Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Top Ten Matches of Lucha Underground: Season 1

Taking a look at the very best from the 1st Season of Lucha Underground!!

In this review, I’ll be looking at the Top Ten Matches from Season 1 of Lucha Underground, as well as honorable mentions (similar to how I do my “Best of ROH TV” reviews). Before I begin, I should note that I will not be looking at any matches from Ultima Lucha, as I will be posting a standalone review of that in the near future.

Lucha Underground: The Best of Season 1 (Top Ten Matches)

1.) Episode 19: Grave Consequences (3/18/15) - Grave Consequences Match - Mil Muertes vs. Fenix: ****½

Fenix & Mil Muertes have been going at each other for several weeks. Muertes won their first encounter, but Fenix later defeated “The Man of 1000 Deaths”, and evidently gained the attention of Catrina. I’m not really sure if Fenix “stole” Catrina from Mil Muertes, or if it was Catrina who gravitated to Fenix (we would find out later that it’s closer to the latter). Here, they’re having a version of a Casket Match titled “Grave Consequences”, which as you might expect, has VERY heavy “Day of the Dead” theme to it. As far as the match goes, it was AMAZING!!!!! This was easily my favorite match in Season 1 of Lucha Underground. We usually don’t think of Casket Matches as being very good, but I can confidently say that this was the best Casket Match in the history of pro-wrestling. Right from the beginning, it was just one huge brawl. Muertes was a man possessed, and looked an absolute MONSTER. He decimated Fenix, but “The Man of 1000 Lives” didn’t give up, despite having his mask ripped up and bleeding all over the place. In the end, Fenix won this grueling battle, in what was easily the best match of Season 1 of Lucha Underground.

2.) Episode 32: All Night Long (6/17/15) - Lucha Underground Title - All Night Long Match - Prince Puma vs. Johnny Mundo: ****½

Out of all the performers in Lucha Underground, the two that appear most often on this list I’ve compiled are Prince Puma & Johnny Mundo. They’ve been two of the best throughout Season 1, and by far their best encounter is the match I’m about to discuss. Prince Puma puts his Lucha Underground Title on the line against Johnny Mundo (who had turned heel, or “rudo”, by this point in the Season) in an “All Night Long” Match (you can, of course, thank Dario Cueto for that one). It’s essentially an Anything Goes Iron-Man Match that lasts the entire episode. This was an absolutely incredible match. The action was fast & furious (no pun intended), and they told a great story throughout, as Puma had to fight back after Mundo took an early lead. We saw some really cool stuff during the course of this match, including Puma spearing Mundo off of the band stand area (which is on the 2nd floor of The Temple) through four tables!!!! This match was just awesome in every way possible. In the end, Puma is able to pin Mundo with a 630 Splash just before the clock expires, retaining his Lucha Underground Title in one of the best matches in Season 1!!

3.) Episode 9: Aztec Warfare (1/7/15) - Lucha Underground Title - Aztec Warfare Match: ****¼

The first episode of 2015 had one of the biggest matches in Lucha Underground history, up to that point: an Aztec Warfare Match to crown the inaugural Lucha Underground Champion! An Aztec Warfare Match works similarly to a Royal Rumble, in that two men start in the right, and then at fixed intervals, another luchador enters the match, The difference here is that eliminations can only occur via pinfall or submission, and there are no disqualifications. I won’t go over every participant and elimination, but I will say that this match was pretty awesome!!! Even though it’s basically another version of the Royal Rumble Match, they put a unique twist on it, and it worked very well. The crowd was really into it, and the match managed to tell a compelling story over the course of the hour. It eventually came down to Prince Puma vs. Johnny Mundo, and in the end, Puma would get the win to become the first-ever Lucha Underground Champion!! Mundo shows respect to Puma after the match, and Konnan comes out to celebrate with his protege.

4.) Episode 7: Top Of The Ladder (12/10/14) - $100,000 Triple Threat Ladder Match - Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma vs. Big Ryck: ****¼

The big feud during the first several episodes of Lucha Underground surrounded Johnny Mundo (the former John Morrison in WWE), Prince Puma, & The Crew, led by Big Ryck (the former Ezekiel Jackson in WWE). They had been fighting over a $100,000 cash prize that was being offered by Dario Cueto. After weeks of the three sides going back & forth, Cueto decided to put the money on the line in a Triple Threat Ladder Match. This turned out to be a great match! I’m someone who really enjoys Ladder Matches, so it wasn’t hard for me to really enjoy this match. As you would expect, Mundo & Puma really excelled in this environment. People were diving all over the place, jumping off ladders, and falling through tables. It was a ton of fun, in my opinion. At one point, a new member of The Crew was introduced in the form of Bael (known to most people as B-Boy from his time in PWG and various other independent promotions), who interfered to help Big Ryck. In the end, Mundo would emerge from all of the chaos as the winner, claiming the $100,000 cash prize (that was in a briefcase high above the ring).

After the match, Dario Cueto comes out to congratulate Mundo, and asks him for his key back (Mundo had stolen the key from Cueto a few weeks prior). Mundo punched Cueto in the face, and then placed the key on Cueto’s body as he celebrated to close the show.

5.) Episode 18: No Escape (3/11/15) - Steel Cage Match - Johnny Mundo vs. King Cuerno: ****¼

One of the underrated feuds of Season 1 of Lucha Underground was Johnny Mundo vs. King Cuero. Mundo had been attacked by Cuerno on a few occasions (Cuerno went after Mundo’s knee), and their only singles encounter ended in a brawl that went all over The Temple, so Dario Cueto put them both inside a Steel Cage (the first in Lucha Underground) to settle the feud once again for all (Cueto had a personal stake in this, as Mundo had been a thorn in his side since the beginning of Season 1). This was a fantastic Steel Cage Match!! Cuerno & Mundo went right at each other from the opening bell, and they never let up. The closing stretch of this match was especially great, and the crowd loved every second of it. Mundo eventually hit a huge dive off the top of the cage to score the pin, and the victory! An awesome Steel Cage Match!

6.) Episode 26: The Best In The Business (5/6/15) - Alberto El Patron vs. Johnny Mundo: ****

This was the first encounter that these two would have in Lucha Underground. It was a “#2 Contender’s” Match, because the winner would go on to face Hernandez to determine the #1 Contender to Prince Puma’s Lucha Underground Title. I thought this was a great match! Arguably the two biggest stars in the promotion went at it, and they had a fantastic Main Event. There was some really good back & forth action throughout this match, and the last few minutes were especially great. In the end, Alberto El Patron would score the victory, moving on to face Hernandez to determine the #1 Contender.

7.) Episode 3: Crossing The Border (11/12/14) - Triple Threat Match - Fenix vs. Pentagon Jr. vs. Drago: ****

So the setup for this match was that Konnan had met with Dario Cueto in the latter's office, and complained about the lack of actual luchadors on Lucha Underground up to that point (which was a legitimate complaint about the first two episodes at the time). Dario Cueto, being the great man that he is, remedied this problem by putting three luchadores (all of them from AAA) in a Triple Threat Match. At the time that this show aired, I had no idea who these three guys were, but boy did they leave a lasting impression. This was a crazy match! These luchadores went all out to prove themselves in this new promotion, and it resulted in a really fun & enjoyable. We saw everything you could possibly imagine, including Fenix diving off the top of Dario Cueto's office onto both Drago & Pentagon Jr.!!! Through all the carnage, Fenix would eventually pick up the victory. A super fun match for sure!

8.) Episode 23: Fire In The Cosmos (4/15/15) - Best-of-Five Series: Match #5 - Aero Star vs. Drago: ****

Before ACH & Matt Sydal had a Best-of-Five Series of their own in ROH, Aero Star & Drago had their own Best-of-Five Series in Lucha Underground! It wasn’t a series at first, but the matches entertained Dario Cueto, so he turned it into a series. He later promised a “unique opportunity” to the eventual winner. This was easily the best match of the series! These two are just so entertaining to watch. The action in here was really good, but you also felt the intensity here in this final match. You can tell that they were working hard in this final match, and it definitely paid off. Drago would eventually pick up the win with his unique Dragon rollup.

After the match, Dario Cueto congratulates Drago, and reveals the “unique opportunity”: A Lucha Underground Title Match! However, is Drago doesn’t win, then he’s banned from The Temple forever!!

9.) Episode 1: Welcome To The Temple (10/29/14) - Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma (with Konnan): ****

Here we have the Main Event from the debut episode of Lucha Underground, featured Ricochet as the newly christened Prince Puma, with Konnan by his side, taking on Johnny Mundo, who is more famously known for his run in WWE as John Morrison & Johnny Nitro. They really could not have picked a better Main Event for the debut episode of Lucha Underground. This was a very good match! These two put on a really entertaining match with a lot of cool action. We know how good Prince Puma is, and he took Johnny Mundo to the limit in this one. Eventually, Mundo was able to put away Puma for the victory.

After the match, the two competitors show each other respect. Then, Dario Cueto (owner/promotor of Lucha Underground) comes out. Earlier in the episode, he had promised $100,000 to the Luchador who impressed him the most. It looks like he's going to give the briefcase of money to Johnny Mundo, but Cueto closed the lid on him. Mundy tries to go for the briefcase, but he & Prince Puma are attacked by The Crew, which consists of Cortez Castro (Ricky Reyes of ROH fame), Mr. Cisco, & Big Ryck (formerly Ezekiel Jackson in WWE). Cueto then gives the money to The Crew (I guess they "impressed" him the most) to close the show.

10.) Episode 27: Ancient Medallions (5/13/15) - Aztec Medallion Seven-Way Match - Cage vs. Fenix vs. Killshot vs. King Cuerno vs. The Mack vs. Pentagon Jr. vs. Sexy Star: ****

Dario Cueto announces that he’s putting up seven Aztec Medallions, and that each of the winners of these medallions would receive a “unique opportunity”. This match is for the first of these medallions. This was a pretty insane match, which should be no surprise, considering there were seven people in this match. It only went about ten minutes, but they packed as much action in there as they possibly could. It was just a ton of fun. Fenix would score the victory, earning himself the first Aztec Medallion.

Honorable Mentions:

11.) Episode 4: Thrill Of The Hunt (11/19/14) - Fenix vs. Pentagon Jr.: ****

This was coming the week after the thrilling Fenix/Drago/Pentagon Jr. Triple Threat Match that took place the week prior. Even though they had one less competitor, these two guys still have an awesome match! I know the match was relatively short (it was around eight minutes or so), but they packed a lot of action into that time frame. These guys are just so much fun to watch, and it was another preview of what was to come for the rest of the season. Fenix would pick up the win in this encounter.

12.) Episode 10: Law Of The Jungle (1/14/15) - Lucha Underground Title - Prince Puma vs. Fenix: ***¾

Only a week after winning the Lucha Underground Title in Aztec Warfare, Prince Puma already has his first title defense in the form of Fenix. He got this title opportunity after pinning Puma in a Ten-Way Match a few weeks prior. This was a very good match, as you would expect. Both guys are exceptional high-flyers, and we saw some really cool action throughout this match. Puma would eventually get the victory to retain his Lucha Underground Title.

After the match, Prince Puma is attacked by (Brian) Cage, who clearly makes it known that he wants a shot at the Lucha Underground Title.
13.) Episode 20: The Art Of War (3/25/15) - Lucha Underground Title - Boyle Heights Street Fight - Prince Puma (with Konnan) vs. Cage: ***¾

This match is the culmination of the Prince Puma/Cage rivalry. At one point, Cage actually took Puma’s Lucha Underground Title and ripped it in half!! Dario Cueto is out with a new (and much better looking) Lucha Underground Title, which he will present to the winner of this match. I thought this was really good! There was some pretty entertaining action throughout this match. Of course, the plunder eventually made it’s way into the match, and at one point, Puma hit a springboard 450 Splash from the top rope, to the floor, putting Cage through a table! An absolutely insane spot. Puma would eventually get the win (with a little help from Konnan & Hernandez) over “The F’N Machine” to retain his Lucha Underground Title. Konnan presented Puma with the new title belt to close the show.

14.) Episode 28: Shoots And Ladders (5/20/15) - Lucha Underground Trios Title - Ladder Match - Angelico, Ivelisse, & Son of Havoc vs. The Crew (Bael, Cortez Castro, Mr. Cisco): ***¾

Despite Dario Cueto stacking the deck against them, the unlikely trio of Angelico, Ivelisse, & Son of Havoc became the inaugural Lucha Underground Trios Champions! However, they weren’t totally out of the woods, as Dario Cueto forced them to defend their titles in a Ladder Match! To make matters worse, Ivelisse suffered an ankle injury (I believe in the Tournament Finals, but I don’t recall exactly when), and has a big cast on her on foot, meaning that this match is practically a 3-on-2 Handicap Ladder Match. Despite this disadvantage, Angelico, Ivelisse, & Son of Havoc still bought back and retained their titles in a very entertaining Ladder Match. We saw some really cool stuff in this match, including one of Angelico’s insane dives, jumping off of Dario Cueto’s office and dropkicking a member of The Crew off a Ladder! A fun match from start to finish, and it’s always fun seeing this dysfunctional team prevail.

15.) Episode 29: Fight To The Death (5/27/15) - Lucha Underground Title - Prince Puma (with Konnan) vs. Hernandez: ***3/4

So Hernandez was originally an alley of Prince Puma & Konnan, but he eventually turned on them, making his intentions known that he wanted the Lucha Underground Title. This was actually a really good match. I think it was better than a lot of people were anticipating. You may have noticed that Prince Puma has appeared several times on this list already, and I think that’s just a testament to how good he really is. Hernandez was also very good in this match as the big man throwing around a smaller opponent. This has to be one of the best singles matches Hernandez has ever been in. Puma would successfully put away Hernandez to retain the Lucha Underground Title.

16.) Episode 35: Fuel To The Fire (7/8/15) - Atomicos Match - Aero Star, Alberto El Patron, Drago, & Sexy Star vs. Hernandez, Jack Evans, Johnny Mundo, & Super Fly: ***¾

In the build-up to Ultima Lucha, we got what (I believe) was the first Atomicos Match in Lucha Underground up to this point. I thought this was a really fun match. Everyone in this match has some sort of issue with a person on the opposing team, so in that sense, it worked very well. The action in this match was pretty exciting, as you would expect. Eventually, the rudo team would pick up the win. A ton of cool action and a fun way to close the show.

17.) Episode 11: Last Luchador Standing (1/21/15) - Last Luchador Standing Match - Drago vs. King Cuerno: ***¾

This was the culmination of a feud that these two have had over the last few weeks. I believe each luchador comes into this match with a victory over the other, and they then wrestled to a No Contest the week prior, so a Last Luchador Standing Match was made to settle the rivalry! This was a very good match, in my opinion. Drago & King Cuerno are great examples of guys who I never heard of before Lucha Underground, but have really won me over during the first season. We got a mix of the fast paced Lucha Style and the usual hardcore stuff you get in a match like this (includes tables, chairs, etc…). Cuerno would eventually get the win after using a rope to tie Drago to the turnbuckle (similar to what we saw in a Last Man Standing Match between John Cena & Batista in 2010). Cuero wins, but he really didn’t knock Drago out.

There you have it! The best matches from Season 1 of Lucha Underground! I look forward to putting out a review for Ultima Lucha in the near future, and in due time, a review of the best matches from the (currently ongoing) 2nd Season of Lucha Underground!

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