Lucha Underground 4×1: El Jefe

hooray for this dude

Matches

Pentagon Dark won Aztec Warfare 4 to retain the Lucha Underground championship (31:13, good)
* first defense

00:00 Killshot starts [1]
00:00 Willie Mack starts [2]
00:00 Son of Havoc starts [3]
00:41 Joey Ryan enters [4]
01:40 Mr. Pectacular enters [5]
02:45 Killshot inside cradles Mack {1}
02:55 Pentagon Dark enters [6]
----
03:56 Pentagon Dark half nelson driver Joey Ryan {2}
04:32 Son of Havoc shooting star press Killshot {3}
04:38 Tommy Dreamer enters [7]
05:19 Penta superkick Mr. Pectactular {4}
05:56 Maripsoa enters [8]
07:19 Son of Havoc handspring cutter Mariposa {5}
08:15 Pentagon Dark double stomp Tommy Dreamer {6}
08:23 Vinnie Massaro enters [9]
09:38 Penta half neslon driver Vinnie Massaro {7}
09:51 Hernandez enters [10] 
10:48 Pentagon arm break Hernandez {8}
11:20 Pentagon backcracker Son of Havoc {9}
11:32 Johnny Mundo enters [11]
----
12:13 Angelico does NOT enter
12:41 Ricky Mundo enters [12]
14:07 Johnny Mundo Moonsault Drive Ricky Mundo {10}
14:14 Fenix enters [13]
15:45 Jeremiah Crane enters [14]
16:31 Mil Muertes enters [15]
17:50 Fenix sprigboard double stomp Mil Muertes {11}
18:12 Daga enters [16]
19:13 Chavo Guerrero Jr. enters [17]
19:55 Pentagon Dark half nelson driver Jeremiah Crane {12}
20:20 Chavo vertical suplex Fenix {13}
21:03 Johnny Mudno Fin de Mundo Daga {14}
21:10 King Cuerno enters [18]
22:19 Dragon Azteca Jr. enters [19]
23:47 Marty Martinez enters [20]
24:28 Marty Martinez pins Johnny Mundo {15}
----
25:19 King Cuerno frog splash Dragon Azteca {16}
26:49 Chavo Guerrero Gory Bomb King Cuerno {17}
27:18 Penta sit down cradle Chavo Guerrero Jr. {18}
31:13 Penta package piledriver Marty Martinez {19}

What happened

obligatory pizza driver GIF

Dario Cueto is dead. The opening shot of the season is Dario in a casket. This apparently his funeral, and we see Antonio Cueto and Agent Winter in the room. Antonio touches Dario in taking the Key from him. It immediately establishes that Antonio Cueto is not Dario under makeup and a bad wig, it’s his father. People have come back from the dead on Lucha Underground, and the way they leave open the question of why Dario would call his father as he’s dying (since Antonio claims never to have liked Dario) still gives one opening for an out. But, for now, the show is very insistent Dario Cueto is dead.

It’s also insistent in that Dario Cueto is dead because Antonio Cueto ordered him dead. Last season suggested it was simply about Dario failing to get control of the gauntlet (and the body of the person holding the gauntlet), but here it’s said Antonio made the decision Dario had to go. It would seem like Antonio would be fine with the knowledge that Agent Winter was the one who did the killing, but Agent Winter lies and says it was gangbangers who did it instead for unclear reasons.

Antonio Cueto is now the promoter of Lucha Underground. The old Temple can’t be used because Dario’s death attracted attention to the building. Antonio moves it to an old ice house used to store beer, saying that anywhere Lucha Underground mat (with the Aztec symbol) goes is automatically the Temple.

Antonio disrupts a ten bell salute to his son, throws the framed picture out of the ring, and declares himself a superior promoter and person than Dario. Antonio also claims he was the one who really invented Aztec Warfare and declares it to happen tonight to determine a Lucha Underground new champion, oddly sure Pentagon Dark will be losing. Along the way, Antonio also declares new trios champions: Dante Fox is missing in action, so Killshot and the Mack enter 1 & 2, and Antonio replaces Fox in the team with whoever’s number 3. That turns out to be Son of Havoc. No one’s happy with the turn of events, and less so when Killshot pins Mack and Havoc pins Killshot during the match. (Some dubbed in commentary hinted at Killshot having a personality change.)

Mr. Pectactular & Hernandez were surprises who didn’t last long. Tommy Dreamer lasted a while, to brawl with Penta and take a thumbtack bump. Vinnie Massaro got driven onto a pizza. Daga got his first match since Season 2, and lasted a few minutes.

Kobra Moon was angry about his elimination and later brought out Vibora to attack Johnny Mundo, leading to his elimination.

Catrina was upset about Mil Muertes going out rather quick, walking out on him.

Angelico was said to be supposed to be #12, did not appear, and was replaced by Ricky Mundo. Mundo was obsessed with a scary doll he brought to the ring. Johnny pinned him quickly.

Chavo Guerrero Jr. return, after losing a loser leaves the Temple forever match last season, was presumed to a peace offering by Antonio to the Guerrero family to stop their feud.

Penta cleanly won cleanly over Marty to keep his title. Antonio Cueto noted Dario would’ve probably sent out another person to face Penta now (as Dario did back in Season 2), but he’d instead announce a match for next week: Penta defending his title against “my only son” Matanza.

Thoughts.

this was about all Dragon Azteca got to do in the match but it was nice

Uh oh.

Lucha Underground gave us Pentagon Dark beating eight different people to remain champion, and it still felt like the least enjoyable Azteca Warfare by the end. Maybe by a fair distance. It was not much good until Fenix came in at 13. Past halfway is a long way to go for a match to get good.

The match had disadvantages: it was 14 past the hour before it started, which made for the shortest and most compressed version of this match ever. People were coming in, doing about two moves, and the next music would hit. There wasn’t the time for the match to settle into any groove, especially with the match having to come to a stop often for bits. Fenix’s run was great, the Penta/Marty stuff was good at the end, Johnny Mundo contributed well, but it was bizarre they found time and eliminations for Chavo Guerrero when others were just eliminated quick. There are parts of this match I liked, and there were parts of the match which confirmed my concerns about this season. I think I’ve landed on calling the match Good while being sure there’s no chance I’ll ever seek it out again.

For a first episode, it was as if a giant reset button came down in between seasons, with only the one thing everyone was sure would eventually be undone (Dario’s death) appearing to be left intact. Penta is still champion, but he’s been switched from Vampiro’s student of evil to a man fighting against the odds to remain champion. Vampiro betraying Prince Puma and revealing himself as with Pentagon was not mentioned on the show. If they made a mention of King Cuerno having the Gauntlet, I definitely missed it. He didn’t bring it to the ring. Catrina blowing a kiss as Catrina walked to the ring was about as much service as that storyline got (and there was nothing with Fenix even though he was out there.) Killshot and Dante Fox was the hottest rivalry at the end of the season, and this season started with one missing and another acting out of character. It’d be really weird to watch Ultima Lucha 3 and this episode back to back on a streaming service because of how much has changed, so I guess it’s a good thing you can’t actually do that. This was both the first episode of the season and an Aztec Warfare match, so they didn’t really have time to touch on every status quo. They just didn’t do much with the ones they had the time for. They found time to set up new issues (Mundo/Reptile Tribe, Ricky/dolls, trios title) but the past was simply the past.

one more bit of Fenix

It would surprise me if the story they told with Angelico – he just didn’t show up – is not far from the real story. But, they already did a “he’s just not here, we’re moving on to the next as quickly as possible” bit with Dante Fox on that episode. Doing it twice in half hour is not a great look, especially in an episode where a fair bit of other regulars – Cage, Taya, Drago, Aerostar, the Rabbit Tribe – gives an impression of something going wrong behind the scenes. A lot of those people should turn up later but “people aren’t here anymore” is not a great running bit.

I did not like Striker on this show in many ways. What was more confusing is they obviously had Striker go back and revoice around the Havoc/Killshot storyline, but they still left in Striker warning new fans about the Penta armbreak of Marty, when we just saw Penta do the same thing to Hernandez. Maybe that’s a reason not to use Hernandez for that if even the people in charge didn’t remember it. Maybe some editor could’ve made Striker seem less foolish than he already is. Vampiro seemed to disappear for large stretches of this show.

I did not leave this show feeling strong about this season. It’s just one episode. I know they can do better than this. But I also know they can do better than this and this is what we got instead. It didn’t work.

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