Saturday, July 17, 2010

On the air: Lucha Libre USA: Masked Warriors (2010)

Once again, MTV dives into the wrestling pool, this time with Lucha Libre USA, which is attempting to bring the best of Mexico's Lucha Libre promotions to American viewers. At least this time, they're not waiting a year between taping the show and airing it, which is what they did with the ill-fated Wrestling Society X in 2007. That series was taped a year in advance, but MTV waited until February 2007 to put it on the air, and it died a quick death. Being a 30-minute show instead of an hour might've had something to do with it.

Masked Warriors, airing Friday nights & Saturday afternoons, is a 1-hour show, and reintroduces fans to the hexagonal ring abandoned by TNA just a few months ago. That aspect alone might be enough of a draw, and the scheduling is a huge factor. Masked Warriors airs at 10 pm (ET) on Fridays, after WWE Friday Night Smackdown signs off in most of the country, replaying at 2 pm (ET) on Saturdays. Like TNA, Lucha Libre USA is taping all their television in one place at the moment (they are a start-up promotion after a fashion, after all), in Palm Springs.

There are only a couple of wrestlers I recognized in the course of the show. I'd read much about Tineblas, Jr. in the past when I had a subscription to Dave Meltzer's Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Tineblas' opponent, New York native Marco Corleone, previously wrestled for WCW & WWE under his given name, Mark Jindrak, and is also one of the behind-the-scenes forces behind LLUSA. Unsurprisingly, then, Corleone is the foundation of the promotion. Corleone & Tineblas met in the 1st round of a tournament to determine the first LLUSA champion. Corleone won with a mere schoolboy rollup, but was immediately attacked afterward by another ex-WCW star, Lizmark, Jr., who was with WCW in 1999-2000. Lizmark looks considerably bigger than he did 10 years ago, and I don't recall him having tattoos before. Strangely, as Lizmark was a babyface in WCW, he's now a heel, aligned with Tineblas and Neutronic. I guess since I haven't followed Mexican wrestling much since I stopped reading the Observer, I wasn't aware of any changes.

The downside is that Masked Warriors is on MTV2, which is on digital cable and not as readily available as MTV itself. MTV2 programming isn't available on schedule grids in the local papers, so they'd do well to do some cross-promoting.

That's where TNA can come in and help, since MTV & Spike are corporate cousins. I said this when WSX was on the air 3 years ago. It would've benefited all parties involved if there were a means to cross-promote. Spike is in more homes than MTV2, so in order for Masked Warriors to succeed, there needs to be some repurposing with airings on MTV and/or Spike, and plenty of ad time on TNA Impact.

There were just 3 matches on the bill on the opener, as it was essentially a case of "getting to know you" from LLUSA to the viewers. It'll remain that way for at least another 2-3 weeks while the promotion gets its feet wet. At a time when we need an alternative to WWE & TNA, LLUSA is a welcome addition. Let's just hope it lasts more than 3 months.

Rating: A-.

Edit, 1/24/17: Here's a 1st season trios match:

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