Sunday, February 5, 2017

Lucha Underground: Ultima Lucha Review

Season 1 of Lucha Underground reaches its epic conclusion!!

Before I begin my review, I just want to note that I won't be going over any of the backstage cutscenes that took place throughout the show. This review will strictly be focused on the wrestling show as a whole, which aired as two different episodes.

Lucha Underground: Ultima Lucha
Los Angeles, California 7/29/15 & 8/5/15 (Taped)

1.) Falls Count Anywhere Match – Cage vs. The Mack: ***3/4

These two had been having issues in the weeks leading up to this match, which included Cage attacked The Mack in the locker room. It’s far from the first time they’ve met, as they’ve had a few matches in PWG, if I recall correctly. I thought this was a really good opening match to the larger Ultima Lucha show. It certainly lived up to the stipulation, as the two brawled all over The Temple, and incorporated a number of different weapons, including a table and stop sign. This was just a crazy match from start to finish, and it was the perfect way to kick off the season finale. The action was great, and the fans were certainly hot for it. The finish was absolutely brutal, as Cage got the win after hitting The Mack with a Curb Stomp through a cinder block. I’m sure Dario Cueto loved that. These two definitely delivered in this match.

2.) Lucha Underground Trios Titles – Tornado Rules Match – Angelico, Ivelisse, & Son Of Havoc vs. The Disciples of Death (with Catrina): **3/4

After starting off as team who just couldn’t get along, Angelico, Ivelisse, & Son Of Havoc rose to the occasion, and became the first-ever Lucha Underground Trios Champions. They’re defending their titles here against The Disciples of Death, who are essentially henchmen for Mil Muertes & Catrina. Unfortunately, Ivelisse suffered an ankle injury towards the end of the season, so she wasn’t able to fully participate in this match. She still got involved, but was obviously limited in what she could do. When looking at Ultima Lucha as a whole, this match doesn’t necessarily stand out, but for what it was, and given the circumstances, it was still a solid trios match. The Tornado Rules stipulation meant that it was a bit livelier, which helped (especially considering Ivelisse’s ankle injury). The highlight of the match was easily Angelico hitting one of his insane dives from the second level of The Temple, to the floor, onto The Disciples of Death. That man is insane. Eventually, the numbers caught up to them, as Catrina attacked Ivelisse, which led to The Disciples of Death capturing the Lucha Underground Trios Titles.

3.) Believer’s Backlash Match – Drago vs. Hernandez: ***1/2

After initially being exiled from The Temple after falling victim to one of Dario Cueto’s “unique opportunities”, Drago made his return to Lucha Underground, and soon started to have problems with Hernandez. After initially debuting as a tecnico, Hernandez slowly started becoming a rudo, and after being on the losing end of a feud with Prince Puma over the Lucha Underground Title, he turned his frustrations towards Drago. At one point, Hernandez attacked Drago with a strap, which led us to this match. The idea to this one is similar to TNA’s “Fan Revenge” match, where the fans serve as lumberjacks of sorts, but are given leather straps to whip whoever falls out of the ring (mainly Hernandez). I thought this was a really good match. It was a little rough towards the beginning, but it definitely got better as the match progressed. Drago is always entertaining to watch, and this was one of Hernandez’s best outings in Lucha Underground. The crowd was obvious behind Drago, who ultimately got the win, and it was just fun seeing the rudo get his comeuppance. As for Hernandez, he made a brief return to TNA before the end of Season 1, which caused an entire fiasco that proved to be incredibly embarrassing for TNA.

That match concluded the first part of Ultima Lucha, which was split up into two parts. The rest of the matches were shown as part of a two-hour season finale. It was at this point that Michael Schiavello (who’s done announcing for a variety of combat sports, while also being a big wrestling fan) took over for Vampiro, who was getting ready for his match with Pentagon Jr. later in the show.

4.) Alberto El Patron vs. Johnny Mundo: ****

This was easily one of the biggest matches on the entire show, but it was odd to see it occur so early on in the show (technically it was the opening match of the two-hour season finale, as it aired on TV). Given the big egos these two have, it should come as no surprise that they came to blows eventually. They had a match several weeks prior, with Alberto El Patron won. That serves as the catalyst for Mundo’s heel turn. Simply put, this was a pretty great match! I thought it was roughly on the same level as their first encounter. Mundo is just so awesome (especially as a rudo), and Alberto El Patron was really on fire, as he was throughout that entire year or so that he spent away from WWE. The match featured a ton of very good back & forth action, and it was definitely one of the best matches on the entire show. I do think that the shenanigans towards the end did hurt the match. Essentially, there was a referee bump, which allowed Melina (yes, THAT Melina) to sneak in and hit El Patron with his own AAA Mega Championship. That allowed Mundo to get the victory.

After the match, Johnny Mundo celebrated with Melina, but Alberto El Patron recovered and attacked Mundo, eventually throwing him through a window (specially the window in Dario Cueto’s office, if I recall correctly). He then went after Melina, and spanked her several times. A very odd post-match segment, but I guess it was done so El Patron could get the last laugh. This actually turned out to be Alberto El Patron’s final match in Lucha Underground, as he returned to WWE in October 2015.

5.) Cero Miedo Match – Pentagon Jr. vs. Vampiro: ***3/4

Pentagon Jr. had been on a tear in the latter half of Season 1, breaking the arms of a number of wrestlers, and dedicating these “sacrifices” to his “master”. This brought him into conflict with Vampiro, which has led up to this Cero Miedo Match, which essentially ended up being a No DQ/No Holds Barred/Street Fight Match. First of all, before I go into the match, I need to talk about Vampiro’s entrance. He essentially came out as a “Dark/Evil” Pope of sorts, and looked really cool. I really hadn’t seen Vampiro wrestle before this match. Obviously I knew about his WCW tenure (mainly his feud with Sting), and I did know that he was a big deal in Mexico, but again, this was my first time seeing him in a match. Now, I think a lot of people had varying opinions on this one, but for what it was, I thought it was really good. This essentially turned into a violent, almost CZW-esque Death Match, with thumbtacks, chairs, tables, a lot of blood, and even a little fire. Vampiro even managed to rip up Pentagon Jr.’s mask, to the point where it just barely staying on his head. Again, I’m sure people didn’t like this, but again, the crowd here was really into (and they were particularly into Vampiro as a special attraction) and for that style of match, it was great. Pentagon Jr. ultimately got the win after slamming Vampiro through a table that was on fire.

After the match, in an odd move, Vampiro demanded that Pentagon Jr. break his arm. He does so, and afterwards, calls for his master to come out. Vampiro then revealed himself to be the master, telling Pentagon Jr. that he was ready, and the two posed together. The reveal of Vampiro as “The Master” was interesting, to say the least. It certainly set up some things for Season 2.

6.) Gift Of The Gods Title – Seven-Way Match – Aero Star vs. Bengala vs. Big Ryck vs. Jack Evans vs. Fenix vs. King Cuerno vs. Sexy Star: ***1/2

So Dario Cueto created this new title, called The Gifts Of The Gods Title. Essentially, it’s a championship that works like the Money In The Bank Briefcase in WWE, expect here, you have to give one week’s notice before cashing in, so Dario Cueto has time to promote the match (which makes sense). All seven competitors in this match had to win qualifying matches to get into this match. I thought this was a very entertaining match. It was essentially a spotfest, but there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when you consider what match they were following. All seven competitors got the chance to shine at various points. The biggest moment came from Aero Star, who climbed to the highest spot possible in The Temple, and hit an insane dive to the floor onto three other guys. We did get some interference in this match from Marty “The Moth” Martinez and Delavar Daivari (going after Sexy Star and Big Ryck respectively), which did hurt the match a little bit, but as a whole, this was a fun match from bell to bell. In the end, Fenix scored the victory, capturing the Gift Of The Gods Title in the process.

7.) No DQ Match – Blue Demon Jr. (with The Crew) vs. Texano: DUD

Blue Demon Jr. initially came to Lucha Underground as a tecnico, but turned rudo towards the end of Season 1, and aligned himself with The Crew of Cortez Castro & Mr. Cisco. Meanwhile, after debuting as a rudo, Texano underwent a babyface turn. These two (if I recall correctly) were battling over who was the true “pride of Mexico”, or something like that. The match was changed to a No DQ Match at the last minute, which essentially allowed The Crew to get involved. Shortly after the match began, Chavo Guerrero came out, and attacked Texano with a steel chair. He then handed the chair to Blue Demon Jr., who attacked Texano with the chair, and then pinned him. This whole thing was basically a long segment. Seeing Chavo Guerrero help Blue Demon Jr. (essentially making it a four-on-one) beating of Texano, which was odd, considering one of the big stories very early in the season saw Chavo Guerrero destroy Blue Demon Jr. with a chair. You can probably skip this. You’re really not missing much.

8.) Lucha Underground Title – Prince Puma vs. Mil Muertes (with Catrina): ****1/2

Prince Puma became the first-ever Lucha Underground Champion by winning Aztec Warfare, and had been holding the title ever since. Mil Muertes, meanwhile, was more powerful than ever after he made his return to Lucha Underground following his loss to Fenix in Grave Consequences. I thought this was a fantastic main event!! It was easily the best match on the entire show. The match started off solid, but it just got so much better as things progressed. The action was awesome throughout most of the match, and the fans were really into it. Both guys are so good in their respective, and that was very clear in this match. Prince Puma is an incredible babyface high-flyer, and Mil Muertes does an incredible job as the monster heel. It was definitely one of the best matches on the entire season, and both guys delivered in every way possible. When the dust settled, Mil Muertes emerged victorious, becoming the second Lucha Underground Champion!! The show came to a close with Mil Muertes, Catrina, and The Disciples of Death standing tall.

Overall: 8.5/10

From an in-ring standpoint, I thought Lucha Underground closed out Season 1 on a (mostly) strong note. The majority of the show featured good to great matches, with only two following below the *** mark (one just barely fell below that mark, while the other really wasn’t a match). What was so interesting about Ultima Lucha, when looking at it as a whole, was that it was a very diverse card. You had a wild hardcore brawl, an undercard trios match, a “Believer’s Backlash” match, a clash between two of the promotion’s top stars, a death match, a seven person spotfest, and an epic main event for the Lucha Underground Title. There was really something for everything, when it came to the in-ring product, and when you look at it all together, it made for a great show, and an entertaining way to finish off Season 1.

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