Lucha Underground 3×3: Ultimate Opportunities

Aerostar is amazing
Aerostar is amazing

matches

Matanza (c) defeated Matanza for Lucha Underground Championship (6:01, Wrath of the Gods, good)
Cage defeated Texano (5:55, discus clothesline, ok)
Fenix, Drago, Aerostar (c) defeated Taya, PJ Black, Jack Evans (9:22, Aerostar inside springboard frontcracker PJ Black, good)

 

developments

There were a lot of stories about the same level of importance, nothing dominating the episode as in past weeks. The most time building a match was for one happening next week. The show started off with Rey Mysterio and Dragon Azteca training while Mysterio advised Azteca not to go for revenge against Pentagon. Azteca has a lot of trouble actually listening to advice. He first foolish charges Chavo Guerrero when he interrupts (angry about Chavo betraying the alliance with Azteca Sr. way back in season 1), which only gets him quickly humiliated. Azteca later goes to Dario to demand the match with Pentagon. Dario would rather see the Azteca/Black Lotus match completed, but offers to pencil in the Pentagon/Azteca match for next week. Dario later met with Chavo, in a meeting we didn’t see, and ends the episode explaining the situation to Mysterio directly. Rey doesn’t want to Azteca to face Pentagon, and Dario agrees with him – he’s changed the match to Azteca/Chavo instead, with the winner getting Pentagon. (Chavo must still want revenge for Pentagon breaking his arm near the end of season 2.) Dario points out Mysterio is conflicted; he knows Chavo well, and he knows he doesn’t want Azteca to actually face Pentagon yet, so Dario decides the proper thing to do is to make Mysterio the special referee so he Rey can decide the match himself. That goes down in pen.

Dario’s a busy guy in this episode. He introduces the first match, with The Mack being the latest name to ‘win’ the Dial of Doom. Matanza tries to attack Mack on the way to the ring, but Mack comes in from an unexpected direction and gets some solid shots on Matanza. Matanza eventually gets his knees up on a frog splash and finishes off another challenger. (“DARIO’S CHOICE” replaced Son of Havoc on the wheel, for what it’s worth.)

The previous Dial of Doom winner, Son of Havoc, is seen at home. Well, maybe his mom’s home. Son of Havoc complains about Famous B and his commercials to a friend who very much feels the same, Mascarita Sagrada. They’re briefly interrupted by Havoc’s mom who offers to make them Bagel Bites. This really happened, and the Bagel Bites bit appeared to be sponsored content.

Dario also appeared to offer an Ultimate Opportunity to two people who had disappointed him by losing in the first round of the 4 A Unique Opportunity tournament at the end of last season, Cage and Texano. The opportunity itself and the stips weren’t really revealed until the match was over, but it’s another best of five series. Cage leads 1-0.

In even more Dario action, in between meeting with Azteca and Chavo, Dario opened some mail. He discarded a Famous B hat, and tried to discard some mysterious photos which was sent to him. Dario put him in his trash basket, only for them to magically appear back on his desk. Ricky Mandell, who still exists and wants to have another match on this show some day, came asking for the match and ended up with the photos as Dario tried to rid two nuisances at the same time.

The main event featured no Dario whatsoever, but also not a lot of Johnny Mundo. It was scheduled to be Mundo, Jack, and PJ challenging, but Mundo walked out over still not getting a shot at Matanza – he’s a main event talent and expects to be treated that way. Taya gleefully took Mundo’s place on the team, though she may have regretted it later. Jack spent most of the match pouting and refusing to get along with PJ for no apparent reason. Jack just took a seat on the floor near the end, and Worldwide Underground really didn’t stand much of a chance. Mundo returned post match to attack the tecnicos, with Sexy Star making the save again.

thoughts

Last week was the big match episode, this was a moving pieces around episode. Texano/Cage is literally the start of something, the trios title match was obviously a setup for something else, and Matanza simply collected another title defense to his run. There was lots of Dario, which is great because Dario is great, but they were all just setting up things for later on.

Matt Striker talked about the Mack being trained by Lil Cholo and TJ Perkins. I have no idea who this TJ Perkins is, but does that mean LU is a reality where both Lil Cholo and the remarkably similar Mr. Cisco exist.

Mack looked good on offense against Matanza, and Matanza again got thrown a lot more in a Season 3 match than he did for almost all of Season 2. I’m kinda of waiting for a story about how Matanza got powered down between seasons, because it’s kind of impossible to ignore. It makes for more exciting matches, but it is a break from what they’ve done before.

Matanza is really running thru the 4 A Unique Opportunity participants, but won’t be getting Cage or Texano for a while, I’d guess. Their match felt like a teaser to bigger matches down the line – neither guy even tried their usual big spots – which makes sense if they’ve got four of them. It’s unfortunate timing to be rolling this out just as WWE is running a similar angle, where the matches seem to be well received, but the concept is not. It did help spotlight Aerostar & Drago back in season 1, and Texano could use the same sort of attention to distinguish himself here.

Main event was kind of a mess for a while, with Jack’s antics detracting from the match. I’m sure it was mostly them just working thru the cards as they’ve been dealt – Jack can’t talk and can probably barely wrestle because of his jaw injury at that point, so even filming something to explain why Jack was acting that way would’ve been a challenge – but it was confusing and took away from a match which looked much better on paper. It did get going late, and it was an unexpected spotlight match for Aerostar, who seemed to get the most time of the tecnicos. Sexy Star’s dropkicks could not be saved by editing.

Dario was the star of the show. His bit with Rey at the end was great. I couldn’t decipher much of the photos, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of them.

taping dates for dorks

The trios title match was taped on May 15th (I think!), the other matches were taped on March 20th

CMLL Martes: 2016-09-06 

20160906cmll-4-3
Sagrado finishes Panther

Recapped: 09/10/2016

What happened: Titan pinned Mephisto, aiming for a title match.

What was good: The semimain was good and the lightning match entertained me, though it’s possible I’ve gone mad.

I didn’t watch the third match, off a plan to only watch the second half and avoid Skandalo matches, but it looked like it was good.

Where can I watch it: It’s on CMLL’s channel. (more…)

Lucha Underground 3×2: The Amulet

this is crazy
this is crazy

matches

Dr. Wagner defeated Mascarita Sagrada (0:59, Dr. Wagner Jr., not rated)

Mil Muertes defeated Argenis (1:34, Flatliner, not rated)

Killshot defeated Marty Martinez in a Weapons of Mass Destruction (22:26, double stomp thru a table, great)

developments

this always a cool angle
this is always a cool angle

If you had been waiting for months about updates on the police plot, then this was your episode. A lot of knowledge was dropped. Captain Vazquez was heard the tape of Mr. Cisco being murdered (though not until the part 2 of Ultimo Lucha Dos), but refused to bring in Dario Cueto. Joey Ryan/Officer Meehan and Cortez Castro/Officer Reyes got into a scuffle over this, since Cortez still saw Mr. Cisco as a friend and didn’t want his murder to be just overlooked. It’s implied Castro slipped the audio tape of the murder to higher ups, who arrested Dario Cueto on their own at the end of Ultima Lucha 2. Vazquez figured it what he did, and suspended Castro for not going along with her plan. To her, Dario Cueto is just as much an unimportant piece as Mr. Cisco, but taking Dario off the playing field makes it impossible to find Dario’s boss (Dr. Claw) and that’s the person she really wants. Some months later (at the season of Season 3), Castro apologized, Vazquez reinstated him and sent him back to the Temple.

That’s not really a good turn of events for Castro. Last week, after Dario returned to ‘work’, he was surprised by Joey Ryan. Ryan sold out the investigation and his partner, revealing that both and Castro were police. Dario appeared not to have known. Ryan wants in on Dario’s plans, and Dario seemed to agree. (Given these two, it’s possible Joey is working as a double agent or his own angle, and it’s likely Dario will sell him out either way.)

Why are we doing this, anyway? Well, it turns out that back a 1000 years ago, a special amulet was passed on from a father to his daughter. The father was dying, and needed his daughter to continue his war. The amulet wouldn’t do anything for him, but would allow her to live forever. She relevancy accepted it and he passed away. In present time (or close to it), we see that Captain Vazquez has half of the amulet. In the show closing moment, we see that Catrina has the other half.

and he's done
and he’s done

(The girl/father appear to be the same people Aerostar visited in episode 2 of last season, and her passed on mission is to reunite the tribes. It’s definitely implied that the girl is Vazquez, though it could just as easily be Catrina – or someone else who passed it on to them, I suppose. The amulet, even broke in half, is an obvious explanation for Catrina’s immortality, though not her ghost powers.)

There were matches too! Two of them were rather tossed off. Dr. Wagner squashed Mascarita Sagrada, in a sgment just to remind us of the Season 2 ending status quo for Famous B – Wagner’s his guy, and Mascarita got kicked to curbed. The money won was alluded to but not seen. Argenis barely got any more offense in on Mil, who completely overmatched his opponent. Puma attacked him for no obvious reason after the match, except he must’ve taken Vampiro’s advice to heart.

The main event, which took most of the second half of the show, was the Weapons of Mass Destruction match. The Temple had weapon crates, camouflage netting, guns, and rocket shells laying around, though Killshot also got into the usual tables and chairs by the end. It was a match more known for it’s brutality than any particular story. Killshot did attack Marty as he was making his way to the ring. Marty used Melissa as a human shield, and taunted her during the match. Mariposa appeared only late, and only lasted about 15 seconds before she took a brutal bump off a ladder thru a table (nearly hitting her head on the bottom rope.) Killshot ripped the dogtags off of Marty as they fought on top of the ladder, then drove him off it with a double stomp thru the table to win.

thoughts

a little excited
a little excited

This was an overall weird experience. The first half of the show was loaded with brief matches and short vignettes. The idea was to clear out as many commercial breaks as possible so they could show the main event without a break. They’ve done it before, and it’s always a little weird until you grasp they’re just giving the main event time (and it’s a bit that won’t be as much an issue when watched on iTunes), but it didn’t flow as well this time. It’s seemed like those other similar shows have had more a variety of vignettes. This was was all about the police plot, which hasn’t been one of their stronger plots. This used what they had set up before to move a lot of pieces around – Ryan’s sold out, Cortez is in deep trouble, we now have a reason to care about Vazquez – but it was so much of it at once that it felt overwhelming and the dramatic impact was disrupted by the pacing. A skit where Cortez is kicked off the investigation and a skit where Cortez is welcomed back onto the investigation really can’t either in the same episode, much less the same 10 minute stretch. They really wanted to get to both halves of the amulet by the end of the episode (which I’m not sure they needed to do), but we were spending a lot of time in one big chunk on characters who haven’t been that compelling up to now, and the whole thing felt rushed.

Two episodes makes a pattern, adn so there’s now a pattern of lots of flashbacks this year on the show that also does no replays during matches. Those last couple of episodes might have been better off if the bits we’re only seeing now were shown in ‘real time’ – if Cortez being benched happened to close out Ultima Lucha 2, than maybe it would mean something for him to be back. (On the other hand, that’d be another big change that was immediately undone to start the season. An upisde of these vignettes is we can see more of the ripples of Dario’s arrest, even for as short it lasted.)

I had problems with the presentation of the show. And I had lots of problems with the presentation of the main event. I’ve generally given up on making announcing complaints at this point. Striker and Vampiro are as associated with the product as Dario is at this point, and they can rise to being weirdly endearing at times. They’re much more reigned and under control in LU than their AAA appearances, and I’m generally numb to their quirks after 60 some episodes. LU has had two “off seasons” to make changes and they’ve elected to roll with the same crew. I fully grasp that there’s probably nothing that’s going to change that.

all people captured in nets have higher chances of being GIFed
all people captured in nets have higher chances of being GIFed

There’s also nothing that’s going to be change that their performance in this match, especially by Matt Striker, was the dirt worst. Killshot & Marty are killing themselves and each other, and Striker is forcing in every single artificial preplanned reference like Joey Chesnut at a hot dog eating contest. It was just about as appetizing. The point of announcing is to add to enhance to the match, but the point of Striker’s commentary – often, but never more than here – was to make his references the star of the show and just use guys driving each other head first into ladders as a set up to his next hacky punch line. It wouldn’t even have mattered if the lines were clever or funny, the experience should never be about how many one-liners any announcer can get off, but about the one guy clobbering the other guy. (It also wasn’t even a political thing – Striker was equally as annoying when he made less charged but still equally irrelevant look at me comments.) I don’t even want to put it all on Striker. When he’s done this in the past, it’s come out that writers were feeding him lines to keep him going, and I’d guess they were doing it again. They were at least fine with it, since it made it on to the show. Meanwhile, Vampiro was going the extreme opposite direction, trying to sell the idea that guns were loaded and the grenades were armed. It would’ve seem ludicrous on it’s own, but it was out of this world with the other voice busy prepping his routine for the Chuckle Hut.

Striker’s commentary might have be perfect for a “$5 wrestling” audio track, mocking the bad wrestling being shown. This wasn’t a bad match, this was the end of a long and personal rivalary in an attempt to help both men break out. Instead, I wanted to break my TV. In their defense, the match did go so long that Striker ran out of references to make, and was actually forced to start calling the match like a sane human being might. Maybe other people got back into it at that point – I hope they did. For me, I was just beyond caring about something the people involved didn’t seem emotionally involved in all that much, and generally aggravated about how it felt like they disrespected both of the wrestlers. The match seemed fine, good, but it was one I was never going to revisit or would ever tell people to check out.

Now. I try not to read any reviews before I post my own, because I think it helps me form my own opinions without being too influenced by other takes. I am on Twitter during the show, which may hurt that idea. (I won’t be next week.) I did see a lot of strongly positive comments for this match, largely from people who I believe were in the building that day, but mostly that’s just because those were the people I happened to be checking in on. So, after I finished watching the CWC, those comments caused me to give the match another shot. And I did, with the volume on mute.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction was close to, if not quite at, the level of the No Mas match. It was an Ultima Lucha level match, something that would’ve fit better on the show than the Gift of the Gods, and an eyegrabbing performance for both men. It was lacking a level of internal story to really take it all the way up, as it felt like control just floated back and forth frequently with no real flow. The volume and impact of the big spots made it up for it. The suplex onto the ladder, Killshot getting run face first into the ladder, Killshot taking the suplex to the outside thru the table, the suplex onto the weapon crates, Mariposa’s tumble thru a table and the finish were all just insane moments. The weapons motif added a little, was a little goofy, and didn’t factor into the results much. Killshot got the feud ending win, as he absolutely had to, and probably took more of the physical punishment. Yet, this was really Marty’s break out performance. He’s far away from the goofball who got beat by Alberto in a minute. Marty’s probably never going to be athlete the level of many other in LU, but he carried his personality thru this match better than most. Marty came off as crazed, demented and dangerous, and a real significant threat for Killshot to overcome. His reactions helped elevate this from just being a stunt show to something more serious. The finish came off contrived – why did Killshot climb the ladder like it there was a reward at the top instead of just shoving the ladder over? – but the double stomp was a great visual (and that’s what LU is.) I’d recommend watching the match, though I’d suggest waiting until it gets dubbed into Japanese, or at least watching on mute.

here's that finish, posted down here not to spoil it for Twitter people
here’s that finish, posted down here not to spoil it for Twitter people

CMLL Martes Mexico: 2016-08-30 

Ultimo Guerrero is strong
Ultimo Guerrero is strong

Recapped: 09/09/2016

What happened: Ultimo Guerrero cheated to beat Volador, again. The Panther and Skandalo continued their off and on feud. That’s about it.

What was good: The main event was good if you’re not tired of it. I like the fourth match, and outright skipped paying attention to the first two matches and the semimain.

Where can I watch it: It’s on CMLL’s channel. (more…)

CMLL on ClaroSports.com: 2016-09-09 

20160909cmllclaro_match3-2
kneelift to end all kneelifts

Recapped: 09/09/2016

What happened:  La Mascara unmasked Dragon Lee, which would’ve been great news for him last week but was just a DQ this week. Matt Taven debuted. Angel de Oro was hurt. That’s about it; this appeared to be a no-plot show since they have the legends show next week.

What was good: Most everything? I didn’t like the lightning match, the main event was super rushed, and the third match fell apart before the end, but the quality of wrestling was good. Nothing must watch but an easy show to watch.

Where can I watch it: It’ll be on my channel (though I had some feed issues in the last couple of matches.) (more…)

AAA on Televisa: 2016-08-27 

Recapped: 09/04/2016

What happened: Pagano beat Psycho in a cage match, meaning Hijo del Tirantes would be referee for their mask match. Mary Apache refused El Apache’s request to return back to the rudo side. Garza Jr. replaced Fenix as Fantasma’s partner (who was still promoted for the TripleMania anyway.)

What was good: The three way tag match was the best match, but you wouldn’t miss much if you skipped the show entirely.

Where can I watch it: It’s on AAA’s channel. (more…)

Lucha Azteca7 Elite: 2016-08-27

cool exchange leads to Dragon Lee countering the handspring in the best way
cool exchange leads to Dragon Lee countering the handspring in the best way

Recapped: 09/04/2016

What happened: Zumbido cheated to beat Bandido, Dragon Lee defeated Flamita, Mr. Niebla fouled Maximo, but all of that set up a match on show we didn’t see or appears to have gone nowhere.

What’s really happening is CMLL and Elite are breaking up. This is the last Elite show in Arena Mexico for the time being, a kind of lame duck show without anyone knowing it was a lame duck show. The following week was a best of episode, and a new era for the promotion will kick off the week after. There’s no indication of any of this on the TV show, but the Liga Elite tournament is noticeably missing.

What was good:  Dragon Lee versus Flamita was really good while obviously not coming close to their ceiling. I liked the opener.

Where can I watch it: It’s on my channel and the Elite channel. (more…)

Lucha Underground 3×1: Wheel of Misfortune

I would not take this is I had six garages
I would not take this if I had a six car garage

matches

Matanza defeated Son of Havoc (7:35, Wrath of the Gods, great) – 6th defense
Sexy Star beat Taya to retain the Gift of the Gods (4:35, small package, OK) – 1st defense
Rey Mysterio Jr. beat Pentagon Dark (8:15, Mexican Destroyer, great)

developments

Havoc's knocked his block off
Havoc’s block knocked off

They’re back. And they’re really picking off just after they’ve left. There are a few signs time has passed, but there’s a sense of picking things up where they left off. Or even ten minutes before they left off. Dario Cueto is swiftly discharged from prison (including an unexpected Honky Tonk Man cameo), it’s revealed Limo Man and Lorenzo Llamas had something to do with it (and would have rather not been bothered), and Dario later tells Marty that he was innocent he’d prefer never to talk about it again. There are some things that seem like seeds for later: Limo Man is probably not going to let Dario forget it, and Dario offhandedly mentioned he met some people in prison. At the moment, it’s not an issue at the moment and the police are not seen.

Similarly, the Pentagon/Vampiro plot initially appears to be backed down. Vampiro starts of the show by declaring he’s not anyone’s master or teacher and doesn’t want to discuss Pentagon attacking him to end season 2. That doesn’t hold for the episode. Pentagon’s holding his own and close to winning the main event over Rey Mysterio, but leaves the ring to taunt Vampiro. Vampiro walks out. Pentagon is defeated shortly after, probably blowing his chance to win by spending time on Vampiro. Pentagon tries to get a immoral victory by breaking Rey’s arm, but Dragon Azteca makes the save. Dragon Azteca appears to be OK (no cast or sling) but obviously wants revenge on Pentagon for breaking his arm at Ultima Lucha 2.

20160907lu-2
Matanza just throwing people around is fun

Vampiro’s vow of not wanting to be anyone’s mentor itself only lasts about 50 minutes. He happens on a brooding Prince Puma, still running back his loss to Rey Mysterio. Vamp tries to talk to Puma, who’s not really interested. Vampiro tells him anyway that it’s Puma’s loss to Mil Muertes to end Season 1 that led to the rough Season 2, and Puma needs to avenge that win if he ever wants to rebound. Puma seemed to at least consider this, though he was surprised Vampiro wasn’t sending him after Pentagon.

Matanza seemed to weather his brother’s absence fine. He was in the ring at the start of the show, waiting for a title shot. Dario declared Matanza had defeated all the normal challengers, so they needed a new method of determining a challenger: Dario’s Dial of Doom. Dario had names of luchadors who had not yet gotten a shot at Matanza, but would be given one if the wheel stopped on their name. (A Matanza/Rey match was teased here, but Dario declared Rey not eligible for losing to Matanza at the end of in Aztec Warfare 2.) Dragon Azteca Jr., Mariposa, Chavo Guerrero, Dr. Wagner, Prince Puma, Son of Havoc, Johnny Mundo, Killshot and the Mack were on the wheel, with it stopping on Havoc. Havoc fought well and even landed his shooting star press, but Matanza kicked out and beat him cleanly. Striker emphasized how Matanza was a smarter more calculating fighter than we’d previously seen (and not the unhinged monster he was initially presented as.)

wrath of the gods
wrath of the gods

Johnny Mundo may get a title shot if they spin the wheel again, but he can’t get one by demanding it. He tried that with Dario, who laughed and pointed out he and the rest of Worldwide Underground lost at Ultima Lucha 2 and were not deserving. Mundo blamed the loss on Angelico, then revealed the group had destroyed Angelico after the show, which Dario had a good laugh about. Still, no title shot for them. Mundo asked for one against Sexy Star instead, figuring he’d just win the Gift of the Gods and cash it in. Dario again said no for the same reasons, but did note Taya had actually won at Ultima Lucha, and he’d give her that title match instead. Taya/Sexy Star was the briefest of the matches on the show. The match was still indecisive when Mundo came out to help, but his assistance backfired and Sexy cradled Taya for the pin (holding her in for much longer than three.) Sexy Star became the first person to successfully defend the Gift of the Gods championship. Worldwide Underground attacked her after the match, with Fenix, Aerostar and Drago making the save.

The Taya/Sexy Star match also featured a very direct and not subtle plug for From Dusk Till Dawn. Though more subtle than the beer ad with Hernandez.

sliiiiide
sliiiiide and knees

The person Taya beat back at Ultima Lucha, Ivelisse, was still unhappy about how that went down. Catrina cost her the match, which Ivelisse pointed out was the second time she had lost an Ultima Lucha. She didn’t want it to be a third and she wanted some revenge, so Ivelisse boldly challenged Catrina for a match at the next Ultima Lucha. Catrina profanely accepted. They have no idea when Ultima Lucha 3 will be at this point (but we know it’s 39 episodes away, sometime in June.)

We do know when one match is coming. Marty also came to Dario to ask for bigger things in Season 3, revealing to us that he and his family had been sending gifts to Dario while he was locked away. Dario thanked Marty, but told Martinez that he had unfinished business. Marty said he was done with Killshot, but Killshot had told Dario he wasn’t done with Marty. Dario decided to settle it next week with a first time ever match – a “Weapons of Mass Destruction” match. Marty seemed psychotically pleased with this concept and Dario got in on the fun.

Thoughts

all the spins
all the spins

Both the two showcase matches were very fun. There’s now a great tradition of really hot matches to start off a season and Pentagon/Rey & Havoc/Matanza fit in with them. Havoc/Matanza was up there was Cage/Matanza as the best match the monster has had. It seemed like they powered him down a little bit and are tweaking the character to make him more vulnerable. I’ll take the storyline not making a little sense for a little bit better matches. Havoc as a high flying underdog worked really well, and this was a more just ‘reward’ than his match with Wagner. Mysterio & Pentagon had great chemistry whenever they met in AAA, with Pentagon quickly establishing himself as Mysterio’s best (and maybe most favorite current) opponent. The outcome didn’t work out any better for Pentagon in LU than it did in AAA, but they did it in a way where he’s not too hurt by the loss. Maybe being stuck in Vampiro’s orbit hurts him more.

I wasn’t as thrilled with how quickly they seemed to run away from the big plot twists of Season 3. At least with Vampiro/Pentagon, they were making it clear that was still going on by the end of the show. Dario suddenly getting sent to jail seemed reversed within a couple minutes, with just allusions thrown to it the rest of the night. There’s enough hints that it may come up more later, but essentially it came off as if they needed an internal reason why there would be a break between episodes but didn’t want us to think too deeply about it. Maybe we’ll just need patience on this one.

superkick
superkick

Taya/Star was alright, just not given a lot of time to do much interesting. I liked Taya’s sliding dropkick deal; she seems to be picking up character touches the longer she’s in Lucha Underground (and because of taping out of order, that match was taped much longer after the other ones – about six weeks so.)

They put a lot of plot it motion for the first episode, and set up a big match for next week. It felt like a start up episode because they put so many things in motion, but it didn’t feel like they had been missing for long.