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    Friday, September 9, 2016

    Good Lucha Things (9/7/16): Dario, Take the Wheel

    Welcome, everyone, to Good Lucha Things! The column formerly known as Temple Rants gets a minor facelift, thanks to the verbal wizardry of SmackDown Live luchador Kalisto. It’s the perfect title for our weekly review of Lucha Underground, seeing as how it’s the only wrestling show on television with a regular dose of, uh, good lucha things.


    Anyway, we’re all back for Season 3 (you can look at our preview here), and it’s set to be their longest season to date. I’ll be the first to admit that Season 2 was a bit of a sophomore slump, and that Ultima Lucha Dos wasn’t the whole shebang, but that hasn’t damped my interest in this show at all. Lucha Underground has still produced some of the best wrestling in the last two years, so I’m hoping they rediscover that magic this year. With that said, let’s take a look at what went down with this week’s season premiere.

    Ikot Ikot Lang

    To do that, they need Dario Cueto back in the Temple, and right on cue, he’s shown getting released from prison. It looks like all this is thanks to Councilman Delgado and his gauntlet-wearing boss, and our mystery man warns Dario to not let shit like this happen again.

    Thankfully, Dario’s got a new toy to impress us all—Dario’s Dial of Doom. It’s a spinning wheel with the names of every luchador that haven’t lost to Matanza, and whoever it lands on gets an immediate Lucha Underground Championship match against the Monster. A very entertaining concept, for sure, and it plays to Dario’s bloodlust since this means that Matanza can actually run over the entire roster. It’s the Lucha Underground version of open challenges, only we’re always guaranteed to get something new out of it.

    Son of Havoc ends up being the (un)lucky soul to get picked, which is funny considering that a title match was what he lost at the 4 A Unique Opportunity tournament at Ultima Lucha Dos. This was actually a pretty good match, as they didn’t let Son of Havoc look like a total chump. He got a good chunk of offense in on Matanza, and at some points, he looked like a legitimate threat to win the championship. Unfortunately, one Wrath of the Gods later, and Matanza kicked off this season with another successful defense.

    If this is the standard for future Dial of Doom matches, then I’m all for it. Matanza’s better matches have come when he doesn’t get to run roughshod over his opponents, which was exactly what happened in this match. He still gets to look like a boss with the win, but Son of Havoc looked just as impressive in defeat. Slowly, we’re seeing more and more luchadors take the fight to Matanza, and he no longer looks as invincible as he did when he debuted. He’s still athletically impressive, but it’s great to see that he can look as such without having to completely squash his competition.

    For the First Time

    Meanwhile, our first main event for this season involved another first-time match—Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Pentagon Dark. I wasn’t a big fan of the announcement at first, as this feels like a match that could (and should) have been given more time to brew. It’s similar to Mysterio vs. Prince Puma last season in that it pits one of lucha libre’s icons against one of its biggest stars today, only this doesn’t have as much hype and build surrounding it.

    Nevertheless, the two put on an excellent match, which was exactly what was expected of them. This was a great back-and-forth affair featuring everything we love about Lucha Underground—flips, counters to flips, outside dives, and many more. At one point, Pentagon Dark looked set to be on the receiving end of a 619, only to dodge it at the last minute and knock Rey out with a wicked superkick. Hey, when Rey has been competing for over 20 years now, it’s astonishing that his opponents still spend far too long hung up on the second rope. At least Pentagon Dark seems to have learned that.

    Fortunately for Rey, Pentagon Dark was distracted by Vampiro at ringside, giving him enough time to recover and rally for the victory. Pentagon tried to break Mysterio’s arm after the match, but El Dragon Azteca Jr. ran in to save his mentor. It’s a nice continuation from Ultima Lucha Dos, as Pentagon Dark did cause a lot of chaos back then, including breaking El Dragon Azteca’s arm. I’m all for a Pentagon Dark-El Dragon Azteca feud, as that would make for some amazing matches coming soon. Throw in Vampiro continuing to be a distraction, and it looks like Pentagon Dark will have a lot on his hands this season.

    As for Mysterio, I’m curious to see where he goes this season. He’s now beaten Prince Puma and Pentagon Dark, two of Lucha Underground’s biggest stars, and that should mean he’s up in the list of people who can potentially challenge for the Lucha Underground Championship. Unfortunately, Dario explicitly mentioned that Rey isn’t on the Dial of Doom, as he did get pinned by Matanza at Aztec Warfare 2. A title match doesn’t look unlikely in the near future, so expect Rey to pick up a new rival or two in the next couple of episodes.

    The Rest:

    • Johnny Mundo and the Worldwide Underground visited Dario Cueto and demanded some title shots. Instead, Dario gave Taya a Gift of the Gods Championship match, since she’s the only one who won at Ultima Lucha Dos. Unfortunately, she came up short against Sexy Star when a Mundo distraction backfired, making this the first successful Gift of the Gods title defense in Lucha Underground history. Their post-match beatdown didn’t go too well, either, as Aero Star, Drago and Fenix ran in to save their fellow champion. I’d honestly rather have both teams in new feuds, but it looks like this rivalry iis going to continue for now.

    • What isn’t happening soon, apparently, is Johnny taking on Angelico. A flashback revealed that the Worldwide Underground broke Angelico’s leg after the show, as payback for Angelico’s run-in. Looks like he’ll be spending more time on the injury shelf for now.

    • Ultima Lucha Tres isn’t anytime soon (heck, we just came from Dos!), but we already have one confirmed match for the next finale. Ivelisse challenged Catrina for a match at the big dance, seeing as how Catrina has cost her both of her Ultima Lucha matches to date. This has been brewing for a long time now, and I’m glad to see they’ve addressed it, even if it’s going to be a long time from now.

    • Marty “The Moth” Martinez also paid a visit to Dario this week, wanting to move on from last season’s feud with Killshot. Unfortunately, that’s not what the ex-sniper wants, so Dario sets them up for next week in a Weapons of Mass Destruction Match! That sounds as absurd as it can possibly get, and one has to wonder exactly what these “weapons of mass destruction” are. I wouldn’t put it past Dario to acquire some, uh, military-grade weapons for this match, setting up what should be a brutal encounter between two guys that have been feuding since late last season.

    • Vampiro acting as some sort of a mentor figure to Prince Puma is very interesting, as this is an avenue where they could begin to add an edge to Puma’s otherwise stale character. I liked the slight arrogance Puma displayed during his feud with Rey Mysterio last season, and Vampiro is the perfect guy to bring out that edge in him. I loved him calling out Puma on how he hasn’t been the same since he lost to Mil Muertes at Ultima Lucha.

    This was a good little start to the season, with a couple of solid matches backing up the excellent storytelling, as usual. Both the opening match and the main event were fun, and while they’re not the best matches we’ve seen, they did well enough to set things up for bigger payoffs in the future. We revisited a lot of Ultima Lucha Dos’ cliffhangers, and those look set to be addressed in the next few weeks. This episode gets a C+—it’s good, but it’s not damn good. Fortunately, next week seems to have a potential classic with the Weapons of Mass Destruction match, so let’s see how that turns out.

    What did you think of Lucha Underground’s season premiere? Let us know in the comments section below!


    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: Good Lucha Things (9/7/16): Dario, Take the Wheel Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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