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    Friday, July 8, 2016

    Temple Rants (7/6/16): 4 A Unique Opportunity

    Last week’s episode put the final pieces in place for the season-ending Ultima Lucha Dos, as Dario Cueto set about finalizing the rest of the card. We got a preview for the upcoming Trios Championship, with Johnny Mundo getting the shady win over Fenix thanks to some more last-minute shenanigans. Meanwhile, King Cuerno picked up the surprise victory over a resurgent Mil Muertes, prompting Catrina to seek for a Death Match between the two at Ultima Lucha Dos. Finally, Prince Puma sent Rey Mysterio, Jr. a clear message as he disposed of Rey’s protégé El Dragon Azteca Jr. in an exciting match.

    Here we are, folks: welcome to Ultima Lucha Dos! Or, well, part 1 of it, since this season’s finale is a four-hour special split across three weeks. Ultima Lucha Dos Part 1 (that’s too long of a name) is this week’s episode, so let’s jump right in and see what happened.

    Throwback Thursday: Mack def. Cage in a Falls Count Anywhere Match

    In a cool throwback to last year’s Ultima Lucha, we kicked things off with Mack once again taking on the Machine.

    It was great to see these two go at it again. They picked up exactly where they left off last year, brawling all around the Temple and turning everything they could get their hands on into a weapon. I loved how both men knew what to expect from the other and worked their way around it—Cage slipped out of the beer/Stunner combo, while Mack saw the cinderblocks coming and dodged. In many ways, it was basically last year’s match but with even more weapons added—we got a guitar (sorry, Jeff Jarrett), some chains and even some piñatas (with a screw inside). They kept the match going with violent spot after violent spot, which all in all, made for a fun brawl to watch.

    With that said, the ending was a bit abrupt, as Mack rolled up Cage for the victory. Looking back, though, it’s also another callback to their feud from last season—Mack pinned Cage via rolling him up to set up their first Ultima Lucha match. In a way, it was also a nice nod to how Mack approached this match – he knew he couldn’t overpower the Machine, so he had to get crafty and look for an opening to win. Sure, Mack lucked out with Cage slipping on the beer-drenched floor, but he at least set that up with all the drinking he did earlier. Much as I wanted Cage to win, I’m also okay with Mack winning, as that guy deserves a big win after having spent most of his time playing sidekick to Sexy Star this season. I wouldn’t mind these two going at it in an All Night Long-type of match, as they’ve shown the chemistry that would make such things an enjoyable affair.

    Even More Mindless Violence: Son of Havoc def. Texano Jr. in a Boyle Heights Bar Fight

    The second semifinal was also turned into a hardcore match, since it’s only fair considering the carnage we just had in the opener. Hence, Dario turned this into a Boyle Heights Bar Fight, which sounds more like what happened in your brother’s last birthday party than an actual wrestling match. Then again, it is a match between a biker and a cowboy, so there couldn’t have been any better way to do it.

    There’s not much else to say about this match other than that they continued the opener’s trend of putting on violent spot after violent spot. With that said, they worked in what has got to be the most cringe-inducing minute of the night, with Son of Havoc repeatedly punishing Texano with piles of broken glass to pick up the win. That was painful to watch, but at least Texano gets to rest between now and the next season of Lucha Underground. God knows he needs it after what he just went through.

    Bien, Bien, Bien

    The first two matches set up an interesting final between the Mack and Son of Havoc, which was also turned into a Falls Count Anywhere match by Dario Cueto. Oddly enough, this was probably the match that featured the least amount of violence, as the first two matches took their toll on both competitors. That led to a very quick match, with Son of Havoc winning after a signature shooting star press. Thus, Son of Havoc wins the very first 4 A Unique Opportunity tournament. Dario then offered our winner two possible prizes—Son of Havoc either gets $250,000, or he gets a contract for a shot at the Lucha Underground Championship at Ultima Lucha Tres.

    Of course, this is Dario Cueto we’re talking about, so he agreed to give Son of Havoc his future title shot if he wins one more match. That made Son of Havoc sick to his stomach, which was the cue for Famous B to show up and ask if anyone needed a doctor in the Temple.

    Now, for those of you who don’t know, Dr. Wagner Jr. is a modern-day legend in lucha libre. He’s spent most of his career in Mexico with CMLL and AAA, having won numerous titles in a span of three decades of wrestling. Yes, you read that right—this is a guy about to turn 51 years old in a month or so. Despite his advanced age, he’s still in damn good shape, as evidenced in the way he moved around to pick apart a battered Son of Havoc. It’s also implied that he’s pretty damn smart, as he is a doctor, which puts him in the esteemed company of guys like John Cena.

    I’m really curious as to how much they’ll be using him next season, since the last lucha legend they used in Blue Demon Jr. is now out doing god-knows-what. Hopefully the good doctor makes a bigger impact than his contemporary did.

    What I loved about this surprise match was how they were able to easily build sympathy for Son of Havoc. This is a man the crowd has seen grow and evolve in the Temple, and to have his biggest prize to date snatched away at the last minute was the ultimate feel-bad moment. At this point, he’s basically the Lucha Underground version of Daniel Bryan—the small, bearded, talented fan favorite who has had his road to the top littered with screwjobs and shenanigans. Plus, he also came from a dysfunctional team! We all know how Bryan’s story paid off, and I’m hoping that Son of Havoc gets that kind of big feel-good moment down the line as well. Next to Prince Puma, he’s the second-biggest homegrown tecnico in the Temple, and having him triumph for once would be a great payoff for all of us who’ve seen him from the start.

    Quick Hits
    • Amidst all the violence to kick off Ultima Lucha Dos, I have to highlight just how Dario Cueto pieced everything together this week. He was the thread that connected all these weapon spots and brutal beatdowns. The bloodthirsty general manager was as giddy as a kid in a Toys R’ Us, as he kept giving luchadors an avenue to be as violent as possible. He’s always been one of the highlights of Lucha Underground, and tonight was no exception.

    • What a turnaround for Famous B! In the span of a couple of weeks, he went from being a very shitty manager to parading around with a stethoscope and becoming richer (assuming he gets some cut, as Matt Striker said.) I’m hoping they explore this new business partnership with Dr. Wagner Jr., since it’s exactly like he said—Wagner isn’t a guy who needs Famous B’s help to get famous. On that note, there’s still the very tiny matter of Mascarita Sagrada to deal with, so expect Dr. Wagner Jr. to be dealing with a little problem early next season.

    Overall, this was a strong start to Ultima Lucha Dos, much like we had with last year’s finale. Cage and Mack tore the house down again, and I’ll be damned if they spend next year’s Ultima Lucha Tres kicking off the show once more. The 4 A Unique Opportunity Tournament was great for what it was—a series bloody, no holds barred brawls all featuring insane spots. This was a great way to get everyone pumped up for the finale, and I hope that they’re able to keep it going for the rest of Ultima Lucha Dos. It’s a solid B+ episode to start with, so let’s see if they can deliver something even more amazing in the next two weeks.


    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 (7/6/16): 4 A Unique Opportunity Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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