Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Lucha Underground "Payback Time" Review

The episode starts with Prince Puma in the back. Vampiro comes up to him, continuing something that started on the premiere. He seems to offer help but Puma wants nothing to do with Vampiro, even if Mil Muertes is beating him lifeless. He'd rather die by Mil's hand than live by Vampiro's. Vampiro says that he predicts Mil will die by Puma's hands instead.

Matanza is in the ring for another edition of Dario's Dial of Doom. This week's lucky winner of a title shot is Killshot!

Lucha Underground Championship: Matanza Cueto (c) w/ Dario Cueto def. Killshot in 3:58
I love that Killshot is getting a title shot. He's one of my favorite guys in LU. He still showed effects from the awesome match with Marty Martinez a few weeks ago. Matanza came out quickly and tossed him around the ring. Killshot used the ropes to survive an early pinfall attempt. Matanza went for a top rope Tombstone but Killshot got free and started getting in offense to huge reactions from the crowd. He ripped his bandage off but ran into a big uppercut from the champion. Matanza hit the Wrath of the Gods to retain. Spirited run for Killshot but it was too short and he didn't get in enough hope spots for this to be really good. **3/4

After the match, AR Fox walks to the ring with dog tags around his neck. Killshot says something along the liens of "I thought you were dead." He hugs him bug Fox shoves him off and nails a big kick. He follows up with right hands and stomps. He plans him with a fisherman buster. For those unaware, Fox is playing a partner that Killshot had who he believed died in war. Fox drops the tags on him and says "you left me for dead."

Returning, another white rabbit teaser aired.

The Trios Champions, Fenix, Aerostar and Drago come out. Dario Cueto shows up to announce that in four weeks, we will be treated to Aztec Warfare III! He claims that Matanza has been unstoppable, so to give him a real challenge, he will enter at #1. The three men in the ring are about to get a unique opportunity. They will face each other and the winner earns #20 in Aztec Warfare. However, the two losers won't even be in the match!

Unique Opportunity Match: Drago def. Aerostar and Fenix in 8:33
Surprisingly, one man stays on the apron, which is odd, especially for the chaotic Lucha Underground. Even with that, things got out of hand quickly and they worked at a very quick pace. A lot of what was going on was hard to keep up with. Fenix got busted open shortly before nailing a superkick. Drago hit Aerostar with a nice powerbomb but Fenix broke up the pin. They all ended up in the corner, where Aerostar got on Fenix's shoulder. Drago climbed up and arm dragged him off, which looked disappointing since it seemed like they were gonna go for something more. They did a cool spot where Fenix had Drago in a submission as Aerostar put one on Fenix. Drago took out Fenix with a rewind rana before beating Aerostar with a blockbuster DDT. Good fun here though it had some sloppy moments. The finish came out of nowhere, which I liked since Fenix seemed like the obvious winner but the move itself that ended it felt lackluster. ***1/4

In the back, Drago is looking in the mirror when Kobra Moon arrives. She tells him that she expects him to win the Lucha Underground Title and bring it back to the tribe. He says that he left the tribe a long time ago and isn't going back. Vinnie, who randomly appeared a few weeks ago, awkwardly shows up eating pizza, saying he thought it was the men's room.

Johnny Mundo is back to see Dario Cueto again. Desperate for a title shot and not wanting to wait until Aztec Warfare, Mundo has the briefcase that he won from Dario back in season one. Of the $100,000, $93,000 are left since Mundo had to pay off someone for something related to internet photos. Dario grants him a shot at Sexy Star and the Gift of the Gods Title next week.

Prince Puma def. Mil Muertes w/ Cartina in 8:44
It's a rematch of the first Ultima Lucha main event. Puma came out firing but Mil Muertes is a beast and turned it around. Puma hit a suicide dive, followed by a dive outside. The crowd was way into this. Muertes came back with a big spear on the outside. They brawled throughout the crowd and Puma leapt off of the bleachers onto Mil in a cool moment. Once back in the ring, we got some good back and forth from these two. Puma hit a kick that sent Mil's head into the ring post before scoring with the 630 and earning a rare win over Muertes. This was just shy of being great. They have good chemistry and worked a really fun match that had some enjoyable spots sprinkled in. They're tied at one now and I sense a bigger match for the tiebreaker. ***3/4

Rey Mysterio Jr. talks to someone in the back about Chavo. It is revealed that he's talking to CHAVO CLASSIC! Chavo Classic wanted to be sure that fighting with Chavo was the only way for Rey to handle this. Rey said that it's CHavo or him, one of them has to go. I'm not excited for a Rey/Chavo feud in 2016.

Overall: 8/10. Possibly the best episode of the season. The opener was a fun little sprint and the AR Fox debut was a nice addition to the Killshot story. The Aztec Warfare announcement was cool and I enjoyed the triple threat. The main event was damn good and I really liked how each match brought something different to the table.

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!

Random Network Reviews: No Mercy 2001

No Mercy 2001
October 21st, 2001 | Savvis Center in St. Louis, Missouri | Attendance: 15,647

This is in the midst of the invasion angle. Steve Austin was running power hungry as the heel leader of the group, feuding with Kurt Angle. They had just met on two straight PPVs, so here, the incredibly popular Rob Van Dam is thrown into the mix, making for on interesting triple threat WWF Championship match. This is the third No Mercy in history (not counting the one in the UK in 1999).

The opening video packages considers Steve Austin as the paranoid man, Kurt Angle as the vengeful man and RVD as the confident man. It even shows RVD holding the WWF Title. Saliva’s “Click Click Boom” is the theme song, and it’s a song that I really like. Our commentary team is the always awesome Jim Ross and Paul Heyman.

WCW Tag Team Championship
The Hardy Boyz (c) w/ Lita vs. The Hurricane and Lane Storm w/ Ivory and Mighty Molly

When the hell did Ivory and Lance Storm become a thing? Hurricane holds the European Championship here. Hurricane starts with Jeff Hardy and it is clear that he completely is in character. That’s why the Hurricane worked so well, Shane Helms threw himself totally into the role. He and Storm hit a nice double team that I didn’t know they had in them. Storm holds Jeff as Hurricane goes to fly but Matt lays him out. Mighty Molly, ever the trusty sidekick, helps Hurricane up and gives him his cape so he can leap out onto them. Paul Heyman adding a “woosh” on commentary is golden. They work over Jeff until Matt gets the tag and comes in hot. The challengers pick up a close near fall after the champs miss Poetry in Motion. They hit a double superkick on Matt but Jeff breaks the pin and sends Storm outside. Molly tries to get involved so Lita spears her. Ivory gets involved too, throwing Lita outside. Jeff takes out Ivory because chivalry is apparently dead. Lita hits her rana on Storm, followed by the Twist of Fate/Swanton Bomb combo from Jeff to retain.

Winners and Still WCW Tag Team Champions: The Hardy Boyz in 7:42
Wow, that was much more fun than I thought it would be. The Hurricane is so good in his role and the oddball tag team with Lance Storm could have gone far. They were entertaining and had a fun, energetic opening contest. ***¼

Backstage, Rob Van Dam arrives and William Regal expects him to apologize for hitting Steve Austin with a Five Star Frog Splash on Smackdown. RVD isn’t going to do that. He promises that he isn’t on Vince’s side, but is on his own side.

Kane vs. Test
I feel like Test had potential to be pretty big in 1999, but not so much at this point. On the other hand, Kane was an absolute beast at this time. JR calls both guys “young studs”, which is kind of funny. In an impressive spot for two guys of this size, Kane gorilla press slams Test to the outside. Right in front of WCW referee Nick Patrick, Test hits Kane with the ring bell. Obviously, there is no DQ called. Inside, Test is in control, nailing a nice stalling vertical suplex. They continue to trade big blows in the ring. Kane gets multiple near falls, but can’t seem to put Test down for good. Test hits the pump handle slam and a diving elbow but that also isn’t enough. Kane gets upset at the referee, and that distraction allows Test to hit a low blow and big boot for the 1-2-3.

Winner: Test in 10:08
This was better than I remember it being, but still nothing to write home about. It was a decent big hoss battle and was kind of a rare win for an Alliance member. Maybe I was more pissed about it before because I thought Kane in 2001 should have dominated. **¼

Backstage, Stone Col and Debra have a rather funny segment before Stacy Keibler stops Matt Hardy to ask about her lingerie. He says it’s good before Lita comes up and he manages to avoid an awkward moment.

Lingerie Match
Stacy Keibler vs. Torrie Wilson

Torrie Wilson just wearing a shirt over her lingerie is the hottest thing about this match. Stacy doesn’t remove her robe to start and busts out some cartwheels. She knocks Torrie down and finally does the big reveal. Stacy pulls out a whip and uses it on both Torrie and referee Jack Doane. Torrie wins after using her boyfriend Tajiri’s handspring elbow.

Winner: Torrie Wilson in 3:07
A for effort for these girls. Yea neither one could really wrestle and they were doing it here in lingerie, but dammit they tried their best to make this as good as their skillsets allowed. They accomplished that. *

WWF Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
Christian (c) vs. Edge

During this feud, Christian joined the Alliance which I never liked. He didn’t need to that and the feud was personal enough without it. The fight begins during Christian’s entrance and they brawl around ringside, hammering home how serious the match is. They haven’t even really been in the ring yet. They do a spot where the ladder is bridged between the steps and the guardrail and Christian gets crotched on it. Ouch. We see our first callback to an old ladder match of theirs when it is catapulted into Edge’s face. Jim Ross has to get in his line of “HOW DO YOU LEARN HOW TO FALL OFF A 20 FOOT LADDER?” He ran that into the ground during this time period. The ladder bumps come faster now, with Edge taking the brunt of a fair amount of them. Christian brings in a second ladder because why the hell not? They climb both and Edge pulls him down with a massive Edge-o-matic. Christian hits the next big move with a reverse DDT off a ladder, calling back to an old match again. Not satisfied, Christian brings chairs into the ring. Edge counters his attempt to use them and splashes him onto a ladder. To try and one up himself, he then calls back to WrestleMania from this year with a big diving Spear, though it is nowhere near the level of that original one. The very cool finish comes as Edge lays Christian across the tops of two ladders and nearly kills him with a one man con-chair-to before retrieving the belt.

Winner and New WWF Intercontinental Champion: Edge in 22:15
While I think the match could have been a big shorter to be better, this was still really good to me. I’ve seen a fair amount of people down on it and I admit the pacing isn’t great, but overall, I think it worked. They built towards the bigger spots, had good callbacks to their past matches and the finish worked beautifully considering their feud and how Christian turned on him originally. ***¾

WWF Tag Team Championship
The Dudley Boyz (c) vs. Big Show and Tajiri

Yes, the WWF team holds the WCW belts and the Alliance team holds the WWF belts. Honestly, throughout his career, I’ve always felt that Big Show worked well in tag teams, but this one with Tajiri is certainly an odd one. Show runs through his opponents but the champions eventually isolate Tajiri. They wisely do the false hot tag spot. Tajiri ends up spitting the mist but catching the official. Show hits a Chokeslam on Bubba Ray but the referee is blind. A wild Rhyno appears and GORES Big Show. Tajiri does his best to fight off the Dudleys but falls victim to a 3D.

Winners and Still WWF Tag Team Champions: The Dudley Boyz in 9:20
Not a bad match here, but it was lacking something. I think the fans, despite being rather loud, never really bought the odd team of Big Show and Tajiri as a legitimate threat. Regardless, they tried but the execution was off. **½

Booker T vs. The Undertaker
As Undertaker is getting off of his motorcycle, Booker T attacks him. He’s going to need to considering how poorly the Alliance had been booked to this point. They brawl around the ring for a while. During the invasion, Undertaker was in pretty much no mood to sell for anyone. Hell, he was in no mood to sell during his early American Badass days period. With that being said, Undertaker is quickly back in control once the match goes inside. They continue to trade the advantage until Booker does the “LEAP FROM THE TOP RIGHT INTO YOUR BOOT” spot, which I detest. Booker actually hits the Scissors Kick but Undertaker gets a foot on the bottom rope. Hey, they’re actually protecting Booker’s finish somewhat. He hits the Last Ride to win.

Winner: The Undertaker in 13:12
WCW’s top guy, Booker T, has now jobbed to Rock on two straight PPVs and loses to the Undertaker here. That tells you how the booking of the Alliance was going. Undertaker sold more for Booker than he did for most others in this era, but that still didn’t make the match very good. *¾ 

WCW Championship
The Rock (c) vs. Chris Jericho

Look, we have two WWF guys wrestling for the WCW Title. Jim Ross throws a jab at WCW booking as he questions why Jericho never got a shot at the WCW Title while he was there. This is the first in a trilogy of matches between the two that ended at the 2002 Royal Rumble. They tart with some back and forth mat work until Jericho slaps the Rock, kicking up the intensity. Jericho nails his springboard dropkick, looking to pull out all the stops tonight. Jericho is in total control here, dominating in a fashion that I never expected. Rock gets tired of that, hitting a clothesline and belly to belly suplex. Rock starts using his size advantage to swing the momentum. It takes a missile dropkick for Jericho to stop his rally. In an excellent moment, Jericho hits his own Rock Bottom and a Lionsault only for Rock to get the shoulder up. Heyman and Ross argue over whether or not Jericho is a choke artist. Entering this match, Jericho was kind of a tweener, but gets real personal by removing the elbow pad and going for the People’s Elbow. Rock avoid it and puts on his ugly Sharpshooter. Jericho survives but, since the match has progressed to something more physical, the Spanish announce table comes into play. Rock puts Jericho through it with a huge Rock Bottom. Inside, Jericho blocks a Rock Bottom but runs into a spinebuster. However, the crowd comes unglued when Jericho grabs Rock’s leg during the People’s Elbow and locks in the Walls of Jericho! Stephanie McMahon shows up, sliding a chair into the ring. Even though she doesn’t like the Rock, she cheers for him because she hates Jericho. Rock doesn’t care and plants her with a Rock Bottom. While the official looks at Stephanie, Jericho nails the Break Down onto the chair and wins the big one.

Winner and New WCW Champion: Chris Jericho in 23:43
Excellent stuff from both guys here. I loved how Jericho started the match as a guy feuding with a face, but wasn’t a direct heel yet. As the match progresses, he gets more heel like out of desperation, including mocking Rock’s moves and using the steel chair. Seriously, I just really liked how they built to the physical stuff. My only major gripe with the match is the involvement of Stephanie McMahon. Other than that, this is phenomenal. ****¼

Rock seems like he’s going to hit Chris Jericho after the match, but instead just shakes his hand.

WWF Championship
Steve Austin (c) vs. Kurt Angle vs. Rob Van Dam

The angle between Steve Austin and Rob Van Dam was very well done, even if the role isn’t ideal for Austin. There was the added drama of whether or not RVD was working with Vince McMahon. The match gets off to a hot start as Angle just delivers an array of suplexes on both guys. Paul Heyman makes a solid point that this match has the best wrestler, brawler and high flyer in the world. Austin and RVD tease coming to blows but it doesn’t happen as Angle gets involved again. The match breaks down to the usual triple threat style of one guy being down while the other two duke it out. Angle hits a sweet head and leg suplex before that gorgeous moonsault of his on RVD. Austin tries to steal the pin but it is broken up. With both guys down, RVD misses a big Five Star Frog Splash. The Angle Slam and a split legged moonsault hit, but those pins are broken up protecting those moves. Vince McMahon strolls out to ringside to add drama. Angle leaps to the top and takes out RVD with a super belly to belly suplex. Austin is in and hits Angle with a Stunner but he falls outside. He looks to RVD but Vince levels him with a chair. RVD hits the frog splash but again, Angle is there to break things up. Angle Slam hits but here’s Shane McMahon to pull a Vince and interfere. Vince and Shane now come to blows outside. In the midst of all of this, Austin hits RVD with a Stunner and retains.

Winner and Still WWF Champion: Steve Austin in 15:14
As a main event match, this delivered. The crowd was hot for it and there was just about the right amount of drama. I wasn’t a big fan of all of the McMahon interaction, similar to the WCW Title match. I do like that the match wasn’t filled with a bunch of kickouts as having the pins broken up protected each guy’s finisher, which was well done. ***¾

Overall: 7.5/10; Very good. I liked this show more this time around than I did when I first watched it on the Network. The main event, opener and Intercontinental Title ladder matches are all good, but it’s the WCW Championship match that steals the show here. There’s some good T&A in the lingerie match but everything else is pretty easy to skip. Still, the show never drags and delivers in spades at times. My randomizer has chosen my next “Random Network Review” as Slamboree 1993!