Lucha Underground 3×32: The Cueto Cup

this destroyer is good only because of Prince Puma’s sell

Matches

Sexy Star and Veneno went to a no finish in a mask versus mask match (0:51, whatever)

Prince Puma beat Pentagon Dark to win the Cueto Cup (9:34, 630 senton, good)

Johnny Mundo beat Rey Mysterio to retain the Lucha Underground championship (18:04, fin de mundo, good)

Developments

bad times for Mundo

Johnny Mundo is still Lucha Underground champion. Dario Cueto banned all people on the “roster” from participating. The concept of a set “roster” in Lucha Underground is hard to fathom, given the owner didn’t even know who Veneno was last week and Matt Striker referenced Super Fly disappearing from the show. In this case, that very special word choice meant Dominic could show up to get some revenge on Mundo before being chased away by security, and that Dario himself pulled out the ref to cost Rey the match. They wasted no time with Rey getting his revenge, but Mysterio landing the 619 on Cueto left him open for a Mundo belt shot, and Mundo landed the find the Mundo a moment later. Striker sold this as a travesty.

Prince Puma defeated Pentagon Jr. in a competitive match to win the Cueto Cup. Vampiro celebrated with Puma after the match, making their private alliance very public. Vampiro rooted for Puma during the match. By virtue of these outcomes, Prince Puma will face Johnny Mundo for the championship as the main event of Ultima Lucha 3.

The Sexy Star/Veneno match barely got going before Joey Ryan ran out, and ripped off Veneno’s mask. The announcers focused on Veneno being exposed as Ricky Reyes, and not about a DQ being called. Referee Justin Borden was busy with Sexy Star and didn’t see the mask being removed. Borden  did appear to very quickly (thru editing) count Reyes out, and that’s likely how the result that occured in the building. Striker, in an obviously post edited line for TV, instead said the match was thrown out. His later lines talking about Veneno/Reyes as if he had lost the match and his real identity needed to be announced were left in. Reyes beat up Ryan, but Ryan got in a foul and escaped with the Veneno match.

Thoughts

nice reversal into the backbreaker

Lucha Underground usually delivers on big shows. They failed tonight.

The Sexy Star/Veneno segment was outrageously terrible, just a thumb to the eye of the viewer. There was no reason for it to be a mask match, just like there wasn’t really any reason for Johnny’s whiny heel agent to call Sexy Star’s title reign terrible. They know why they did what they did, but it came off like they were still ticked off about the reactions to Sexy Star’s title reign and the Sexy Star/Super Fly and decided to take it out on everyone else. They delivered a “mask vs mask” match which was among the most ill considered segments, up there with the Angelico/Ivelisse match. At least with that one, they realized what they had enough to try and tone it down in editing (didn’t work). This one could’ve been fixed easier. It would’ve been only a few minutes instead of an aggravating bit if they edited out the mask vs mask stipulation, but instead we were treated to a booking tantrum in the place of actually good wrestling.

(This was the first time Dario Cueto was acting way out of character; the Dario Cueto of the last three seasons would’ve have let a mask/mask match end without a finish, and he would’ve humiliated Cortez himself. It also made no sense for Joey Ryan to go out of the way disrupt this match when he and Dario were the ones who came up with it. This didn’t make any sense.)

Pentagon & Puma was good, and would’ve been a nice treat as a random match in the middle of the season. They got in a lot of big spots, the crowd was totally into it, and they got a decent amount of time. The match was good, and probably would appreciated even stronger out of context. There were problems with it in context; it didn’t feel like a big match, a tournament final at all. Finisher kick outs are over done in general, but this was definitely the time for guys surviving something beyond what they normally do, and what we got instead was the normal build up to a normal finish. Puma winning clean and as fairly as season one with the 630 senton didn’t really fit the long and incessant story they’ve been telling about Puma falling under Vampiro’s spell. There needed to be something underhanded, something that compromised him or justified his new outlook, like using the cement block on Mil Muertes, but he instead just won the same way he would’ve won before the skinny jeans, and the angry man who’d been breaking everyone’s arms quietly walked away. It felt wrong.

(Striker and Vampiro had a very bad night, but this also feels like one of those things where complaints only get them to push back harder. Lucha Underground is intensely loyal to people who were with them from the start and I don’t expect any change if there’s a season 4, but I also think they’d be crazy to keep going with these two.)

backcracker

The title match was a really solid match between two guys who work together well. Mundo comes off as a champion here and Rey put in a really strong effort for his biggest match on the show so far. It went a bit long; it probably would’ve helped both matches if they took a few minutes out of the middle of this one and tacked it on the end of the Cueto Cup. The production wasn’t at their usual level; both big Mysterio dives were shot in ways where it was hard to see what was going on, at least on the SD version I get. And then that finish.

Nothing about it made sense. Nothing about earlier made sense: why would Johnny Mundo want interference banned when he wins all his matches by interference and none of the técnicos ever interfere in his match? Why would Dario ban Worldwide Underground if he wants Rey to lose? Why would Dario scheduled Rey in the first place in the title match if he didn’t want him to win the title, and then wait 15 minutes to cost him it? Why did he lecture Matanza about letting go of his hunger for revenge on Rey and then attack Rey? I’m sure some of those things will be answered in the next few weeks, but I’m guessing not a lot of it will.  The answers to those questions are going to have to overwhelmingly satisfying to make up for the very unsatisfying finish to a match that’s been built to for months. And it’s going to have to make up for the usual heel owner bit, making Dario a lot less interesting in the process. There was nothing they were building towards, nothing they were paying off with this finish, just the usual played out swerve for the sake of doing a swerve.

(And, this is another reason that Sexy Star/Veneno match was so dumb. If you know Mundo/Rey is going to have a disappointing finish, the last thing you need is another terrible ending earlier in the show.)

The storytelling on this show was bad. The work in the matches was generally really good, and people defending this show will point to that work as a reason not to trash this show. There’s also the reasoning to wait and see how this will pay off. I’m in no danger of not watching the last handful of episodes here, but we’ve waiting nearly three months for this and the pay off really wasn’t worth it. This show has done a great job of elevating the wrestler’s performances with their story telling on other shows, but they let them down on this show.

how this show felt