7/29/15 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
The first night of Lucha Underground’s Ultima Lucha felt like a very good episode of Lucha Underground, but not a spectacle befitting a once-annual show. Yes, Dario Cueto wore a tuxedo and drank champagne as he continued to antagonize Black Lotus. Yes, the matches had decisive finishes that help to reset the narrative clock in the promotion. In fact, I found the show to be very enjoyable; it’s just that I expected something more grandiose for the biggest show of the year. In effect, the episode was the bottom third of a PPV card and it felt like that.
Drago def. Hernandez in a Believer’s Backlash Match
Perhaps the thing that left me feeling most unfulfilled was the fan involvement stipulation in this match. From the moment Cueto announced the gimmick, it was obvious that it would be scripted, which took all of the excitement out of it. I appreciate LU’s willingness to try new types of matches constantly and they have a very high batting average, but this one did not land very well.
As one would expect, the match revolved around Hernandez using his strength to thwart Drago’s attacks. Drago’s only respite came when the fans helped him and whipped Hernandez with their leather straps. That intervention allowed Drago to recover enough to block a splash with his knees and hit a tornado DDT. Even after that offense, Drago could not keep Hernandez down with his arm-bar pinning combination.
Hernandez started to fight back and delivered a Border Toss from the ring to the fans on the floor. He tried to follow it with a plancha, and Drago met him with a mouthful of yellow mist in the face as he came over the top rope. Drago delivered a splash through a table on the dazed Hernandez and another splash in the ring to get the pin and leave the fans feeling good at the end of the first night of Ultima Lucha.
Disciples of Death def. Angelico, Ivelisse, and Son of Havoc to Become Trios Champions
The babyface team was at its typical constant disadvantage with Ivelisse’s leg still in a walking boot. The Disciples overtook them with a three-on-two advantage in the early part of the match and kept the control until Havoc and Angelico delivered a series of suicide dives. Havoc had to recover to rescue Ivelisse from a leg lock submission that would have ended the match.
A cloud of anticipation hung over the match as the fans waited to see what Angelico would do to top his recent crazy stunts. He finally delivered with a splash from atop Cueto’s office to the floor below. It was an insane risk and looked amazing, though the impact was damped by the fact that we have seen him take similar plunges twice before.
With everyone down around the ring, Catrina raised her mythical stone to awaken her team. Ivelisse jumped her from behind and they brawled in the ring. Catrina hit her with the stone to recapture it and reenergize the Disciples. Trece came into the ring and pinned Ivelisse to get the win.
While the Disciples have not done enough to truly get over as of yet, this match was a good step in that direction. Catrina is an effective manager and the mystical power gimmick is enticing enough to elevate them above irrelevancy. If anything, what this match lacked was time. LU had the challenge of fitting three PPV-quality matches into about 45 minutes of airtime and this was the one that got short-shrift.
Cage def. The Mack in a Falls Count Anywhere Match
Even though this match was only added to the card a week ago and had the weakest supporting storyline, the wrestled delivered with a strong performance and both came out of it looking better than before. Cage jumped Mack during the entrance on the bleachers and a brawl broke out immediately. Mack hit an exploder suplex on the wooden bleachers and the proceeded to trade shots with a chair, a stop sign, a 2×4, and a fire extinguisher. Mack found a cooler full of beer, took a swig of Miller Lite, and hit Cage with a Stone Cold Stunner while Matt Striker channeled Jim Ross on commentary.
Mack stayed in control and got one near fall after another. He hit a sit-down powerbomb off of the apron through a table. He followed it with a spinebuster onto a trash can. Each time, Cage got closer to a three count, but kicked out at the last second. Finally, they fought with one another as they climbed the stairs and ended up atop Cueto’s office. Cage floored Mack with a discus clothesline and a vertical suplex on the roof. He held Mack perilously above a cinder block and stomped his head through it to knock him out and end the match.
It was a hot way to open the show that got some of the heat back on the talented Cage that has dissipated over the last months. My only complaint is that the white-on-black guy curb stomp evokes some hideous historical memories that I’d rather not see on a wrestling show.