Lucha Underground – S2E17: Crime and Punishment

Lucha Underground – S2E17: Crime And Punishment
Date: May 18, 2016

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Previously on Lucha Underground…

TexanoAerostarCageThe MackSinestro De La MuerteSexy Star, and Joey Ryan won Aztec Medallions. Chavo Guerrero Jr stole Cage’s medallion. Pentagon Jr assaulted Dario Cueto and demanded a match with Matanza, only to get his back broken by the monster. Cueto warned Vampiro that if he laid a hand on himself or Matanza, he’d suffer the consequences. 

At its core, the Gift of the Gods Championship is pretty much a rip off of the Money In The Bank briefcase. But to Lucha Underground’s credit, they took the time and effort to dress it up, give it prestige, a backstory tied in with the Aztec history that surrounds the show, and some unique rules (like no instant cash-ins, and the belt must be defended consistently if it’s not being cashed in) to make it feel as different, and special, as possible, while conceptually still being similar to MITB. Throughout last season, and the first part of this season, it felt like an important cornerstone of the company, because of all the thought and effort they put into establishing it. I’m less convinced of that fact with how it was handled this week.

The core guys in Lucha Underground are Prince Puma, Mil Muertes, Matanza, Fenix, Pentagon Jr, Rey Mysterio Jr, and Johnny Mundo, and yet not a single one of them was in this year’s match. Sure, there’s reasons for some of them not to be in it (i.e. Matanza’s champion, Mil’s dead, Pentagon’s crippled), but all of them sitting this out? It made the match feel second tier. And the ultimate result of the match was not to establish Lucha Underground’s next great star, or set up a down the road LU Championship feud. The sole purpose was to work a Cage vs. Chavo Guerrero feud.

I liked the opening segment setup to the match, complete with Dario’s decree that if Chavo puts the medallion in the belt, he gets to be in the match. And I really liked Chavo outsmarting Cage with the washer in the bag. But I hated the fact that Chavo didn’t even sell the beating he got when he came out for the match later in the show, and using the match as a vehicle for Cage to win the title for Chavo, so he could beat Chavo for the belt next week made me uneasy. I have to be honest, it felt a little Russoesque. And at times this season, this show has been tiptoeing up to that line. I don’t think it’s crossed it yet, though.

All that said, I generally liked this show. The GOTG match, up to the finish was solid, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Killshot/Marty The Moth match, and subsequent angle. The Moth character is extremely well done. He gets creepier each week, his trunks seem to get smaller each week, making his body more grotesque, and Martin Casaus just plays a great psycho. The feud over Marty stealing the dog tags should be a nice way to elevate Killshot, who I think is talented, and has a good character foundation, but needs a chance to break out.

Dwarfing everything on this show, however, was the final vignette. Inside Pentagon Jr’s dojo, we find a still broken Pentagon bound, and suspended by cables, as Vampiro teaches him the true meaning of pain, so he no longer fears it when the time comes for Pentagon to seek his revenge. This performance by Vampiro is tremendous. Lecturing Pentagon on overcoming weakness in-between torturing him with kendo stick strikes, Vamp takes this to a place that most on the LU roster are just incapable of reaching in terms of acting ability. And the show ending with the hammer being brought down on Pentagon (a barbed-wire baseball bat shot to the face) was probably one of the best shots, and endings, of the season. Let’s face it, this is the type of scene Lucha Underground exists for. The lighting, the camera work, the way it’s shot, and the ambiance makes this the quintessential type of scene for this show. You could picture a version of this through the lens of WWE, with Mick Foley teaching Dean Ambrose the meaning of pain, and just cringing all the way through the vignette, because it’s the wrong style and the wrong atmosphere for that, in that promotion. But for Lucha Underground, the care they put into  stuff like this, makes it the heart of the show.

This was a fine show. Two good matches (one with a questionable finish), and a great performance by Vampiro, as well as Dario Cueto’s remarkable acting (which I’ll cover below). There’s no blow away matches, but Killshot/Marty is fun, and GOTG is solid.

Misc Notes

  • Lucha Underground pulled a combined audience of 164,000 this week, down from the previous week, however the first run was up, with 127,000 viewers. The big audience hit came on the replay, which drew just 37,000 viewers. The show did significantly better demographically with a median age of 48.7.
  • Dario Cueto’s sheer enjoyment at the prospect of carnage makes this show delightful. When Cage enters Cueto’s office to start the show, and tells Cueto he’s going to rip Chavo apart to get his medallion back, the restrained jubilation on Cueto’s face tells you all you need to know about him as a character. And then his over the top announcing of the GOTG participants, and one-liners were fantastic. He was so happy these people were about to destroy each other.
  • After calling the coffins “death boxes” to the point of annoyance last week, Matt Striker finally said in this episode that Catrina was stuffed in a “casket.” So he at least knows the word.
  • “Mack baby baby Mack baby baby Mack baby! Well done. Circles with Circles. Well done, Mack!”

The Matches

Match #1 – Fatal Fourway: Daga vs. Argenis vs. Kobra Moon vs. Mascarita Sagrada

Famous B was back as Mascarita’s hype man, and cut a great intro promo.

Sagrada runs wild early, dropkicking Kobra out of her laying on the ropes pose, to the outside, then he hits Daga with a hurricanrana, and Argenis with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Kobra Moon clocks him with a forearm, as he goes for a tope, and covers him for a near fall.

Kobra and Sagrada square off for a bit. Kobra attempts a couple covers, then hits a Michinoku driver for a near fall that’s broken up by Daga grabbing her by the hair. When Kobra Moon realizes Daga grabbed her head, she smiles and licks her lips, moving towards his groin in a — yes, a teased blowjob spot. Daga freaks out, and throws her out of the ring. Argenis jumps in and squares off with Daga, while Sagrada rolls out.

Daga takes Argenis down with a shoulder block, but Argenis comes back with a superkick. Daga backdrops Argenis onto the apron and rocks him with an enziguri. Daga charges to knock him off the apron, but Argenis jumps, and Daga falls through the ropes to the outside, then Argenis hits a middle rope springboard moonsault to take out Daga. Sagrada climbs to the top rope, and Kobra Moon charges from the opposite side of the ring. Sagrada hits an awkward flying crossbody, then a body scissor into a roll up for a near fall broken up by Argenis. Argenis grabs Sagrada by the head, but Sagarda takes him down with an arm drag, and then applies a cross-armbreaker. Argenis powers out and turns it into a modified Michinoku driver, and covers for a near fall broken up by Daga.

Daga and Argenis pair off. Daga hits a Euro uppercut into the corner, then a superkick to Argenis’ thigh, followed by a German suplex into a bridge that he flips on top of, but must have botched because there’s a really awkward edit mid-pin. Kobra Moon gets back in the ring and runs at Daga, but catches a kick to the stomach. Daga sets her up in a Gory special position, while turning Argenis into a reverse Boston Crab, but Masacrita breaks it up launching himself head first into Daga’s mid section. Kobra falls out of the Gory special and turns it into a sunset flip for a near fall broken up by a kick from Sagrada. Sagrada rolls up Kobra, but gets slapped in the face by Argenis. Then Argenis grabs Mascartia by the head and whips him across the ring, with Sagrada landing neck first on the ropes in a nasty looking bump. Argenis then inexplicably runs the ropes for no reason, and catches a single leg dropkick from Daga. Argenis rolls outside, and Daga hits him with a somersault dive over the top.

Back in the ring, Sagrada is still reeling, and Kobra Moon hits him with a dropkick into the ropes, then she goes for a Dragon Sleeper, but lifts him up, and turns it into a Michinoku Driver. Kobra spies Daga entering the ring, and slithers away, back into a corner, conceding the pin to Daga, who hits Sagrada with an elbow and scores the win. After the match, Kobra Moon tries to entice Daga, but Daga just looks at her like she’s crazy and bails.

This wasn’t good. Argenis is a blah wrestler, Kobra Moon’s terrible, and Sagrada as the source of all the high impact offense just isn’t believable. Daga looks talented but you wouldn’t know it from this match. I’m ready to punt on this Kobra Moon character, but apparently they’re going to push this Daga/Kobra storyline.

Winner: Daga via pinfall
Rating: *

Match #2 – Killshot vs. Marty Martinez

Marty runs a close second to Matanza for the most heel heat in the Temple. Striker gives Killshot the kiss of death by saying he thinks Killshot will be the MVP of Lucha Underground this season.

The match starts, and Marty takes a few seconds to slowly remove his shirt playing up that he looks awful. Marty loads his finger like a gun and puts it up against Killshot’s head. Killshot slaps the hand away, and throws Marty to the mat. Marty charges Killshot and backs him into a corner unloading strikes, then throws him out of the ring. Killshot tries to get back in with a springboard, but Marty knocks him off the ropes, and Killshot catches his neck on the top rope, and falls to the outside. Marty teases a dive, starts his run, then just stops and flips off the crowd. Then Marty starts to climb through the ropes, but Killshot nails him with an enziguri that send Marty tumbling through. Killshot jumps in the ring, and attempts a moonsault over the top rope dive, but Marty catches him, and powerslams him on the outside.

Marty throws Killshot back in, licks his fingers, and then shoves them in Killshot’s mouth, then drags him around the ring by his teeth. Marty hits a release German suplex on Killshot, then an exploder into the turnbuckle, and covers for a near fall. Marty follows with a snap mare, makes the gun gesture again, and goes for Killshot’s slide-into-a-back-kick move, but as he slides past Killshot, Killshot jumps up and superkicks Marty, then hits a running elbow into the corner, a snap mare, slides in front of Marty, pops up, shoots his finger at Marty, and hits him with a back kick to the side of the head. Marty staggers into a corner, and Killshot charges, but Marty moves. Marty charges Killshot, but Killshot kicks him away, somersaults toward Marty, pops up, and hits Marty with a Diamond Cutter for a near fall.

Marty escapes to a corner, and Killshot hits the ropes and comes at Marty connecting with a running kick. Killshot goes up top, but Marty recovers and pushes Killshot off the top rope. Killshot lands on the apron, keeping his balance. The two slips down to the floor and Marty slams Killshot’s head into the apron, then they brawl back up to the apron. Marty teases a German Suplex on the apron, but Killshot fights him off, and hits a Death Valley Driver on Marty, on the apron. The two tease a count out, but both make it back in the ring at nine.

The two stagger to their feet and trade blows, then Killshot hits a knee to the head, but Marty fights back with a lariat that send Killshot tumbling, followed by a curb stomp for a near fall. Marty follows with a splashes into the corner, then tries to go for something resembling Asuka’s hip attack, but Killshot catches Marty in mid-air and turns it into Michinoku Driver for the pin.

After the match, Killshot goes to look at his dog tags to pay tribute to his fallen comrades, and Marty jumps him from behind and pummels him, then steals his dog tags, and hits a curb stomp from the top rope.

Good match. Marty’s a great hatable character and Killshot is a work in process, but I’m enjoying the development. I also like that both are getting a storyline surrounding the dog tags. I’m not crazy about two matches in a row ending with the same finisher, but oh well.

Winner: Killshot via pinfall
Rating: **3/4

Match #3 – Gift of the Gods Championship – Seven Medallions Match: Texano vs. Aerostar vs. Sexy Star vs. Joey Ryan vs. Sinestro De La Muerte vs. The Mack vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr

Chavo Guerrero makes his way out not even selling the beating from Cage earlier. Come on, Chavo…

The ring clears quickly at the start, and we’re left with Sexy Star and Joey Ryan. Ryan offers Sexy a taste of his lollipop, and Sexy kicks him in the stomach, then hits a body scissor into an armdrag. Ryan charges, and Sexy hits a backslide into a near fall. Ryan pops up and pie-faces Sexy to the ground. Ryan picks Sexy up and dips her like he’s going to kiss her, when Chavo jumps in and breaks it up, faking chivalry just so he can roll up Sexy and nearly steal a pin. Chavo and Ryan argue, and Sexy pops up and chops both, then takes both down. Mack jumps in to help her and they hit stereo headscissors takedowns, and clear the ring.

Sexy and Mack face off, but Mack acts like he doesn’t want to fight her. The two go through a series of dodges before Texano pulls Sexy out of the ring and jumps in. Texano kicks and chops Mack, but Mack takes him down with an armdrag, and a sunset flip. Texano rolls through the flip and kicks Mack in the head, and covers for a near fall broken up by Aerostar.

Texano and Aerostar square off. Texano rips Aerostar’s suit and chops him, then whips him into a corner, but Aerostar does some acrobatics on the ropes to escape the charge, then hits a middle rope springboard tornado DDT for a near fall. Texano fights back with a jawbreaker, then a superkick sending Aerostar into the corner. He charges Aerostar with a running knee, but Aerostar moves, and Texano falls over the ropes to the outside.

Sinestro De La Muerte sneaks in and takes Aerostar out with a spinning back elbow. He sets up a suplex, but Aerostar flips out and hits a body scissor into a roll up for a near fall. Aerostar hits a drop toe-hold on Sinestro setting him on the middle rope, then flips over him onto the apron, waits for Sinestro to stand up, and hits an enziguri, then does a springboard, and hits the Falling Star onto a bunch of guys on the floor. Sinestro follows it up with a somersault dive over the top to wipe out the same group of guys.

Back in the ring, Joey Ryan is alone and sets up a top rope dive, but Sexy Star pulls him down, goes up top, and wipes out the group of guys with a flying crossbody. Ryan recovers and Mack joins him in the ring. Mack chops him, then goes for a lariat, but Ryan baseball slides through Mack’s legs setting up a pumphandle slam for a near fall broken up by Sinestro. Sinestro attacks Ryan with a modified backcracker and covers, but the pin is broken up by Texano. Sinestro splashes Texano in the corner, but Texano hits a a running forearm splash, then a jumping leg lariat and covers for a near fall broken up by Aerostar. Texano misses some lariats on Aerostar, and Aerostar hits a hurricanrana into a pin for a near fall broken up by Ryan. Sexy Star runs in and dropkicks Ryan. Mack joins her, and the two take turns chopping Ryan, then Mack slams Ryan, and atomic leg drops Sexy onto Ryan. Chavo runs in and takes out Sexy and Mack, goes up top, and hits a frog splash on Ryan, but Mack makes the save.

Everyone gets in the ring and surrounds Chavo. Chavo begs off, but everyone except Ryan attacks Chavo, and they take turns hitting their finishers on him. Cage comes out from the back and the competitors make room for him to finish off Chavo, but Cage turns on all of them, clearing the ring. While Cage mops up, Ryan tries to sneak a cover on Chavo, but Cage picks him up, hits a Steiner Screwdriver on Ryan, then grabs Chavo, drapes him on Ryan, and Chavo scores the pin.

Cage gives Chavo the belt. Chavo realizes what happened and flees in terror. Cage grabs a mic and says he did this because Dario told him he could have a match with the GOTG champion next week. Chavo panics, and Cage stares him down.

The match was fine. Using the second GOTG seven-way match for a mid-card angle probably wasn’t the best idea. They should protect that match as an important part of the promotion, not use it to hotshot a Cage/Chavo feud. But at least they explained why Cage did this and it made some sense, even if it felt like overbooking. I remain unimpressed with Chavo as a character on this show.

Winner: Chavo Guerrero Jr via pinfall to capture the Gift of the Gods Championship
Rating: ***