Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Lucha Underground 5/4/16 Review

Opening video package shows the people that have won medallions so far. It then moves to Sexy Star's issues with Mariposa.

Catrina comes up to Dario Cueto who is fixing his ceiling. They both claim that their man almost destroyed the other. Catrina thinks that Dario doesn't want to give Mil a rematch. Dario denies that, admitting Mil is scary but nowhere near as scary as his brother. Next week, Mil gets his rematch but it will be a fucking Grave Consequences match! Oh my god, they're going to kill each other. There will be four coffins this time and it'll be GRAVER CONSEQUENCES!

Gift of the Gods Aztec Medallion Match: The Mack def. Marty Martinez in 3:44
Marty was his usual creepy self behind Melissa Santos during her introduction. The Mack charged to the ring and started hot, playing into their feud. They had some solid back and forth but this was kept short. Mack nailed a stunner and TKO to capture a medallion. Decent enough and a fine little sprint. **1/2

Catrina is back at it, meeting with the returning King Cuerno in the back. She says that Siniestro de la Muerte will beat him to get a medallion. Cuerno disagrees and says that he will win the medallion, the Gift of the Gods Title and then, if Mil Muertes is champion, he'll go after him and capture his biggest trophy yet. In a cool moment, he sniffed her to get her scent, really playing into the gimmick.

Sexy Star enters Dario Cueto's office. He knows they haven't always seen eye to eye but he respects her. He realizes that something happened to her to change her. He recognizes the look in her eyes because he had it as a kid when his "evil bitch" of a mother would torture him. They stopped her by standing up to her and saying no more. Tonight, he gives her a chance to make Mariposa pay in a "No Mas" match, which is basically an "I Quit" match. He tells Sexy that if she makes Mariposa say "no mas", she shouldn't stop there. She needs to continue to make Mariposa feel what she's been feeling for months.

Gift of the Gods Aztec Medallion Match: Siniestro de la Muerte w/ Catrina def. King Cuerno in 1:52
King Cuerno has been one of the most consistent performers in Lucha Underground. He's also probably the most underutilized. He started hot but, Catrina hit him with that rock and allows Siniestro to win with a fameasser. I understand that, with Siniestro being the last remaining Disciple of Death after ripping out the hearts of his former teammates, they may want to push him, but Cuerno deserves better. None of the Disciples have really ever done anything for me. To make matter worse, Catrina teased the lick of death, only to level Cuerno. NO RATING

Mascarita Sagrada is working out in the back when Famous B shows up. Some great music plays too. Famous B set up a huge match for Mascarita against a man that already has a medallion. That man will be putting the medallion on the line. Famous B is awesome.

Chavo Guerrero comes into Dario's office to complain about not getting a medallion match. Dario says that he doesn't deserve one so he's done giving him opportunities. I mean, I get it. Chavo is one of the worst things about the show.

Gift of the Gods Aztec Medallion Match: Cage def. Mascarita Sagrada w/ Brenda in 0:50
Famous B did the intro for Mascarita Sagrada. When Sagrada heard that Cage was his opponent, he, the crowd and commentary reacted in fitting fashion. Mascarita attacked and Cage kicked him off. There were "please don't kill him" chants. Mascarita got on his back but was quickly thrown off. Cage caught him and beat him with a ridiculous F5. Too short to rate. NO RATING

Cage, Famous B and Brenda all check on Mascarita after the bell. Chavo Guerrero runs in and steals Cage's medallion. Famous B tells Cage, who chases Chavo. Famous B hilariously tells Mascarita that he'll get him next time.

Gift of the Gods Aztec Medallion No Mas Match: Sexy Star def. Mariposa in 15:25
When this began, I was heavily disappointed. For an feud involving one woman mentally destroying the other, starting this out as a straight wrestling match was dumb. Things began to pick up as they went for submissions, making sure to add little things, like extra wrenching and kicks to the head. Mariposa brought weapons into play, violently throwing chairs at Sexy outside. Sexy responded by using a chair to hit another chair into Mariposa's vagina. I shit you not. Mariposa dragged Sexy up the steps and ripped at the mask, violently tugging at it. Both women climbed high into the scaffolds of the Temple, which we've never seen before. While up there, Vampiro left the booth out of concern. Sexy got cut open and Mariposa made her blood drip over the crowd. Sick! Sexy climbed down as Marty Martinez showed up to get in on the attack only for the Mack to show up and even things out. Mariposa slammed her into the announce table relentlessly while Sexy was just gushing blood. Mariposa applied a submission in the ring and when the referee asked Sexy if she quit, she responded with a loud "FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU MARIPOSA!" She applied a choke but that damn Marty came back in to stop it. Mack took him out once again with a stunner. Sexy locked in an armbar and Mariposa shouted NO MAS! Oh man, that was far better than I expected. Sexy never felt like a major player in season one but this was her breakout match. Mariposa was the right kind of vicious and Sexy was the right kind of resilient. My only gripe was the start but other than that, this was tremendous. The storytelling, violence, LU production and atmosphere all delivered. ****1/4

She continued the attack after the match like Dario Cueto advised before throwing Mariposa out. She hugged the Mack with her medallion to end the show.

Overall: 7.5/10. Most of the show featured matches that weren't really good or great. The opener was decent fun but the next two were short and did more to advance angles. Then the main event came and blew everything else out of the water. It was one of the better matches in a season chock full of them. I hope we get more from Mariposa but if she was only around to help get Sexy Star more over, she did a masterful job in this match alone.

If you do want to check out Lucha Underground, which you absolutely should, 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!

NJPW Wrestling Dontaku Review

NJPW Wrestling Dontaku
May 3rd, 2016 | Fukuoka Kokusai Center in Fukuoka, Japan | Attendance: 5,299

Earlier today was NJPW’s big Wrestling Dontaku event. It’s the one big NJPW event that I’ve never seen, having missed it last year.

Bad Luck Fale and Yujiro Takahashi def. Captain New Japan and Juice Robinson in 2:26
We saw something open up the Invasion Attack show last month. Like that match, this was exactly what I wanted it to be. Short and to the point. New Japan has found the perfect place for Fale and Takahashi. Have them win these short openers. It gets Yujiro in and out before he can irritate me and allows Fale to be a monster. He put down the Captain with a Grenade. Fine for what it was. *

Gedo, Kazushi Sakuraba, Will Ospreay and YOSHI-HASHI def. David Finlay Jay White, Ryusuke Taguchi and Tiger Mask IV in 7:23
Considering one team had the Young Lions (particularly Finlay who eats all of the pins), the outcome of this was never really in doubt. Everyone got at least a small chance to strut their stuff as you would expect in a multi-man tag. The story here was Will Ospreay. After a spectacular debut at Invasion Attack, he officially inked a deal with NJPW. He was the star here and watching him work with the Young Lions was a blast. He hit his signature corner kick, did a sick dive onto everyone outside and put away Finlay with a springboard cutter. Fun little match here that never overstayed its welcome. Ospreay should be golden in NJPW and is young enough that he can stay for a few years and still move on, to the WWE if he wants, in his prime. **¾

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Matt Sydal and Ricochet def. Roppongi Vice (c) in 16:26
Seriously? Does Gedo just flip a coin in the back to determine if these belts are going to change hands or not? Roppongi Vice came in with a sound strategy, like all heel tandems. They cut the ring in half on their smaller opponent, while talking smack to Ricochet on the apron. They did a good job of cutting off the hot tag and building tension. Ricochet’s hot tag was pretty good but the crowd didn’t seem as hot for it as expected. Part of that is probably because Fukuoka isn’t traditionally a super-hot crowd from what I’ve heard and part might be because it is so hard to care about this division. A good finishing stretch saw Sydal and Ricochet hit their stereo shooting star presses to regain the straps. Better than their Invasion Attack match but not quite as good as their Power Struggle outing last year. The booking of this division continues to suck massive ass. ***¼

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Championship: The Elite (IWGP Intercontinental Champion Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks) def. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Michael Elgin and Yoshitatsu (c) in 14:03
Goddammit Gedo. Again? The Young Bucks wore jackets and tights with tons of pictures of their faces on them. Oh those guys are so cool. /endsarcasm. Yoshitatsu is even less cool, still doing his poor Triple H cosplay. Despite them coming out with weapons, this was a much calmer match than their Invasion Attack one. At least for the first half or so before things started to break down. A ladder came into play, continuing on the one that Omega used on Tanahashi on the Road to Wrestling Dontaku show last week. Yoshitatsu came in and did his shitty Triple H stuff before eating some superkicks. Omega hit the One Winged Angel and the Elite won back the belts, which are more of a joke than the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles. It’s sad actually. The match itself was pretty much a retread of the stuff we’ve already seen from the guys involved. **¾

The Elite tried to continue the attack on Yoshitatsu after the bell with the ladder but Tanahashi made the save. He slammed Omega on the ladder and went for High Fly Flow but the Bucks pulled Omega to safety. Tanahashi grabbed a microphone and challenged Omega for the Intercontinental Title again. Omega’s response was great, talking about how they don’t usually speak the same language, before saying no to the challenge. He then opens the ladder and only accepts if it is a ladder match. Omega welcomed Tanahashi to “American style”. So it looks like they’re really gonna do it. Should be fun. Expect Dave Meltzer to five star all over it.

IWGP Tag Team Championship: The Guerillas of Destiny (c) def. Great Bash Heel in 12:12
Togi Makabe sported a big bandage around his head. The match at Invasion Attack between these two teams was easily the biggest disappointment on the entire card. They brawled early on and gave us one of the lamest countout teases ever. Honma locked the guardrail on Tonga after the referee reached 18. They literally just stopped counting to allow the guys to get back in. I found this to be better than their previous match but still not anything that I would consider really good. Tonga and Roa looked more comfortable together here, though it has been clear which member is better so far. They retained by hitting their double team finisher on Honma. Passable match. **½

The 2016 Best of the Super Junior field was announced. “A” Block features KUSHIDA, Ryusuke Taguchi, Kyle O’Reilly, Matt Sydal, Rocky Romero, Gedo, BUSHI and Matt Jackson. “B” Block has Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask IV, Bobby Fish, Trent Baretta, Nick Jackson, RicochetVolador Jr. and Will Ospreay. I’m only really interested in about half of the field, which are the guys that I bolded.

NEVER Openweight Championship: Yuji Nagata w/ Manabu Nakanishi def. Katsuyori Shibata (c) in 11:53
The video package before the match did a good job in recapping Shibata’s “fu*k old dudes” tour over the course of the past few months. These two had such a great match in the G1 Climax two years ago. This felt like the fight that it needed to. Both guys hit each other very hard, there was shoving of the referee and you just got the sense that they wanted to hurt one another. There was a point where Shibata popped up instantly after a suplex and hit a German only for Nagata to get up instantly. Shibata kicked out of a backdrop driver at one before they exchanged some hard shorts, including a vicious Shibata slap. Nagata won out, hit Shibata’s own Penalty Kick and a second backdrop driver to become the new champion. I disagree with the title change since Shibata was having the best run with the title I’ve ever seen, but it was much better than the show’s first two swaps. Great match that was probably a cut below their G1 encounter in 2014. ****

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: KUSHIDA (c) def. Jushin Thunder Liger in 14:37
Another well done video package here as it showed their past matches, Liger being an 11 time Jr. Heavyweight Champion and KUSHIDA’s humble beginnings. Despite things getting heated on the road to Wrestling Dontaku, they opened with a handshake. Liger put his focus on the leg, which he also worked in the lead in to this match. In a move I didn’t expect here, Liger planted KUSHIDA with a goddamn Brainbuster on the concrete! Liger applied his own Hoverboard lock on the champion at one point but went back to the leg when that failed. Liger put one hell of a fight but lost to the Hoverboard Lock after KUSHIDA added extra pressure by pulling back on his fingers. A really good back and forth match. Post-match, we were treated to a show of respect by both competitors. ****

EVIL def. Hirooki Goto in 9:53
In a great moment, EVIL met Hirooki Goto in the aisle during his entrance, leading to a brawl. EVIL brought chairs into play and did his now trademark move of wrapping a chair on his opponent’s head and hitting another chair into it. They kept things short and compact, similar to what you’d see in a G1 Climax setting. The final few minutes were really strong, as both guys brought out the big guns and hit some major offense. From seemingly out of nowhere, EVIL struck with the STO and defeated Goto. Big win for EVIL though I have to wonder what the plan is for Goto. He really is seemingly going nowhere fast after a very big 2015. I’d consider this exactly the kind of match I want from these two. It was a vast improvement on their Power Struggle match last November. EVIL has quietly been having a strong 2016. ***¾

Kazuchika Okada w/ Gedo def. SANADA in 15:11
For those that forgot, SANADA played a huge role in costing Okada the IWGP Heavyweight Title at Invasion Attack. We got the typical New Japan countout tease in the early stages. I do wish this was worked with more urgency from Okada. I’m not saying it had to be just like EVIL/Goto but Okada should be pissed at SANADA and want to take him out. He did eventually show a bit more of a mean streak as evidenced by a DDT off the guardrail on the outside. Like the previous match and most Okada matches, the finishing stretch was really strong. SANADA got a fair amount of shine and even countered the Rainmaker into a dragon sleeper, only for Okada to roll through that with a tombstone. He followed with the Rainmaker and bested SANADA. Most of this was standard Okada fare but I liked a good chunk of what I saw from SANADA. ***¼

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Tetsuya Naito (c) w/ BUSHI and EVIL def. ROH World Television Champion Tomohiro Ishii w/ Gedo and Kazuchika Okada in 30:33
Again, another top notch video package. It focused on how Los Ingobernables, and mainly Tetsuya Naito have taken over. Fans love heel Naito but hated cheesy babyface Naito. Ishii and Naito have spectacular chemistry, with some classics in 2014 and a great match in the New Japan Cup this year. This was also Ishii’s first shot at the IWGP Heavyweight Title. Ishii went after the leg, which was a welcome choice since he doesn’t do it often. Naito’s selling of the leg throughout was top notch, as he’d leave it limp at times. Watching Ishii twist and bend his legs in weird ways was great. EVIL and BUSHI got involved but were held back by Okada and Gedo. When they did get in, Okada and Gedo took them out and headed to the back with them, leaving this as a one on one encounter. Even though most of us came in fully expecting Naito to retain, there were several moments where they made you believe Ishii would actually do it. Naito got to show off some power with a few suplexes on Ishii that I didn’t expect. He also fired off a series of strikes, including a vicious slap but Ishii came back with his own and a big headbutt. Finally, after having it countered multiple times throughout the match, Naito hit Destino and retained. A fantastic performance from two of my favorite wrestlers. Even the involvement of Chaos and Los Ingobernables de Japon wasn’t a negative here as it made sense and eventually led to a great one on one showing. ****½ 

Overall: 7.5/10. The second half of this show really saved it. Most of the stuff that came before intermission was lackluster. The opener and eight man tag were relatively fine and short. The Jr. Tag Title match was pretty good, but the NEVER Tag and Tag Title matches both lacked. Everything after was pretty top notch. Nagata/Shibata ruled, Liger/KUSHIDA was excellent, EVIL and Goto went to war, we got a typical Okada match and an awesome main event featuring two of the very best around. Definitely check out the second half of the show because it was pretty much the best five match stretch I think I’ve seen in 2016.