Following an extravagant, elongated advertisement for Mexico which included a military band, exotic dancing, shots of the landscape and general pomp and ceremony, we finally got around to the wrestling half an hour after the scheduled start time.
The rules for this tournament are relatively simple and the same for both genders. Each trios match has the same rules as a standard six man tag with a time limit of ten minutes. If a pinfall occurs during those ten minutes, the match is over, and the team secures the victory. If the time limit expires, the match will go into sudden death rounds. Each team will pick a member to go in and face off with a five-minute time limit. If either competitor scores a victory, they win it for their team. If time expires, they go into a second sudden death with two other team members. Sudden death rounds will keep going until a team gets the victory. The tournament itself is single elimination, but there is a match at the end to determine a third place winner.
We head into day two at the semi finals stage.
Women’s 3/4th Place Play Off
Team Canada (Allie, Taya KC Spinelli) vs Team USA (Cheerleader Melissa, Santana Garrett & Sienna)
Festooned in the national colors of their country, Team Canada made their way to the ring to a considerably more positive response than Team USA. At times, this was a little sloppy but for the most part this was a well worked match, particularly when Allie and Taya were involved. As the match broke down, Team Canada gained the victory following a double footstomp by Taya. Everyone worked pretty well here except Melissa, who was incredibly average and the main cause of the sloppiness. **1/2
Loser’s Battle Royal
Team Ōdō and Zero1 (Masato Tanaka, Akebono & Ikuto Hidaka) vs Team TNA/USA (Eli Drake, EC3 & Tyrus) vs Team Rest of the World (Mil Muertes, Rockstar Spud & Apolo) vs Team Mexico Legends (Blue Demon Jr, La Parka &Caneka)
The rules: one member of each team begins in the ring. Once they are eliminated over the top rope, another member of their team replaces them until one team stands tall. The entrances here were perhaps are as noteworthy as anything that occurred in the match; EC3 emerged seemingly parodying John Cena’s overt patriotism after Team USA/TNA struck the Charlie’s Angels pose, Team Rest of the World emerged to the chords of Queen’s We Will Rock You as the unthinkable was once more proved a reality with Spud teaming with Mil Muertes and the Mexican Legends wore spectacular attire. This match was completely farcical but in the best possible way imaginable.
Elimination Order-Eli Drake, Spud, Blue Demon Jr, Apolo, Canek, Akebono, EC3, Tanaka, La Parka, Hidaki, Tyrus.
-Eli Drake was eliminated by Blue Demon Jr.
-Akebono struggled to stand whilst taking extended naps before he had a pseudo sumo contest with Spud, who eventually grew tired of his futile efforts and eliminated himself.
-EC3 eliminated Blue Demon Jr, once more parodying John Cena with a salute.
-Akebono legitimately got caught in the ropes before he was eliminated.
-Completely preposterous match up between EC3 and Mil Muertes before Tyrus eliminated EC3, his own partner.
-More absurdity with La Parka trading shots with Tyrus.
-Final two of Tyrus and Mil Muertes in a battle of the veritable giants. The match turned into a singles match scheduled for one fall, refereed by Marty Elias. Mil Muertes secured the victory for his team.
Yes, this was sloppy; yes, there was a lot of tentative movement from the older guys; yes parts of this made no sense but this was a lot of fun for the complete absurdity of it all. **
Men’s Semi Final
Team NOAH (Taiji Ishimori, Maybach Taniguchi & Naomichi Marufuji) vs Team AAA (Texano Jr, Psycho Clown & Pentagon Jr)
Pentagon Jr wore a sombrero. A sombrero. It was certainly something that threw me and it took a while for me to recollect myself after witnessing it. Texano isn’t a bad wrestler, in fact he is pretty good: but he is a charisma black hole and everything he does is so painfully boring. Luckily for Texano, Team NOAH had Taniguchi to offset his banality. Despite Texano and Taniguchi’s presence, this match was damn good in parts, particularly towards the end. Set at a frenetic pace, the sombrero wearing Pentagon Jr was the glue that held this together, providing a base for the NOAH fliers. Following a series of dives to the outside, Psycho Clown secured the victory for Team Mexico to send the crowd into a frenzy following a splash on Taniguchi. ***1/2.
Men’s Semi Final
Team Lucha Underground USA (Cage, Chavo Guerrero & Johnny Mundo) vs Team Lucha Underground (Dragon Azteca Jr, Rey Mysterio & Dr Wagner Jr)
Underscored by Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and accompanied by Dario Cueto, Team Lucha Underground USA received vociferous boos: a stark contrast to the reception of Team Lucha Underground Mexico. My Spanish isn’t good, but I think Cueto contested before the match began that “no matter who wins, I win because everyone is from Lucha Underground”.
With the emboldened letters of USA written across Team Lucha Underground USA’s attire, the roles were clearly defined visually. Soon, after the initial tecnico shine, the rudos moral alignment manifested in their nefarious actions as Team LU USA cornered Dr Wagner. Cage was outstanding here as he demonstrated his abundant strength throughout: at one stage, he caught Rey Mysterio following a tope with ease before delivering a vertical suplex.
The closing minute of this match was incredible: everyone attempted to score the victory for their team following their big move. Cage blocked Dragon Azteca’s ddt attempt to reverse it into a Steiner Screwdriver five seconds before he buzzer went to ensure Team LU USA advanced to the final. ***1/2.
Team Japan ( Aja Kong, Yuki Miyazaki & Sumire Natsu) vs Team Mexico (Mary Apache, Faby Apache & Lady Apache)
Team Japan antagonized the audience in the early stages as Aja Kong dominated Faby Apache due to her size advantage. Aja Kong was the foundation for this match, using her size to create even more support for the home team.
Unsurprisingly, the match exceeded the time limit and went into overtime. Aja Kong faced Faby Apache, continuing to exert her dominance over her smaller adversary. Faby Apache refused to quit, kicking out of a piledriver before the first period of overtime expired.
In the second round of sudden death, Mary Apache faced Natsu. This period was more back and forth, with both women scoring numerous near falls that were intensified due to Marty Elias’ counting. To be fair, he wasn’t the only ref to make mistakes. With two and a half minutes to go, Mary Apache secured the victory following a Michinoku Driver to gain the victory for Team Mexico. Really fantastic match here, arguably the best of the tournament at this stage. Mary Apache looked better than usual here, perhaps that was due to her opponents.***3/4
Men’s 3/4 Play Off
Team NOAH (Taiji Ishimori, Maybach Tanguchi & Naomichi Marufuji) vs Team Lucha Underground (Rey Mysterio, Dragon Azteca Jr & Dr Wagner)
This match skipped the ten minute first round, going straight to sudden death 1 vs 1. Marufuji and Wagner started off in what was a more methodical pace than anything up until this point on the show. Not a great deal occurred and the crowd somewhat lost their interest.
Taniguchi faced Dragon Azteca Jr in the second round of sudden death. Tanaguchi attempted to keep Azteca grounded, which he succeeded in doing for the most part. As the countdown expired, we were still at a stalemate heading into the third round of sudden death.
The final two team members, Rey Mysterio and Taiji, battled for the right to claim third place in what was easily the best part of the match. Rey Mysterio landed the second attempted 619 before securing third place for his team following a frogsplash. Rey and Taiji had excellent chemistry and-no matter how unlikely- a featured match between those two would be a lot of fun. *** 1/4
Team AAA (Texano Jr, Pentagon Jr & Psycho Clown) vs Team Lucha Underground USA (Cage, Chavo Guerrero & Jonny Mundo)
Team LU USA rushed the defenders of Mexican pride before the bell began as a brawl developed around the ring. The rudos controlled the majority of the first period as they continued to use illicit means to maintain the advantage.The tecnicos made their comeback with stereo tope con giros before the match broke down. As the siren reverberated around the arena, Pentagon Jr delivered a package piledriver on Mundo whilst the teams continued to brawl as we headed into overtime.
Texano faced Chavo Guerrero, who was limping, in the first round of overtime. Texano kicked out of Guerrero’s frogsplash before Guerrero kicked out of Texano’s super-powerbomb as buzzer sounded once more.
Cage dominated Psycho Clown early in the second round before Psycho Clown landed a Mexican Destoryer. Johnny Mundo, however, distracted the referee to ensure Cage had ample time to recollect himself and kick out.
The final came down to the final period of overtime as Johnny Mundo and Pentagon battled to determine who would win the 2016 Lucha Libre World Cup. Mundo continued to use chicanery to gain the advantage and ultimately the victory with around a minute to spare. Pentagon Jr received a chair shot to the head courtesy of Chavo before Johnny Mundo secured the Lucha Libre World Cup with the End of the World. ***3/4
Following the match, the audience manifested their disappointed by tossing trash at Team LU USA whilst Dario Cueto proclaimed he was a god of Lucha Libre, inviting anyone to his Temple with the caveat they may not leave alive.
This was 2016’s answer to HBK in Montreal or nWo forming.
Team LU USA emerging victorious is surprising. Although Team LU USA’s victory was greeted by the ire of the crowd, it is probably the right decision considering the trajectories of both promotions at the moment. Perhaps this was an attempt to stoke some interest in AAA in the US.
Post Tournament Awards assigned by judges:
Best Luchador: Pentagon Jr.
Best Luchadora: Mary Apache.
Final Word: What a fun show. I’m a huge fan of the concept of a wrestling world cup that assembles talent-whether up and coming or for nostalgic purposes-from different promotions to compete on one stage. Although the tournament didn’t produce anything MOTY worthy, the majority of the matches delivered in some capacity and proved incredibly entertaining.
Here’s hoping that the Lucha Libre World Cup becomes ingrained on the wrestling calendar.