I am a huge pro wrestling fan, most notably of the Mexican lucha libre variety.
You may have heard by now that Lucha Underground is gone for a long, long, long time. It’s hit me pretty hard; first I was sad, then I was angry, then I may or may not have accused certain LU higher ups of letting the promotion down and now I’m at the point where I’m watching old LU episodes on El Rey while U2’s “With or Without You” plays in the background (note that I wasn’t serious about that last statement. Or was I?). So yeah, life is dark. That doesn’t mean I can’t try to keep the light on however. So while LU is gone, I’ve decided that I will try to keep them on the tip of fan’s tongues as often as possible, starting tonight. And how are we doing that; by counting down the ten best matches of Season 3’s first half along with five honorable mentions. Hey, it’s the only way I know how to rock sports fans. As Harvey Dent said, we can’t give in. We can't give in! Alright, reel it in Cult and just get to the column. Moses, what is dead may never die! Wow, I need help.
Battle of the Bulls Four Way Semi-Final: Angelico vs. Son of Havoc vs. Jack Evans vs. P.J. Black (En La Sombra)
The less flashy of the two Battle of the Bull matches from “En La Sombra”, though it still gets points for reuniting Angelico and Havoc, the great ending where P.J. Black suckered Jack Evans in to get the win (followed by Evans screaming “HE TEABAGGED ME!”) and the fact that Angelico was in this match. Damn you injury gods for depriving us of his greatness!
Death Match: El Dragon Azteca Jr. vs. Matanza
Give this another ten minutes and its knock knock knockin on the top five’s door. As such, it was a brief yet strong match where the stubborn El Dragon Azteca Jr. threw everything at Matanza before Matanza threw him through the bleachers. Good Grodd, you think they left him down there? It really wouldn’t shock me if El Jefe packed up the Temple and just left Azteca there in a semi-conscious state. Well at least he’s got Marty’s insane laughter coming from the basement to keep him company.
Mil Muertes vs. Prince Puma (Payback Time)
The third best of the Mil-Puma battles, mainly because it was just an ordinary match. It was one hell of an ordinary match though and it remains Prince Puma’s best victory in the last two seasons of LU. Good Grodd that’s all I had to say? No wonder this only made the HM’s.
Battle of the Bulls Four Way Semi-Final: Jeremiah Crane vs. Dante Fox vs. Killshot vs. Mariposa (En La Sombra)
Insanity. Pure insanity. That’s the perfect way to sum up this match, which was a little too insane for its own good when all was said and done. Still, the wow factor, the grit of all four and the craziness of all four help elevate this to just outside the top ten. Would you believe this is Mariposa’s second best match during her LU tenure?
Winner Enters Aztec Warfare at #20: Drago vs. Fenix vs. Aerostar (Payback Time)
I’m gonna get flack for leaving this off (especially once people see what’s number ten) but so what? This was a very good match, but it was also insanely sloppy, to the point that some folks out there probably view this with them rose tinted glasses. That said, it’s still a lot of fun and Fenix’ bloody nose remains one of the coolest images of season three thus far. There I gave it some praise. So stop throwing tomatoes at me and let’s move on to the actual list.
10. Jack Evans vs. Sexy Star (The Open Road to Revenge)
I’m going to get some serious heat for this one! In the words of Dave Chappelle, so the fuck what? This match belongs on this list and belongs on here because of Jack Evans. He is utterly sensational in this match; I’d say the performance is somewhere between Auston Matthews’ first NHL game and Joaquin Phoenix’ work in I’m Still Here. Whether it was the trash talk, the ring work, the bumping and especially the selling, Jack made this match, one that no one wanted to see when it was announced, a pretty great bout all things considered. I may not be as down on Sexy Star as others, but aside from her No Mas match she’s never looked as she did here. That’s Jack Evans for you. Somewhere Matt Mortensen is furious at me for that praise.
9. Loser Leaves Lucha Match: Rey Mysterio vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.
A surprisingly simple match for LU, with Chavo and Rey going old school to settle a score that’s been brewing years. It’s ultimately that simplicity that keeps it from going higher; what gets in the list though is the phenomenal story leading up to and during the match, including a false finish that featured Chavo and Chavo Classic screwing Rey out of his career before Dario Cueto came in for the save. If you ever wanted to know just what separates Rey Mysterio from so many of his peers, this match is the one to see. I’m not sure Chavo could’ve gone out on a finer match.
8. Believers Backlash Match: Mascarita Sagrada vs. Famous B (Ready For War)
Slots in alongside the Wrestlemania 17 Gimmick Battle Royal, the Beach Blast 92 movie, the Sumo Monster Truck match, and Zack Ryder falling off the stage in a wheel chair as one of the funniest things to ever happen in wrestling history. And unlike most of those incidents this was meant to be funny. We had gags, we had over the top goofiness, we had sound effects and somehow Dr. Wagner Jr. even found a way to make a cameo in this. It may not have been Atlantis vs. Villano III, but if you’re looking for a bunch of laughs you won’t find a better choice than this one.
7. Dante Fox vs. Killshot (Every Woman is Sexy, Every Woman is a Star)
To think this was actually the first match of the rivalry between these two. Not the grand finale, not the Empire Strikes Back style middle chapter; this was the first match, which makes it all the more mindboggling that they worked it like there would be no rematch. This was high spots galore, seething hatred, people landing on their heads; just another chapter in what turned out to be a great 2016 for both Killshot and Dante Fox. And again; this was just the first match. They may have to pull off a nuclear strike just to get this feud to end in the second half.
6. Best of Five Series: Match Five: Cage (2) vs. Texano (2) (The Gauntlet)
Hot take alert; the Best of Five series between Cage and Texano was just as good as the Drago-Aerostar one. I know, blasphemy and all, but take away the bias you have for Aerostar and Drago (trust me, you have it. We all have it) and you’ll see that statement was true. This series singlehandedly turned Texano from a dude wandering into the wilderness into someone with hope, while also somehow making Cage into an even bigger version of the most diabolical hater since the so called Beautiful. There wasn’t a bad match to be found in this series, and it all rounded out into this excellent, gritty conclusion where Texano turned into a one man wrecking machine (music and lyrics by Guster) and Cage turned into the best fighting against long odds technico since Carístico in the mid 00’s. Oh yeah, and there was a power glove on the line. You can’t go wrong with that, though even without it this remains an underrated classic and a match I’d put up with the numerous classics Cage has put on since arriving to the Temple.
5. Aztec Warfare III
I mean it featured one of the most memorable, polarizing endings in the history of recent wrestling memory. How could it not make the list? Even taking away Sexy Star’s title victory however this match more than lives up to the previous two Aztec Warfare matches, with Matanza finally being toppled, Marty the Moth looking like a world beater, the debut of the Black Lotus Triad and Angelico jumping off more rooftops. Throw in Sexy’s win (and whether you liked it or not, LU couldn’t have booked the moment any better) and you have the second strongest Aztec Warfare in history, which is saying something because dudes like Aerostar, Fenix, and Prince Puma weren’t involved.
4. Lucha Underground Championship Match: Matanza (c) vs. Prince Puma (The Prince and the Monster)
The best normal match of season three (thus far) and the peak of Dark Prince Puma before he ended up going straight into the coffin. Really this match features the best of both worlds when it comes to Matanza matches. The best Matanza bouts either involve a diabolical hater taking it to him (Cage, Son of Havoc) or when an underdog goes for broke but just cannot keep him down (Azteca). In this match Prince Puma stood toe to toe with the monster, Matanza kept getting back up and Puma got over the hump anyway, losing this match only because of Mil Muertes interfering. Simple but effective stuff, basically the story of Prince Puma during the first half of season three. The guy was really good huh?
3. Grave Consequences III: Mil Muertes vs. Prince Puma (Ready for War)
Here he is again! I told you he was great. This was such a difficult match for these guys to do considering the first Grave Consequences remains one of the three greatest things LU has ever done (alongside Vamp-Pentagon and Angelico’s first roof dive), not to mention that many consider the Mil-Puma match from the first Ultima Lucha to be a classic. And while it may not reach the levels Mil and Fenix reached nearly two years ago it’s still one hell of a spectacle with (once again) the simple and effective story of Mil Muertes trying to wipe Puma off the face of the earth and Puma trying to avenge his mentor’s death, his Ultima Lucha loss and get back to where he was as Lucha Underground Champion. That’s a great combo; what makes it even better is when it becomes apparent that Prince Puma isn’t going to get the job done. It’s The Great Silence of wrestling matches I suppose!
2. Gauntlet Match: Pentagon Dark vs. Doku, Yurei, Hitokiri and Black Lotus (Breaker of Bones)
You want to know what full scale escalation of violence is like? Well I submit to you this episode long odyssey of Pentagon trying to work his way through the Black Lotus Tribe, a gauntlet match with three separate intervals that, aside from maybe the final chapter, don’t hold together as a classic without each other. Combined though these matches are amazing. The beginning, with Pentagon and Doku, still contains some of the most electrifying atmosphere and work I’ve seen in recent memory, even if it’s too short to fully take advantage of it. The middle chapter finds Pentagon getting his groove against Yurei, the weakest non Black Lotus member of the tribe. It seems like maybe Pentagon can make it to Black Lotus unscathed after all…till Hitokiri comes in, leading to the match turning in a Mad Max film. It’s uncomfortable, it’s unsettling and by Grodd it’s gorram great. You’ll never enjoy seeing as many arms breaking in an hour long span as you will watching this.
1. Weapons of Mass Destruction Match: Killshot vs. Marty “The Moth” Martinez (The Amulet)
This match is special. For one, it contains one of the worst commentating performances in the history of the western hemisphere by Matt Striker and still manages to be great anyway. But mostly it’s special because of the rich story it told before and during the twenty plus minutes Killshot and Marty tried to kill each other. You had Killshot, a former soldier fighting to forget (dear Grodd do I love that line) the horrors of war by getting in the ring. You had Marty, a spoiled rich kid gone insane from boredom looking to drive people all the way to their darkest point, just to see what they became. Throw in the theft of Killshot’s dog tags, some more psychological warfare and then you get this match, a nonstop action adventure where Marty drove Killshot to the darkest corner of his mind, only for Killshot to emerge victorious anyway with one of the greatest spots you’ll ever see. Certainly this match is an acquired taste for some so I won’t fault anyone for disagreeing with the rating. But for me I’ve yet to see anything better this season looking back. The story is rich. The action is amazing. And most importantly, more than any other match this season, two men who weren’t stars going in walked out looking like absolute studs. Someday in the distant future when Killshot and Marty are two of the best in wrestling, you’ll look back and see that it started here. I know; bold statement Cult, let’s see how it plays out.