Current Watch List:
- Angelico vs. Argenis vs. Cage vs. Aerostar (Lucha Underground)
- King Cuerno vs. Drago (Lucha Underground)
- Prince Puma (c) vs. Fenix for the Lucha Underground championship (Lucha Underground)
- Finn Balor vs. Tyson Kidd (WWE NXT)
- Bull Dempsey vs. Baron Corbin (WWE NXT)
- Sami Zayn (c) vs. Adrian Neville for the NXT championship (WWE NXT)
Angelico vs. Argenis vs. Cage vs. Aerostar
There were some cool spots as you would expect. Aerostar jumped off the top rope and Cage caught him almost perfectly in a vertical suplex position. Without much readjusting, Cage followed through with a jackhammer. Really fluid and impressive move on both ends. In terms of dives, Argenis landed a moonsault and Aerostar did his always cool signature backwards leap dive, but the best dive belonged to Angelico. He did his running over the corner post dive but got more height than distance than you usually see from that move. Really pretty. In a match involving Aerostar, its not easy for another wrestler to win best dive honors, but Angelico’s was impressive. Overall, Aerostar looked the best out of the four although Cage wasn’t far behind. The booking helped him too as he was given a lot of showcase power spots and single-handily eliminated his competition. Angelico was his usual self where his bigger spots and bumps looked good but everything else in between was disjointed.
King Cuerno vs. Drago
There was a complaint early in Lucha Underground’s run that the lack of a clear and obvious target point (ie. periodic major shows) left the promotion feeling directionless. I never quite thought that was an issue and it seems silly now. The battle royal last week was the culmination of a lot of what had been built over the prior weeks. The week after, you still get matches King Cuerno vs. Dragon, which is a continuation of a feud they have been building for almost the entire existence of the promotion. Just because they don’t utilize the major show concept doesn’t mean they aren’t hitting on the appropriate beginnings, middles, and endings of various feuds. Its almost preferable this way because with a grudge match or two on every show, every show feels important (although there are probably limitations to that because if every show is important, than eventually none of the shows will feel important).
Anyway, this was fine as a feud continuing match. Cuerno set up a table that he was eventually put through via a balcony dive from Drago. I loved the way the match was immediately thrown out and the wrestlers stretchered out. A common complaint about wrestlers who do a lot of big moves is that a high volume of big moves will force them to continually top themselves until they go to far and/or the big moves lose theirh impact. That’s a generalization. Its all context driven. Sure, guys are doing dives in every match in this promotion but as long as some moves or spots are consistently treated as big deals and dangerous (like this balcony dive table spot was), there will never be an issue of having to go too far to get a move ever as big/dangerous. Lawler could take big bumps outside the ring in Memphis in non-major situations that some might have considered to be over the top, but as long as piledriver was considered instant death, there was never a worry that he would have to go even further to top himself. I is all in the presentation.
Prince Puma (c) vs. Fenix
Lucha Underground Championship
The setup for Puma’s first title defense was well thought out and executed. Dario Cueto buttered Fenix up in his office as he wanted him to take the title from Puma and injure him. Fenix responded by saying he fights for himself but obviously the allure of being champion fits that motivation so he took the match. They did a lot of spots early on to get across the idea that they are very familiar with each other. The usual big time agility spots from Puma were all there along with some from Fenix as well. Fenix’s open hand strikes looked very good. The match felt a tad disjointed to me. I didn’t think they ever got to the point where Puma seemed in real danger, even towards the end when they rolled out the near falls. I did like the spot that set up the finish. Fenix rope walked towards Puma (who was perched on the top rope in an adjacent corner). Puma kicked Fenix off as a prelude to the 630 splash that ended the match. Not great, but solid. It was the best match on this episode of Lucha Underground.
Finn Balor vs. Tyson Kidd
United States & Canada
Like many NXT matches, Balor & Kidd wrestled a match that was very much US indie in style except with more polish. I actually, I am not even sure polish is the right word because to me, “polish” in wrestling denotes more than just a lack of blowing spots but also went to do certain moves, using solid transitions, getting the crowd into the match, ect. This match felt more well-produced in the WWE sense. The style of wrestling – in terms of the moves – was very much US indie in nature packed into WWE match layout style of fired up babyface, heel takes control, heel slows the match down, and then back-and-forth ending. Not suggesting that is good or bad because like any style it can work but I don’t think NXT matches are any more free flowing the main roster matches. They are the same matches, only with more innovative and modernized moves on a regular basis.
Balor looked okay but there was not much in the way of flow to his offense. It felt like he was out there doing a bunch moves. I liked Kidd better in this one, overall. The Tommy & Jerry chase around the ring spot at the beginning was well-executed. There are not enough chasing/running spots in wrestling these days. His period of offense was better strung together than Balor’s, I thought. Balor does have a good presence about him and as fit in well with the WWE style, so it would not shock me if he is the first and biggest start of this current NXT class.
Sami Zayn (c) vs. Adrian Neville
United States & Canada
This was your typical WWE “TV re-match of a recent major show main event” match in both presentation and execution. WWE has a tendency to re-match guys – especially if a wrestler scored a big win in the prior match – on TV to hammer home the initial result. Those matches tend to be less memorable than the original and this was in that same vein. They hammered home the idea that Zayn’s title victory was not a fluke and that he is a more aggressive wrestler now having finally won the championship.
The work was solid and was better overall that Kidd vs. Balor. They did a spot late in the match where Neville spiked Zayn on the back of his head/upper neck. It got a two-count and then Zayn was slow to get up. Everyone sold it like he might have been out cold but he eventually got up and continued without it really leading anywhere. Not quite sure what they were for with that one. They worked familiarity spots and Neville countered the diving DDT as well. Zayn went over clean as could be with the big corner kick as expected since these sort of WWE re-matches tend to punctuate the results of the original match. For all that talk about NXT is so much better and different than WWE main shows, I am not sure it is all that different. You can see many, many similarities in the match style. The major distinctions are the NXT guys tend to be a tad less limited in their offense and at one hour per week, the wrestlers are far less overexposed.
Not as good as their major show match from last year obviously. Nothing to complain about though. I’d take this match on an ROH or indie show any day of the week.