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    Friday, July 1, 2016

    Temple Rants (6/29/16): Prince Puma-porma

    Last week’s episode came with a dream match attached to it—Prince Puma vs. Rey Mysterio for Ultima Lucha Dos. The young upstart from Boyle Heights challenged Mysterio, setting up one of modern lucha libre’s biggest matches. Meanwhile, Aztec medallions were handed out like it was an episode of Oprah, with several matches being held to determine who competes in the upcoming match for the Gift of the Gods Championship. Three matches and 11 (and a half) luchadors later, we have our magic seven: Sexy Star, Mariposa, Killshot, Marty “The Moth” Martinez, Sinestro de la Muerte, Daga, and the debuting Night Claw.

    Luchadors vs. the World

    Earlier in the show, it was announced that Fenix, Drago, and Aero Star will challenge Johnny Mundo, Jack Evans, and PJ Black for the Trios Championship at Ultima Lucha Dos. Thus, the main event match between Fenix and Mundo was not just an opportunity for Fenix to get some revenge, it also served as an appetizer for a big match at the season finale.

    Believe it or not, this is actually the first time Mundo and Fenix have faced each other in an official singles match, not counting the brief sparring they had when they were the first two men in the first-ever Aztec Warfare match. These two put on a fine main event—it wasn’t anything jaw-dropping, but it was enough to make you want to see more when these two square off again by next week. In the end, Mundo and Taya pulled off another shady act to pick up the win, with both teams rushing out for one final face-off before we head into Ultima Lucha Dos.

    You might have missed that the quartet of Mundo, Black, Evans, and Taya now call themselves the Worldwide Underground (which is a reference to their diverse origins). They’re levelling up from having team bandanas to actually having a team name, which is a great move as they’re probably the most cohesive trio in the Temple right now. As for the other team, it’s like the writers realized they’ll miss the team of Mysterio, Prince Puma, and El Dragon Azteca, so they threw the next three masked men they saw into a team. The match makes sense, at least, as all six guys do have history with each other. I’m just glad Drago gets to end this season possibly as a champion, and that Fenix might become the first-ever Triple Crown champion in Lucha Underground history.

    Hear Me Roar

    Prince Puma needed a roar before Ultima Lucha Dos to show that he wasn’t just some up-and-comer challenging Rey Mysterio. Now, it would be bad business to have them face off before Ultima Lucha Dos, so we got the next best thing—Prince Puma vs. Rey’s protégé (and their former trios partner), El Dragon Azteca Jr.

    After their match, one thing was loud and clear: Prince Puma is ready.

    The two worked one of the best opening sequences we’ve seen this season, with the crowd instantly getting hot as these two went toe-to-toe. El Dragon Azteca kept up with Prince Puma, but make no mistake—Puma was the star here, as one dropkick and a 630 splash later, he had his hand raised in victory.

    What I loved about Prince Puma here was that you could tell just how focused he was on Rey the whole time. From the death stares to the trash talking after the match, it was as if it didn’t matter who was in the ring, because his goal was to show Mysterio just what he would be facing at Ultima Lucha Dos. For someone who was the show’s silent protagonist for so long, it was great to see a little character, and he’s really lived up the role of cocky young upstart as we head into the big match.

    The only gripe I have here was that this match really did nothing for El Dragon Azteca Jr. Sure, he’s Rey’s protégé, and having him lose to his mentor’s next rival made sense; but he has his own match to worry about. Rey has barely shown support for El Dragon Azteca in a feud that has been very personal for the latter. Instead, the poor kid is here taking one for his mentor, and at this rate, I think he’ll head into his match against Black Lotus without any real show of support from Mysterio. That’s just terrible.

    Quick Hits

    • Mil Muertes made his in-ring return, and while he wasn’t the scariest undead man on television this week (that award goes to Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane), he did make an impact against King Cuerno. Unfortunately, the hunter managed to outwit the big zombie, pinning him thanks to the ropes. Catrina barged into Dario Cueto’s office room demanding the boss to set up a deathmatch between the two at Ultima Lucha Dos. For a while, I was worried because there wasn’t much violent stuff announced for the finale, but here we go.
    • Speaking of Dario, he also announced that the 4 A Unique Opportunity Tournament will take place at Ultima Lucha Dos, where luchadors vie for a, uh, unique opportunity. Is it a championship belt? Tons of money and drugs? A cameo role in the Legends of the Hidden Temple movie with Kirk Fogg and Olmec? Whatever it is, one of Cage, The Mack, Son of Havoc and Texano Jr. will be crowned the first-ever winner of this tournament. It sucks to see the Machine in what feels like a gimmick designed to get as much people on Ultima Lucha Dos, but we can’t have everything.
    • Lost amidst the Trios Championship showdown was the ongoing war between Ivelisse and Taya, and it’s finally confirmed that they’ll be going at it during Ultima Lucha Dos! Ivelisse also ran into her old foe Catrina, sparking the possibility of another woman gunning for the baddest bitch in the building. She might be taking on more enemies than she can handle here.

    This week’s episode continued last week’s trend of building up towards Ultima Lucha Dos, only this time, the matches were rock-solid. All three matches made you want to tune in next week to see how they would play out, which is the most we can ask for from at this point as it builds to a red hot finale. That was a solid B show this week, and look for Lucha Underground to go all-out in its last three weeks this year.


    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 (6/29/16): Prince Puma-porma Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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