Preview: Impact vs Lucha Underground (4/6/18)

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Photo: Impact Wrestling

Announced a few months back, Lucha Underground, the U.S. based lucha libre promotion, will be making its Twitch debut as part of a Wrestlemania weekend special event this Friday, pitting LU’s talent against that of Impact Wrestling.

There are several intriguing match-ups on this Impact vs Lucha Underground supershow, most notably because several of the talent involved have found themselves working for both promotions over the past year. Unfortunately no, this does not mean we will be getting the dream match of Johnny Mundo vs. Johnny Impact. A real bummer, I know. However, the matches that are scheduled, have set up for a great looking card where bragging rights will be on the line.

And keeping with the theme of ‘bragging rights,’ we’ve pitted two of our writers head-to-head, one each covering Impact (Eric Thompson) and Lucha Underground (Marilee Gallagher), to offer up their perspectives on the storylines and characters who will be involved as part of Friday night’s card.

“I Quit” Match: (Impact) Eddie Edwards vs (LU) Jeremiah Crane

The Impact Perspective: It’s one thing to hurt a man. It’s an entirely different story to take away his sight. Eddie Edwards taking on Jeremiah Crane stems from a feud between Eddie Edwards and Sami Callihan. When Callihan took out Eddie’s eye with a baseball bat, Edwards came back looking for revenge. Callihan has sensed that this match is something bigger than any other “I Quit” match he has been in and has had to channel his alter ego, Jeremiah Crane. Unfortunately for Crane, Edwards is motivated by vengeance. On Friday, Callihan/Crane, whatever he is calling himself, will find out that it truly is an eye for an eye in this world, when Edwards makes him say “I Quit”.

The Lucha Underground Perspective: Originally billed as a match between bitter rivals, Eddie Edwards and Sami Callihan, a slight change was made that better reflects the co-promoted show. Instead, it will be Edwards taking on Jeremiah Crane, the psychotic alter ego of Callihan that wrestles in Dario Cueto’s temple. In Callihan’s own words from the Impact Wrestling media conference call, “people don’t like wrestling me as Jeremiah Crane because Jeremiah Crane is a mean son of a b****.” That’s saying a lot given it was Callihan, not Crane, who brutally and unapologetically, shattered Edwards’ eye with a baseball bat. Since coming to Lucha Underground in 2016, Crane has shown zero fear and has stepped up to fight even the toughest opponents, including Mil Muertes, who he defeated in their first official meeting. Crane is known as the “Lucha Death Machine” and that doesn’t mean good things for Edwards especially in an “I Quit” match. Whether Callihan or Crane, the former CZW product and current LU/Impact talent, is right at home in this type of match. Expect weapons, expect blood, expect creativity, just don’t expect Crane to say the words “I quit.” They very well might not even be in his vocabulary.

Famous B (LU) vs. Trevor Lee (Impact)

The Impact Perspective: Few wrestlers have as compelling of a personality as Trevor Lee. The leader of the Cult of Lee has proven he will do whatever is necessary to get what he wants, whether that’s stepping on, over, or through the competition. Famous B has no idea what the Carolina Caveman has in store for him.

The Lucha Underground Perspective: Famous B is quite the personality over on Lucha Underground. As a talent agent of sorts, he has tried (and failed) on numerous occasions to recruit clients. Think of him like Titus O’Neill when the Titus Worldwide gimmick first began.  Look no further than his first and for some time only client, Mascarita Sagrada, the famous Mexican Mini Luchador. Famous B’s is that of a comedy jobber so against Trevor Lee, it’s not likely he’ll walk away with the win. Hopefully, he at least cuts a promo trying to recruit the leader of the Cult of Lee to his clientele before Lee quickly makes work of the famous one.

Eli Drake (Impact) vs Brian Cage (Impact/LU)

The Impact Perspective: Eli Drake is so talented on the mic, that people often forget just how good he is in the ring. The Namer of Dummies is a former Impact Global Champion, and he didn’t get that title purely because of his way with words. With that said, Brian Cage has burst onto the scene of Impact Wrestling like very few others. Eli Drake can only hope to outsmart Cage in this match, but I fear for Drake’s future if Cage gets his hands on him.

The Lucha Underground Perspective: There is really just one pressing question when it comes to a Brian Cage vs E-Li-Drake match, and that’s what side Cage will be representing. If this is a standard Impact match, expect to see two of the company’s most talented performers, and by all indications, two guys the company is hoping to build the future around. That’s not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination as Cage and Drake, who some might remember as the indy tag team of Natural Selection, should put on a show with the cocky Drake looking to be the first Impact talent to stop the unstoppable machine. But if it’s the “They call him Cage” character from Lucha Underground, Drake might not even want to get in the ring as last we saw Cage he was wielding quite the powerful gauntlet on his wrist, an object that made Big Show’s KO punch look like a gentle tap on the cheek. Although, Cage did lose the gauntlet to Mil Muertes, so maybe Drake won’t die on Friday night. That being said, Cage is undefeated in Impact Wrestling and come Saturday morning, he will still be undefeated in Impact Wrestling and sorry Eli, but that’s just a fact of life.

Six Way: Matt Sydal (Impact) vs. Caleb Konley (Impact) vs. Moose (Impact) vs. Jack Evans (LU) vs. Matanza Cueto (LU) vs. Chavo Guerrero (LU)

The Impact Perspective: Impact brings out some of their best talents for this six-way. The former Impact Grand Champion, Matt Sydal has recently revealed his spirit guide. Though he came up short against Austin Aries, Sydal (possibly because of Josh Matthews’ guidance), has been having some of the best matches of his career. Caleb Konley has been similarly inspired by Trevor Lee, as a loyal follower of the Cult of Lee. While outside influences are great, Moose has to be the favorite to win this match. Pro Wrestling Illustrated‘s 2015 Rookie of the Year, Moose really hasn’t slowed down since debuting for Impact in 2016. A win here will be a reminder of why he belongs as a constant world title contender.

The Lucha Underground Perspective: This should be fun and chaotic and everything that one would expect from a six-man match. For starters, you’ve got Chavo Guerrero, who hasn’t wrestled with Lucha Underground since losing a Loser Leaves Town match against Rey Mysterio in 2016. He is still very much involved with LU from a back-end standpoint, which is what makes this match interesting. Could Guerrero be headed back to the temple as a wrestler for season four? Only time will tell. In the meantime, the former TNA talent will face both old and new foes in this six-way. Jack Evans, the (self-proclaimed) Innovator of Modern Lucha Libre, Moose, one of Impact’s rising stars, X Division Champion Matt Sydal, Caleb Conley and of course, Matanza Cueto, foe to all who step in the temple, complete the field. This is a big match and features the chance for some really great one-on-one action like a Cueto/Moose confrontation. Truth be told, Cueto’s character exists in another realm and he’s been built well enough in Boyle Heights that he doesn’t need the win. But Moose could really catapult from getting a victory over a field of this caliber.

DJZ, Andrew Everett, & Dezmond Xavier (Impact) vs Aerostar, King Cuerno, & Drago (LU)

The Impact Perspective: Andrew Everett and DJZ are two talents that Impact fans haven’t seen in quite some time. While DJZ has been tearing it up on the American indie scene, Everett has been competing for Pro Wrestling NOAH before spending some time in England, and now returning to the US. Xavier had a huge 2017 in the X Division, winning the Super X Cup, and this year has debuted with Dragon Gate. While all three of these men have proven to be great talents globally, I don’t think they can beat the trio of Aerostar, King Cuerno, and Drago. Trios matches are a staple of lucha style, and I have a feeling this team of Impact stars will prefer to outshine each other rather than win this match. A strong showing here is certain to do wonders for their individual placement in the X Division title scene.

The Lucha Underground Perspective: While this match doesn’t quite have the intensity of story the way Crane vs Edwards does, make no mistake, this could be the contest that steals the show. Top X Division talent taking on three men who have all been champions in Lucha Underground, this is certainly a match that could be match of the night. On the LU side, my colleague isn’t wrong in saying trios matches are a staple of the style, however, expecting these particular three men to work well together isn’t exactly a foregone conclusion. Outside of Johnny Mundo and Prince Puma, no one fought each other more during LU’s first run of episodes, than King Cuerno and Drago. These two were fierce rivals and competed in the promotion’s first ever two-out-of-three falls and Last Man Standing matches. Following that feud, Drago faced Aerostar five times in a 10-episode period. Drago and Aerostar did go on to win the trios titles together alongside Fenix so it’s not that they can’t work together either. There are going to be six talented, explosive and athletic men in the ring in this match and while the Impact trio does most likely go down in defeat, the only real losers are going to be people who miss this match.

Knockouts Championship: Allie (Impact) vs Taya Valkyrie (Impact/LU)

The Impact Perspective: The Impact Women’s Champion certainly has a lot on her plate right now. After returning to Impact, Braxton Sutter let the world know that he had dumped Allie. Two weeks later, he proposed to her, however insincere it may have seemed. She was then immediately attacked by the debuting Su Yung. This past week, it became apparent that Sutter is now aligned with Yung, though she doesn’t seem too sure of him. Allie’s head might not be in the game right now, but she has risen to the top of the Knockouts Division for a reason. Taya is undoubtedly a worthy opponent, but I’ve got Allie taking this one.

The Lucha Underground Perspective: This match-up, much like Crane/Edwards, is one that has really lived on Impact Wrestling. In fact, it’s not clear if Taya Valkyrie will even be representing Lucha Underground. Based on the graphic above, it doesn’t seem that she will, but rather that this will be an Impact match with the Knockouts title on the line. Allie is one of wrestling’s top babyfaces right now and arguably the top female in that role. She rose from Maria’s unheralded and mistreated assistant to punching bag of the Lady Squad, to now Knockouts Champion. It’s been a great run for Allie and the crowd is firmly in her corner. Taya has had success since her Impact debut but the company has really just scratched the surface on her character. As the girlfriend of Johnny Mundo and key piece to Worldwide Underground on Lucha Underground, Taya is conniving and dangerous. Allie could find that out the hard way on Friday, win or lose. I have to agree with my colleague on this one though. Allie is the face of the Knockouts Division and she should pick up a nice defining win on Friday.

Impact Tag Team Championships: L.A.X. (Impact) vs Killshot & The Mack (LU)

The Impact Perspective: L.A.X. has been on absolute fire since returning to Impact Wrestling. Santana and Ortiz have been able to take care of both the Cult of Lee and oVe. There are plenty of formidable tag teams all over the world for L.A.X. to compete with, but none of those teams will have Konnan in their corner. Konnan puts the strategy and intensity advantage in L.A.X.’s corner every time, and at Impact vs Lucha Underground, it won’t be any different.

The Lucha Underground Perspective: Here’s a fun little tidbit which just goes to show the difference three years can make. In 2015, Hernandez, who had wrestled previously in TNA as a member of LAX alongside Homicide, returned to the company briefly in June. However, Hernandez was still under contract with Lucha Underground at the time, and a contract dispute with the two companies led to Hernandez being released from his contract. He hasn’t appeared in either promotion since. What was the point of sharing that story? Because now, three years later, Impact and Lucha Underground are co-promoting a show and LU is allowing their talent to appear for Impact on a weekly basis. It would have been fun if Hernandez was still with LU to see him find a partner to face off against Santana and Ortiz, the new iteration of L.A.X., but as such, Killshot and The Mack will have those honors. Killshot and the Mack are two-thirds of the current LU Trios Champions so they will give L.A.X. a battle on Friday no doubt. That being said, I’ve got to agree with my colleague again on this one. Konnan is the deciding factor.

Teddy Hart and Scott Steiner vs oVe (Impact):

The Impact Perspective: Well this match is unexpected. Teddy Hart and Scott Steiner are two men known for speaking their minds. When either opens their mouth, people listen. Add to that the recent career resurgence Teddy Hart has found on the indies and Scott Steiner’s, well, Steiner-ness, and this is a formidable team. Unfortunately for the two of them, oVe is taking over the world. The Crist brothers are two of the best tag team wrestlers in the world, and the team is willing to do absolutely anything. Ohio is for Killers, Ohio Versus Everything, whatever you call the team, the Crists alone make any match a contender for match of the night, even on a stacked card like this one. Now that we know that the duo are on the card, we might also need to look out for them in the “I Quit” match later on in the night. They’ll certainly have the energy, as I expect them to make quick work of Hart and Steiner.

The Lucha Underground Perspective: Unexpected is one way to put it, but I prefer to quote Impact’s tweet instead. This is “one of the most insane teams of all time.” Scott Steiner was already announced to be appearing for Impact at Wrestlecon, “live and unfiltered,” which in-and-of itself could be problematic. But now, he’s got a match and he’ll be partnering with Teddy Hart, a man with his own tendency to get into trouble. The oldest male grandson of Stu Hart, Teddy is one of three remaining Harts still actively wrestling, and the only one (Davey Boy Smith Jr. and Natalya Neidhart) to wrestle under the Hart ring name. He’s wrestled sporadically with AAA over the past several years, which might be how he found himself in this match. The Hart/Steiner pairing is crazy, but their opponents aren’t exactly sane either. oVe, as my colleague noted, has taken Impact by storm the way they did the indies for so many years. They’ll get the win here undoubtedly.

Austin Aries & Fenix vs Alberto El Patron & Pentagon Jr.

The Impact Perspective: The main event for Lucha Underground vs Impact Wrestling features a talent from each promotion teaming up. Austin Aries has been collecting titles all over the world and goes into this match as both the Impact World Heavyweight Champion and Grand Champion. At the next Impact Wrestling pay-per-view, Redemption, Aries will be defending the world title against Alberto El Patron, who never actually lost the title. While I think Aries has the edge in the actual title match, Fenix and Pentagon Jr. are also involved in this tag team main event. I think Pentagon Jr. provides enough of an advantage to his team that El Patron and Pentagon Jr. come out on top.

The Lucha Underground Perspective: This match is a little different from what the rest of the card looks like because instead of it being Lucha Underground vs Impact Wrestling, its a classic battle of heels vs babyfaces, each with a champion among them. On one side, you have Austin Aries, the belt collector, who has made his mark on the independent scene in a big way as of late, winning titles at several promotions and most notably appearing at Ring of Honor’s last iPPV to announce a future challenge for the Television Title. Aries is also the Impact Global and Grand champion. Joining him is one half of the Lucha Bros and former Lucha Underground champion, Fenix, who has been a staple on LU since the first season. Opposing that duo will be the team of Alberto El Patron, the current #1 contender for the Impact Global Championship, and Pentagon Jr., the second half of the Lucha Bros, but more importantly, the current Lucha Underground champion. Perhaps the most interesting part about this match, however, is that it won’t be the first time that day that Aries will be facing Pentagon, as the two are set to meet earlier on Friday as part of The Crash’s U.S. and Wrestlecon debut. I mentioned earlier about the six-man tag having the potential to steal the show, well if it doesn’t, it will likely be because this match does instead. Ultimately, with Aries expected to retain his title at Redemption, it makes sense for Patron’s team to pick up the win here, with Patron perhaps even pinning Aries in the process.

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