Arez has faced many, many wrestlers, but one that sticks out to me is Aramis. Aramis seems to always be in the same sentence as Arez. Whether it was coming to GCW's Acid Cup, the Warrior Wrestling Lucha War of Attrition match, or joinging MLW, they always seem together(except that CZW match where Arez was joined by Mr. Iguana). Aramis and Arez have had 46 matches where they've been in the same ring, whether fighting or tagging, and that's over the course of six years with no sign of slowing down. Aramis is truly the greatest rival of Arez, and so of course I've included him twice here. The match that the pair put on in MLW was so good that even Sports Illustrated covered it. Arez is a phenomenally unique fighter, and after seeing these matches, all either on Youtube or IWTV, I hope you agree as well.
#10: Arez vs Sadico
This was the semifinal in the 2020 Battle of Coacalco and it's still the newest match between these two. They open with the kind of tilt-a-whirl and leapfrog sequence that you often think of with Lucha Libre. This was my first time seeing Sadico and I quite enjoyed it. Semifinal matches in tournaments can seem inconsequential where the winner is obvious. Thankfully, this tournament doesn't have that problem, and I could have easily seen Sadico winning. There's a lot of great ground work in this match, and Sadico is very good with joint manipulation. For example, Arez hits a big kick but Sadico catches it and turns it into a standing ankle lock. Arez would go on to win the tournament, but this definitely feels like a hidden gem along the way.
#9: Arez and Aramis vs The Golden Gods
Later in this list we're going to look at Arez fighting Aramis, but let's start with a tag match seeing them work together. I'm very familiar with Gringo Loco, but this was my first time seeing Golden Dragon. He came across very good here, and I suggest also watching the rematch these two teams just had, which is also on Youtube. Arez and Aramis belong in the ring together, and you can see in this match how well they work together.
They can work either side of a match with each other, but there is something extra fun about seeing these two, who many are calling the future of Lucha Libre, work together. It's like the Mega Powers or Batman and Superman, and it's a true treat. Of course, the Golden Gods have the tag belts going into this match for a reason. They are fantastic, and hit some great tandem offense, especially on Arez. Aramis does seem a little more protected in this match, but he did also come in with the Warrior Wrestling Lucha Championship. All four wrestlers did a great job here, but it was great to see Arez and Aramis capture the tag team titles.
#8: Arez vs Lee Moriarty
After Arez won the 2020 Battle of Coacalco, he really did become the gatekeeper for Americans coming into Lucha Memes. That began in March with his match with Daniel Garcia that he talked about in Garcia's article, but continued here in the 2021 tournament. Arez was looking to repeat as winner, and the other finalist was already set. The winner of this match would go on to face Ricky Marvin in the finals, and either one could do it.
When I got through the quarter finals and realized this match was coming I became incredibly excited. This match lived up to my dreams, and I would love to see it happen again. Arez was the perfect fit for Moriarty, and their styles meshed together so well. They spend most of the match evenly tied as they try to one up each other. The strike exchanges in this match are some of my favorites, and in particular when they both scream before hitting clothesline knocking each other down. I really thought Arez would go to the finals for the second year in a row, but Lee manages to get the win with a very tight pin. It's a great match and like I said I want to see it one more time.
#7: Arez vs Pentagon Jr
Not only is Arez great now, he's been great for a while it seems. This match is from all the way back in 2014, and Arez successfully defends his title against Pentagon. It's not a clean match either, as within two minutes Arez's forehead is bleeding to the point where I can't tell it apart from his face paint. The roof of this building is also leaking, and that really adds to the grunge feel of this match. It's the kind of walk and brawl I'd expect from No Peace Underground where I'm just as worried about something being hit by a car as a chair.
If you think Penta in AEW is rough, and if you think that his deathmatch in Lucha Underground is bad, this match is just Penta craving Arez's head open with a pizza cutter. When he finally puts down the metal he switches to light tubes, which is so much better. This is that nasty side of Penta that we don't always see anymore, but boy do I love it. For example, the first blood that gets on Penta is Arez's, because Penta licked him. When Penta decides that he's had his fill of beating the living hell out of Arez, he takes the man's pants. This is not a situation where he had trunks under his tights, it's just boxer briefs.
Penta also does not pull off the pants, he rips them off. In the ripping process, he drags Arez across the floor full of light tubes. It's only thanks to interference that Arez wins, which is why it's a little lower on the list, but if you want to watch Arez surviving an absolute onslaught, and losing his pants, this match is for you.
#6: Arez vs Laredo Kid
Although Arez lost here, the fact that he got to challenge Laredo Kid for the AAA Cruiserweight Title is fantastic. This is such a fun match and I think shows that Arez is able to hang with the best of the best. The match starts with Arez in strong control. He's able to break holds by bending his foot in strange ways and never does what you'd expect. Laredo Kid has to adjust by keeping very limb of Arez locked up tight but Arez just keeps slipping out. Arez seems to go for a hurricanrana from the ground but is able to turn it into one of the most badass kip-ups I've ever seen. They work really well together in this match, and the fact that Arez is able to keep up with Laredo's speed is impressive. This is also unlike any other match you'll see, because the show was a drive in.
You get to hear car horns honking in unison, and like I said, you're not going to see that a lot. Arez does some sort of tilt-a-whirl on Laredo's back into one of the nastiest variations of the surfboard stretch I've seen. Although Laredo does retain in this match, Arez doesn't go down easy. It's a solid fight that sees them brawl outside the ring as well. Arez really comes off looking great here, and could easily be a champion in AAA soon if they want him to be. Arez hits so many power moves that just leave me(as well as Aramis) breathless. It's a wonderful title shot that did nothing but elevate Arez.
#5: Arez vs Black Taurus
After Bandido won the first ever Battle of Coacalco in 2019, the 2020 tournament came down to this. It's not the longest match on the list, but both men fought hard just to get to this point, and honestly although I only put the finals here you should really just watch the whole tournament. The match opens with a suicide dive from Arez where he gets caught by Taurus and counters getting slammed by the bull into an arm drag. That's the speed and aggression that this match is filled with. Arez is constantly flipping off things and hitting far more spins on a tilt-a-whirl than necessary, whereas Taurus is fine to just throw a short arm clothesline.
That kind of clash of styles really brings an energy to this match that is hard to ignore. Arez can counter just about anything, but every hit from Taurus could end it. They're also both exhausted at this point, and as I said, so much prestige is on the line. When Arez does finally win, he just sits and takes selfies with kids, and you can't help but feel happy for him.
#4: Arez vs Erick Ortiz
This is a big moment for Arez as not only does he win a title, it's his first ever tournament win. The crowd gets behind him pretty quickly, and thankfully they get their wish. That's to take nothing away from Ortiz though, who absolutely deserved to be in the finals. Similar to the Black Taurus match, I do suggest watching this entire tournament as well. This is a really fun match with a hot crowd. Arez and Ortiz end up as a tangled mess of limbs throughout the match leading to innovative counters and moves that I need a whiteboard to diagram who got hurt where.
This is one of the few matches where Arez's version of tour of the islands doesn't put his opponent away. Considering this is how Arez won the RIOT title, it makes his match with Aramis that we will look at later make more sense in how he ended it. Arez pulls off the win and gets very emotional as the crowd cheers him on. It's a great crowning moment for him, and I think lays a lot of groundwork for later matches on this list.
#3: Arez vs XL vs Fly Warrior
This one came from the same company that gave us Pentagon Jr. vs Arez, XMW, and this one is a lot of fun. Fly Warrior is the masked wrestler, and XL is the one in the black pants. These three move at a mile a minute and never slow down. Early on, Arez slides under the ropes before Fly Warrior leaps over the top to take out XL. They pull off some really interesting triple threat moves like a double leapfrog that remind you why triple threats are fun. Arez is definitely the standout, but I really like what I saw of Fly Warrior and XL.
The whole match felt unpredictable, and the momentum was shifting constantly. There's a gorgeous top rope hurricanrana where both men were standing on the top ropes across a corner, and I'm still a bit shocked that happened. The Fly Warrior vs Arez segments really stood out from this match as the most unique, but that's nothing against XL, who hits a gorgeous moonsault off the balcony and almost wins. Ultimately Arez wins not just the match, but the title as well.
#2: Arez vs Black Terry
The fact that Black Terry is still wrestling blows my mind, and the last part of my brain remaining goes out the window seeing that he's still great. Terry debuted in 1973, and has been a wonderful part of Lucha Memes over the last couple of years. His match with Ricky Marvin in 2021 was absolutely killer, and a great introduction to modern Black Terry. This one with Arez is a pretty close second though, as it really is a battle of generations. Terry loves to punch people, and the master of strange style is happy to punch back.
Arez spends most of the early stretch of the match getting beat up, which does make sense. Black Terry is a legend at this point: his career has spanned 48 years, so of course he's able to dominate. This match isn't on this list because of Arez's dominance, but rather his perseverance. He's able to survive Black Terry, and that alone earns people's respect. When Arez is eventually able to take control, it's with submissions. Terry is about simple, effective strikes, while Arez relies on complex, brutal submissions. This match sees Terry pushing himself to his limit, and I love that as the battle wears on, some of that mystique of Black Terry rubs off. He's still a legend, and he's still a big threat in the ring, but he is almost seventy.
It's after Terry begins to look gassed though, that he kicks out of a nasty backbreaker from Arez. It's his emotion and facial expressions that truly sell it, and it goes against the popular narrative that Lucha doesn't have good selling. Arez wins with a quick roll up and is fairly shocked that he won. Despite fighting a man twice his age, Arez is barely able to sneak in a win.
#1: Arez vs Aramis
I will always associate Arez with Aramis, and for good reason. They've shared the ring over forty times already, and we certainly haven't seen the last of them together. Out of all the Aramis matches, whether tagging together or facing off, this is my favorite. They faced off here for the RIOT Championship we saw Arez win in the tournament finals with Erick Ortiz. If you've seen their match in MLW then this will feel like that match but more. It's like the MLW match was them doing a demo version.
Here, where they're given all the time they want, they string together an amazing performance that somehow still leaves you excited for the next fight. Watching them reverse holds and flip through wrist locks makes me genuinely concerned if they have bones or not as I cannot grasp the way they are bending. They are perfect opponents, and truly feel like something special. This match is also one of the best on the list in terms of showing why Arez is the King of Strange Style. Arez is a wrestler that doesn't just use the top rope, but is happy to bounce off all three ropes in any way his body will let him. I chose this match in particular because they really feel like they're giving it their all. By the end, they're both freaking exhausted.
At the the twenty minute mark there's a lot less flipping out of moves and a lot more slow superkicks. I really thought that Aramis would win this match though, especially when he starts stomping on Arez's shoulder and head for a solid minute. Arez returns the shoulder stomps in kind though, and that's the kind of pacing that makes this match stand out. It slowly builds until any move could end it, and as such when Aramis hits a big slam and Arez kicks out the crowd loses it. Arez wins the match with a massive sequence of the greatest hits of finishers from Warhore's double stomp to the back, Finn Balor's shotgun dropkick, and finally Jeff Cobb's Tour of the Islands. Truly a great match that needs to be seen to be believed.