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    Friday, June 24, 2016

    Temple Rants (6/22/16): Gearing Up For Ultima Lucha Dos

    Before we begin, I’d like to apologize for having no Temple Rants up last week. I had one hell of a schedule last week, and unfortunately I had to sacrifice some things, this column included. Conveniently, I had to miss the one week where Lucha Underground had just one match—Six to Survive to determine who challenges Matanza for the Lucha Underground Championship at Ultima Lucha Dos. If you haven’t watched it, I highly suggest you look for it, as it’s one of the stronger matches the show has put on this season (I’d rank it firmly in the top five.) The returning Pentagon Jr. outlasted Johnny Mundo, Fenix, Taya, King Cuerno and Ivelisse, setting up a match (and a chance for revenge) at Ultima Lucha Dos.

    Prince vs. King

    Speaking of the big event, this week’s episode set up a ton of matches for Ultima Lucha Dos, including a big dream match for lucha libre.

    Wow. They made it clear that this is a big, big marquee match for Ultima Lucha Dos. It’s an icon of lucha libre going toe-to-toe with one of its present-day standard bearers. Ever since they teamed up and won the Trios tournament I’ve wanted to see them go at it, and that’s exactly what we’re going to get in a few weeks’ time. Either man wants to prove something, which makes this match a must-win – Prince Puma wants to prove that he’s one of the best, Rey wants to prove that he’s still one of the best.

    We rarely get to hear Prince Puma talk, but I really liked how he delivered his challenge in this segment. He was excited, yet he was nervous at the same time. You could tell he was looking forward to challenging Mysterio, but at the same time he was nervous calling out the king of lucha libre.

    The only thing I find odd is that Rey seems to have ditched El Dragon Azteca Jr. for now. Remember, the original El Dragon Azteca was also Rey’s buddy, and when he was training Dragon Azteca Jr. at the start of the season he mentioned that he would help him seek some revenge. Has he just forgotten about his dead friend? With little time left for Lucha Underground to conclude I’m not expecting them to address this, but it would be nice if they did.

    Gold Rush

    The Aztec medallions are back in play once more, with ALL seven of them being handed out by the end of the show. Let’s take a look at each of our competitors to see how they made their way into the match.

    Night Claw was awarded a medallion as a “signing bonus”. Yes, even this late into the season, Lucha Underground still manages to throw some surprises and new faces. Night Claw is a descendant of the Jaguar tribe, has a garbled voice, and is a Wakandan sent by Black Panther to fight in the Temple. He also looks like what would happen if Bengala had a glorious love affair with Drago, which actually makes for a great look. Other than that, we don’t know much about his in-ring ability, so we’ll have to wait for Ultima Lucha Dos to see this guy in action.

    Daga defeated Mascarita Sagrada in a singles match. Daga managed to get it right this time, defeating Mascarita Sagrada to pick up an Aztec medallion. He’s been a solid addition to the show so far (Kobra Moon will agree), and he’ll get his biggest opportunity to date with the Gift of the Gods Championship Match. He didn’t have much of a chance to show his skills, though, as the win was overshadowed by what happened between Famous B and Sagrada (more on that later.)

    Marty “The Moth” Martinez, Killshot and Siniestro de la Muerte defeated Mr. Cisco, Cortez Castro and Joey Ryan in a trios match. Vintage Dario, everybody! Despite their recent run-ins, Moth and Killshot formed an uneasy alliance here, with Killshot getting his dog tags back as part of a truce. They actually worked well together, if our measure of “well” is they didn’t end up bickering in the middle of the ring. That wasn’t the case for Joey Ryan and the Crew, who still had some issues with each other despite the fact that they’re all working towards the same goal now. Moth stole back Killshot’s dog tags afterwards, so expect the ex-military man to head into Ultima Lucha Dos with Martinez in his crosshairs.

    Sexy Star and Mariposa defeated Taya and Ivelisse in a parejas increibles match. If the trios match didn’t tell you yet, Dario loves making awkward teams. Taya and Ivelisse have been going at it the past few weeks, and there’s no need to explain the animosity between Sexy Star and Mariposa. This was a good match that told the story of which pair of rivals could work together towards a bigger goal. In the end, Sexy Star and Mariposa managed to be the less dysfunctional pair to pick up the win. They may have teamed up here, but don’t expect them to be all chummy come Ultima Lucha Dos. As for Ivelisse and Taya, they seem headed for a singles match very soon, maybe at the big season-ending show as well.

    So there’s your list of seven competitors for the Gift of the Gods: Night Claw, Daga, Marty “The Moth” Martinez, Killshot, Siniestro de la Muerte, Sexy Star and Mariposa. I think it’s a great mixture of solid workers, upcoming young talent and ongoing rivalries that should make for a fun match. There are a ton of new faces who are getting their first title shot here, so expect them to make great efforts to wow people.

    Quick Hits:
    • The partnership between Famous B and Mascarita Sagrada was short-lived, as the little man’s loss to Daga was the final straw for Famous B. A vicious superkick and a shoe-aided beatdown sent the message loud and clear, with Famous B promising to find himself a better client to work with. Imagine if it was that easy to dump stupid clients at work, guys.

    • El Dragon Azteca Jr. met with Dario Cueto in his office to talk about his upcoming match against Black Lotus. Dario’s been playing the young man and Black Lotus so well against each other, with both sides wanting revenge for the death of someone close to them. I love scenes like these because it just shows how great Dario has been at getting people to work his way. It just dawned on me that Dario’s act here is very reminiscent of Al Pacino in The Devil’s Advocate, so go watch that if you want to see more. Also, his whole stance on the grudge match is hilarious, yet it makes complete sense—“I’ll let you two beat the crap out of each other, but do it in a couple weeks’ time so I can make a ton of money out of it.”

    We’re only a couple of weeks away from Ultima Lucha Dos, and Lucha Underground has started to race towards their finish line. There wasn’t any match this week that stood out, but all three were fine bouts for what they had to accomplish. They set up a number of feuds and rivalries that will come into play at the big event, and that works because it makes Ultima Lucha Dos all the more anticipated to see how these matches will play out. This was still a good episode to build towards the finale, though, which earns it a good B-.


    Anthony Cuello is an HR professional and training designer. When he’s not sleeping or reading the Harvard Business Review, he covers 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 (6/22/16): Gearing Up For Ultima Lucha Dos Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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