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Cult and Skitz Do America: The Ten Best Lucha Underground Matches of Season One!
It's time! It's time! It's a return to Lucha Underground related topics time! And what a day to do it too. I'm feeling great, have one solid column in the bag, and now can get back to the thing that makes me the happiest in wrestling. Best part is I won't be alone either! Yes, in my travels, I've made many friends, few enemies, and one guy who has gotten close to me just so he can try to get a psychological edge for our next writing showdown (Plan knows what I'm talking about). Well, one of those dudes, a very good pal of mine, was recently corrupted by yours truly into watching the LU, and he's loved it. Almost as much as he loves Taco Bell and sundress season dare I say! Thus, he's going to join me tonight to count down the definitive ten best Lucha Underground matches of season one. To the LuchaKliq, this is a man you may not know yet, but will soon. So please, give a big welcome for the Lord of the Fruit, my main homie Skitz!
Skitz, give a nice message to the people.
Ah Lucha Underground. Everywhere I turn, people wanna know what's all the hubbub about. Well my caffeinated companion and I are here to tempt you with what goes on inside the Temple. And I assure you... our list packs more of a wallop than Matt Hardy when he's fed up with Reby's bullshit. Like Cult, I needed something less domestic and more international to quench my thirst. The stuff WWE's brewin' these days is far too bitter. A bottle of Boyle Heights on the other hand goes down pretty damn smoothly. Robert Rodriquez has directed and produced some serious classics (From Dusk till Dawn, The Faculty, etc.) but this just may be his best work yet. Admittedly, I assumed my cable provider didn't provide me with the El Rey Network and thus missed the entire first season. Thanks to DailyMotion and liters of Mountain Dew's Baja Blast however, I caught myself up in less than two weeks. Now it's time to catch you up on our list of greatest matches from LU season one.
I'm not sure what I'm more impressed with Skitz; your Matt Hardy joke that totally made Mazza wet himself or your mention of The Faculty! Great film. What more is there to say my good man?! Let's get this party started. ON WITH THE SHOW!
The Ten Best Lucha Underground Matches of Season 1
10. Death Match: Mil Muertes vs. Fenix (5/27/15)
These two set such a ridiculous standard with Grave Consequences that it nearly rendered this match inconsequential. Poor Fenix thought Catrina was digging on him all along only to find out she'd been digging his own grave while unearthing Muertes in her meantime. Unfortunately, the aerial attack of Fenix didn't wear on Mil like it did during their previous meeting. Muertes wore him out like Indians do their sandals. Fenix managed to hit a sick double stomp off an elevated railing but that'd be the end of his offensive output. Mil put him on his shoulder, jogged up the stairs and then installed a skylight in Dario Cueto's office by powerbombing Fenix through it. The Disciples of Death transported his unresponsive body to the ring and Muertes finished him off with the flatliner. That highlight spot made for quite a surprise (not that the end result was ever in question). A worthwhile encore but as was the case with Magic Mike XXL, nowhere near as great as the original. Cult agrees with me, right? Of course he does. Who wouldn't wanna see Channing Tatum dry humping fat chicks alongside Kevin Nash? My quads are moist just thinking about it.
You started off so well Skitz; did you really have to bring Magic Mike XXL into this? I wouldn't see that movie if Alison Brie asked me to. Who am I kidding, I totally would! What I really loved about this underrated gem (which isn't as good as Grave Consequences mind you) is that despite being very one sided, both men came out looking great. I mean we all know Mil did; this is the match that solidified him as the friggin Beast King for crying out loud. That powerbomb through the roof not only blew the roof off the Temple, but it solidified him as the badass to end all badasses. As impressive as that was though, I was even more impressed by how Fenix looked. Even though he was dominated, he just kept coming, and in the end needed to sent into the abyss in order to lose. To quote Zoolander, "Mil had to pull his underwear out of his ass just to beat him!". That's impressive shit right there from a booking standpoint, and why I find this match to be a worthy sequel to Grave Consequences. The Superman II to Superman if you will!
9. Cage Match: Johnny Mundo vs. King Cuerno (3/11/15)
Man, what an underrated feud huh Skitz? For all of the awesome things the man from the Palace of Wisdom did during season one, his feud with good old Deer Antlers gets lost in the shuffle. They were the perfect foils for each other though, with Mundo as the popular top star and Cuerno as the hungry, cerebral, determined hunter looking to put Mundo down and move closer to the top of the food chain. And while their street fight a few weeks prior was very impressive, the cage match is the bout that has stuck with me. It's not the most violent ever, but the action is crisp, Deer Antlers is the best he'd been during the season and Mundo does some really awesome spots to take this bout to the next level. Who says cage matches need blood, right homie? I mean if it was alright for Owen and Bret to have a bloodless cage match, certainly these two could as well!
At first glance, I saw Cuerno as nothing more than a bum but he worked his ass off and ended up earning my respect by mid-season. This feud had plenty of meat to it despite being sandwiched between Mundo's higher profile rivalries. Cuerno delivered the goods more times than a Peapod truck but could never produce a larger role for himself beyond the beef with Johnny. Why I'm not certain. Nonetheless, Cuerno pulled back the curtain here and put on a special performance. Never one to be shown up though, Mundo won and had this sewn up before the nightclubs opened. That starship pain from atop the cage never gets old but hitting the replay button sure does (damn finger cramps). WWE's version looks like it was torn from a toy catalog... No assembly required with Lucha's which only requires an assembly of invested wrestling fans.
8. Alberto El Patron vs. Johnny Mundo (5/6/15)
Part of what I love about LU's writers (besides creative head Chris DeJoseph giving me props on Twitter) is that they draw from the back-stories of their wrestlers to create even better ones. Despite coming close, Mundo never could bust that glass ceiling in WWE. Alberto however broke through and became a 4-time World Champion before a heated backstage incident landed him in the Temple venting his frustrations. So Patron figured he'd just walk through the front door, start at the top and Mundo would just accept it. Except Johnny had other plans. Lucha Underground might be Berty's home away from home but Mundo had been building a home there in his absence.
But since both men were incensed over Hernandez being Puma's next challenger, Johnny and Alberto came to their senses long enough to convince Cueto that they also deserved a shot. Hence how this bout came about. It featured some excellent limb targeting and counter wrestling. Mundo sold like a bottle of Patron who was trying to sell some extra t-shirts by wearing his own throughout the contest (made me wonder if he'd pulled a Rocky and gotten boob implants). The cross armbar couldn't finish off Johnny so Alberto used the superkick to Jannetty him out of the title picture. A great performance that served as the catalyst for Mundo's awesome heel turn.
While I thought both matches between these two inside the Temple delivered, the one that remains the most memorable is this bout. And I'm the guy who at first said Mundo-Patron II was better! Must've been all the Melina interference talking. What worked so well here Skitz was how different it was from the rest of the matches in the LU. Certainly there was lucha style here, but this is a match I could've easily seen working in any company. Outstanding work by both guys, especially when you consider that a) this match was exactly what Alberto needed after a good, but not great program with Texano and b) this led to Mundo becoming one of the best heels/rudos in wrestling. By the way, love the Jannetty mention you made, especially considering Mundo legit Jannety'd Alberto a week or so later. I see your super kick and raise you a window to the face!
7. Falls Count Anywhere: Cage vs. The Mack (7/29/15)
Skitz my man, if we were doing a list on the most fun matches of the year, this would be number one. Mother of puss bucket, what an enjoyable romp this was! It had everything; the stop sign (Cage's favorite weapon), a suplex or two onto the bleachers, broken doors, the best Steve Austin tribute of 2015 (and an amazing "THAT MAN HAS A FAMILY!" call by Striker). And of course, how about that finish?! As much as I love Big Willie, it was pretty cool to see a Paul Burchill esq curb stomp used again in wrestling. I can only imagine Skitz that somewhere, out there, beneath a pale moonlight, Seth Rollins took a moment to stop having sex with that tattooed woman whose pics are all over the internet (poor girl) and nodded in approval at Cage's maneuver. Seriously Skitz, I defy anyone to come up with a more fun match than this one. Just a blast.
The Man They Call Cage went into this match with a chip on his shoulder and won decisively after chipping some of Mack's teeth on that cinderblock. A breathtaking spot like Cult mentioned that took the breath out of every person watching. These overachievers made the most of the stipulation and avoided the ring almost completely; opting to create a hot opener by unconventional means. Honestly, I believe Cage deserved a higher placement on the Ultima Lucha card but dear lord did he and Mack convert me within those first couple minutes. Big Ryck's cousin may not strike the casual viewer as an athlete but he's remarkably agile for a guy his size. Mack had a relatively successful solo run after the family disbanded so I enjoyed seeing him showcased on the first half of the finale. As far as brawls go, you won't get more bang for your buck than this (sans maybe a porn theater). The right man had his hand raised but Big Mac was especially impressive.
6. All Night Long: Prince Puma vs. Johnny Mundo (6/17/15)
I went into this expecting to be floored and walked away with hardwood. Puma's known for his fancy footwork and devastating kicks but it was Mundo connecting with Phil Hartman-esque shots to the head throughout much of this match. The champ caught Johnny early on with a quick rollup but then dropped four falls in quick succession; putting Konnan's protégé in a deeper hole than my ex-wife. I mean Prince Puma had been resilient all season but I couldn't resist thinking his comeback here would fall a tad short. Perhaps Cult knew what we were in store for but I couldn't decide between Jack Link's beef jerky or Sour Patch straws.
Nevertheless, the LU crowd nearly blew the speaker on my Tablet when Puma tackled Mundo off the bandstand through four stacked tables below. Shitty table manners aside, the champ cut into Johnny's lead with that move and a spinning Michinoku driver before evening the score with a beautiful springboard 450. As the minutes winded down, Mundo tried playing keep away but Alberto showed up and kept him from winning the Lucha Underground Title. A 630 later and Johnny's time had run out. Fuck Del Rio for ruining another good thing. It was certainly a fun affair but I felt like the Jennifer Aniston of this equation; cheated and robbed of ultimate happiness.
Much like Back to the Future: Part II and the Weezer album Pinkerton, I get the feeling I'm going to look back on this match and feel like I should've rated it higher. This is truly the most underrated contest the LU had this year. It had some great wrestling, it had violence (remember the crowbar to the head shot?), another one LU's unforgettable spots and dammit, Mundo's work while playing keep away towards the end of the match is one of those underrated little things that can turn a match from good to holy balls! That it's only sixth on this list should tell our readers that we might just both be nuts and need either serious psychological help or a Dollhouse style treatment. Or, it's that the rest of the year was so good, and in this case sixth place is more like third place in the Olympics. It's not the best, but you're on the medal podium, and much like Canada in beach volleyball, anything above 10th is a victory. I don't know where I was going with that one.
5. Aztec Warfare for the Lucha Underground Championship (1/7/15)
Another forgotten gem from this first season, and one of the most unique bouts the LU ever produced. Also, finally the answer to the question of what would happen if the Royal Rumble was made into a street fight (the answer; Curtis Axel still doesn't win. GET OVER IT MAN!). Aside from how well this was booked Skitz, it's really nice to see everyone on the LU roster at the time get some shine. Famous B has a moment. Ricky Mandel, bless his heart, has a moment. For goodness sake, El Mariachi Loco (who I'm pretty sure is T.O. in disguise) even has a moment or two in this match. That's pretty damn cool isn't it?! So while I do wish we had gotten to see more of the later season people in this bout (even though it's understandable why they weren't), this was an absolute barnburner of a battle royal. It may have even been the best battle royal of the year with the Rumble being a downer again, unless you count the Deflategate thing as a battle royal. Can we get someone to end that Skitz? It's like Lord of the Rings: Return of the King; entertaining at first, endless at this point.
Yeah Dario Cueto's iteration of the Royal Rumble format is more enjoyable to me for a couple reasons. With eliminations being decided via pinfall or submission, the action isn't restricted to just the ring which allows for creative use of the ringside area. Secondly, there are several feuds that vine throughout Aztec Warfare (Cuerno verse Drago, Chavo verse Blue Demon Jr, Big Ryck verse The Crew, etc.) rather than the token one or two you'd see play out in WWE's game of thrones. And lastly, Cueto's brainchild trumps the Royal Rumble match because it isn't held back by all the political bullshit. Lucha Underground had an agenda alright... to put over a beloved guy whom the fans embraced. Instead of pushing their own agenda on fans and having them bracing for the worst. LU hit it right on the head just like Mundo when he nailed Catrina by accident with that roundhouse kick meant for Muertes. Also, King Cuerno's arrow dive through the ropes is the most aesthetically pleasing one I've seen yet. That spot has become so repetitive in pro wrestling, the execution is often lazier than forest Whitaker's left eye.
4. Prince Puma vs. Mil Muertes (8/5/15)
The reigning champ enters looking like he just returned from a hunting trip with King Cuerno, Mantaur and HBK. Meanwhile, Muertes is channeling early 90's Taker; no-selling the shit out of Puma's initial offense. Mil unleashes hell on the hometown boy who can't even stick a suicide dive without getting swatted out of midair via chair. The assault continues as Puma's launched into the seats and powerbombed on the stairs. He steps up though and rallies to hit the 630 in the corner which spells doom for any opponent not named Muertes. Puma continues to duke but Mil nukes 'em with the flatliner for a very close near fall. The Man of 1,000 Deaths is undeterred by Puma's determination however and nails his finisher from the top rope to become the new Lucha Underground Champion. Whew what a main event! Based on the overall quality of the show's finale, Puma and Mil had big shoes to fill and they socked fans (as well as themselves) in the jaw for 18 heart-pounding minutes. John Cena's spirit animal overcame the odds all year long so the villain was due to have his day. I'd be a goddamn liar if I said seeing the Boyle Heights hero lying in a mangled heap didn't get me super psyched for the next chapter of LU.
This was a match that I could honestly picture on any Wrestlemania card. That's not a shot at the rest of these matches, it just goes to show you how big and, in some ways, grand this match felt. There are people I like better than both Prince Puma and Mil Muertes on the LU roster (although Mil is one of my favorites), but I don't think anyone could deny that these two were the top stars of the promotion going into this match and that they had been on a collision course since the beginning (albeit a subtle one). In the words of Bouncing Souls' "Night on Earth", this match was meant to be. That it tour the house down later only added to it. I actually think these two could do even better Skitz, which is why I can't quite put it higher than here. But even still, this was a fantastic big match contest where we got some great in ring action, a great story told and most importantly, the right guy winning in the end. And hey, no Konnan heel turn either! Man was I wrong about that. I predicted that to happen this season more times than I've predicted a Cena heel turn. The two things I'll never get right!
3. Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc vs. The Crew (4/22/15)
The best things in wrestling usually involve great stories, am I right Skitz? Would Punk vs. Cena have been as awesome without the three weeks leading up to it? Would Sting-Hogan have been the most anticipated match in WCW history if not for that excellent year long build? Hell, would we have been invested in Cena-Kane if Kane hadn't sent Zack Ryder flying off the stage like a flailing chicken (okay, that might've been a bad example!). This match, as well as the number one match in this list, are shining examples of what story can do to elevate a contest. And this is a great match anyway; it's got some really good action and the greatest spot in the history of the western hemisphere. But without the story of the bearded underdog (no, not Daniel Bryan), the baddest bitch in the building and the man who gravity forgot (Neville was kind enough to share the name Skitz. What a swell Brit he is!) all coming together to get over their personal and professional issues to win the Trios Championships, it's merely an enjoyable romp. With it, it's as compelling a match as I've seen this year. You want to show them the spot now Skitz, or wait till you're done speaking on it?
Oh keep it in your pants, Cult. We all know you walk around with that meme in your back pocket. Speaking of genes, The Crew are like a genetic splice between Los Boricuas and Mean Street Posse. Cueto's no Shane O' Mac but this decision of his did lead to an insane spot that nearly splintered my sanity. What started as a twisted experiment with three combustible elements resulted in an explosion of wonder and delight. Son of Havoc, Ivelisse & Angelico were the unlikeliest of trios and yet you couldn't unlike them if they had a Facebook page. Because no matter the face value, their story was simply too compelling to judge by its cover. From jobbers to disorderly employees to eventual promotions, I loved the manner in which LU handled this storyline. An absolute thrill ride that had me clutching at my handlebars when Angelico flew off the roof of Cueto's office. Unquestionably my sentimental favorite of Season One.
2. Grave Consequences: Mil Muertes vs. Fenix (w/Catrina) (3/18/15)
Alright I've gotta be honest about something... This is truly the greatest match of Season Uno. The only reason I let Cult choose something else for #1 is because it's his column. For my money though, there's no better way to spend twenty minutes than watching Grave Consequences (oh c'mon we both know that takes nowhere near as long). It's really the circumstances surrounding the match that wins me over. Mil loses Catrina because he gets physical to the point where it's a turnoff, she pursues Fenix out of spite, they become a thing and then Muertes receives the lick of death. Aptly named too because if that woman ever tongued me down, I'd die.
This glorified coffin match benefits from avoiding the usual trappings of this type of gimmick. Rather than being confined to just shoving each other in a box and shutting the lid, they brawl throughout the Temple before focusing on the task at hand. Fenix is tasked with enduring a level of brutality that puts Straight Outta Compton to shame. Mil tears a hole in his mask and then one in his head with a metal screw from the ring post. A savage beating that continues until Muertes clotheslines Catrina by accident and Fenix takes advantage (of the distraction... not the passed out chick). Fenix manages to fight back and double foot stomp Mil into the coffin before his new manager slams it shut. Gruesome stuff but tremendously compelling. They worked this match to near perfection; a great blend of desperation and intense violence. Catrina leaves with Fenix to lick his wounds and he should know better (FORESHADOWING).
Skitz, you know how every time a ladder match happens, everyone talks in hushed tones about how Shawn Michaels totally innovated the gimmick while also completely forgetting that Razor Ramon/Scott Hall was just as helpful? We're going to be like this with this bout in regards to how it innovated the casket match going forward, only with both Fenix and Mil taking credit (hopefully). Like the last match on the list, this one works greatly from a story perspective as you've already pointed out. What takes it over the top is the in ring action. When have we ever seen the casket used as a weapon this much in a match? Normally, a casket match involves it sitting at ringside while the poor Undertaker attempts to carry a below average 1990's wrestler to a decent match before sticking him in there. Here, it was just as prominent as the ladder has become, a most welcome change. Add that to the story, to the almost shocking amount of violence (I swear, Mil legit tried to eat Fenix at one point Skitz!) and an unbelievable effort from both men, and you've got an absolute gem. It'll be interesting to see how big this match's effect on the casket match will be going forward. I expect it to be huge; like Stanley Kubrick inspiring Steven Spielberg huge. By the by, we get it Sir Stevie. Go talk up Sergio Leone now please.
1. Ciero Miedo Match: Vampiro vs. Pentagon Jr. (8/5/15)
I see you shaking your head at me Skitz. I hear the doubts in your head. Hell, I've read the doubts of many a person I know about this match, whether it be Mazza, Mr. Chop and numerous others. And I'll gladly concede; from a technical wrestling standpoint, there are matches on this list that are better. But there aren't any that are more powerful than this one. Forget about how the wonderful twist ending following the match and hell, forget about the violence. They're both integral and both incredibly well done, but the match doesn't work because of them. What makes this match work, and what makes it the best match in Lucha Underground and of the year for yours truly, is it's perfect storytelling. There is something beautiful about Vampiro, a broken man long past his prime years in Mexico and WCW, rolling his ass out to the ring one more time in search of one more ride, one more good day. And there's something even more beautiful about Pentagon Jr., perhaps one of the five best heels/rudos in wrestling right now, looking to destroy Vampiro in order to prove his own worth, both to his master, to his fans and to himself. I haven't seen anything quite like this in recent memory Skitz, and I don't think I will for awhile. And if that's not enough for you, well, Steve Austin loved it. That's right, I'm playing the Austin 3:16 card here. And that's the bottom line, cause Cult Icon said so!
Hey I'll give credit where its due. Emotionally, this match drained me like my last relationship. It felt a bit HBK/Flair-ish but with an ECW theme (granted Naitch moved better at 59 than Vampiro did here at 47). Regardless of Vamp's conditioning though, I've been conditioned to rate this higher and higher upon each viewing. Pentagon Jr's stellar as always and took his usual reckless endangerment to another level for the special occasion. Lucha Underground is notorious for its unique presentation but this performance was unlike anything we'd witnessed all season. The only thing missing was the crowd pointing tube lights towards Vampiro during entrances and illuminating his possessed Pope getup. There were moments where I thought he wouldn't get up given the beating Pentagon Jr administered at Ultima Lucha. Vamp gave an inspired performance however and amidst the thumb tacks and steel chairs and flaming tables, he managed to instill peace in Pentagon Jr. Props to the writers for using a simple yet effective approach with the unveiling of Vampiro as his master. A bloody good show as the Brits would say.
What do you know Skitz! After two weeks, numerous emails and one long journey to connect to the internet, this shin dig is complete! What a ride. Anything you want to add/plug before we both disappear back into The Matrix/whatever world Mr. Robot is set in?
Yeah go buy yourself one of those WiFi tower antennas from the closest electronics store. That way I'm not sitting here anxiously awaiting a message or email like Haley Joel Osment looking for work. I've got a sixth sense about these sorta things though and knew it'd all work out (better than said actor's career).
And with that, the show is over! Thanks to Skitz for being the best color man since Pepper from Dodgeball (that's a compliment!). I'll be back soon with...something. I've been offline for a few days, need to start planning again! Till then, Mr. Robot is awesome and you should watch it. Just saying.
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