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The following are results for Lucha Underground which debuted on U.S. television tonight.
Credit: Jeremy Peeples
Lucha Underground is the latest lucha libre-influenced project aiming for success in the United States. It's got some AAA talent, and will hopefully fare better than Lucha Libre USA did years ago. That promotion started off reasonably strong on MTV 2 with a documentary going through the history of lucha libre and the importance of masks. It was arguably the peak of the promotion as an actual lucha libre showcase because while it featured things like hair vs. mask and exoticos, but didn't seem to understand them beyond a surface level.
Its roster of luchadors was solid, but it was hurt by using U.S. stars that simply didn't fit in with anything else. Carlito, Rellik, and even Billy Gunn were there but didn't make headlines -- instead, their homegrown star RJ Brewer did for his anti-immigration act. Long before Jack Swagger and the rechristened Dutch Mantel hit WWE TV, Lucha Libre USA was able to get coverage on ABC's 20/20. The headlines didn't help them though, as their once semi-promoted show on MTV 2 was relegated to a filler timeslot on Saturday mornings, and didn't even get a full season airing on the station. Since then, the archives have been made available on Hulu.
Lucha Underground is a crown jewel program for Lucha Underground, which wasn't really the case for Lucha Libre USA on MTV 2 once the novelty wore off. They've bankrolled the show and have hyped up the concept with Youtube videos from its stars about why they're in the company and what it means to them. For the roster, it's a chance to either gain national exposure in the case of Ricochet under his Prince Puma moniker, or regain it for Chavo Guerrero Jr., Big Ryck, and the former John Morrison now Johnny Mundo. The company's debut on El Rey comes at a time when WWE's product is very stale and TNA's alternates between being very exciting or depressing, so if the show can gain traction, now would be the time for it to happen. People want something different, and they're in a reasonably-good position to provide it.
The show begins with a Fight Club-style vignette where a green mask-clad luchador wins a brawl and someone else comes up to him and tells him to follow him. They go into the mountains and talk about the Aztec origins of lucha libre. Clips air from AAA's history and from TripleMania 2014 where Dario Cueto cut a promo. Mid-ring, a beautiful woman is mid-ring and throws to Striker and Vampiro. They hyped up Dario Cueto. He says this isn't a place for kids to cheer heels, it's a place to cheer his favorite thing - violence. Whoever impresses him the most tonight gets $100,000. They go to a really nice overhead shot of the ring for intros. The music plays into the start of the match.
Blue Demon Jr. vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
A handshake begins as more overhead shots help the show stand out instantly. They go for a lot of basic matwork and wrestling drawing a Chavo/Blue Demon chant. Demon gets serious and slaps him in the face after Chavo gets the better of him with an armdrag that had three camera cuts throughout it. Demon gets a chinlock while Striker goes into why the move damages the body and how Chavo's positioning can prevent any further damage. Chavo sends Demon to the floor while Vampiro talks about the whole Guerrero family being hated except for Eddie. Striker hypes up high-flying while Chavo does a plancha and talks about the dingy Lucha Temple. Demon slams him down and goes up and misses a somersault senton. Chavo goes up top for a super triangle choke, which makes no sense, and gets powerbombed off the top into Demon's modified scorpion deathlock finisher. Demon wins via submission.
Dario meets with Konnan about joining him. Konnan says he won't, but he has someone who will fight for him. Dario says that he's signed a hot free agent who has been known by many names, but in his temple, he will be called Johnny Mundo and he wants to test him against Konnan's charge. Unlike WWE, this was shot like a film, which helps things be taken so much more seriously and looks better too.
The show comes back from the break with an exterior shot of the city and then the Lucha Temple. Striker puts Johnny Mundo over, and then Vampiro says that Konnan's charge is Prince Puma. They cut to a training video with Konnan telling him to fight like he did on the streets - establishing some sort of backstory instantly, and talking about his spirit animal being the jaguar. In an odd move, that's it and it's time for yet another break and they come back to another establishing shot.
Son of Havoc vs. Sexy Star
Sexy Star's giant cape looks fantastic. Sexy Star talks about having a rough childhood and contemplating suicide, but she found lucha and it saved her life. She wrestles to inspire every girl who needs an inspiration. Every woman is sexy, and every woman is a star - and that is how you get a character over as being fully fleshed-out within just a couple of minutes. This ruled! Havoc says he's not wrestling a girl and that she should leave and take a countout loss. She teases it, but then comes in and beats him up a bit in the corner. Havoc misses a moonsault and he takes a running rana. Striker namedrops Red River Jack due to Havoc's beard. Star gets a corner slap as a counter and 2 off of a beautiful flying bodypress. Havoc wins after pulling the tights.
Dario meets with Chavo about being disappointed that he lost. Chavo's supposed to prove the Guerrero name's superiority, and he tapped out. He's officially out of the running for $100,000 and he'll have to find someone to take out Blue Demon Jr. next week. Like the other out of ring vignettes, this was shot beautifully. Johnny Mundo comes down and gets a fan going through his hair for the intro to simulate his WWE intro to some degree. Puma comes out with Konnan, who gets out an odelay while Puma does Eddie Guerrero's shimmy.
Prince Puma vs. Johnny Mundo
Puma flips out of some stuff from Mundo. They flip out of more stuff and Striker talks about how the chain wrestling counters are inspired by World of Sport, and unlike other companies, they can talk about that here. Puma does a double backflip into a headscissors and sends him to the floor. He does a flip into the ropes and then mid-ring with a perfect single-knee landing pose. Mundo hits his neckbreaker/backbreaker hybrid into a hot shot instead of a flatliner. Mundo sends him to the floor after an iffy trouble in paradise but eats a triangle dropkick.
Outside-in springboard somersault senton from Puma. Lotus hold by Puma on the ground. They fight by the crowd and then brawl on the announce table. Mundo hops over it and then flapjacks Puma's face into the post. A mid-ring chinlock from Mundo leads to more chinlock psychology from Striker. Puma gets a spin kick and the crowd is going crazy. Running bolo uppercut sends Mundo into the corner, while a crossbody off the top gets 2.
Vampiro talks about this being a possible match of the year. Yargh. Puma gets 2 off a standing SSP. Mundo counters a Regalplex with elbows and nails some heavy punches in the corner. Mundo sets him up for the End of the World, a renamed version of his corkscrew moonsault but Puma prevents it. Flying Chuck gets 2 for Mundo. Puma counters the flipping uranage, but eats the running basement knee strike. Split-legged moonsault misses, but Puma's flying double knee strike gets 2. Springboard 450 misses, but the Moonlight Drive doesn't and gets 2.5. Standing Spanish Fly, the C4 hits. End of the World hits and it's over.
This was a fantastic match and an excellent showcase for both guys. If you needed to be reminded of what made Mundo a star before, this did that and Puma's star shined brightly too. They shake hands and hug after the match. Cueto's out to presumably give out the $100,000, but he's angry. The crowd chants for him to make it rain. Mundo has earned the money, but the case is slammed on him and Cueto's goons come out to attack them. Big Ryck joins them and clubs puma into a Codebreaker variant of the 3D. Ryck finishes Mundo off with his standing uranage while Cueto says that more than luchadors will compete in his temple while the evil-doers stand tall. Well, I didn't dig that so much, but the match itself was excellent and well worth going out of your way to see.
The Big Picture
While it's a shame the show isn't presently broadcast in HD on El Rey, the presentation is different. The best part of this is the out of ring vignettes being shot like a film. The downside is the constant cuts - they work for film fight scenes, but not for pro wrestling. WWE has had too many of them at times, but this took things to an absurd degree. The intros felt overly-produced, and finishes need replays too. They've got a lot of wasted time with establishing shots that could be used for that. They did an outstanding job getting characters over - even if the origins weren't great, like with Puma, they give you something to work with by treating them as characters instead of just caricatures.
Unlike WWE shows outside of NXT, every match was presented as being important and the main event was just what a startup company should have -- someone homegrown shining against an established name.