Lucha Underground – S2E1: A Much Darker Place

Lucha Underground – Season 2, Episode #1: A Much Darker Place
Date: January 27, 2016
Location: Lucha Underground Temple, Boyle Heights, CA
Commentators: Matt Striker, Vampiro

And, we’re back!

We start with a cold open shot of Vampiro seated at a table in a conference room, in deep concentration, surrounded by other reflective Vampiros on both sides of him. A doctor breaks his concentration by speaking his name, “Ian.” Vampiro looks up and we get a location title telling us we’re in the Youssef Floro Clinic.

The doctor asks Ian if he knows what day it is, and Ian responds “Graduation day.” The doctor says that’s for him to determine, and asks him if he’s had any nightmares or hallucinations, while we see Ian flashing back to his Cero Miedo match with Pentagon Jr at Ultima Lucha. Ian says he’s had neither. The doctor asks about violent thoughts, and Ian pauses for a second. Orderlies standing outside the room clench their fists. Ian says the violent thoughts are all gone. The doctor prescribes him an antipsychotic and says he can grant Ian’s release if Ian promises to avoid the people and places that trigger his violent impulses. With that question, Ian appears to jump up and smash the doctor’s head repeatedly into the table. The orderlies rush in and Ian disposes of one, and chokes another out before returning to the doctor. He head-smashes him a few more times, and then bites him on the neck. The scene cuts back to Ian, seated at the table, indicating this was a fantasy, and Ian responds “Yeah.”

Ian is released and picked up by Matt Striker. Striker asks Ian what’s next, and the two jump in a convertible. Ian asks if he still has a job, and Striker says they have an invitation to return to the temple, but it’s not like it was before. Striker says he hears it’s a much darker place. Ian looks at his pill bottle and smirks, and the two drive off.

Title Card

We immediately pick up in Dario Cueto’s office which has been redecorated in gothic style. We see Catrina, dressed like a Cleopatra of the damned, peering out the window of the office. She says to someone off camera “I was wondering when you’d have the guts to return to this temple.” Fenix walks through the door, and says he’s back for Mil Muertes and the LU Title. Catrina acknowledges Fenix has the right to face Muertes since Fenix holds the Gift of the Gods title, however, it’s her right as the new ruler of the temple, to make Fenix wait until next week, assuming Fenix makes it to next week, as he will be defending the Gift of the Gods title against King Cuerno tonight. She tells Fenix that Mil will be watching, and we cut to the temple floor. High above the ring, on top of the entrance way sits Mil Muertes, shirtless, on a throne, with the title around his waste in a scene that’s almost directly made to look like Shao Khan from Mortal Kombat.

Striker and Vampiro are seated at the announce table and they throw it to the ring.

Match #1 – Gift Of The Gods Championship – Fenix (c) vs. King Cuerno

The two exchange armdrags and legs sweeps early, before Fenix hits a standing moonsault into a pin for a zero count. Fenix attempts a spinning front kick, and Cuerno ducks and rolls outside. Fenix attempts a baseball slide dropkick and Cuerno catches him, spins Fenix around, and hits a draped DDT from the apron to the floor. Cuerno returns to the ring and the referee counts. Fenix slowly gets to his feet, and Cuerno signals for and hits the Arrow from the Depths of Hell (tope) to the outside, wiping Fenix out. Cuerno drags Fenix back to the ring and covers for two.

Cuerno kicks Fenix and then attempts to German suplex him, but Fenix slips out of it, hits the ropes, and executes a springboard dropkick to take Cuerno down. Fenix charges Cuerno in the corner, and Cuerno lifts Fenix to the turnbuckle. Fenix walks out on the ropes, does his ridiculous jumping between the top and middle rope balancing act, and then launches from that into a flying armdrag takedown. Cuerno gets to his feet with a look of complete rage. He goes after Fenix, but Fenix kicks him in the gut, does a handstand flip into the ropes, flips back, and executes a stunner in mid air. This move was awesome. It puts John Cena’s shitty springboard stunner to shame. Cuerno stumbles around, and Fenix dropkicks Cuerno through the ropes.

Cuerno takes his time recovering on the outside, so Fenix hits a vicious corkscrew dive to the outside that buries Cuerno. Fenix lays in a stiff chop, before throwing Cuerno back into the ring, whipping him to the corner, and hitting a running big boot. Fenix hits the ropes again, but Cuerno fights out and plants him with a running forearm dive. Cuerno goes for a clothesline, but Fenix counters with a superkick. Fenix hits the ropes, but Cuerno comes back with a single leg dropkick. Both men sell on the mat for a bit.

Cuerno gets to his feet and whips Fenix, but Fenix again does the handstand flip into the ropes, and bounces back with the mid-air stunner, this time, holding on to the head and rolling it over into a modified dragon sleeper. Cuerno fights out by sweeping Fenix’s legs, and places Fenix in a surfboard, before modifying it into a rear chin lock, then he releases it sending Fenix’s head flying into the middle turnbuckle. Cuerno charges Fenix and Fenix picks him up, sets him on the top turnbuckle, and hits a European uppercut, followed by a vicious looking double stomp to the back of Cuerno’s head, as Cuerno’s sitting on the turnbuckle. Fenix covers for a near fall.

Fenix picks Cuerno up and hits some palm strikes and kicks, then hits the ropes again, but Cuerno picks him up into a fireman’s carry, and hits Thrill of the Hunt (Michinoku driver) into a pin for a near fall. Cuerno picks Fenix up, bull rushes him into the corner, lays in a vicious chop and stomps a mudhole in him. Cuerno sets up for a splash, but as he charges, Fenix plants him with another superkick. Fenix climbs to the ropes, and does his middle to top rope springboard into a 450, but misses. Cuerno grabs Fenix in the fireman’s carry again, puts him in position for a tombstone, but turns it into a package tombstone and hits it for the pin.

Winner: King Cuerno via pinfall to capture the Gift of the Gods Championship.
Rating: ***1/2 
Reaction: Really fun match, and a really nice showcase of both performers. The package tombstone finisher Cuerno used looked ridiculously dangerous, and spectacular. The balance of Fenix in using the middle and top ropes is just as good as you’ll see in the sport, and his take on the springboard stunner looked phenomenal. This was also a marked improvement for LU in terms of showcasing its action to potential new fans, when you consider a year ago, the first taste of action fans got was Chavo Guerrero Jr vs. Blue Demon Jr. This was really kind of a shocking title change. The Fenix/Mil Muertes storyline from Season 1 seemed to make for a ready-made early season title clash between the two, but perhaps that predictability is why this audible was called right off the bat. I suspect Cuerno never sees his title match, and that this title might change hands a few more times over the coming weeks before someone finally cashes it in for a shot.

Mil Muertes looks on from his throne, emotionless.

We see Angelico, Ivelisse, and Son of Havoc arrive at the temple on their bikes.

Commercial Break

Angelico, Havoc, and Ivelisse enter the weight room section of the temple and Catrina meets them. Ivelisse tells her they want their Trios title back and came ready to fight. Catrina tells her no, and says Mil wants to see them fight each other. Havoc says they’ve spent the past year trying to get on the same page, and that Catrina won’t tear them apart. Catrina tells them that Mil agreed that whomever wins the match can face him for the title tonight. Ivelisse accepts the match for the three of them, and tells Catrina that when she wins the title, she’s coming for Catrina.

Back in the arena, Catrina makes her way to ringside to inform Melissa Santos of the match she just made.

We get the intros for the match, and Striker throws it to break.

Before the commercial, though, we go back to the locker room. Catrina congratulates King Cuerno on his victory and asks him to remember their deal. Cuerno says that she has nothing to worry about, nor does Mil. Catrina disappears in a flash. Cuerno looks off in the distance, uneasy.

Commercial Break

Match #2 – #1 Contender’s Triple Threat Match – Son Of Havoc vs. Ivelisse vs. Angelico

The three circle each other, and Havoc breaks the ice with a headlock on Angelico, before Angelico whips him into Ivelisse, who wraps a wastelock around Havoc. Angelico shoves both into the ropes, and rolls up Ivelisse from behind for a near fall, followed by a sunset flip from Havoc, on Angelico, for a near fall, and a crucifix pin from Ivelisse, on Havoc, for a near fall.

The match restarts with Havoc signaling for a three way test of strength. Havoc and Angelico each lock a hand. Ivelisse goes to lock hands with Angelico, but he mocks her, so she kicks Angelico and slaps Havoc. Ivelisse kicks Havoc in the gut, climbs to the top, and hits a hurricanrana on Angelico. The three take turns charging each other in the corners, and ducking out of the way before Angelico hits a high knee right to Ivelisse’s face that takes her down. Havoc hits a handspring back elbow to take Angelico down, then a springboard cross body into a pin for a near fall. Angelico gets to his feet and hits Havoc with a series of kicks and knee strikes, before missing a leg sweep into a follow-through kick that plants Havoc. He covers for a near fall.

Ivelisse attempts to climb to the top, but Angelico catches her and slams her head off the top turnbuckle. Angelico tries to go up top, but Havoc slides under him and has him on his shoulder like the set up for a doomsday device. Angelico slips down, Havoc moves, and Ivelisse hits a cross body from the top on Angelico for a two count. Havoc grabs Ivelisse, but Ivelisse chops and kicks Havoc. Angelico charges Ivelisse with a diving forearm, but Ivelisse moves, and Angelico hits Havoc. Ivelisse follows with an enziguri to Angelico, and another cover for a two count. Ivelisse turns her attention to Havoc, but Havoc hits an awkward backbreaker on Ivelisse, and she rolls to the outside. Angelico grabs Havoc and goes to toss him over the top rope, but Havoc bounces off and back to Angelico with a back elbow, then tosses Angelico outside. Havoc follows with a tope to Angelico, then jumps back in the ring and hits a tope on Ivelisse on the other side. Angelico charges Havoc, who’s standing on the apron, and Havoc stops him with an enziguri, then Havoc hits a springboard double foot stomp to Angelico’s back, followed by a standing moonsault into a near fall.

Havoc and Angelico go to opposite corners. Ivelisse grabs Havoc’s leg from the floor and pulls him down. She jumps in the ring and charges Angelico, but he lifts her over the top rope to the apron. Angelico blocks a kick from her and sends her to the floor with a back elbow, but Havoc hits Angelico with a flying clothesline. Havoc climbs to the top, but Angelico slows him with an enziguri. Angelico climbs the ropes to attempt a superplex, but Havoc blocks and front suplexes him to the mat. Havoc signals for his shooting star press, but Ivelisse crotches him on the turnbuckle, jumps in the ring, and pins Angelico with a cradle.

Winner: Ivelisse via pinfall
Rating: **1/4
Reaction: A step slow, because Ivelisse isn’t the athlete the other two are, and a little sloppy, but Havoc really carried this match to a level of respectability. He’s a very solid worker and sold well to make Ivelisse look as good as she could look, to set her up for her big moment later in the show. Ivelisse was ok. I think she’s a much better worker than Sexy Star, but the athleticism gap between her and her opponents was pretty clear. She has a limited moveset, but makes the most of it with what she can do. Angelico was just kind of in the way. He had a few nice kick/high knee spots, but never really got going. Ivelisse vs. Mil Muertes for the title as the main event of the first episode of the season. Wouldn’t have guessed that with 20 guesses.

Ivelisse celebrates and awaits Mil Muertes’ descent from his throne.

We cut to three jabronis in a car with a location title that says “375 Miles from Boyle Heights.” One asks if they’re in the right neighborhood. Suddenly Black Lotus appears outside their car, and asks if they’re lost. One of the guys says he’s heard there’s and underground fight club around here. Black Lotus looks on, stone faced. The guy tells her that they call it “the temple.” Lotus tells them to come with her.

Commercial Break

Melissa Santos announces Ivelisse who’s getting instructions from Havoc and Angelico. Santos then announces Mil Muertes and he arises from the throne, and makes his way to the ring. Ivelisse looks extremely nervous. Catrina emerges from the office with Mil’s black rock and greets him at the entrance way to the ring. Striker mentions that Ivelisse is the first woman to receive a title match in Lucha Underground. Mil enters the ring and Catrina raises the rock, and suddenly the Disciples of Death appear and jump Angelico and Havoc. Ivelisse tries to help, but Catrina grabs her and throws her into Mil who restrains her. The Disciples of Death carry off Angelico and Havoc. Mil shoves Ivelisse across the ring, and Striker throws it to one more commercial before the match.

Commercial Break

Match #3 – Lucha Underground Championship – Mil Muertes (c) vs. Ivelisse

Mil immediately shoves Ivelisse by her head to the mat. Ivelisse gets up and charges Mil laying in forearms, but Mil no-sells and Catrina laughs, then Mil clubs Ivelisse in the back, and hits her with a backbreaker, which he holds across the knee for a moment. Then, Mil grabs her by the hair and throws her into the turnbuckle. Ivelisee gets up, and again unloads punches to Mil’s stomach which he no-sells. He grabs Ivelisse by the hair and swings her across the ring. Mil picks Ivelisse up by the throat, and pie-faces her to the mat before waving his finger in a Mutumbo-esque fashion at her. Ivelisse runs at Mil again, and he picks her up in a tilt-a-whirl, but Ivelisse hangs on and briefly applies a guillotine choke, however, Mil powers out with a bear hug and just throws her off him. Mil begins strangling Ivelisse on the mat, and she attempts to apply a triangle choke but can’t lock it in. Mil picks her up by the throat and carries her towards the ropes, while Ivelisse rains down punches. Near the ropes, Ivelisee drops over the top rope, and locks in an armbar, but Mil just clubs his way out of it. Mil briefly sells the wrist. Ivelisse climbs to the top, but Mil grabs her again. Ivelisse punches again, and hits a desperation tornado DDT into a pin for a near fall.

Catrina enters the ring, and Ivelisse grabs her by the throat. Mil gets up behind her and charges for a spear, but Ivelisse moves and Mil spears Catrina. Mil surveys what he’s just done, and Ivelisse schoolboys Mil for a two and three quarters count. Mil gets up, and Ivelisse charges again, but Mil powerslams her, and then hits her with a Flatliner for the pin.

Winner:Mil Muertes via pinfall
Rating: *1/4
Reaction: They told the appropriate story here. Mil toyed with her, Ivelisse refused to quit, Mil toyed with her some more, Ivelisse actually did some slight damage to him, Mil made a huge mistake, Ivelisse almost stole a victory (which the crowd popped huge for on the near fall), Mil stopped playing around and buried her. Fine storytelling. Not much to the match, but this was what it should have been.

After the match, Mil calls for Catrina to administer the lick of death to Ivelisse. Catrina teases it, to the delight of fans, and then stops and calls for Mil to attack her more. Mil picks Ivelisse up by the throat and sets her up for another Flatliner, when Prince Puma runs down and superkicks Mil Muertes, grabbing Ivelisse, and pulling her out of the ring. Mil stares down Puma, when from the other side of the ring, Pentagon Jr slides in and hits a backstabber on Mil Muertes. Vampiro, at the sight of Pentagon, looks like he goes into a trance. Pentagon sets Mil up on the mat, and breaks his arm. Puma and Ivelisse escape up the temple stairs, and Mil, holding his arm on the outside, kicks a camera away from him, as Catrina surveys the damage.

We cut back to Black Lotus arriving with the three jabronis at a door in a brick wall. A shadowy figure turns around revealing himself to be Dario Cueto, still wearing the giant key. Cueto asks what’s going on and Lotus tells him the guys were looking for underground fighting. Cueto tells them they came to the right place, but warns them that it can get pretty violent inside. One of the jabronis insults Lotus, and she hits him with a few punches. Cueto demands $20 each from the guys. They all pay it. Cueto uses his key to open the door, and lets them in. The last one in asks who’s fighting tonight, and Cueto says “you are” then closes the door. We’re left with the sounds of carnage and screaming as Cueto smirks and looks at the cash.

Final Thoughts Thank god this show is back. It’s such a fun hour, and this flew by very quickly. The film vignettes were on par production wise with Season 1, so any budget cuts didn’t affect those production values. The Vampiro piece at the beginning was an extremely clever cold open follow up to Ultima Lucha, and very well done. Storywise, we have Catrina and Mil reigning over the temple, although that appears to be short-lived as Puma and Pentagon seem to have formed an alliance of convenience to take them down. Meanwhile, Dario Cueto is still on the run, using Matanza to make a few bucks, and allowing him to either brutally beat, or kill, idiots and drifters. Clearly this will eventually lead to Cueto’s return to the temple, but how and why, remains to be seen. The in-ring action was solid. The Fenix/Cuerno match was very good, the three way was passable, and the LU Title match, while not much of a match, at least told a good story, complete with the post-match angle. All told, this was a great reintroduction of the the show for Season 2. And it looks like having such a strong episode may work to their advantage. We’ll have to see what the ratings show, but Lucha Underground trended (MAGGLE!) all through the show on Twitter tonight, and got tons of hype in the form of articles from Rolling Stone, Slate, and about a half dozen other publications today. They also sent Johnny Mundo and Taya on a New York media blitz, and shipped Rey Mysterio off to do Spanish language press. So they really made an effort to make people aware of the show this time around. We’ll see how it does. Regardless, though, it was highly enjoyable.