Reviews

Lucha Underground Review 02/24/16 by Mark McAllen

Taped in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles, California this is Lucha Underground for Season 2 – Episode 5.

Before we begin, I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Mark McAllen and you may have seen that name here before since I write news for TJRWrestling alongside John Canton and Wayne Tomkins. I’m a big fan of this season of Lucha Underground, but I haven’t been watching since the beginning (Season 1). I was a little late to the Lucha Underground party. However, I have gone back and watched a lot of matches and segments thanks to the El Rey Network’s YouTube channel. I mention this because maybe you’re reading this and haven’t watched Lucha Underground before and are maybe a little intimidated to just jump right in without knowing much of what has happened. Although I’ve been watching all of Season 2, there are a few storylines and wrestlers here and there that I’m not too knowledgeable of, so we’re in the same boat! We’ll be learning together.

What really draws me to Lucha Underground is its uniqueness. It’s unlike any wrestling television series in history, and you’ll quickly figure that out as we move along. I hope this review can be enjoyable for those that don’t have the El Rey Network or are unable to watch due to other reasons. I’ll be including the main event matches (in their entirety) in every post as the El Rey Network’s YouTube channel does so every week; so if your unable to watch the series then hopefully this review can be the next best thing. I’ve gone on too long, so without further ado… let’s get started!

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A video aired highlighting the rivalry between Johnny Mundo and Cage as well as Chavo Guerrero and Texano. Mundo vs. Cage is scheduled for tonight as well as Texano’s return to The Temple.

Pentagon Jr. is seen kneeling in a dark room calling for his master. Vampiro appears and talks about how Ian Hodgkinson locked away Vampiro into the dark corners of his mind for many years. However, Vampiro never truly went away. Vampiro talks about looking for an apprentice, one that would set him free from Ian Hodgkinson’s mind and how he found that apprentice in Pentagon Jr. Vampiro tells Pentagon that, together, nothing can stop them and to let nothing stand in their way, especially Katrina.

Evaluation: This was an excellently put together video package/promo. I say video package/promo because it cut together parts of Season 1 and Ultima Lucha along with a clip of Pentagon and Vampiro talking about what is next for them. The way LU shoots their backstage promos is incredibly cinematic and can be jarring to those watching it for the first time who aren’t use to LU’s style. However, you get used to it quickly. As Matt Striker says, “for the un-initiated” Ian Hodgkinson and Vampiro are the same person. Ian Hodgkinson is the former professional wrestler/color-commentator of LU and Vampiro is his demonic vampire alter-ego who is Pentagon Jr.’s master. I thought I’d include that as the above paragraph can be quite confusing if you haven’t watched LU before and are reading a review of this show for the first time.

Matt Striker and Ian Hodgkinson welcome us back to The Temple and tell us that they’ll be four matches on the show tonight. That’s big considering that LU is an hour long program that if you cut out commercials is only about 45 minutes long.

Ring announcer Melissa Santos is about to introduce Jack Evans for his upcoming match, but before she gets around to it Evans rips the mic from Santos’ hand and pushes her aside. He apologizes to Santos but says he’s sick of amateur hour and decides to introduce himself: “Quiet down! The hero you never knew you had is about to speak!” Evans gives himself a grand introduction. He also introduces himself as the Dragon Slayer since he defeated Drago a few weeks ago and says if he ever shows up again he’ll make him his little bitch. He gives the mic back to Melissa Santos: “And that’s how you do your job.”

Evaluation: This is only the second time I’ve seen Evans and I like what I’ve seen thus far. I don’t know if he takes the mic away from Santos every week or if this is just a new thing, but it’s fun. His voice reminds me of Seth Rollins too as it’s slightly grainy/raspy.

“The Darewolf” PJ Black makes his way to the ring. For those who don’t recognize the name, he used to be Justin Gabriel in WWE. He was also Adam Rose’s bunny at one point, but let’s not talk about that. It’s Black’s second match with LU. He made his debut two weeks ago against The Mack in a strong showing, but lost by pinfall.

Jack Evans vs. PJ Black

Evans tells Black he has a lot of respect for him and looking for a handshake, Evans extends his hand to Black to start the match. While Black accepts the handshake, Evans doesn’t let go and nails Black with a kick to the gut. Black retaliates with a spinning heel kick and a punch to the face. Black has Evans in the corner and pokes him in the eyes, telling the referee it was just his palm. Black German Suplex’s Evans and holds a bridge for the cover but Evans kicks out at two. Evans fights back but Black counters Evans and delivers a front facelock suplex. Black tries for another cover but Evans kicks out at two. While Black pulls Evans up to his feet, he receives a hard slap across the face from Evans. Evans then nails Black in the head with a big springboard spinning kick.

The crowd starts to roar as Drago makes his way into the crowd and taunts Evans with a pair of nunchucks. Evans exits the ring and enters back with a steel chair. He throws a bottle of water at Drago, yelling that he’s ready for him. While Evans is clearly distracted, Black turns Evans around and hits him with his signature move the Black Diamond. Evans kicks out at a very close two count.

Drago starts to make his way to ringside while Evans and Black get back to their feet. While the referee has his back to the competitors due to getting rid of the steel chair Evans brought in the ring, Black locks Evans up looking to hit another German Suplex. Evans fights it and runs over to the ropes while Black still has his arms locked around Evans’ waist. Near the ropes, Drago goes to spray Evans in the face with green mist, but at the last second Evans ducks and pulls Black in front of him. Black is temporarily blinded by the mist and Evans rolls Black up for the three count after 4 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Jack Evans

Post-match, Evans quickly escapes the ring as Drago rushes in after him. Evans makes his exit as Drago taunts him from inside the ring. Black sits up in pain and picks up Drago’s nunchucks that were lying right next to him. Drago exits the ring without his chucks and the two stare each other down before Black slams Drago’s chucks to the mat in anger.

Evaluation: That was a four-minute match that felt longer than four minutes. I find this to be the case with a lot of LU matches this season. They haven’t gone too far over 11 minutes but every time I look at the length of the match I always find myself saying, “wait, that was only insert number of minutes?” Black and Evans made the most out of the time they were given and had some great nearfalls. The story told between all three men during their four minutes was excellent. Evans and Drago’s feud is far from over and it looks like Black now has a bone to pick with Drago after costing him the match.

(Commercial)

A video aired in the style of a bad car salesman commercial. The “car salesman’s” name is Famous B and together he’ll turn you “from a jobber to a robber.” Whatever that means. I’m guessing we’ll see Famous B within the next 3 weeks. It seems like he’ll be a manager and I’m all for there being more managers in wrestling.

The Gift of the Gods Champion King Cuerno and his opponent Killshot were already in the ring as Melissa Santos introduced the two of them. King Cuerno’s championship will not be on the line in this match. The LU boss, Katrina, has a tight relationship with Cuerno, so that’s the reason why Cuerno’s championship isn’t on the line.

King Cuerno vs. Killshot

Killshot hits Cuerno with a springboard dropkick that forces Cuerno to escape the ring for a breather. Killshot nails Cuerno with a kick to the head that prevents Cuerno from getting back in the ring. Killshot dives outside landing on Cuerno. While getting to his feet Cuerno delivers a hard superkick, gets back in the ring and suicide dives onto Killshot. The two get back into the ring and evenly trade blows. We get a slow “boo, yay” sequence with Cuerno’s punches getting the yay’s and Killshot’s punches getting the boo’s, even though Cuerno’s the heel and Killshot’s the face. Both men trade dropkicks and big boots on each other. Cuerno has Killshot in position for a piledriver. Killshot reverses it now holding Cuerno in position for a piledriver, but instead falls to his back and kicks his knees up into Cuerno’s chest. Killshot heads to the top rope for a big corkscrew splash but Cuerno rolls out of the way. Cuerno then hits Killshot with his Thrill of the Night signature move for the three count after about 6 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: King Cuerno

Post-match, Cuerno continues to attack Killshot with kicks to the body. He holds Killshot in his Thrill of the Kill finishing move (different than Thrill of the Night), but Fenix rushes the ring before Cuerno can execute. Cuerno escapes the ring quickly, grabs his title and taunts Fenix with it before he makes his exit.

Evaluation: Cuerno beat Fenix in this season’s debut episode for the Gift of the Gods Championship. For those who don’t know, the holder of the Gift of the Gods Championship entitles them to challenge the Lucha Underground Champion. It’s similar to WWE’s Money in the Bank concept, but with the GOTG Title you can’t just “cash in” whenever you want. You have to schedule a match under at least one-week notice. Fenix tried to schedule a LU Title match while he was champ but Katrina (the boss) declined, having Fenix face Cuerno for his title instead. Fenix lost so it’s natural that he’d be upset and want his rematch. In regards to the match, Killshot walked away looking strong as the bout was very evenly contested. It was just a matter of who hit their big move first; Cuerno did and therefore walked away victorious.

Texano vs. Chavo Guerrero & The Crew in a gauntlet match is up next.

(Commercial)

Texano was already in the ring as Santos introduced him. Chavo and The Crew made their entrance next while Chavo ordered Cisco to start the gauntlet match first.

Gauntlet Match: Texano vs. Cisco

Texano hits Cisco with a superkick while Cisco was distracted by Chavo giving him directions. Texano covers Cisco for the three count after 10 seconds.

Winner by pinfall: Texano

Chavo rips off his poncho and stands on the apron as if he was going to face Texano next. Castro sneaks up behind Texano but Texano catches him with a big back elbow to the chest.

Gauntlet Match: Texano vs. Cortez Castro

Castro gets to his feet, counters Texano and traps him in the corner. He hits Texano with a flying DDT off the second rope. Castro covers Texano, but he kicks out at two. Castro hits Texano with a neckbreaker and tries for the pin again, but gets a two count once again. Texano delivers a big boot to Castro and lands a leg drop off the second rope. Texano then nails a pop-up powerbomb on Castro for the win after 2 and a half minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Texano

Right after Castro gets eliminated, Chavo rushes the ring and hits Texano from behind.

Gauntlet Match: Texano vs. Chavo Guerrero

Chavo goes for the pin right away but only gets a two count. Chavo stays in control as he kicks and punches Texano rapidly, not letting Texano get to his feet. Texano gets back to his feet thanks to Chavo’s excessive taunting and delivers a vicious clothesline. Chavo tries to escape the ring but Texano pulls him back in by his head. Chavo’s on the apron and Texano attempts to suplex Chavo back into the ring. Cisco distracts the ref and while lifting Chavo up, Castro trips Texano and Chavo falls on top of him. Castro uses the bull rope to tie and hold Texano’s feet down while Chavo covers Cisco for the three count. The match lasted 2 and a half minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Chavo Guerrero

Post-match, Chavo orders The Crew to raise his hands in victory but the three of them quickly flee while Texano chases them to the back.

Evaluation: Pretty boring gauntlet match with a predictable finish. You knew Chavo was going to get the cheap win somehow. I never really got into Chavo as a singles competitor and his two matches so far in Season 2 haven’t done anything for me. This is the first match I’ve seen of Texano’s. I’m going to have to see more before I can really make a judgement about him.

Matt Striker reminds us that Johnny Mundo vs. Cage is still to come.

(Commercial)

In a place 375 miles from Boyle Heights, Dario Cueto is standing outside his new establishment with a female friend. You can hear screams of “help” and “let me out” coming from inside the building. Cueto tells a story about how his little brother saved his life. His mother would hurt him and his brother all the time, until one day Cueto stood up to her and said “no more.” He couldn’t back up his words though as his mother attacked him with a hot iron. Cueto’s little brother saw this and attacked their mom over and over again with a small statue of the devil, until she was dead. Cueto says how he looks back at this time fondly as this was the moment where he learned just how much he loved violence.

Evaluation: Very creepy story. I love Cueto’s delivery of it; he’s convincingly strange. I’m a little confused as to Cueto’s story. As mentioned above, I haven’t seen Season 1 of LU in its entirety. I know Cueto used to be the boss of The Temple until he had to leave, but that’s pretty much it. If someone can fill me in through the comment section, I’d appreciate it. This story also leads me to believe we’ll be seeing Cueto’s brother in the near future. That should be interesting.

Back at The Temple, Pentagon Jr. complains to Katrina how Prince Puma tried to embarrass him last week and that he wants another match with him. Katrina says why should she after he broke LU Champion Mil Muertes’ arm (in the debut episode of Season 2). After the two exchange blows, Pentagon holds Katrina down and threatens to break her arm too. She escapes Pentagon’s clutches because she has Undertaker powers apparently. She then schedules Pentagon Jr.’s rematch with Prince Puma for next week and says how putting his hands on her was the biggest mistake he’s ever made.

Evaluation: Puma and Pentagon’s match last week was good with Puma lifting his shoulders up (they were in a double pin position) at the last second for the win. Last week’s match went about 10 minutes. Hopefully next week they can get a little more time and maybe we’ll see a more decisive victory.

(Commercial)

It’s main event time. Johnny Mundo and Cage both make their entrances.

Johnny Mundo vs. Cage

As they do every week, the El Rey Network’s YouTube channel uploaded this week’s main event in its entirety. You can watch the full match below.

The match kicks off with Mundo delivering a hard slap across the face of Cage. Cage fights back and the two evenly trade blows back and forth. Cage begins to take control of the match before Mundo kicks Cage in the head, knocking him to ringside. Mundo then nails Cage outside the ring with an INSANE corkscrew springboard attack. A lot of these Lucha Underground matches can be difficult to call at times due to the sheer insanity of some of the moves performed. This was one of those moves. You can see this move at the 4:40 mark in the video above.

Mundo throws Cage into the barricade, then back into the ring for a cover but Cage kicks out at two. Mundo stays on top of Cage with a flurry of punches. The two get to their feet and exchange a series of reversals that end in a kick to the head from Mundo. Cage looks winded but slowly gets to his feet and gains control with a big clothesline and a sit down Alabama Slam. Cage goes for the cover but Mundo kicks out at two. The announcers keep making a point of saying how Cage is breathing heavy. Mundo goes for a rollup pin and puts his feet on the ropes for leverage, but Cage kicks out at two again.

Mundo goes for his signature move, Moonlight Drive, but Cage reverses it into the Lucha Destroyer. Cage goes for the pin and Mundo gets his foot on the bottom rope to break the count at two. Mundo takes Cage down and attempts The End of the World (formerly known as Starship Pain), but Cage rolls out of the way and nails Mundo with a discus lariat. Cage pulls down the straps of his singlet, signaling that it’s time to end this match. Cage sets Mundo up for his devastating Weapon X finishing move and perfectly lands it. He goes for the cover but the ref is distracted since a woman with bright blonde hair threw a lead pipe in the ring and stood on the apron. While the ref has his back to the competitors, Mundo hits Cage across the head with the lead pipe and covers Cage for the three count after about 8 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Johnny Mundo

Post-match, Mundo and Taya (that’s the blonde haired woman’s name) attack Cage some more. Mundo sits Cage down in the corner and Taya hits him with running knees to the face. Mundo then hit Cage with The End of the World and him and Taya celebrated together in the ring.

Johnny Mundo Taya

Evaluation: I liked the slower pace to this match. It’s necessary since Cage is a bigger guy, but it definitely still had its fast paced moments. You need matches like this in Lucha Underground. I would have liked a clean finish, but Mundo is the heel so it makes sense that he cheated to win. It also helps Cage still look strong. Now Mundo and Cage are 1-1, so expect the rubber match to happen soon. I’ve never seen Taya wrestle before, but she’s been competing in AAA in Mexico for a couple years now and won the Luchadora of the Year award in AAA in 2014 and 2015. I don’t know if there’s long-term plans to have her and Mundo together, but their pairing should be fun for the time being.

King Cuerno walks into Katrina’s office and says he’s tired of the Gift of the Gods Championship putting a target on his back. He wants Mil Muertes for the LU Championship next week. Katrina says that’s unfortunate because she already made plans for Cuerno to face Fenix for the GOTG Title next week. Cuerno complains about how this isn’t fair since being GOTG Champion earns him the right to a LU Title match. Katrina says that’s too bad, and that next week’s GOTG Title match against Fenix will be a Ladder Match.

Evaluation: Wow! That match should be a lot of fun. Expect to see some ridiculously crazy high spots next week.

 

Game Ball goes to…

Johnny Mundo – Impressive showing in the main event, and that step-up springboard dive outside the ring was too crazy not to give him the top spot.

 

Final Thoughts

– The backstage videos/promos were all very good tonight. I especially liked the Dario Cueto story about his little brother. Very ominous and creepy. I’m looking forward to seeing what this leads to. Weakest was the Famous B car salesman video, but then again it really wasn’t meant to be a promo.

– There were four matches on the show tonight and that may have been a mistake. Without commercials LU is only about 40-45 minutes long. No match went over 8 minutes and that’s including the gauntlet match which lasted a combined 5 minutes.

– Speaking of the gauntlet match, it really slowed down the middle of the show. I wasn’t really into it.

– Three out of the four matches tonight had a cheap finish. I usually don’t mind those kind of finishes, but when three out of the four scheduled matches have it then it’s too much. Again, I think it was a case of having too many matches on the card; because of this they had to cut down the time on some of the matches and use cheap ways for the match to end in order to keep everyone involved still looking strong. Actually, the more I think about it the more I don’t mind the cheap finishes. I’d prefer heels doing what heels do and cheating to get a victory over WWE’s 50/50 booking any day. They just can’t have cheap finishes happening too often.

– Some great matches for next week have been set up in Pentagon Jr. vs. Prince Puma and King Cuerno vs. Fenix for the GOTG Title in a Ladder Match. Can’t wait!

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That’s it for me. Thanks for reading and leave any feedback of the review or your thoughts on this week’s show in the comment section below.

Pictures used above are courtesy of Lucha Underground.