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    Monday, October 2, 2017

    Good Lucha Things (9/27/17): The Hell of War

    Hello, orbskies and lodis, and welcome to another petmalu edition of Good Lucha Things. More importantly, welcome to the insane showcase of violence that is Ultima Lucha Tres!

    The War to End All Wars

    Okay, let me immediately get this out of the way: this was the best match Lucha Underground has had this season. If you’re reading this and you haven’t watched it, go watch it first. If you don’t have time to watch it, go make time for it. This was a very strong start to Ultima Lucha Tres, and sets the bar so high that I’m legitimately concerned that nothing else is going to meet it. Given that names like Prince Puma, Pentagon Dark and Fenix have yet to see action, that’s a very high bar to clear.

    It was a fitting end to a feud that had been brewing all year long, done in the most violent way they could have. This is the current season’s answer to No Mas—a exceedingly violent match that had a ton of emotion behind it, but Fox and Killshot did it better because the in-ring action was legitimately good. We already know how good these two are, but the violent stipulations just raised it to a whole new level. They made use of the environment very well, with the best part being the use of the glass. If this doesn’t make you realize that wrestling can still hurt despite being a show, I don’t know what will. Did you not see those shards of glass sticking out of Killshot’s back after the first fall?

    The character work between the two was at its finest. Early on, you could see that Dante Fox had the clear advantage—he was prepared for everything Killshot threw his way, and it seemed like he had every move scouted. He set up the glass perfectly (thanks, ref!) knowing that a simple fall would lead to the easy point. As time passed and Killshot began his heroic comeback, though, you could see Fox’s confidence turn into frenzied desperation. By the end, he was exactly like Killshot—just a man doing his very best to survive. This was very good storytelling between the two, and is one of Lucha Underground’s greatest strengths—they make you care.

    The finest symbolism in all of this, though, was how they ended it. This was a feud that started because Dante thought that Killshot “left him for dead” all those years ago. It ended with Killshot literally leaving Dante for dead in the back of an ambulance.

    Here Comes a New Client!

    Before the Hell of War, though, we got treated a different kind of war—Famous B's crusade to sign Texano as his client.

    Instead of it being a literal handicapped match, Famous B found a way to twist it and turn it into his advantage—a handicap match where he was the one in a tag team! That’s actually a smart way to get the advantage, and it allows for the return of Dr. Wagner Jr., who made his debut one Ultima Lucha ago. This wasn’t meant to be an excellent wrestling match, and it really wasn’t. Most of it was Wagner doing the dirty work, with Famous B getting in his cheap shots here and there. Having Brenda prove to be the x-factor plays in well with Texano’s infatuation for her, and presents a bittersweet end for the blue-collar brawler—he gets to be with Brenda now, but as Famous B’s client.

    It’s also worth noting that as soon as the bell rang and Famous B was announced as the winner, Wagner just rolled out of the ring and left. No celebration, no arms raised in victory, just a quick “bye, Felicia” from the good doctor. It’s weird because Wagner is supposed to be the client, and not the bodyguard. However, he’s really fulfilled more of the latter—he’s never been the focal point of any feud or match, instead he’s used more as an enforcer for when Famous B needs some muscle. Contrast that to when Famous B had Mascarita Sagrada as his client, where they made it very clear that the little man was the star. Then again, Wagner doesn’t need the fame Famous B can bring since he’s already such a household name, but it’s still weird to have all of them be called “clients” yet have different roles.

    The more I’ve had to think about this match, the more I agree that the right man went over. Famous B has actually been entertaining in his time in the Temple, and has made me watch my screen every time he’s out—something Texano has failed to do ever since attacking some perro way back in season one. Having Famous B win and put Texano in an awkward position as his new client is more interesting than having Texano win and then continuing to be his blue collar brawler self. It’ll make for an interesting dynamic, and heck, it might even give Texano better progression as a character.

    Quick Hits

    • A late addition to the Ultima Lucha Tres card, Dario’s Unique Opportunity match comes back this year! Unlike last year, however, it seems that we’re getting a battle royal instead of a series of singles matches. Take this to be Lucha Underground’s spin on WWE’s Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal—it exists so we can get everyone else on the card. Of the names listed here, The Mack probably has the strongest chance of winning given that he seems like the best of the bunch. Of course, we can’t exactly call these unique opportunities a “win”, because we don’t really know what’s in store.
    • Speaking of Ultima Lucha Tres matches, where the fuck are the Trios Champions? Drago, Pindar and Vibora have not yet been booked in any match, and they’ve been conspicuously left out of the multi-man match. Hell, Vinnie Massaro gets a slot above these guys, and that’s just not right at all. I have a feeling that these guys are the unique opportunity, in that whoever wins that battle royal gets a Trios Championship shot. How they’ll determine the partners remains to be seen, of course.
    • Dario Cueto deserves a special mention for that last contraption in the Hell of War match. At first I was wondering why some odd contraption of glass and steel chairs was just laying there, but when the commentators chalked it up to Dario’s actions I couldn’t help but grin. This is how you guarantee that your marquee match ends as violent as it could.

    This was an amazing episode of Lucha Underground, is exactly what a show that gets an A should look like. Killshot and Dante Fox have set the bar high with that Hell of War match, and it remains to be seen just how the next few weeks will top this.

    Photos taken from Lucha Underground.


    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 (9/27/17): The Hell of War Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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