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    Friday, July 22, 2016

    Temple Rants (7/20/16): Ultima Lucha Dos, Pt. 3

    Last week saw the continuation of Ultima Lucha Dos, with the Gift of the Gods match kicking things off. This years cast featured a mixture of first-time competitors and veterans, making for a very entertaining affair throughout. Newcomer Night Claw impressed, as did guys like Daga and Marty “The Moth” Martinez. In the end, experience proved to be the deciding factor as Sexy Star outlasted six other competitors to win her first championship in Lucha Underground, as well as a potential shot at the Lucha Underground Championship.

    Meanwhile, Mil Muertes and King Cuerno setled their differences in a violent Deathmatch that went all around the Temple. Both men tried to rip each other apart, with violent tosses and life-threatening weapon hits the norm. When the dust cleared, Mil Muertes was left standing, and it was King Cuerno who was given the gift of death in the end.

    Well, this is it! We’re down to the final two hours of Ultima Lucha Dos, and thus the season finale of Lucha Underground! As such, there’s a whole lot that went down here, so we’ll go over each match one by one and see what happened. Let’s get started!                                                                                                                                                                    

    They made a great decision kicking off the finale with the Trios Championship match, since it’s the kind of match that get people pumped up for the rest of the show. True enough, that’s exactly what we got—a fun, exciting match that made excellent use of each team’s strengths. Drago, Aero Star and Fenix were flying all over the place, and Mundo, Black and Evans were their best asshole selves and tried to cut them off. It was great to see the Worldwide Underground get more and more absurd as time passed by—they threw all notion of decency aside and were just plain nasty here. In a field with so much tradition and honor such as lucha libre, it was the perfect rudo thing to do.

    Angelico returning was a nice little surprise, and his crutch-assisted beatdown on Mundo led to Fenix picking up the victory for his team. It’s a subtle hint that little Johnny was also the one behind Angelico’s injury, and we know he isn’t above doing these kinds of things (see Fenix). This looks like a set up for Season 3, so expect these two to get to fisticuffs once Season 3 rolls around.

    As for our champions, I’m hoping this means the start of a bigger, more relevant run in the Temple. Fenix becoming the first Triple Crown champion in Lucha Underground history is a big honor to pick up, and he deserves every bit of it Drago probably received the biggest boost from this win, as now he’s back in a position of relevance and he can rise up the cards once more. As for Aero Star, he—wait, wasn’t he supposed to be saving people from some apocalyptic god event? I’m not sure how beating up a bunch of foreign assholes helps in that regard, but hopefully he’s back on track next season.

    This is something we’ve been waiting for since the very start of the show, and it started off well. Black Lotus looked good in the ring, going toe-to-toe with Dragon Azteca Jr. in a way that you wouldn’t expect a newcomer to do so. Heck, I was getting pumped up just from their opening exchange, and was looking forward to seeing how one of Lucha Underground’s most personal rivalries would end.

    Except, you know, someone decided that it would be the perfect time to break some arms.

    Pentagon Jr. Dark (more on that in a bit) showed up and wrecked both competitors, putting an abrupt end to this match. I understand that they wanted to make Pentagon look badass (and they did!), but this completely knocked the sails out of the Dragon Azteca Jr./Black Lotus rivalry. Now both those guys look like a pair of chumps whose story didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. We aren’t any step closer towards concluding this plot point that has existed since the show began. It’s a shame, as it looked like we were going to get a great match out of Azteca and Lotus, but it sadly did not turn out that way.

    In one of the trippiest scenes Lucha Underground has had to date, Pentagon Jr. ascended into a new level of darkness when he went into a cave and beat, uh, a bunch of other Pentagons (with all his old masks on display.) Thus, Pentagon Dark was born, which was their way of telling everyone that he was ready for Matanza. New-look Pentagon is amazing—the all-black mask is wonderful, and it really makes him look like a big star.

    And for the most part, they showed that the evolution worked. Pentagon Dark dominated Matanza in a way we’ve seen no other luchador do so, with the champion on the defensive for most of the match. It was surreal seeing Mil Muertes get destroyed, because we’ve been used to the opposite. Pentagon Dark landed blow after blow, and it really felt like they were going for the crowning moment here. We were about to see Pentagon Dark ascend to the top of the Temple, and he would do so by beating the one man that broke his back.

    Oops, probably not. One Wrath of the Gods later, and Matanza was still Lucha Underground Champion. I’ll be the first to admit that I was disappointed with the ending, especially as now was the perfect time to vault the red-hot Pentagon Dark to the top of Lucha Underground. It seems like they’re going to extend his arduous journey a little bit more, and I honestly fear that they’re going to keep on pushing this further back.

    At the very least, the way they ended this match added some more wrinkles to this storyline, which seems to be another set-up for Season 3. Vampiro introduced the barbed wire bat into the fray, which led to Dario Cueto putting himself in between his brother and Pentagon Dark. Pentagon took his eyes off the prize, and he paid dearly for it. His finale-ending beatdown of his mentor seemed to indicate that he blamed Vampiro for the loss, leading to Pentagon announcing that he was ditching his mentor for good. Maybe now he can be buddies with Matanza, since he also lost his ally as Dario was arrested by the police at the end of the episode. Probably not, though.

    I’ll admit, it was very hard to get into this match considering it came after Pentagon Dark coming up short. Nevertheless, Ivelisse and Taya put in a decent effort, brawling around the place and trying to beat the shit out of each other.

    Unfortunately, the God of Swerves decided he was not yet done fucking with us and put out another interference, with Catrina taking out Ivelisse to give Taya the win. At least this is a feud we knew was coming—Ivelisse and Catrina have had problems with each other since last year’s Ultima Lucha. I admit I’m looking forward to seeing Catrina finally fight in the ring, and it looks like we’re going to get that next season. Still, another screwy finish was getting too much at this point.

    Thankfully, there was no such madness in our main event. Rey Mysterio (who wins the award for tackiest outfit of the night—a logo of the El Rey network on his back with “Mysterio” added) and Prince Puma put on a damn fine match, easily outclassing anything that came before it.

    One of the highlights of Ultima Lucha Dos was seeing that Rey Mysterio could still go. Throughout Rey’s stint in Lucha Underground, I was very worried that they were using him sparsely as a way to hide how broken down he was. That wasn’t the case here. He might have lost a step or two since his heyday, but this was definitely the Rey I grew up watching. It was great watching hit moves like the West Coast Pop again, and he was definitely able to compete with a younger and more athletic Prince Puma.

    Having said that, old man Rey picking up the victory was something I didn’t see coming. In the match, you can chalk it up to Prince Puma getting a little too confident towards the end (Striker described it perfectly as the “I’m sorry, I love you” moment), which allowed the veteran to capitalize and pick up the victory. The end result is that Rey has re-established himself as the king of lucha libre, and I hope this is something they highlight next season. Let him fight more. Let him tear it up with guys like King Cuerno and Mil Muertes and Johnny Mundo, because that’s what kings do—they fight the best.

    There’s a Tagalog phrase that goes “marami ka pang bigas na kakainin,” and I believe that encapsulates what this match was for Prince Puma. It was all set to be his passing of the torch moment—that one match where past acknowledged that the future had taken over. Instead, he’s down on the ground pondering why he came up short. In his prime, he couldn’t beat the standard bearer of lucha libre, and now I’m not sure where they go from here. Does he go down a darker path to in a bid to become better than before? Does he stay around as that guy we know is good, but not good enough to beat the best? Whatever is in store for Prince Puma, here’s to hoping that it’ll allow him to recover. He’s a long way from the proud, mighty icon he was back in Season 1.


    Overall, Ultima Lucha Dos was good. It wasn’t a total stinker, as there were some matches and individuals worthy of praise. However, it pales in comparison to last year’s Ultima Lucha. There were too many interferences and interruptions throughout, and it made for an uncomfortable viewing. Sure, they teased around half a dozen different feuds and matchups for Season 3, but they left little in the way of actually giving the Season 2 plots a firm conclusion. How will Pentagon Dark and Prince Puma bounce back? Will Killshot get back his dog tags from Marty “The Moth” Martinez? Was Johnny Mundo’s assault on Angelico a long-term plan to vault him into the Trios Championship scene? Why is Dr. Wagner Jr. associating himself with Famous B? Yes, these set things up for next season, but most of them feel like an extension of this season’s questions rather than something new and fresh.

    Perhaps that’s the problem with Ultima Lucha Dos as a whole—none of it felt very final at all. Instead, it felt like a midseason finale rather than a conclusion all on its own. Maybe this is the effect of this season being shorter than the first, as they didn’t have as much time to conclude rivalries and feuds like before. Nevertheless, it’s what we got, and it wasn’t as good as expected. I’m fine with giving this a B-. It just felt like a good show from start to end, but never really turned into something legendary.


    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 (7/20/16): Ultima Lucha Dos, Pt. 3 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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