10/29 Lucha Underground live review: Premiere episode featuring John Morrison as Johnny Mundo, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Blue Demon Jr., Matt Striker, Ricochet as Prince Puma, and more
By Jason Powell
Taped in Boyle Heights, California
Aired on El Rey Network
The show opened with clip of a masked man fighting another man. They were then seated and the masked man spoke about the history of lucha libre. There storyline promoter was also shown talking briefly. The masked man asked the hooded fighter if he would join them. They shook hans. Credits were shown...
In the ring, the female ring announcer welcomed fans to Lucha Underground. A band played briefly. Matt Striker and Vampiro checked in on commentary. The ring announcer introduced "host, promoter, and owner" Dario Cueto, who came to the ring carrying a briefcase. Striker said he couldn't find out any information about Cueto.
Cueto said Lucha Underground isn't for six year-olds. He said the ring is his temple and they honor courage, honor, and violence. Cueto announced that $100,000 would go to the wrestler who impresses him the most during the show. "Get rich or die trying," Cueto said while showing off the cash. He said the fighters have lucha libre in their blood...
1. Blue Demon Jr. vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr. The referee had a cast on his left arm. In the end, Chavo tapped to a submission hold...
Blue Demon Jr. defeated Chavo Guerrero Jr. in 5:10.
Powell's POV: The venue looks unique in a positive way and the crowd of extras have been responsive at the right times. There have also been some unique camera shots, including an overhead shot of the ring. The broadcast team seems to have early chemistry. Striker is the play-by-play voice, while Vampiro is the color commentator.
They cut to a shot of Cueto inside his office inviting Konnan to work for him. Konnan said it's not about him, it's about the best fighters in the world. He told Cueto to look out the window and he'll see the best fighter in the world. Cueto said he has the man who was the hottest free agent in the world and he will go by the name of Johnny Mundo.
Cueto said Mundo doesn't respect his temple, he is there for the money and the fame. Cueto said that if Konnan's man is as good as he claims he is, he should have him make an example of Mundo and perhaps the $100,000 would go to Konnan and his man... [C]
Powell's POV: The backstage segment was cheesed up with some corny background music that played while Cueto and Konnan talked. Cueto came off okay in the ring, but he was soap opera villain material in the office scene. I wish they would explain why the camera was there. Instead, we went from the ring and into a telenovela.
Striker and Vampiro spoke briefly at ringside. Vampiro said Konnan doesn't invest his time in anyone unless it will serve him... A video package aired with Konnan talking about Prince Puma, and the importance of masks in the lucha culture. He said the mask is everything. He said Puma's spirit animal is a jaguar, and Puma is making him a believer. "In Lucha Underground, I will show the glory"...
Powell's POV: A good introductory video package with Puma going through a sparring session and Konnan delivering a sit-down promo. Puma is better known as Ricochet and he's a hell of a talent. I like the way they introduced him rather than just throwing him in the ring. Konnan is an elite talker and I like the pairing.
2. Sexy Star vs. Son of Havoc. Star made her entrance down the steps across from the hard camera and had a winged-like outfit. Vampiro said Star is a star in Mexico. They aired an introductory vignette for Star, who spoke about fighting for girls. She said every woman is sexy and every girl is a star. She was also shown fighting male opponents in what looked like a vacant warehouse.
Havoc took the mic and said he wouldn't wrestle a woman. He told her to leave the ring and get herself counted out so she could live to fight another day. Star left the ring and the referee started to count, but she returned at five and attacked Havoc from behind. He knocked her down a couple times. In the end, Star went for a huracanrana, but Havoc caught her with a backbreaker and then pinned her while holding the tights. Vampiro said that if anyone impressed him in the match it was Star...
Son of Havoc pinned Sexy Star.
Striker hyped Mundo vs. Puma for after the break and a graphic showed both men... [C]
Powell's POV: The decision to go with men vs. women rather than separate divisions is, um, unique? I like that the broadcast team called it as if it wasn't unusual. They took a matter of fact approach, which made intergender match feel acceptable rather than like an over the top gimmick. I have a laptop in front of me so I may have missed it earlier, but that's the first time I actually saw Johnny Mundo, which is odd considering he's the star of the company.
Backstage, Cueto approached a disappointed Chavo Guerrero Jr. and talked down to him for tapping out. He questioned what his grandfather and uncle would think. Cueto said the $100,000 will not be going to Chavo. Cueto said that since Guerrero didn't finish the job, he will have to bring in someone who will next week. "Once this man is here there will be nothing I can do to stop him," Cueto said. "One thousand deaths might be coming for us all"...
Powell's POV: The bad reality show music really takes me out of the moment and makes the segments feel more staged than they need to.
Ring entrances took place for the main event. Strker gushed over Mundo and said he was returning to the ring for the first time in three years. Vampiro said Striker should just take him to dinner. Konnan came out before Pump and hyped the crowd on the stairs that sit across from the hard camera, then Puma made his entrance and slapped hands with fans before entering the ring... [C]
3. Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma (w/Konnan). The crowd chanted "Mundo" after the referee started the match. Mundo knocked Puma down with a shoulder block, then Puma kipped up. Mundo flashed a look to show he was impressed. Puma had a cool flurry of crowd-pleasing offense and then performed acrobatics in the ring for a nice pop and a "this is awesome" chant.
Mundo played to the crowd. Vampiro said he wouldn't be doing that while in the ring with Puma, who then took advantage of it and went back on the offensive. They took the fight to ringisde where Mundo used the broadcast table to flip over Puma, then when Puma turned toward him he ran him into the ring post. Back in the ring, Mundo got a two count.
Puma played to the crowd and took a punch to the kidneys. "Don't get cocky, kid," Vampiro said while channeling his inner Han Solo. Puma came back with a clothesline and over strikes before hitting a springboard cross body block for a two count. Puma went for a standing moonsault but landed on his feet when Mundo moved, then Puma performed a standing shooting star press onto Mundo.
Mundo came back and hit a running knee for a two count. Mundo dragged Puma to the corner, but Puma reached up and rolled him up for a two count. Mundo came back with a kick off the ropes and got a two count of his own. Morrison caught Puma with another knee to the head. Puma came back with a springboard into double knees for a two count.
Puma went for a 450 splash, but Mundo moved. Mundo hit the Moonlight Drive and covered Puma, who kicked out at the last moment. Mundo showed frustration. Mundo performed a standing Spanish Fly and then hit his finisher for the win. The broadcast team stood and applauded along with the fans.
Johnny Mundo defeated Prince Puma in 12:35.
Striker questioned whether Mundo had earned the $100,000 that Cueto promised the person who impressed him most. In the ring, Mundo and Puma took turns raising hands. Cueto walked to the ring with a briefcase and a microphone. Cueto congratulated Mundo and told him "you earned this" while showing him the money.
Mundo tried to take the briefcase, but Cueto pulled it away. Two unnamed wrestlers hit the ring and attacked Mundo. A third man (Ezekiel Jackson) came out slowly. Eventually, the big man (Jackson) got the better of Morrison and then the other two put the boots to him. Jackson performed a big chokeslam on Mundo and left him lying.
Cueto said it's not just luchadores who compete in his temple. He said he is bringing in the best fighters in the world and the three men work for him. Cueto welcomed viewers to Lucha Underground. Striker said the lines have been drawn to close the show...
Powell's POV: A great main event for the first show. As good as Mundo is, Puma looked even more athletic in this match. Mundo was over coming in, and Puma came out of this looking like a star despite losing the match. The other two men who attacked Mundo were Lil Cholo and Ricky Reyes. The focus was on Zeke. None of them were given names.
Overall, a fun first effort from Lucha Underground. There are definitely some soap opera cheese elements that don't work for me, but I like the look of the studio, the work of the broadcast team, and the bulk of the talent. I could definitely do without the tired heel promoter routine. Still, I look forward to seeing future installments of the show.
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