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31 Days of Wrestling (12/7/16): Prince Puma vs. Rey Mysterio, Ultima Lucha Dos



Welcome to the 31 Days of Wrestling, ladies and gentlemen. It's that time of year again when we take a look back at the past 11 months of pro wrestling (and as much as possible, the last month as well) and cherry-pick one match a day for each day of December from a list of bouts that defined the year in our beloved sport. Most matches will be good, while some may not be; what matters is that they helped build the perception and reputation of the kind of wrestling this calendar year produced for us.

Lucha Underground makes its first appearance on this year's list, featuring a match that was nothing but a dream for many people a couple of years ago.






When Rey Mysterio joined Lucha Underground for its second season, it felt like the perfect fit. It just made sense for one of the modern icons of lucha libre to be with a show about lucha libre, and fans were giddy at the prospect of seeing Mysterio take to the ring once more. Mysterio immediately made an impact in the Temple, almost capturing the Lucha Underground Championship in his debut match at Aztec Warfare 2. From there, Mysterio had a decent reign as a Trios Champion alongside fellow luchadores El Dragon Azteca Jr. and Prince Puma, before being challenged by the latter to a match at Ultima Lucha Dos.

Prior to Mysterio's arrival, Prince Puma was the guy for Lucha Underground. Having been in the Temple since the very beginning, Puma fought countless battles against the likes of Johnny Mundo and Mil Muertes to stake his claim as the best luchador around. He became the inaugural Lucha Underground Champion, enjoying a lengthy reign until he lost the title at the first-ever Ultima Lucha. Thus, the match at Ultima Lucha Dos pit one of lucha libre's icons against one of its current standard-bearers. It could not have gotten any more iconic than that.

Icon vs. Icon matches are nothing new in professional wrestling, but Lucha Underground's take on it is still a classic. At its very core, this was a story of two guys who wanted to prove their own points. On one hand, Mysterio accepted the challenge in order to prove that he was still the king of lucha libre. He wanted to prove that despite all the injuries and mishaps of recent years, he was still at the top of the totem pole. Prince Puma, on the other hand, wanted to reaffirm himself as the man on top. He was always in discussions of the best luchadores, and a win over the legendary Mysterio would only further those claims. To borrow a phrase from the Lion King, Prince Puma couldn't wait to be king.





While Ultima Lucha Dos was not the A-show the original one was, they were able to close out with one hell of a main event. When you pit two masters of their craft against each other, you get a masterpiece—and that's exactly what Mysterio and Puma delivered. Immediately after the opening bell rung, both men engaged in a duel to see who could out-lucha the other en route to victory. Ranas were reversed and flips were flipped back to see who was the better luchador.

Beneath all the flying around, both men played their roles to perfection. Prince Puma was the younger, faster athlete at his physical peak, while Mysterio was the seasoned warrior who had to get crafty to win. For every display of strength from Prince Puma, Rey Mysterio pulled a trick out of his sleeve. These two put on a spectacle, and in the end, it was Mysterio who reaffirmed his place as the king of lucha libre.

While Lucha Underground's second season seems to have fallen short of the heights that the debut season reached, it still had its shining spots. In a year filled with good lucha things, this may be the best of them all.


*****

31 Days of Wrestling is Smark Henry's way of celebrating the matches that helped define wrestling in 2016.

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