Lucha Underground – S2E19: Judgement Day

Lucha Underground – S2E19: Judgement Day
Date: June 1, 2016

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Previously on Lucha Underground…

Rey Mysterio Jr, El Dragon Azteca Jr, and Prince Puma defeated three teams to win the Lucha Underground Trios Championships. Chavo Guerrero Jr stole Cage’s spot in the Gift of the Gods Championship match, so Cage helped Chavo win it, so he could beat him for the title the following week. Cage immediately declared he was cashing in the title for a shot at MatanzaJohnny Mundo replaced Fenix on a Trios team with Jack Evans and P.J. Black, and the three went on to defeat Mysterio/Azteca/Puma for the titles.

 

We’ve clearly begun to enter the home stretch of Season 2 of this show, as the match quality has picked up significantly, and the show has made a subtle, but distinct, pivot towards building Ultima Lucha II.

While Matanza surviving yet another challenger, in arguably the match of the season, was the top story of the show, perhaps the most important development was the disintegration of the Mysterio/Azteca/Puma alliance, in what was very simple, classic, and effective professional wrestling storytelling.

The team lost their belts last week due to the new (amazing) team of Evans/Black/Mundo cheating them with a million low-blows. While they earned a return match in this episode, a very solid pre-match vignette made it clear that they were no longer on the same page. Mysterio appeared to be focused on regaining the titles, but Azteca was upset by this, and told him that the titles weren’t why he came here, and he was on the hunt for Matanza to make him pay for killing El Dragon Azteca Sr. Azteca and Mysterio went back and forth arguing about this desire for revenge, when Puma showed up and was immediately told by Rey to mind his own business. Puma shot back that the team and their title match was his business, and the three held an awkward silence before leaving for their match.

The match played out very similar to last week. The heels gained the advantage with another low blow, and the babyfaces rallied, there were a ton of great spots, and at a pivotal moment, Johnny Mundo kicked Azteca in the balls behind the referee’s back. Having had enough, Puma rushed Mundo but the referee separated them. Rey counseled Puma to remain calm, but Puma, boiling with rage, turned and kicked Mundo in the balls for the disqualification. Then Puma lost it. He tried to superkick Mundo, but missed and hit Taya, and basically had to be held back. One of the biggest problems in modern wrestling is the overuse of DQ and distraction finishes, but this was one of the more effective DQ finishes you’ll see, because it legitimately had weight to it, and wasn’t just a way of getting out of a match without a finish.

There are a lot of different threads that can come from this match. First, the heel team of Evans/Black/Mundo is fantastic. I hope they never lose the belts and add more and more things to their team identity like they did with the matching headbands and sunglasses this week. They fully understand their role, and how to infuriate the Temple crowd. Given that the team was christened in Fenix’s blood, it seems inevitable that Fenix will be back for revenge, likely with the old foes of Evans and Black from earlier in the season, Drago and Aerostar, as his backup.

Meanwhile, Azteca made it clear he was done with all of this. After the match, he went looking for, and found, Matanza, and would have come face to face with the monster if not for being thwarted by Black Lotus. Those two went back and forth about who actually killed her parents, and laid the foundation for a feud, and Lotus’ in-ring debut, as Azteca draws closer to learning that Lotus, not Matanza, killed his mentor, and Lotus draws closer to lashing out over the idea that she may have made a mistake in siding with Dario, but it’s too late to turn back now.

Lastly, we have Puma on tilt, fed up with being screwed, upset about being out of the LU title picture, still reeling from Mil Muertes killing his mentor Konnan, and ready to RAAAAAGGGEEEE Alex Riley style. On top of that you have the stately legend Rey Mysterio Jr trying to control him/counsel him/mentor him, similar to how Konnan did last season. It’s very easy to imagine the next step of this being Puma rejecting Rey because of all the aforementioned factors, leading to a match between them.

With all that on the table, it’s clear this was a very effective set up for what’s to come.

The Cage/Matanza match was terrific. There’s not much more to say about it, in all honesty. It was a filler, two week push to the title by Cage, to kill some time before Matanza’s Ultima Lucha opponent reveals himself (Guess: Pentagon Jr), and given the opportunity, Cage may have had the match of his career. Matanza’s size compared to most of the LU roster allowed Cage to show some of his lucha moves, and a 285 pound freakishly strong guy flying around like a luchador is a sight to behold. Then there were the large stretches of this match where these two just beat the hell out of each other. It was a better monster vs. monster match than Mil/Matanza by far, and the ending was more like Matanza caught Cage with a move and escaped this bout rather than Matanza soundly defeated Cage. The only thing I wonder about all of this, is if they had played this feud out until Ultima Lucha, with both monsters killing opponents all along the way, leading to a final clash, would this have been a better potential conclusion to this season than wherever we’re going? Because it was probably LU’s MOTY to this point. Time will tell. Regardless, Cage’s stock should have increased significantly with the LU brass.

The other match on the show, Havoc vs. Daga, was fine, and a pretty standard LU match. Both guys did exactly what you’d expect, and Havoc got his first win since returning to singles competition. The story, however, was Kobra Moon continuing to pursue Daga, as she against tried to seduce him, and he again bailed on her. I’m not really feeling this yet, but we’ll see where it goes.

This was the best episode of the season due to the Trios and LU Title matches, as well as some of the foreshadowing for the end of the season. I’d seek it out and watch it in its entirety.

Misc Notes

  • Lucha Underground drew a combined 151,000 viewers (111,000 first run, 40,000 replay) for this episode. The first run number was fairly consistent with what they draw most weeks, but the replay bombed leading to the lowest combined audience in some time. It could be an aberration, or it could be a symptom of us entering the summer months when people just flat out turn off their TVs. Either way, the demographic improvements held steady with the median age at 47.2, putting them in the desired demo, and an 80/20 male to female split.
  • Reports leaked earlier this week that WWE Chairman Vince McMahon inquired about potentially bringing John Morrison (Johnny Mundo) back to WWE. Mundo’s been sketchy on his desire to do that. He’s made it very clear he likes his situation at the moment, working at LU, and the freedom involved, but at the same time has suggested he might be interested in another run in WWE down the line. I’m unsure of his contract situation with LU, but I suspect he’s probably not one of the guys on seven season deals, since that seems to have come from the AAA side of things, and how they negotiated for their stars to be in the show.
  • Speaking of which, King Cuerno (El Hijo del Fantasma), who had previously attempted to leave AAA/LU, but was thwarted due to contractually obligations, returned to LU tapings this week. With the company still taping Season 3, we can say he will be in it to some degree.
  • Rey Mysterio Jr, who was in NYC to represent LU at TV Upfronts a couple weeks ago, did the Sam Roberts Wrestling Podcast. The podcast is pretty much 90-95% talking about his WCW and WWE runs, but Mysterio does say in it that he really feels at this stage in his career that LU is where he should be, as opposed to another WWE run, and that launching this company would be a meaningful end to his career. You can hear the podcast here. Rey also did a bunch of media hits including ESPN, so there’s a lot of articles and video of him floating around talking about LU, wrestling, and even the Osprey/Ricochet match.

The Matches

Match #1 – Son of Havoc vs. Daga

The two locked up and exchanged arm locks and escapes, before Havoc moved to a side headlock, Daga shot him to the ropes, and they exchanged shoulder blocks with Daga winning out. Havoc eventually took Daga down with a hurricanrana, and Daga bailed to the outside. Havoc went for a drop kick through the ropes, but Daga moved, however Havoc stopped himself mid-kick, pulled himself back through the ropes, waited for Daga to turn around again, and leveled the kick. He really has amazing, gymnast quality, body control. Havoc missed a double foot stomp to the outside, and Daga regained control with a superkick. Daga attempted to ram Havoc head first into the steel post, but Havoc escaped and pushed Daga into it, knocking him down, then Havoc grabbed onto the steel post, did a “flag” off it, and transitioned that into an elbow drop.

Havoc tossed Daga back in the ring, and went up top, but Daga recovered, charged Havoc, and Havoc flipped off the top, hit the ropes, shoved Daga down, and hit a standing moonsault for a near fall. Havoc grabbed Daga and whipped him to a turnbuckle, but Daga reversed it. Daga feigned a charge, causing Havoc to try and leap him and roll through, but Daga just waited and picked him up in a side suplex position, and flipped him into a facebuster for a near fall. Daga grabbed Havoc and took him over to the turnbuckle and gave him 10 punches, then, backed up and charged with a mafia kick and covered again for another near fall. Daga slammed Havoc, and hit an elbow drop, and covered again for two. Both men got up and traded punches in the center, then Daga took Havoc down with an arm drag, then turned an armlock into a modified single leg crab that Havoc escaped.

At this point, Kobra Moon, wearing her snake mask but non-wrestling gear, made her way to ringside. Daga charged Havoc in the corner and hit a European uppercut, then a slingshot dropkick into the corner. He charged Havoc again, but Havoc kicked his legs out to stop the charged. Daga grabbed his feet and went to slam him into the mat, but Havoc flipped out of it, ducked a clothesline, and came back with lariats of his own, followed by a handspring back elbow, and a springboard cross body for a near fall. Havoc charged Daga in the corner again, and got lifted onto the apron, but knocked Daga down with an enziguri. Havoc went for a springboard double foot stomp, but Daga rolled under to the outside, so Havoc hit the ropes, and came back with a tope. Havoc threw Daga back in the ring, and went up top for the shooting star press, but Kobra Moon grabbed his leg. Havoc kicked her away, but the distraction was enough for Daga to recover and hit an enziguri on Havoc. Daga joined Havoc up top and tried to superplex him, but Havoc blocked and countered with a front suplex, then hit the shooting star press for the pin.

After the match Kobra Moon attempted to seduce Daga, but Daga bailed on her.

Winner: Son of Havoc via pinfall
Rating: **1/4

Match #2 – Lucha Underground Trios Championship Match – Jack Evans, P.J. Black, and Johnny Mundo (c) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr, El Dragon Azteca Jr, and Prince Puma

The heels, forging team unity, came out in matching headbands and sunglasses and started the match wrestling, while wearing both.

Black started with Rey and took a side headlock, then planted Rey with a shoulder block and tried to pin Rey, but Rey kicked out. Black went to bury both knees in Mysterio’s stomach, but Rey kicked him away, and kipped up into a hurricanrana, which rolled through leaving Rey on his feet where he missed a kick aimed at Black’s head, Black rolled him with a schoolboy, but Rey rolled through again, popped up, and kicked Black in the head. Rey followed with a spike hurricanrana while Black was on his knees. Rey backed Black into a corner and hit punches, then whipped Black towards the opposite corner. Rey charged, and Black leapt over him, then doubled back and charged Rey, but Rey kicked him in the face, then springboarded himself onto Black’s shoulders in the electric chair position. Rey unloaded punches, but Mundo distracted the referee, so Black could pop Mysterio off his shoulders, and kick him in the balls on the way down, sending Azteca and Puma into a rage. Black dragged Mysterio over to his corner and tagged in Evans.

Evans immediately ran across the ring and knocked Puma and Azteca off the apron, then grabbed Mysterio, along with Black, and the two held him up for a side suplex while Mundo jumped in and grabbed Rey’s neck, and hit a neckbreaker on the way down. Then Evans stood flat-footed on Rey’s chest, and did a standing moonsault onto Rey. Rey tried to crawl to his corner, and Evans mocked him, then dragged him back to his corner and tagged in Mundo. Mundo leveled Rey with forearms to the back of his head. Rey fought back briefly with punches, but Mundo cut him off with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and locked in a chinlock. Rey fought up, so Mundo set him up for a powerbomb, but Rey flipped it into a DDT on the way up and connected. Mundo tagged Evans, and Rey made the hot tag to Puma.

Puma caught Evans in a headscissors, then hit a dropkick, then caught a springboard diving P.J. Black with another dropkick, followed by grabbing Mundo, and hitting a northern lights suplex, flip over, into a standing vertical suplex. Puma turned back to Evans and hit a shoulder block to Evans’ stomach, while in the corner, then teamed with Azteca to hit stereo enziguris on Evans which, planted him. This was followed by a triple corner dropkick by Rey/Puma/Azteca. Puma set up for a tope on Mundo and Taya, but as he was going through the ropes, Black cut him off with an enziguri from the floor, however, Azteca took his place, hit the ropes, leapt over Puma, who was draped on the ropes, and took out Mundo with a swanton suicide dive. P.J. Black jumped in the ring and took Mundo and Azteca down with a springboard cross body to the outside. Rey tried to follow this with a springboard from the apron, but Evans cut him off with a dropkick, told the audience they were about to see the greatest thing they’ve ever seen, went up top, and got crotched by Puma. Puma followed this by superplexing Evans onto the wrestlers fighting below.

The match resumed with Puma throwing Evans in the ring and attempting the 630 splash, but Evans’ partners pulled him out of the way. Then Evans went up top and hit his own 630 on Puma for a near fall. The referee ushered everyone back to their corners. Evans went for a handspring back elbow on Puma, but Puma caught him, flipped him up into a fireman’s carry and hit a GTS. Evans tagged out to Mundo, Puma tagged out to Azteca.

Mundo cut Azteca off immediately with a kick to the gut, and took him into a corner, but Azteca countered with a kick. Black charged Azteca and got back dropped out to the apron. Mundo charged Azteca with a knee, missed, and hit Black. Azteca hit an enziguri from the apron on Mundo and followed with a springboard clothesline, then a tilt-a-whirl DDT, and covered for a close near fall. Azteca whipped Mundo to a corner, but Mundo countered and charged. Azteca leap-frogged over Mundo’s charge, but Mundo hit a side kick to Azteca’s chest, then attempted Moonlight Drive, but Azteca ducked out of it, hit a thigh kick on Mundo, and grabbed a waist lock. Taya distracted the referee, Mundo and Azteca exchanged reversals on the waistlocks, and Mundo mule-kicked Azteca in the balls. This set off the babyfaces, in particular Puma who rushed the ring and confronted Mundo. Mysterio tried to calm Puma down, and Puma turned back to his corner, then wound up and kicked Mundo in the balls right in front of the referee causing a DQ.

After the match, Puma furiously argued with the ref, while Mysterio tried to calm him down and hold him back. The heels taunted Puma, and Puma got upset and tried to superkick Mundo, but Mundo ducked, and Puma hit Taya. Rey and Azteca held Puma back and ushered him out of the ring.

Winner: Jack Evans, P.J. Black, and Johnny Mundo via disqualification
Rating: ***3/4

Match #3 – Lucha Underground Championship – Matanza (c) vs. Cage

The two stood eye to eye for a moment, then exchanged punched with Cage getting the advantage by using knees. Cage sent Matanza to the ropes and the two tested each other with shoulder blocks, neither gaining an advantage. They did this many more times with Cage finally hitting a Euro uppercut on Matanza to gain an advantage, then Cage hit a bodyscissors into an arm drag takedown on Matanza, which if you haven’t seen a 300 pound man do this to another 300 pound man, it’s pretty impressive. Cage followed this with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors that sent Matanza to the outside, then hit a suicide dive over the top to wipe Matanza out. Then Cage hit a top rope moonsault onto Matanza on the outside. Cage grabbed Matanza, and repeatedly rammed his head into the outside rail, and then powerbombed him into it. This was followed by Cage lifting up the safety mats, however, Matanza recovered and grabbed Cage, repeatedly ramming the back of Cage’s head into the outside rail, before clubbing him in the back with a clothesline, then hitting multiple gut-wrench suplexes on Cage, on the outside mats. Matanza attempted to powerbomb Cage on the mats, but Cage escaped and countered with forearms and a Euro uppercut, however, Matanza ducked a clothesline from Cage, grabbed a waistlock, and German suplexed Cage on the outside.  Matanza finally rolled Cage back into the ring.

Matanza immediately straddled Cage and tried to choke him to death. One of the keys to Matanza’s character is much of his offense, like ramming someone’s head repeatedly into something, or choking someone with both hands, is designed to fit the fact that he’s not a “wrestler,” but a neanderthal-like killer. Anyway, Matanza mounted Cage and reigned punches wildly into Cage’s head, then tried to hit a standing shooting star headbutt to Cage’s abdomen, but Cage got his knees up, and hit Matanza in the head, and followed with a swinging neckbreaker, and cover for a two count. Cage mounted Matanza and repaid the wild reigning down of blows, then picked Matanza up and took him into a corner and hit 20 lariats in a row. Cage dragged Matanza to the center of the ring to set up a move, but Matanza hooked him and hit an exploder suplex, and covered for a near fall.

Matanza picked up Cage in a pump-handle, held Cage’s deadweight out in front of him for a solid 5-10 seconds, then, in an amazing display of physical strength, deadlifted him over his head in another suplex that he bridged into a cover for another near fall. Matanza stalked Cage for a minute, but Cage hit a jawbreaker when Matanza came near him, threw him down, got in front of him and hit a dropkick to Matanza’s face. Cage hit the ropes, but Matanza countered with a vicious lariat, then went back to choking Cage, then ripped at Cage’s eyes, and began biting at him. Matanza picked Cage up and went for a lariat, but Cage ducked, held the arm, rolled through Matanza’s legs to set up a pump-handle, lifted him, and flipped him into a front face slam and covered for a close near fall.

The two traded lariats in the middle of the ring with neither giving ground, then Cage tried a kick, but Matanza blocked, spun him around, missed a lariat, and both men took each other out with jumping front kicks at the same time. Cage got to his feet first, and picked Matanza up in a fireman’s carry, but Matanza escaped, the two countered each other on waistlocks, and Cage hit a German suplex that Matanza no sold. Matanza popped right up and German’d Cage. Cage no sold, popped up and German’d Matanza. Another no sell, another German by Matanza. Another no sell, another German by Cage. Another no sell, but this time, Matanza grabs Cage, rag-dolls him (he’s 285 pounds!!), and Germans him. That one sticks. So you’ve got that right, the fire up spot of this match was dueling German suplexes. Matanza managed to drape an arm on Cage and got a near fall.

Both men got up, and Matanza sent Cage to the ropes, and caught him to set up Wrath of the Gods, but Cage escaped, and tried a discus clothesline. Matanza ducked it, but Cage came back with another discus clothesline and planted Matanza, and covered for a near fall. Matanza rolled out to the apron, so Cage grabbed him, climbed on the middle rope, and suplexed Matanza from the apron, back into the ring, then Cage went up top and hit a flying elbow drop for another close near fall. Cage fired up the fans, then measured Matanza, and kicked him in the head. Cage hit the ropes and attempted a bulldog, but Matanza caught him, and swung him back into a side suplex, and covered for a two count. Matanza got back to his feet, and set Cage up for a powerbomb, but Cage reversed it into an Alabama Slam, and hit a standing moonsault, into a cover for another near fall. Cage called for Weapon X, and went to set Matanza up, but Matanza escaped, hit an overhead belly to belly suplex, then hit a sitdown powerbomb on Cage for another near fall. Matanza picked Cage up and tried to set up Wrath of the Gods again, but Cage turned it into a small package for a close near fall. Cage popped up, picked Matanza up in a fireman’s carry, and hit a lucha destroyer (F5) for another near fall.

Cage fired up, ripped down the straps on his singlet, and hit four different kicks on a staggered Matanza, then went for one more discus lariat, but Matanza caught him and countered it into Wrath of the Gods and covered for the pin.

Terrific, terrific monster match, with both men basically taking 50% of it, and the story being that they were pretty much equals, but Matanza just happened to catch Cage at the right moment and escape. They could easily build a rematch between these two that would draw a lot of interest.

Winner: Matanza via pinfall
Rating: ****1/4

Here is the Cage/Matanza match courtesy of El Rey’s YouTube Account

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tkf_u8KhVNc]