Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lucha Underground "The Cup Begins" Review

Pentagon Dark is back! He returned to Dario Cueto's office, looking for Black Lotus. Dario said she left to Hong Kong and hasn't been seen in months. He threatened to break Dario's arm, but Dario put him in the Cueto Cup. Pentagon said if he doesn't leave Ultima Lucha Tres with Aztec Gold, he'll leave broken bones behind

Cueto Cup First Round: The Mack vs. Mala Suerte
Suerte is a Rabbit Tribe member if you don't remember. Mack remains way over despite coming up short in his recent Lucha Underground Title match. I was surprised at the amount of offense Suerte got in. Mack has been booked well for a while now, while Suerte hasn't done much. There was also a surprising "holy shit" chant on a senton by Suerte. It was just one a few cool moves Suerte got in before falling to a pounce and Stunner at 7:29. Good way to start the tournament. I was impressed with Suerte and Mack continues to be entertaining. [***]

Backstage, Cage was working out with his new gauntlet. Dario came up to him and told him to thank Councilman Delgado. Cage didn't care to do so, but Dario said he should at least meet with him tonight.

Cueto Cup First Round: Argenis vs. Pentagon Dark
Pentagon came out firing and was aggressive. Despite that, Argenis got in a fair amount of offense, including a rather nice neckbreaker and ace crusher like move. Both got him near falls. Pentagon eventually righted the ship and won with a package piledriver at 5:34. It's good to have Pentagon back, but this was too competitive. Argenis is a nobody in Lucha Underground and Pentagon's return should've seen him run right through him. [**]

Pentagon Dark broke Argenis' arm after the match. This wasn't the first time that happened.

Cueto Cup First Round: Famous B w/ Brenda vs. Texano
Famous B said he wanted to represent Texano, not fight him. He hilariously dressed like a cowboy. Texano took the cover but pulled Famous B up and powerbombed him to win at 0:12. Not a match, but it advanced the angle well and Famous B is hella entertaining. [NR]

Brenda slapped Texano on the ass and he liked it.

A great video package aired, focused on Rey Mysterio and Johnny Mundo. There was great voiceover work Michael Schiavello as both men trained for their title match. Though it's a match I saw on Smackdown in 2009, I love how they're making it seem like a big deal.

Cueto Cup First Round: Aerostar vs. Drago w/ Kobra Moon
These two are 3-3 against each other in Lucha Underground. However, this is the first to feature heel Drago (decked out in red). It's personal after Drago turned on Aerostar and Fenix last week. This wasn't worked like the 7th match in a series and that was good and bad. Bad because Aerostar was hesitant at times to attack his friend, and good because it told the story it needed to. Their exchanges were still crisp and there was a feeling of knowing each other well. Aerostar tried using the Whip of the Dragon (Drago's move) to win, but Drago got out and won with it himself at 7:18. Not a patch on their best work, but it wasn't supposed to be. It advanced the story and was entertaining. [***]

Post match, Kobra Moon gave instructions to Drago to destroy Aerostar, so he attacked.

In the final scene, Cage met with Councilman Delgado at City Hall. Delgado said the gauntlet is working and soon, their work can begin. Cage said he doesn't work for Delgado. He choked Delgado and slammed him to the wall. Delgado said he's thinking like a man, causing Cage to PUNCH HIM SO HARD HIS HEAD EXPLODED! LORENZO LAMAS IS DEAD! Cage said he's not a man, he's a machine, and walked out. He even stepped on Delgado's eye on the way out. WHAT THE FUCK?

Overall: 6.5/10. A solid hour of TV. Even on nights like this, where the in-ring action isn't special, Lucha Underground delivers the entertainment. Pentagon is back, the Rey/Mundo video package ruled, the Cueto Cup is underway and CAGE KILLED A MAN! With better stuff in the ring, this would've ranked higher.

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PROGRESS Chapter 49: Super Strong Style 16 Night Two Review

PROGRESS Chapter 49: Super Strong Style 16 Night Two
May 28th, 2017 | Electric Ballroom in Camden, Greater London

The Super Strong Style 16 tournament continues on night two, but that’s not all. PROGRESS and WWE UK Champion Pete Dunne competes on this show. Also, another tournament comes to a head when the first ever PROGRESS Women’s Champion is crowned.

We got the standard Jim Smallman show opening stuff.

Flash Morgan Webster and Mark Andrews vs. The London Riots
The Andrews/Webster pairing makes up a very popular team. The London Riots are a regular team, which they showed with several tandem moves. They also cut the ring in half, wearing down the smaller Andrews. When Andrews and Webster got the chance, they showcased their chemistry and hit some fun offense of their own. The London Riots tried ending things early, but “Team Attack” was resilient and responded. Rob ran into the post, leaving Davis alone to get hit with Stundog Millionaire. Flash followed with his own move and Andrews nailed the SSP to win at 8:49. A fun way to start the show. I’d like to see Flash and Andrews as a more consistent team. I like them both, but don’t care to see them with singles gold, so a tag run could be good. The Riots continued their losing streak in another strong effort. [***]

James Davis nearly walked out without his partner, but went back to check on Lynch anyway.

Super Strong Style 16 Quarterfinals: Mark Haskins vs. PROGRESS Tag Team Champion Tyler Bate
Bate’s gotten involved in some of Haskins’ chances at winning the PROGRESS Title on recent chapters. Though there’s animosity there, they did a lot of grappling. Typically Haskins’ strength, it was Bate who held serve, continuing to show growth in singles competition. Haskins rallied and busted out Emerald Flowsion, which I’ll always pop for. The physicality ramped up by this point. Haskins excellently countered the airplane spin into a Sharpshooter. Pete Dunne arrived and pulled out the referee. Jimmy Havoc, who was a guest on commentary, came to ringside to even the odds. Dunne pulled the ref to the back with him and Trent Seven jumped in the ring to hit Haskins with a piledriver. The referee returned and counted the three at 15:16. Very good match. People may not like the interference, but Bate hasn’t done a ton in singles matches in PROGRESS, while Haskins is a former champion, so the help made sense. Before the run-ins, they built towards some hard hitting stuff that ruled and everything made sense. [***½]

Super Strong Style 16 Quarterfinals: Jack Sexsmith vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Sexsmith came out with his arm in a sling and said there’s a tear in his bicep. He was advised not to compete and apologized to the crowd. His apology is because he’s going against doctor’s wishes and will compete. Jack did all he could to try and steal this, but he was literally a one-armed man in an ass kicking contest. He threw all the slaps and everything he could, yet he stood no chance. Sabre applied a half crab to mercifully win at 4:00. Fine storytelling, as Sexsmith wouldn’t quit regardless of his injury. As good as they could’ve done with the circumstances. [**]

Super Strong Style 16 Quarterfinals: Jeff Cobb vs. PROGRESS Atlas Champion Matt Riddle
This is the kind of match you’d expect to be for the Atlas Title. Their WWN Title match in Evolve was a blast, but short (***½ and 6:21). They also compete as a team, known as the Chosen Bros. I loved that Riddle went for the knockout knee again, only for Cobb to have it scouted. The partners were playful, with Riddle slapping Cobb on the ass after getting the advantage. Riddle also impressed with rolling gutwrench suplexes, so Cobb showed him how it’s really done. From there, they traded big blows in an awesome display. Cobb survived a Bro to Sleep and German, while Riddle barely kicked out of a Tombstone. Riddle hit a flurry of strikes and a Tombstone of his own for a goddamn one count. There was Riddle hitting a series of fisherman busters and it not being enough. Cobb busted out a fucking Destroyer and then an absurd popup German and that still didn’t get it done. Riddle escaped the Tour of the Islands and advanced with the brutal knee strike at 13:39. That fucking ruled. Two dudes who knew a lot about the other just throwing bombs to overcome each other. Riddle was resilient and used his established deadly knee to combat his larger opponent. Match of the tournament so far. [****¼]

Super Strong Style 16 Quarterfinals: Flamita vs. Travis Banks
A first-time ever match can sometimes come off awkwardly. I thought this might go that route after an early slip-up, but that wasn’t the case. The rest of the match was smooth. Banks brought stiff kicks, but Flamita’s spent a lot of time in Dragon Gate, so he’s used to that and dared Banks to bring more. This was similar to the last match in that it was two guys throwing everything at each other to try and advance. It went at a quicker pace though, with Flamita showing why he’s a top high flyer and Banks showing his versatility. Flamita’s muscle buster lung blower is insanely good. He missed a 450, only to land on his feet and then kick out of the Kiwi Krusher! There was a great spot where Banks countered Flam Fly into a pin. Flamita looked on the verge of an upset, but Banks avoided a 450 splash. He quickly locked in the Lion Clutch and Flamita tapped at 12:50. I might be going high, but I loved this. Banks keeps having Slice of Heaven countered, so he digs deep and finds something else. Just a fantastic back and forth match from two great wrestlers trying to win a tournament. Sometimes, that’s all you need. [****]

British Strong Style (PROGRESS and WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne and PROGRESS Tag Team Champion Trent Seven) vs. David Starr and Pastor William Eaver
Always good to see Pete Dunne, who is having a 2017 to rival guys like Hiromu Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito and Kazuchika Okada. Lots of chants for Seven losing in six seconds (I counted nine) on night one. That included “He’s Just a Sixy Boy” sung to the tune of Shawn Michaels’ theme. They even teased him losing quickly again, only for Dunne to break up the pin. The antics throughout this were highly entertaining. I don’t know why, but there was no commentary for this match. Maybe it was so we could hear the wrestlers and fans clearer. I enjoyed the chemistry between Eaver and Starr and, like the Andrews/Flash combo, would enjoy them as a regular team, especially given their gimmicks. In the end, Seven used a spinning piledriver on Starr to win in 12:03. Like I said, this was fun and not meant to be taken too seriously. [***]

Natural Progression Series IV Finals for the PROGRESS Women’s Championship: Jinny vs. Laura Di Matteo vs. Toni Storm
The Women’s Title looks great. Jinny and Di Matteo have a history, with Laura being Jinny’s personal assistant and it was hell. The three women traded a bunch of flash pins from the opening bell, before Di Matteo and Jinny got into it, hockey fight style. Jinny controlling most of the match was smart, as it allowed for Di Matteo to take a beating with a few hope spots and for Storm to pop in with power offense. Di Matteo and Storm both had high impact spots in the crowd that got a pop. Jinny was great at drawing heat throughout, from talking smack to posing with the title to using it as a weapon. The fight went to the stage, where Storm hit a piledriver on Jinny and Di Matteo took out Storm with a tornado DDT. Back inside, each girl came close to winning and Jinny crawled back inside. She nearly hit the Acid Rainmaker but Storm countered, hit a headbutt and won with another piledriver at 18:43. Great main event. They worked it wisely and kept the action going. Storm brought big offense, Di Matteo was the underdog, who also wanted revenge on Jinny and Jinny was the star. She held things together with great heel work throughout. I’d have had her win as a PROGRESS original, but I understand Storm as champion since she’s the biggest star. Second best women’s match I’ve seen all year. [***¾]

Overall: 8.5/10. An improvement on night one and one hell of a top to bottom show. Everything cracks at least three stars except the Sexsmith match, which couldn’t be helped. Flamita/Banks and especially Riddle/Cobb are must-see matches. The main event rules too, with the women putting on one hell of a performance. A highly entertaining show with PROGRESS continuing to be my favorite wrestling promotion right now.