It’s finally here — Ultima Lucha is upon us with its first part this week.

It’s crazy to think next week is already the season finale to Lucha Underground, I remember getting excited for all the buzz surrounding the show’s debut last October. Now in just a week, it could all be over, forever.

Tonight, we get a close to three rivalries: Mack/Cage, the trios title match of champions Ivelisse/Son of Havoc/Angelico vs. Disciples of Death, and Drago/Hernandez in an absurd but creative match stipulation called The Believers’ Backlash where the fans are lumberjacks and given leather straps to hit Hernandez and Drago if they leave the ring.

The opening scene of Ultima Lucha starts off with a bang and a huge shocker. Dario, in his fancy tuxedo for the momentous event, visits Black Lotus in her cell in the basement of the temple. Dario goes on about how man can cause people to turn into savages when they are kicked one too many times. He cites his brother saying that’s exactly what his father did to him, even using him for underground fighting rings. This was effective in giving you some sympathy for the “monster” that is locked in that cage. Dario follows that up with a bombshell: His brother didn’t kill Lotus’ parents, but Dragon Azteca sure did. That’s right, Dragon Azteca put blame on Dario’s brother so he could use Lotus’ anger to drive her to become his new apprentice. I’ll be damned if I didn’t see that coming.

Dario says the truth can set her free, meanwhile Lotus punches the wall furiously in hopes of breaking free. The imprint on the wall took the shape of a person which was a very neat added dramatic effect. Is Dario in fact telling the truth?

Falls Count Anywhere: Mack vs. Cage

The past two matches between these two ended in fairly quick rollup victories for Mack, with the last one erupting into a brawl around the temple, leading to this stipulation.

Cage wastes no time, attacking Mack on the stairway to the ring. In what was the best possible decision, this match never made it to the ring, instead we got an all-out brawl. This was such a blast.

With how much these “hardcore” matches have been made into overkill now, this stuck to a fairly simple formula but it clicked all the same. These two beat the tar out of each other with objects like stop signs, coolers and more. The two used the environment of the temple to their advantage so well, setting up many awesome (and painful) looking spots. One that personally made me cringe was Mack giving an exploder suplex to Cage on the bleachers. There’s no cushioning that. Cage ended this incredibly fun match by curbstomping Mack through a cinderblock, a fitting end to this match. ***3/4

Matt and Vamp run down next week’s finale:

  • Johnny Mundo vs. Alberto El Patron
  • Bengala vs. King Cuerno vs. Sexy Star vs. Big Ryck vs, Jack Evans vs. Fenix vs. Aerostar (Gift of the Gods)
  • Texano Jr. vs. Blue Demon Jr.
  • Vampiro vs. Pentagon Jr.
  • Prince Puma (c) vs. Mil Muertes (Lucha Underground Title)

Trios Championship – Ivelisse/Son of Havoc/Angelico (c) vs. Disciples of Death

The zany and unpredictable trios champs meet their toughest challenge yet. How can they beat what isn’t quite living? Catrina and DOD have gotten into the heads of the three over the last several weeks, taking advantage of the friction among them.

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend checking out Rob McCarron and Joe Lanza interviewing one-third of the Trios Champs, Son of Havoc. It was a great interview talking about his career not only in Lucha Underground but also the independents, Tough Enough and much more:

Anyway, back to the match… This is also being contested under tornado tag rules, which can only mean absolute chaos. The champs have proven they can thrive under chaos, so maybe, just maybe they can make it out alive. Each of the Disciples have different colored masks: silver, gold and blue. They also finally have names! Barrio Negro in the gold mask and jumpsuit, Terce in the silver mask and Siniestro de La Muerte in the blue mask.

DOD took advantage of Ivelisse and her screwed up ankle, but she fought back with her crutch whenever she could. Some really wacky editing in this match led to a legitimate laugh out loud moment for me: Ivelisse was choking Barrio with her crutch on the outside when the camera cut back  to Angelico irish-whipping one of the Disiciples, only to end up with him dropkicking Barrio who we literally just saw outside seconds earlier. Wow, the DOD really do have supernatural teleportation powers! Or it was just a hilarious error on the production team’s part but heck it kind of works if you think outside the box!

Loved seeing Siniestro put the stretch muffler on Ivelisse’s bad ankle and the other two getting in her face to intimidate her. Angelico was an absolute mad man throughout the match — the guy does not care about his own well being one bit, and even was bleeding from the mouth after another massive dive. Ivelisse’s showdown with Catrina back in the ring was probably the best part of the match, with Catrina trying to power up DOD with her magic stone and Ivelisse pouncing all over her. Unfortunately, Ivelisse underestimated Catrina’s power and ended up knocked out by the powerful rock, and that’s how this one ends. Your new trios champs are the Disciples of Death. The match itself though didn’t quite reach that level of the initial Trios tournament final. It was a fine match with some big moments but I felt as a whole it fell a bit short of what I expected. Still worth a watch in the end. ***1/4

Vampiro and Matt toast their Miller Lites to the crowd for a great season before the main event. The Miller Lite product placement once again here is no coincidence (also seen during the Mack/Cage match). Lucha Underground needs the money to survive and sponsors could be one way to offset their huge expenses for production.

Believers’ Backlash – Drago vs. Hernandez

The fans file in to surround the ring with their leather straps, many being familiar internet wrestling personalities including the infamous @dashawn2cents:

Sorry you had to see that.

Anyway, let’s see if these internet tough guys use the straps accordingly. Insurance waivers have been signed and Hernandez CAN hit back. This could be an absolute mess.

Hernandez realizes very quickly that none of these fans are hitting Drago, and as soon as he exited the ring he had hell coming for him from these fans. Poor guy’s head was already welted up within 2 minutes! He played the crowd here like a fiddle, getting massive amounts of heat for running like a scared little boy up the stairs away from the straps. The whole dynamic between the fans at ringside and Hernandez was nothing short of incredible. This is how you get fans involved. True fans are willing to sign those waivers and take some bumps in order to have some fun and that’s exactly what they did here. This was just fun.

Was it the best pure wrestling match in the world? No.

Did I have an unbelievably good time watching this match? Yes and that’s all that matters. Hell, the hot tub reviewer sure got his money’s worth because he whipped Hernandez about a trillion times.

Stuff like Hernandez Border-Tossing Drago into the fans outside added even more to this incredibly fun match. My personal favorite moment was Hernandez going for the suicide dive only for Drago to spit the mist at him right when he jumped over the ropes. Drago even went so far as to pull out a pair nunchuks, Hernandez got decked with those, put through a table and splashed once again, finally finishing him off.

If you didn’t enjoy this, you must be allergic to fun. Props to Hernandez for being such an amazing sport about taking this abuse from the fans, many workers would probably have way too much personal pride to let that happen. This was a fantastic way to cap off Ultima Lucha Part 1. ****

Dragon Azteca finds his way to the temple. Some man in a hoodie stops him and doesn’t want to let him in because the Temple’s prophecy says otherwise. Azteca says he’s failed Lotus and must free her from the Temple. The man in the hoodie says that Puma, yes Puma brought Lotus to Azteca once. Azteca says Puma is now on a different path and does not want him any danger and wants to do this on his own. The man ends up letting him in. This is all very sudden. So Puma has ties to this now? This has even more layers than once though, and I hope we get Season 2 to find out exactly what this all means.

Final Thoughts: A great start to Ultima Lucha. Mack/Cage brutalized each other around the Temple in one of the better hardcore style matches you’ll see this year and utilized their environment perfectly. The Trios title match was a bit of a let down but the crowning of the Disciples leads to many more possibilities for the trios division. Drago and Hernandez delivered an incredibly fun main event. No, I’m sorry, the fans, Drago and Hernandez delivered an incredibly fun main event. Without the fans at ringside with the belts, this match becomes meaningless and just another bland rematch. The fan involvement added so much more flair and importance to this. The fans legitimately got to feel like they were fighting side by side with Drago, even the ones not at ringside and that’s what wrestling is all about when it comes down to it. This match hit a home run with that simple key point and more promotions need to realize that’s what makes the fans keep coming back.