NXT TakeOver: Dallas Results and Analysis

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It’s Wrestlemania weekend, and you know what that means. Yes, it’s time for the most anticipated show of the year so far. No, not Wrestlemania 32. The show everyone’s been waiting for is NXT TakeOver: Dallas.

NXT shows have been outperforming their main roster counterparts for well over a year now so it is only fitting they get their very own Pay Per View sized event just before the company’s flagship event, Wrestlemania.

TakeOver was held in front of a packed crowd in the Kay Bailey Hutchinson Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. The card was never going to disappoint so the real question going into this event was just how high they would set the bar that Wrestlemania would then fail to hurdle over.

With the preshow quickly out of the way, Manny Andrade defeated Christopher Girard and then Apollo Crews defeated Elias Samson, it was straight into the non-stop action of the main card.

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NXT Tag Team Championship Match- American Alpha vs. The Revival (c).

This was something that every fan watching around the world was excited for. American Alpha have shot up the rankings in the tag team division and have become one of the most beloved and talented tandems in all of wrestling. They blend their amateur styles perfectly and create wrestling magic when they lock up with opponents. Opposite them you have The Revival who, as will be mentioned in every article regarding them, are a true throwback team. They put one in the mind of The Fabulous Freebirds or The Minnesota Wrecking Crew. Their style is no nonsense and to the point, as is pointed out by their saying of ‘No flips, just fists’.

Right out of the gate these two teams brought it as Gable used his Olympic wrestling background to tie up Scott Dawson and take the advantage. From there they had a nice back and forth with momentum swinging like a pendulum.

Dash and Dawson used their now patented heel tactics to get the advantage and keep it. They isolated Gable for much of the match, starving him of support and working him over in the typical Revival fashion. This lead to the highest point of the match as Gable, through an innovative sequence, got the hot tag to Jordan who cleared the ring in an impressive display of power.

The end came via AA’s Assisted Back Suplex and thus new champions were crowed much to the delight of the fans who had also been entertaining throughout. Chants of “Which one’s Dash, which one’s Dawson” were brilliant and highlighted the small problem that this team have not carved out individual personalities for themselves. They also made sure to get a “Botchamania” chant going when Revival messed up a Double Team Powerbomb spot. Said botch is the only real reason why this match does not get a perfect rating, along with another smaller blown spot shortly after.

All around though, this was a tremendous match and from here you should expect to see Revival move on up to the main roster where their services are desperately needed.

Winners and New NXT Tag Team Champions: American Alpha.

Match Grade: A

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Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries.

Ask any fan and they will tell you that this is the match they were least hyped for, excluding the preshow contests. That shouldn’t be taken as a comment on the debuting Austin Aries, who is a world class competitor and someone who has made an immediate connection with the NXT crowd. No, instead it should be seen as a knock on Corbin who just doesn’t have that connection with the audience.

To be fair, Corbin has been improving week after week in front of your eyes and is now a good performer who has his heel character down to a tee. Despite this he still gets Roman Reigns heat thrown at him as he is seen as a poor worker, undeserving of his spot. This match was his chance to silence those critics and produce something great with ‘The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived’, Austin Aries.

It was hardly a showstopper of a contest but it did prove that Corbin can hang with a veteran like Aries. He dominated the majority of the match with big clubbing blows and an impactful Deep Six on the outside. Aries fired back with hard forearm shots and dropkicks. Nothing stands out as a mark out moment but the right man won as the debuting A Double countered the End of Days into a roll up for the pin.

Corbin looked strong as he took the fight to his popular opponent, and Aries started his WWE career on a high note.

Winner: Austin Aries.

Match Grade: B-

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Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura.

Oh boy, was this ever good. For those of you who don’t know, Shinsuke Nakamura is a Japanese legend dubbed ‘King of Strong Style’. Strong style is a type of wrestling innovated and popularised in Japan and it basically consists of hitting your opponent, for real, as hard as you can. Just to reiterate, Shinsuke is the king of that style. Do not take this man lightly, despite his somewhat goofy demeanor, he will knock your teeth out.

On the other hand, Sami Zayn is also an Indy favourite who is no stranger to competing in the most brutal matches around. He has made a name for himself as one of the toughest, pluckiest guys in the industry and is undoubtedly one of the best wrestlers on the planet. So it should be no surprise to you that this match was also being waited on with feverish anticipation. It delivered.

Shinsuke didn’t sacrifice what brought him to the dance in order to appease the WWE higher ups, in fact he worked just as stiff as he always has, likely because Sami can take it. Zayn answered this new challenge by putting a little more pepper behind his strikes too and what resulted was, as the legendary JR would say, a good ol’ fashioned slobberknocker.

The two men teed off on each other with vicious forearms and jaw rattling knees. Shinsuke, being more versed in this game, got the better of Zayn in the exchanges using his long legs and MMA background to his distinct advantage. Take nothing away from Zayn though, he looked a million bucks out there as the two produced pure magic in that ring together.

With debuting Japanese wrestlers, the theme in the past has been to make the racist caricatures. That is no longer the case in NXT as they are shown the proper respect and that has allowed for one of the greatest wrestlers alive today to bring his unique personality over to WWE and entertain millions alongside Zayn. Every fan sat at home was echoing the crowd’s sentiments as they chanted “Fight forever”. Who wouldn’t want to see more of those brutal strikes coupled with stunning technical displays like the Arm Bar transitioned into the Triangle Choke?

In the end Shinsuke Nakamura won with his newly renamed Kinshasa, which is a violent running knee to the skull. This was likely Sami’s last match before going up to the main roster permanently and it is hard to think of a more fitting send off for the life blood of NXT.

Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura.

Match Grade. A+

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NXT Women’s Championship Match- Asuka vs Bayley (c).

From one hard hitting Japanese worker to another, Asuka looked to take home the Women’s title in this also highly anticipated matchup. Asuka burst onto the scene in NXT late last year and made an immediate impression as the softly spoken killer who damn near takes her opponents heads off with her kicks and breaks them with deep submissions.

Acting as the polar opposite to her, Bayley is the beloved underdog who has managed to retain her championship against impossible odds and has won the adoration of every fan in the process. These two vastly disparate women do have one thing in common though, they can wrestle better than almost anyone else.

That being said, it is important to realise that this was never going to be as good as the matches involving the Four Horsewomen. Those had so much of a buzz going into them and featured the four best female workers in the business so it would be unfair to expect the same levels from this match. However, that didn’t mean it couldn’t deliver big in its own way.

Much like with the contest that came before it, both of these competitors unloaded on each other with impactful shots. Asuka kicked and punched her way through a feisty Bayley, who in turn punched her right back.

The real highlight here was the excellent submission work between two women which saw Bayley catch an attempted kick and turn into a Knee Bar that proved she has a resilient move set any wrestler would be proud of. For her part, Asuka caught Bayley in a Flying Arm Bar which, no matter how many times it is seen, will always be a thing of beauty.

The ending is where this match really loses point though. Bayley was locked in the Asuka Lock and rather than tapping out she fought on and eventually passed out. There was a time when this was incredible effective at generating sympathy and respect for a tough face but it has become such a commonplace finish that it has been rendered somewhat useless. Still, everyone should rejoice that Bayley will now head on up to the main roster where she belongs and Asuka can take her chance at leading the Women of NXT.

Winner and New NXT Women’s Champion: Asuka.

Match Grade: B+

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NXT Championship Match- Samoa Joe vs. Finn Balor (c).

Before the contest had even begun the tone was set for this energetic encounter as Balor made his way to the ring brandishing a chainsaw. Get it? Because they’re in Texas. It actually made for yet another iconic Balor entrance, just as the Jack the Ripper costume did in London. It does make you wonder what he’ll do when they wrestle in a town that doesn’t have a famous serial killer attached to it. Or one that isn’t fictional/weirdly iconic, he can hardly come out dressed as Ted Bundy now, can he?

Costume based ponderings aside, it was time for the undisputed match of the evening. That’s before the bell even rang, by the way. Nobody could argue that this was what people really paid to see. The rivalry between these two top tier athletes had been incredibly intense for months now as they both fought over the championship and over a shattered friendship.

Their encounter in London was incredible but something told fans that this was going to be even better.

No sooner had the bell rung, Joe was bleeding from above his left eye as the two bashed heads in the centre of the ring. The sight of his blood running down his face only heightened the drama as they continued to pummel one another. Joe even threw Balor over the guard rail and took out a security guard seated behind it.

Fans, and Joe, became agitated however when the Referee and medical staff continuously paused the match to tend to the cut above Joe’s eye. Now, wrestler safety should always be paramount but these guys are no strangers to being busted open and you could see that Joe just wanted to continue with the match, knowing the blood added to things. He even nodded along as the crowd chanted “Fuck PG”, a sentiment everyone can agree on.

Despite the interruptions, these two men still rallied and put on some of the most intelligently paced, interestingly performed, and main event worthy action you are likely to see in a WWE ring. They left it all in the ring as both men clobbered one another with heavy hands and hit their finishers for a series of false finishes. The crowd was on the edge of its seat when the ref finally counted three on Joe and they erupted when Balor once again retained his NXT Championship.

Some will definitely have thought the Joe was taking home the title but this is a better move. What needs to be done now is for Balor to reign until the next TakeOver where he can drop the belt to whoever is most promising at that time and then move on up to Raw. As for Joe, it’s time for him to debut on the main roster and you should expect to see that the night after Wrestlemania. The ideal scenario? Have him beat the hell out of AJ Styles and start the feud of the year off with a bang.

Winner and Still NXT Champion: Finn Balor.

Match Grade: A+

This was an event that featured two A+ matches. Call it generous grading if you must but there can be no denying that this show delivered from start to finish. The commentary team actually called the action in the ring, the wrestlers actually wrestled like they loved the business and knew what they were doing, and the fans were on top form throughout all of it.

NXT is the premier brand in wrestling right now and this event was a perfect example of why that is.

Match of the Night: Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe

Highlight of the Night: American Alpha winning the Tag Team Championships.

Most Underwhelming Match of the Night: Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries.

Event Grade: A+

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NXT TakeOver: Dallas Results and Analysis

Lucha Underground S2 Ep5 Review

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With the obligatory cut scene out of the way the night of Lucha action got off to a great start with an eerie video package showing Pentagon Jr speaking to his Master. Since the first episode fans have been asking whether or not they would be seeing the return of Vampiro to the screen as, at the moment, he is just Ian Hodgkinson and not indulging in his darker side. This segment seemed to hint that that darkness is only a scratch beneath the surface which should lead to some very cool moments in the future.

Jack Evans vs. PJ Black.

This was another case of questionable booking as neither man was in a position to comfortably take a loss. Evans defeated Drago the previous week and cut a scintillating heel promo that made his presence felt for the first time since he debuted in the company. Black had only had one match in the company and he, quite bafflingly, lost it so to lose a second match would risk doing serious harm to his standing in the fans eyes. Still, this was sure to be entertaining despite those glaring problems.

Entertaining it was. Before the bell even sounded, Evans took the microphone and cockily introduced himself as the ‘Dragon Slayer’ which referenced his win over Drago previously. Once the match got going, Black started out with some of the most impactful strikes of the night and knocked Evans silly early on. In fact, Black looked like the better man throughout the contest as he outwrestled Evans and showcased what has made him such a popular competitor on the Indy circuit. Evans proved to be no slouch though as he fired back with some tremendous acrobatics including a breathtaking Springboard Windmill Kick.

Ultimately this match would not be decided through either man being superior to the other as Drago interfered and accidentally sprayed some green mist into the eyes of Black instead of the intended target of Evans. That allowed Evans to win with yet another backslide.

It is a shame that PJ Black lost yet again but he does now seem to be entrenched in this feud with Drago and Evans so things may well be looking up for him yet.

Winner: Jack Evans.

Killshot vs. King Cuerno.

Last season these two men engaged in a small feud with one another ad it produced some very enjoyable television. They never really stole the show but it was definitely something worth revisiting. Thankfully, the tensions that existed between them then had not dissipated when this match came about and it made for a very hard hitting contest.

It was obvious from the outset that Cuerno would win. He had to, he was on track to challenge Mil Muertes down the line and had been a highly featured performer for a long while now. Killshot on the other hand can claim no such accolades.

Despite the inevitability of the match, Killshot still managed to look strong as he laid into Cuerno with heavy strikes, mostly consisting of stinging kicks. He also reversed an attempted Tombstone Piledriver into a variant of a lungblower which was a sight to behold. It was never going to be a happy ending for him though as Cuerno hit the Thrill of the Hunt and took home the victory.

Killshot was subject to a further beating afterwards too but Fenix made the save which nicely furthered the intense rivalry between Cuerno and Fenix.

Winner: King Cuerno.

Gauntlet Match- Texano vs. The Crew and Chavo Guerrero.

This match came as something of a surprise as typically LU only has three matches per show and with the main event already set this made for four matches overall. So, a surprise it may have been but was it a good one?

Eh, it was okay. Nobody expects a classic bout from a gauntlet match. Its only real purpose is to further a feud and make the heels look cowardly by using their numbers to their advantage whilst making the face look strong as he valiantly fights through a horde of enemies. This match didn’t deviate from that at all.

Mr. Cisco entered first, ate a Superkick and was pinned with ease. You might feel sorry for the guy if he wasn’t such a poor worker. Cortez Castro entered next and shockingly he actually got in a large amount of offense before being defeated via a Sitout Powerbomb. Castro is a guy who could be doing more than he currently is in LU but being saddled with The Crew is keeping him from reaching his fully potential. Still, it was nice to see him look like a credible threat to the much bigger star of Texano.

Finally, Chavo got into the ring to square off with his rival. As any fan would have expected he blindsided Texano and pressed the advantage afforded to him by his lackeys. In the end he scored a tainted win via interference from The Crew. It was a run of the mill outing and nothing any of these men will look back on with anything other than indifference, just as the fans will too.

Winner: Chavo Guerrero and The Crew.

After all that action it was finally time for a few video segments. The first saw Dario Cueto and Black Lotus standing outside their new temple as the cries of the victims inside filtered out. Dario told Lotus the tale of his abusive mother and how, when he stood up to her, she came at him with a hot iron. He said he would have been killed that day if it weren’t for his brother, Motunza, grabbing a red bull statue and caving her head in. He now carries that statue around with him as a keepsake. Delightful.

The second video was equally dark in tone as Pentagon Jr confronted Catrina in a disused ring somewhere in the arena. He demanded a rematch with Prince Puma and somehow the two ended up fighting. Pentagon got the upper hand for a moment before Catrina used those old mystical powers of hers and teleported half way across the ring. It was an odd segment but the message was clear, Pentagon is coming for Puma and you do not mess with Catrina.

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Cage vs. Johnny Mundo.

Finally, it was main event time and after weeks of being on the back foot against his much stronger foe, Mundo needed to pick a win desperately to retain any credibility in this feud.

The match itself was fantastic. Mundo switched up his style to be far more aggressive than usual as he punched, kicked, and elbowed Cage to try to cut the massive man mountain down to size. He also ultilised his impressive agility and acrobatic ability to out maneuver Cage. One particularly impressive move was a Step Up Tornado Plancha that brought the fans to their feet.

Cage went for the more tried and tested route as he powered his way through Mundo with big clubbing blows and impactful attacks such as his Sitout Albama Slam and Hiptoss Backbreaker. The big man looked untouchable as times but never long enough for Mundo to feel ineffective as the opponent.

Of course, the match would not end cleanly as newcomer Taya came to ringside and provided Mundo with a steel pipe just it looked like Cage would win via his Weapon X finisher. He clobbered Cage with the weapon and picked up his first victory over the muscle bound machine.

No doubt both Mundo and Taya will come to regret their win and subsequent attack on Cage. Fans should be looking forward to the next time these three share TV time as they have been highly entertaining so far.

Winner: Johnny Mundo.

This episode provided fans with yet another hour of entertaining wrestling action. It was not perfect, as some booking decisions will have left people scratching their heads, but it was a much better rounded show than any of the other big companies are offering at the moment and that should see to it that the popularity of Lucha Underground only continues to climb.

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Lucha Underground S2 Ep5 Review

Lucha Underground S2 Ep4 Review

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Going into this episode of Lucha Underground the only match that was announced ahead of time was Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Jr. That promised to be a sure fire classic but the question is, was the rest of the card up to scratch?

Before the typical recap that opens every LU show there was a short backstage segment featuring Sexy Star and The Mack. It seems that Star is now free from Marty’s clutches and has returned to the temple where she runs into The Mack. The implication here is likely to be that Mack will now join the feud with Marty and the debuting female who he has been speaking about for the past few weeks. That is not the upwards trajectory that most would have hoped for him after he defeated PJ Black.

Following the recap there is third video package which shows Ivelisse asking for a Trio’s Title match. She is denied and instead her team is put into a number one contenders match. The only interesting thing to come from this was Catrina announcing that there are no guaranteed rematches for former champions, something that could have a huge bearing on future rivalries and title matches.

Number One Contenders Trios Match- Son of Havoc, Ivelisse, and Angelico vs. The Crew and Chavo Guerrero.

Just as they do every time the former Trio’s champs are on screen, the fans went crazy for this unlikely group. All three have the potential to break out at any moment and become top stars for this company but at the same time they are highly valuable staying as a trio too. With them being one of only two true Trios it is likely that they will be staying as they are for the time being.

The Crew and Chavo have had some sort of alliance in the past but they have not previously been an actual team. The Crew used to be a trio with former member Bael before he was kayfabe murdered. Yes, LU actually kills off some characters. With no one really caring about Mr. Cisco, Cortez Castro, or Chavo Guerrero it was clear from the outset how this match was going to go.

Despite the predictability of the outcome this was still a decent contest. A simultaneous three person dive from the favourites was a highlight. They worked much better together in terms of teamwork than they have done in the past and it makes for a much more complete and effective grouping.

The Rudo’s put in some good work as they cut off Ivelisse from her teammates and used underhand tactics to try to keep their advantage. All that really did was make fans clamour for her to fight back and make the tag to one of her partners, which she did to great fanfare.

Ultimately this match was relatively short and ended with Castro being pinned by Angelico. It wasn’t much of a memorable affair but that was slightly made up for by what came after. As Chavo berated his partners for losing, Texano Jr came out and attacked them to signal that his feud with Chavo from last season is far from over. With some luck that means there will be plenty of Texano matches coming up as he is an excellent worker.

Winners and New Number One Contenders: Son of Havoc, Ivelisse, and Angelico.

Up next there’s a Johnny Mundo video designed to build his feud with Cage and his heel character in general. The cockiness put forth by Mundo was highly effective at getting fans to hate him and you should be excited to see a resurgence for this talented grappler here in Lucha Undeground. This man could be, and perhaps should be, the champion.

Last week it was revealed that Catro was actually Officer Reyes and was sent to the Temple to investigate Dario Cueto. It was also revealed that Joey Ryan was also set to debut as an undercover cop. This week saw Ryan’s first venture into the Temple as he mocked Castro over his earlier loss before saying he was going to go out there and show him how it was done.

Joey Ryan vs Cage.

This seems like slightly odd booking as both men needed a win in this match. Joey needed one because this was his debut and losing would put him off to a very weak start, not something that is advised when building a new star. Cage needed one because he was set to challenge Johnny Mundo and, potentially, Mil Muertes so he would need to look absolutely unstoppable if he was to be taken seriously as a challenger. Someone was going to lose out big time.

The match itself started off quite slowly but evolved into a very enjoyable encounter that showcased both men’s vastly different talents.

Cage employed his usual power game and threw Ryan around like he was nothing. The most impressive feats of strength came in the forms of a Hiptoss Backbreaker, Sitout Pumphandle Facebuster, and a Powerbomb onto his knee. All of these moves looked suitably brutal but the one that should have made everyone wince is pain was the finisher that Cage employed this time around. He used the Steiner Screwdriver which is a move that sees the opponent lifted high into the air, turned upside down, and dropped directly on their head. It is banned in the WWE and a good argument could be made for it being banned everywhere, it is a dangerous maneuver.

Joey opted for the strategy of working over his muscle bound foe’s arms. It was nice to see this sort of tactic being employed as it makes sense, unlike a lot of the more flippy offence others utilise. In theory it should have made it impossible for Cage to hoist Joey up for the big impact moves that he loves to hit. It didn’t work out that way, possibly due to a lack of in ring psychology on the part of Cage, but it was still a smart touch that added dimensions to this match.

In the end though Cage took home the victory and Joey Ryan had a very unsuccessful debut. It will no doubt feed into his feud with Castro but that’s of little comfort at this moment.

Immediately after the contest Johnny Mundo made his way down to attack Cage in retaliation for the big man’s actions two weeks ago. He took the early advantage but once again Cage was booked to look like a brick wall as Mundo just sort of bounced off of him following an attempted springboard strike. It ended with Mundo receiving the Weapon X finisher from Cage. Logic would have dictated that Johnny get the upper hand over a battle worn opponent but it looks like he’s being sacrificed to further his rival’s push.

Winner: Cage.

Yet another video package followed on from this and it depicted Rey Mysterio training the new El Dragon Azteca. It was quite the expository fight as Mysterio told Azteca all about his history whilst they grappled. All anyone really wants is to see Mysterio get in the ring and compete in LU but it seems the wait is far from over on that front. It had better be a damn good match when he finally does show up.

Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Jr.

Finally, the match that everyone had been waiting for was on and the fans were divided between the two combatants.

It is weird to say that Pentagon Jr has become one of the most popular Luchadores in the company as his whole character revolves around him breaking people’s arms. For whatever reason though that has gotten him over with the crowd in a big way and it can’t be denied that he is hugely entertaining.

Prince Puma is a far different type of wrestler as he plays a much more virtuous role. In recent weeks though that has been put to the test as he faces more and more hardship and the anger inside him grows. Therein lies the hook for this match, would Puma finally snap?

The offence was just as fast paced as you would expect from these two men and it made for some truly spectacular moments. Puma hit a picture perfect Running Moonsault from the ring to the outside that just highlighted his incredible athleticism. Pentagon was no slouch either as he hit a much more impactful looking Float-Over Backstabber that could realistically have finished the match there and then. The real treat though was the series of reversals that both men employed that served to showcase how well they know one another and how skilled they are at adapting on the fly. One such move saw Puma try for a Springboard 450 Splash only to land on the knees of Pentagon and get rolled up for a two count.

The excellent bout come to an end when Pentagon went for a submission win with a Surfboard Stretch only for Puma to slide backwards and pin him. It looked for a moment like both men’s shoulders would be down for the three but Puma arched his back at the last moment and secured his victory.

Pentagon took the defeat badly and promptly Superkicked the referee. Puma then ko’d him with a beautiful kick of his own that looked strong enough to take Pentagon’s head off. Then came an interesting moment. Puma signaled that he was going to break Pentagon’s arm with the same move he had used to break so many others. It caused the fans to come to edge of their seats as they questioned whether or not this through and through good guy could actually be pushed to taking out an opponent in such a way. Of course, Puma let him go but it was a tense end to a good night of wrestling action.

Winner: Prince Puma.

Overall this was a fairly good episode but it was far from the best. There were too many poorly booked moments that just didn’t click and as a result most of this show won’t be remembered by fans. The main event pushed the episode out of meh status though and once again proved that LU have struck gold with Prince Puma and Pentagon Jr. They should serve as the top starts in this promotion for a long time to come.

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Lucha Underground S2 Ep4 Review

Lucha Underground S2 Ep3 Review

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Another week, another episode of Lucha Underground. The brand has become synonymous with the peak of quality wrestling over the course of its short existence. That’s not to say that there haven’t been off days though, so would this latest episode fall into that miniscule category?

The show started off with a recap of the first episode of the season. Typically, when this happens it is an indicator that the evenings action would build upon those events and this proved to be no exception. Since the first episode was so good it should be taken as a very positive sign that it was to influence this one.

Bengala vs. Kobra Moon.

Moving on from the quick recap the action started early with a match right out of the gate. This contest saw the returning Bengala take on the debuting Kobra Moon in another of The Temple’s famous inter-gender matches.

The first thing you will notice before the match even begins is that Bengala is carrying more than a little extra mass around his midsection. Flabby luchadores are not a rarity by any means but it is still a jarring sight in a promotion that specialises in fast paced action.

The match itself was a relatively short affair but it served as a decent introduction for Kobra Moon. She pulled off some impressive high risk offence including a picture perfect Springboard Hurricanrana to the outside of the ring. She mixed up her style with a series of kicks and knees that, whilst not terrible, lacked the impact that many other performers put into such strikes. They came off as a little weak and it is something she will need to work on in the future.

Bengala, despite his bulky appearance, pulled off some nice, speedy offence that kept the pace at an exciting level. Ultimately though he was only there to put over Kobra and the amount of offence he got in reflected that fact. He certainly didn’t come off looking strong after this contest as he submitted to a variation of a Dragon Sleeper dubbed the ‘Snake Sleeper’.

The issue here was that neither competitor was defined as either a Tecnico or a Rudo. This creates a situation where the crowd doesn’t really know who to cheer and who to boo and as such their energy and interest levels are diminished quite appreciably. It would be nice to see Kobra get a clearer character with future appearances.

Winner: Kobra Moon.

A video package played next and in it Fenix entered Catrina’s office to ask her for another match with King Cuerno. It was granted and thus the main event was set. There isn’t too much else to say about this exchange as it was rather short and to the point.

The next video to air was a little longer and saw two members of an ancient Aztec tribe summon the cosmic luchador known as Aerostar. The message of the piece was not entirely clear other than to reintroduce Aerostar to fans and set up his return to the ring. It will be nice to see him back in action as he was one of the highlights of the first season.

For the third video fans were taken backstage where Cuerno was interrupted mid workout by Catrina. This was another particularly short affair but the gist is that she threatened him a little just in case he was thinking of betraying Mil Muertes and then she ordered him to ‘kill’ Fenix in their match up which was revealed to be a Last Luchador Standing match.

Jack Evans vs. Drago.

In season one several performers stood out and became unbelievably popular with the ‘True Believers’. One of the most notable examples of this is Drago who used his unique character and offence to win over just about everybody watching. It didn’t hurt that part of his storyline saw him beat the loathsome talent vacuum, Hernandez.

Jack Evans got a lot less screen time during that season but he still made an impression as he carried over the cocky Rudo character he portrays so successfully in AAA. The man is a human highlight reel and as such it was only natural that he would find a comfortable place for himself in Lucha Underground.

The expected set up for this contest would be for it to be a highflying encounter full of big spots. That was not the case here though as the two talented men changed things up a little by spending a good portion of the match trading strong strikes and flashy but relatively grounded maneuvers. Matt Striker played this up perfectly on commentary as he quipped that the first man to hit a high impact move would likely take this match.

That big moment came when Drago leapt from the top turnbuckle onto the outside and took out Jack. It would not be the finish though as the two would return to the ring an engage in more fast paced match up from there on out. Still though the most impressive and impactful moments came from not-so-flashy moves such as Drago’s Top Rope Hung DDT as well as his brutal looking Inside Out Blockbuster which could conceivably break a man’s neck.

In the end though the match came to a close via a Backslide variation by Evans who used the ropes to gain the pinfall. Afterwards he took the microphone a cut a nice little promo in which he dubbed himself ‘The Dragon Slayer’. That should lead to this feud continuing for a little while now and, after this match, that should be seen as a very good thing indeed.

Winner: Jack ‘The Dragon Slayer’ Evans.

Once that match was done it was back to more videos and the first one hyped the return of El Texano Jr. For those who don’t know, Texano is one of the best Luchadores around despite not being a highflyer. His no nonsense style has led to some classic encounters with the likes of Alberto El Patron and will no doubt lead to many more highly enjoyable matches in the coming weeks and months. It is good to see him back even if was just in another weird fight scene this time set in a bar.

The second segment hyped up the Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Jr match up set to take place next week. Catrina once again popped up and taunted Puma over the kayfabe death of his mentor, Konnan. It was a good package and no one can deny that Puma vs. Pentagon is going to be a fantastic contest.

Last Luchador Standing Match- Fenix vs. King Cuerno.

These two men opened the first show of season two a few weeks back and had an unbelievably good encounter. They work so well against one another that it was inevitable that Lucha Underground would revisit the pairing in relatively quick fashion. To place it in a match as brutal as this stipulation though? That was the real stroke of genius.

Both fighters have shown themselves to excel in violent match types. Fenix had a series of incredible contests with Mil Muertes last season that were the absolute epitome of car crash TV. Cuerno had similarly brutal meetings with Drago and Prince Puma that established him as a top contender in the company.

Expectations were undoubtedly high heading into such a match-up between these men and they did not disappoint. Fenix played the role of the plucky underdog to perfection as he took a savage beating and just kept on getting up, dusting himself off, and fighting back. Cuerno was every bit the merciless hunter that he has been built to be since fans first saw him. The two men used their environment to their advantage and the result was hard to look away from.

These matches are always lacking in the WWE as there is a fear in that company of pushing the envelope, not so at Lucha Underground. It wasn’t just the flashy moves that brought about a fever pitch in the crowd, although they were pretty damn spectacular. It was the fact that the level of violence made sense. They weren’t holding back on one another and that made for a more immersive experience as it would be utterly idiotic for two men trying to completely incapacitate one another to avoid anything too painful as they do in WWE.

They threw one another around the arena and performed big, mark out moment, moves such the most impressive Arrow from the Depths of Hell you are likely to see and two incredible Springboard Tornado Planchas. The final spot though was the real standout moment as Cuerno toppled back off of a ladder and crashed through a table below. Such table spots may not be all that much of a rarity but the impact of this one was something that isn’t seen too often and it definitely sold the end of this match to perfection.

This feud is highly unlikely to be over and you should be excited to see where they are going to go next as this bitter rivalry continues to evolve.

Winner: Fenix.

The final video of the night showed Cortez Castro revealed as an undercover cop looking to take down former Lucha Underground boss, Dario Cueto. It was a very confusing twist as Castro has done some very illegal things whilst competing in the organization, such as burning a man’s eye with a lit cigar. It also seemed a little unnecessary as a new undercover cop character was introduced during the same segment in the form on the debuting Joey Ryan. Surely it would have made more sense just to introduce Ryan without including Castro in such a convoluted manner. Either way though it was good to see Joey Ryan enter the world of Lucha Underground.

This episode, whilst not the best there has been, was a brilliant example of why every wrestling fan should be watching Lucha Underground. The action was exciting and a breath of fresh air in an increasingly stale world of wrestling. It’s no surprise that a third season of this show has already been green lit.

Lucha Underground S2 Ep3 Review

Lucha Underground S2 Ep2 Review

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Lucha Underground returned with a bang last week and it delivered in a big way. This week it was the turn of a different set of Luchadores to do battle, could they repeat the success of the previous episode?

The show started out similarly to the last one with a recap of the relevant events from Ultima Lucha. There’s not much to say about the video other than that it set up the events that followed fairly well for any new viewers.

Following on from this there was another video package that showed Prince Puma and Pentagon Jr backstage talking about their upcoming handicap match with The Disciples of Death as well as potentially challenging Mil Muertes. Well, technically it only showed Pentagon talking as Puma does not speak. Regardless, it led to an oddly choreographed fight between the two. These exchanges have become commonplace in this Grindhouse style promotion but they haven’t gotten any less bizarre. Wrestling is obviously highly choreographed but the action still flows at a natural pace and, when done correctly, doesn’t look overly forced. These backstage skits are the complete opposite of that in ring action in that they are very clearly overacted and horrendously fake looking. Despite that fact the video still did a decent job of hyping their match up.

Before the handicap battle could happen there were two other matches that needed to take place, the first of which featured two very exciting LU favourites.

Johnny Mundo vs. Killshot.

Mundo was arguably the most over guy in the promotion when it first aired over a year ago. He brought some big name recognition with him and put on some of the finest performances of his career against the likes of Alberto El Patron, Prince Puma, and surprisingly Big Ryck. He seemed like the sure fire favourite to win the LU Championship when it was first introduced but ended up losing out to Puma. Since that point he has floundered a little bit and struggled to find his feet, although a heel turn at the end of the last season did wonders for his trajectory.

Killshot had a very different time in season one. He didn’t come into the promotion until a lot later in the game than Mundo and when he did it was as a part of a very short lived tandem consisting of him, The Mack, and Big Ryck. With the fairly small amount of screen time he was afforded he set himself apart from many of the other luchadores with his unexpectedly exciting offence. He uses his height to unleash some impressive kicks but also takes to the air with ease.

With all this being know you may expect a showdown between these two talents to be an outstanding contest. You’d be wrong. It was serviceable and by no means a poor match but there was nothing all that special about it either. Killshot did get in a beautiful moonsault over the top rope to the outside but that was the only particularly memorable moment. Mundo won through a combination of the worst ref bump in a long while and a not very impactful End of the World.

The more entertaining moments came after the match when the gargantuan Cage returned to The Temple and seemingly turned face immediately. Since he was one of the top heels last time this does seem a tad unusual but there’s no denying the fans were into it in a big way. He challenged Muertes for the title and got in some smack talk about Mundo before offering to fight him on the spot. Mundo backed away only to return and cheap shot him shortly afterwards. Cage still got the advantage and sent Mundo scurrying away again.

Winner: Johnny Mundo (Although it’s Cage that looked like a star after this).

Following on from this there were yet more video packages. The first saw the continuation of the storyline that sees Marty ‘The Moth’ Martinez holding Sexy Star captive. This story will likely pick up when both performers return to the ring but for the moment it is suitably creepy and definitely very different to anything you’re likely to see in one of the bigger companies.

The second video was the more exciting of the two, despite being a little silly, as it hyped up the debut of PJ Black. In the clip he was shown having another one of those strangely pieced together fights with two masked bikers. Nobody really cares what he was doing though, all that matters is that The Darewolf is in Lucha Underground. Even better, his first match was next.

The Mack vs. PJ Black.

This match had so much potential to be excellent. PJ is a proven competitor with a history of putting on fantastic contests on the Indies. Mack is a big dude who can move like a cruiserweight and is incredibly impressive to watch in the ring. For whatever reason though this just didn’t come together all that well.

The action was stunted and poorly paced, neither man seemed to find their rhythm and, even with an electric crowd, it just fell a little flat.

On top of this something a little odd happened, PJ lost. Now LU tends to go with shocking results over ones that make more traditional sense at least once an episode but to have an incoming big name guy lose to someone who hasn’t been pushed consistently in his whole run is just weird booking. Even if the finish hadn’t been a botched Catching Cutter it would have still been off putting to see Black lose for no discernable reason. You have to give new talent a little momentum to work with if you plan on using them in a meaningful capacity and this is not the way to do that.

All that being said, The Mack does deserve a push so let’s at least hope that he gets one after this win. Let it not be in vain.

Winner: The Mack.

To keep with the theme of debuting stars the next thing to run was a promotional video for a new female Luchador named Kobra Moon. It’s not a great name but she did come off as a somewhat believable threat in the footage so here’s hoping she goes on to be an asset to the company.

The Disciples of Death vs. Prince Puma and Pentagon Jr.

Following on from last week’s climatic moments which saw Puma and Pentagon both attack Muertes, the two men found themselves facing his disciples in a handicap contest.

Usually handicap matches aren’t all that entertaining but this one was actually quite enjoyable. The dynamic between Pentagon and Puma was interesting as they showed that they blatantly had no trust for one another and repeatedly let their egos get in the way of winning the match. On the other hand, The Disciples worked particularly well together in a way that they haven’t done before in their relatively short time spent as a trio. It will be exciting to see them defend their Trio’s Championships a little later on from now.

The action featured several pulse raising moments such as a Springboard Shooting Star Press by Puma onto the outside as well as a Somersault Plancha by Pentagon just before it. It was the mismatched pair who delivered all of these moments but Muertes’ goons also got in some less impressive but equally important offence as they kept the pair grounded for a good portion of the match.

In the end it was Pentagon who scored the pin following a 630 Splash by Puma. After the contest the two bickered before coming to blows. Pentagon got the advantage and went to break Puma’s arm just as he has done to many others including Mil Muertes. Puma got out of the hold however and sent Pentagon running from the ring.

The growing feud between this matches victors and Mil Muertes is a promising one and it should build up nicely over the next few weeks before culminating in a huge title match up.

Winner: Pentagon Jr and Prince Puma.

This episode was not anywhere near as spectacular as the first one was but it still retained much of the charm that Lucha Underground fans have come to love. There were hints at what is soon to come and it has to be said that it is an exciting time to be a Lucha fan especially with the reveal of Rey Mysterio in one last video to end the show.

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Lucha Underground S2 Ep2 Review

Lucha Underground S2 Ep1 Review

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When Lucha Underground debuted on the El Rey Network over a year ago it created a revolution in Professional Wrestling. It provided viewers with something completely fresh and innovative, qualities that are sorely lacking in the more mainstream companies including the Indie darling that is ROH.

Through a combination of breathtaking matches, compelling characters, and a built in living, breathing culture, it became hugely popular in a very short space of time. Stars such as Prince Puma, Pentagon Jr, Mil Muertes, Sexy Star, and many others got over in a major way with the crowd who engaged with this product like no other.

When season one came to an end fans were left chomping at the bit for more Lucha Libre action. There were some concerns over the fate of the company after rumours circulated about the possibility of there not being a season two but all that is in the past now as finally Lucha Underground has returned to the screen. It is a huge relief to be able to say that it is still the best thing in wrestling today.

The new episode began with a recap of the ending of Ultima Lucha from last year. For those who had watched the event it was a reminder of how incredible it had been and how oddly poignant the show’s sign off was. For those who weren’t fortunate enough to be a LU fan at the time it was something of an introduction to the character’s although it will more likely have just been a tad confusing for those people as it told nothing of their series long build or individual motivations.

With the reminders out of the way the next thing up was a video package of Vampiro in a mental institute. It makes a certain degree of sense as Vamp turned out to be Pentagon Jr’s master at Ultima Lucha and returned to his former psychotic ways. Now most will have assumed that the continuation of this storyline would have seen Vamp act as a manager to Pentagon and guide him into this season but it appears that, for the time being, this whole angle has been put to one side.

The video saw a psychiatrist evaluate the vampiric one and deem him fit for re-entry into the world. That opinion came with a handful of anti-psychotics and the advice not to return to people or places from his past. The fact that he is immediately picked up by commentary partner, Matt Striker, should show that his new found sanity is not going to last. Although that should have been clear ever earlier when he is shown to be daydreaming about straight up murdering the psychiatrist and the orderlies.

The action moves to the arena after this, or more specifically the boss’s office, as Fenix tries to use his Gift of the Gods Championship to get a World Title match with Mil Muertes that night. Instead the new boss, Catrina, ordered him to defend his own title against King Cuerno and so the first match of the night was set. Though before that happened there was a brilliant shot of Muertes sitting high up in the arena on a throne. The iconography here was very reminiscent of Dia De Los Muertos which is fitting since Catrina is a name closely associated with the festival and the entire aesthetic of the Muertes character and the Temple at large has always been once of death and one that basked in Hispanic, particularly Mexican and Mayan, culture.

Gift of the Gods Championship Match- Fenix (c) vs. King Cuerno.

Both of these men stood out last season as two of the most talented Luchadores in the company. Fenix became wildly popular as a tecnico (good guy) who utilised athletic, highly stylized offence and showed a tremendous deal of resiliency in his brutal battles with Mil Muertes. Cuerno set himself apart as one of the leading Rudo’s (bad guys) of the brand by being relentless in his hunting of the fan favourites. His gimmick of a highly skilled hunter made for a surprisingly compelling character also.

This match was always going to be something special and it did not disappoint. Both men showcased exactly what had made them so popular as Fenix’s athleticism shone through as he bounced around the ring and executed Tornado Plancha’s with ease. He showed off a more technically sound side too as he transitioned from a Springboard Cutter into a Dragon Sleeper. Cuerno, for his part, showed off his well-documented aggression through moves such as an Apron-Hung DDT and a jaw dropping and hard to describe Double-Underhook Tombstone Piledriver which ended the contest.

Both men put forth a match that perfectly encapsulated what LU is all about. The action was fast paced and exciting yet it still told a story. It wasn’t just high spots for the sake of doing them but rather they were done in a way that fit the flow of the match and when it was time to do away with them they were traded out for impact moves and submissions. This is exactly what separated the in-ring action presented on LU from all other Indie promotions in the first place, they give you excitement and sense in equal measure in matches like this and it makes for much more enjoyable viewing.

It was a little surprising to see this title, which is a lot like the MiTB briefcase, change hands on the season opener but surprises like that are big reason to watch this show.

Winner and New Gift of the Gods Champion- King Cuerno.

After this there was backstage interaction between the former Trio’s Champs and Catrina. She informed the turbulent partners that they would be competing against one another and the winner would face Mil for his championship in the main event. Another surprising and exciting prospect.

Number One Contenders Match- Angelico vs. Son of Havoc vs. Ivelisse.

You know how WWE is patting itself on the back for its Diva’s revolution despite the fact they’re doing the same old tired stuff as before? Well LU are actually furthering women in wrestling and if you want proof of that then look no further than this match. Ivelisse, for anyone unaware, is a woman whilst the other two competitors are men.

See, LU don’t just pair the same females up over and over and call it progress because at least they’re on TV. No, instead they show them as tough athletes who are capable of fighting with the men on the roster and winning. Which is exactly what happened here.

The match itself was perfectly good. The crowd were definitely into it as you’d expect since they’ve always had love for all three of these wrestlers. It was a little too short to get too much in the way of action but what they did do was very well done. It may not be possible to get tired of seeing Angelico hit that Shuri Knee as it just screams brutality whenever he connects, especially when he caught Ivelisse square in the jaw.

All three performers got in a good amount of offence and no one left the match looking weak but obviously it was Ivelisse who looked like a million dollars as she picked up the win via a Strong Cradle on Angelico. Meaning she would be pulling double duty as the shot at Mil’s title was up next.

Winner and New Number One Contender- Ivelisse.

Lucha Underground World Championship Match- Mil Muertes (c) vs. Ivelisse.

The odds were never going to be in the plucky challengers favour here as Mil only won the title at the end of the last season having been built up as an unstoppable monster. It would have been a massive surprise, and not necessarily a good one, if they had moved the title off of him in the first show back.

Ivelisse was starved of support early as her partners were attacked by Muertes’ stablemates, The Disciples of Death. This left her all alone to face a wrecking ball of a man, who still had Catrina in his corner.

The booking was pretty much perfect in its working of the crowd and telling of a true underdog story. Ivelisse fought tooth and nail to topple the champ, using her MMA experience to catch him in Guillotine Chokes and Rope Hung Juji Gatame’s. This is where the commentary teams, particularly Striker, showed themselves to be far and away better that the WWE’s teams as they talked up the relevant attributes of Ivelisse and actually made you believe that she was in with a shot. They furthered the story rather than some App or a Network and that helps a show appeal to an audience immeasurably.

Throughout the match she swung wildly at him and even managed to get two near falls that brought the crowd to their feet, the noise of the support for her was immense. Ultimately though she could never get going as Mil would always just bat her down with a clubbing blow.

She rallied well and showed the fire of a champion, which could be something to consider for the future? There’s no reason why a woman couldn’t be World Champion and it wouldn’t need to seem like a politically correct gimmick either as LU already has a history of pushing women as men’s equals.

In the end she fell victim to a Flatliner and lost the match. Muertes attempted to continue his attack at Catrina’s behest but was himself attacked by Prince Puma who rescue Ivelisse. To cap off a fantastic night, Pentagon Jr returned and attacked the champion with a Backstabber and a maneuver he has used in the past to break the arms of his rivals.

Winner and Still Lucha Underground World Champion- Mil Muertes.

All in all, this was a superb show that brought this series back with a bang. Every fan will be looking forward to Wednesdays a whole lot more now as the best wrestling promotion around looks to get people talking week after week with high octane action and actual attention to storylines.

Lucha Underground S2 Ep1 Review