Lucha Underground: The End of the Round
After two weeks of missing Lucha Underground live due to traveling, it felt really nice to be behind the computer again as LU hit the airwaves at 8 p.m. Luckily I was rewarded with a good show too! Whereas the last two weeks featured good character work but “meh” matches or three well booked but “meh” matches followed by a great finale marred by interference, tonight’s episode had a bit of everything. We had a very strong debut (in my opinion), a better than expected Sexy Star performance, Dante Fox getting some well deserved shine both in and out of the ring and more buildup to what’s looking to be a very exciting match between Rey Mysterio and Johnny Mundo. Best of all, we’re out of Round One in the Cueto Cup (where I got 14 of the 16 matches right! IN YO FACE PEEPS!) and onto Round Two, where there will be longer times for matches to breathe and opportunities for non tourney matches as well. Fun stuff. But first, let’s review tonight’s shindig. Moses, MEME IT DOWN THE MOUNTAIN!!!!! NAH NAH, NAH NAH, NAH NAH! Sorry, had to mark out to Jane’s Addiction.
The Hard Times of Dante Fox
After what felt like the longest wait (and it was, considering the hiatus) we finally got to see the back story of Dante Fox. And guess what; he’s got a gripe with Killshot. Turns out both he and Killshot were imprisoned together in Afghanistan, only Killshot (shown here initially via flashbacks from his own character intro last season) didn’t free Fox when he escaped. Fox was left to be tortured and was in fact almost executed before being rescued by US forces. Oh yeah, all this was framed as Fox ran through the streets of Boyle Heights, remembering and quivering at every memory before reaching the Temple, where he saw Killshot on the roof making the gun symbol at him. Of course Fox is so warped from the war and that’s so out of character for Killshot that I wouldn’t be stunned if he was hallucinating there. Either way this was superb; the music was perfect, the scene made us feel sympathetic for Fox (not to mention it finally gave us some understanding of his plight) and honestly, it shows he and Killshot aren’t so different after all.
P.J. Black defeated Sexy Star by Disqualification
When I say this was a million times better than it had any right to be, it was a million times better than it had any right to be. Like I was expecting this to just barely be passable; instead it was very solid and actively very good at times. The praise all goes to P.J. Black. Yes Sexy Star tried and was better than usual, but Sexy has a limit to how good she can be (I had forgotten how badly she hits the rope; Sanely would cringe at that) and generally needs someone who bumps well to make her look top tier. And boy did P.J. bump his ass off. He put a little extra oomph to everything Sexy dished out, got a little extra distance every time Sexy hit a move; it was truly Dolph Ziggler esq if you will. Not enough to take this match into a higher tier or anything, but more than enough to make it watchable and at times very good. Even the ending worked, with Sexy avoiding P.J.’s cheating tactics (with an assist from Taya) only to get caught herself when she used a weapon against P.J. It’s a good way to make the more talented P.J. move along, protect the more over Sexy Star and kick start what appears to be a Taya-Sexy program. I wonder if that means Taya is the one sending the spiders, or if that feud is going to lead into that. That’s right LU; I remember the spiders. There were legions of them.
More Rey-Mundo hype
Arguably the strongest thing about LU’s second half of season three have been the awesome video packages hyping Rey Mysterio vs. Johnny Mundo. We got another one this week, this time with Rey and Mundo speaking themselves. It was pretty standard stuff; Rey talked about wanting to win the title back to bring its respect up, Mundo was his usual Mundo stuff, so on and so forth. Really it was the same thing that’s made all of these things so good so far. It was simple, it continued to establish what these two guys are all about and it made me more excited to see these two wrestle than I was last week. And keep in mind I was already excited to see these two go at it!
Son of Havoc defeated Son of Madness
I may be alone in my love for this match. I don’t care; I LOVED this match. The story of it was that, despite being knew to the Temple, Son of Madness’ past history with Havoc (which wasn’t entirely explained as of yet) allowed him to keep up with the LU vet. The result was Havoc being unable to hit any of his big aerial moves (he never once connected with the Shooting Star Press or the Double Stomp/Standing Moonsault combo and only hit a couple of dives) and being forced to go at it in a slugfest. That’s great storytelling, and luckily the match didn’t suffer from Havoc losing his big money moves. The man is so good at wrestling that he can look majestic wrestling any style, and he more than lived up to his end as the man fighting not only a tough opponent but a surprise from his past. It was very Will Patton at the end of The Postman of him, minus the ending.
As strong as Havoc was though, big ups must be given to the Son of Madness. I’ve never seen this guy wrestle before and by the looks of him my expectations were low. He did really good, showing some surprising athleticism in hitting a through the turnbuckle suicide dive on the floor and excelling at all the little things (character work alert! CHARACTER WORK ALERT!) that help elevate a match. I’m excited to see more of him, and I’m excited to see more of him and Havoc together. That’s definitely in the cards by the by; Havoc did pull out the win, but it was a flukish one (schoolboy pin) and Madness showed he wasn’t pleased by kicking Havoc’s face off after and stealing Havoc’s biker jacket. I guess that means that Havoc is out of the biker club now, and will have to earn his colors back. Either way these issues are far from over and that’s a good thing; I reckon we haven’t seen the best from these two just yet.
Prince Puma defeated Ricky Mandel
I’ll give Ricky Mandel this; he made me laugh with his promo prior to the match. He also made me realize he wasn’t lasting three minutes, which is exactly what happened once the bell rang and Puma sunk his claws into him. That’s the right call by the way; Ricky has shown he has some ability, but he’s still a jobber as of now while Puma is the man. Throw in how hot Puma's been since beating Mil Muertes and it only made sense for him to get rid of Ricky quickly. In short, it did its job, it wasn’t much and Vampiro was very pleased afterwards. Am I the only one who’s still wary that Vamp is eventually going to stab Puma in the back, Corso in Titan A.E. style? You’re gorram right I just referenced that piece of shit Don Bluth film.
Rey and Azteca
We got a miracle in this segment; not only did El Dragon Azteca and Rey Mysterio get along (after weeks of not getting along earlier in the season) but Azteca actually seemed to listen to Rey! I guess getting thrown through bleachers finally made Azteca realize, “you know, Rey may have a point!” Anyways, Rey wanted to wish Azteca luck and be sure he was there to help out his protégé, when Prince Puma walked on by. Puma, who appears to be trying to channel Darth Vader if he was played by the lead singer of The Used, basically made sure to let Rey know he was coming for him, that he was potentially coming for Azteca and wow has Puma really turned into a jerk huh? No wonder he’s whining about his contract on New Japan shows. Eventually Puma left to go listen to The Misfits with Adam Graves (it’s on Vamp’s to listen to list after all), Rey told Azteca not to worry about him now and once again Azteca actually seemed to listen to him. I don’t know if I can live in a world where El Dragon Azteca Jr. actually obeys his elders; IT’S TOO DAMN WEIRD!
Dante Fox defeated El Dragon Azteca Jr.
The story of this match was exactly what everyone expected and wanted; Fox and Azteca tried to outdo each other with fast paced, high flying offense, leading to a lot of super cool spots. And that’s despite the fact that they left things in the bag; the uber crazy Fox didn’t actually go that crazy, while Azteca left some things at home, like his Pizza DDT. Even still they got plenty of good stuff in, with Fox nailing an awesome Guillotine Leg Drop from the top rope to the apron, both men hitting Spanish Fly’s and several other great sequences along the way. It wasn’t quite as good as Killshot vs. Jeremiah Crane was last week (then again, what is?), but it was a really fun main event from two really fun guys who still have a lot more to give going forward.
Of course, the talking point (much like last week) is going to be about the ending of the match, which saw Worldwide Underground attack Rey Mysterio on the outside, distracting Azteca long enough for him to come to Rey’s aide and leave an opening for Fox to pick up the victory. There’s a big difference between this week and last week’s ending though. Last week’s ending, while understandable, was exceedingly weak, with Fox merely distracting Killshot for a brief second before Jeremiah finished him off. That’s lame, it’s not anywhere close to being better than either a clean finish or Fox screwing Killshot in a better way (I would’ve had Fox attack Killshot before the match, with Killshot falling short to Crane after a valiant effort) and it did take away from a great match (though not by much). This finish didn’t do that at all in my view. Azteca and Fox were fighting evenly before Worldwide Underground interfered and Azteca even briefly had control over Fox after diving onto Mundo and Jack Evans (hilariously wearing a bandana over his then broken jaw), so it was a finish that didn’t entirely cost him while still protecting him. On top of that, Rey and Mundo interacting outside of the video packages needed to happen. As good as those hype videos have been they’ll only take you so far before a physical confrontation is required. This fit the bill, and now Worldwide Underground (and Mundo by extension) will have more heat going forward while Rey has more sympathy going into his match with Mundo. That’s smart booking folks, unlike last week. Maybe I would’ve preferred Fox and Azteca got more time, but they made the most with what they had, the right guy won and the right stories were advanced. All in all a very good end to a surprisingly very good close to Round Uno of the Cueto Cup. Onto Round Dos!
There you have it sports fans. I’m off to play TEW while a TV show plays in the background. Till we meet again, THIS!