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Lucha Underground S2E16 – Graver Consequences

Lucha Underground – S2E16: Graver Consequences
Date: May 11, 2016

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Previously on Lucha Underground…

Rey Mysterio Jr, El Dragon Azteca Jr, and Prince Puma captured the Trios Titles. Councilman Delgado attempted to convince the LAPD to drop their investigation into Dario Cueto. Cueto and Catrina agreed to a Graver Consequences match between Matanza and Mil Muertes for the Lucha Underground Championship.

Let’s do a little story decoding first…

Lucha Underground is not always the most accessible show, in terms of understanding its plot, but I think if we piece together some important clues, we might be able to make a little sense of its overall narrative.

In “The Hunt Is On…” (S2E3), Aerostar warns some Aztec tribesmen, over a millennia ago, that the gods have returned in the form of a human, and that the tribes must be united because of it, but a tribesman says that won’t occur for over a thousand years, so Aerostar blasts into the future, to that point in time (our present day). In this episode, Catrina, who we know is an undead spirit (by her own admission, 197 years), wants Mil Muertes to slay Matanza so she can immortalize herself with his god-like power. Previously in “Life After Death” (S2E8), Catrina lamented to Fenix that she had tried everything she could to destroy him, so she could take his power, so it could give her life again. And previously at “Ultima Lucha Part I,” (S1E38), Dario Cueto, who has a deep fascination with honoring the traditions of Aztec religion and culture, told some of the sad tale of the life of Matanza, a man twisted and abused, and used up, by his father for the family’s gain.

What I think this all leads to is this: Matanza is the living god Aerostar foretold. At some point, I believe we’re going to find out that Dario Cueto’s father took a young Matanza to some shrine, performed some ancient ritual on him (human sacrifice?), and Matanza was granted the power of the gods. And what this likely means is that only through the uniting of the tribes (in this case, LU wrestlers), can Matanza be defeated. Catrina, through means not yet determined, became a lost spirit trapped between life and death, who is seeking to somehow regain her mortal life, so she can die for real, and finally pass into the afterlife once and for all, ending her waking hell.

***

This week marked the sixth week since the reign of Matanza began at Lucha Underground’s temple, and while I don’t think the show is in any peril, in terms of going off the rails, I have to admit it’s been a disappointing run. When Matanza was conceptualized in Season 1, I said that the character would have the potential to make or break this series. At this point, I’d have to admit I’m wrong, as it hasn’t really done either. Instead, it’s kind of been a lackluster, somewhat boring story arc for Season 2 Matanza, and there’s a few factors that play into that.

First, Matanza just hasn’t really had any great matches. He had an ok brawl with Mil Muertes that led to a no contest. He had a decent, but unspectacular match with Fenix. And he squashed Pentagon Jr. In Season 1 of Lucha Underground, one of the foundational selling points of the show was the awesome in-ring action, as Prince Puma, literally one of the best wrestlers in the world, fought the odds week after week, in great match after great match. The switch to Matanza has robbed the show of that element of appeal, as Matanza related business takes up a great deal of time (stifling undercard matches and stories), and falls kind of flat in the action department.

Second, the lack of breathing room between Mil Muertes: Temple Monster and Matanza Cueto: Temple Monster really does a disservice to this whole storyline. Mil Muertes ruled over the temple destroying his enemies (he made a throne out of their bones!) for most of the first half of the season, until Fenix rose above him in a terrific match and story to (literally) dethrone him. But Fenix’s run lasted all of a week, as we immediately transitioned to Monster Matanza’s run, which has basically mimicked Mil’s. Had there been a bigger gap in-between these two reigns, this angle might play better. But a one week transition was just too soon for such a similar story. And unlike Mil, who had a natural foil in Fenix, there really is no logical contender waiting in the wings to take Matanza down. No one else on the show has momentum behind them at this point. At some point, Pentagon Jr will return, and one would think he would be seeking vengeance, but with just 10 episodes left in the season, they’ll need to start heating him up immediately to make him a remotely credible challenger to Matanza.

Lastly, the character just seems to have lost all direction since becoming champion. The idea of Matanza was that he was Dario’s judge, jury, and executioner, and responsible for the death of Black Lotus’ parents (you remember, that whole storyline we’ve barely heard a peep from this season?). That was suppose to be where Matanza’s creative chops were, when he was not busy eating faces at the behest of  his brother. Instead, this whole “who’s more of a monster” storyline was pushed, and has been a bust, because given the timing of it, there’s never been any doubt as to who would win between Mil Muertes and Matanza, both in terms of artificial drama built by the show, and logical booking sense (it’s his first major feud, of course Matanza will win). It’s all been extremely anticlimactic.

Tonight’s Graver Consequences match paled in comparison to the original. It was an ok match on the surface, but it was plodding, and lacked any real storytelling or emotion, and lacked any real creativity other than the numerous different powerbombs on caskets. It wasn’t helped by Matt Striker calling the caskets “death boxes” at least a baker’s dozen times. In the end Matanza vanquished Mil, who will return to the underworld and likely be spit back out from Hades a stronger man, because the man of a thousand deaths can never actually permanently die. Catrina, meanwhile, was blindsided by Matanza, and shoved into a coffin death box, only to be revealed to have disappeared from it when Dario opened it after the match. Clearly she can’t die either, and likely used her ghost powers to escape.

Elsewhere on the show, we didn’t get much of anything. There was a disappointing Trios title match between Rey/Puma/Azteca and Havoc/Ivelisse/Mundo, that didn’t get as much time as it probably should have, but really couldn’t have, with over half the show allocated to the casket death box match.  And Joey Ryan won an Aztec Medallion over the two Crew members in a complete throw away match.

Arguably the most interesting thing on the show this week was Councilman Delgado’s (Lorenzo Lamas) dealings. Delgado took a payoff from Dario Cueto to open the show and warned that his employer was coming to the temple, then delivered the money (50k) to the employer in the back of a stretch limo. Delgado alluded to Dario’s brother Matanza being powerful, but not as powerful as his “lord,” the employer. The scenes were well acted and left open a whole host of ideas as to who this person is. Is it another wrestler who’s coming to mix it up with Matanza? Is it Dario Cueto’s father? Is it another power broker who’s going to take an interest in the operation of the temple? We’ll see.

Unfortunately, this is a “skip it” show. In last week’s review, I alluded to the Sexy Star vs. Mariposa match being a one match show, and delivering big time. This show was built the same way and was kind of a bust. The match wasn’t terrible. But given the length of it, and ultimate payoff, there’s better 20 minute matches you can watch. Like, the original Grave Consequences match:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Icvizxc3UB0]

Misc. Notes

  • Lucha Underground stayed about even with last week pulling 177,000 viewers, but the first run/replay split was drastically different from previous weeks, with 96k first run viewers and 81k for the replay. I do wonder if the show might do better running at 9PM ET, and replaying at 10PM. Not only do they avoid any head to head with NXT, but it just feels like the audience for this show would be more enticed by a later start time.
  • Konnan unloaded on AAA on his MLW podcast this week, basically calling the Roldans incompetent. He includes some tidbits about LU’s operations, but mostly steers clear of it, and even points out that LU is such a good job for some of the boys compared to what they’re used to, they’re terrified of losing it. You can listen to it here: https://mlwradio.libsyn.com/episode-226-konnan-breaks-his-silence
  • Rumors have WWE interested in LU ring announcer Melissa Santos, specifically to bring her in as a rebooted Alberto Del Rio’s personal ring announcer.
  • The Gift of the Gods match will be next week, as opposed to at this year’s Ultima Lucha.

The Matches

Match #1 — Aztec Medallion Match — Triple Threat — Joey Ryan vs. Cortez Castro vs. Mr. Cisco

Ryan jumps the two Crew guys from the get go, but they quickly rebound and take Ryan out with a double bulldog. Ryan rolls to the outside. Castro and Cisco stare each other down, then do a series of counters, ending with Cisco rolling up Castro, and Castro popping out of it, and hitting an enziguri. Castro suplexes Cisco and covers for a near fall. Castro signals for some type of finisher, and hooks Cisco like he’s about to hit a brainbuster, and Ryan jumps back in the ring, clubs him from behind, and rolls him up WWE style for the pin. Total throwaway match like they internally decided “We’re having this Gift of the Gods Match next week and we need a seventh person, just throw Ryan out there for a minute.”

Winner: Joey Ryan via pinfall
Rating: N/A

Match #2 — Trios Championship — Rey Mysterio Jr, El Dragon Azteca Jr, and Prince Puma (c) vs. Son of Havoc, Ivelisse, and Johnny Mundo

This is Team Dysfunction’s rematch for the titles, but with Angelico hurt, Dario Cueto, saddled them with Johnny Mundo.

Ivelisse and Azteca start and shake hands. They trade waste locks, and Azteca takes her down, but Ivelisse kips up and locks in an armlock. Azteca flips out, and reverses, then the two exchange takedowns, kip up, and shake hands again, but Ivelisse appears to have rolled an ankle on her kip up. Havoc and Mysterio tag in and restart.

The two play to the crowd a little, and briefly shake hands, then Mysterio goes for a headlock, but Havoc pushes him off, shoves (loosely, this was a botch) Mysterio down, and hits a standing moonsault for a near fall. Rey kicks out, grabs Havoc’s hands, and jumps up on his shoulders with his knees, then drops off into a sunset flip for a near fall. The two come back at each other with kicks that each catch. Each man holding the other’s leg in a stalemate, Rey suggests they count to three and both drop their holds. He counts out loud, and they both drop, then Rey comes at Havoc with a kick that he catches, and Rey misses an enziguri, and the two stand off again. Johnny Mundo blind tags himself in, and Prince Puma tags in for another restart.

Unlike the previous two “mutual respect” starts, these two come flying at each, with Puma laying in right hands, pummeling Mundo into a corner. He charges Mundo, but Mundo back drops him out to the apron, and knocks him to the floor with an enziguri. Taya immediately begins stomping Puma, and Ivelisse stops her, telling her they don’t do that. Puma makes it back in the ring, and Mundo hits him with a spinebuster for a near fall. Mundo continues to pounce, but Puma fights out with a spin kick to knock Mundo down. Puma tags Azteca, and Mundo tags Havoc.

Azteca takes it to Havoc. Havoc whips him to a corner, but Azteca flips out. Havoc sets Azteca up on a turnbuckle, and Azteca does a springboard lucha arm drag, rolled into a cradle for a near fall, then immediately pops up and hits Havoc with a discus forearm. The two take turns cutting off each other’s attempts to run the ropes with strikes. After about four separate spots, Azteca whips Havoc, and Havoc hits his backspring back elbow off the ropes, and covers for a near fall. Ivelisse tags in, and she and Havoc work some double teams on Azteca. Havoc does a handspring, into a back elbow and throws Azteca to Ivelisse who hits an enziguri. With Azteca on his knees, Havoc hits a springboard double foot stomp from the apron, and Ivie punts Azteca in the face and covers for another near fall. Ivie works over Azteca in her corner, and tags in Havoc. Azteca is able to shake Havoc, and makes the hot tag to Rey.

Rey immediately hits Havoc with a body scissor into a victory roll for a near fall. The two do some awkward dancing around, then Rey does a springboard into another body scissor and tosses Havoc into the middle rope. He sets up the 619, but Ivelisse trips him as he hits the ropes. Rey and Ivie argue on the apron, and Mundo sneaks in behind Rey, and goes for a springboard enziguri on Rey, but Rey moves, and he hits Ivelisse. Puma responds from his side of the apron with a springboard elbow drop to take Mundo out. Mundo rolls outside, and Azteca chases him, baseball sliding out, and then hitting a hurricanrana on Mundo sending him into the wall. All this time, Havoc’s stayed hung on the ropes, and with the ring cleared, Rey sets up for the 619 again, but Havoc played possum and immediate hits Rey with a jumping front kick when Rey starts his run, and covers for a near fall. Havoc gets Rey up, but Rey immediately hits a headscissor sending Havoc to the middle rope again, and connects with the 619. He tags in Puma who hits the 630 splash on Havoc for the win.

After the match, Taya beat down Ivelisse. The match was ok, but disappointing. I didn’t like the layout of just stopping and restarting after each tag. The first two standoffs were fine. Mundo should have gotten the heat on Puma after the third tag, and worked him over until a hot tag. This just felt like a lot of individual mini matches. Still had some good moves, though.

Winners: Rey Mysterio Jr, El Dragon Azteca Jr, and Prince Puma via pinfall.
Rating: **1/2

Match #3 – Lucha Underground Championship – Graver Consequences – Matanza (c) vs. Mil Muertes

Four coffins are brought to rings side by the Parade of the Dead.

Mil jumps Matanza as soon as the bell rings, and smashes him into the corner. Matanza whips Mil out of the corner, and follows him to the opposite one, where he grabs him and hits a release German suplex, then obliterates him with a clothesline, before throwing him outside onto one of the four coffins at ringside. Matanza lines some coffins up, and tries to clear the fans in the floor seats for a spot. Catrina runs over and breaks a chair on Matanza’s back, which he no sells. As he turns to Catrina, Mil spears Matanza into the floor chairs. Mil drags a coffin over. There’s now three coffins laid next to each other. Matanza recovers, and smashes Mil’s head on one of the coffins, then powerbombs him on it.  Matanza goes to work on loosening one of the metal rods that hold the bottom rope up, at the turnbuckle. Mil recovers and hits Matanza with a straight right hand that rocks him, then smashes him head first into the ring pole. The two fight up onto the apron, in front of the coffins, and Mil hits a flatliner on Matanza, into the three coffins.

Dario tries to revive Matanza while Mil drags a coffin into the ring and sets it up in the corner. Dario grabs Mil’s leg, so Mil grabs Dario by the collar and pulls him up onto the apron. Matanza makes the save, but Dario bumps off the apron to the ground when Mil drops him. Matanza hits his rolling gut-wrench suplexes. On the third one, Mil flips out and hits Matanza with another big punch, then another spear. Mil finishes taking apart the ring rope hook and tries to use it as a weapon, but Matanza blocks him, takes the weapon, and drills Mil with it. Matanza begins tearing at Mil’s mask, and rips it at least 50% of the way off his face. He grabs the hook, and drills Mil several more times, busting him open.

Matanza grabs the coffin in the ring, and sets it up, but Mil recovers and chokeslams Matanza onto the coffin. Mil hops outside and goes through a toolbox under the ring finding a chainmail glove (?!). He puts it on, and starts beating on Matanza with punches. Matanza cuts him off with a low bow, and another clubbing clothesline. Matanza rips the lid off one of the coffins, and tosses it out of the ring into the office wall, then drags Mil out of the ring, before tossing the rest of the coffin out of the ring. The pace has slowed considerably. Matanza grabs another coffin, then drags Mil over to it to try and shove him in it. He closes the lid with Mil struggling against it, then Mil punches through the coffin lid, grabs Matanza by the throat, and bounce Matanza’s head off the lid (spot of the night). The two fight by the announce table, and Matanza throws Mil into the wall.

Matanza grabs another coffin and sets it up near the apron. Mil grabs the ring bell, and levels Matanza with it. Mil goes to find another coffin and bring it into the ring, while Dario tries to revive Matanza. Catrina runs over and clocks Dario. Matanza gets up behind her, grabs a chair, and blasts her in the back knocking her out cold. Matanza grabs Catrina’s rock, throws it in the coffin by the apron, then grabs Catrina and throws her it and shuts the lid. Mil, who’s dragging a coffin into the ring, sees Catrina laid to rest, and runs across the ring and hits a tope on Matanza, unloading punches afterwards. He goes back to the coffin he was bringing in the ring and finally gets it inside. Matanza gets in and runs at Mil, but he turns it into a powerslam. Mil signals that Matanza is going in the coffin, and drags him into it, but when he goes to shut the lid, Matanza fights it. Mil beats on Matanza in the coffin some more, but Matanza hits Mil in the throat, gets out, grabs Mil, and powerbombs him on the lid of the coffin. Matanza opens the coffin lid. Mil fights him off for a second, but Matanza hits Wrath of the Gods into the coffin, and closes the lid on Mil.

After the match, the Parade of the Dead come back out to remove Mil’s body. Leading it is a cloaked King Cuerno, who was shown to be hunting Mil and Catrina earlier in this episode. Dario, relishing his victory, opens Catrina’s coffin to see her body, but she has disappeared.

The match was ok, but disappointing. It lacked any real in-match storytelling, or sense of urgency. It was just two monsters beating the hell out of each other, and no-selling big spot after big spot. That said, a number of the spots were cool. But this very much felt like an old ECW style garbage match where rather than selling a match storyline, they were just selling the brutality of the spots. The extra coffins also served no purpose other than as things on which to be powerbombed.

Winner: Matanza
Rating:
***