Lucha Underground – S2E6: Gift Of The Gods Ladder Match

Lucha Underground – S2E6: Gift Of The Gods Ladder Match
Date: March 2, 2016

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Previously on Lucha Underground…

Marty The Moth and his sister released, and chased Sexy Star back to the temple, Prince Puma showed mercy to Pentagon Jr which enraged him, Catrina ordered King Cuerno to destroy Fenix once and for all, Cuerno attempted and failed, and their alliance showed signs of fracturing, with Catrina throwing him into a ladder match for the Gift of the Gods Championship to prevent him from claiming a title shot against Mil Muertes

For the past 45 episodes, most of what we know about Mil Muertes has been communicated through the filter of Catrina. In this episode, we got a glimpse of Mil as he actually is. For instance, we learned he actually has a voice box! And can use it! We also learned that the relationship between Mil and Catrina is less ‘Catrina is his evil mistress,’ and more ‘Catrina is his evil domineering matron.’

Mil makes it known he’s upset that Catrina has not let him destroy Prince Puma and Pentagon Jr, instead, making him wait for weeks after those two collaborated to break his arm. Catrina immediately scolds him, and references rescuing him as a little boy (more on that below), telling him plainly that Mil would have never survived as a boy without her. Seething with rage, Mil slowly turns to her and grabs her by the throat saying if he could bury her, he would (which raises the question of whether or not Mil is actually being held by her in some way against his will), and again demands Pentagon and Puma. Catrina says “no” and disappears from his grasp, leaving Mil to throw a tantrum befitting a monster.

Later in the show, Mil, still fuming, makes his way to ringside during the Puma and Pentagon match and annihilates both men. Then he tells Catrina that he’s defending his title against both next week because this is his temple and he’s the man. Catrina smugly looks on as he walks away, communicating something to the effect of she’s been baiting him this whole time, pushing his buttons to unlock his rage, to make him stronger. There’s a wealth of potential here in terms of the psychology of how these two interact and I hope Lucha Underground continues to push deeper and deeper with it. The complexity of it also makes me wonder if we may soon be approaching a day where we get a single one-off episode of LU — something like a flashback where it’s all vignette and tells the story of a character like Mil Muertes. That would be a very risky, but bold move by the show, but I could see it happening at some point.

Elsewhere on the show, one of the big developments of this week was the announcement that Aztec Warfare will return in three weeks as a #1 contender’s match. The Aztec Warfare match really kicked Season 1 into hyperdrive, laying the foundation for a string of fantastic episodes in its wake. I anticipate this is the match where all these loose storylines will finally collide. Rey Mysterio and El Dragon Azteca Jr, who were shown continuing their training, will debut. Dario will return to the temple with Matanza. The Dario/Catrina fight over the temple will be hashed out in a Mil/Matanza proxy war. And we’ll begin a steady push to Ultima Lucha II.

Lastly, let’s talk briefly about the Season 2 MVP to date, King Cuerno. First off, Cuerno’s vignette tonight (pictured above) was tremendous. This guy is such a great character, and the decision to make him more of a centerpiece this year has paid off, as he’s been a steady force across all these early episodes. He’s also being positioned, in a slow burn way, as someone to claim the mantle of top babyface by season’s end. He’s one of the best in-ring performers on the show. He has a great look, and is one of the better promos. And he will eventually rise up against Catrina, whose manipulation of him, has cost him his chance at the greatest of all trophies, the Lucha Underground Championship. We are reaching the breaking point in that alliance, and given that Cuerno was again defeated by Fenix, and was again defeated because of him trying to fulfill Catrina’s wish of destroying Fenix once and for all, instead of trying to win the match, I would imagine the next time Cuerno and Catrina interact, it will set in motion a potential Mil/Cuerno feud.

Tonight’s show was a little shaky. The in-ring action under-delivered considering the card, and because the show banked so much on the ladder match in terms of time, there weren’t a ton of vignettes. But even a so-so episode of Lucha Underground is a pretty good wrestling show by 2016 standards. And I am really enjoying the build to where we’re going. I just wish we were moving at a little quicker pace.

Misc Notes

  • This is the first time we hear Mil Muertes speak in Lucha Underground. The delivery of Ricky Banderas on a scale of Ricky Reyes to Dario Cueto is probably a Johnny Mundo.
  • The implication that Catrina saved Pasqual Mendoza as a boy, plus the teleportation, would strongly suggest that Catrina is some sort of witch that either doesn’t age, or ages in an unnatural way. Additional evidence: this old timey portrait of Catrina in her office from a filmed vignette with Ivelisse in ‘Cero Miedo’:

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  • The Famous B commercial this week was even better than last week.
  • I did watch this episode on iTunes this week. The show looks gorgeous in 1080p HD. If you’re watching in SD on El Rey, check out the free download of Episode 1 from this season, and look at the difference.
  • Ratings were back up this week, doing 187,000 over both showings (124,000 for 8PM, 63,000 for the 9PM replay).

The Matches

Match #1 — Sexy Star vs. Kobra Moon

This was ugly, and the crowd knew it. Kobra Moon locked in a waist lock that Sexy Star reversed. Kobra, because, you know, she’s a snake, slipped out of the lock, rolled through Sexy’s legs and kicked her in the vagina sending her to the ground. Sexy got up and missed some kicks. At this point, The Mack, who was white knighting Sexy Star a couple weeks ago, made his way to ringside to watch the match. Kobra hit a knee to the gut and a slap, followed by an armlock. Sexy fought out and whipped Kobra across the ring by her hair. The two traded uninspired chops, then Kobra set up Sexy in a guillotine choke that she turned into a sit down slam for a near fall.

Sexy Star got back to her feet and hit a body scissor into a roll through that she maneuvered into a stand up surfboard submission. As Sexy was about to beat Kobra, Marty the Moth made his way through the crowd. Sexy spotted him, let up on her hold, and Kobra escaped and reversed it into her Snake Sleeper finish for the submission. Striker sold amazement that someone actually made Sexy Star submit, and said he’s never seen someone make Sexy Star tap out (this isn’t true, she tapped to Pentagon last season).

The story here — Sexy Star is so psychologically scarred by Marty she’s not ready to wrestle, is fine. But the wrestling was hideous. Sexy Star is passable on good days and below average on others. Kobra Moon just looks horrible. Nothing she does is believable. It’s like her style is 2005 Candice Michelle, with a little Christy Hemme mixed in.

Winner: Kobra Moon via submission
Rating: DUD

Match #2 — Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Jr

The two traded punches and flipped away from each others’ moves early, before Pentagon gained control with a couple of sling blades that sent Puma bailing to the outside. Puma regrouped with a springboard elbow drop from the apron, that sent Pentagon out of the ring, then a corkscrew moonsault to Pentagon on the outside. This was followed with a springboard senton, and a front kick to the chest for a near fall.

Pentagon bounced back by dropkicking Puma as he attempted a back handspring, and followed it up with a wind up chop. Pentagon went for a pumphandle slam, but Puma reversed it into a roll through small package for a near fall, and bounced up with a Superman punch, followed by his northern lights roll into a standing vertical suplex move, followed by a standing shooting star press for a near fall.

Puma set Pentagon up for the 630 splash, but Pentagon rolled away. Pentagon charged Puma and Puma set him up on a turnbuckle and slapped him. At this point, Mil Muertes, who had not been on his throne, appeared on the temple stairs. Pentagon hit a Mexican destroyer from the top rope for a near fall. With both men down, Mil made his way down the stairs and ripped the leather sling off his arm. Pentagon got to his feet and signaled for his package piledriver, but before he could execute it, he noticed Mil and dropped the hold. Mil hit the ring and chokeslammed Pentagon, no sold a superkick from Puma, hit spears on both, then hit a double flatliner on both men.

Solid but disappointing match. Both Puma/Pentagon matches this season have been more about angles then the actual match. We will get a Mil/Puma/Pentagon three way next week which should be tremendous, but hopefully we get a match this season where these two just get 20 minutes or so at some point, and can really throw it into another gear.

Winner: No Contest
Rating: **1/4 

Match #3 — Gift of the Gods Championship — Ladder Match — King Cuerno (c) vs. Fenix

Mil Muertes, fresh off his beatdown of Puma and Pentagon made his way to his throne to scout who his next opponent may be.

Cuerno tried to throw Fenix out of the ring to start the match, but Fenix spun back through the ropes, ducked Cuerno and hit a hand spring back elbow, and followed it up with a series of kicks, and double foot stomp to the back. Cuerno rolled outside and Fenix hit a corkscrew dive on him. Fenix grabbed a ladder and put it in the ring, attempting his first climb, but Cuerno ran in and pushed the ladder over. Cuerno folded the ladder back up and propped it in a corner, then hit a buckle bomb into the ladder. Cuerno grabbed two more ladders from the outside and bridged them against the apron, from the floor. Cuerno jumped back in the ring and attempted to suplex Fenix onto them, but Fenix blocked two attempts, so Cuerno just threw him over the top to the outside. Cuerno followed him, grabbed Fenix, and stun-gunned him on one of the bridged ladders.

Cuerno grabbed a ladder and set it up near the office, then went back to Fenix kicked him, and threw him into a post. Cuerno stalked him, then hit a running kick to Fenix’s ribs. Fenix fought back, catching Cuerno, and tried to whip him into the office ladder, but Cuerno jumped up on it, and sprung back with a diving clothesline. Then Cuerno whipped Fenix into a sea of floor chairs.

Cuerno toyed with the ref while Fenix gasped for air on a ladder, on the outside. Then Cuerno came back and pulled Fenix up the ladder. The two fought on top, and Fenix smashed Cuerno’s head off the top, sending him falling back to the floor. From the ladder, Fenix made it to a platform, composed himself, and then hit a somersault dive over the ladder onto Fenix on the floor in what may be the spot of the season to this point.

Fenix rammed Cuerno into a railing and charged, but Cuerno tossed Fenix up over the rail into the crowd. From the railing, Cuerno his a single foot stomp onto Fenix. The two fought through the crowd. Fenix hit a superkick on Cuerno, and got up on the rail to attempt a move, but Cuerno shoved Fenix off the rail through the ladder left bridged on the apron from earlier in the match in a hideous looking bump. Cuerno grabbed another ladder and attempted to ram it into Fenix’s head, but Fenix ducked and Cuerno rammed the post. Fenix hit another superkick and attempted to climb up onto Catrina’s office, but Cuerno cut him off and shoved the ladder in Fenix’s face.

Finally, about 15 minutes into the match, Cuerno decides he actually wants to go for the belt and gets in the ring and sets up a ladder. Fenix cut him off with a springboard dropkick knocking Cuerno off the ladder.

Both men sold and then climbed the ladder. Both grabbed onto the title holder and the ladder fell away with both men hanging from the holder. They pushed at each other and then both fell to the mat. When both got back to their feet, Cuerno hit Thrill of the Hunt. He thought about climbing, but decided to go for the kill on Fenix and grabbed a table from under the ring. He set it up near a corner and tried to hit Thrill of the Hunt from the middle rope through the table, but Fenix escaped, stunned Cuerno with a palm strike, and hit a step-up springboard top rope hurricanrana on Cuerno sending him through the table. Fenix climbed to the top and grabbed the belt. He posed with the belt and taunted Mil Muertes from the top of the ladder.

This was a weird match. The concept of the match seemed to be that Cuerno wanted to kill Fenix rather than retain the title, and effectively “hunted” him in a slow and deliberate way for most of the match. But the announcers did a poor job of telling that story. Also, it made for a really strange ladder match. Ladder matches usually go from break neck speed and spots, to slow and deliberate attempts to win the match. You got neither in this one. The other strange thing was the chemistry of these two just seemed a bit off. But it also featured a lot of good, and some brutal, spots and as I mentioned, the dive from the platform over the ladder was the spot of the season so far.

Winner: Fenix to capture the Gift of the Gods Championship
Rating: ***