Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, October 31, 2014

Lucha Underground Episode 1: Welcome to the Temple Workrate Report

ER: I'm an actual El Rey and lucha fan, so if this show is marketed towards anybody, really I'm their prime audience. El Rey is actually a pretty cool channel. You get random Starsky & Hutch episodes shown in incorrect order with a different episode playing than the one the guide says it is (last week I saw a good one with Richard Lynch as a serial killer offing cab drivers), it's got cool movies like From Beyond and Switchblade Sisters, and now lucha. Cool stuff.

The opening makes it look like it wants to be Def Jam: Vendetta, just a bunch of guys in jeans and hoodies fist fighting in a warehouse. Then there's all this weird stuff about Aztec Warriors and the history of our seven tribes, which if anything is at least unique.

PAS: I am long past being interested in evil promoters, but I did like the B-Movie sleaziness of Dario. He really felt like a guy who must have a long career as Danny Trejo's cartel boss in direct to video action movies. I am going to lean positive for now on the cinematic interludes. I could see it being something which might bother me if it gets too silly, but for now it definitely distinguishes it from WWE while still feeling like it exists in the narrative world of professional wrestling, rather then feeling like an action movie.

ER: Is it weird to think this is the exact same building that Wrestle Society X was filmed in? The building looks similar and the stage with the band looks identical. I actually dug WSX so this is not a bad thing to me.

Promoter/Owner Dario Cueto kind of looks like a slick hispanic David Strathairn; slicked back hair, a briefcase full of $100,000. I like the slant of "rich business man offers money to wrestlers so they can fight for his amusement". I'm a big fan of "fight tournament" movies, where some guy with an island or drug empire brings in all the best talent to fight for him while he's not having sex with dead eyed women. Although if I was compiling a list of "men to fight for my amusement" I'm not sure how Aaron Aguilera would end up on the list...

1. Blue Demon Jr. vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

PAS: I get why they wanted to open the promotion with a battle of two scions of legendary lucha families,  but Demon is bad and putting him in the role of legendary maestro is a just poor casting. This would have been so much better if I had been Chavo vs. Villano IV or V and the storyline could have worked exactly the same (obviously Santo would have been perfect, but he wasn't available). Match was pretty weak, and I really hated the Foley art on the slaps, made it sound super fake.

ER: Matt Striker on commentary is talking about lucha history, giving fans some background on what makes lucha what it is, really presenting it to a crowd that has never seen lucha libre before. And I can't think of many worse luchadors to show a lucha libre first-timer, than Blue Demon Jr. I definitely liked this more than Phil, though. For a 5 minute Worldwide match it was better than fine. We had some cool opening matwork (with Demon actually selling the knee over 3 minutes later as a callback!), Chavo hit a cool float over armdrag, and big props to the camera work for cutting a couple frames to kind of smooth out a Demon headscissors. Both guys take kinda cool bumps to the floor, with Demon sprawling out after a Chavo headscissors. Also dug Chavo going for a triangle in the ropes, and Demon power bombing him off the top to get out of it. I also kind of dug the Foley effects on slaps, because they were timed right and consistent. They did effects for Demon's slaps, but also when he was clapping to get the crowd into it. Made Demon seem like a guy who just threw some big bombs. I thought the effects were done well enough that I would be shocked if a casual viewer even noticed.

2. Sexy Star vs. Son of Havoc

PAS: I get the gimmick, and I kind of get why Sexy Star is going to have to work her way up to a win so I didn't have a problem with her losing. But man having her squashed in 90 seconds by a dude who looks like a 6:05 TBS jobber they would bring out for Manny Fernandez to potato,  puts a damper on the whole thing. Also probably a mistake to name your feminist hero Sexy Star, lots of names are getting changed in this fed, no reason to keep that one.

ER: They really are pushing her as an abused woman out for revenge. "She trains for every girl who no longer needs to be afraid" kind of stuff. Robert Rodriguez is about as big of a cult movie fan as you can get. You'd think with his involvement her character especially would be one that he would focus on. He HAS to be a fan of the movie Ms. 45. They're already pushing the abused woman strikes back angle, they might as well go full tilt with the thing. But my god it is unfathomable to have her lose in 90 seconds in her very first match in the promotion. Son of Havoc is M-Dogg 20, under a mask and leather vest and with an awesome gigantic beard making him look like a SAMCRO prospect who doesn't make it out of his second episode. He's a good opponent for Sexy Star as he really whips around on her headscissors and leaps into her cross bodies. But good lord there is no way he's going to be a pushed guy in the fed. If you didn't want her to beat a guy who will be appearing in the fed regularly, why not just bring in a one and done jobber for her to beat? Are they actively trying to appeal to the next generation of guys whose fathers wanted Bobby Riggs to shut Billie Jean King's bitch mouth? Just completely incomprehensible booking.

3. Prince Puma vs. Johnny Mundo

PAS: This isn't the kind of wrestling I eagerly seek out, but for a juniors spotfest, it was a fun juniors spotfest and definitely was a representative of the style they are looking to do. I actually thought Puma held back a little bit, I have seen him do crazier shit for much smaller audiences, and I am surprised he didn't empty his bag of tricks. I like Konan as the grizzled veteran trainer, he seems too crippled to actually get in the ring again, so I have no beef with him as a mouthpiece.

ER: This was a plenty fun spotfest although yeah I agree with Phil as Ricochet didn't come close to breaking out some of the coolest stuff he could do. You could tell Mundo (the former John Morrison) was breaking out every single trick he's ever used. Mundo takes a fantastic bump of an enziguiri, basically doing a Hamrick bump to the floor as he somersaults through the ropes. Awesome. Puma tries to outdo him by getting crazy height from getting slingshotted into the post. Puma does a back handspring into a flipping dropkick and Matt Striker compares the style to World of Sport. Striker comes off like a guy who has a lot of references, and wants to use those references even if they don't actually apply to what's happening. He later hypes up a giant "THIS! IS! LUCHA! UNDERGROUND!! after Puma does a dive feint by hand springing off the ropes. Probably could have saved that for an actual big dive. Duane Kuiper didn't scream loudly when Barry Bonds lazily flied out to right. Still after about the first 6 minutes of doing a bunch of go nowhere parity stuff we get a bunch of big spots. They were kind of pushing Puma as the main guy here but Mundo was really the one getting all the spots to shine. Still, plenty of fun stuff, and this is definitely the kind of match they need to be doing to set them apart.

PAS: Finishing angle wasn't much, I think they should have had Dario's gameplan a little more ambiguous for a couple of weeks. Let him wander around holding the briefcase and menacingly sipping scotch before he broke out his own stable of dudes.

ER: Yeah it was a bit disappointing to already show Dario is withholding the money briefcase. And also disappointing that he was choosing his own stable and filled it with Ricky Reyes and Lil Cholo. Big Zeke looked mammoth and I dug plenty of his matches on Superstars several years ago, be nice to see him shine again.

PAS: Overall I enjoyed this, and I am really looking forward to them bringing in dudes like Pimpinela and Mesias who I really like

ER: I still had a good time watching this. One episode in and it already looked clearly better than something like TNA. It had its own style and presentation, clearly trying to present itself as something different instead of a cheap knockoff. I'm definitely interested in watching more.


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