Matanza defeats Puma (12:57, Wrath of the Gods, great)
The Dial of the Doom was a big part of the show for the third time this season, though a little differently than before. Dario spun the wheel at the start of the show, and landed on Puma. He declared that would be the main event, not the immediate match the last two occasions. It was a main event quality match, both entertaining and Puma coming as close to a win as anyone besides Pentagon Dark. Puma landed the 630 in the corner, but was immediately speared by Mil Muertes. Dario ordered the referee to not call the DQ. Striker drew attention to how Matanza was slow to get up and might have not kicked out had their been a cover (and ignored how close he was to the ropes.) Matanza and Mil, meeting for the first time on this show since their Grave Consequences match, had a brief glare before Matanza finished off Puma himself. Vampiro continues to push the idea that Puma needs to get in touch with his dark side (not in those words) to reclaim his spot, but attacking Muertes to do so might have cost him the title here.
We’ll have to wait until next time to see who gets Puma’s spot on the wheel. Ivelisse got the Mack’s spot, but her name obviously didn’t come up. Instead, she had an ordinary match with Mariposa. Ivelisse won despite Marty interfering, and suffered an attack from the siblings after the match. Later, as Ivelisse was recovering in the locker room, her new boyfriend caught up with her – he missed her match, tried to cover by saying he figured she would be in main event, and threatened to break the face of the Martinez’s for attacking her. His name is Jeremiah (the debuting Sami Callihan) and he seems like a wonderful total scumbag. Ivelisse wanted him to stay out of it, to keep her Lucha Underground life separate from her real life, but I don’t think any of this is going to work out well for her.
Cage beat Texano to go up 2-0 in their best of 5. It was more of a brawl, but Cage is dominant in the standings. He’s one win away from an opportunity. I guess Mundo is also one win away from an opportunity, but he can’t seem to get that right win and is upset about having to do it in the first place. For about the third time in five episodes, Mundo demanded Dario give him a title shot against Matanza or Sexy Star, and he got turned out down again. Mundo pointed out his team won the atomicos match, and Dario pointed out Jack actually got the win, so Jack will get a shot against Sexy Star next week. Mundo is less than thrilled with Dario’s booking.
The preview mention seeing the Rabbit Tribe. We got a vague :30 teaser for the Rabbit Tribe that seemed to have less info than the preview. The previewed mention a chilling message for Killshot. We got just that. Joey Ryan said a mystery man handed him an envelope to hand to hand to Killshot. (Given Joey’s current status quo, who knows about any of his stories.) Inside was simply a message saying “You Left Me For Dead.” Back in his intro vignette, Killshot mention he believed he was the only one of his unit to make it out alive from being a prisoner of war. Looks like he might have not been wrong on that one, or maybe not telling the truth.
Main event really brought the show up. It was a very competitive and exciting match. I’m willing to trade Matanza’s reduced invulnerable for more of him just tossing people around like a ragdoll. Puma can be a pretty good ragdoll, and he can impressively knock Matanza around. They went 12 minutes and felt like they were just starting to get into an exciting end game; there’s a lot more here if they have a chance to get back to it. Mil costing Puma the match was a rare interference bit that got an actual angry reaction from the crowd. I think they’re ready to see that match.
The opener was perhaps Lucha Underground’s best argument yet for intergender wrestling, because the woman versus woman match wasn’t all that interesting. I rated it OK and that feels generous: it was a slower speed match than normal LU, the action wasn’t as good, and there were some noticeable edits/framing to hide some moves not looking good. Mariposa’s in storyline performance hasn’t been great – she’s in danger of Catrina sucking out her soul too – and her actual work on this show has been disappointing on this show. I still love the No Mas match, but nothing else has been much good. The promise of this being a mixed tag feud was not promising. (On the other hand, Jeremiah does seem like he’ll be entertaining at least – he had a pretty good sense of his character in his first time out.)
Cage/Texano was definitely better this time (though “This Is Awesome” chant four minutes in was a bit much, or we missed a whole lot.) The concept itself isn’t working as well this time. Drago & Aerostar were about on the same level when they did this. Cage has had title challenges on both seasons, Texano has…been on both seasons, and Cage dominating the series is re-enforcing those standings. Hopefully Texano’s inevitable comeback will give people a better reason to care about him and this series.
Prince Puma beat Siniestro de la Muerte (4:50, flatliner, good)
Pentagon Jr. defeated Cortez Castro (1:05, package piledriver, NR)
Johnny Mundo, Taya, PJ Black, Jack Evans beat Aerostar, Drago, Fenix, Sexy Star (8:52, Jack Evans backslide Sexy Star, good)
Dragon Azteca beat Chavo Guerrero (7:41, huracanrana, OK)
This week was another episode of building storylines. The biggest match coming is clearly Mil Muertes versus Prince Puma, and it got a little closer tonight. Prince Puma defeated Siniestro de la Muerte in a mostly one sided opener, using Mil’s own move to win, then dived onto Mil in the post match (after Mil had tried and completely failed to interfere.) This turned out to be Siniestro’s “retirement” match, as Catrina snapped the Disciple’s neck later in the show, sucked his (and maybe the others) life force out of him, and passed it on to an even stronger and even more angry Mil Muertes.
We didn’t see Catrina’s amulet, but other parts of that story moved on. Cortez Castro returned to the temple, when he was met with a hug from Dario Cueto. Dario vowed to Cueto that they’d avenge Mr. Cisco and find his real killer. Dario also insisted the show go on, sending Castro directly to the ring to be mauled by Pentagon. Pentagon looking at Vampiro didn’t hold him back this week, and he even broke Cortez’s arm at the end. Cortez really should know his cover is blown at this point, but we don’t know how he’ll respond. Pentagon declared he’d destroy whoever won the chance to face him next
Dario was not as busy as last week, but still got around a bit. He ran into Sexy Star in the (female?) locker room, wondering outloud while Sexy Star hasn’t cashed in her opportunity yet. Sexy Star said she wasn’t scared, but Dario advised her to stick to defending the Gift of the Gods belt and not get in the ring with Matanza. Speaking of defending that title, Mundo happened upon Sexy and made it clear he’s coming for the belt. However, it was Jack Evans who got the pin over Sexy Star in the atomicos match, thanks to an unseen Mundo superkick. Taya was injured at the end of the match, and carried off after it.
The main event went straight to form. Rey Mysterio was a fair ref until Chavo made the mistake of attacking him, Rey punched Chavo into a Dragon Azteca huracanrana for the win, then hit Chavo with a 619 after the match. Dragon Azteca earned a shot against Pentagon Jr., but Pentagon has more people to worry about. A closing vignette revealed Black Lotus was coming back to the Temple, with the Black Lotus Triad, to gain revenge for Pentagon also breaking her arm at Ultima Lucha 2.
Just a regular show. The atomicos match was fun, much better than the trios match last week. Jack still was fooling around (or trying to limit his exposure while he dealt with his jaw injury), but it didn’t feel like it over powered the match. The match could’ve easily gone for a lot longer and it had a lot of Sexy Star, but it was enjoyable.
The opener too, though it wasn’t a typical Puma match. It was very one sided, and aimed at focusing on his darker side. The Mil/Puma feud seems a bit generic – it’s not much more than random feuding and one Vampiro promo – but the match itself should be pretty great when it happens again. Siniestro looked good here, and LU gave up on the character much quicker than they usually do – he never really got a feud, just was a set up guy for Mil’s feuds with Cuerno and Puma and an extra man to round out the Gift of the Gods match. The Disciples seem like they’ll go down as a failed concept (though the guy behind this one turns up again later in a different role.)
The Pentagon/Cortez match at least advances that story, and Pentagon “Dark” got a win. (Though the crowd was a lot less into seeing him – maybe because it was his second match of the taping, or maybe because they lost some momentum.) Striker’s done a 180 on Pentagon, viewing him breaking Cortez’s arm as a delightful post match activity and not an evil act. That was weird.
The main event didn’t really work for me; it felt built around Chavo’s strengths and setting up more a Rey/Chavo match than the Azteca/Pentagon match which was actually on the line. The dive catch spot was cool, but also required Azteca to do a simple pescado he’d never otherwise try. Toning down Dragon Azteca and giving him a less than credible win doesn’t do much for his chances against Pentagon.
I really loved Dario hugging Cortez. The Black Lotus Triad vignette at the end was well done, though it’s tough to make much of it if you don’t know what’s coming. Catrina sucking the life out of Siniestro and passing it to Mil was classic LU supernatural wackiness – they stayed true to what they are in this episode.
Matanza (c) defeated The Mack for Lucha Underground Championship (6:01, Wrath of the Gods, good)
Cage defeated Texano (5:55, discus clothesline, ok)
Fenix, Drago, Aerostar (c) defeated Taya, PJ Black, Jack Evans (9:22, Aerostar inside springboard frontcracker PJ Black, good)
There were a lot of stories about the same level of importance, nothing dominating the episode as in past weeks. The most time building a match was for one happening next week. The show started off with Rey Mysterio and Dragon Azteca training while Mysterio advised Azteca not to go for revenge against Pentagon. Azteca has a lot of trouble actually listening to advice. He first foolish charges Chavo Guerrero when he interrupts (angry about Chavo betraying the alliance with Azteca Sr. way back in season 1), which only gets him quickly humiliated. Azteca later goes to Dario to demand the match with Pentagon. Dario would rather see the Azteca/Black Lotus match completed, but offers to pencil in the Pentagon/Azteca match for next week. Dario later met with Chavo, in a meeting we didn’t see, and ends the episode explaining the situation to Mysterio directly. Rey doesn’t want to Azteca to face Pentagon, and Dario agrees with him – he’s changed the match to Azteca/Chavo instead, with the winner getting Pentagon. (Chavo must still want revenge for Pentagon breaking his arm near the end of season 2.) Dario points out Mysterio is conflicted; he knows Chavo well, and he knows he doesn’t want Azteca to actually face Pentagon yet, so Dario decides the proper thing to do is to make Mysterio the special referee so he Rey can decide the match himself. That goes down in pen.
Dario’s a busy guy in this episode. He introduces the first match, with The Mack being the latest name to ‘win’ the Dial of Doom. Matanza tries to attack Mack on the way to the ring, but Mack comes in from an unexpected direction and gets some solid shots on Matanza. Matanza eventually gets his knees up on a frog splash and finishes off another challenger. (“DARIO’S CHOICE” replaced Son of Havoc on the wheel, for what it’s worth.)
The previous Dial of Doom winner, Son of Havoc, is seen at home. Well, maybe his mom’s home. Son of Havoc complains about Famous B and his commercials to a friend who very much feels the same, Mascarita Sagrada. They’re briefly interrupted by Havoc’s mom who offers to make them Bagel Bites. This really happened, and the Bagel Bites bit appeared to be sponsored content.
Dario also appeared to offer an Ultimate Opportunity to two people who had disappointed him by losing in the first round of the 4 A Unique Opportunity tournament at the end of last season, Cage and Texano. The opportunity itself and the stips weren’t really revealed until the match was over, but it’s another best of five series. Cage leads 1-0.
In even more Dario action, in between meeting with Azteca and Chavo, Dario opened some mail. He discarded a Famous B hat, and tried to discard some mysterious photos which was sent to him. Dario put him in his trash basket, only for them to magically appear back on his desk. Ricky Mandell, who still exists and wants to have another match on this show some day, came asking for the match and ended up with the photos as Dario tried to rid two nuisances at the same time.
The main event featured no Dario whatsoever, but also not a lot of Johnny Mundo. It was scheduled to be Mundo, Jack, and PJ challenging, but Mundo walked out over still not getting a shot at Matanza – he’s a main event talent and expects to be treated that way. Taya gleefully took Mundo’s place on the team, though she may have regretted it later. Jack spent most of the match pouting and refusing to get along with PJ for no apparent reason. Jack just took a seat on the floor near the end, and Worldwide Underground really didn’t stand much of a chance. Mundo returned post match to attack the tecnicos, with Sexy Star making the save again.
Last week was the big match episode, this was a moving pieces around episode. Texano/Cage is literally the start of something, the trios title match was obviously a setup for something else, and Matanza simply collected another title defense to his run. There was lots of Dario, which is great because Dario is great, but they were all just setting up things for later on.
Matt Striker talked about the Mack being trained by Lil Cholo and TJ Perkins. I have no idea who this TJ Perkins is, but does that mean LU is a reality where both Lil Cholo and the remarkably similar Mr. Cisco exist.
Mack looked good on offense against Matanza, and Matanza again got thrown a lot more in a Season 3 match than he did for almost all of Season 2. I’m kinda of waiting for a story about how Matanza got powered down between seasons, because it’s kind of impossible to ignore. It makes for more exciting matches, but it is a break from what they’ve done before.
Matanza is really running thru the 4 A Unique Opportunity participants, but won’t be getting Cage or Texano for a while, I’d guess. Their match felt like a teaser to bigger matches down the line – neither guy even tried their usual big spots – which makes sense if they’ve got four of them. It’s unfortunate timing to be rolling this out just as WWE is running a similar angle, where the matches seem to be well received, but the concept is not. It did help spotlight Aerostar & Drago back in season 1, and Texano could use the same sort of attention to distinguish himself here.
Main event was kind of a mess for a while, with Jack’s antics detracting from the match. I’m sure it was mostly them just working thru the cards as they’ve been dealt – Jack can’t talk and can probably barely wrestle because of his jaw injury at that point, so even filming something to explain why Jack was acting that way would’ve been a challenge – but it was confusing and took away from a match which looked much better on paper. It did get going late, and it was an unexpected spotlight match for Aerostar, who seemed to get the most time of the tecnicos. Sexy Star’s dropkicks could not be saved by editing.
Dario was the star of the show. His bit with Rey at the end was great. I couldn’t decipher much of the photos, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of them.
taping dates for dorks
The trios title match was taped on May 15th (I think!), the other matches were taped on March 20th
Dr. Wagner defeated Mascarita Sagrada (0:59, Dr. Wagner Jr., not rated)
Mil Muertes defeated Argenis (1:34, Flatliner, not rated)
Killshot defeated Marty Martinez in a Weapons of Mass Destruction (22:26, double stomp thru a table, great)
If you had been waiting for months about updates on the police plot, then this was your episode. A lot of knowledge was dropped. Captain Vazquez was heard the tape of Mr. Cisco being murdered (though not until the part 2 of Ultimo Lucha Dos), but refused to bring in Dario Cueto. Joey Ryan/Officer Meehan and Cortez Castro/Officer Reyes got into a scuffle over this, since Cortez still saw Mr. Cisco as a friend and didn’t want his murder to be just overlooked. It’s implied Castro slipped the audio tape of the murder to higher ups, who arrested Dario Cueto on their own at the end of Ultima Lucha 2. Vazquez figured it what he did, and suspended Castro for not going along with her plan. To her, Dario Cueto is just as much an unimportant piece as Mr. Cisco, but taking Dario off the playing field makes it impossible to find Dario’s boss (Dr. Claw) and that’s the person she really wants. Some months later (at the season of Season 3), Castro apologized, Vazquez reinstated him and sent him back to the Temple.
That’s not really a good turn of events for Castro. Last week, after Dario returned to ‘work’, he was surprised by Joey Ryan. Ryan sold out the investigation and his partner, revealing that both and Castro were police. Dario appeared not to have known. Ryan wants in on Dario’s plans, and Dario seemed to agree. (Given these two, it’s possible Joey is working as a double agent or his own angle, and it’s likely Dario will sell him out either way.)
Why are we doing this, anyway? Well, it turns out that back a 1000 years ago, a special amulet was passed on from a father to his daughter. The father was dying, and needed his daughter to continue his war. The amulet wouldn’t do anything for him, but would allow her to live forever. She relevancy accepted it and he passed away. In present time (or close to it), we see that Captain Vazquez has half of the amulet. In the show closing moment, we see that Catrina has the other half.
There were matches too! Two of them were rather tossed off. Dr. Wagner squashed Mascarita Sagrada, in a sgment just to remind us of the Season 2 ending status quo for Famous B – Wagner’s his guy, and Mascarita got kicked to curbed. The money won was alluded to but not seen. Argenis barely got any more offense in on Mil, who completely overmatched his opponent. Puma attacked him for no obvious reason after the match, except he must’ve taken Vampiro’s advice to heart.
The main event, which took most of the second half of the show, was the Weapons of Mass Destruction match. The Temple had weapon crates, camouflage netting, guns, and rocket shells laying around, though Killshot also got into the usual tables and chairs by the end. It was a match more known for it’s brutality than any particular story. Killshot did attack Marty as he was making his way to the ring. Marty used Melissa as a human shield, and taunted her during the match. Mariposa appeared only late, and only lasted about 15 seconds before she took a brutal bump off a ladder thru a table (nearly hitting her head on the bottom rope.) Killshot ripped the dogtags off of Marty as they fought on top of the ladder, then drove him off it with a double stomp thru the table to win.
This was an overall weird experience. The first half of the show was loaded with brief matches and short vignettes. The idea was to clear out as many commercial breaks as possible so they could show the main event without a break. They’ve done it before, and it’s always a little weird until you grasp they’re just giving the main event time (and it’s a bit that won’t be as much an issue when watched on iTunes), but it didn’t flow as well this time. It’s seemed like those other similar shows have had more a variety of vignettes. This was was all about the police plot, which hasn’t been one of their stronger plots. This used what they had set up before to move a lot of pieces around – Ryan’s sold out, Cortez is in deep trouble, we now have a reason to care about Vazquez – but it was so much of it at once that it felt overwhelming and the dramatic impact was disrupted by the pacing. A skit where Cortez is kicked off the investigation and a skit where Cortez is welcomed back onto the investigation really can’t either in the same episode, much less the same 10 minute stretch. They really wanted to get to both halves of the amulet by the end of the episode (which I’m not sure they needed to do), but we were spending a lot of time in one big chunk on characters who haven’t been that compelling up to now, and the whole thing felt rushed.
Two episodes makes a pattern, adn so there’s now a pattern of lots of flashbacks this year on the show that also does no replays during matches. Those last couple of episodes might have been better off if the bits we’re only seeing now were shown in ‘real time’ – if Cortez being benched happened to close out Ultima Lucha 2, than maybe it would mean something for him to be back. (On the other hand, that’d be another big change that was immediately undone to start the season. An upisde of these vignettes is we can see more of the ripples of Dario’s arrest, even for as short it lasted.)
I had problems with the presentation of the show. And I had lots of problems with the presentation of the main event. I’ve generally given up on making announcing complaints at this point. Striker and Vampiro are as associated with the product as Dario is at this point, and they can rise to being weirdly endearing at times. They’re much more reigned and under control in LU than their AAA appearances, and I’m generally numb to their quirks after 60 some episodes. LU has had two “off seasons” to make changes and they’ve elected to roll with the same crew. I fully grasp that there’s probably nothing that’s going to change that.
There’s also nothing that’s going to be change that their performance in this match, especially by Matt Striker, was the dirt worst. Killshot & Marty are killing themselves and each other, and Striker is forcing in every single artificial preplanned reference like Joey Chesnut at a hot dog eating contest. It was just about as appetizing. The point of announcing is to add to enhance to the match, but the point of Striker’s commentary – often, but never more than here – was to make his references the star of the show and just use guys driving each other head first into ladders as a set up to his next hacky punch line. It wouldn’t even have mattered if the lines were clever or funny, the experience should never be about how many one-liners any announcer can get off, but about the one guy clobbering the other guy. (It also wasn’t even a political thing – Striker was equally as annoying when he made less charged but still equally irrelevant look at me comments.) I don’t even want to put it all on Striker. When he’s done this in the past, it’s come out that writers were feeding him lines to keep him going, and I’d guess they were doing it again. They were at least fine with it, since it made it on to the show. Meanwhile, Vampiro was going the extreme opposite direction, trying to sell the idea that guns were loaded and the grenades were armed. It would’ve seem ludicrous on it’s own, but it was out of this world with the other voice busy prepping his routine for the Chuckle Hut.
Striker’s commentary might have be perfect for a “$5 wrestling” audio track, mocking the bad wrestling being shown. This wasn’t a bad match, this was the end of a long and personal rivalary in an attempt to help both men break out. Instead, I wanted to break my TV. In their defense, the match did go so long that Striker ran out of references to make, and was actually forced to start calling the match like a sane human being might. Maybe other people got back into it at that point – I hope they did. For me, I was just beyond caring about something the people involved didn’t seem emotionally involved in all that much, and generally aggravated about how it felt like they disrespected both of the wrestlers. The match seemed fine, good, but it was one I was never going to revisit or would ever tell people to check out.
Now. I try not to read any reviews before I post my own, because I think it helps me form my own opinions without being too influenced by other takes. I am on Twitter during the show, which may hurt that idea. (I won’t be next week.) I did see a lot of strongly positive comments for this match, largely from people who I believe were in the building that day, but mostly that’s just because those were the people I happened to be checking in on. So, after I finished watching the CWC, those comments caused me to give the match another shot. And I did, with the volume on mute.
The Weapons of Mass Destruction was close to, if not quite at, the level of the No Mas match. It was an Ultima Lucha level match, something that would’ve fit better on the show than the Gift of the Gods, and an eyegrabbing performance for both men. It was lacking a level of internal story to really take it all the way up, as it felt like control just floated back and forth frequently with no real flow. The volume and impact of the big spots made it up for it. The suplex onto the ladder, Killshot getting run face first into the ladder, Killshot taking the suplex to the outside thru the table, the suplex onto the weapon crates, Mariposa’s tumble thru a table and the finish were all just insane moments. The weapons motif added a little, was a little goofy, and didn’t factor into the results much. Killshot got the feud ending win, as he absolutely had to, and probably took more of the physical punishment. Yet, this was really Marty’s break out performance. He’s far away from the goofball who got beat by Alberto in a minute. Marty’s probably never going to be athlete the level of many other in LU, but he carried his personality thru this match better than most. Marty came off as crazed, demented and dangerous, and a real significant threat for Killshot to overcome. His reactions helped elevate this from just being a stunt show to something more serious. The finish came off contrived – why did Killshot climb the ladder like it there was a reward at the top instead of just shoving the ladder over? – but the double stomp was a great visual (and that’s what LU is.) I’d recommend watching the match, though I’d suggest waiting until it gets dubbed into Japanese, or at least watching on mute.