By d9000 8 Comments
Now that the holidays are here and we get a two week break from Lucha Underground I thought it would be a great time to jot down some of my thoughts on what has become one of my favorite wrestling programs around.
In my 3 week review I started by talking about the overall look of the show. Well, the first positive note is that it hasn't changed since then, in fact I think they've continued to improve. It's still highly polished (it's a dirty and dusty polish but polish none the less) and heavily pre-produced. It's a very different feeling than the "live" atmosphere of WWE, ROH or most other promotions. At first it was awkward getting used to this much editing but after one episode it's all good. I may have mentioned it before but the only downside to this is that it makes botches (which do happen from time to time) and stalling (which happens a lot in my opinion) seem far more noticeable. You'd half expect them to simply edit out a slip up or cut to another camera. Luckily it doesn't happen enough be a major issue. Going back to the positives, I feel like they've hit a very good balance with they're backstage segments. They don't overuse them (which was one of my early concerns) and therefor a segment still seems special. They also don't try and tell entire stories behind the curtains. They serve only as little tidbits of interaction to help propel the in-ring action, which is rightfully where the stories should unfold. Some of my favorite segments have been Konnan warning Chavo about backlash from his beatdown of Blue Demon Jr, Johnny Mundo's fight scene on his way to speak to Dario Cueto (not unlike something you'd see on TV's Arrow), and pretty much any segment with Konnan and Cueto (like when Konnan drinks from Cueto's glass which he then proceeds to throw out).
Just like my last review I also need to bring up the announce team of Matt Striker and Vampiro again. They've maintained they're standing as a solid team and I find that Striker is especially good with his play-by-play. He gets in his little digs at the other promotions (which aren't really necessary but whatever) and even finds time to mention comic book and movie characters while still keeping our attention on the match at hand. He also does this cool (creepy) thing with his voice where it lowers down into this gravelly, old man tone. At first I thought this was his "excited" voice but it happens too often for that. On the other side of the table Vampiro is definitely the weaker of the two. He provides decent colour commentary and can back things up with his Spanish accent and supposed street-cred. I suppose there isn't much to criticize but I do find his enthusiasm to sound pretty fake sometimes. He plays a better "too cool for school heel" type but when it's just the two of them he can't really act negative or bad mouth the company without bringing down the whole vibe of the show. I have two notes to make about them and I'll leave it at that:
1) I'd like it if either Striker or Vampiro (or possible a third announcer) could find a higher pitch to use during particularly exciting sequences. Neither of them can do this and it makes me miss people like JR, Joey Styles and even Michael Cole.
2) What is the deal with Vampiro and Konnan?? Vamp takes every opportunity to burn Konnan, saying that he's a snake, he can't be trusted and other things of that nature. I have no problem with a feud between them but I find it strange that Striker NEVER asks about it? He just pretends not to hear him like he's a kid trying not to listen to divorced parents bad mouth each other! Plus Konnan has never mentioned Vampiro in any of his segments so it comes across as Vampiro sounding out of touch. If it all ends up with a big "I told you so" moment it'll all be worth it but we could still use a little back and forth about this issue between the announcers.
Now I could spend a long time talking about the stellar in-ring action that has come out of the show but that would take all day. The main point is that LU has some of the best talent in the world right now and every episode I've watched has had at least one incredible match. Keeping in mind they only run three matches per show so one our of three isn't bad, and that's on a bad day. Most episodes are three matches strong. They kept it very traditional to start with but have expanded to a ladder match, a street fight (or should I say a Boyle Heights Street Fight... waaaaay different) and the impressive two10-man battle royals on episode 8. They managed to make each battle royal have different stipulations and both had a good reward (seemingly). These were all impressive, though the ladder match had a lot of stalling and some weird chemistry. I didn't love the idea that Big Rick (I mean Ryck??) was too big (or scared... or lazy) to actually climb a ladder properly but I'll let it go because it brought in some more fodder for Puma and Johnny to battle with. I'm also VERY excited for the Aztec Warfare Special Event. It's basically a Royal Rumble but with an Aztec vibe to it (I'm guessing there'll be a live sacrifice at some point). It's already spoiled for me from scanning Wikipedia (I was just looking for an up-to-date roster!!) but even at that I'm excited to see how the match plays out. Episode 8 told us who the first and last entrants would be and this alone brings a lot of interest to the table. I feel bad though that the winner of one of the 10-man matches had to end up as the first entrant. That's Dario Cueto for you (what an A-Hole!!).
Anyway, the matches are great, the build up to Aztec Warfare has been great and if you like high flying spots you must watch Lucha Underground.
Before I end this review I just wanted to mention what has become my favorite part of the show. Previously it was the in-ring quality, but now I'd like to shine a light on the amazing talent in the promotion. I think LU has not only done an amazing job of finding great talent but also introducing them properly on air. They started the series with the lead characters like Johnny Mundo, Prince Puma, Chavo Guerrero and Mil Muertes but have gone on to bring in really interesting guys like Drago, Fenix, Pentagon Jr, King Cuerno, Pimpinella Escarlata and basically everyone else. They've even got a few jobbers to go around so it's now a complete roster. I've often considered high flying to be my favorite spots in wrestling and LU provides a ton of it. These guys know what they're doing in terms of pulling off crazy aerial stunts as well as telling stories during the matches. I give them a lot of credit for this as it's been the main reason to keep watching each week.
So far my personal favorite wrestlers are:
- Drago: Best gimmick I've ever seen! This guy is literally a dragon-man...in kayfabe.
- Pentagon Jr: By far my favorite ring attire and makeup EVER!!! (although Devitt is pretty cool too)
- King Cuerno: He gets the award for best hat!
- Prince Puma, Fenix, Johnny Mundo: These guys are so talented it hurts.
- Chavo Guerrero: He's had an amazing heel turn and I like that his arch-enemy is Sexy Star. I'm also looking forward to the return of Blue Demon Jr who has been made all the more interesting by his absence.
In closing, my rating of Lucha Underground remains the same. It's a 5 star show and I think everyone should watch it. We can debate the legality of watching if you want (no I don't get El Ray or Unimas, no I CAN'T get El Ray or Unimas, yes I will find it online wherever I can until it's available legitimately) but you're not doing them any good by not watching. The least I can do, since I'm not contributing monetarily, it to push the show to everyone and tell people how great it is in an attempt to increase interest and hopefully keep this company around long enough for them to get a larger tv deal. I'm looking forward to more fun with LU in 2015.
PS: I can't confirm but I THINK the Lucha Underground Championship belt has magic powers.
PS (also): I've successfully left the cult of WWE and no longer watch Raw, Smackdown or anything else. I miss NXT but that's it. I live off of ROH, LU and on occasion NJPW. Leaving WWE has made me a lot happier about being a wrestling fan and overall my life has improved 10 fold!
PS (again): Please watch Wrestle Kingdom 9 from NJPW. It's on January 4th and it's actually available on standard PPV! Also, what's going on with TNA? What is Destination America and is that a thing? Does anyone watch TNA anymore? TNA?
PS (one last time, I promise): Don't forget about Mascarita Sagrada. He may be small but he is mighty!!!