Lucha Underground – S2E3: The Hunt Is On…

Lucha Underground – S2E3: The Hunt Is On…
Date: February 10, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 5.14.16 PM

Previously on Lucha Underground…

King Cuerno defeated Fenix for the Gift of the Gods Championship as part of an alliance with CatrinaPrince Puma and Pentagon Jr briefly teamed up to thwart Mil Muertes, with Pentagon breaking Mil’s arm.

The dichotomy of Fenix and Mil Muertes is one of the best defined struggles of Lucha Underground, and it works because of how much the two reflect the basis for their gimmicks.

Fenix flies (in the ring, quite literally) until he crashes and burns, like his Greek mythological namesake, only to be reborn time and time again. He soared to victory over Mil Muertes in a thrilling Grave Consequences match in Season 1, only to be destroyed by Mil in a Death Match, then reanimated once more to capture the Gift of the Gods Championship at Ultima Lucha, putting him on track to face Muertes once more (that has since been sidetracked by his feud with Cuerno, which was orchestrated by Catrina to delay Fenix from getting to Muertes).

Mil Muertes, literally translating to “a thousand deaths,” brought destruction to the temple until Fenix buried him. Only through death could Mil grow even stronger, and he did — strong enough to destroy Fenix, and strong enough to capture the Lucha Underground Championship from Prince Puma at Ultima Lucha.

In the season premiere, Fenix burned up yet again when Cuerno dissected him to take the Gift of the Gods Championship, but tonight he was reborn once more in a Last Luchador Standing main event, where he outlasted, and outwitted, King Cuerno. The final sequence of the match played out with Fenix climbing a ladder on to the top of Dario Cueto’s Catrina’s office, with Cuerno in close pursuit. Fenix reached the top, and kicked Cuerno, and the ladder, from the ledge, back down through a table on the floor. As the referee finished counting Cuerno out, we were left with the image of Fenix and Muertes, life and death, on opposite sides of the temple — Mil on his throne, and Fenix on the office — at eye-level and on equal footing once more.

The fear of Fenix from both Mil, who consistently looked annoyed by Fenix during cutaways to him on his throne throughout the match, and Catrina who was bemused when Fenix threatened her and Mil in a vignette earlier in the episode, but showed urgency and panic when she later visited Cuerno and berated him for not finishing Fenix off two weeks ago, while emphasizing the need for Cuerno to finish the job tonight, shows that they know Fenix presents the greatest challenge to their rule of the temple. And at the conclusion of tonight’s episode, both were put back on their collision course. How we get to the final battle remains to be seen. Despite Fenix’s key win tonight, it was a non-title match, meaning Cuerno still holds the Gift of the Gods title. Recapturing the belt would appear to be Fenix’s only chance of getting one more crack at Mil Muertes.

Elsewhere tonight, we saw two key re-introductions. Aerostar returned in a vignette taking place a thousand years in the past, implying that he has the ability to time-travel (which raises the question, why hasn’t Aerostar traveled back in time and carved himself a pathway to the Lucha Underground Championship). In the vignette, Aerostar meets with an Aztec warrior who informs him that the seven Aztec tribes are at war and that many will die. Aerostar tells the warrior that the tribes must be united, because the gods are returning in the form of a man, but the warrior replies to Aerostar that the prophecy says the uniting of the tribes will not occur for another thousand years. Aerostar tells him that he will go get the reunited tribesmen, and blasts back into space. The vignette establishes Aerostar as a key (alien?) figure in the whole background mythology surrounding the show, but his motives aren’t quite clear, and what this all means is an interesting source of speculation. Is Aerostar traveling to the future to help save the Aztec past? Is Aztec history repeating itself at the temple? Who/what is “the gods in the form of a man? (Guess: Matanza!)”

Texano was the other re-introduction. Largely a flop as a heel last year, Texano showed flashes of being a very good fiery babyface by wrapping himself in his Mexican heritage, towards the end of last season, before being unceremoniously beaten and bludgeoned by Blue Demon Jr and Chavo Guerrero Jr. Texano’s re-introduction, probably fueled in part by Alberto El Patron and his Mexican hero character departing, seems to indicate he’ll be returning as a face, as it focused on him doing weird ranch work, including splitting a log in half with his bare hands. The voice-over through all this was Texano talking about being a proud Mexican, and pissed off at what happened to him last season, and that people get hurt when he gets pissed off. Then Texano, done with his man-chores, goes to a bar for a few drinks. A key indication of any fight about to take place in a Lucha Underground vignette is when masked extras show up in strange places, so when two appear, one on each side of Texano, at the bar, you just knew a pool cue was getting broken over one, a bottle over the other, and Texano was going to kick some ass. Then the bartender handed him a bull rope and he beat the shit out of them, before lifting a wad of cash off of one of their unconscious bodies, giving half to the bartender as a tip, downing his beer, and breaking the mug in his bare hands. Viva Season 2 Texano!

The show ended with a key Cueto-related plot development. Cortez Castro, of The Crew, was revealed to be an undercover officer working for the LAPD, and trying to collect evidence to lock up Dario Cueto. Castro, actually named Officer Reyes, consulted with his police captain about his findings at the temple during last season, which included him indicating that he wanted to bring Cueto in after Matanza killed Bael, but he wasn’t given the green light for it because the investigation is targeting something larger related to Cueto. Reyes acknowledged that Cueto’s gone missing, and as a result, the captain is sending him back to the temple to find evidence of what happened to Cueto. After receiving his orders, though, he was told he’d be returning with a partner, and Joey Ryan was introduced. The two were told they cannot acknowledge they know each other, and should probably make it known they hate each other to avoid suspicion. The ‘Castro was an undercover cop’ development is strange, but the idea of Ricky Reyes and Joey Ryan as buddy cops is something I find highly appealing. I’m willing to see where this goes, but I do think it’s a bit of a leap from last season, and it feels like this was an idea they’re just trying to tack on as a swerve, as opposed to something that was developed and paid off over time. Nothing about Castro’s/Reyes’ character last season indicated he wasn’t square with the rest of The Crew.

Tonight’s episode was enjoyable, but two weeks without any Dario Cueto is two weeks too many. I do enjoy the different feel of Catrina running the temple as it’s good in its own way, but we need to get back on the path to Cueto returning to the fold. This episode, plot-wise, came close to feeling like a filler episode. The wrestling was solid, though, with two quality matches.

Misc. Notes

  • We learned the fate of two Season 1 characters tonight. In a vignette between Puma and Catrina (in which Catrina tells Puma he’ll be facing Pentagon next week), Catrina alludes to Konnan, who was last seen being stuffed in a coffin by Mil Muertes and the Disciples of Death, actually being dead (which is a hilarious write-off of an actual living wrestler still using his gimmick). Also, in Officer Reyes’ report to his captain, he states that Blue Demon Jr returned to Miami and retired. So it would appear as if both will not be in Lucha Underground this season (and in Konnan’s case, maybe never again).
  • Speaking of Konnan, he offers some tidbits on Bengala and Sexy Star in his MLW podcast this week. He shreds Bengala, who he said was once a budding star on par with Rey, Juvy, and Psicosis, but decided he didn’t want to stay in shape and is now only a shell of himself. And in regards to Sexy Star, he suggests strongly that she may either be done, or winding down, with AAA. How that may affect her Lucha Underground status should be interesting. The two operate separately, but there’s obviously significant business overlap.

The Matches

Match #1 – Bengala vs. Kobra Moon

This was a basic squash match introduction for Kobra Moon, and it wasn’t particularly good. Kobra Moon came out with a lot of serpent-like tongue wagging and several times draped her body on the ropes trying to mimic snake-like movements. She hit a headscissors, into a dropkick, into a slingshot hurricanrana to the outside sequence on Bengala early in the match. Bengala fought back briefly with flying headbutts and a wheel kick to get a near fall, but went for a moonsault and caught double knees from Kobra. Kobra used this opening to apply the “Snake Sleeper,” a modified dragon sleeper which she takes down into a bodyscissor at the end, and Bengala tapped out. This didn’t last very long, was pretty sloppy, and looked heavily edited. So a shaky debut for Kobra Moon.
Winner: Kobra Moon via submission
Rating: 1/4*

Match #2 – Jack Evans vs. Drago

The two went through a lengthy feeling out process at the beginning before Drago took advantage with a dropkick sending Evans outside. Evans jumped Drago, though, and they traded blows. The two traded slaps, including a ridiculous slap Drago gave to Evans, which Evans sold with a completely over the top corkscrew flip. Drago hit a spinebuster, but Evans countered by biting Drago. The match turned when Drago wiped out Evans with a flying crossbody to the outside. Then he hit a draping DDT with Evans draped over the top rope. Evans fought Drago off with kicks, but Drago hit Evans with a running blockbuster that look vicious. The finish came with Drago setting up the Dragon’s Tail off the blockbuster, but Evans countered it into a backslide and flipped his body over Drago’s to leverage his feet on the ropes to secure the pin. After the match, Evans sprinted outside the ring to snatch the mic from Melissa Santos and announced himself, Jack “The Dragon Slayer” Evans, as the victor.

Evans is clearly one of the most charismatic in-ring performers LU has on the roster. He constantly works the crowd. He also has the ability to do amazing lucha moves, but then mixes in simple stuff like biting, or pulling someone down by his hair, or just punching someone on the ground repeatedly, which so many of the luchadors would benefit from, if they diversified their style a tiny bit like Evans. His hybrid stuff works very well on a crowd just looking to mark out to lucha moves, and actually gets heat, because a guy biting someone amongst beautifully choreographed flips is what gets at this crowd.
Winner: Jack Evans via pinfall
Rating: **1/2

Match #3 – Non-Title – Last Luchador Standing: King Cuerno vs. Fenix

The pacing of this was excellent. Cuerno, in particular, really took his time utilizing the referee and the ten count to make moves feel bigger. Fenix gained control early with a handspring back elbow, and put Cuerno on the ring ropes, hit an enziguri, and then did his middle rope to top rope springboard into a hurricanrana. Cuerno fought back with a big boot and a jumping single leg dropkick. Fenix backdropped Cuerno to the outside but missed a tope. Cuerno then beat the hell out of Fenix on the outside, using the ring post, the barricade, and planted Fenix several times for near ten counts. Fenix came back with a superkick and a middle-to-top springboard dropkick, followed by a corner dropkick that sent Cuerno outside. Then Fenix hit a corkscrew plancha from the corner, followed by another corkscrew plancha over the ropes that put Cuerno down for a nine count. Fenix tried to go up top for something else, but took too much time and Cuerno knocked him off the top with an enziguri, then annihilated Fenix with an Arrow From Hell tope. Cuerno grabbed a ladder and rammed Fenix in the head with it, then propped it up against the office. As the ref counted Fenix from the ladder shot, Cuerno looked unsure whether he wanted to let the ref count Fenix out, or finish Fenix off like Catrina asked. Cuerno made up his mind and stopped the referee’s count, set up a table, and tried to German suplex Fenix through it, but Fenix blocked it, and stunned Cuerno with a superkick. Fenix climbed the ladder to the top of the office, and Cuerno pursued him, but when Fenix got to the top, he kicked Cuerno and the ladder from the office ledge, down through the table below. Cuerno failed to answer the count.
Winner: Fenix via knockout
Rating: ***1/2