Report by Alex Roberts, through PWTorch.com
Lucha Libre USA continued their tapings for a second unscheduled season Saturday night at the Hard Rock Casino in Albuquerque. This was the third round of tapings and presumably will be made into the 5th-6th or 7th-8th episodes of the next season (which, for those curious, has still not been given a definite premiere date at any of the shows).
From the start, it was clear that several of the problems plaguing the last two shows had been addressed. Technical difficulties and delays were almost entirely absent, and a new ring announcer had great charisma and got the crowd excited from the get-go. Unfortunately, it appeared as though Lucha Libre USA has not been doing a great job at keeping people excited about the product - the “Casa De Lucha,” which in December was entirely sold out, seemed to be only a little over one-thirds full for Saturday’s event. For my part, I had only heard a few unspectacular ads on radio and basic cable for the show. Signs were passed out by the crew to some of the fans in the audience, which seemed to encapsulate how insecure the company feels about the excitement they have been garnering.
First Half of the TV taping
The show started with rudo R.J. Brewer coming out with a camouflage bag. He said he had stolen the masks of Supernova and Magno because, while they may represent something good in Mexico, they are “bad for our country.” As in the last two shows, this racially charged promo generated heat among the largely Hispanic crowd. Brewer then put the bag on a hook hanging over the ring and sat at ringside for the next few matches.
(1) Dinestia (El Oriental & Tinibieblas Jr.) beat Rocky Romero & Charly Malice via DQ to retain the Lucha Libre Tag Team Championship. Dinestia suffered from their ambiguous technico/rudo tweener status, but this was still an entertaining match throughout that kept the crowd’s attention. The match ended when Charly put his reverse Figure-Four finisher on El Oriental, only to have the two masked figures who attacked other teams during last month’s show come out and attack Oriental in the ref’s sight. The dirty finish was a letdown, but it thankfully gave some much needed rudo heat to Dinestia, who gloated a bit too much after their cheap win.
(2) Marco Corleone & Shane Helms def. Treachery (Lizmark Jr. & Sydistiko). A planted sign in the audience informed us that “Treachery FEARS Marco!” It was true through most of this match, as Lizmark and Sydistiko played the parts of cowardly heels who constantly went for tags or fled the ring altogether. Other than that, this match was well-paced and worked, with a few huge ringside splashes punctuating the action. The match ended with Helms hitting his Hurrichokeslam on Sydistiko for the win.
After the match, Marco challenged champion Lizmark to a Lucha Libre championship match, though it was unclear if this was a promise for a future big main event or just a way to make Lizmark look more cowardly.
(3) Supernova & Magno beat The Right (R.J. Brewer and Petey Williams w/Lizzy Valentine) in an impromptu ladder match. As far as I could tell this technically wasn’t a “match” as no bell rang at beginning or end; it was simply a battle to grab the bag hung above the ring, as Petey Williams wished to burn it before Magno and Supernova could regain their masks. This was one of the best live matches I’ve witnessed from Lucha Libre USA so far, as the ladder stipulation gave the four wrestlers plenty of chances for unique spots. In one, Supernova was lying on the turnbuckles, and Brewer and Williams set one ladder up pointing at him and another on that ladder, forming a “T” shape which the two dropkicked simultaneously into Supernova’s chest. In another spot, Supernova and Magno did a double back drop to Brewer onto a leaning ladder; Brewer bent the ladder in a very convincing (and painful-looking) way. They do this all the time in WWE’s gimmick-filled PPVs, but it’s truly something to behold live and up close. Finally, Supernova and Magno regained the bag, only to find that a red, white and blue piñata was inside. The Right walked away gloating to end the first half of the show.
Second Half of the TV taping
After the intermission, Lizmark Jr. (with his championship belt) and Sydistiko came to the stage a cut a heel promo that generated a lot of heat. Suddenly, female ring announcer Reby Sky came out with chilled champagne and told Lizmark that the Hard Rock Casino was treating the champ to a night on the town. This was either a setup to a pre-taped segment or, who knows, an attempt to turn the entire casino heel.
(4) LA Park beat Octagoncito, Chi Chi, a mini in light blue Ultimo Dragon-style gear whose name I missed, Tigressa Caliente (Rhaka Khan), Mascarita Dorada, Pequeño Halloween, Mini Park, ODB, and a Mouse-eared Luchador (name missed) in a Mini-Rumble. This might be the best way to showcase the minis and exoticas in the company - how better to present an essentially gimmick league than with a big gimmick battle royal? The match started with Octagoncito (introduced, wittily, with Blink 182’s song All The Small Things) and Chi Chi, with Chi Chi doing a terrific comedy routine. It took until there were seven wrestlers in the ring for any eliminations, which gave the match a chaotic, unpredictable feel. ODB had been advertised to show here (before her reported return to TNA) so it wasn’t a great surprise to see her, though a spot where she motorboated Mascarita Dorada’s head between her breasts was surprising, to say the least. LA Park earned the win after some very entertaining comedy spots with Chi Chi.
(5) Shane Helms beat Sydistiko via DQ. Shane got a tremendous pop entering the ring, while Sydistiko got a great rudo reaction. This was another very intelligently-worked, intelligently-paced match. That said, the match had a tremendous moment when Helms performed a huge splash on Syd off one of the sturdier crowd railings. Helms eventually performed what looked like a reverse Killswitch/Unprettier, a Nightmare on Helms Street, and a running cutter on Sydistiko, with Syd kicking out of all of them. Sydistiko finally gave Helms a low blow to Helms for a dirty finish.
Sydistiko then trapped all of Helm’s limbs and his head in chairs, and proceeded to jump off the top rope onto Helms's left arm. Syd then set up to jump from the top rope onto Helms’s head when Marco ran from backstage to assist Helms. Helms sold the injury to his left arm as he and Marco walked backstage to a special ovation. This felt like the kind of applause usually reserved for legitimately hurt athletes. I only hope it translates well when it airs on TV.
(6) Mascarita Dorada & Mr Griegos (not sure of name) beat Pequeño Halloween & Vladamiro. This was a gimmick match and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a dark match that won’t be televised. Mr. Griegos is apparently a faculty member of nearby University of New Mexico, and was there to manufacture love for UNM. The match ended with Mascarita winning with a roll-up, allowing the arena to break out into more “Lobos!” (UNM’s mascot) chants.
(7) LA Park (w/Mini Park) defeated Petey Williams (w/Lizzy Valentine). Despite his older age, LA Park looked quite viable in this match with Williams, hitting a few big enzuigiris and other moves. In one of the best comedy spots of the night, Park threw the referee at Williams, causing the ref to inadvertently pin Williams as Park made a fast three count. The referee celebrated quickly before the match resumed. Park finally pinned Williams after a spinning headlock elbow drop. Given the amount of heat that The Right garners, it seems strange that Williams would be pinned clean by a wrestler that probably is not going to be a regular performer for the company.
Overall, I thought this might have been Lucha Libre USA's best night in Albuquerque so far. It was disappointing that there was not a Lizmark vs. Marco championship match for the main event, but otherwise the show fulfilled the promise of having “something for everyone,” from a great ladder match to several solid tag and singles matches to an entertaining mini/exotica match.
The problem persists, though, that the company has done nothing to broaden their audience. The live crowd was enthusiastic, but small, and it feels as though nothing has been done to let a larger audience know that this will broadcast on MTV2 soon. From a strictly wrestling perspective, though, Lucha Libre USA continues to deliver tremendous action.