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Ultima Lucha (part 1) – July 29th, 2015

The first season of El Rey Network’s brave new venture, Lucha:Underground caps off with the two-part, three-hour spectacular, boasting the most exciting lucha libre action to be found anywhere today.

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Tonight: the precursor to Ultima Lucha’s two-hour special next week, in which the LU Championship will be defended, the Gift of the Gods will be bestowed, and scores both personal and professional are laid to rest.

In tonight’s episode, we see the heated feud between Cage and The Mack reach a new level, as they meet in a falls count anywhere match. Also, the Trios Tag Team Championships are on the line, as Team Havoc defends against Catrina’s Disciples of Death. In the main event, Drago and Hernandez face off in a Believers Backlash, in which audience members at temple ringside will be given leather straps to use as they may.

THE RUN-DOWN:

  • In the bowels of the temple, Black Lotus is kept prisoner alongside Dario Cueto’s brother. The boss himself drinks champagne dressed in a tuxedo. He tells Lotus that his brother wasn’t always a monster, but he became one after years of fighting for their father, a successful promoter. He reveals that it was not his brother who killed Lotus’ family – that it was, in fact, El Dragon Azteca.
  • Falls Count Anywhere Match – The Mack vs Cage: Cage wins after curb-stomping Mack’s head through a cinder block.
  • Trios Championship Match – Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc vs Disciples of Death: Catrina knocks out Ivelisse with her stone of resurrection, DOD get the pin-fall victory.
  • Believers Backlash Match – Hernandez vs Drago: after getting beat down by leather straps and nunchakus, Hernandez takes a splash from the top rope from Drago through a table. Another top rope splash inside the ring seals his fate, Drago gets the win.
  • El Dragon Azteca enters the Temple, even though he has been warned that the prophecy forbids him. He accepts the possibility of death in order to save Black Lotus.

ANALYSIS:

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  • The opening match accomplished what every great opening match should accomplish: rile up the crowd, keep the pace quick, and set the bar high so every match that follows will have a tough act to follow. Mack and Cage may have done too good of a job. These two pulled out all the stops, using everything from a street sign, a fire extinguisher, a 2×4, a chair, a glass bottle, a cooler, a table and finally a cinder block on each other. However, unlike some hardcore garbage matches that look chaotic and sloppy, this match had very cleanly executed spots – and that is what made it so entertaining.

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  • Undoubtedly, the biggest crowd pop of the night came when Mack cracked a couple of beers, shrugged “Why not?” and proceeded to execute a Steve Austin beer guzzle and a Stone Cold Stunner. Mack really proved he has the chops to deliver a four-cylinder street fight, even though his stamina is a bit of a questionable factor (he appeared winded to death after a few minutes of action). The biggest push of the match was for Cage, who originally burst onto the scene in Lucha:Underground as a top contender to Prince Puma, and since then has been tearing it up and earning credibility in the mid-card.

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  • Cage has always been formidable and physically impressive, but in this match Matt Striker’s commentary really got over the big man’s fortitude and toughness, and by the end of the match he was firmly over with the believers. This match made both luchadores look incredibly strong, and while Mack was solidified as a top-notch worker, Cage came away looking like an established future star in the company.

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  • The trios tag match was much quicker than it perhaps should have been, and possessed a chaotic quality due to the fact it was made a Tornado-style match. A few nice spots by Son of Havoc and Angelico, but not much more than crude, punch-kick, gang-style offense by the Disciples of Death, this match was nothing incredibly special.

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  • Angelico attempted to top his death-defying stunts from the past by leaping from the top of Cueto’s office to land on the rudos standing on the temple floor, but it lacked the element of surprise that made his earlier feats so spell-binding. The stunt had the feel of something expected and contrived. The big spot of the match was more character-driven, and belonged to the women.

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  • Catrina is the top villain in all of Lucha:Underground these days, and Ivelisse standing tall and defiant against her won her immense love from the believers. Perhaps a one-on-one match is coming between the two, but for now Catrina’s hateful cheap-shot allowed the Disciples to pull off a victory and win the Trios Tag Team gold. All in all, the title change lacked ceremony, and the comparatively short match made the entire affair feel a lot less important than it deserved. In any case, Catrina’s quest for power yields treasure, and her dominion over the Temple is one step closer to being absolute.

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  • The chosen believers, having signed their insurance wavers and armed themselves with leather straps, surrounded the ring as a chant of “Drago’s gonna kill you” roared upon the match’s onset. Hernandez put Drago to the outside right away, but the believers made it clear who’s side they were on. This match was all about the fans.

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  • Hernandez has been only tentatively accepted by audiences in Lucha:Underground since appearing months back, partially because of his cocky nature and partly because of his infamous reputation in other promotions. Tonight was an opportunity for Hernandez to offer himself up to his detractors in very literal way, to prove that he can show humility.

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  • With how much abuse the big show-off was taking throughout the bout, one would almost expect him to get over on Drago so that he could salvage a bit of dignity. But Hernandez took his licks, and what’s more he did the job, losing clean to Drago and ending his night at Ultima Lucha flat on his back. It was a testament to his professionalism and his character. Whether he will be back next season or not is a big question, so having him do the job was the safe way to go. Drago, on the other hand, is more over with the believers than ever, a real crowd favourite and possible future Lucha:Underground champion.

See you next week for part two of Ultima Lucha!

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Photographs copyright El Rey Network.

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