Earlier this week a brand new wrestling product began to air on the El Rey network, which incidentally only air on the other side of the pond. But of course, with the power of the internet these days, if something airs somewhere in the world, it is available everywhere else within 24 hours. So I thought I'd give it a cheeky look and let you fine people know if you should be checking out the show as well.
One of the most important parts of any wrestling television show is the presentation, television is a visual medium after all. Lucha Underground is supposedly set in head honcho Dario Cueto's make-shift temple, which is a bit of hodge-podge, truth be told. I found it difficult to believe Dario Cueto when he spoke about his wrestlers needing to have respect to fight in his temple, when the visual didn't quite match up. It looked as if there hadn't been a clear brief on what was needed from the set, to me. What is important though is that this setting looked visually different from any other wrestling show at the moment. It would have been silly to try to reproduce WWE's look on a smaller budget, TNA is still undecided on how it wants to present it's product and Ring of Honor has the Indy look nailed on, so I commended the Lucha Underground team for trying something different with this.
Talking of differences between Lucha Underground and other products, the backstage segments are completely different from what I've seen a wrestling company do before. The scenes were filmed very theatrically, with multiple cameras and even incidental music added on top. This won't be everyone's cup of tea, to be honest I'm not sure if it's mine, but this style makes the product instantly stand out and that can only be a good thing. Although, I think if this was the style they could have brought in a better actor to play the owner of promotion, Cueto.
On Commentary duty, Matt Striker comes across as extremely knowledgeable, comfortably calling the matches and adding any extra details that he think will add to the story. This felt much more like the Striker that used to commentate on WWE's version of ECW, rather than what he presented later in his WWE career. Unfortunately, his partner Vampiro, often feels like a fish out of water. Floundering all over the shop, randomly naming moves and genuinely sounding like he was getting on Striker's nerves throughout. Hopefully, AAA will notice this and quickly replace Vampiro with someone else, better suited to the role.
Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma
A video package explaining the relationship between Konnan and Prince Puma was later shown. There was a lot of cool stuff thrown in here, like the explanation as to why Luchadores wear masks and it allowed the fans to get an idea of what to expect from Puma in the ring later on, for anyone not familiar with Ricochet. I do find Konnan a very odd choice as his manager though, as he's never been someone I'd considered a great mic worker.
The match itself was a lot of fun to watch, as the two pulled out a series of tricks and flips. The pair seemed to have a chemistry in the ring, flowing nicely through a series of back and forth exchanges. There was little in the way of psychology, but I don't think that's what this match needed to be, anyway, being the debut programme, it was a lot more important that the new audience got an opportunity to see what these two could do in the ring. Both men were allowed to look good, with Puma standing up nicely against the former WWE star, with a missed Standing Moonsault being turned into a Standing Shooting Star Press being one of the highlights of Puma's offence.
The slight bit of story that the match was given was Mundo's multiple attempts to hit the move formerly known as Starship Pain and now rechristened The End of the World. Firsty, Puma would thwart Mundo by catching him with a School Boy Roll up for a nice near fall. The second attempt saw Puma rolling out of the ring and hitting his signature Chocolate Rain for another well worked near fall. Finally, after a nice sequence saw Puma slip out of Mundo's powerbomb attempt, Mundo was able to hit a Solo Spanish Fly, before dragging Mundo to the corner and hitting The End of the World to pick up the victory. This was a nice inclusion as it built a little bit of drama into the match, with the crowd knowing if Mundo hit the move it would be the end of the match.
Following the match, Cueto was out to offer Mundo the $100, 000, only to remove the offer, as three men ran into the ring and destroyed both Mundo and Puma, firstly with a cool double team 3-D/Codebreaker construct, before the bigger of the three nailed Mundo with a huge Ura-nage slam. These three men were former WWE wrestler Ezekiel Jackson, now going by the name Big Ryck, former ROH wrestler Ricky Reyes, going by the name Cortez Castro and Lil Cholo, going by the name Mr. Cisco. It was revealed they worked for Cueto. I have to admit a ground a little at the conclusion to the show, as the Heel faction with the boss as their leader, really has been run into the ground. I'm happy to give Lucha Underground the benefit of the doubt for now on this angle however.
Lucha Underground have even put this match up on Youtube. Give it a look.
On the undercard for the show, Chavo Guerrero took on Blue Demon Jr. in a match that I just couldn't get my head around. The two had an awkward match, with a confusion over who was supposed to be playing the heel or babyface. For example, Demon would be slapping Chavo hard in the face and then begin to clap to attempt to get the crowd involved in the match. This could have been forgiven if the action in the ring was any good, but it simply wasn't. A terrible looking headscissors from Demon, a dodgy Tornado DDT and a horrible top rope powerbomb complete with a awkward set up, and that's the three big moves in the match that all looked piss poor. Demon would go on to pick up the win as Chavo tapped out to El Chulo, which at least made some sense considering Chavo had probably broken his back taking that nasty top rope powerbomb.
Later on in the show, Chavo was seen getting a verbal beating from Cueto, who really is all over this product. Cueto told Chavo he would have to find a new opponent for Demon, seeing as Chavo couldn't get the job done. I'm not sure why Cueto wants Demon to be taken out, as this wasn't explained, and meant that Demon playing the heel for some of the previous match made even less sense.
Elsewhere, Son of Havoc (previously known as Matt Cross on WWE's Tough Enough, as well as ROH, Chikara, Wrestle Society X and elsewhere) took on AAA's Sexy Star. Sexy Star's gimmick is that she's a girl. There was some good back story put into it via a video package, but when you boil it down that's what her gimmick is. That meant that the story of the match was the Havoc should be booed because he's fighting a girl who has chosen to wrestle him. I just couldn't buy into it and therefore didn't feel any sympathy for Star. There were some nice moments and everything looked alright in the ring, but when a match goes less than two minutes, it's difficult to really judge anything. Havoc picked up the win with a Side Slam Backbreaker. The commentators also insinuated that Havoc was grabbing the tights during the pin, but it just looked like he was copping a feel of Star's arse.
There was a lot to like about Lucha Underground, the look and feel are completely different from anything that's on TV at the moment, in both terms of what is shown from the arena and the backstage footage. The main event was also a lot of fun to watch, with both Mundo and Puma standing out as wrestlers who could offer a lot for the promotion going forward. That being said, the other two matches on the show did absolutely nothing for me, Chavo Guerrero and Blue Demon Jr's match especially was unforgivably poor, especially considering Guerrero is supposedly a driving force behind the direction of the show.
However, I would certainly recommend this show to anyone who is tiring of WWE's output, to at least give it a try, as you may find that some of the new things that Lucha Underground is doing will appeal to you. If they don't you've wasted 45 minutes and can send me angry message on Twitter, if you so wish. I know I'll be checking out Episode Two anyway.
Quick Results and Match Ratings
Blue Demon, Jr defeated Chavo Guerrero - DUD
Son of Havoc defeated Sexy Star - N/A
Johnny Mundo defeated Prince Puma - *** 1/4