Lucha Underground 1×31: The Desolation of Drago

Drago’s got new wings

the matches

Chavo Guerrero Jr. b Blue Demon in a no disqualification match (3:04, frog splash)
The Disciples of Death b Pimpinela Escarlata [X], Mascarita Sagrada, Bengala (6:55, press into a face first powerbomb)
Drago b Cuerno [X], Hernadnez, Cage, earning a shot at the Lucha Underground Championship on Ultima Lucha (10:34, mist->Dragon’s Tail cradle)
Drago would’ve had to give up his mask and remained banned if he had lost.

developments

Lots of things progressing at once. The big news was the announcement of Ultima Lucha, a yearly show, to take place eight weeks from now. (That’s August 5.) The main event of Ultima Lucha will be a heavyweight title match. Dario wanted someone who had come close to winning but failed to get another shot, so he had invitational #1 contenders match for all those who had lost to Prince Puma. That includes Cage (episode 14 & 22), Cuerno (episode 24), Hernandez (episode 31) and Fenix (episode 12), only Dario noted Mil Muertes put Fenix in “an early grave” and so it’d just be the other three.

Or not, as Drago (with a new look) was lurking around the arena building prior to the show and stormed in after the announcement. He confronted Dario, pointing out that he had said anyone who had faced Puma and lost could be in the match, and he had done that himself (episode 27). Dario gave credit to Drago for finding the loophole and made a deal: Drago’s in the match and gets the title shot (and unbanned) if he wins. Drago’s back to being banned if he loses, and also must unmask. Drago accepted with little hesitation.

the end (nice pose)

Drago was the underdog in the four way match, the smallest guy in a long four way single elimination match. Drago also old rival Cuerno to deal with, as well Hernandez, who cost him the Puma match. Cuerno and Cage worked together a lot during the match, but always had a tension as if they wanted to figure out which one of them was better. They never quite got a chance to come to blows without the others interrupting. Killshot watched the second half of the match from the balcony, with Cuerno making the bow shot motion in his direction before his Flecha del Infierno dive. The dive caught mostly Cage, with Hernandez bailing. Drago gave Hernandez a sunset flip powerbomb off the apron, then finished things with Cuerno by first blowing mist in his eyes and then wrapping him up with the Dragon’s Tail cradle. Drago earned the shot for eight weeks from now and faced off with Prince Puma to end the show.

That was a little presumptuous: Prince Puma may not be the champion in eight weeks. He didn’t appear to know it, but Puma’s got a title challenger next week: Johnny Mundo. Mundo questioned Dario about why he wasn’t in the #1 contenders match, and Dario explained it was because Dario wanted Mundo to be champion at Ultima Lucha. The whole thing with the key stealing and black eye was old news to Dario – “I look good in sunglasses” – and he’s now on Team Johnny. Johnny putting Alberto thru Dario’s window opened up Dario’s eyes, and Dario wants to see Mundo with the title. Dario also had a new first time ever idea: next week’s show will have only one match, Johnny vs Puma, and the person who can get the most falls by the end of the hour will be the champion. (So, an Iron Man match.) Johnny was OK with this.

That wasn’t the end of the title picture complications. Dario observed Drago’s win from his office, but was interrupted by an aggrieved Catrina. She demanded to know why Mil Muertes hadn’t been included in the match. Dario pleaded he didn’t think Muertes was interested. Catrina, using Dario’s key necklace chain to choke out Cueto, declared that everyone – mortal & inmortal – wants that title. Dario, looking to make it right before he was made unconscious, quickly give Mil a title shot for two weeks from now. Catrina relented, declaring Mil Muertes would win – he’s the strongest, even stronger than Dario’s monster. Catrina vanished, leaving Dario shocked about her magic powers and her knowledge of Matanza.)

(to summarize

06/17 (ep 32, All Night Long): Johnny Mundo vs Prince Puma, iron man match for the Lucha Underground Championship
06/24 (ep 33, ?): Drago vs Mil Muertes for the title shot at Ultma Lucha
08/05 (ep 39, Ultima Lucha): champion vs challenger
)

welcome Bengala

The heavyweight belt might not be Cartina’s only attempt at winning gold. Her Disciples of Death trio – and they appear to be HER Disciples, not Mil’s – won their debut match over the trio of Pimpinela Escarlata, Mascarita Sagrada, and the debuting Bengala. Pimpi and Mascarita were making their returns after being beat up by the crew (way back in ep 17) and Bengala was explained to be a replacement partner for the currently injured Sexy Star. Bengala looked good in his first match, but Pimpinela took the loss. The Disciples – Barrio Negro, Trece, and Sinestro de la Muerte – carry their victim on their hands much like they did with Fenix last week, then flip them over on their face.

The show opening match actually featured the returning Blue Demon Jr. He returned in a suit, and recieved a immediate surprise no disqualification match against Chavo Guerrero Jr., who had Cortez & Cisco frequently interfering on his behalf. Demon had control early, but lost to the numbers. Chavo later checked in on Black Lotus, who was indeed caged across the way from Matanza. Lotus was angry with Chavo for betraying her, though Chavo felt she shouldn’t be surprised.

In a thing I forgot until now: Vampiro apologized for running in last week, but said he had no choice but to save Sexy Star.

recording keeping notes

They changed the episode order! This was the first half of the March 22nd taping. They’re now jumping to the second taping of the April 12 taping. That one was announced as airing in out of order – but meaning it was supposed to air much later, like episode 36. It’s being moved a month up and everything else is being bumped back a week. I don’t think anyone but me and the other geeks who keep track of these things will notice, because it seems pretty seamless. It also makes one thing work a little better, but I’ll explain that down the line.

It also appears the Super Fly/Famous B match taped for this show won’t air. It can’t air next week since that’s all one match and Super Fly has a different match on episode 34. It could always be inserted down the line. If not, I think it’s the first match taped to air that hasn’t aired and wasn’t just retaped. This had enough else going on that it was fine skipping it.

thoughts

don’t get in Cuerno’s sights

Heavy on the setup, with really just one notable match on the show. Demon & Chavo was almost more an angle than a match, but it was a better visual angle than it would’ve been as a match. (It was better than the first match they had.)

The trios match was said to be rough at the tapings. There were definitely some moments where the match seemed to lose the crowd, but it generally came of fine. Doing so much comedy in their debut match was a tough way to introduce the Disciples, but they did beat a team the crowd was into and cared about. Bengala wasn’t especially showcased in his debut, but his dive looked great and he’ll get bigger chances down the line. Striker seemed to be able to match new names with faces (or masks) in this match, but didn’t really explain how to tell them apart to the crowd. They have slightly different styled and colored masks (and one’s wearing a shirt, probably to cover up a tattoo), but nothing that would connect them to their names.

The four way was Good, just missing something more to take it to the level of the better Lucha Underground matches. Maybe having the actual Cage/Cuerno throw down they kept teasing but never really delivered would’ve helped to get that big feel. It was a lot of four way action, lots of brief two man sequences with someone else breaking it up, and not very long one on one matches. It meant their were lots of action, but never a long build to anything. Killshot’s appearance came out of nowhere and just felt like a way to make sure he was seen after being off a few weeks. Drago’s new gear (big wings, better mask, scales) was as if out of a Hollywood movie. I wish the announcers had sold the idea of Super Fly also losing his mask in an impromptu mask match challenge, at least getting some mileage out of that and how that sort of thing has happened before and could happen again to Drago.

The Dario office segments should get special mention. Dario sucking up to Johnny Mundo was the greatest thing ever, and his bit at the end with Catrina was really good. I’ve gone from believing “this show is great, but there’s no way it’ll receive mainstream recognition because it’s pro wrestling” to “like, there’s got to be even some techinical award – costuming or set design or whatever – it can be nominated for so people can be recognized.” That Drago outfit was incredible.

Seven shows, eight hours left – in this season. Dario said Ultima Lucha is an annual event and I’m going to hold him to that.

Drago wins.

Lucha Underground 1×30: Submit to the Master

Jack Evans will not high five you.

matches

Jack Evans beat Argenis for the 2nd Azteca Medallion match (6:07, backslide bridge)
Angelico, Ivelisse, Son of Havoc [O] beat Big Ryck, Cage, Delavar Daivari [X] to retain the Lucha Underground trios championships (7:38, shooting star press]
Pentagon Jr. defeated Sexy Star in a Lucha Underground championship match (9:34, modified tapatia)

all the gifs from the show

developments

not quite last rites for Jack

A busy show for Chavo, who remains only out for his own best interest. He sold Black Lotus out to Dario Cueto at the first chance, in exchange for protection (the remaining members of the Crew) and some other unsaid reward. Chavo and the Crew were eventually able to subdue Lotus in the locker room and take her to Dario, with Dario threatening to put her in a cage across from Matanza. We never found out her ultimate fate on the show. We did find out that Dario Cueto not only knows Dragon Azteca, but knows Dragon Azteca would not ‘dare’ to set foot in the Temple. (He actually did, kidnapping Lotus to kickstart this plot.)

Black Lotus wasn’t alone in having lockeroom fights. Daivari told Big Ryck that he was able to talk Dario into giving a team of his choice a trios title shot tonight. Ryck suggested his cousin the Mack as the third man, but Cage interrupted to nominate himself. Cage & Mack had issues at the end of the 7 way match and fought again here, with Cage getting the better of it and leaving both Mack and a row of lockers laid out. Daivari stopped Ryck from getting involved, but it didn’t look like he really needed to – Ryck seemed willing to let harm come to his family before it came to his money. It was the champions who had drama during the match, with Havoc and Angelico not wanting to tag out and neither wanting to tag the still hobbled Ivelisse. Ivelisse spent a portion of the match sitting in the crowd, angry she wasn’t allowed in or heard. As Daivari ordered Ryck around late (demanding a tag by saying “I pay you, give him to me”), Ivelisse jumped up on the apron to provide a distraction and Texano hit the ring to lasso punch Big Ryck. Angelico & Havoc got their acts together just enough to quickly beat Daivari and keep the titles.

The show was scheduled to lead off with an Argenis versus Jack Evans match, only Dario found a man returning from a broken am and a man who lost in his debut too boring of a matchup for his show. He decided to make it interesting by putting the second of his seven Aztec Medallions on the line. Jack won in a competitive match.

this is how I”m going to imagine all locker room fights going from now on

The main event was a submission match between Pentagon Jr. & Sexy Star. Star seemed to take most of it, despite the announcers pointing out her relative lack of viable submission moves and Vampiro being more uncomfortable with women fighting men (or at least Sexy Star fighting Pentagon Jr.) than in previous match ups. Sexy Star seemed on the cusp of an earned but still surprising victory when Super Fly returned. Super Fly at first signaled he was going to help Sexy against the man who broke his arm, but instead betrayed the woman who took her mask. Super Fly dropped Sexy with a powerbomb, then set her up for Pentagon’s 3 Up 3 Down Driver and a modified tapatia for the win. Pentagon went to break Sexy’s arm, only for Vampiro to rush the ring and break the save. (He’d teased doing it before, when Melissa’s arm was almost broken.) Sexy escaped. Pentagon and Vampiro faced off, with Pentagon seemingly asking Vampiro to take a shot. Vampiro was cheered heavily by the crowd, but refused to fight and walked out. In the lockerroom, Vampiro’s negative thoughts raced thru his head, and caused him to break the mirror with multiple headbutts.

thoughts

Angelico takes care of everything

Last comes first: there’s a pretty obvious schism between many fans of the show, who would like to see Pentagon Jr. destroy everyone and everything, and the people putting the show together, who believe Sexy Star is an emerging empowerment icon for women (with Striker explicitily making the Rousey comparison during the match.) The people making the shows are the ones who get to make those decisions, but this was just strange to see in action. Sexy Star was a decided underdog in the first Pentagon Jr. match, getting a pinfall victory that seemed to surprise everyone involved. The odds were even more stacked against Sexy Star this time around, and yet she seemed to take most of the match. Pentagon got in spots, including some vicious superkicks, and it was no squash. Just, there was a clear winning side and it wasn’t the armbreaking ax murder. It didn’t work for me and it didn’t seem to work for the people I usually follow when watching these things, but maybe there’s a (more female?) audience out there which bought into it. Even then, even if it gets Sexy Star over, it feels like a waste of Pentagon Jr.’s potential. The show very quickly transitioned Pentagon Jr. out of the Sexy Star feud to Vampiro, but the vignette to close made it clear that’ll be a lot about the non-Pentagon Jr. person as well.

double bicep splash

On the flip side, Lucha Underground has gotten more out of Argenis than any promotion before. Maybe after. He looked good against Jack. This wasn’t quite as good as the match with Aerostar, but neither man had to kill each other. Jack as over the top heel is working out well.

Trios title match was a bit disappointing for fans of the champions. The storylines just prevented the match from really getting going until it was just about over, and it ended up as a chapter in the (less interesting) Texano/Daivari feud, with some subtle hints of Big Ryck problems down the line. I kind of liked the Mack/Cage fight more than I liked the match.

Dragon Azteca was more explicitly set up as the polar opposite to Dario. And also a fool for trusting a Guerrero.

bending in half for the win