Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Lucha Underground The Hunt Is On Review

We mostly get right to the action this week, except for Vampiro marking out over Pentagon Jr. so far this season.

Kobra Moon def. Bengala in 3:01
Kobra Moon is a female for hose unaware. She got some "Mamacita" chants early on. Considering Bengala's placement in Lucha Underground for the most part, it was clear this was going to be a showcase for Kobra in her debut. She showed off some athletic moves and sweet kicks. Speaking of kicks, Bengala hit one that was among the loudest I've ever heard. She locked him in the Snake Sleeper, which he fought, but ultimately fell to. About as decent a debut for Kobra working with Bengala, who wasn't very good. At leas she seems to have an interesting character. *1/4

Catrina is in her office and Fenix comes in. Apparently, this gives Catrina a tingle. He wants King Cuerno and Catrina. I mean, so do I. 

After a commercial break, a cool little Aerostar video airs. It looks like the Luchador from teh Cosmos is returning to the Temple.

A very ripped King Cuerno is working out when Catrina appears in front of him. She's upset that Fenix has returned, saying Cuerno didn't get the job done. He says that Catrina's "wounded champion" is safe from Fenix. Catrina wants him to kill the phoenix in a Last Luchador Standing match tonight.

Jack Evans def. Drago in 7:19
Our first look at Jack Evans and Drago in season two. This was a battle of two of the better high flyers in the world. Matt Striker basically had an orgasm while calling this thing. Evans oversold a slap with what had to be about a 720 spin. He was, however, solid at playing the dick heel in the middle of his offense. There were certainly some high impact moves throughout this, with both guys getting the time to shine. Drago nearly killed Evans on an inside out blockbuster type move, but Evans came back with a backslide and stole the victory by putting his feet on the ropes. **3/4

Jack Evans is an asshole, stealing the microphone from Melissa Santos and announcing himself as the winner and the "Dragon Slayer".

A Texano video package aired next. He was indeed, the youngest AAA Mega Champion in history. He seems to focus on Chavo Guerrero in his promo, which makes sense since Chavo and Blue Demon Jr. laid him out at Ultima Lucha last year.

Catrina sees Prince Puma in the back and asks him who he prays to. She basically implies that Konnan died when he went into the casket last season. The main point here is that next week, Puma goes one on one with Pentagon Jr.

Last Luchador Standing: Fenix def. King Cuerno in 11:19
The Last Luchaor Standing match last season between Cuerno and Drago was one of the better matches all season long. These two had a great match for the Gift of the Gods Championship two weeks ago. They played this exactly how I wanted. You could feel like these two guys wanted to hurt each other. They made good use of the Temple, fighting all over the place. Fenix continues to amaze and Cuerno remains the best kept secret in Lucha Underground. Shit got real when Cuerno brought a ladder into the mix. He stopped the referee from counting to ten so he could inflict more damage and also get a table. It backfired as Fenix used the ladder to climb atop Catrina's office. Cuerno followed but was kicked back and fell, with the ladder, through the table, which kept him down for the count. Another really good match between the two. They just can't seem to have a bad match. Mil Muertes was also shown to be pissed off on his throne. ***3/4

Before going off the air, we get one final scene. It turns out that Cortez Castro from the Crew, is actually an undercover cop. His captain is not pleased that she doesn't have Dario Cueto. She is sending Cortez back into the Temple with new help...OFFICER JOEY RYAN! Their mission? Bring down Dario Cueto!

Overall: 7.5/10. Yet another strong effort from Lucha Underground. While things got off to a rocky start, the second match was solid and the main event was damn good. Outside of the ring work, the show continues to further their overarching story and keep me interested. 3 for 3 in enjoyable episodes.

If you do want to check out Lucha Underground and don't get El Rey Network (like me), you can sign up for the streaming service Fubo.TV. It's a great way to support the company and channel while streaming the show online. You can sign up and get Lucha Underground right here with Fubo.TV

Random Network Reviews: No Mercy 2007

No Mercy 2007
October 7th, 2007 | Allstate Arena in Chicago, Illinois | Attendance: 12,500

Pay-Per-Views in Chicago always have a special feel to them. I had no clue this show took place there, but I do remember that it’s rather memorable for at least one reason. John Cena, in the midst of a year-long run with the WWE Championship, had to give up the title after suffering an injury, leaving the title up in limbo heading into this broadcast. He was originally scheduled to face Randy Orton for the third straight Pay-Per-View. I have to assume that the original plan was for Orton to win it here since Cena went over him on the first two PPVs.

The opening video package focuses on John Cena and his WWE Title run. They try to hype that it was Randy Orton who injured him, but in truth I believe it was a hip toss from Mr. Kennedy. Vince McMahon and William Regal come out to discuss the injury, which gets a pop from the crowd. They chant “Y2J”, though he was about two months away from returning. Vince awards the title to Randy Orton, who comes out and celebrates with it to much pomp and circumstance. Orton has to defend the title and he gets to choose his opponent. Orton runs down Cena until Triple H interrupts. He does his best to crap on Orton, saying Orton’s scared to have his second title reign be shorter than his first (which of course was ended by Hunter in a month). Vince grants Triple H the title shot to open the show because Hunter questioned his manhood. For some reason this opening segment went nearly twenty minutes, giving the show a “Raw” feeling rather than a Pay-Per-View.

WWE Championship
Randy Orton (c) vs. Triple H

Triple H is scheduled to face Umaga later tonight. Randy Orton attacks at the bell but it backfires quickly. Orton tries to walk out of the match but Triple H catches him and beats on him. In classic heel Orton fashion, he slows things down with a chinlock to wear down Hunter. A huge clothesline takes down Orton and, as usual with these two, something just isn’t clicking here. Actually, Orton has the same problem with John Cena. Their chemistry just didn’t click. HHH nails a superplex and spinebuster for near falls. After fighting outside for a bit, Orton nails the rope hung DDT to a pretty big pop. He begins to stalk for the RKO but HHH counters. He tries the Pedigree only for Orton to backdrop him. As Orton misses a knee drop, Triple H applies a figure four though Orton reaches the ropes. Orton misses a shoulder block in the corner and Triple H rolls him up to steal the title.

Winner and New WWE Champion: Triple H in 11:06
Was this really necessary? Randy Orton’s first reign got obliterated by a face turn and Triple H and it happens here again. I know what happens on the rest of the show, but this was terrible. After failing so hard against Cena, doing so here against Hunter was all bad. Did Triple H really need to pad his ego with this reign? Whatever. The match itself wasn’t great either so it’s not like that helped any. **

Backstage, Randy Orton is pretty much losing his mind while Triple H gets an overly long celebration. Vince McMahon is extremely disappointed in Randy Orton. I’m more disappointed in the decision to make Orton look so bad.

Six Man Tag Team Match
WWE Intercontinental Champion Jeff Hardy, Paul London and Brian Kendrick vs. Mr. Kennedy and World Tag Team Champions Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch

That first team is very over and one of the best high flying combinations I can think of. This is considered a “bonus” match as it got guys on the card, but seemed like something you’d see on Raw. Kendrick and London show off some sweet double team moves early on, overwhelming Cade. London plays the Matt Hardy role for Poetry in Motion with Jeff in a cool spot. At this point, Jeff was on the upswing while Kennedy was trying to fix his career after getting hurt following a big Money in the Bank win. After Kendrick is sent outside hard, he plays the face in peril. The heels get a chance to get in some their signature stuff. Cade and Murdoch seem better than I recall. Jeff gets the hot tag, nearly killing Murdoch on an inverted suplex. He hits the Swanton Bomb but Cade breaks the pin. London now gets tagged, springboarding in with a dropkick on Kennedy. Kendrick takes out Murdoch with a cross body, before Kennedy pins London following the Green Bay Plunge.

Winners: Mr. Kennedy, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch in 8:03
Fun little addition to the card here. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but everyone seemed game and wanted to make sure the match was action packed which I appreciate. **¾

Triple H and Batista run into each other backstage because they’re the successful members of Evolution and both are World Champions. Triple H wishes him good luck before turning to Vince McMahon, who tells Triple H that he will defend the title against Umaga tonight.

ECW Championship
CM Punk (c) vs. Big Daddy V w/ Matt Striker

To this day, I will never understand Vince McMahon’s obsession with random pushes for Viscera/Mabel/Big Daddy V. Especially here where he isn’t wearing a shirt. CM Punk gets a major pop in his hometown. Now, this is before the historic 2011 Money in the Bank where Punk won the WWE Title in this building. Here, he gets manhandled by Big Daddy V. Punk avoids a splash, climbs up top and takes him off his feet with a missile dropkick. Matt Striker runs in to club Punk, resulting in the DQ.

Winner via disqualification: CM Punk in 1:34
What the hell was this? Matt Striker was booked as a genius, but does something this stupid the second his guy falls to the floor. Why? What sense does this make? That’s two of our three matches involving dumb booking. DUD.

Tazz now hosts a pizza eating contest between MVP and Matt Hardy. I believe that most of these were done because MVP wasn’t fully healthy. Even with that though, most of these were entertaining. The push up contest and basketball were probably my favorite. This segment would not have been bad had we not wasted 20 minutes to open the show on a promo. At least the judges are Divas, so I did not mind that. At this point, MVP and Matt Hardy were Tag Team Champions and MVP was the United States Champion. Matt Hardy wins before throwing up on MVP. Didn’t like the segment, though Maria looked fine.

WWE Championship
Triple H (c) vs. Umaga

To show that he means business, Triple H comes out to a King of Kings/Game theme remix. A brawl erupts before Umaga no sells a DDT, only to be thrown outside. While out there, Umaga pounds Hunter into the steel steps. He takes over inside, just working over Triple H. We get finisher counters leading to a spinebuster and Samoan drop. Umaga decides he wants to kill time so he utilizes the dreaded BEAR HUG! Triple H fights out, dodges a charging Umaga and nails the Pedigree to retain.

Winner and Still WWE Champion: Triple H in 6:33
I expected this to be better. Umaga is usually a safe bet to put on a good match, but something about this never clicked. It was unfortunately dull. **

Save.Us teaser is shown, promoting the return of Chris Jericho. That return started so poorly but became worth it once Jericho moved to his more serious gimmick.

Finlay vs. Rey Mysterio
JBL does a fantastic job on commentary in putting over this match as two guys that want to be World Champion. I miss that in wrestling. Just go out there and wrestle to move up in the ranks. Rey Mysterio uses his speed to gain the upper hand, but when he tries a sunset flip to the outside, Finlay blocks and wraps him up in the ring apron. Little things like that are excellent to show the veteran instincts of Finlay. He slides Rey shoulder first into the ring post which looks brutal. Like a shark smelling blood, Finlay now focuses on the arm. Rey rallies with some springboard offense that has the crowd into this. He goes for the 619 but Finlay levels him to stop it. He exposes the turnbuckle, leading to the referee giving him a stern warning. It’s all a ploy for him to use his shillelagh but Rey stops that. He tries 619 again, but Finlay ducks, only to get kicked in the skull. A springboard leg drop sends Finlay outside from the apron and he hits the back of his skull on the outside hard. It was a sickening thud. They do the knockout finish, though we clearly see Finlay open his eyes and look around.

Winner: Rey Mysterio in 9:30
This was a well worked match until the finish. The arm work, the selling and the story they told were all good. My only issue is that they talked about this being about two guys wanting to get ahead in the World Title ranks, only for Finlay to give away a match here. **¾

As expected, when they stretcher Finlay out, he gets up to attack Rey Mysterio. Again, I don’t get why he faked the injury to attack Rey. He didn’t even beat on Rey good enough to take him out and move ahead of him in the ranks. Dumb.

Backstage, Triple H is being checked on when Vince McMahon comes in. Randy Orton has requested his rematch tonight and it will be the Last Man Standing we were supposed to get between Orton and John Cena.

WWE Women’s Championship
Candice Michelle (c) vs. Beth Phoenix

This was the beginning of the Beth Phoenix push and pretty much the end of the Candice Michelle run. Her theme music was pretty dire. Beth knocks Candice down immediately. Candice fights back with a creative near fall and some kicks. She actually does a damn short arm scissors, but Beth counters. The crowd doesn’t care about this one bit. Beth moves to a sleeper of sorts, so Candice tries the Bret Hart corner reversal. It fails. Candice eventually comes off the top with a cross for two. Beth hits a backbreaker and cradle suplex, which despite her taking a while to cover, is enough to win.

Winner and New WWE Women’s Champion: Beth Phoenix in 4:28
If I had to use one word to describe this, it would be sloppy. It seems like they tried to rush things and this felt extremely disjointed. 

Beth Phoenix is in tears as she’s handed the Women’s Title. She asks Jerry Lawler to interview her, where she puts herself over as the perfect combination of beauty and strength. It’s here that she coins the “Glamazon” nickname.

World Heavyweight Championship Punjabi Prison Match
Batista (c) vs. The Great Khali

The structure that this is contested in looks ridiculous. Khali does the Andre the Giant rope tie spot but fights out. He knocks down Batista and goes for the first of the escape doors but Batista stops him. You see, once one of the doors is opened, you get a minute to go through it before it is shut for good. The first one gets shut for good, leaving three. Batista busts out a spear and goes for the second door. Khali stops him with a sleeper, leading to the second door being shut for good. Khali finds a leather strap from somewhere, whipping Batista with it before asking for the third door to open. Batista stops him with an impressive spinebuster. He tries to escape, only for Khali to hold him and that door is now closed. Batista gets tired of this door crap and tries to climb out. Khali meets him up top and sends him to the mat. Batista gets under him and tries a Batista Bomb but Khali holds the prison to block. Time for the Vise Grip! Final door is open as Batista hits a low blow. Khali slams the door on his back before time runs out. Now the only way out is to climb, which is a problem for a guy of Khali’s size. Both guys tease escaping but fail. Khali slams Batista to the mat and is surprisingly able to get over. Now, all he has to do is climb over the second set of structure. Batista is up and SPRINTS up the first cage before jumping to the second! Khali makes it over, but Batista drops first and retains.

Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Batista in 14:46
Well that was much better than it had any right to be. Normally, a Khali match is plodding and dull, but this was masterfully booked. They knew it wasn’t going to be a great wrestling match and just took the focus off of that. It was an easy watch for sure. **¾

WWE Championship Last Man Standing Match
Triple H (c) vs. Randy Orton

A slugfest opens this but Randy Orton sets his sights on Triple H’s ribs, which were hurt earlier against Umaga. They go outside, where Triple H tries a Pedigree on the ramp, but Orton trips him up and he hits the back of his head hard on the steel. I still say Finlay’s bump was better. Orton continues to work on the ribcage for a bit with the highlight being a back suplex on the guardrail. They move inside where Orton hits his inverted backbreaker, giving us a five count. Orton is rightfully relentless. He strangles HHH with a cable and he seems to pass out, but is somehow up at nine. Orton is pissed and clears off the announce tables. He goes for the RKO through it, which is what “injured John Cena”, but HHH shoves him off and he goes through it on his own. He’s up at nine but eats a spinebuster outside that the camera pretty much misses due to a replay. He again is up, but eats steel steps to the face! Jim Ross’ commentary is adding a ton to this match. Orton is up and they move to the next spot of a DDT on a steel chair. Both guys are down but get up before this ends. They brawl for a bit more until Orton pulls out the RKO on an open chair like he did to Cena before SummerSlam earlier in the year. Triple H is up at nine, but is busted open and tells Orton to “suck it”. He collapses though due to the weight of three matches. Orton goes for the Punt but Triple H blocks it. HHH messes with the Smackdown announce table, which is the only one that had been left alone up to this point. In a sick spot, Orton’s head gets caught in the steel steps and Triple H hits him with a steel chair. Orton now surprises everyone by getting up at nine. HHH takes him on the announce table, but Orton hits an RKO on it. Triple H nearly gets up, but can’t do it before the count of ten.

Winner and New WWE Champion: Randy Orton in 20:24
The best match I’ve ever seen these two guys have together. Their chemistry issues aside, they just used the Last Man Standing stipulation to their advantage and put on a grueling match. Some sick spots throughout this thing gave it that extra something. I also enjoyed the story of the defiant Triple H not giving up. Really good all around. ****

Overall: 6/10; Average. A bit of an up and down show here. The worst things on the card were the ECW Title match and the two long segments. Besides that, there is a surprisingly solid Punjabi Prison match, great Last Man Standing match and solid bout between Finlay and Rey Mysterio. The show is pretty much a breeze to get through though it isn’t a major recommendation. Middle of the pack stuff for sure. Our next “Random Network Review” is going to be Survivor Series 1997!