It’s the last stop on the Road to Ultima Lucha Dos and we are full steam ahead! I feel it fitting to think about this episode of Lucha Underground in this way not only because it’s a matter of fact, but also because tonight’s show felt different to me. Once a show with wild, outlandish stories and over-the-top characters, tonight’s Lucha Underground felt… conventional. If the show has not often been your cup of tea as a wrestling fan, tonight was the sort of show that might just be able to bring you a bit closer to coming back.
Gone were the supernatural elements of the show almost entirely tonight. Aside from a little Catrina disappearing act, everything was grounded and more realistic. The focus was entirely on building matches for Ultima Lucha, which has been stretched to 3 episodes this year. (I’m not sure if that means we’re getting one more hour than last year or if instead of a 2-hour finale, we’ll be getting 3 1-hour episodes.) Any mentions of gods and time travel and other fantastical elements were at a minimum while the show put its head down and plowed forward to build to its big event.
Honestly, tonight sort’ve felt like an episode of NXT to me. Right down to the ever-present (and ever-annoying) shaky camera work during the matches. Literally, the image stabilization was non-existent this week. Strange when you consider this was all shot so long ago. Why would one week be so different in this regard? The episode had 3 matches, 2 of which were pretty good, 1 was great. It told basic stories to lead us to the big event and sold that event like it was something you needed to see. Simple, effective, familiar.
The Prince Puma/Dragon Azteca Jr. match was excellent. Foremost, it was incredibly well worked and made both guys look tremendous. They felt innovative without showing all of their tricks. They got the crowd into the match quickly and kept them hooked throughout. Both of these guys are just so physically gifted, merely putting them in a ring is a recipe for an entertaining bout. What we got was a legit four snowflake contest that also happened to build Ultima Lucha.
For one, Prince Puma beat Dragon Azteca. This is important because Prince Puma’s story with Rey Mysterio is wrapped entirely around who is the best luchador. If Prince Puma had not won this match, it would have undercut his match with Rey completely. This seems obvious, but there’s a certain company on Monday nights that would’ve done some sort of copout finish here. Dragon Azteca has a match at Ultima Lucha, but it’s a blood feud. It’s a rivalry that doesn’t need him to be victorious or have momentum, he just needs to be angry. This is such a simple booking decision, but it’s one that I think very few companies would actually have gotten right these days.
Having Puma beat Rey’s guy set up their match well, with Puma being a little bit rudo without going all the way. Vampiro, to his credit, told this story very well on commentary. Both Puma and Azteca brought a little extra fire and trickery to try to win here, but didn’t start twirling their mustaches to get booed. It may be sacrilege, but dare I say Prince Puma was almost Tanahashi-esque in the way he brought some edge, but maintained his babyface character.
No joke, this got me so pumped for Prince Puma and Rey Mysterio. I’m really looking forward to that match in a way I don’t believe I was going into this episode. With as good as Rey has looked in the matches he’s done this season, I fully expect it to be great.
To a degree, I feel bad even criticizing this episode because it was what I would usually want a wrestling TV show to be. It was easy to watch, the stories made sense, they built things logically, and the wrestling was good. What could you possibly complain about?
I guess I just miss the zaniness. I felt so drawn to Lucha Underground because they told logical stories that also happened to be completely insane and paired that with great wrestling. This season, we’ve had plenty of good wrestling, but the storytelling has been lacking. Going into Ultima Lucha, everything has been consistent and well laid out, but unimaginative.
Pentagon is the babyface coming back for revenge on the guy who put him out of action. The Superfriends are looking to blow off their feud with the Trios champs. A bunch of folks want a title shot. Mil Muertes is out for revenge. Puma and Rey want to know who’s best. Taya and Ivelisse want to beat each other up. Son of Havoc, Cage, The Mack, and Texano are fighting for a unique opportunity to further their careers. Azteca wants revenge, too, but for a murder that’s maybe predicated on a lie about another murder…
Ok, maybe that last one’s been a little wacky.
My point is, these are all totally acceptable stories and I’m glad that Lucha Underground is telling them clearly and coherently. I just wish we had a little bit of B-movie insanity back in the mix.
- King Cuerno def. Mil Muertes – Pretty good, but not great. A good TV match to set up a bigger match on a bigger show. Great intensity, I can only imagine what this Death Match is going to be like. Thumbs Up
- Prince Puma def. Dragon Azteca Jr. – Would’ve liked to have seen a segment later in the show that gave us a little bad blood with Azteca and Black Lotus, but aside from that this was very good. Thumbs WAY Up
- Johnny Mundo def. Fenix – Good little match, some good spots, great heel heat on Mundo and Taya for cheating. Not much to say about this one, but not much to dislike. Thumbs Up
- Definitely was thinking “Superfriends” to describe the técnicos trios team, then Striker went ahead and said it. Great minds…?
- Dario bringing out the 4 guys for his Unique Opportunity, then just telling them, “Hey beat each other up a lil,” doesn’t really make sense, but I’m on board.
- Why do I get the feeling we’re not going to see Councilman Delgado’s “employer” during Ultima Lucha and are going to have to wait until next season like Matanza all over again?
- If Puma had failed to catch Azteca on the one tope, the man would’ve busted his whole face on those stairs, good catch Double P.