Favourite Five

Five Must-See L.A.X Matches

Fresh off their debut in All Elite Wrestling, George Geal offers up five must-see matches from Santana and Ortiz, the team formerly known as L.A.X.

In 2005, Impact Wrestling (then known as TNA) brought us the Latin American Xchange, formed then of Konnan, Homicide and Apolo.

Split into two major incarnations, the most recent and possibly best has just come to a close. Santana and Ortiz were part of a revamped LAX alongside Konnan, Homicide, Diamante and Low Ki, with them standing out as the ones to watch from this stable. This second incarnation has a wonderful mix of the originals in Konnan and Homicide, an experienced and well-travelled veteran in Low Ki and the other three who were young and wanted to be recognised. And recognised Santana and Ortiz were, quickly becoming one of the best tag teams in the world and doing so in only two short years.

They held the Global Force Tag Team Championships once, as well as the Impact Tag Team Championships on four separate occasions, whilst also being named the Impact Tag Team of the Year 2018. In July 2019, it was reported that Santana and Ortiz would be departing Impact Wrestling, receiving offers from WWE and AEW. On August 10th, Santana confirmed those reports were true, with the duo debuting at AEW All Out, attacking the Young Bucks and the Lucha Brothers. No longer known as LAX, apparently being known as The Boricuas according to PWInsider, we know that they will set the AEW tag division on fire, just as they did in Impact. To prove just how fire the duo was, here is five matches you need to watch.

5. L.A.X vs The Lucha Brothers – Impact Wrestling, February 8th 2019  

I never thought I’d ever say this, but this match was made to be so much better than it was due to the commentary of Josh Mathews and Don Callis. Mathews went above and beyond to sell the strikes of each tag team and the intensity of their feud to those watching on TV, so far above and beyond he did a Michael Cole and had no voice left after the match was done. There were some sticky spots early on in this match after a melee between the four settled down, and a bit of miscommunication during the melee that you’d expect to see as they started the match so frantically you couldn’t tell who was coming or going. The finish is also one of the best I have seen in a while, even though it was a very indy finish with repeated finishers and the recipient kicking out of absolutely everything. The match started, like I said absolutely frantically, with the Lucha Brothers getting the upper hand striking first before the bell rang and creating a series of hard-hitting strikes exchanged between the four men, mainly Superkicks…so many that Matt and Nick would be proud.

The match comes back from an advert break and it’s settled down to a one on one affair in the ring with the Lucha Brothers controlling. This really didn’t last for long as all four men were constantly in and out of the ring performing double team manoeuvres on the opposing team. Lucha Brothers attempted the Fear Factor but it was reversed by Santana, setting up a lovely little series of double team moves from the LAX boys. They hit the Street Sweeper, before Pentagon Jr broke up the pin and a melee broke out again as both Lucha Brothers cleared the ring and hit Fear Factor for a two count. Dropping Santana on his head more with a solo Fear Factor and Reverse Rana, Santana still survived. Penta and Fenix hit another Fear Factor with Fenix hitting a beautiful dive onto Ortiz for the three count. A victory for the Lucha Brothers in their home country, and a brilliant tag team match between two teams with a great deal of competitive respect for each other.

4. L.A.X vs The Lucha Brothers – Full Metal Mayhem, Impact Wrestling: Rebellion 2019

So, this match is more of less the same as the first entry, but just with lots and lots of weapons. However, it starts with LAX attacking Penta and Fenix as they both dived onto the Lucha Brothers during their entrance. The attack didn’t do much as LAX set up some tables on the outside, took too long and the Lucha’s hit stereo dives over the ropes driving their opponents through the tabled. The Lucha Bros hold control of the match hitting double team moves and multiple strike combinations on both members of LAX, eventually putting a trash can on Santana’s head for Penta and Fenix to hit a Double Superkick for a two count. The match eventually evens out and LAX hold control hitting their own series of strikes and double team moves on both Penta and Fenix, including a beautiful senton from Santana to a seated Fenix in the corner, using Ortiz as a step.

They manage to isolate Fenix, hitting him with a rope hung Cutter/Double Stomp combination on two chairs, as well as holding Pentagon the outside away from his brother. All four men eventually grab chairs, sit on them and exchange strikes in the middle of the room until the Lucha Brothers grab the chairs to use as weapons to no avail, before both teams just start launching chairs at one and other. LAX gathered six chairs, three on either side, to hit Fenix with something before Penta gets involved, ending with a Fear Factor on Santana whilst Penta is stood on the chairs, driving both men down into the steel. Fenix shows that he is inhuman, hitting a Spanish Fly on Ortiz from the top rope through a table, which was placed on a raised entrance ramp. He didn’t even fully rotate, he ended up taking a back bump on the floor. We then got, well very 1990’s ECW as Ortiz hits a Powerbomb on Penta from the top of a ladder, through a table which was covered in thumbtacks…preceded by Santana stabbing Penta in the head with a fork. That eventually lead to the finish at a three count for LAX, winning their fourth Impact Tag Team Championships.

3. L.A.X vs oVe – 5150 Street Fight, Bound for Glory 2017

Another weapons-based brawl, which also introduced the Impact audience to Sami Callihan. Starting frantically, like they always do, Santana and Ortiz separated the Crist brothers, Santana taking Dave to the crowd and Ortiz staying ringside with Jake. Both LAX members used a table to their advantage early on, Ortiz hitting a running Powerbomb from the ramp to a table below, for Santana to one up him and hit a dive from the scaffolding to Dave, driving him through a table with a splash. Jake gained control over Ortiz whilst the other two were out the picture, hitting a Superplex landing on four chairs only for Santana to appear out of nowhere to break up the pinfall.

Dave eventually recovers and drags himself to the ring, only for LAX to come out on top of a striking battle. It was short lived, as Callihan makes his appearance to turn the odds on LAX as he hit a Piledriver on Ortiz through a table, and throwing Santana onto a ladder balanced between the ring and the barricade. o.V.e get the win after they pin on Ortiz, before hitting a post-match beatdown on the two members of LAX. A short, sweet and brutal match which led to the debut of one of Impact’s biggest stars and the face turn LAX received, which I think was needed. Crowds were always behind them; it seemed the right thing to do.

2. L.A.X vs Decay – Street Fight, Impact, April 27th 2017

LAX really love themselves some weapons, don’t they? This match they were accompanied not just by Konnan, but by Homicide and Diamante as well. The match starts with fists flying, but opponents were somewhat inversed as the powerhouse of LAX went against the highflyer of Decay and vise versa. Abyss takes Santana to the outside whilst Crazzy Steve controlled Ortiz in the ring before Santana somewhat escapes Abyss and assists Ortiz. Abyss uses his strength and size to neutralize LAX and to introduce some toys, in the form of a table and two barbed wire boards. Homicide gets involved hitting Abyss with a chair, setting up the story of the match as LAX control the big man using any weapon they can find, or receive from the compadres on the outside. Decay do regain some control, using the weapons available to prevent any double team moves before Steve is thrown to the outside and removed from the equation.

Rosemary gets involved attempting to spray mist into the eyes of Ortiz, only for Ortiz to move and for the mist to hit Abyss. This results in Abyss being speared into one of the barbed wire boards, and the other being driven into his front, thanks to a senton by Santana. Homicide attempts to get involved again but is thrown to the outside by Crazzy Steve, with Steve planning to put Ortiz through a table before covering him in thumbtacks. Homicide manages to distract him enough for Santana to hit an Enzuigiri on Steve, setting up a Powerbomb/Blockbuster double team move through the table and tacks as LAX pick up the win. The set up for the last move of the match was brilliant, you can audibly hear Santana scream ‘Steve’ to gain his attention so they can hit it.

1. L.A.X vs King, Homicide & Hernandez – Concrete Jungle Deathmatch, Bound for Glory 2018

A match with no canvas, just the wooden boards exposed and they weren’t even nailed down. The OGz, and King, the latter had attempted to take control of LAX away from Konnan, were meant to be going against Santana, Ortiz and Konnan before the latter was injured resulting in a 3-on-2 handicap match. Four or five trashcan lids to the head of Hernandez to start and he’s bleeding already. Cagey start between Santana and King who were trying to slam each other on the boards, whilst Hernandez and Homicide controlled Ortiz on the outside. The OGz controlled Ortiz, with Santana nowhere to be seen, setting up tables in the ring. That was until King tried to dive on LAX, only to miss and go headfirst into the barricade.

Oh, and Hernandez thought he’d Border Toss Homicide from the ring to the outside onto LAX. Hernandez eventually shoulder barges Ortiz through one of the tables, removing him from the match causing Santana to have to fend off all three members of the opposition. Ortiz makes his way back into the action, hitting a Double Superplex, alongside Santana, onto Hernandez landing pretty rough on the boards. The match does make me laugh as all the referee is doing is adjusting or removing the boards, attempting to make the gaps smaller but sometimes failing. Konnan appears, hitting Hernandez and Homicide with something inside a sock, before throwing King through the remaining table. LAX hit the Street Sweeper on King for the win. An absolutely brutal match concept, but they made it awesome.

Watching LAX, you can tell that Santana is the more athletic of the two, being the one featured more on the highlight reel, which does kind of take some of the limelight away from Ortiz. However, they have such an incredible partnership, they will succeed wherever they go. I’m happy they chose AEW over WWE because their style could be mishandled in the PG company that is WWE, whereas in AEW they will flourish against the multitude of tag teams they have. One of those teams, is the Lucha Brothers, who they had their best matches with in Impact. Two very young competitors, who have an incredibly bright future and I cannot wait to see where it leads them.

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