Lucha Underground – S2E10: El Jefe Returns

Lucha Underground – S2E10: El Jefe Returns
Date: March 30, 2016

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Previously, on Lucha Underground…

Dario Cueto returned to the Temple during Aztec Warfare with his brother Matanza, who destroyed nine of the top Lucha Underground stars to win the championship. Marty The Moth introduced his sister La MariposaIvelisse, Angelico, and Son of Havoc recaptured the Trios title from The Disciples of Death.

Aztec Warfare II, all things considered, was one of Lucha Underground’s biggest successes to date. In addition to being the highest rated episode that has aired on El Rey, it brought us the temple debut of Rey Mysterio Jr — a massive get for the promotion — and it made a star in Matanza Cueto. It would be a little misleading to say they made a star in one night; Matanza was foreshadowed for a season and a half before he actually debuted, but it’s fair to say they made a star in one match based on the painstaking lengths the show went to, to establish the credentials of Matanza as a stone cold killer.

Like the prior year’s Aztec Warfare, this year’s also functioned as something of a reset button for the season. Last year, the match marked the shift of the show from Johnny Mundo, Big Ryck, and the disputed $100,000, to Prince Puma: Lucha Underground champion and bonafide home grown star. This year, the shift was about the change in leadership. With one match, the reign of Mil Muertes and Catrina was swept away. With one match, Dario Cueto reasserted himself as El Jefe. In this episode, there were no signs of the gothic vibe and cloud of death that surrounded the temple in prior episodes. The atmosphere was lighter. A new house band (Chingon) was back on the overhead platform, replacing the Shao Kahn throne (the previous house band was murdered by the Disciples of Death and their bones used to build the throne for those who read the LU comic book), and, most importantly, the office was fully stocked with liquor again instead of skulls, candles, and weird 19th century self-portraits. Yet, unlike last year’s pivot, which was pretty seamless, this one seemed to stumble a bit.

I was extremely impressed with the setup of Matanza in the Aztec Warfare match, but in this episode it became clear that maintaining Matanza as an indestructable monster, while trying to build an entertaining show from an action standpoint, could be a bit of a challenge. Having been coereced into giving Pentagon a title match by Pentagon nearly breaking his arm to start the show, Dario Cueto instructed his brother, John Kreese style, to put Pentagon…Out. Of. Commission.

And unlike crying, wimpy Bobby, Matanza happily obliged, apparently breaking Pentagon’s back. But something about the whole thing fell flat to me. Maybe it was the numerous edits, or maybe it was just the layout of the match. It didn’t feel big enough for a guy the stature of Pentagon. I was fine with Matanza no-selling all of Pentagon’s offense, but the beatdown was just lacking. It felt more Khali than Lesnar. Am I being too harsh here? Ok, maybe more Big Show than Lesnar. Matanza stalked him, deliberately tossed him around a bit, threw him into some chairs,  hit a deadlift German suplex, and hit his finisher. Then he powerbombed Pentagon through the announce table. In was a definite squash, but it didn’t feel like it reached a believable level of career-threatening. On a show where people fly off office roofs (or through them), and get hit over the head with cinder blocks (and apparently are fine the next week), or decimated with chairs, pipes, and a million other foreign objects, it just didn’t feel like it was a strong enough destruction to warrant the stretcher job.

I think part of it, too, is the size issue with Matanza. He’s thick, but he’s short. A Matanza who is just a blur of destruction — you know, like in Aztec Warfare — where he’s suplexing guys repeatedly, then hitting a standing shooting star press out of nowhere; a combination of ridiculous power and athleticism totally works for me, and works for this show. A 5’9″ guy playing a 6’10” style monster doesn’t. I hope it was just a one week hiccup, otherwise, it’s a bad omen, because, undoubtedly, the rest of the season is built around Matanza. It will be interesting to see how many shows Pentagon is off to sell this beating. But clearly, Vampiro will introduce him to some new plane of violent power that will fuel his return.

Elsewhere on the show, the Trios title were defended in a rematch that confirmed that the Disciples of Death have indeed not been written off like I originally thought. This felt like filler, but it was a solid match, and I liked the elimination stipulation which I believe was a first for LU Trios matches. Son of Havoc has some serious breakout potential, and I wonder when they will break Team Dysfunction Superfriends up to spin them into singles stars. Angelico has been oddly subdued this season after a massive breakout push last year. I’m a little surprised he hasn’t been used more prominently. I’m enjoying the Ivelisse/Catrina slow-boil feud and I wonder if it ultimately leads to a match.

La Mariposa (Cheerleader Melissa) made her in-ring debut this week and squashed Sexy Star. I enjoyed her storybook vignette narrated by Marty (read from a book of blank pages), but there was nothing to this match as it was basically two moves and the finisher (which admittedly looked like a great move). Elsewhere, The Crew beat Mundo and Taya in a complete throw-away. All in all, this was not a particularly strong in-ring action night.

The best parts of this week’s episode were the two Dario Cueto office vignettes. The confrontation with Catrina about the future of the Temple, and laying the ground work for a Mil Muertes/Matanza showdown was very nice story building, and the Dario/Rey Mysterio detente was the best thing on the show. Rey was skeptical, but willing to go along with Dario’s explanation that Matanza had nothing to do with El Dragon Azteca’s death (which is technically true), and toasted a tequila shot to new beginnings, but there’s no chance in hell this attempt at making peace lasts and I’m looking forward to how it unravels.

This was one of Lucha Underground’s weaker offerings in some time. There’s not really a match worth watching (The Trios match is ok). A couple of the vignettes are fun, and you may want to watch the Pentagon Jr/Matanza match just for a frame of reference as relates to Matanza’s overall story, but honestly this was a skippable show.

Misc. Notes

  • Lucha Underground did a combined audience of 222,000 (159k first run, 63k for the replay), which was the second best rated episode of the show on El Rey, but it did fall out of the Top 150 this week as the audience age skewed much higher (56.6 years old). Many of these lower rated shows are volatile in terms of some of their measuring metrics, so I’m not too sure how much stock I’d put in the age data. It generally seems that LU is consistent with TNA and WWE and tends to be somewhere in the mid-to-high 40s for average age.
  • As noted earlier this week, LU appears to be close to finalizing a deal with Hulu.
  • The King Cuerno Saga: Cuerno (Hijo del Fantasma in AAA) was offered a spot in the WWE Global Cruiserweight Series this summer. He apparently wanted to accept the offer but was blocked by Lucha Underground and AAA, because of his seven season deal with Lucha Underground. According to Wrestling Observer Radio, Cuerno’s response to this was to go missing (he hasn’t been seen in weeks), and Meltzer theorized that he likely has fallen off the grid while he tries to figure out how he can break his contract.
  • Fenix will miss several independent bookings including events at this weekend’s WrestleMania festivities due to a severe broken nose that has grounded him from flying, suffered at this week’s Lucha Underground tapings. No word on how it will impact Fenix’s availability for future tapings, which will take place over the next couple of months.
  • MVP from MLW Radio did a podcast from the Lucha Underground Season 3 tapings this past weekend in which he interviewed Rey Mysterio, Matt Striker, Catrina, and Jeff Cobb (Matanza). I would have linked it, but it appears to have been pulled from MLW’s site. In it, there’s a few interesting nuggets of info including MVP apparently signing paperwork brought in by Marty Elias at one point during one of the interviews, and Catrina alluding to some of her backstory that will apparently get extended coverage in Season 3. The interviews were fun, it’s a shame they’re off the site for whatever reason

The Matches

Match #1 – Johnny Mundo & Taya Valkyrie vs. The Crew

Taya and Cortez Castro started. Castro hit a single leg dropkick for a nearfall. Taya came back with a clothesline, but Castro grabbed her and tagged in Cisco. They hit a double kick to the stomach and a double bulldog on Taya for a near fall. Taya came back with a flying headscissor on Cisco. Once it was clear Taya was in control, Mundo blind tagged himself in and hit some ground & pound and a spinning double leg takedown, followed by a spinning neckbreaker. Mundo set up Cisco for End of the World, but played to the crowd for too long, and Cisco nearly got a roll up win. Cisco hit a neckbreaker on Mundo and tagged in Castro. Castro hit Mundo with chops, and Mundo bailed, quickly tagging in Taya once things went south. Taya hit a dropkick on Castro, but Castro came back with a spinning elbow, and a clothesline, followed by a kneeling DDT that Mundo broke up with a Shining Wizard. Cisco came in after Mundo, and the two fought to the outside. Cage came down the temple stairs, looking no worse for the wear after taking a cinder block to the head last week, and chased Mundo to the other side of the ring, and kept him distracted. Castro and Cisco hit the Psycho Realm (aka Dash & Dawson Shatter Machine) for the win.

Winners: The Crew
Rating: 3/4*

Match #2 – Lucha Underground Trios Championship – Elimination Match – Ivelisse, Angelico, and Son of Havoc (c) vs. The Disciples of Death

Angelico and Barrio Negro started. Angelico flipped out of some takedowns and hit a couple armdrags. Havoc tagged in and hit a double footstomp off the top, followed by a senton for a near fall. Ivelisse tagged in and hit a fed arm drag, then some leg kicks, but Barrio Negro picked her up and tagged in Sinestro De La Muerte. Ivelisse kicked Barrio off the apron and hit a northern lights suplex on Sinestro for a near fall, followed by a rollup, for another, which, on the kick out, Sinestro kicked Ivelisse towards the ropes. Catrina grabbed Ivelisse’s hair and held her on the ropes allowing Barrio Negro to punt her right in the head, and Sinestro covered her for the pin.

Ivelisse eliminated

The Disciples stomped on Havoc before Sinestro took over, still the legal man. Trece tagged in and tossed Havoc around. Havoc fought out of the Disciples’ corner, and hit a hot tag to Angelico, who unloaded on all three. Angelico connected with a spot where he used Sinestro’s back as a springboard for a knee strike to Trece, then planted Sinestro with his leg sweep into a seated front kick spot. Trece cut Angelico off with a drop kick. He picked Angelico up, but Angelico regained control, set up, and hit, Fall of the Angels (Razor’s Edge into a turnbuckle) for the pin.

Trece eliminated

Barrio and Sinestro jumped in and attacked Angelico, but Angelico fought both off. Sinestro held Angelico on the ropes, from the apron, but Havoc broke it up with a jumping front kick, and both Havoc and Angelico low bridged a charging Barrio. With both Disciples outside, the tecnicos hit a tandem dive to wipe both Disciples out.

Back in the ring, Angelico hit a springboard knee strike to Sinestro’s head. His body control is top notch. Angelico set Sinestro up for Fall of the Angels, but Sinestro slide out, hit Angelico in the back of the head and then hit some type of horribly botched move that I think was an attempt at a backstabber, but ended up with Sinestro’s knees in Angelico’s back and Angelico falling face down on the mat. Anyway, this botch was the pin.

Angelico eliminated

Havoc fought against the two Disciples taking both out with his off-the-rope spring back double elbow. Barrio bailed outside and Sinestro pounded Havoc. Barrio tagged back in and the two double teamed again, but Havoc wiped both out with a springboard cross body then hit an awesome move where he springboarded and hit a double footstomp on Sinestro, jumped off Sinestro’s back, and hit a double footstomp on Barrio, followed by a standing moonsault on Barrio for the pin.

Barrio Negro eliminated

Havoc celebrated, and Sinestro immediately clobbered him with lariats. Sinestro attempted a moonsault, but Havoc rolled away. Havoc climbed up top, but Catrina knocked him off the turnbuckle. Ivelisse ran out and took Catrina out with a front kick to the head. Sinestro charged Havoc, and he low-bridged him then hit two Cuerno-worthy topes, threw Sinestro in the ring, and hit a shooting star press for the pin

Sinestro De La Muerte eliminated

Winners: Ivelisse, Angelico, and Son of Havoc (Survivor: Son of Havoc)
Rating: **1/2

Match #3 – Sexy Star vs. La Mariposa

Mariposa charged Sexy, and Sexy dodged and rolled outside, but Marty threw her back in. Mariposa stomped Sexy, rammed her into a turnbuckle, and unloaded punches. Mariposa went up top for a moonsault, but missed and Sexy went for a tilt-a-whirl headscissor into an armbar submission, but Mariposa just slammed her. Mariposa set her up for the Butterfly Effect (a double arm underhook, in which Mariposa spins under the hold lifting the opponent on her back and then sits down driving the opponents head into the ground. Almost like a reverse piledriver. Looked cool). Total squash match.

Winner: La Mariposa

Match #4 – Lucha Underground Championship: Matanza (c) vs. Pentagon Jr

Matanza is great at looking unhinged and completely uninterested in the championship, which he just non-chalantly drops in the ring. He very much sells only being interested in destruction.

Matanza lunges at Pentagon early, but Pentagon dodges. Pentagon tries one too many dodges and Matanza catches him, but Pentagon ducks under a clothesline and hits an enziguri that Matanza no-sells.

Pentagon attempts kicks. No sell.

Pentagon attempts a superkick. No sell.

Pentagon attempts a wind-up kick and forearms. No sell.

Pentagon hits the lung-blower. No sell!

Pentagon looks freaked out and Matanza just stands menacingly. Matanza tosses Pentagon outside and deliberately stomps him towards the floor seats. He throws Pentagon into a row of chairs. Then Matanza throws him into the ring apron, then whips him into the guard rail and rips at Pentagon’s mask before slamming his head off the side wall. Matanza goes back to work on the mask, finally ripping it, then puts Pentagon back in the ring, where Pentagon sells his back. Matanza hits a deadlift German suplex, and Vampiro says Pentagon is telling the referee in Spanish that his back is broken. Matanza bounces Pentagon off the ropes, and hits Wrath of the Gods (reverse powerslam) for the win.

Vampiro immediately jumps up to check on Pentagon, and Matanza boots Vampiro right in the head.  Then Matanza picks up Pentagon, throws him back outside, and powerbombs him through the announce table. Pentagon is stretchered out as Dario celebrates, holding up Matanza’s arm.

The beat down looked heavily edited.

Winner: Matanza
Rating: N/A