That's right Cena, you better run. Competition is coming, and not just from NXT.
I love wrestling. I talk about it a whole bunch. NXT has been blowing my mind, and WWE has been leaving me cold. But it is a new year, and I want to see what else is out there. I don't have time for everything, so I am only watching what I have been and what just got a brand new start, and that's Lucha Underground and TNA.
TNA, on the other end of the spectrum, is trying its hardest to be just like the WWE ... 15 years ago. TNA has always been plagued by ridiculously overbooked nonsense and match stipulations that just don't make any sense. That said, it also tends to find great wrestlers that WWE didn't quite give a chance and prove the WWE wrong, just like with EC III, MVP, Samoa Joe, Low Ki. Then it fills out its roster with top Indy guys who aren't looking to jump to WWE, like Austin Aries, and home grown talent. And Kurt Angle. TNA almost went bye-bye because of poor ratings and slowly losing all their money. They lost their TV contract, and scrambled to get a new one on Destination America, which has nowhere near the reach as Spike TV. But they are restarting their show for a new audience on the 16th of this month, and I'm going to be the audience. That means that I'll have a review up of their show the following Monday.
Lucha Underground made a pretty surprising splash for me. It got a lot of honorable mentions in my Best of 2014 Wrestling article, which is great because it has only had 10 episodes. The schtick is that of film quality backstage segments, strong character focus, and really good matches. The match quality of Lucha Underground sits in the middle zone of WWE: the average match is higher quality, but no match has really broken into the upper echelon of great matches that WWE always pulls out eventually every year. With its focus on Aztec traditions and masked characters, it is an incredible show to watch. They are starting their year, after giving us a lot of great episodes to introduce all twenty major characters on their roster, with an amazing match called Aztec Warfare. I have no clue what it is, other than it seems to be a seeded gauntlet, so I'm excited to find out.
Lucha Underground is up first.
Lucha Underground opened with a lot of spectacle as a lot of traditional drums and dancing kick off the show, really making this feel special. Aztec Warfare is a Royal Rumble style elimination gauntlet 20-man "Anything Goes" match. Two men start, then every small amount of time, another man joins the match. Last man to not get eliminated wins, and is the new, and FIRST Lucha Underground Champion.
No sugarcoating or beating around the bush, this match is great. Super great. It is a great way to opening wrestling for the year of 2015. What is so great about it? It has great moves, great moments, great characters, culminates a lot of stories, crowns a champion, and thrilled for a full hour of wrestling, including commercials. We get closure on a bunch of storylines, learn every character, all the wrestlers are treated as if they had a legitimate chance to win ... for the most part, anyway. This was really great stuff. El Mariachi Loco, Mil Muertes, Prince Puma, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Pentagon Jr., Sexy Star, man, everyone impressed all match. I cannot say it enough, this was a GREAT match! Even better, I am excited for the things to come.
I have now watched the episode, a full one-hour episode with a handful of 3 and a half minute breaks, that is just one match. It is phenomenal. Every single character, even the jobber kid, looks good, has a story, has a moment to shine, and looks like a credible threat to win. The way the story builds is perfect. The mirroring and closing out of a chapter in the story of Lucha Underground, which is just beginning, is flawless. The match does all the storytelling a Royal Rumble does, but with all the actual skill and credible finishes of a regular match.
My favorite thing in the whole match is that there was only two times someone stopped another luchadore from pinning an opponent. The first was Big Ryck, who is not a luchadore, just a brawling enormous mammoth of a man. The second is Chavo Guerrero Jr., who is so egotistical, he wants to pin a guy himself and keeps throwing guys off him to get the pinfall, even though it doesn't matter. That is exciting! How many times in a Royal Rumble match do you see guys helping save other guys from getting thrown over because they are wasting time between spots? Most Rumbles it happens. But here, every moment was perfectly executed. On top of that, Lucha Underground pretapes and edits their episodes, so every single move and shot is from the best, most interesting angle, and if something important is happening on the outside of the ring, we always cut to it. I LOVE Lucha Underground!
Lucha! Lucha! Lucha! Lucha! Lucha!