While watching tonight’s episode of Lucha Underground, I found myself thinking, “This is up there with episode one for being my favorite of the season.” It’s an even more apropos comparison when you look at the lineups. Not only was this show on par with episode one, it was basically the same show. Given how humdrum the past few episodes have been, however, I can’t really complain.
Episode one opened with a hot title match featuring a scrappy underdog that the crowd really got behind. It followed that up with another title holder having a match in the middle and closed with a great match between a high-flyer and a brawler. Episode seven tonight opened with a hot title match featuring a scrappy underdog that the crowd went bananas for. It followed that with a fantastic match featuring the trios champions and closed with a great match between a high-flyer and a brawler. Tonight took basically everything episode one did and did it better.
The biggest surprise to me tonight, though, was the commentary. I know Matt Striker has some fans out there, but they are usually the minority. I personally find him a little too schticky most of the time and think some of his commentary feels forced. He also occasionally says things that I think are just dumb to say on commentary. I don’t know happened tonight, but it felt like Striker and Vampiro both were firing on all cylinders.
No, they weren’t on the level of Mauro Ranallo and Daniel Bryan on the Cruiserweight Classic or even Corey Graves on NXT when he’s really nailing it. Compared to the usual quality line, however, tonight was a revelation. If they could repeat this performance on a weekly basis, it would be a dramatic improvement for the show.
They actively increased my investment in the matches as they were happening. When Killshot came out to wrestle Matanza, I was less than thrilled about it. By the time the match was over, I was hooked. A lot of that was the guys in the ring; Matanza is fun to watch and Killshot often catches me by surprise with standout performances. The crowd helped, as well, as they were fired up for Killshot’s comeback and near falls. I definitely think you have to give credit to Striker and Vampiro for their work at the desk, though. They added to the drama and sucked me in to a match I was watching purely out of obligation when it started.
For the three-way, Vampiro and Striker talked about the stakes of the match in a way that felt authentic and interesting. Vampiro in particular made a point about number twenty not being the optimum slot in a Royal Rumble-style match that actually made sense from a kayfabe perspective. They also sold the relationship dynamics in the match in a way that helped the guys tell a better story.
Speaking of, the three-way was unique and told a story that I can’t recall ever seeing told in the ring that way before. The trios champs of Drago, Aerostar, and Fenix were put up against each other in a match for the number twenty slot in Aztec Warfare 3. It’s rare to see three técnicos in a match against each other anyway, but they managed to work the match and make everyone look good and look noble.
They began with a gentlemanly unspoken agreement to not double team someone and have one guy on the apron waiting their turn. Over the course of the match, it heated up and started to get wild, but they managed to do it in a way that felt like three best friends going at each other out of mutual respect and admiration. I could relate to it, specifically from Fenix’s perspective. The worst knee injury I ever suffered was at the hands of my best friend in college shoving me in the post playing basketball.
Dario had forced the team to compete for a prize that not only greatly benefitted the winner, but hurt the losers and these three guys went out and gave it their all. Their respect for each other demanded nothing more than they give it their best and do whatever they had to win short of cheating. Drago busted Fenix’s nose open and blood poured from his mask. Sloppiness set in as they grew tired and more desperate. Spots that technically could be called botches legitimately made the match better. It felt chaotic and intense. The Trios titles, Lucha Underground Title, and Aztec Warfare all felt more important as a result.
I hope this is not the beginning of a break-up angle. It’s much better as the story of three friends who threw down and will come back together to be the best Trios champs the Temple’s ever seen. Other companies wouldn’t be able to resist the opportunity to use this to sow tension and lead to a split. Lucha Underground has a… “Unique Opportunity” to tell the better story. I hope they do.
I loved the match. It was wild and creative, both in the planning and execution. It told a great story and gave us insight into these three men and their relationships with each other. This was a smashing success in every way, even if the finish felt a tiny bit flat.
The main event was another good Prince Puma match, this time with Mil Muertes in their first singles match since Ultima Lucha Uno. The crowd absolutely ate it up, chanting and shouting through the vast majority of the fight. Commentary helped it out, as well, with Vampiro going on about how much he loves violence and thus is enjoying the match. Striker’s show closing hype for Puma’s win came off much better than it normally does, perhaps because it was surrounded by so much solid work from the duo all night. Sure, it’s a little over-the-top, but then again, Mauro Ranallo often is as well. It worked for me, when it so very often does not.
From wrestling alone, tonight’s show was worth watching, with two great matches and a pretty good opener. That’s doesn’t even account for Kobra Moon hissing at Vinny Massaro, who farted back in retort, or Chavo Classic making his Lucha Underground debut! I’m intrigued by the man who confronted Killshot and a little morbidly curious in a Johnny Mundo match with Sexy Star. This episode was a breath of fresh air.
An episode like tonight gives me hope for the rest of the season and reminds me what this company is capable. Let’s hope it wasn’t an aberration and that the rest of this season can hover around the high mark they’ve set here.
- Lucha Underground Title Match: Matanza© def. Killshot
- This was as good as any Matanza match against a surefire underdog.
- The crowd and the commentary hooked me and got me into this match to a degree I didn’t think possible when it started.
- Matanza is just so ridiculously talented, it almost doesn’t fit the character, because he’s so athletic.
- Unique Opportunity Match: Drago def. Aerostar & Fenix
- Aerostar or aerosol? Why is the space man on a team with a dragon and phoenix the one shooting fire?
- Fenix’s shirt reading “#WINTEAM” cracked me up and I’m not even 100% sure why.
- I’ve already said a ton, this match ruled.
- Prince Puma def. Mil Muertes
- Puma did the double dive in a way that I thought actually worked here. He started with the tope, then hit the flip/twist. It made sense and got the crowd hype.
- Those wood chairs look brutal. I’d probably rather get hit with a metal one.
- Vampiro’s creepy look into the camera at the end was just delightful.