The time has come to branch out from the walled garden and cover some additional promotions on Turn Heel. Thus, begins my “catch up” of Lucha Underground, staring with Season 1, Episode 1: Welcome to the Temple. The ultimate goal is to be able to cover Season 3 of the show as it happens, so likely there will be more than one recap of this show a week. I don’t have a set schedule for these yet, although one will likely replace the Wednesday night / Thursday morning spot that used to be a NXT recap. Also, this show is quite different from the WWE product, so it will likely take me a few episodes to find my format for these recaps. So I apologize in advance if the first few are more clunky than usual.
Lucha Underground Recap: Welcome to the Temple
Lucha Underground Season 1: Episode 1
Original Air Date: 10/29/2014
We have a cold open with a guy in a grey hoodie being jumped. A guy in a green lucha mask appears and cleans house. These two guys then sit and discuss the history of lucha libre as we see archival footage and images. Already this is completely different from the WWE product. This whole open has an extremely cinematic feel and is not shot like a “backstage segment” on Raw.
We then see footage from AAA Triple Mania where Dario Cueto appears and wants to steal the best luchadors and take them to his temple in America to compete. He’s clearly the big bad of this show considering the heel heat he receives during this flashback segment. The green lucha mask guy and grey hoodie guy shake hands as grey hoodie agrees to join the luchadors.
We then get what I assume is the video open of the show. We’re then sent to the Temple and meet our announcers Matt Striker and Vampiro.
Back in the ring, Dario Cueto is out to kick things off. Cueto cuts a promo saying that he’s into violence and this gets a pop from the crowd. Cueto then says that the luchador that impresses him the most will get a signing bonus. Cue briefcase full of money. So, we’ve got a $100,000 bonus to whomever impresses him the most tonight. He invokes 50 Cent and encourages the roster to “Get Rich or Die Tryin'”. The announcers then reiterate this show will not feature “little kids in brightly colored t-shirts jumping around”. Nice Cena dig. Time for the first match!
Match #1: Blue Demon Jr. vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
I’m sure this is going to happen a lot since my lucha libre history knowledge is limited, but I’d only heard of Chavo here. This is a great, old school style wrestling match. It seemed to run a little short as Demon started selling a leg injury, but was able to get a cloverleaf style submission on Chavo. Guerrero taps out to the submission but both guys looked solid in this match.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – Seeing as how Chavo was the guy I’d heard of, I assumed he’d go over here. He did not. I’m liking the unpredictability of this show already.
Next, it’s time for a cinematic segment featuring Konnan and Dario. Konnan’s not necessarily interested in working for Dario, but he’s interested in the money that Cueto is throwing around. Konnan says the best luchador around is from that very barrio, but Cueto disagrees. He’s signed the hottest free agent, Johnny Mundo (aka Johnny Nitro / John Morrison of WWE fame). Cueto admits he only signed Mundo to make an example out of him because he doesn’t respect the temple. Cueto tells Konnan to have his guy make an example out of Mundo tonight. If they succeed in taking out Mundo, the prize money may just go to them. Konnan silently nods in agreement.
Next, we see Johnny Mundo doing pull ups on a bar while the crowd cheers him on. Vampiro then mentions that Mundo will be facing Prince Puma in the match later tonight. We’re then sent to a promo video package for Prince Puma, who is apparently Ricochet from New Japan under a hood.
Back from break, Son of Havoc is already in the ring. Sexy Star is out next and… wow… this show has intergender matches? I did not know that going in. We’re then sent to a promo video package for Sexy Star. I like how we’re being introduced to these characters with well produced vignettes. I don’t understand why WWE couldn’t produce videos like these for their NXT call ups? So bizarre. LU clearly knows what they’re doing since I’m already getting invested in this characters on the first episode.
Before the match can start, Son of Havoc gets the mic and refuses to wrestle a woman. He suggests that she leave, take the count out, and live to fight another day.
Match #2: Son of Havoc vs. Sexy Star
Well, that was unexpected. They build the character, and the match for that matter, up to make you think that Sexy Star will get an upset win. Then Son of Havoc beats her with a garden variety backbreaker. Huh, I’m conflicted. In a way, I’m glad they didn’t go the cheap route and have her get the unlikely win. But, at the same time, this almost came across as one of those squash matches at NXT I’m so tired of. Either way, this match was a fun, fast-paced watch despite the surprising ending.
Verdict: Thumbs In The Middle – I’m hoping the “woman who can beat men” thing pays off in the long run. Building her up like that and then jobbing her out in a squash is something WWE would do and I hope this is better than WWE.
Back from break, Chavo is backstage looking upset. Cueto appears and gives him crap for losing the first match on the show. Cueto references the Guerrero legacy and then points out that not only did Chavo lose, but he tapped out. Since Chavo couldn’t take out the Blue Demon, Cueto has to bring in someone who will, which is a bad thing for everyone involved.
Back in the ring, it’s main event time!
Match #3: Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma
We get a really great main event on this debut episode. I’d say this is on par with some of the better non-squash matches on the weekly NXT show. I never really saw Mundo during his WWE tenure since that was a time I wasn’t watching the product, but he looks great here. Puma is also awesome, as expected. Mundo goes over with the Fin de Mundo and presumably takes home the $100,000 prize.
Verdict: Thumbs Up – An excellent match between what are clearly going to be two of the top stars on this season of the show. Zero complaints.
Post-match, Mundo and Puma have the handshake of respect. This brings out Cueto, who looks visibly annoyed. Cueto says that Mundo has earned the money, but then won’t give it to him. While they struggle over the briefcase, some random guys storm the ring and start beating the crap out of Mundo and Puma. A third guy (the former Ezekiel Jackson from WWE) enters the ring and gives Mundo a massive chokeslam. Cueto gets on the mic and says that he’s been scouting the world for the best fighters and these guys work for him. The crowd gives Cueto massive heat as the credits roll.
Well, so far I’m all in on this show. I like that it feels like a regular action / drama TV show but you also get wrestling matches thrown in. The main event is one of the better matches I’ve seen outside of NXT and the rest of the show was an enjoyable watch. Good stuff.