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September 6, 2014 / Aaron

Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma from Lucha Underground 2014

Post by Aaron Bentley:

When I initially sat down to watch the first episode of Lucha Underground, not long after it aired, my expectations were shaped by rumors from the tapings that suggested that Prince Puma (Ricochet) and Chavo Guerrero, Jr. were the top stars. Understandably, I wasn’t sure whether to be excited or filled with dread.

The episode is built around authority figure Dario Cueto promising a $100,000 cash prize to the competitor who impresses him the most. Early on, Konnan shows up to tell Cueto that he has the guy who will earn the $100,000, Prince Puma. Cueto has an idea: he spent a lot of money to sign free agent Johnny Mundo (John Morrison) but he gets the sense that Mundo doesn’t respect The Temple (Lucha Underground’s setting). So, Cueto promises that if Puma can beat Mundo, Konnan and Puma will get the $100,000.

Overall, the first two-thirds of the show were fine but there wasn’t much to help me decide whether I should watch the second episode of the show. But with a main event featuring Prince Puma, I was definitely going to at least stick around for that.

As Prince Puma enters, the papered crowd really pays off. The huge pop Puma gets immediately lays the foundation on which they can build a convincing top star. Once the action starts, it is clear the match has three goals: show off the kind of athletes Puma and Morrison are, set the tone for the kind of style this show is going to have, and establish Puma as a legitimate top guy.

The layout itself implies that Lucha Underground believes the television audience will know who Johnny Mundo is from his time in WWE. Puma is presented as a competitor who is capable of pushing Mundo to his absolute limit. They wrestle the first segment to a draw before Puma’s athleticism takes over and gives him the advantage. Realizing he probably can’t out-athlete Puma, Mundo uses strikes to put Puma back on the defensive. From there, the two mostly go back and forth in what amounts to a showcase. The action is consistently fantastic, each guy trying to top one another without giving away too much on the show’s first episode.

In the end, Puma does push Mundo to his limit but Mundo has just enough left to hit his End of the World finisher, a split-legged corkscrew moonsault, and score the pinfall. It seems a bizarre ending, having Puma pinned cleanly on the very first episode, but the context you put that result in depends heavily on how you view Mundo.

After the match, Cueto comes out to give Mundo the $100,000 briefcase. However, three newcomers emerge (including the former Ezekiel Jackson) and attack both Mundo and Puma. The damage done, Cueto hands the briefcase to Jackson and the four of them celebrate. In writing, this segment doesn’t come off as hot as it actually was. Despite my earlier misgivings, after this match and, especially, the closing segment, I couldn’t wait for Episode 2. (***1/2)

Aaron Bentley is on Twitter (@AaronBentleyVoW) and has written extensively for VoicesofWrestling.com. His VoW archive can be found here. This post is the first in a series reviewing all the freely available matches from Lucha Underground Season 1.

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