Everyone has that one friend. The guy who always makes the wrong joke at the wrong time. That brings everyone down when the group is having a good time or cracks wise when it’s time to be somber. That doesn’t know when it’s time to be serious or time to be jovial. Of course, as the saying always goes, if you can’t think of someone, you might just be that friend.
Keeping the proper tone at the proper time has always been something that has been important to me. I’m sensitive to it. That’s not to say I never misstep in this way, but I always hate myself for days when I do. I’m a guy that loves to get wacky sometimes, loves a good serious conversation, and can put my head down and go to work with the best of them. Perhaps that’s why tonight, when watching Lucha Underground, I couldn’t help but feel a giant disconnect between the tone they were giving off and the tone they wanted.
On the whole, Lucha Underground is a pretty silly show. There’s a man who is a literal dragon. There’s a woman who is hundreds of years old and controls an undead monster with a magic rock. A best of five series is deciding which competitor will be inhabited by an ancient Aztec god. Casket matches end with the loser actually being buried alive and dying. It’s hard to take anything you see too seriously.
That’s not to say that it can’t be affective. The Sexy Star storyline has been a good “girl power” tale of a woman conquering some pretty dark demons in her past. It was done through a comic book lens, however, so it felt in step with the rest of the series. The other stories the show has told have shared that lens and felt more in sync, as well.
Tonight’s show culminated in a Loser Leaves Lucha match that felt as though it was cut from a completely different show and pasted here. The show wanted us to believe that Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero were engaged in a battle that meant the world to both of them and might end the career of the loser. They wanted the match to feel high stakes and heavy drama, but it missed the mark.
The more sports-style, tradition-reliant story they pushed just didn’t work. In a company like New Japan, this is a surefire hit. In WWE, you have to work a little, but it’s pretty easy to get a stip like this over. In Lucha Underground, it’s incredibly difficult. Especially on a show where one wrestler has already challenged another to a match where the loser dies and is d-e-d dead. There are a few other reasons working against this match.
For one, I don’t buy the finality of it. We’ve already seen a loser leaves town match in Lucha Underground and the loser is currently one-third of the Trios champions. All stipulations in wrestling get broken, but this is one that the company went back on almost immediately. Which is fine, but it isn’t going to allow me to be emotionally invested in it a second time.
Secondly, I don’t buy that the wrestlers themselves are deeply invested in the match. This stip works best when it feels real. When it feels like the loser is really going to leave and it really will mean the end of their career. When you can’t think of the performer without thinking of this company. That couldn’t be less true for two wrestlers than Rey and Chavo.
Does anyone really believe that if Rey Mysterio loses this match that he’s going to be upset about it? Look, I love Lucha Underground, but you need some roots before you try to pull this off. I picture Rey losing, shrugging his shoulders, and then going to AAA or some money mark’s random indie show and collecting a check.
Lastly, I’m not going to be bothered by the idea of either guy going away. For Rey, he’s already had an incredible career. While he’s been much better in this Lucha Underground run than I expected, he’s still not the Rey Mysterio we all remember. His body isn’t what it used to be and there’s nothing left for him to accomplish of note. I’d miss him from the show, but when he decides to call it a career, I won’t be too sad.
Chavo Guerrero has never done anything for me. Losing Chavo from Lucha Underground would be on my wishlist for improving the show. Ironically, he actually was really good on this episode. In fact, I can’t think of another Chavo Guerrero singles match that was even close to this good.
I threw the question out in the Voices of Wrestling office and the only suggestion was a match from WCW’s dying days against Shane Helms at Greed in 2001. The final spot of the match was pretty great, but the rest of the match was dull and I’m pretty sure was met with a “boring” chant at one point. So, I’m going to say it: this episode of Lucha Underground has the best singles match of Chavo Guerrero’s career.
I looked forward to watching the match about as much as a trip to the dentist. When I looked at the progress bar on my Apple TV and saw that we had almost twenty minutes left as the match was starting, I despaired. (Not quite like Andrew Rich laments facing a Bone Soldier/Yoshitatsu match, but still…) Imagine my surprise when the match was over and I expected a lengthy post-match vignette because surely twenty minutes had not gone by.
The match was great, I will give them that. Even the start/stop came off well to me. Chavo Classic hitting Chavo with the chair, then flashing a smile and trying to raise his son’s hand was awesome. That Guerrero guile… it’s a wonderful thing.
Going into the match, I didn’t know it was going to be good. I expected the worst. That certainly didn’t help me feel emotional about this one. The presentation made it seem like we were witnessing a big moment, but it didn’t resonate.
This episode of Lucha Underground had a solid main event that I would recommend. As a long time fan, however, it’s hard to view it as being a complete success. The tone was mismatched with the rest of the show and the stipulation is hard to trust. Will we see Chavo Guerrero in Lucha Underground again? I certainly won’t be surprised if we do.
- Lucha Underground Title Match: Matanza© def. Cortez Castro
- More angle than match, with Dario forcing Castro to face Matanza with a broken arm.
- Don’t know if this was intentional, but Castro’s cast looked incredibly ragged, which fit the show’s aesthetic well.
- Matanza breaking Castro’s arm was helped by the sound effect greatly. I’m not that mad at the use of sound in Lucha Underground. It helps, even if it’s not “real”.
- Son of Havoc def. Dr. Wagner Jr.
- Son of Havoc is SO. GOOD. at getting the crowd into his matches.
- The Temple loves Havoc and that alone made this match.
- The Famous B/Mascarita story is a fun little diversion, but unfortunately with a one-hour show, a match like this takes up one-third of the show.
- Loser Leaves Lucha Underground: Rey Mysterio Jr. def. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
- The story here was obvious, but it still made a great match.
- Chavo Classic’s interference was perfect.
- Rule: Always remember how much Dario Cueto loves violence!