Arena Reports 6/18 Lucha Libre USA TV taping: SPOILER results for more Season 2 episodes of MTV2 show, update on Season 2, notes from head of creative
Jun 20, 2011 - 11:18:50 AM
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Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors
Season Two Tapings
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Albuquerque, N.M. at the Hard Rock Casino
Report by Alex Roberts, PWTorch Review Specialist
Lucha Libre USA wrapped up taping on Saturday for the second season of its Masked Warriors show that will air (though there is still no definite premiere date yet) on MTV2. Dubbed “Masked Warfare,” advertising and press releases promised this finale would feature every championship on the line.
From the beginning, the production quality felt markedly improved from prior shows. The projection screens in the showroom that became glitchy and were called off at last month’s show were working throughout. Before the show, a video was played introducing the audience to the basics of Mexican lucha libre and the company’s Mini, Chica, and Luchastars, and during the show the live footage that will presumably be seen on TV was projected - the footage I saw when I looked up at the screens from time to time looked very professional.
The commentary team for the night was introduced and consisted of Stevie Richards and LLUSA’s head of creative Alex Abrahantes (who I spoke with after the show) filling in for Kevin Kelly. We were told that tonight’s show would make up three whole episodes of Masked Warriors, culminating in the “Masked Warfare” finale show where both the LLUSA Heavyweight Championship and LLUSA Tag Team Championships would be on the line.
(1) Rocky Romero beat Petey Williams. This was one of two matches that worked to build up the eventual match between The Latin Liberators and The Right for the vacant tag team titles. This was a great match to open the show, with several nearfalls and exciting spots. The match ended with a particularly clever sequence. Petey had dodged Rocky’s lunge into one of the ringposts, though Rocky had avoided crashing into the post. As Petey recovered, Rocky got in position and played possum to make it appear that he really had been hurt. Petey then casually set up his Canadian Destroyer; Rocky easily reversed this into a pin for the win. Subtle spots like this are often lost on an audience, but this one seemed to go over quite well (a few fans took relish in yelling reassurances to Petey that he indeed had the match as good as won).
El Oriental came to the ring and cut a promo in Spanish. A few spanish-speaking fans nearby explained that after Tinieblas’s betrayal at last month’s show, Oriental wanted Tinieblas to come to the ring and finally let everyone know who is the better luchador. Tinieblas entered the ring through the crowd dressed in the black hood of the group Sol that he is the apparent leader of.
(2) El Oriental beat Tinieblas Jr. The match started out with Oriental hitting a suicide dive on Tinieblas before he entered the ring. After the close call with Oriental’s botched dive at last month’s show, it was a relief to see the move executed perfectly. Tinieblas played the part well of a treacherous rudo, and attempted throughout the match to tear Oriental’s mask off. Oriental would finally win with a surprise rollup.
After the match, Tinieblas’s Sol stablemates stormed the ring and attacked Oriental. As at last month’s show, Aguila made the save. However, once the ring was cleared of Sol, Aguila turned and attacked Oriental. Oriental sold disbelief at this latest betrayal.
R.J. Brewer was introduced to the commentary table for the next match. We were told this match would determine whether or not the LLUSA championship match would include tecnico Marco Corleone (R.J. earned his spot in the match by defeating Psicosis at the last show). Marco hit the ring, followed by Lizmark with a microphone. Lizmark stated that he had a very special opponent for Marco tonight. Out came Headhunter 1, looking menacing in facepaint and whiteout contact lenses. Lizmark interrupted his entrance, though, and stated that he had forgotten that he had one other special guest - Headhunter 2. Marco sold worry as the handicap match started.
(3) Marco Corleone beat The Headhunters in a handicap match to earn a place in the LLUSA championship match. Like most handicap matches, this match consisted of several prolonged beatings. Marco was still able to get some interesting offense, including a great plancha onto both Headhunters outside the ring. At one point, one Headhunter was on the apron holding Marco on the ropes. The other Headhunter came in for a clothesline but Marco escaped, sending one Headhunter right into the barricade at ringside. I was actually standing front row right in front of this spot, and it looked like the steel barricade was legitimately bent by this fall. After the other Headhunter missed a top rope move, Marco capitalized for a quick pin to earn a place in the championship match.
For the next segment, Rebecca Reyes came out for what appeared to be the usual Best Sign contest that LLUSA features at every show. However, after pretending to admire a child’s sign, she ripped the sign up and hurled invectives at the audience. This cemented Reyes as a rudo after her attempt to cheat Pequeño Halloween at the last show (and as Pequeño Halloween was a rudo before this, it appeared to be a double turn).
After this, The Right, Marco, and Lizmark came out to sign the contract for the upcoming championship match. Ring announcer Leticia Castro announced that Lizmark had added a few extra stipulations to the match. If R.J. lost, The Right would have to disband. R.J. defiantly said he didn’t need The Right to win the match; this angered Petey and Jon Rekon, and the three argued back up the entrance ramp. Meanwhile, it was announced that if Marco lost he would have to shave his hair. Marco recalled that he had already defeated Lizmark in a hair vs. hair match in Mexico several years ago, so he was not worried. After the contract was signed, Marco said he didn’t want to wait until Masked Warfare for the match, and attacked Lizmark before triumphantly leaving the ring. I found this segment simple and incredibly effective - it added even higher stakes for the big match, positioned Marco as a strong tecnico challenger, and had the crowd hot to see this championship match later on.
Rebecca Reyes then made another appearance, announcing that she would face Pequeño Halloween at Masked Warfare. She then brought out Chrissy Cialis and Vladamiro (who could not help himself from trying to bite the two chicas), and said that the match would now be a three-on-one handicap.
(4) Supernova beat Jon Rekon via count-out. This was another singles match pairing off members of each team in the upcoming tag championship match. Rekon dominated for almost the whole match with his strength and size. However, after the action spilled out of the ring, Supernova was able to avoid some of Rekon’s moves and jump into the ring just in time for the countout victory. As with the earlier Williams-Romero match, this positioned the Latin Liberators as a team with speed and cunning despite being out-muscled by The Right.
After this match there was the usual intermission. When everyone was back the first full commercial I have seen for Masked Warriors’s second season was projected onto the showroom screens. The ad featured many memorable high spots from the last several months of Albuquerque shows (and seemed to make specific mention of Petey Williams’s surprise debut with the company) and overall looked very convincing in hyping Lucha Libre USA’s return to TV.
(5) Aguila beat El Oriental. For some reason, this match-up seemed to fall a bit flat with the audience (though perhaps it was just because everyone was still getting back into the groove after intermission). The two luchadores worked incredibly hard to win the crowd over anyway. Aguila started the match with a front flip plancha over one of the ringposts; Oriental, meanwhile, impressed with a few terrific chain grappling/submission sequences and a spot where he attempted three moonsaults in a row (Aguila rolled away from the third one). Aguila gained the pin after a tremendously painful-looking corkscrew moonsault - it looked as though he had landed with all his weight on Oriental’s abdomen. Oriental sold pain and utter despair as he made his way backstage.
(6) Jay Lethal (w/Pequeño Halloween) beat Medianoche (w/Mini Park). After Lethal’s relatively short debut at last month’s show, it was great to see him get more in-ring time. He didn’t disappoint, offering tons of his signature explosive offense and charisma. After an exciting match, Lethal won with a Macho Man top rope elbow drop. Once Lethal and Medianoche left the ring, Halloween and Mini Park shook hands, signifying that Park had joined up to fight Reyes’s team later.
After this, Lizmark entered the ring and said that he will retain the championship. This brought out Marco, who feigned entering the ring. Finally, R.J. hit the ring as well, and the two challengers beat up on the champ until four members of Sol ran to the ring and beat down R.J. and Marco. The showroom went dark for a moment; when they returned, the Sol members were surrounding Lizmark. Lizmark raised his hand in triumph, apparently as the new leader of this group.
(7) Petey Williams & Jon Rekon of The Right beat Supernova & Rocky Romero of The Latin Liberators to become the new Lucha Libre USA Tag Team Champions. The two singles matches earlier in the night did a terrific job setting up the dynamics of this tag match, and all four wrestlers played their parts wonderfully. There were lots of great spots throughout, including Rocky pulling off his Cuban Cutter finisher, several big ringside dives, and Petey finally pulling off his Canadian Destroyer (the first time the Albuquerque audience has seen it since January) on Rocky for the win. The crowd response as Petey and Rekon gloated in the ring once again proved just how successful The Right’s rudo gimmick has been - the boos were deafening.
8. Pequeño Halloween & Mini Park & Octagoncito beat Rebecca Reyes & Chrssy Cialis & Vladamiro in a three-on-three minis/chicas elimination tag match. This match benefited greatly from having a storyline going in that the audience understood. After several quick eliminations, Halloween finally pinned Reyes. The three mini tecnicos celebrated in the ring, much to the delight of many of the younger fans.
The main event (and season finale) title match was next. R.J. Brewer came out first, draped in the Arizona state flag. Next out was Marco Corleone, wearing both the United States and Mexican flags. Out last was defending champion Lizmark Jr. in a red robe.
(9) R.J. Brewer beat Lizmark Jr. and Marco Corleone in a triple threat match to become the new Lucha Libre USA Heavyweight Champion. The crowd was extremely excited for the start of this match, and the tremendous work that all three men did throughout kept the atmosphere electric. The match played out largely like a typical triple threat in that the match was mostly divided into one on one scuffles, but the seamless transitions and big match feel made the match extremely exciting. Among the many memorable moments of this match, R.J. put Marco in a Sharpshooter, only to be superkicked by Lizmark. R.J. would also hit his Fireman’s carry cutter to Marco, with the count broken up by Lizmark. Later, Marco hit his Mark of Excellence belly-to-back sideslam but also knocked out the referee in the process. This brought out three Sol members, including Tinieblas Jr., whom Marco made quick work of with a gigantic plancha to ringside (Jindrak apparently had the highest vertical jump of anyone in WWE when he was there, and it was on full display with this move). As he made his way back into the ring, though, Marco was knocked out by Lizmark’s trademark cane. Suddenly, Stevie Richards stormed out to the ring, Steviekicked Lizmark, threw R.J. over him, and woke the ref. Marco was unable to break up the count as R.J. was declared the new Lucha Libre USA heavyweight champion.
After the match, R.J. celebrated with the belt as his Right stablemates came to the ring and displayed that the stable was now in control of every championship in Lucha Libre USA. Stevie Richards grabbed a mic and demanded the outraged audience to acknowledge R.J. Brewer as their champion. Unfortunately, a net of red, white, and blue balloons over the ring failed to open, and some crew members (as well as The Right) looked visibly upset at this snafu. R.J., Petey, Rekon, and Stevie stood tall at the top of Lucha Libre USA’s entrance ramp to close out the show.
After the show, I was able to spend some time speaking to Alex Abrahantes, Lucha Libre USA’s head of creative. He said that all the shows since last December will comprise Masked Warriors’s 13-episode second season, and that the next show in Albuquerque on July 30 will be the premier of tapings for a third season also comprised of 13 episodes. He stressed that the differences between the first and second seasons of Masked Warriors on MTV2 will be like “night and day.” He also stressed the differences between Lucha Libre USA and other promotions like WWE and TNA - especially LLUSA being truly inspired by authentic Mexican lucha libre.
Overall, this was easily LLUSA’s best-produced show at the Hard Rock Casino, and a tremendous finale for the second season. It was great to see the projectors working in the showroom, and far fewer cues for audio were missed than at previous shows. Meanwhile, storylines and feuds are extremely compelling moving into Masked Warriors’s planned third season. It was a surprise to see R.J. win the championship instead of Marco, but in the grander scheme of things it feels like the perfect decision. LLUSA has possibly the most compelling heel stable currently in wrestling (at least that I can think of) in The Right, and the addition of Stevie Richards to the stable and the possible tecnico teams that will stand up to their dominance (possibly Marco teaming with the Latin Liberators to make it a four on four feud) make for compelling possibilities moving forward. It is exciting to see what is in store for Lucha Libre USA both in its upcoming live shows and in its televised program when it begins airing.
Questions? Comments? Send Alex Roberts a Tweet at twitter.com/roqnrollmartian!
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