After a long hiatus, Lucha Underground made its way back to our televisions tonight. The treat for waiting so long? Just an All Night Long title match between champion Johnny Mundo and the challenger Willie Mack. So how did they do?
Lucha Underground was a bit behind the 8-ball coming into tonight. Their mid-season break lasted almost five months. That’s a long time for a mid-season break. Compared that to the two month break between end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3. Five months is plenty of time to forget all of the intricate details of all plot threads going on in the world of the Temple. Five months is long enough that despite being the middle of the season, they were in a position to have to remind their fans why they loved the show.
So it helped when tonight was just one long match. Fans didn’t have to remember that Drago was a prison of lizard people, where the Puma/Matanza feud last ended, or if there was anything doing with that Rabbit Tribe. They just needed to enjoy an hour long match between two really good wrestlers.
We didn’t have to wait long for pinfalls to be scored. Johnny Mundo scored one within the first 10 minutes when he was able to knock Mack off the ropes and hit the End of the World to get on the board first. It wasn’t much longer until Johnny picked up another with a roll up using the ropes as leverage.
Mack would start to close the gap soon when he rolled through a Mundo crossbody and powerbombed the Mayor of Slamtown, leaving the score Johnny 2, Willie 1.
The match largely stayed in the ring until about half way through. That’s when things got interesting.
Johnny hit a corkscrew onto Mack from the top rope onto the floor but immediately started clutching his right ankle. The referees and officials came to check on the champion. Marty Elias even put up the dreaded X. A stretcher was introduced.
Mack at first wanted to continue fighting but soon acquiesced to the fact that All Night Long was not actually going to go all night. That’s when Johnny reminded us all of his true colors. When the challenger had his back turned, Mundo kipped up and kicked his opponent square between the legs! He followed up with a DDT for another 1-2-3. Mundo was now up 3-1.
This was the moment that gave this match a punch in the arm. The beginning was slow, which is to be expected of a match that has the task of entertaining us for the better part of an hour. Johnny going full villain was the point where things would heat up. Mundo not only weaseled his way into a third fall but he burned the clock while doing it and the crowd was not happy.
Much like everyone in that building, the Mack was pissed. He took the stretcher board that officials were about to strap Mundo into and threw it at Johnny, who had retreated to outside of the ring. Willie chased him upstairs to the top of the Temple as Johnny wielding the board as a shield. However, the board would become a problem for Mundo as Mack strapped him into it and slid him down the stairs.
This led to Mack’s second fall when he was able to get Mundo back in the ring and hit a Stunner. Mack 2. Mundo 3.
It wouldn’t be a Johnny Mundo match if a crony from the World Wide Underground didn’t show up. The champion crawled under the ring but it was PJ Black, wearing the same outfit as Johnny, who emerged and ran to the locker room area. The challenger bit on the switcheroo and chased Black to the back. When PJ lured him back out, Johnny was waiting with a kendo stick.
But the Underground have made plenty of enemies along the way and one of them is Son of Havoc, who came out with two kendo sticks of his own to help even the score. While the good guys had control for awhile, the villains were given too much time to recover and completely neutralize their foes.
With the clock ticking, Mundo started to play some prevent defense to kill time. He ordered the house band to start playing some victory music as he and Black danced beneath the stage. Unfortunately for them, Son of Havoc isn’t the only enemy they’ve made along the way. One of the band members dropped their instrument and jumped from the stage onto both Black and Mundo. Sexy Star! The person who Mundo used all his tricks to take the title from was going to do her best to prevent the same thing happening to her best friend Mack.
Sexy and Son of Havoc took the fight to PJ Black, taking him off the board, leaving the competitors to go back to a one on one bout. The challenger used this opportunity to deliver a jumping piledriver from the apron to a table outside. That was enough to earn Mack a pinfall and to tie things up with 10 minutes to go.
The final spot was built around a tall ladder and a table set up in the ring. Mundo missed another End of the World, landing on the ladder and in this case, actually injuring himself. (Oh the irony.) This allowed the Mack to set up for his big finish. However, as he climbed the ladder, one more person would interfere, this time the resident Johnny Mundo superfan Ricky Mandel held the leg of Mack, trying to prevent him from climbing the ladder and splashing the champ through the table.
Eventually, Sexy Star and Son of Havoc neutralize the interference, but the damage had been done. Mack hit his big splash, driving Mundo through the table. But with the time it took him to crawl to the pinfall, the time expired just before the ref’s hand hit the mat for 3.
Tie goes to the champion.
Johnny emptied his bag of dirty tricks and still needed a half second of luck to hang on to his title. The crowd was pissed. Mack was devastated. But Mundo was as happy as can be... for a short period of time.
Dario Cueto exited his office and reminded us all that in the Temple, ties don’t happen. There wasn’t enough time to restart the match but next week, these two men will fight again and there will be a winner. “Even if it takes all night long.”
All in all, Lucha Underground did its best to wake up a home crowd that was likely cooled off after such a long hiatus. I know in January, I was really excited for this match. They told a good story about how Mundo didn’t respect Mack at all so he picked the All Night Long stipulation because he didn’t think the bigger Mack could keep up with him. However coming into tonight, I too had cooled off. But the way they laid it all out was a great remedy.
They built the match slowly to get me invested so I was ready to buy into a winner at the end. However, by having Johnny retain his title by the skin of his teeth and then telling me Mack gets one more chance next week was a great way to draw me back in. While the beats of the story were lost over the break, they started a new one that helped hook me for next week.
They still have the issue of reminding us all of the small details of all their intricate stories, but they did a good job of hooking fans who may have cooled off on Lucha Underground given the long time off.
What’d you think of the All Night Long match? Would you have preferred a winner tonight or are you pumped to see these two go longer? Sound off below and we’ll see you next week!