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    Friday, April 8, 2016

    Temple Rants (4/6/16): The Matanza Cueto Show

    Last week, we learned just how different things are going to be with the return of Dario Cueto. Pentagon Jr., long regarded as one of the most fearsome competitors in Lucha Underground, was simply tossed around by Lucha Underground Champion Matanza. Cero Miedo received the beating of a lifetime, and in a shocking end to the show, was carried out of the Temple on a stretcher. Meanwhile, Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc asserted their dominance over the Disciples of Death, managing to outlast the spooky trio en route to a successful defense of their Trios Championship. Cage continued to be a thorn in Johnny Mundo’s side, while Sexy Star’s problems with Moth and Mariposa continued.

    Operation: Make Matanza Look Strong

    It should come as no surprise that Matanza continues to run over everyone in the Temple like a bunch of bowling pins. This week’s victim? Fenix.

    It’s been a big power shift ever since Aztec Warfare, but they’re really pushing Matanza as the guy (sorry, Roman Reigns.) He’s now 2-0 in title defenses, and has barely broken a sweat getting in the ring. Fenix used his trademark agility to some effect in this match, as he did catch Matanza at times, but was ultimately overpowered in the end. What makes this even more impressive is that Matanza is demolishing legitimate, established talent. They aren’t just feeding him the Ricky Mandels and Vinny Massaros of the Temple. He’s now beaten a former Lucha Underground and Gift of the Gods Champion, as well as a man who has put on some of the best and most violent matches we’ve ever seen.

    It does look like a problem when two established stars are run over by your monster newcomer, especially if they continue building up Matanza as far above anyone in the Temple. He'll eventually hit a peak, and at that point, it would take nothing short of the entire Lucha Underground roster plus the two nearst indy feds to subdue him. Matanza's next few matches are key, as we'll see if any of the current roster can believably hurt him. His eventual defeat will be all the more believable if someone finds a weakness to exploit. Then again, this is Lucha Underground, and if anyone in professional wrestling can't make something beyond belief work, it's these guys.

    Because he’s such a big dog at the top, it’s only natural that luchadors want to come after him, and his next challenger is going to be his biggest yet. Mil Muertes returned at the end to attack the champion (and save his nemesis Fenix), and for the first time ever it looked as if someone could actually challenge the Monster. Sure, Mil Muertes just threw him out of the ring, but that’s miles beyond what anyone else has been able to accomplish. Mil Muertes vs. Matanza is a very interesting matchup, as it’s two of Lucha Underground’s hosses going against each other. That’s something to look forward to in the next couple of weeks.

    Trios Throwdown

    Dario Cueto’s promised Trios Tournament went underway this week, featuring some fresh combinations.

    The tournament kicked off with Joey Ryan and the Crew picking up a win over Mariposa, Marty “The Moth” Martinez, and the Mack after some miscommunication on Team Triple M. Mack was at odds with his teammates for the most part, getting frustrated with their refusal to tag him in. He came to blows with Moth once again, leading to the loss. Sexy Star came out afterwards and took out Mariposa, finally overcoming the fear that’s seen her be a shell of herself these past few weeks. I expected them to take their time with this storyline, but it looks like they’re going to move it faster than most plots. Expect a tag team match within the next couple of shows.

    Meanwhile, things picked up in the Cortez Castro-Joey Ryan undercover cop plot, as both officers were once again reminded of their mission to take down Dario Cueto. To do this, they have to get close to him, hence their participation in the Trios Tournament. It was very weird seeing the Temple receive the Crew as faces, but they do make for a fun watch. Ryan “stole” the pin to end the match and celebrated as if he did most of the work, continuing to build up his little cop rivalry with Cortez Castro. Ryan has been nothing but fun in his stint here – he’s sleazy, cocky, and severely irritating. He’s quite the departure from your usual Lucha Underground character, and listening to Matt and Vampiro sounding ashamed at the fact that Ryan is in the Temple is fun to hear.

    Quick Hits

    • Dario Cueto met up with Vampiro in the bathroom (seriously, is this some sort of meeting room for them?), urging the commentator to not do anything rash in light of his disciple Pentagon Jr. being carried out last week. Ian, like the good employee he is, kept that promise and drank his meds to reassert control over his dark self. It looks like we won’t be seeing Evil Pope Vampiro anytime soon.

    • Kobra Moon picked up her first loss, losing a decent match against Trios Champion Ivelisse. This was probably her best match so far, and while it wasn’t exactly jaw-dropping, it was streets ahead of her previous efforts. The camera angles in her match are still odd to watch, but at least she’s starting to show that she can put on a good show.

    • Killshot finally received some much-needed backstory, and we learned of his past work as an elite military sniper. The government cover-up bit is an interesting plot to take up, and I wonder if that’ll come into play anytime soon. He's basically Deadshot from DC now. For someone who’s been here for quite some time, I’m just glad that they’ve finally built up a character for Killshot. Here’s to hoping there’s more in his future other than losing.

    • Famous B continues to search for his first client, coming across Mascarita Sagrada working out. He handed the little man his business card and an opportunity to become famous. Mascarita would be wise to take up that offer.

    • El Dragon Azteca Jr. summoned Rey “Batman” Mysterio via bat-signal, except it had a question mark instead of the winged mammal. Hey, that’s Riddler’s mark, stop confusing your DC characters! Both luchadors expressed the need for El Dragon Azteca to continue learning, so Rey reveals that they’ve entered the Trios Tournament. Cue their third man, Prince Puma, who speaks audibly for the first time in a long, long time. That’s a very loaded team, and as of now they look like the odds-on favorite to win it all.

    • This week’s Trios match reminded me of Dario Cueto’s penchant for putting odd teams together, and it should be interesting what other combinations he comes up with. It obviously works seeing as how the first squabbling team he put together now rule the Trios division. Hopefully we see more rivals team up. You know Cage, Johnny Mundo and Taya is a trio he’s just dying to put together.

    Overall, this was a decent episode. While nothing stood out as jaw-dropping excellent, nothing was bad, either, and the result is an episode that’s just good. It seems like we’re cooling down after the insanity that was Aztec Warfare, so this episode sits at a second straight C+. Things look to be picking up soon, though, with a marquee matchup between Mil Muertes and Matanza on the horizon.

    Cover photo taken from 411MANIA.com


    Anthony Cuello is an HR professional and training designer. When he’s not sleeping or reading the Harvard Business Review, he covers PWR and Lucha Underground for Smark Henry. A psychology nut, he tends to watch wrestling looking for these small nuances of in-ring behavior. He dreams of a wrestling business with good people management practices, and hopes to help make that happen one day.

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    Item Reviewed: Temple Rants (4/6/16): The Matanza Cueto Show Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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