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    Tuesday, May 30, 2017

    Good Lucha Things (5/30/17): Welcome Back to Slamtown

    Lucha Underground returns this week, and it’s about time for everyone to get hyped because the finest hour of wrestling is back. Now, it isn’t as if we’ve been starved of good wrestling in its absence—NJPW’s Best of the Super Juniors is absolutely great right now, and the WWE has had some amazing moments (JINDER!) lately—but the ace is back in town. It’s like the NBA Playoffs—these Washington Wizards and Utah Jazz games are fun and all, but they’re just appetizers to the main course. At the end of the day it’s all about LeBron James, Steph Curry, and the Warriors-Cavaliers rivalry. Only instead of the Oracle Arena/Quicken Loans Arena we’ve got the Temple, instead of the Splash Brothers we’ve got the Cueto brothers, and instead of Uncle Drew we’ve got Uncle Rey schooling all the young kids.

    Hey, both of them even have a history of knee injuries!

    But we’re not here to talk about the NBA, we’re all about good lucha things in this column. It’s been a while since we last saw an episode of Lucha Underground, so our memories of it might be a little fuzzy at this point. Before the midseason premiere on Thursday, here’s a quick recap of everything that has happened so far this season.

    The Grand Cueto Conspiracy

    We may as well start with the man on top of things—Lucha Underground’s proprietor, Dario Cueto.

    After a brief period of incarceration, we kicked off the season with Dario as strong as ever. His brother, Matanza Cueto, stood tall as Lucha Underground Champion, having destroyed everyone in his path. Thus, we were introduced to Dario’s Dial of Doom, which gave Matanza a new challenger every other week. Even the surprise factor wasn’t enough to topple the Monster, and he headed towards Aztec Warfare 3 looking as invincible as ever.

    In one of the season’s shocking moments, it was none other than Rey Mysterio Jr. who pinned Matanza to eliminate him and end the Monster’s championship reign. For the first time, we saw Matanza pinned for a three-count, and it’s haunted him ever since. Since then, Matanza has set his sights on the lucha libre legend, as well as Mysterio’s former protégé El Dragon Azteca Jr. —a man who has his own problems with the Cuetos. These three closed out the first half of this season in a violent brawl that saw Matanza crashing through the bleachers, so expect their hostility to pick right back up immediately.

    Dario, meanwhile, also has other things to deal with. We’ve seen him work behind the scenes with the mysterious Councilman Delgado, who represents a higher power with some interest in Lucha Underground. It’s apparently big enough of a deal that the police are on the watch, with Captain Vasquez keeping close eyes on the Temple through a certain Cortez Castro. There’s a lot that we still don’t know—who is Delgado’s boss? Why are they working together with Dario Cueto, and what does that mean for Lucha Underground? Who is Captain Vasquez, and why does she have half of a mysterious amulet that existed ages ago? Will Joey Ryan’s switched allegiance to Dario Cueto bite him back in the dong? This is one of Lucha Underground’s most mysterious arcs going on right now, so expect more questions (but hopefully answers too!) when the show returns this Thursday.

    On Top of the Mundo

    Johnny Mundo, meanwhile, has been having one hell of a time in the Temple lately.

    After failing to regain the Trios Championships that the Worldwide Underground lost at Ultima Lucha Dos, Mundo instead set his sights on Sexy Star and the Gift of the Gods Championship. Mundo won the Gift of the Gods Championship (and a future title shot), but Sexy Star did one better—immediately after, she won the Lucha Underground Championship at Aztec Warfare 3! Unfortunately, the Worldwide Underground’s shenanigans cost Sexy Star the match, and now Johnny Mundo reigns as your Lucha Underground Champion.

    To be honest, it’s really hard to see how Johnny Mundo is going to be dethroned as Lucha Underground Champion. Where Matanza was simply too overwhelming a force to overcome, Mundo sits as someone too crafty to outwit. His in-ring skills are backed by every dirty trick in the game, and the Worldwide Underground use this to full extent. If you ever find yourself with the upper hand against Johnny Mundo, be careful—Jack Evans might suddenly be up in your face, PJ Black might already be flying towards you, and Taya might be lurking around ready to blindside you. Just ask Sexy Star.

    With Sexy Star currently having some spider problems, the spotlight is now on her best friend The Mack as he competes against Mundo for the Lucha Underground Championship. The hefty, tough-as-nails brawler won the Battle of the Bulls tournament, earning himself a title shot against the man that ended his best friend’s moment of glory. In fact, that’s exactly what we’re getting this Thursday—we kick off the second half of the season with Mack taking on Johnny Mundo in an All Night Long match. This match came about as the result of Mundo getting the chance to pick the stipulation for their title match, and one that he’s already had experience with before. Then again, Mack has constantly defied expectations throughout his time in Lucha Underground—let’s see if he can defy the biggest one of all.

    A Tale of Two Students

    You know who hasn’t had a good time in the Temple lately? Our first-ever Lucha Underground Champion, Prince Puma. Following his defeat to Rey Mysterio Jr. at Ultima Lucha Dos, Puma has been stuck in a rut. He picked a fight with longtime rival Mil Muertes, only to be locked in a casket like his former mentor Konnan in a Grave Consequences match. 

    Enter Vampiro to the rescue. The Temple’s resident commentator has long had a dark side inside him, and it seems to be coming back to the forefront once more. This time, he’s taken interest in Prince Puma as his next protégé, hoping to provide some guidance to the young luchador. Prince Puma was hesitant at first, but seems to have accepted the offer when Vampiro gave him a second lease on life and pulled him out of the casket. It remains to be seen how the young Prince Puma will evolve from here, but make no mistake—he and Vampiro might just be Lucha Underground’s next power pair.

    But what about Vampiro’s former student, Pentagon Dark? Well, he’s still out and about, breaking bones and all. Unfortunately, any matches will have to be put on hold, as the Breaker of Bones just had his own arms broken. Black Lotus and her Triad—Doku, Yurei and Hitokiri—laid waste to Pentagon Dark in one of the show’s most violent matches to date. Much like last season, Pentagon Dark finds himself on the recovery shelf again, and it’ll likely be a while before we see him back in the Temple.

    Other Questions and Musings:

    • Has Drago been fully brainwashed? The last time we saw him, he was back with fellow Trios Champions Fenix and Aero Star after being kidnapped by the reptilian forces of Kobra Moon, Pindar and Vibora. Yes, Kobra Moon has her own army now, and apparently Drago used to be one of them! 
    • What, exactly, is Jeremiah Crane’s connection to Catrina? While Mil Muertes continues to be the resident undead guy, Catrina’s got a couple of other problems to deal with right now. Newcomer Jeremiah Crane arrived in the Temple as Ivelisse’s boyfriend, and we found out that he actually had some past with death’s mistress. Catrina also has to deal with the Baddest Bitch in the Temple, Ivelisse, given that they already have a match set for Ultima Lucha Tres.
    • Just how powerful is Cage’s new gauntlet? The Machine picked up the gauntlet as a result of winning his series against Texano, but we still don’t know the full extent of its powers. We know that it makes the wearer more powerful, but at the same time it seems to unleash an angrier, aggressive side. Is this the push that Cage needs to finally reign atop Lucha Underground? Time will tell.
    • Can everyone just please get along? Killshot and Dante Fox were former war brothers, and now they can’t wait to get at each other’s throats. Marty “The Moth” Martinez and Mariposa are siblings, but if you didn’t know that you probably wouldn’t have guessed it from the way they’ve been treating one another. We’ll likely see these pairs continue to come to blows.
    • Will Texano Jr. answer the call to fame? The blue-collar brawler has had it rough in recent times, losing a close best-of-five series to Cage for the ultimate opportunity. Since then, renowned manager Famous B has tried to woo Texano to his side, promising him the success that he has yet to reach in the Temple. Will Texano give in and become the next famous client, or is Famous B biting off more than he can chew once more?

    • What’s next for the Rabbit Tribe? Duterte’s least favorite wrestlers, much hype has been made about the Rabbit Tribe’s arrival at the Temple. Paul London, Saltador and Mala Suerte seem content to just prance around and enjoy themselves, and have recently identified Mascarita Sagrada as the sacred White Rabbit they’ve been looking for. Will they find enlightenment, or will they find Oplan Tokhang?
    • Who will be the next Gift of the Gods Champion? Mundo’s cash-in of his title shot means that the cycle begins anew, and the medallions are once again scattered. As the back half of the season marches towards Ultima Lucha Tres, expect Dario Cueto to once again put these prized possessions up for grabs.
    • WHERE IS KING CUERNO? Everyone's favorite luchador hunter has been missing since the start of season 3, and he's been missed. There's really nothing like the Arrow from the Depths of Hell.

    There’s a lot of things to look forward to, and expect Lucha Underground to have even more surprises in store for everyone. We’re already starting things off with a bang with the All Night Long match between Johnny Mundo and the Mack, and that should set a high bar for the rest of the episodes to match.

    It’s great to have quality pro wrestling back, folks.


    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 (5/30/17): Welcome Back to Slamtown Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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