Lucha Underground – S2E9: Aztec Warfare II (Power Rankings Edition)

Lucha Underground – S2E9: Aztec Warfare II
Date: March 23, 2016


Aztec Warfare is a tremendous concept, and having run it two times now, I can safely say a tremendous match. It weaves an insane amount of action into a very well crafted story, in which numerous feuds and storylines are touched on, extended, or concluded. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exactly lend itself to producing a readable recap of the actual match. So, to do this show some justice, and to make sure I touch on all the ins and outs of the match, I’m going to do an Aztec Warfare Power Rankings this week. Let’s see how this goes after the jump…

#25 — Argenis
Argenis had been wrestling as El Barrio Negro in the Disciples of Death, but returned to his old gimmick for Aztec Warfare, perhaps providing more proof that the Disciples were written off last week. He entered #4, hit a superkick on Rey Mysterio and got a nearfall, but was beaten in about a minute by Rey, who hit him with a 619 and a frog splash for the pin.

#24 — Famous B
He didn’t participate in the match, but instead, he spent the whole show in the crowd watching with his special lady friend from his previous vignette. He was periodically caught on camera talking about which wrestler he wanted to make famous and handed Joey Ryan his card at one point.

#23 — Catrina
When last we left Catrina, everything was going according to plan. She’d booked Fenix to enter #1 and given Mil Muertes the #20 spot. For added insurance, she barred Pentagon Jr from the Aztec Warfare match in the sole vignette of the evening. And clearly she screwed her other enemies, Angelico, Ivelisse, and Son of Havoc who were nowhere to be found in this match. However, it all went up in smoke when Pentagon took it upon himself to jump Mil during his entrance, causing Mil’s elimination. Infuriated, Catrina zeroed in on Vampiro, whom she accused of still pulling Pentagon’s strings, gave him a slap Stephanie McMahon would be proud of, and told him to “get the fuck out” of her temple. At least it was her temple for about ten more seconds after that exchange…

#22 — King Cuerno
The early season MVP was given the shaft in this year’s Aztec Warfare. He entered #3 and was second eliminated, and dispatched in a fairly unceremonious fashion. Cuerno entered by breaking up the Rey/Fenix love fest, and hit a massive Arrow From The Depths Of Hell on Fenix, but was taken out by Rey, who hit him with a baseball slide splash to the outside, then took him down with a cross armbreaker for a tap out in the ring. One way for Cuerno to get his heat back would be to play this as he was caught off guard, and allow him to hunt Rey as part of a new feud.

#21 — Marty The Moth Martinez
Marty entered #12, throwing lariats at everyone and planted a feisty Mascarita Sagrada with a big boot. He even no-sold a spinning front kick from Jack Evans that hit him in the head, and killed Jack with a massive suplex. But Marty was quickly thrown outside the ring, and never really re-emerged until his elimination spot, which involved a Rey/Mascarita double team where Mascarita hit a tilt-a-whirl DDT, and Rey hit a big splash, and the two double pinned him.

#20 — Mascarita Sagrada
I will admit, I like Mascarita’s bits. He comes out enthusiastic, gets in a couple hope spots, and then gets destroyed in some vicious bump. Every time it makes me laugh. For instance: null

This time he entered #11, ran in and hit Fenix with a headscissors, then went after Johnny Mundo with a tope and was caught in mid-air by Mundo and kicked to the ground. He teamed up with Rey to help eliminate Marty Martinez, but spent a lot of time outside getting beaten on by various wrestlers. At one point, Fenix picked Sagrada up and threw him like a lawn dart at a brawling Joey Ryan and Prince Puma. Puma dodged him, but Ryan who was handcuffed to the railing, absorbed the blow. After Chavo Guerrero Jr entered, Sagrada took a run at him with a flying crossbody, but was caught in mid-air and put in El Caballo (Camel Clutch) and tapped out.

#19 — Taya Valkyrie
Taya entered #9 and immediately formed an alliance with Johnny Mundo and Jack Evans to take on Rey Mysterio, Prince Puma, and Fenix. Cage entered soon after and she tried to assist Johnny Mundo in taking Cage down, but caught a backdrop on the apron. After that, she largely disappeared during the match. At one point she was seen stomping Mascarita Sagrada. Her big spot came when Rey Mysterio and Cage were going at it, and Rey attempted a 619. Taya pulled the middle rope causing Rey to fall to the outside, and a recently eliminated Johnny Mundo emerged with a cinder block that he smashed over Cage’s head. Taya covered him for the elimination, but was quickly eliminated afterwards by Fenix, who beat her with a German suplex into a bridge.

#18 — Mil Muertes
Mil entered #20 and was immediately jumped by Pentagon Jr, then tossed in the ring where Rey Mysterio hit him with a top rope splash, and Mysterio and Puma double pinned him. Muertes emerged enraged and chased Pentagon off. The choice to take Mil out of the match with an angle saves him for an angle down the road with both Pentagon and the match’s eventual winner.

#17 — Pentagon Jr
Pentagon opened the show warning Fenix that he was going to destroy him, but was quickly benched by a vindictive Catrina who banned him from the match due to his attack on her several weeks ago. Pentagon didn’t take it laying down, and instead opted to attack Mil Muertes during his entrance and assault him with numerous chair shots to the throat, which softened Mil up for Prince Puma and Rey Mysterio to eliminate him. As a result, Pentagon ended the night one of the few untouched by the wrath that was to come…

#16 — Aerostar
Entering #17, Aerostar hit a springboard double dropkick on PJ Black and Jack Evans helping his friend Drago. Then he eliminated Evans with a sunset flip powerbomb off the top rope. Aerostar kind of disappeared after that until Matanza made his way out. As part of the overall destruction, Aerostar caught a clubbing blow to the back when he attempted some sort of springboard move on Matanza, and was pinned with a German suplex into a bridge. I was disappointed we didn’t get a Rey Mysterio/Aerostar showdown tease.

#15 — The Mack
The Mack entered #14 and went after a just eliminated Marty hitting him with a stunner as payback for Marty’s terrorizing of the noticeably absent Sexy Star. Later in the match he briefly reignited his feud with Cage that culminated at last year’s Ultima Lucha. These two had a nice 45 seconds or so of action in which they traded shots, Cage missed a discus lariat, and Mack hit him with a stunner. Later in the match, Mack squared off with El Dragon Azteca Jr and took some big bumps. When Matanza’s reign of terror started towards the last third of the match, Mack hit him with a stunner that Matanza no-sold, and ate a German suplex into a bridge for a pin elimination.

#14 — Texano
Drawing #19, Texano chased everyone out of the ring with his bullrope when he entered, and then took out a group of guys with a somersault dive. He eliminated P.J. Black with a sitdown powerbomb, took a brief portion of the match with Rey Mysterio, and then went after Chavo. When Matanza appeared, Texano tried to choke Matanza out with his bullrope, but was flipped across the ring. Texano futilely charged Matanza and was vanquished with a sitdown powerbomb.

#13 — P.J. Black
Black entered #16 and made a bee-line for the brawling Jack Evans and Drago, who were fighting in the crowd. Black hit Drago with a suplex on the wooden bleachers. When Evans, Drago, and Black made it back into the ring, and Aerostar appeared, Black eliminated Drago with a brainbuster. Later in the match he squared off with Texano and hit a top rope double footstomp, but Texano shook it off and planted Black with a sitdown powerbomb to eliminate him.

#12 — El Dragon Azteca Jr.
The debuting Azteca came out #18 and made a big impression with a number of spots. He wiped out Aerostar and P.J. Black with a flying crossbody, and hit a standing plancha into a hurricanrana on The Mack, on the outside. Azteca then hit a massive somersault dive over the corner post to wipe out The Mack. When Matanza emerged, Azteca sold anger and a lust for vengeance in his brief reaction shots, but Rey Mysterio grabbed him and the two stood back surveying the carnage before they made their move. Azteca jumped in and tried some kicks on Matanza, and a springboard dropkick, but Matanza no-sold it and destroyed him with a spinning chokeslam for a pin.

#11 — Drago
Drago was the 13th entrant and appeared to be solely there to get revenge on Jack Evans. He immediately went after him and dragged him away to fight into the crowd. The nature of the Aztec Warfare match, and the amount of action around the ring actually hurt this brawl as a lot of it appeared to be missed by the cameras, but the crowd in attendance was clearly paying a ton of attention to these two going at it. We did get cutaways at different points where Drago hiptossed Evans over the platform with the railing, down to the floor. Another time, Drago powerbombed Evans on the wooden bleachers. At one point, you just see Drago standing at the top of the temple steps, the crowd going nuts, and Evans rolling down the steps. Whatever happened there, the cameras completely missed it. When P.J. Black came out, Evans and Black double-teamed Drago, but Drago fought both off. Eventually, though, Drago was caught by a brainbuster from Black out of nowhere and pinned.

#10 — Jack Evans
Evans entered #8 to the best comedy spot of the night. Rey, Puma, and Fenix were in the midst of triple-team stomping Johnny Mundo when Evans ran down, went for a springboard splash, all three faces saw him, moved, and he wiped out. Then they proceeded to stomp Evans in unison. Mundo, who’d recovered, attempted to join in, and the faces stopped, turned on Mundo and chopped him out of the ring. Evans teamed up with Mundo and Taya briefly to take on this faction of guys. He hit a springboard spinning front kick on Puma at one point that looked great. When Drago came out, Evans basically was there to take an asskicking, as the two fought all throughout the crowd. He was eventually eliminated by an Aerostar sunset flip powerbomb off the top.

#9 — Cage
With the alliances of Rey/Fenix/Puma and Mundo/Evans/Taya squaring off, Cage entered #10 and wrecked the party dispatching the rudos with lariats all around. He went after Mundo who’d escaped to the outside, and powerslammed Taya on the floor. Mundo took him, though, and put him through Dario Cueto’s office window in a cool, but much more anticlimactic than the way this was pulled off last season, spot. Cage emerged shortly after with a cut on his head, but able to continue. He planted Mundo with a discus lariat, and hit Weapon X on the floor. Mundo was later pinned by Prince Puma. Cage squared off with The Mack at one point, and Rey Mysterio at another. Taya interjected herself into the Mysterio exchange, and Mundo crushed Cage’s head with a cinder block leading to Taya getting the pin.

#8 — Chavo Guerrero Jr
Chavo played his heel role perfectly tonight. Coming into the match at #15, Chavo immediately went after the weakest link, Mascarita Sagrada, and made him tap out with El Caballo. After that he hung around the outside mixing it up occasionally with a few guys including Texano. Chavo stayed out of the Matanza fray until it was down to him, Rey, Puma, and Azteca. Chavo briefly pretended to try and unite them to coordinate an attack against Matanza, but then turned on them, attacking all three of them. After Matanza destroyed Azteca, Chavo tried to strike a deal with Dario Cueto to allow him to team up with Matanza. Cueto agreed, but then gave Matanza the throat slash sign. Matanza killed Chavo with a clothesline and hit a standing shooting star press on him for the pin.

#7 — Joey Ryan
Ryan entered the match #6 and played the Lawler role, deciding he could outsmart everyone by handcuffing himself to the railing. He was kind of right, as he lasted most of the match, but also paid a price. With nowhere to go, he was constantly attacked and helpless to defend himself. Cuerno hit him with a superkick. Puma unloaded a punch on him. Drago hit him in the face with a spray of dragon mist. Puma chopped the hell out of him at one point until Fenix threw Mascarita into Ryan. Ryan made it to the final six, but when Matanza spied him, he ran outside, ripped apart the guard rail, grabbed Ryan, threw him in the ring and hit him with a series of rolling gut wrench suplexes that took him out.

#6 — Johnny Mundo
Mundo was the fifth entrant and a Rey/Mundo showdown was quickly teased, and both gave off a bad blood vibe with their body language. Mundo mixed it up with Rey and Fenix. He hit a C4 on Fenix at one point, and a springboard enziguri on Rey Mysterio after the alliances formed. When Cage came after Mundo, Mundo stunned him with a superkick and a springboard enziguri off the apron, followed by throwing Cage through the office window in a replay of his spot with El Patron last year. Mundo turned his attention to toying with Mascarita Sagrada, before Cage reemerged and destroyed him with a Weapon X on the floor. Prince Puma hit a standing shooting star on Mundo for the pin. Mundo would return later in the match and smash a cinder block over Cage’s head leading to Cage’s elimination.

#5 — Fenix
The Lucha Underground Champion entered #1 and lasted most of the match. To start out, he squared off with Rey Mysterio in the teasing of a dream match. Fenix showed Rey a ton of respect, and played the consummate babyface. When King Cuerno entered, Fenix hit his biggest spot of the night, a springboard corkscrew plancha onto Cuerno. Fenix spent the rest of the match filling in action gaps as needed, and buying time until the end. He got an elimination on Taya with a German suplex into a bridge. When Matanza debuted, Fenix was the first to take him on and got annihilated with a spinning powerslam, and pinned. His elimination gutted the crowd, who genuinely seemed like they were behind a Fenix title run, and the shock value got Matanza great heat. If Fenix is the choice to lead the rebellion against Matanza, he’ll be a popular one.

#4 — Prince Puma
Puma was seventh out, and much like Fenix was used to fill in the action gaps when necessary. He hit the spot of the night, a springboard shooting star press onto a bunch of guys almost as soon as he came out. He got a pin on Johnny Mundo with a standing shooting star press, after Mundo was taken out by Cage. Puma made it to the final three with Rey and Matanza. Puma and Rey teamed up to deal Matanza the only damage that he kind of sold, hitting tandem kicks and dropkicks. Puma hit a flying forearm that stunned Matanza for a second, but Matanza used Rey as a battering ram to take Puma down, then tossed Rey outside and finished Puma off with a wicked spinning side suplex, a pumphandle slam, and a German suplex bridging into a pin.

#3 — Rey Mysterio Jr
A surprise entrant to the crowd a #2, Rey got the Alberto El Patron pop from Season 1. As much as this match was about establishing Matanza as the an unstoppable threat, it was also about establishing Mysterio as a legend who could still go. He hit a baseball slide splash under the bottom rope, to the outside, on Cuerno. He pinned Argenis with a 619 into a Frog Splash that drew Eddie chants. He tapped Cuerno out with a cross armbreaker. And he played the elder statesman of Lucha Libre roll very well, teaming up with a number of different babyfaces at various points during the match. He hit a standing splash on Jack Evans from on top of Fenix’s shoulders. He helped Mascarita Sagrada eliminate Marty The Moth. He teamed up with Puma to eliminate Mil Muertes. He tried to organize resistance to Matanza with El Dragon Azteca and Puma. But eventually, Mysterio was left alone with the monster, and after a valiant attempt in which he connected with a 619, Matanza eliminated him with his spinning reverse powerslam.

#2 — Dario Cueto
El Jefe returned to claim what was rightfully his, with his very own monster! He got a huge pop as this is the first time he’s been seen by the live audience this season, but when he reestablished the natural order of things, the crowd was booing him and Matanza out of the building. That’s the mark of a good heel. No doubt this will provide a major shakeup in subsequent episodes. Noticeably absent was Black Lotus.

#1 — Matanza
What can you say. Matanza, who looked very much like Bane, murdered nine dudes, most of whom were top of the roster guys. Dave Meltzer called this “ballsy” booking and I have to agree with him. LU went all out to make a star and I think they did a reasonably good job pulling it off. Most of Matanza’s eliminations have been recapped in the earlier entries so let’s just briefly touch on what he did:
-As soon as he came out, the nine guys left did the Big Show gang-up spot where they all attacked him, and Matanza threw them all off.
-He pinned the champion (Fenix) immediately with a reverse spinning powerslam.
-He no-sold a stunner (and every other move in this match) from The Mack, and pinned him with a German suplex into a bridge.
-He clubbed Aerostar out of mid-air and pinned him with a bridging German
-He beat Texano with a sitdown powerbomb
-He ripped the guardrails apart to free Joey Ryan, just so he could kill him with rolling gut-wrench suplexes.
-He destroyed Azteca Jr with a spinning chokeslam.
-He knocked Chavo into next week, and pinned him with a standing shooting star press (maybe his most impressive move of the match)
-He threw Rey at Puma to stun Puma, then beat Puma with a side suplex, a pumphandle slam, and a bridging German.
-He sold a minimal amount for Rey, but beat him by blocking a top rope hurricanrana, tossing Rey up in the air, grabbing him, and hitting the reverse spinning powerslam.
This was as dominant a debut as you may ever see in wrestling. All hail our new monster overlord!

Final Thoughts
I really liked the match and I really liked the booking. I thought the action was pretty much non-stop. I like that so many of the past, present, and potentially future feuds of the promotion were woven into the story of the match. I like how they introduced Rey, and how they paid him a tremendous amount of respect without running him over their established stars (which is a move TNA would have done in a second). And I think this was the best possible way to introduce Matanza, and it worked. And credit to Jeff Cobb, who plays the man under the mask. I honestly didn’t know much about him as a wrestler, but he pulled off the dominating, powerful monster very well. I’m not sure if he’s a great wrestler yet. He’s clearly a great athlete. But he honestly doesn’t need to be a great wrestler at his point. He’s going to no-sell and destroy guys most of the season. He only really needs to put on a great match at Ultima Lucha II, where I’m sure we’ll have a clearly established foil who will legitimately have a chance to topple him in a back and forth match. I know some will probably be a little turned off that Matanza was put over so big, but the promotion has bet so much of its credibility on this guy being a believable monster that I think they had to go after it in this big of a way. And in my mind, they definitely succeeded.

So where do we go from here? I think the next order of business for Matanza is Mil Muertes. There can only be one monster in the Temple, and the Dario/Catrina feud will need to be settled quickly through their proxies. Cage/Mundo should continue, as should Aerostar/Drago/Evans/Black. That probably leaves either Cuerno or Chavo for Rey’s first feud. I really hope it’s Cuerno, because Rey/Chavo would be so disappointing at this stage of the game. Puma, Fenix, and Texano are just kind of left hanging. Either someone needs to turn heel, or maybe these three, or two of the three and someone else, band together and go after the Trios Titles for the time being. All in all, a good match. I’d recommend it, but with the disclaimer that to understand the finish, you do have to have a frame of reference for the show’s storylines.

Elimination Order:
Argenis (eliminated by Rey Mysterio Jr)
King Cuerno (eliminated by Rey Mysterio Jr)
Johnny Mundo (eliminated by Prince Puma)
Marty The Moth Martinez (eliminated by Rey Mysterio Jr and Mascarita Sagrada)
Cage (eliminated by Taya Valkyrie)
Taya Valkyrie (eliminated by Fenix)
Drago (eliminated by P.J. Black)
Jack Evans (eliminated by Aerostar)
P.J. Black (eliminated by Texano)
Mil Muertes (eliminated by Rey Mysterio Jr & Prince Puma)
Fenix (eliminated by Matanza)
The Mack (eliminated by Matanza)
Aerostar (eliminated by Matanza)
Texano (eliminated by Matanza)
Joey Ryan (eliminated by Matanza)
El Dragon Azteca Jr (eliminated by Matanza)
Chavo Guerrero Jr (eliminated by Matanza)
Prince Puma (eliminated by Matanza)
Rey Mysterio Jr (eliminated by Matanza)

Matanza Cueto to capture the Lucha Underground Championship

Total Number of Eliminations
Matanza: 9
Rey Mysterio Jr: 3
Prince Puma: 1.5
Fenix: 1
Chavo Guerrero Jr: 1
Aerostar: 1
Texano: 1
Taya Valkyrie: 1
P.J. Black: 1
Mascarita Sagrada: 0.5

Misc. Notes:

  • Aztec Warfare II did a Matanza-sized 232,000 viewers for this week’s episode (163,000 first run, 69,000 for the replay). More importantly, the show did a 0.06 in the 18-49 demo (80,000 viewers) placing it 137th for the night, which is just the second time they’ve cracked the Cable Top 150, and their highest placement to date. That may not sound like much, but it’s a pretty gigantic accomplishment for El Rey Network given its distribution and lack of name value. This is probably the best performing LU broadcast on El Rey to date, although I’m not sure if it’s the largest combined or first run audience.
  • Brian Cage, whom I mentioned last week seemed to be heading to Lucha Libre Elite, announced he was pulling out of that deal due to other commitments. It’s been reported Lucha Underground blocked him from working for a competitor of AAA due to their relationship. This is a situation to watch going forward, especially after LU Season 3 tapings conclude this summer. There will be a very long layoff in the taping schedule between Season 3 and a potential Season 4, and while wrestlers may be reluctant to screw up their LU deals now, they may be more likely to with the prospect of waiting a minimum 8-9 months for their next dates from LU.
  • Sami Callihan (formerly Solomon Crowe of NXT) was signed by LU for Season 3.
  • Lucha Underground has updated their website, and added a couple new pieces of merchandise, including a Dario Cueto and Mil Muertes shirt. They also have been slowly rolling out shirts on ProWrestlingTees.
  • Remember, these individual episodes are available on iTunes now for $2.99 a pop ($1.99 in SD).
  • RIP Garry Shandling. The Larry Sanders Show was a staple of my youth