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September 6, 2014 / Bill Thompson

Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma from Lucha Underground 2014

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Thoughts from Bill Thompson:

I’m not too familiar with either of these gentlemen. I know that Prince Puma is Ricochet under a mask, and that Johnny Mundo is the former John Morrison. I’ve never seen much from either wrestler; Puma being a guy who never seemed like my cup of tea and Morrison being in World Wrestling Entertainment during a period when I wasn’t actively watching the product. Still, I don’t need to know anything about the people in the match to look forward to said match. In the case of this match I wanted to see what Lucha Underground had to offer and whether or not it will be a promotion for me to keep an eye on moving forward in 2014.

The answer to that last statement pretty much defines this match, as while I liked certain aspects of the match I’m not sure if it’s really something I’d care to see week in and week out. I know some will think I’m being a dick or trying to troll when I say that this match was far too flippy. I’m not trolling though, as I do firmly believe that in this match there was so much flipping and setting up of flips that it made the match as a whole feel very fake. Too many times Mundo had to stand still and wait for Puma to set up a move, and vice-versa. The instances of Mundo and Puma missing their marks on a move and the ensuing move looking like it barely made contact or clearly made no contact at all were far too bounteous.

There were also some sequences in the match that were downright awful. During the middle of the match Puma and Mundo, for whatever reason, stop the match dead in its tracks and attempt a terrible looking mixed martial arts/Lucha Libre hybrid submission based sequence of moves. They follow that up with an even worse brawling segment on the floor where the camera zooms in on them throwing Punches that look like they wouldn’t hurt a fly. And the less said about Puma’s atrocious European Uppercuts the better.

I was surprised to read so much praise for this match when I finished it and read up on it online. Dave Meltzer, famed writer/editor/owner of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter sent so far as to state that Puma versus Mundo was “By far the best match I’ve seen on American TV in some time.” While I don’t see the match being anywhere near that level, I can see some of what Meltzer and others loved. The match-up feels fresh, and it definitely stands out compared to what WWE is offering on a weekly basis. There is high energy at play in the match, and both guys are clearly trying very hard. More than anything the match will make those who are mainly interested in athleticism in their pro wrestling very happy.

I’m not one of those people, thus I wasn’t left extremely happy by this match. All things considered Puma and Mundo put forth a decent effort. The negatives do outweigh the positives though, and that’s never an attribute a pro wrestling match should strive to achieve. As I said earlier there’s a certain subset of pro wrestling fan that will love this match, but I don’t see it. Too much badly choreographed setting up of flips and awful looking strikes stop the flashy athleticism from meaning very much. I’m not giving up on Lucha Underground, or either wrestler yet, but I was certainly hoping for more than a middling start to the promotion and better from such a highly touted match.

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

 

Recap from TJ Hawke:

Mundo is John Morrison, and Puma is Ricochet.

Matt Striker talked about Mundo like he hasn’t wrestled since he left the WWE. Striker said he had a “very unique lucha” style. Ok, Matt. Konnan accompanied Puma to the ring.

They spent the opening minutes doing some impressive athletic sequences. Mundo got control after a backbreaker. Puma halted Mundo’s momentum with a Silverking dropkick. They started brawling on the floor. Morrison sent Puma into a ringpost and then worked him over in the ring. That did not last long though, as Puma hit an enzuigiri. Puma made a comeback. They started going back and forth. Mundo hit the Flying Chuck for a nearfall. Punma avoided Starship Pain and then hit a springboard Meteora for a nearfall. Mundo avoided a springboard 450 and hit the Moonlight Drive: 1…2…NO! Morrison hit the C4 and then hit End of the World: 1…2…3

Dario Cueto came out to give Mundo the cash promised, but he changed his mind. Big Ryck and two other henchmen (Ricky Reyes was one of them, I believe) of Cueto’s beat Mundo and Puma down. Cueto and his goon squad were seen standing tall to end the first episode. I cannot say that an evil authority figure is a good way to endear me to a wrestling promotion in 2014.

The presentation of Lucha Undergound seems like a double edged sword to me. It does make the match seen more important than your typical independent wrestling match, but there’s also a sense of phoniness. The phoniness is not overwhelming like on The Undergound. It’s still noticeable though.

The match itself was fairly entertaining, and I appreciated their desire to work a somewhat unique match (and it’s certainly a match that you would not see on WWE TV, which I assume was part of the company’s plan to stand out). Some of the sequences were impressive, but others were a bit too contrived for my tastes. It was a noble effort though, and it intrigued me enough to watch more of the promotion (if it’s released by the company).

(Also, the full weight of the enormity of a new promotion in 2014 ending their first television show with an angle involving a heel authority figure, Big Zeke, & Rick E. Reyes only just dawned on me.)

Match Rating: ***

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