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Lucha Underground: The P.J. Black Show
In the wake of all the controversy going on today, I feel like I should point out something that should’ve been obvious already; Lucha Underground has absolutely, positively, zero to do with the Taya/Vampiro/Johnny Mundo thing, aside from the fact that all three appear on this show. I shouldn’t have had to say that, but all day I kept seeing comments on reddit, Twitter and Facebook suggesting this was the end of LU, when as best as I can tell the company’s only role in this whole thing was supporting Taya and Mundo as they went after Vamp (and I’m talking from the talent down to the writers like Chris DeJoseph). So again I say; LU is innocent in this whole deal, the culprit you’re looking to blame (if the issue between Taya, Mundo and Vamp is indeed a shoot) is Vampiro and AAA. Get it? Got it? Good. Now that brings us to tonight’s LU episode, which featured all three of those people and thankfully managed to avoid being held down by that controversy surrounding them, thanks to the greatest night of P.J. Black’s career, a great main event, a really strong match in the middle and what may have been the worst backstage scene in the history of Lucha Underground. I mean it; this thing was worse than James Franco trying serious acting. The fact that it’s a welcome distraction from the AAA controversy just goes to show you how bat shit insane that is. But don’t worry; you’ll find out what I mean a few paragraphs from now. Let’s kick start the journey towards that. Moses, put away the cash we made from that column earlier today and meme like your life depends on it.
Pindar defeated Cage via disqualification
I’d say this match was a waste of time, but it only lasted thirty seconds so I can’t even say that. After being willing to work without the power glove in his last two matches, Cage decided tonight was a good night to use it against Pindar; I can’t say I blame him seeing as Pindar is a lizard and may be immune to certain strikes. Justin Borden was having none of it though, so Cage wrecked him and started to wreck Pindar when Borden came to and called for a DQ. Cage then destroyed Borden afterwards and, honestly, I can’t say I feel too bad for Lefty. This is now the second time he’s cost someone a match via DQ when he probably shouldn’t and I’m glad that both Sexy Star and Cage have reminded him of that. Is that enough to wipe away the disappointment that this only lasted a nanosecond? No, but I guess you can say it did its job, Cage doesn’t look any worse for wear and we now get to see Fenix vs. Pindar, a match that should be really, REALLY good. Plus, Kobra Moon acting like Pindar totally won in dominating fashion afterwards almost made this all worth it. Have I mentioned I love it when people do that? We need more wrestlers celebrating fluke victories like they just went Joe Carter against the Phillies.
Dante Fox defeated Son of Havoc
A few weeks ago, I was having a post LU discussion with fellow LU fan TKD 117 and my Rudo Can’t Fail editor Wayne Utterbuck about the finish of Jeremiah Crane-Killshot. While I wasn’t as hard on the ending as those two were, we all agreed that they could’ve done a better job of handling Dante Fox’ interference; in particular, I felt that Fox should’ve attacked Killshot before the match, followed by Killshot fighting valiantly only to fall short. Turns out I was a few weeks early with that idea, as Son of Madness was out before the bell to attack Son of Havoc, leading to him nailing Havoc in the face with a chain. El Jefe (making his first appearance in awhile) came out to give Havoc an ultimatum; forfeit to fight another day or take his chances. Havoc took his chances, and for the next several minutes everything was sweeter than an ice cold orange soda.
Why did it work? Well in case you missed what I was talking about just seconds ago (seriously folks, stop the skimming), it was exactly because of Madness’ attack before the match. The story became Havoc being forced to fight from underneath, with Fox delivering high spot after high spot (with the greatest Swanton Bomb that ever lived thrown in) and dominating most of the match. Havoc kept fighting though, and he ultimately delivered his fair share of awesome spots (including an awesome Death Valley Driver to the floor and an AMAZING Wheelbarrow swing into the barricade that nearly decapitated Fox) before Fox proved to be too much to overcome and put him away with a Foxcatcher. You could make the argument that Havoc should’ve gotten more offense in and there were times I felt I didn’t like this as much as I should, but overall this was absolutely what we needed from these two and I get the feeling it’ll be even better upon rewatch. It’s also possible the next segment angered me so much that it affected my enjoyment of everything. Seriously sports fans; it was so bad you could’ve put Renee Young on the phone with me asking me out and I wouldn’t have gotten excited cause I was that ticked with the scene. And with that, it’s time to face the horror.
Sports fans, I can usually find something positive in anything LU does. Not here; this was by far the worst thing I’ve ever seen in Lucha Underground. I don’t know if I missed the point, if the appearance of Taya and Mundo after their real life events distracted more or if I’ve lost my sense of humor, but I spent the whole minute this scene lasted waiting for it to end. What happened in it? The basic gist is that P.J. Black came back to the locker room to find Johnny, Taya, Jack and Ricky Mandel chatting up with the Worldwide Underground’s new agent. In fairness to this guy, he did nail the “homeless man’s Paul Heyman” persona he was going for and I did laugh at him getting the name of Mundo wrong. But otherwise the guy just went on and on and on and on and on and on and on and OH MY GRODD WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?! It was just mindless droning after mindless droning, and I got the feeling P.J. Black wished he could be out of there was well, and not just cause he had a match. Perhaps there will be a huge point to this someday and the final scene of the show hinted at what this idea could be if done right, but overall the happiest I was during this scene was when it ended. The one positive; it’s clear this agent distracted Worldwide Underground with his blabbering so much that he kept them from interfering in P.J.’s match, giving us the first Worldwide Underground match in eons to not feature interference. Somewhere, people are marking out in the streets.
Prince Puma defeated P.J. Black
It took all night, but the main event finally got me back on track in my Cueto Cup bracket. It also was the best match on the show, so that’s a bonus. The key here was that it didn’t have the feel of a Lucha Underground match, unlike the previous bout which was all LU all the time. Instead we got what felt like a cross between a big time WWE match and a big time CMLL match. P.J. and Puma started off slow with some chain wrestling, Puma eventually got the advantage, P.J. then took control back and grounded the high flying technico before Puma got his second wind and the match continued to build and build with the two trading spectacular moves, the highlights of which were Puma hitting a top rope reverse rana and the super rana to end all super rana’s. It worked tremendously, and goes to show you just how good Prince Puma is. I fear he won’t get enough credit for this match due to how good P.J. was, but the guy continues to show that he’s adaptable. This was more like what you see from Puma when he’s in New Japan, and even then he does more high spots. Ever since he fell in with Vampiro, it feels like Puma has become a little slower, a little more deliberate and a little more deadly without sacrificing quality, and tonight was further proof that it’s working. That’s good character progression folks; or as I like to call it, the opposite of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That’s right; I said it.
But while Puma’s evolution is definitely a story worth exploring (especially when he’s getting the best match out of everyone these days) the MVP of this match was definitely P.J. Black. I’m not the biggest fan of Matt Striker and I’m not sure why he chose to go with the “P.J. Black has never lived up to his potential” angle tonight, but it worked. The truth is, despite being featured in WWE, GFW and LU for a good portion of his career, P.J. is the type of guy who’s never had “that” match many thought he could have when he was breaking out beautiful 450’s as part of the Nexus. Well he had it tonight. This was by far the best performance I’ve ever seen him have; he was smooth, he showed off a technical side not too many people figured he had, he hung with Prince Puma every step of the way and he came off as the most resilient motherfucker since Buffy when she went against Glory. I mean this guy took a top rope reverse rana and the super rana to end all super rana’s AND KICKED OUT OF BOTH! Combine that with how he did this on his own without the Worldwide Underground’s help and it’s no wonder the crowd was starting to turn to his side. Maybe some would’ve preferred he and Puma had gone into full sprint mode and tried to outdo each other with spots, but in the long run this was the perfect match for P.J. to strut his stuff and, really, the match he’s been waiting his whole life to have. What else can be said other than this was tremendous. I’m not sure if it was the highlight of the Cueto Cup thus far (that Crane-Killshot match was extraordinary, even with the interference), but the fact that we got no run ins to go along with the great action may put it over the top for many.
P.J. in the office
Just when it seemed like the P.J. Black Show was over, LU decided to give us one last glimpse of the Darewolf in the end tag. Having been bombarded with phone calls from Worldwide Underground’s agent following Black’s defeat (seventeen in the span of minutes), El Jefe had Black called into his office to run past an idea Black’s agent had given him. The idea; Black vs. Rey Mysterio next week, with a chance for Black to redeem himself. At least I think that’s all there was to it, though maybe El Jefe will announce another stipulation next week. Either way it works for me; P.J. was so good tonight and Rey is so good all the time that this match should work great as long as Worldwide Underground doesn’t get involved. And honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t. P.J. wanted to do it alone tonight, perhaps he will again next week, which then allows him to lose and have there be tension with his teammates, or allows them to interfere, help him win or inadvertedly cost him the match, thus leading to tension. Either way I sense tension. Oh and before I go; whoever you are Mr. Worldwide Underground agent, this segment is how a non wrestling should perform. It’s not even funny how far ahead of that guy El Jefe was here. It was like going from Keanu Reeves doing Shakespeare to Kenneth Branagh doing Shakespeare.
And that’s a wrap folks. I’m off to watch How I Met Your Mother...don’t worry, I’m nowhere close to the series finale yet. Till we meet again, THIS!