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    Friday, June 16, 2017

    Good Lucha Things (6/14/17): Long Live the Cueto Cup

    Welcome to this week’s edition of Good Lucha Things!

    I apologize for the lack of a review last week—I was out of the country for a quick vacation, which left me little time to ponder on the violent proceedings within the Temple. It’s a huge shame, because that meant I didn’t get to use this as a cover photo:

    Anyway, last week’s episode set the tone for how Lucha Underground will be in the second half of this season. Johnny Mundo retained his Lucha Underground Championship against the Mack after some timely interference, but now has to prepare to face lucha libre legend Rey Mysterio Jr. as his next challenger. Meanwhile, Drago seems to have confirmed his turn to the dark side, helping Pindar and Vibora beat Aero Star, Fenix and Drago to become the new Trios Champions. Yes, he technically beat himself in that match. Prince Puma also managed to get one over his rival Mil Muertes, pinning the big guy in a Boyle Heights Street Fight with some timely help from Vampiro.

    Last week also saw the introduction of the Cueto Cup, a 32-man single elimination tournament with the winner getting a Lucha Underground Championship match at Ultima Lucha Tres. I’ll be the first person to say that I love tournaments in wrestling. They’re fun, they allow for characters who wouldn’t otherwise interact to do so, and they give everyone in the tournament a common goal—winning. Also, making tournament brackets is fun.

    This week’s episode kicked off the tournament in style, featuring four first-round matches. Let’s take a look at what happened in each match, and who’ll be moving on to the second round.

    The Mack def. Mala Suerte

    Going by the exposure Mack has received in the past couple of episodes, you’d have expected him to pick up the easy squash here and move on. However, we actually got a competitive match, with Mala Suerte more than holding his own. They showed some mobility, and this felt more like a lucha libre match than a hossfest between two big guys. It’s no classic, but it’s more than a decent wrestling match.

    This is the first time we’ve seen Mala Suerte up close, and I like what we saw from him. He’s got the playful, odd vibe of the Rabbit Tribe, and his power-based moveset puts him in the enforcer role for the group. Still, that’s not enough to warrant progression, and the Mack is the right guy to move on to the next round. He was his usual excellent self here, and he should be among the names in contention to win the whole tournament. I just wish the believers actually sang Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack" rather than just chanting it, but that’s just me.

    For reference.

    Pentagon Dark def. Argenis

    Hey, welcome back, Pentagon!

    This was actually a nice surprise, because you’d have expected Pentagon to be on the shelf for a little while longer after getting his bones broken by El Dragon Azteca Jr. and the Black Lotus Triad. That’s what happened last season when Matanza destroyed him, but apparently that name change also comes with Wolverine-esque levels of physical regeneration. Pentagon Dark’s return meant trouble for poor Argenis, who is now the first person in Lucha Underground history to have his arm broken twice by Pentagon Dark. That’s an unfortunate distinction to have for yourself, isn’t it?

    What I’m hoping for with Pentagon Dark this time around is to see something new. Throughout the show, he’s been stuck in a cycle of doing evil, violent things and receiving his comeuppance. It isn’t bad, but it hasn’t actually gotten him anywhere. If he’s dead set on winning the Lucha Underground Championship (like he said to open the show), then we need to see something more from him.

    Texano Jr. def. Famous B

    Well, there’s not much to say here. Famous B, in his pursuit to sign Texano as a client, just laid down to give Texano the easy win. I’m fine with this, actually—it progresses their story while giving the actual matches some more time. At least Texano got to put his muscles to use, even if that wasn’t what Famous B was expecting.

    What’s worth noting, though, is that Texano seems to be all over the Beautiful Brenda. That means we could see a world where Texano does sign up with Famous B, but only because it allows him to keep seeing Brenda. Let’s see how they continue to develop this storyline.

    Drago reDRago def. Aero Star
    New buddies, new gear—blood red-tinted Drago looks amazing, is one of the cooler colorways we've seen so far. It also necessitates a new name for him—say hello to reDRago!

    Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish who? Heath Slater who?

    Jokes aside, this was the match I was looking forward to the most. Drago and Aero Star have a long, long history together, and have put on some really great matches in the past. Unfortunately, this actually fell short of their previous encounters. Most of the storytelling and action was focused on last week’s betrayal, solidifying Drago as someone who has really turned to the dark side. There were a couple of nice moments (including Aero Star trying to win with the Dragon’s Tail pin), but overall the match felt a bit off. It’s a shame, because we know that these two can really go.

    There were also a couple of moments in the match where Drago looked hesitant to attack his old buddy, even if he did eventually do it. That gives off the idea that the real Drago is still somewhere underneath. We don’t actually know what Kobra Moon did to Drago to get him on their side, so having this kind of ambiguity adds a nice element to Drago’s character.

    Quick Hitters:
    • HOLY SHIT, Cage! The Machine paid a visit to Councilman Delgado, but ended up punching the poor guy’s head off when he got a bit irked. This was one of the more gruesome deaths we’ve seen on Lucha Underground, and definitely one that I didn’t expect. I wanted Lorenzo Lamas to have a more active role in the show, but that doesn’t look like it’ll happen anymore. Rest in peace, good sir.
    • Did anyone else find the Johnny Mundo-Rey Mysterio hype vignette a bit out of place? I’m not saying it was bad, but it was weird seeing it in the middle of show that’s as dark and gritty as it gets. Imagine watching Jon Snow slay some White Walkers on Game of Thrones, but with guys like Jalen Rose and Reggie Miller hyping it up. I appreciate the effort to build the rivalry, though, and I doubt it’ll be the last considering that the Cueto Cup is going to take up a lot of time. At least Mike Schiavello killed it on that voiceover.

    Overall, this week’s episode sees a dip from the previous two episodes. There wasn’t really any match that stood out, even if none of them were actively bad. Sure, it’s the first round of the Cueto Cup, but that doesn’t mean you just have to save all the good stuff for later. There are a couple of first-round matches that look great, though—I’m looking forward to Jeremiah Crane vs. Killshot, Fenix vs. Mariposa, and El Dragon Azteca Jr. vs. Dante Fox. Cage killing off Councilman Delgado was a shocker, and probably this week’s best moment. Otherwise, there wasn’t really anything special this time around. C


    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 (6/14/17): Long Live the Cueto Cup Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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