Lucha Underground: Ultima Lucha Dos
Airing July 6th, 13th, and 20th on El Rey Network (8PM ET)
Hello again! I’ve been remiss in my duties as LU reviewer the past few weeks, as I’ve been tending to some things, but I’m back to set up the most important show of Lucha Underground’s second season, Ultima Lucha Dos. The run up to the show in the last 4-5 episodes has been fairly well executed, with a string of solid shows, and the finale will need to deliver the same type of punch that Ultima Lucha did to hold the LU audience through the show’s (shortened) off-season. The good news is this card is set up on paper to pull it off, with at least four killer matches on the table, and the potential for a few others to surprise. So let’s go through this after the jump…
Lucha Underground Championship: Matanza (c) vs. Pentagon Jr
Matanza, the brother of Lucha Underground Proprietor Dario Cueto, made his offical debut during the show’s Aztec Warfare II match, eliminating nine of the promotion’s stars en route to claiming the Lucha Underground Championship. Since then, he’s carved a path of destruction that’s included annihilating Pentagon Jr and breaking his back, strongly defeating former champion Fenix, destroying Mil Muertes, and outlasting Cage in a brutal fight that proved to be one of the highlights of the season.
The reign of Matanza throughout most of Season 2 has been greeted with angst from the temple faithful, who’ve grown more and more upset as Matanza continues to vanquish the stars they grew to love during the first season of the show.
At face value a rematch with Pentagon Jr, a foe he’s already soundly defeated, would seem like an anti-climactic main event for such a big show, but Pentagon’s pursued a sort of ‘dark arts version of Rocky III’ path to this rematch. Wheelchair bound and hopeless, his mentor Vampiro tortured him to restore his motivation. Pentagon eventually recovered from his injuries, and worked himself back into shape in his dojo. Despite the warnings of Vampiro that Pentagon was not ready to face Matanza yet, Pentagon returned to the temple, and immediately broke Chavo Guerrero’s arm to steal his spot in a 12-man tag team match in which the winners would compete the next week in a Six to Survive match to win the right to face Matanza at Ultima Lucha Dos. Pentagon’s team won, and the following week in a show-long match, Pentagon outlasted Fenix, Johnny Mundo, King Cuerno, Taya Valkyrie, and Ivelisse to win the opportunity. Afterwards he cut this awesome promo (clip should pick up at the correct time stamp):
It’s a simple story at it’s core. A hero falls, picks himself up, and takes one more shot at the thing that bested him. All signs would seem to point to Pentagon overcoming all the obstacles and defeating Matanza to win the title, however, the warning of Vampiro that Pentagon was not ready has always foreshadowed to me that Pentagon hasn’t reached his truest form yet, and that suggests to me that Pentagon may push Matanza to the brink, but Matanza will escape with the title, leaving Pentagon to do a little more soul-searching before he ultimately reaches his dark arts nirvana.
Either way, this should be a tremendous match. Matanza has been a little hit or miss this season, depending on the opponent, but seems to improve with each long match he has. Pentagon isn’t the best worker in the company, but is extremely capable, and his charisma and ring presence, along with the fact that he’s by far the most over talent in the company, will create an electric atmosphere for this one.
Lucha Underground Trios Championship: The Worldwide Underground (c) vs. Fenix, Drago, and Aerostar
The newly named Worldwide Underground (Johnny Mundo, Jack Evans, P.J. Black) has been one of the brightest spots of Lucha Underground’s Season 2, clicking with an instant chemistry upon forming. Johnny Mundo’s pure douchebaggery, the uncanny ability of Evans to be an annoying pest, and Black’s smarminess have mixed together to form the promotion’s most cohesive and interesting team.
The team was christened in Fenix’s blood when Mundo assaulted him backstage to take his place as the third man in a Trios title match that Fenix, Evans, and Black had earned against then-reigning champions Rey Mysterio Jr, Prince Puma, and El Dragon Azteca Jr. After a barrage of low blows, and a chair shot from Evans to Azteca, Mundo scored the pin and the titles for his new teammates.
Not one to take injustice laying down, Fenix rose again to fight his way into the Six To Survive match, and helped eliminate Mundo, before ultimately succumbing to Pentagon Jr. Fenix and Mundo squared off in their first ever one-on-one match last week, with Mundo employing the help of Taya to screw Fenix, and steal a win.
The other components of this match — Evans/Black and Drago/Aerostar — have been embroiled in a season long war started when Evans stole a win from Drago and began relentlessly taunting him by renaming himself Jack “The Dragonslayer” Evans. This infuriated Drago, who’s hunted him ever since. Evans enlisted the help of his new pal P.J. Black, and the two beat the crap out of Drago backstage, using nunchucks, to try and stop Drago from competing in Aztec Warfare II, but Aerostar came to his old friend’s rescue. The four continued their feud after the Mundo/Evans/Black team formed and won the Trios titles, culminating in a nunchuck match won by Aerostar and Drago, which put them in the title conversation. After Mundo defeated Fenix last week, the Worldwide Underground descended on him, but Aerostar and Drago, along with Ivelisse, helped bail out Fenix from a 4-on-1 beat down.
Both teams are extremely athletic, and the match should feature some hellacious spots. While a Fenix/Aerostar/Drago win would be fine, and the trio is certainly capable of wrestling some great matches, it feels like we’ve just scratched the surface with The Worldwide Underground, and this alliance should continue well into Season 3.
Prediction: The Worldwide Underground
Prince Puma vs. Rey Mysterio Jr
Billed as a ‘Dream Match,’ (Note: It is.) you could argue that this match has been slowly built up by character development through the entire season.
Prince Puma nearly ran the table in Lucha Underground’s first season, defeating all-comers until he ran into Mil Muertes, who killed off his mentor, Konnan, and took his title at the first Ultima Lucha. When Season 2 began, something seemed off about Puma. His confidence was shaken, and he was booked a little weaker than he had been previously. It was hinted, at points, that Puma was still mourning the death of Konnan.
Enter Rey Mysterio Jr, the legend of lucha libre and consummate pro wrestling statesman.
Rey arrived on the scene with his protege El Dragon Azteca Jr seeking to find information about the death of El Dragon Azteca Sr, but quickly reached a detente (much to the chagrin of Azteca Jr) with Dario Cueto, and instead entered the Trios title picture with his protege, and a new ally in Puma. The Rey/Azteca/Puma team managed to capture the Trios title, but quickly ran afoul of The Worldwide Underground. After the Underground blatantly cheated to steal the Trios title, an outraged Puma seethed with rage, wanting his revenge. However, it made him even madder when his teammates seemed more concerned about how to handle their unfinished business with Dario, than focusing on their title rematch. In that rematch, The Worldwide Underground again cheated, employing a number of low blows, and despite numerous attempts by Rey to mentor Puma and calm him down, Puma boiled over, kicking Johnny Mundo square in the balls, in plain sight of the referee, leading to their team’s disqualification. The DQ marked the end of their alliance, but tension would be raised further in the 12-person tag match (to determine the participants in Six To Survive), when Rey failed to properly incapacitate Johnny Mundo with a 619, leading Mundo to recover, throw Rey into Puma, and hit a top rope C4 on Puma to secure the pin for his team.
Puma addressed all the animosity he was feeling in an in-ring promo two weeks ago, saying that ever since he was taken in by Konnan, he was told that he could be the next Rey Mysterio Jr, and that having been around Rey, he realized Rey is one of the best, and it made him wonder whether he could just be the next Rey Mysterio, or whether he was, in fact, even better than Rey Mysterio. Then he called Rey out and asked for a match at Ultima Lucha Dos. Rey responded that he accepted, and reminded Puma that he’s still a ‘prince,’ and that Mysterio is “El Rey.”
The following week, Puma squared off in a fantastic match with Mysterio’s protege, El Dragon Azteca Jr, and won a hard fought battle, subtly eyeballing Mysterio the entire time, and then stared daggers at him while hitting his 630 splash, and roughly jostled him a little after the match while Rey was checking on Azteca.
The subtle heeling by Puma, and the build of this feud as two prideful and confident combatants with each questioning their place in this business — Puma wondering whether he’s now the best, and Mysterio wondering whether he can still hang at the age of 41 — has really set this match up to be exceptional, and given the competitors, it’s all but guaranteed.
While a Puma win would not be surprising, you could make the argument that Rey, who does not have a high profile singles win in LU at this point, needs it more. I expect a long, back and forth match, but in the end, the veteran experience of Rey leads to him capitalizing on a crucial mistake from the headstrong Puma, and he secures the win, which leads to a frosty, but respectful handshake afterwards.
Prediction: Rey Mysterio Jr
Death Match: King Cuerno vs. Mil Muertes
Death matches in Lucha Underground are a little different than the general accepted concept of a death match around the world. There will (likely) be no barbed wire ropes, or exploding panels. Instead, LU’s version of this simply means that the winner will pretty much beat the loser to death. Sometimes quiet literally, in the scope of this show’s canon.
This feud stems from the first episode of Season 2 when King Cuerno forged an alliance with Catrina, and captured the Gift of the Gods Championship from Fenix. The pact between Catrina and Cuerno was that Cuerno would never cash in the title and Catrina, who was running the temple at the time, would show favor to Cuerno, but Cuerno soon reneged on that, and made his intentions of cashing clear. Before he could pull the trigger, however, Fenix won his return match, and recaptured the title, and the fragile alliance between Catrina and Cuerno broke, with Cuerno swearing revenge.
This led to Cuerno laying low for much of the season, hunting Muertes from the shadows, and ultimately seizing his lifeless body, after Mil was defeated by Matanza in ‘Graver Consequences,’ and mounting it in his trophy room.
Mil, being the man of a thousand deaths, would be awoken from stasis by Catrina, and rise again, his sole purpose being to exact revenge on Cuerno. Mil cost Cuerno his bid in the Six To Survive match, spearing him during the match which led to Cuerno’s elimination.
Cuerno got some heat back, though, when the two had a match last week, and Cuerno out-maneuvered, and out-hustled Muertes, which led to a flash pin victory by Cuerno, with the assistance of the ring ropes.
At Ultima Lucha Dos, in one of Muertes’ signature matches, there’s no real credible reason to believe Cuerno stands a chance at actually winning. This is the match in which Mil needs to reassert himself as the baddest man in the promotion, and he’ll likely do so by beating Cuerno within an inch of his life. But it should be highly entertaining. Both of these guys are great workers.
Prediction: Mil Muertes
Gift Of The Gods Championship – Elimination Match: Sexy Star vs. Daga vs. Sinestro De La Muerte vs. Marty The Moth vs. Mariposa vs. Killshot vs. Nightclaw
Because the Gift Of The Gods Championship was cashed in unsuccessfully a few weeks ago by Cage, this match was hastily slapped together, with Dario Cueto handing out medallions by the bundle. Sexy Star and Mariposa, despite being mortal enemies, won theirs by teaming up to defeat Taya and Ivelisse. Killshot, Marty The Moth, and Sinestro De La Muerte won theirs by defeating Joey Ryan, Cortez Castro, and Mr. Cisco in a Trios match. And Daga won his way in by defeating Mascarita Sagrada. Nightclaw (not pictured, because he was revealed as a participant in a backstage vignette, but has not been introduced to the temple crowd as a of yet) was just handed a medallion by Dario Cueto as a sort of recruitment perk.
There’s a few interesting rivalries encompassed within this match. Sexy Star and Mariposa had a bitter rivalry after Marty & Mariposa kidnapped and tortured Sexy. That culminated in a brutal ‘No Mas’ match in which a bloodied Sexy Star forced Mariposa to quit. Marty has been playing games with Killshot, an ex-black ops military fighter, over his dog tags. And Daga is being relentlessly stalked by Kobra Moon, who no doubt will play a factor in this match on Daga’s behalf. However, the talent level in this year’s Seven-Way is significantly down from last year’s. This could honestly be a real train wreck. At best, it might be a fun spot fest, but much of that will be determined by the yet to be seen Nightclaw.
The easiest prediction would be to say that since this is Nightclaw’s debut, he goes over huge, and gets the win. However, Lucha Underground has a habit of jobbing guys out in their debuts.
Marty holding the Gift of the Gods Championship could produce some fun hijinks, but he’s not really a credible title contender. It wouldn’t be surprising to Sexy Star win, and become the first female singles title holder in the promotion, but I’m going to go with Killshot, who I think they’ve invested some significant time in getting over this season, and figures to play a bigger role in the promotion going forward.
I should offer the disclaimer that I suspect the winner of the ‘Unique Opportunity’ elsewhere on this card may get a fast pass into this match (or a match immediately after with the winner of this match, with the title on the line). So it’s possible the winner of this match, or at least the ultimate holder of the GOTG title, is not currently in it.
Taya Valkyrie vs. Ivelisse
This feud started when Son of Havoc and Ivelisse were granted a rematch against the Rey/Azteca/Puma team for the Trios titles, but Angelico was unable to compete due to being injured. Dario Cueto, ever the pot stirrer, assigned Johnny Mundo to be Havoc and Ivie’s partner, and the three formed a highly dysfunctional team for the return title match.
During the match, Taya and Ivelisse got in an argument about the right way to conduct business in the ring (Taya was trying to cheat). Eventually, after Havoc was pinned and they lost, Taya blindsided Ivie and attacked her.
The two would later be paired on a six person team in a 12-person tag match to determine the Six To Survive participants, and despite their tension, were part of the winning squad. The following week in the Six to Survive match, Ivie would extract some revenge on Taya, but Taya would ultimately eliminate her, with some assistance from Johnny Mundo. Two weeks ago, the two were placed on the same team against Sexy Star and Mariposa, with the winning team earning two Aztec Medallions. Taya taunted Ivie through most of the match, but they reluctantly worked towards the same goal before Taya accidentally speared Ivie, and the Sexy/Mariposa team capitalized to win the match. Last week, Dario Cueto called both women into the office and essentially made this match between the two to settle once and for all who can lay claim to Ivelisse’s self-proclaimed “baddest bitch in the building” title.
Taya’s been a welcomed addition to the LU cast for this season, and it’s hard to imagine Melina (who I believe was originally slated for this role before she had a falling out with Morrison, and the company) would have been able to play as effective a sidepiece for Mundo. She’s proved herself as adept in the ring, and is fun in the cheerleader/manager role. Ivelisse is easily the best female wrestler in the company, and has proven she can hang with pretty much anyone of any skill level.
This has a chance to be a really solid match if it’s given enough time and laid out right. It’s really a toss up on who could win, but because they alluded to this being about who can lay claim to Ivie’s name gimmick, it’s hard to imagine her losing because it could damage the character, and she should continue to be a prominent part of the show going forward. That said, they could book this like El Patron/Mundo from last season, where Mundo won the match via underhanded tactics, but El Patron stood tall by winning the war after the match. That said, I’m still picking Ivie.
Black Lotus vs. El Dragon Azteca Jr (if Azteca loses, he forfeits his mask)
In the historical canon of Lucha Underground, Dario Cueto, and whatever he represents, has two enemies: The Lotus Triad (whatever that is), and El Dragon Azteca’s syndicate (whatever that’s called). Essentially, he’s played both for suckers to this point. Black Lotus, the daughter of the former head of The Lotus Triad who was (allegedly) killed by Matanza, sought the monster to kill him in revenge, only to be abducted by El Dragon Azteca Sr, and offered training for the confrontation. Lotus trained under Azteca Sr for a while, until she grew impatient and fled to confront Matanza. When she arrived at the temple, she was tricked by Chavo Guerrero Jr, and delivered to Dario, who imprisoned her beneath the temple.
While in captivity, Dario persuaded Lotus that it was Azteca Sr, not Matanza, who killed her parents. When Azteca Sr tried to rescue Lotus, she killed him with a heart punch, and reluctantly took up the role of Dario’s bodyguard despite having reservations about whether Cueto told her to the truth.
When Azteca Sr died, his son took up the mask and became El Dragon Azteca Jr. Forging an alliance with Rey Mysterio Jr (who was a former protege of Azteca Sr and once destined for the Azteca Jr role before choosing another path), the two entered the temple and sought to find information that would link the Cuetos to the death of Azteca Sr. While Mysterio’s attention was drawn elsewhere, Azteca Jr continued to pursue justice, confronting Lotus about why she was working for Dario when the Cuetos killed her parents, and Azteca Sr.
Sensing the truth slowly starting surface, Cueto pulled Lotus aside and told her that she would be granted a match with Azteca Jr to finish off the Azteca lineage and avenge her parents once and for all, through taking the mask of the son, after killing the father.
Later, Cueto met with Azteca Jr and offered him a match with Lotus, telling him that when he looks in her eyes from across the ring, he will see the eyes of the person who killed his father.
It remains to be seen whether or not these two will ever figure out what actually happened. It’s also worth noting that Azteca Jr is bent on revenge while his mentor, Rey Mysterio, has consistently counseled him to not act out of vengeance. I suspect Azteca will win fairly easily, and we’ll see a moment where Azteca will have the chance to permanently injure Lotus, and will have to make a choice as to the type of person he is.
It’s hard to say how this match will play. Lotus has yet to wrestle in LU. Azteca Jr is great, but if Lotus is as bad as — say, Kobra Moon — that might not be enough to save this one.
Prediction: El Dragon Azteca Jr
A Unique Opportunity Tournament: Cage vs. Texano vs. The Mack vs. Son of Havoc
The misfit toys of Lucha Underground. Cage has had a tremendous Season 2, but his story arc peaked, and concluded, several weeks ago, and now he’s just floating in space. Texano, for the second straight season, has never really gotten going despite showing charisma, and being given a cool character vignette this season, designed to reestablish him. The Mack has become one of the major fan favorites of the temple faithful, and got over as Sexy Star’s white knight, while she was dealing with the creeptastic duo of Marty The Moth and Mariposa. And Son of Havoc got derailed when Angelico was injured and their Trios team lost their titles, and fell by the wayside.
This is supposed to be a four person tournament, and was slapped together quickly by Dario Cueto in last week’s episode. The winner will gain an opportunity of Dario Cueto’s choosing.
Really, any of these four could win it, but if you look at them, Cage will be fine without it. Havoc will be fine once Angelico returns and the Havoc/Ivelisse/Angelico team reforms. And The Mack is so over, they could pretty much slot him anywhere on the card at any time.
If you were using this match to light a fire under someone, Texano would be that guy. He’s arguably the most underutilized and misused talent on the LU roster. He has a ton of charisma, he can work a couple different styles, and he carries himself like a guy who could easily, and credibly, be a player further up the card. Unfortunately, he was thrust into the horrible Chavo Guerrero/Blue Demon Jr feud in Season 1, and has never really gotten much of a run here in Season 2. If the promotion is ever going to pull the trigger on him, it needs to be now.
Prediction: Texano (who wins automatic entry into a Gift of the Gods Championship Match later on this card)