Paul London [O], Saltador, Mala Suerte beat Ricky Mandel [X], Taya, PJ Black to win three Aztec Medallions (4:27, Paul London Shooting Star Press on Mandel, ok)
Mil Muertes beat Jeremiah Crane (7:05 from the time they got to the ring, 13:25 if you count the main segment, 14:04 if you go back to first contact, flatliner, great)
Pentagon Dark beat Texano Jr. (6:09, Golden Horsehoe to the face, ok)
If last week was heavy on matches, light on mythology, this was nearly the reverse. There was one big match, but there was a lot of heavy mythology.
It’s a coin toss where to start, but the end is as good place as any. The episode closed with Captian Vazquez following up on the tease from last week: no man alive could take the gauntlet from Cage, but noted dead person Mil Muertes might have a shot. She summed Catrina to her (more spookily lit than normal) office for a test confrontation. It was clear from the start that they had some strained relationship, but they were both powerless compared to the Gods they know are coming. Catrina was angry enough at Vazquez to refuse to help, and Vazquez mentioning she “gave [Catrina] life twice” seemed to just tough a nerve. Vazquez apparently gave half of the amulet to Catrina, but Catrina’s not happy about it, feeling she’s stuck between life and death. Vazquez offered the other half of the amulet, trading away her own immortality, if Mil can get the gauntlet away from Cage. Catrina testily accepted the deal, and revealed the first time Vazquez gave her life – Vazquez is Catrina’s mother.
The other mythological moment happened in Dario’s office, where a lot of these moments seem to happen. Dario was visited by FBI agent Winter, who claimed to be representing The Order and is replacing Councilman Delgado. (He’s introduced as a new character, but I believe he’s the same guy we saw in a limo scene much earlier this season.)
Dario knew about The Order, the group that’s behind all this gods descending semi-nonsense, but Dario didn’t know they had people in the FBI and he definitely didn’t know Councilman Delgado had been killed by Cage. Winter wasn’t really concerned with that, chalking it up to just one of those things that happen when a vessel is being prepared for a God. (That answers the question of why there was no quick follow up – the people who knew Delgado was dead didn’t care, and the people who did care didn’t know.) Winter seemed to be just there to establish his role, update Dario on the plot, speak threateningly about a war, and mark out for Pentagon Dark. On the other hand, Dario seemed quite concerned about how disposable his boss turned out to be and what that means for his own lifespan. His grabbing the red bull seemed symbolic; maybe he’s going to make sure to care of his family first.
In a third, lesser obvious plot line note, Worldwide Underground’s agent Benjamin Cooke threatened to fire all the underlings after they lost a winnable match against the Rabbit Tribe. (It was Ricky’s fault, of course.) He credited Johnny for being the only reason they were still allowed to be around, but seemed to be separating Mundo from the rest of the group. There’s something up. In an episode with immortal police detectives and FBI agents who are part of a secret cult, it’s unlikely Benjamin Cooke is just an agent. A reveal is coming, probably in the next ten episodes (maybe that last one), but right now we’re just looking for signs of which way it’s going to go.
There were also matches! As mentioned, the Rabbit Tribe picked up three Aztec Medallions, leaving four more to be decided before they hold a match. Pentagon Dark beat Texano when Famous B’s unwanted help finally backfired: the golden horseshoe ended up in Pentagon’s hands and then Texano’s jaw. Pentagon is locked in, but mostly locked in breaking arms. Famous B saved Texano at the cost of getting his own arm broken again, and Brenda got her arm broken just for checking on B (and maybe to remind us that Pentagon’s actually not a good guy no matter how many people chant Cero Miedo, because this was some straight up not good guy stuff.)
Jeremiah Crane versus Mil Muertes was the match of the night. This felt the most like end of Season 1, early Season 2 ultimate destroyer Mil Muertes. He destroyed Jeremiah before the match started, he destroyed Jeremiah for the length of the match, and he destroyed Jeremiah after the match for good measure. Crane looked competitive at times, but he was man who’s best pitches were getting knocked out of the park – he showed the most by just staying alive as long as he did. It was crazy brawl, complete with the usual moment where someone fed Striker a line about Dario having told everyone it was no DQ to explain how there hadn’t been 50 of those already. Catrina gave Crane a Kiss of Death after the match, to set up a Mil Head Kick of Death and a DDT of Death.
That leaves next week’s Cueto Cup semifinals as
Fenix vs Prince Puma (a rematch from episode 1×10, where Puma won)
Mil Muertes vs Pentagon Dark (never a 1v1 match on this show, though they have met in multimans)
There’s a sense of momentum with the season at this point. The tournament is moving to the close – with the four favorites all advancing – and the plot lines seem to be moving on. That amulet was introduced 28 episodes ago and someone finally did more with it than stare. The Agent Winter stuff is a lot of the same end of times war that’s been mentioned for three seasons without anything anchoring it to a wrestling match, but at least we found out Councilman Delgado’s death was mostly about the shocking visual of exploding Lorenzo Llamas’ head and not a lot more. The Aztec Medallions give me a sense of impeding conclusion in the conventional wrestling plots, and it’s nice to see some of that urgency mirrored a bit in the mythological too – maybe some of it actually gets concluded in season 3 too.
Mil Muertes/Jeremiah Crane was fun. It’s mostly a style preference to pick this or Fox/Puma as the best match in this round, and they’re both pretty great. I enjoyed how Crane’s tricks just wouldn’t work – the cannonball got cut off, the table backfired, even repeating the chair but wasn’t enough to beat killing machine Mil Muertes. Mil Muertes is back to being way too much for anyone and Crane’s over-eagerness cost him in the end, jumping right into the flatliner. It was almost so definite that it felt like the end of the issue, only it’s a feud in Lucha Underground so there’s got to be a stipulation match coming for that.
I didn’t think much of Pentagon/Texano. It was alright but it never found the extra levels the Pentagon/Drago match did. Both here and in his much more recent matches in AAA, Texano really hasn’t found that extra gear to make matches feel important. Famous B costing Texano the match concluded his tournament story well but made for the least exciting of the four quarterfinals. Pentagon snapping Brenda’s arm just for being there felt a bit uncomfortable, but maybe was supposed to feel a little bit uncomfortable.
You probably don’t watch much El Rey outside the show. Some weeks, they air an episode specific commercial for next week, which is helpful if you’re a dork on the internet who’s trying to be the first to figure out what matches are airing in that episode. They haven’t been doing one of those recent weeks. They’ve instead aired one of two episode unspecific Strong Female Characters commercials. It’s never outright said to be that, but it’s just highlights of the LU women doing and saying impressive things. (There’s even a highlight of a spot that I’m pretty sure hasn’t aired yet, and won’t for some time.) I was thinking about that Strong Female Character commercial when this week’s opener had the Rabbit Tribe seeing Taya less as an opponent and more as a pretty girl they hope would touch them. They’re wacky crazy guys as an excuse, except I think the announcers are not supposed to be wacky and crazy and they were going with it too. I so hoped Taya would just blast them with a running dropkick like the person the commercials portrayed, but she carried out with a running double knee smash anyway because that was the show it actually is. It didn’t look all that good, and neither was the match outside of Jack’s whiteboard. Can’t win them all.