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    Friday, August 10, 2018

    Good Lucha Things (8/8/18): Love, Actually, Is All Around

    In a show with copious amounts of violence, murder and sacrifice, it's unusual for an episode to focus on one of the most basic human emotions: love.

    That's exactly what we got on this week's Lucha Underground—this show, from top to bottom, was all about love (hence this week's title referencing the 2003 cult classic). Johnny Mundo's love for his partner, Aerostar's love of his comrade, Joey Ryan's newfound love of XO Lishus, Antonio Cueto's love of money—all that was touched on in this episode. Heck, I suppose we can even classify Paul London's sacrifice of Mala Suerte as some sort of love, much in the same way how cult-like establishments ask their members to do insane things in the name of love.

    Let's start with the big one, Johnny Mundo's proposal to Taya following their successful conquest of the Reptile Tribe. Given how the Worldwide Underground's focus has been on their slithery foes lately, it was a complete surprise for the culmination to happen like this. The inspiration of this segment should be obvious for longtime wrestling fans—it's Randy Savage proposing to Miss Elizabeth. If Mundo's Macho Man impression didn't give it away, surely you caught Pomp & Circumstance playing at the end.

    Good vibes aside, the main event clearly established one thing—Johnny Mundo, and by extension the Worldwide Underground, have now turned face. While the crowd has mostly been on Mundo's side in this feud anyway, the whole match was set up to make Mundo look like someone you'd want to cheer for again. From his valiant stand against the Reptile Tribe, to selflessly giving away his wish to Aerostar (more on this later), to the sweet proposal that topped it all off, this has been the most likable Johnny Mundo has been since season one.

    In a way, though, it's also very jarring to see the Worldwide Underground suddenly portrayed like this. Just last week they were breaking and entering into temples and killing off snakes, and they've been portrayed as insufferable jackasses for a couple of seasons now. One episode later, and they're suddenly the good guys, with their leader winning the crowd over with a surprise proposal. What's with the sudden change in portrayal? I'm curious to see where this goes, especially with how they'll portray Mundo and the Worldwide Underground moving forward. They've always been defined by their antics, but those aren't exactly the kind of things that make people like you. I'm just glad I have a reason to cheer for Mundo again, at least.

    Aerostar's return was a nice surprise, especially since he still has unfinished business with the Reptile Tribe from last season. I didn't realize it until this match, but I missed watching him fly around like a human pinball. That said, it was weird seeing him with a Worldwide Underground bandana on, especially because he and Drago had that feud with PJ Black and Jack Evans before.

    More importantly, I loved that they finally closed the chapter on Aerostar's quest with him successfully getting back his comrade, Drago. It's a nice bit of continuity from last season, and this means we get to watch these two tear it up together again. Now that this is over, I'm hoping we get to see Aerostar, now with Drago in tow, be involved in some of the bigger storylines in the Temple. The season trailer teased his involvement with King Cuerno, El Dragon Azteca Jr., and the fabled gauntlet—perhaps that's what's next in line for our time-traveling spaceman?

    Joey Found Love in a Hopeless Place

    The undercard of this week's show featured famous dick wrestler Joey Ryan, and it seems like they're finally giving us a reason to root for him.

    Ryan teamed up with Jack Evans to take on Ivelisse and newcomer XO Lishus in a tag team match, which was a fun little bout for the most part. For as much as XO Lishus looks like throwaway comic relief, he's actually been very good in the ring so far. His offense fits the character being portrayed, and he's generally very likeable. So much that even Joey Ryan, his opponent, seems to have been mesmerized by the young star. Of course, none of this really matters to Evans, who picked up the win for his team after making XO Lishus pass out.

    The post-match angle with Ryan arguing with his partner points us at Ryan having some kind of affection towards XO Lishus, which is something I'm all for Lucha Underground exploring in the next few weeks. The show seems to have completely dropped the cop storyline with Cortez Castro being killed off, and this at least gives Ryan something to do other than being the resident sleazy dude. I'm not sure where Ivelisse would fit here, but they'd make for a nice Dysfunctional Trio 2.0, I guess. Ivelisse sure has a knack for finding herself in some odd teams, at least.

    Quick Hits

    • Even Antonio Cueto got involved in the love angle, and it was the owner's love of money that led to Mariposa buying a Gift of the Gods Championship match. Unfortunately, Mariposa couldn't get the job done against a fired up El Dragon Azteca Jr., who successfully defended his championship with a smart roll-up on the Moth Tribe's warrior. The real winner here was Cueto, of course.
    • Mala Suerte being sacrificed to Matanza Cueto came as a surprise, particularly since he's been more involved story-wise than our previous victims. Unfortunately, Paul London deemed him expendable, and now the Rabbit Tribe is down one. Perhaps London finally realized what his name meant, and decided he couldn't have that kind of negativity hanging around him.
    • Ricky Mundo getting kicked out of the main event atomicos match was expected. Let's just hope this doesn't come to bite Johnny Mundo back in the ass. 
    • Oh shit, our observation last week was spot on! The coffin in the Reptile Tribe's lair did end up playing a part, as it was revealed that Kobra Moon revived Jeremiah Crane and rechristened him Jeremiah Snake as a replacement for Vibora. I'm a fan of Jeremiah returning, as he's generally been good in the ring.
    • Seriously though, I'm convinced that the Jeremiah revival was done solely for that Crane/Snake pun. I'm looking forward to when Paul London brainwashes him to join their little cult and he becomes Jeremiah Rabbit. Or when El Dragon Azteca Jr. needs some backup, and we get Jeremiah Eagles. Maybe Jeremiah picks up that mask Prince Puma discarded, and he enters the Temple as Jeremiah Puma. Heck, let's have Dante Fox return from AWOL and recruit him, giving us Jeremiah Fox—wait, I don't think we have a Fox Tribe...

    Despite the matches being just fine, this might have been my favorite Lucha Underground episode of the season to date. It's one where the telenovela part of the show shone more than the wrestling part, and they really delivered on the former here. I'm still waiting for that mindblowing wrestling we saw in seasons past, but this was an entertaining hour nonetheless. A-

    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 (8/8/18): Love, Actually, Is All Around Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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