LuchaPalooza! Lucha Underground Season 3 Premiere review
It’s back! It’s back sir; Lucha Underground is still alive! Indeed the best wrestling show on TV returned tonight to both close out LuchaPalooza and start us on the 40 episode path to greatness with their season premiere tonight. Naturally I have some thoughts and most of them are, as per usual, good! I will go on record in saying that in terms of excitement, this year’s season premiere didn’t quite match the excitement of the season two premiere from this past January. Of course that premiere had the advantage of coming after months and months of hype and anticipation, something this show couldn’t match after only a month off. It thankfully didn’t try, instead being more grounded in its approach while still delivering the things that have made LU such a great promotion. We had two great matches bookending the show, with a solid match (with a slightly disappointing performance from one of the competitors) in the middle. We had several great scenes that added intrigue going forward, gave us a whole lot of El Jefe and explained an absence or two for a good chunk of the season. But let’s not give away the farm; that’s what the review is for. So without further ado let’s kick off the season in style. Moses, MEME THE BELL!!!!!!!!!!
El Jefe is Sprung!
If nothing else you can’t say Lucha Underground didn’t continue their trend of great opening scenes to start a season. This time we saw El Jefe working out in prison, being released from prison, interacting with the gorram Honky Tonk Man (playing a prison guard in a great cameo) and then being told by the Lord that if El Jefe wastes his time again he’s boned. Like Sting at the end of Dune boned. I’m not sure if it’s better than the Vampiro in the Asylum segment but it was pretty damn entertaining and it gave us more clues about the lord. Mainly that he speaks Spanish; guess it’s time to start browsing through the AAA roster again. Seriously folks, I will not rest until the Lord's identity is found.
EL JEFE EVERYWHERE!
Clearly the season three production meetings featured someone suggesting more El Jefe appearances, because Dario was right back in the ring to start this one off. He was on fire all night but this was the best; we got him oinking at Vampiro (depressed over Pentagon turning on him), going through his usual tropes. Basically the more El Jefe strategy proved to be a damn good idea. And he had a new idea up his sleeve, breaking out a wheel he called the Dial of Doom to select Matanza’s opponent for the evening. The lucky winner was Son of Havoc, and boy did that turn out to be a great decision.
Lucha Underground Championship
Matanza (c) defeated Son of Havoc
Much like the tradition of great opening scenes, LU continued the trend of having great opening matches with this gem. I think I can safely say we all love Son of Havoc but this…this was the best individual performance he’s had during his tenure. Tremendous work and not just because of his usual high flying. Sure the SSP, the moonsaults and the weird ass elbow drop he did with the assist of the ring post were cool, but I personally found the best spots of the match to be when Havoc went for a Tornado DDT, got blocked and put a Rear Naked Choke on Matanza anyway and when Matanza kicked out of the double stomp/standing moonsault combo, only for Havoc to quickly slap on an armbar. Two great moments that will probably be lost in the excitement but really helped this match. And no I didn’t forget about Matanza; he was great too, both looking dominant in the first half (I loved him shoulder blocking Havoc out of the air just by standing still) and more vulnerable as the match went on. That’s probably a better choice than the all invincible Brock Lesnar style monster and it made it a lot more believable that Havoc could win. Well that and it looked like he did win when he hit the SSP and almost got a three count (watching it the second time I could’ve sworn it looked like Rick Knox’s hand bounced off the mat). Anyway you look at it this was a great start to the show and a great way to get both guys going. Matanza still looks like a near unbeatable hoss (though he does have weaknesses) while Havoc looks like a potential main eventer and a man poised for great work this season.
El Jefe and the Underground
This might’ve been the best and most active scene of the night, and naturally involved El Jefe. Worldwide Underground barged into the office wanting a shot at the Trios Championships. El Jefe, every the gentlemen and scholar, said no because they lost at Ultima Lucha Dos. Naturally Johnny Mundo didn’t give up, accused Angelico of being the reason they lost their titles and then proceeded to tell a story (that we saw) of Angelico getting his leg broken by Worldwide Underground after they slammed it against Mundo’s car door. First off, YOU BASTARD MUNDO! Second, El Jefe predictably loved this…he just didn’t love it enough to give them the rematch! Classic El Jefe I tell you.
Even still Mundo pressed on to no avail, but El Jefe did compromise to a degree. How so; by allowing the one member of Worldwide Underground who did win at Ultima Lucha Dos (Taya) to have a match for the Gift of the Gods Championship tonight. In the words of Peter Griffin, sweet. I’m not sure you can do a simple scene as well as they did this one; it was El Jefe at his peak, Mundo and his crew at their most annoying and it also gave us the reason why we won’t see Angelico for awhile. And now I’m sad. There’s depressing moments and then there’s Angelico not being on my TV screen for months on end. SADNESS EVERYWHERE!
Ivelisse! Catrina! Ultima Lucha Tres!
Hmm…didn’t someone call this match some time ago? I could’ve sworn somebody did…OH WAIT! IT WAS ME! Bow down to your prediction master fools! I really like the simplicity of it. There was no pageantry or over the top shenanigans; just Ivelisse coming out, getting to the point and Catrina doing the same. Now we have the match we’ve all wanted for Ultima Lucha Tres (and unlike Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Psycho Clown I think we can safely say it will happen), we have months for them to tell this story and it also allows both Ivelisse and Catrina to do other stuff in the interim. That’s getting the job done in just a couple of minutes there.
Gift of the Gods Championship Match
Sexy Star (c) defeated Taya
I’ll probably be a little bit easier on this match because, for most of it, it wasn’t too bad. Taya in particular was great. You can always count on her to nail the character stuff, but her chain wrestling/mat work was quite on point and I thought she worked a nice pace. Sexy did too when they were grappling and on the mat; if they had just stuck to that I don’t think anyone would’ve had a problem. The issue was that Sexy otherwise just looked kind of slow. I’m not sure why but when she ran the ropes it looked like she was doing it at negative miles per hour and it just killed the flow of the match. I don’t love saying that; I’m a Sexy Star defender, I don’t think she’s as bad as many think and overall she wasn’t that bad here in the big picture. But some of the stuff she did here will definitely get her critics going and it’s hard for me to blame them. At least going forward they should be able to hide it some if Sexy will be teaming with the Trios Champions in Atomicos matches with Worldwide Underground, which was hinted at after Fenix, Aerostar and Drago hit the ring to defend her after Worldwide Underground attacked post match (Sexy won with a roll up after a distraction gone awry, so a beat down was warranted). It’s just a shame she wasn’t better tonight, as Taya deserved a much better match for the effort she put in.
El Jefe and Marty
Do you believe yet that the “More El Jefe!” suggestion was put into use? If not well then this segment, Dario’s fifth of the night (if you count him managing Matanza) will do that and this one somehow managed to shift El Jefe into “shit your pants mode.” Must have something to do with how bat shit crazy Marty the Moth was. The Moth, looking great in his new black Aztec Pride t-shirt, came into the office, tried to put his feet up on the desk (spoiler; they didn’t stay there) and declared he wanted to conquer the Temple. El Jefe didn’t seem too fond of that idea and ended up suggesting that Marty go after Killshot some more. The Moth didn’t like that and why would he; he’s already got the dog tags after all! That was until El Jefe introduced a new concept called a Weapons of Mass Destruction match for next week between Marty and Killshot. Basically (Dario voice) EVERYTHING GOES! Beyond that who knows, besides that this match should be bonkers good and the one we’ve been waiting to see from Killshot and Marty since they started tangling in the middle of season two. I wouldn’t say this was better than the El Jefe/Worldwide Underground scene or the closing one, but it was at least on par with the opener and may be higher depending on how much you enjoy crazy Marty. And who doesn't love that nutty bastard? The people want the Moth; THE PEOPLE NEED THE MOTH!
Rey Mysterio defeated Pentagon Dark
This was a great match and will go down as an underrated match for reasons that will become clear in a few moments. You always worry that something in LU will not live up to the hype but this match, which had huge hype going in, did despite being only around ten minutes. Rey Mysterio is back folks. I mean you probably already thought that after the Puma match, but this match 100% confirmed it. Honest to Cthulhu, Rey was moving and flying around like old school WCW Rey; I almost couldn’t believe how great he looked! I don’t know if it’s the new found freedom to do more away from the mother ship or if he’s finally healthy again after all these years, but man he was great here. It helps that he had the right dance partner in Pentagon, who slowed the pace down at the right moments and delivered some absolutely brilliant offense. It was a tremendous match that if given ten to fifteen more minutes would be an all time classic. Or at least it would be if Pentagon one, which brings me to a rant on the people out there complaining about Pentagon losing.
I’m going to have to write about this in the next few days folks so consider this a preview; the whole “PENTAGON LOST, WHY GOD WHY?!” narrative has got to stop. Yes Pentagon lost again here and yes he lost clean following a pretty good Canadian Destroyer by Mysterio. And sure if that’s all that happened it would certainly seem like he’s being mistreated. The problem is he clearly isn’t. For one Pentagon was absolutely the aggressor of this match and dominated a good chunk of it, with Rey only going on the offensive towards the end. Secondly he beat down Mysterio after the match and would’ve broken his arm if not for El Dragon Azteca Jr. making the save (continuing the story started by Pentagon at Ultima Lucha Dos when he broke Azteca’s arm). And most importantly, Pentagon had the damn match won and only lost because of his own stupidity. He could’ve finished off Mysterio, but instead felt the need to go jaw at Vampiro (who was so upset over this that he left the ringside area), which gave Mysterio time to recover. You know what we call that; a finish that a) protected Pentagon and b) adds to his character. He’s still growing, he’s still learning how to harness his full potential and when he does it it’s going to be FUCKING huge. I get that you want your favorite to win all the time and it may seem like forever till Pentagon has his moment. But this isn’t Bray Wyatt where he’s all talk and the moment never comes; there’s a clear plan and clear story to eventually get Pentagon to the promised land and LU is stretching it out for all its worth. If you stopped to think instead of wanting instant gratification you would see this. But like I said, this is a rant for another time. In the end this was a great match, one of the best of the two week period and it continues Pentagon’s story, sets up a great Pentagon-Azteca program and also establishes Rey as a bigger player in the Temple.
I TOLD YOU PUMA AND VAMPIRO WOULD END UP TOGETHER!
And here’s me getting another prediction right. Am I good or am I good folks? Turns out that when Vampiro went backstage he found Prince Puma, torturing himself over his loss to Mysterio at Ultima Lucha Dos. The next few minutes were low key electrifying as Puma refused Vamp’s help (believing Vamp wanted him to take out Pentagon and perhaps rightfully so) while Vamp let the youngster in on a little secret; Puma has never been the same since he lost to Mil Muertes at Ultima Lucha Uno and is still nowhere near close to getting it back. Clearly the foundation has been set for Puma and Vampiro to join forces and now there are only two questions to ask; will this get Puma back to his winning ways and what is Vampiro’s motivation? I’m guessing the answers are yes and, in a twist, to get back into Pentagon’s good graces. You heard it here first folks; it may seem like Vampiro is trying to get back at Pentagon by finding another young protégé, but knowing the kind of master manipulator Vampiro is (just look at how he got Pentagon to follow him for crying out loud) this seems like the maestro playing the long game so he can prove himself to Pentagon when the moment is just right. Just a thought folks. Whatever way you’re thinking, this was a great way to end the show with many questions of what’s to come. I honestly think it left even more questions than last year’s closer with El Jefe feeding guys to Matanza did. There it was just El Jefe being El Jefe, nothing more and nothing less. Here there’s a ton of questions. Hopefully they answer them!
That’s it folks! I’ll be back tomorrow with a preview for CMLL’s Super Viernes and one final column on the two week extravaganza known as LuchaPalooza. Oh, and a column on the whole Pentagon/fan situation. Till next time, some sage words from a sage Spidey.