Segunda Caida

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Lucha Underground Episode 38: UltimaLucha - Part I Review

We get a return engagement from Tomk for this final pair of episodes

1. The Mack vs. Cage (Falls Count Anywhere)

ER: Well this was awesome and completely exceeded the high expectations I had for it. These guys laced into each other and it's as if every move they did was the exact move the crowd was hoping for. This would have been good in a vacuum but it was even better because they both clearly understood who they were working for. They worked in a little comedy and personality, but never lost the viciousness. The brawling through the crowd was some of the best of its kind, punching and throwing each other into spots instead of walking gingerly together. Fans scrambling out of the way added to the insanity. Cage getting speared through a door was totally unexpected and Cage took it like a lunatic, almost like he wasn't expecting it either. The way the camera shot it, and how fast he flew back through the door, it was like he was being sucked out of an airplane at 30,000 feet. All of the bumps and spills on the floor were nasty, and then Cage goes and does an inside out superplex over the guardrail onto the balcony. Jeez. I was hoping they wouldn't go the cinderblock route when I noticed them, since I thought Ambrose/Rollins already pulled off the best worked block spot. But they did and while it exploding was pretty silly, it made sense as a match finish. These two have been real standouts in multi mans and I was just really wanting a brutal singles match, and they totally delivered.

PAS: Yup this was pretty great, they have done a really nice job with the non-luchadores in this fed. I have enjoyed Mack or Cage way more in this context then any other. Mack especially comes off like a hugely charismatic star. It was smart of them to recognize that and move him quickly out of the Big Ryck and Killshot group (and to relegate Killshot to the jobber battle royal last week). I haven't seen any really great lucha matches from Lucha Underground but they really know how to do insane brawls. I also liked how this didn't even bother to go into the ring, most of these brawls have a section where they go into the ring for the finish, the advantage of LU being a television product, is that they could do away with that trope.

TKG: I really like that at this point I feel like I know where stuff is in the Temple. The way I knew various JAPW buildings so during this kind of crowd touring match you know where guys are going to end up. 

The Miller sponsorship continues to amuse me. There was a point where Steve Austin was one of the biggest figures in popular culture and the WWF with Austin was drawing huge attendance and ratings. The WWF wasn't able to negotiate for a beer sponsorship then, while these guys can pull that off? Or did the WWF not want a beer sponsorship because they somehow thought Miller wasn't as prestigious as Lugz boots? Can't be that, it's the WWE, if Bill Saluga wanted to host RAW, they would be thrilled and treat Saluga as a giant star. Gawd, the Saluga/Kane skits... You can call me Glen or you can call me Isaac...

2. Disciples of Death vs. Angelico, Son of Havoc & Ivelisse

ER: Is one of the DoD really named Barrio Negro? This whole thing threatened to get good at a couple points, but there were too many little problems all throughout for them to overcome. First, Ivelisse has a leg injury. That is fine. We've worked around it well enough to this point, gives their team some character depth. But here we had evil beings named the Disciples of DEATH...who had to noticeably work around her injured leg. When one of the DoD goes for a sub on her he has to go out of his way to grab her healthy leg. If I was a Death Disciple, I would probably be a cruel evil being who would take advantage of every single one of my opponent's weaknesses. I'm not saying I want her hurt leg further injured, but I would take a weak, super fake looking submission on the hurt leg over the already flimsy submission we ended up with. These men are created out of lightning! But then we get moments of "Oh we can't work over that leg, that's her leg that's actually hurt". Their characters are manufactured out of lightning for the sole purpose of murder! Second, the promotion still does no replays. This is a multi-camera shoot. They have at minimum three different recorded angles of Angelico's dive. But I guess this show is a "movie", not a sport event. Movies wouldn't show replays of significant moments. But that is also a fucking stupid approach to pro wrestling. I don't need the WWE overkill of constant "earlier tonight" reports all throughout Raw, but you have a skinny human being hurling himself off of a balcony, and you should be showing that more fucking times than Brian Lee going off a scaffold through tables. Whatever. I liked Havoc's consecutive dives, loved the Angelico dive (duh), but the DoD are pretty boring and I'm not looking forward to more of them. Any idea on who they are? I'm curious if it's good workers working poorly in a gimmick, or just poor workers.

PAS: This was the least of the trios title matches they have run, you could see the seams a little bit in this match formula. Angelico's big dive is crazy as usual, but at this point you are just waiting around for him to do it, it isn't the shock that it was the first time, it is turning a bit into a New Jack thing where the whole match is the song and the dive, and these Angelico matches don't even have a cool song. DoD are kind of cool looking, but otherwise pretty lame and sticking random jobbers under the mask (I think its Ricky Landell, Argenis and Marachi Loco) really hurts, I feel like better performers would have been able to do something with the gimmick.

TKG: Back around 2003 or so there was an amusing editorial written to the observer website complaining about Gabe Sapolsky winning booker of the year. The guy complained that all Gabe did was hire cream of the indy scene and the put them in dream match ups, that wasn't what booking was about. Booking was about having to put together a card with an ex wwf midcarder past his prime, the cousin of his favorite ring rat, a steroided guy afraid of muscle tears, the money mark's son, a regional star who can't bump any more and two green kids who can't run the ropes. Not about having a super talented roster but rather hiding the roster's weaknesses. One thing that can be said about Lucha Underground is they were fucking great at hiding guys weaknesses. It's a fed with 4 tough enough wash outs that found ways to make all of them semi compelling. They created a pretty entertaining face tag team here where you essentially knew everyone's story and their relationship to other members of team and found way to book them to work a midcard version of what are essentially  Public Enemy v Gangstas v Eliminators formula send crowd home happy ECW main events. Nicely put together crowd popping spots where no one gets exposed.

ER: I enjoyed the Miller Lite plug within the context of Cage/Mack. Thought they integrated it as well as possible. But damn Striker's Miller toast followed up with "Mmmmmmm that's so refreshing! So good!" is just about the opposite of the spectrum. Nice read, Velma. Not as good as Vampiro drinking out of a clearly empty can and saying "That's good beer, brother."

3. Hernandez vs. Drago (Believers Backlash Match)

ER: Fun match with a totally absurd stipulation that totally worked as a unique stip. It's not something we need to see regularly, but I loved that we got to see it. On paper it seems like a stip that is almost inviting something to go terribly wrong. What if somebody is throwing a blow and Hernandez turns around and takes a strap right to the eyeball!? My friend Sean went to an indy show in a bar years ago, and there was a weapons brawl. There was a boombox getting used, and at one point the boom box was on the floor and Sean moved it so nobody would trip over it...followed almost immediately by somebody getting power bombed onto it, because they hadn't realized it had been moved. So now you give belts to 20 fans...that's some guts on Hernandez to take numerous runs through that gauntlet. What if you get some guy being a loose cannon all excited because he's gonna be on TV?? You can argue that it got in the way of a good singles match at times, but I think it's a testament to how underrated Hernandez is that he put it over as well as he did. And also, that fucking tope into mist-and-then-floor was insane. People will be talking about the Angelico dive but this was just as crazy but in a different way. Striker had some nice moments during this, and I especially like him explaining why Hernandez was able to get out of his Drago Clutch.

PAS: This was also a pretty great gimmick match, it is too bad Hernandez may have burned his LU bridges, because he really hit his groove here as an asshole heel. You don't usually see a guy work as both monster and comedy stooge and he does both well. Also damn does he take a beating, not only does he get the skin strapped off his back by random fans, but that missed tope was one of the crazier bumps in a fed full of crazy bumpers. 

TKG: I've seen a ton of fans with straps as lumberjack matches over the years. It's not a match that always translates well outside of live audience, Seen some good ones. Seen some bad ones. They're matches that I've seen guys who do workrate sprints struggle with. You kind of need a heel who knows how to work like kneepadless Budro or Austin Idol to really pull them off. As ideally they're about the heel and the fans, and need a heel who knows lots of ways to mime taunts at fans and lots of ways to do googly eyed stooging when getting whipped by fans. I realize that I've been watching Hernandez' career disinterestedly since 1999. Saw him working like Rod Price in FMW on Texas indies, watched him working as part of a fake Sheik tag team in AJPW, watched him blow up trying to be a roided workrate wrestler in ROH, watched him work as workrate fake Angle in AJPW when Red was working fake Rey, watched him work as fake JAW Heavyweight tagged with Homicide in TNA, am watching him here. Somewhere between TNA and Lucha Underground he picked up some mid 90s Austin Idol tapes and instead of studying the mic work, studied the in ring stuff. and he's been all about the Fargo strutting and miming since he showed up in Lucha Underground. He was the perfect guy for this match. As pretty much everything in ring was a mess but all the fan Hernandez interactions were great.

This if course wasn't a one man Hernandez show and a ton of credit needs to be given to the ponytailed plant among the fans. According to Fredo he's a local worker who he has seen work as Fidel and he was amazing here. Always in the right place, snoring big, setting up the big spots, set up the fans refuse to hit the face spot (which is really key to match working), kept on feeding himself to Hernandez, bumped big, ate dives, and just directed traffic. A star making performance. I know nothing about him but his sense of ring awareness makes me want to seek out his work.

So I was looking up to try to figure out who was the other guy in the Double Iron Sheiks with Hernandez and according to multiple internet listings it was Beau James' cousin KC Thunder which is ridiculous. I refused to believe it at first but Zellner claims that accurate. Hillarious as KC Thunder is guy who works as spectacularly great superheavy Austin Idol in U.S.A. but worked nothing like that in AJPW where he was doing gaijin w suplexes. Amusing that Hernandez spent majority of career trying to work like K C Thunder in Japan , while it looks like Hernandez's real strengths maybe in emulating KC Thunder in the US.

ER: This was an excellent start to UltimaLucha and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for the finale. Everybody is clearly busting ass and if this is it for them, I have a feeling they're going to go out with a bang.

PAS: Yeah career matches for Hernandez, Cage and Willie Mack make this a hell of a show, although they really could use some more actual lucha in this fed to mix up the brawls, three variations of street fights in one show is getting a little ECWish, they should have had something like Aerostar v. Jack Evans or Aerostar v. Drago in the middle.


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