The Twenty Best Matches of Lucha Underground Season 2: Part 2 (10-1)
We’re not going to waste any time on this one folks. Yesterday we started ranking the twenty best Lucha Underground matches of season two, breaking down matches twenty through eleven (with a few honorable mentions thrown in). Today I give you the top ten, as voted on by myself and fellow Lucha Underground fans Matt Mortensen and Ryan “Leaf” Plant. Excited? You should be. Let’s begin; Moses, another meme for the road.
10. Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Jr. (Episode 4)
This match is the ultimate testament to how good these two bad asses are; they’re only given eight minutes, they don’t show us everything they’re capable of doing with each other and it’s STILL one of the ten best matches of season two. I shudder to think what would happen if these two were given twenty minutes; we’d all probably be left looking like this afterwards.
9. Lucha Underground Championship Match
Matanza (c) vs. Cage (Episode 19)
We’ve talked about how great Cage was this season in so many matches, be it in the Cage match against Mundo, that hardcore match with Taya or the Gift of the Gods match with Chavo. As great as he was in those matches though the bulk of those bouts were largely remembered for what his opponents did. This match here is the opposite, and dare I say is Cage’s masterpiece. With everyone expecting this to be another all out hoss fight, Cage brilliantly starts this match off by ripping up the script and going full out lucha on Matanza, doing things that some dudes half his size cannot do. It immediately gave the match an “anything can happen” feel and it only built from there, with the match featuring lucha, brawling, hossing out and the first stages of Matanza displaying that vulnerability that worked to such great effect in his Ultima Lucha Dos match with Pentagon. The only reason the match is this low; the weak out of nowhere finish when Matanza put Cage down with the Wrath of the Gods. Have Cage kick out of that and give these two a few more minutes and we’re looking at a match that Dave Meltzer would given five stars to if it was in Japan.
8. Triple Threat Match for the Lucha Underground Championship
Mil Muertes (c) vs. Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Jr. (Episode 7)
I think even the most diehard Lucha Underground fan will admit that, aside from the Cuerno-Fenix feud and the one Pentagon-Puma match, there was a little bit of a lull following the first episode. The seventh episode picked that lull up and sent it flying away like a Kasper Schmiechel dropkick, first with that Taya-Cage match (has a match ever been talked about as much as that one and not made a list) and then with this off the charts main event. The reason this match works so well, aside from the fact that the action is absolutely bonkers from the word go, is how it presents all three competitors so well. Pentagon is established as the most polished and dangerous of the three, if he can only keep his focus and attention on the prize at all times. Puma looks every bit as the awe inspiring air demon that everyone believes he is; in fact, aside from another certain match on this list and his bout with El Dragon Azteca Jr., I don’t think he looked more explosive than he did in this bout. More importantly however is that LU made Immortan Mil Muertes look like Immortan Mil Muertes; some grumbled at how Mil was made to look so strong here, but he needed to be coming off a near loss to Ivelisse and several weeks sitting on his thrown with his arm hanging more than a Felix Hernandez curveball in 2016. In short; this match got absolutely everything write and looked fabulous doing it. And it’s still only number eight!
7. Last Luchador Standing
King Cuerno vs. Fenix (Episode 3)
This bout took what made the first Fenix-Deer Antlers bout so great and multiplied the violence by over 9,000 to create what many believe was the best match of the three these two had. Whereas the first match was an example of Cuerno taking of a Fenix who was caught off guard by having to defend his title right away, this one was Fenix forcing Cuerno to play his game, making it a high risk high reward bout where Cuerno couldn’t put Fenix away, leading to Fenix, well, putting Cuerno away with one of the more memorable spots in season two. You can’t go wrong with any of the three bouts these two put on, but this one is without question the most exciting match Cuerno and Fenix had.
6. Ladder Match for the Gift of the Gods Championship
King Cuerno (c) vs. Fenix (Episode 6)
Despite the Last Luchador Standing match being the most exciting between Fenix and Cuerno, it wasn’t the best. That honor belongs to their ladder match a mere two weeks later, a match that is so great for the simple fact that it wasn’t the roller coaster ride everyone expected. I know a lot of people who ultimately came away from this bout disappointed because it wasn’t the typical high flying, spot fest that we’re accustomed to seeing from ladder matches. I maintain that that’s exactly what makes this match standout in such an awesome way. Remember how I said the Last Luchador Standing match was Fenix making Cuerno play his game? This match is Cuerno making Fenix play his to amazing results; Cuerno intentionally slows the match down, takes away Fenix’ opportunity to take to the stars and turns this into more of a street fight than a ladder match. It would’ve been so easy for good ole Deer Antlers to fall prey to going the high risk high reward route, but the character is so well defined that he does things his way and forces Fenix to beat him by trying to out Cuerno Cuerno. And that’s exactly what Fenix does, holding his own during the slow moments, getting in enough high flying spots and ultimately getting the victory to end this thrilling feud. An absolutely brilliant match and one that will probably never get the recognition it deserves for presenting a rudo working so smartly and a technico overcoming it by outsmarting him at the rudo’s own game.
5. Six to Survive Match
Pentagon Jr. vs. Fenix vs. Johnny Mundo vs. Taya vs. Ivelisse vs. King Cuerno (Episode 21)
This match, season two’s equivalent to the brilliant All Night Long match between Prince Puma and Johnny Mundo in season one, is in many ways two different matches altogether. The first two thirds is a very good match that established three Ultima Lucha matches (Cuerno-Mil, Taya-Ivelisse, Team Mundo vs. Team Fenix) and featured some good but not great wrestling. The final third between Pentagon and Fenix is an absolute masterpiece that by itself would’ve made this the number one match of the season. You couldn’t work it better than these two did; the chemistry, the timing, the action, all of it clicks to present two top workers giving you the absolute best lucha libre action in the world. Arguably the match also delivers the most satisfying conclusion of the season, with Pentagon winning the hard fought battle after having been out for so many weeks following his destruction at the hands of Matanza. In the end, that final few minutes between Fenix and Pentagon is enough to turn this really good match into a great match, a top five bout of the season and a reason to be really excited for the next Six to Survive match come season three.
4. No Mas Match for an Aztec Medallion
Sexy Star vs. Mariposa (Episode 15)
Definitely Eric Bischoff’s favorite match of the season, mainly because it was controversial and controversy creates cash, amirite? To several people this match was exploitive, over the top and violence just for the sake of violence; for me, it was an amazing story of one broken woman remembering who she was, getting off the mat and ultimately regaining her self-worth and maybe even her soul from the woman who tormented her for so long. And that’s before you realize that both Mariposa and Sexy (especially Sexy) nail their roles, the effort is off the charts, the match is appropriately violent (and to the credit of everyone involved actually feels even more violent than it was), the involvement of supporting characters like Marty the Moth and Big Willie Mack is well timed and never distracts/takes away from the protagonist and antagonist; the list goes on and on and on. No one will ever accuse this of being a technical masterpiece, but as a piece of wrestling storytelling it’s an absolute site to behold, the pinnacle of Sexy Star’s career to this point proof that women can do any match just as compelling as the men can. Oh, and it also contained the most memorable moment of Lucha Underground’s second season and maybe of the company’s entire history. Excuse me while I go ask DeJoseph when the “Fuck You Mariposa” t-shirts are coming in.
3. Lucha Underground Championship Match
Mil Muertes (c) vs. Fenix (Episode 8)
The only thing more unbelievable than the fact that we only got one Fenix-Mil Muertes match in season two is that it’s somehow the second best match they’ve ever had, and the only reason it’s in second is because their best match is one of the five best matches of the past five years. Like Grave Consequences, what makes this match work is the complex relationship and contrast between the two. Mil Muertes is a monster and an all but indestructible one at that; the only people to beat him aside from Fenix in LU history are Matanza and King Cuerno, with Cuerno’s’ victory being somewhat flukish. Everyone that crosses paths with him he disposes of easily; except Fenix (and Matanza, but for the sake of argument let’s forget that fact for a moment). No matter what Mil does he cannot put Fenix away; it’s the plot point (as well as the love triangle between Fenix, Mil and Catrina) that drives Mil’s anger towards the Birdman, that makes him go after him with a fire that’s only reserved for rivalries such as Celtic-Rangers, Celtics-Lakers or Spike-Angel.
This match, much like Grave Consequences only in a tamer form, is exactly that. Mil is relentless in his attack, but so is Fenix; they brawl, they fly, they bleed, they tear each other’s mask and they’re equally empowered with the urge to just keep going. Several matches may have had the quality this match had, but the competitors in the match didn’t have the built in hatred, drive and desire to destroy their opponent the way these two did, which ultimately is what separates this match from almost all the rest. If that’s not enough, this match also boasts one of the greatest finishes I’ve ever seen, a sequence that updates some of the old out of nowhere finishes NWA/WCW used to employ to amazing effect.
2. Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Prince Puma (Ultima Lucha Dos Part 3)
It doesn’t have the story that some of these other matches have and it doesn’t have an OMG moment unless you count Mysterio hitting the West Coast Cop for the first time in almost ten years. So what? What makes this match a top two match (and in many people’s eyes the best match of season two and maybe the year) is the fact that it’s the best luchador of all time against one of the three best high flyers of today colliding in a display that’s frankly athletically superior to almost everything else out there. Combine that with the simple but effective story this match told (the young luchador looking to grab the torch vs. the veteran in search one more good day) and there was no way these two wouldn’t find greatness. What I think I’ll remember about this match forever is the performance of Mysterio. Take nothing away from Puma; I’m pretty sure his performance here is the best I’ve ever seen him and a lot of what makes Rey great in this match is what Puma does. But what Rey does here is extraordinary. I and many others thought he was done; not washed up, not on his last legs, done during his last few years in WWE. All of season two proved that point to be wrong, but this match was the ultimate exclamation point of it, a shining example of the fact that Rey not only still had in athletically but that he had evolved to an even greater plain than he was already on. Puma’s performance guaranteed this match would be great; Rey’s guaranteed that we’ll remember it forever. I put it up there with anything he’s ever done; no joke.
1. Aztec Warfare II for the Lucha Underground Championship (Episode 9)
I personally would’ve probably had this match at number three if it were just me; as great as this match was, it could get a little too chaotic and times and was tough to follow. At the same time, I can totally understand why it’s the match ultimately chosen as the best of season two. It featured the electrifying debut of Rey Mysterio Jr. in the number two slot that ultimately led to one of the three biggest pops in Temple history. It had highly entertaining moments like Jack Evans tumbling down the Temple stairs or Joey Ryan handcuffing himself to the guardrail outside the ring, guaranteeing he wouldn’t be eliminated but also guaranteeing he couldn’t eliminate anyone. It had Pentagon Jr., despite not being allowed to enter the match, making his presence felt and taking out Mil Muertes, thus costing him the match (don’t think that plot point, which wasn’t revisited afterwards in season two, has been forgotten). It featured (duh) a lot of great wrestling in between all of that. But the biggest reason; in the final ten minutes of this match a young wrestler was able to debut and, with the help of his own amazing abilities and great booking, established himself as a bonafide monster in a way some wrestlers have never been able to over the course of their careers. That’s the genius of this match and why it’s considered the best match of season two and definitely the best Aztec Warfare match thus far. The first one was just a great match and a unique idea; this one gave Dario Cueto his Temple back, solidified Matanza as an unstoppable threat and made him a credible World Champion (to everyone but Caleb Baldwin) all in the span of ten minutes. Hard to argue with that logic.
That’s it everyone. Special thanks to Leafster and Matt for helping me with this list, and I think I speak for all three of us when I say we look forward to doing this again after season three! There will be more Lucha Underground columns to come though leading up to season three, and I’ll be back later tonight with a review of the Maximo-Rey Escorpion headlined CMLL Tuesday Show. Till then, this!
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