Last week, I talked about how episode 5, “The Prince & the Monster” was pretty bad until a great main event. This week’s episode, “The Open Road to Revenge” feels like they lost some of the peaks and valleys we saw in previous shows and settled somewhere in the middle. The lows weren’t nearly as low, but the highs weren’t quite as high, either. What we’re left with is a pretty good show that is easy to watch, but does little to justify its existence.
While we may not be in a boom period for the wrestling business, we are certainly at a special moment for the wrestling art form. There is so much great wrestling product out there. We can watch New Japan Pro Wrestling live for ¥999 a month from anywhere in the world. We have rapid access to some fantastic shows from the UK and Europe. The indie scene in the US is loaded with companies who are putting on great shows and catering to every demographic. CMLL is having fantastic matches left and right that can easily be found online, same as Dragon Gate, DDT, and other smaller Japanese companies. Not to mention WWE is putting out a million hours of new content every week, including a mind-blowing Cruiserweight Classic this summer.
You want great matches? You can find that. You want great stories? You can find those. You want high flying? You can find that. You want great mat-work? It’s all over. You want Matt Hardy shooting bottle rockets at old boats? Have I got a promotion for you, brother…
The fact is, there’s a wealth of great wrestling content available at your fingertips every week and it’s getting harder and harder for companies to stand out. You have to do something truly different, find a space that no one is doing well and make that your calling card. Lucha Underground has mostly done a great job of this, with their filmic approach to telling stories behind the scenes and their flair for cult campiness.
On an episode like tonight’s though, that storytelling was nowhere to be found. We also didn’t get any extraordinary lucha-style wrestling, one of their other trademarks. Instead, we got a straightforward show with 3 matches that ranged from fine to pretty good. Nothing on this show tonight felt fresh or different.
If this was an aberration for the season, it wouldn’t be a big deal. The show wasn’t bad, it just also happened to not be very good. It was an easy watch and was mostly enjoyable. Unfortunately, though, I’m noticing a trend here. This is the fourth episode in a row where the show has felt skippable.
That’s not to say that there was nothing good on the show. Jack Evans should get an Observer award just for getting a decent match out of Sexy Star. No kidding, the match they had for the Gift of the Gods Championship was actually fun to watch. Rey Mysterio and Pentagon also shone in the main event. Rey looked as good as he has in years and Pentagon remains one of my favorite guys to watch in the industry. Even Chavo Guerrero turned in a solid night’s work, having maybe his best performance of his entire Lucha Underground run here.
I think I’m reminded most of NXT by tonight’s show. A lot of people really enjoyed NXT for a while, but now I don’t seem to hear anyone talk about anything but the Takeover events. I remember watching an early stretch of the NXT episodes and it was refreshing. The stories were logical, the matches were rarely bad, it was a good little show. But nothing ever hooked me. I started skipping through the show to cherry pick the segments I wanted to see and then, I started skipping the show entirely.
Tonight’s episode of Lucha Underground was fine. The booking made sense, the matches were worked well enough, but nothing compelled me to keep watching. Nothing grabbed me for next week. The DVR is set, but I can easily wait for Wednesday evening to come.
When I saw the original Aztec Warfare, I became enamored with Lucha Underground. When I joined Voices of Wrestling to review the show, I said it wasn’t just my favorite wrestling show on tv, but one of my favorite shows of any kind. I meant that. I’ve been a “believer” for two full seasons, but this current stretch of mediocre episodes has me losing my faith.
- Famous B & Dr. Wagner Jr. def. Son of Havoc & Mascarita Sagrada
- Son of Havoc riding a motorcycle to the ring with Mascarita in a side car was delightful.
- Mascarita is super talented, but him having extended offense on Dr. Wagner is silly.
- I can kind of get into Famous B pinning people with the stethoscope after Wagner takes them out, but where does that go from here?
- Gift of the Gods Championship Match: Sexy Star© def. Jack Evans
- Give Jack Evans a medal for this performance.
- Also loving that “Star Destroyer” moniker he got over.
- Vampiro made a joke about Sexy Star beating up her husband for coming home late.
- In and of itself, that’s not super offensive, however, Sexy Star’s whole gimmick is that she is a domestic abuse survivor. Striker even mentions this immediately after the joke. You can’t combine silly and serious like that. This came off as being incredibly tasteless.
- Whether man on woman or woman on man, domestic violence is terrible. When you joke about it one way immediately before treating it seriously the other, you send a horrible message. I’m genuinely shocked at how tone deaf commentary has been this season for episodes that have been in the can for over half a year.
- The run-ins were really wacky, culminating in Fenix running into the ring to just… stand there? It looked like a video game glitch or something.
- Pentagon Dark def. Rey Mysterio & Chavo Guerrero
- Rey looked great, Pentagon looked great, Chavo looked good. This was a solid main event.
- In more puzzling, less offensive commentary Matt Striker gave half the WWE Cruiserweight Title lineage for no good reason.
- Wasn’t crazy about the psychology of Rey going for victory rolls on Chavo when he should just want to beat him up.
- Overall, the match was good, but not worth going too far out of your way to watch.