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    Thursday, May 21, 2020

    Temple Run (5/21/20): Look, New Championships!

    Welcome back to Temple Run, our look back at Lucha Underground!

    First off, a quick apology for not having anything put up last week. I had a couple of personal matters to deal with, and that took most of my free time away. Anyway, we’re back this week, and I promise to try and not miss any of the next weeks until I finish this series. Hey, it’s the effort that counts, right?

    Anyway, you might have spotted the brand new name—yes, we’ve finally given this column its own title. We realized that this was a perfect title for this column, seeing as how I’m literally on a run of watching Lucha Underground. Also, the game Temple Run brings about a sense of nostalgia for a lot of us, and that’s really what we’re doing here, right?

    This week, we continue to look back at the first season of Lucha Underground, covering episodes 20 to 26. Let’s get to it!

    Story Beats

    This bunch of episodes saw Lucha Underground introduce its second championship, the Trios Championship.

    Often when a new championship is introduced, one runs the risk of having it fall by the wayside and become inconsequential in the long run. Lucha Underground avoided that pitfall by making the Trios Championship a big deal, so much so that it was the main narrative throughout these episodes. Dario Cueto set up a tournament to determine a winner, and everyone in the Temple got in on it. Prince Puma, who had been staving off challengers for his Lucha Underground Championship left and right, took part in the tournament. You don’t usually see current champions compete in matches for another championship, but here he was slogging it out with the rest of them for the Temple’s newest shiny toy. By having every luchador of relative significance compete in the tournament, this helped build the Trios Championship as something to be coveted and worth aiming for.

    Despite the big guns getting involved, Lucha Underground gave us a nice twist with the first-ever Trios Champions being the team with the least cohesion in the tournament. They made stars out of Son of Havoc, Ivelisse, and Angelico with this tournament win, and it helped build up the Trios Championship by giving it to a trio that fans were invested in. We’ll talk more about the match later, but make no mistake—this was one of the biggest moments in this first season of Lucha Underground, and arguably throughout the show.

    Another feud that took center stage here was the series between Drago and Aero Star. What started off as a random match between two guys in masks turned into a short but meaningful contest that built one of the show’s long-lasting friendships. It’s a nice change of pace from your usual wrestling feuds—there’s no bad blood here, just a bunch of competitiveness and sportsmanship. Lucha Underground gave this feud the attention it needed to succeed, with Dario Cueto hyping up the final match and dangling one of his unique opportunities on the line. Much like the Trios Championship Tournament, this is a good example of one of the show's core strengths—they knew how to make these matches, and the people in it, matter.

    Elsewhere, things continued to chug along for everyone as they wove in and out of the Trios Championship tournament. Prince Puma’s reign as Lucha Underground Champion was tested by challengers like Cage, King Cuerno, and Drago, all while Hernandez debuted and set himself up as the next challenger. Pentagon Jr. finally met some resistance in his quest to please his master, with Sexy Star (and Vampiro!) standing up against him. Also, Johnny Mundo and Alberto El Patron started a pissing contest on who was the more accomplished name at that point, setting up a feud between the Temple’s two most recognizable faces.

    Notable Debuts & Appearances

    There’s a fair amount of debutants in these episodes, but it’s Hernandez who follows Cage’s path and immediately stands out. The Impact Wrestling veteran featured prominently throughout this first season, vying for the Lucha Underground Championship while reconnecting with an old partner in Konnan. I thought this was a good way to help fans understand just how much of a shady figure Konnan was, but he never really did much in the Temple outside of this and a feud with Drago. Hernandez would later come back in season four in what felt like a lackluster effort to pad up the roster, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

    Another pair of debuts are a pair of names that the show's fans would recognize—Killshot and The Mack. Originally introduced as Big Ryck’s family that he brought in to compete in the Trios Championship Tournament, both of them would later go on to eclipse anything Big Ryck accomplished in Lucha Underground. They don’t really do much in season one (save for Mack taking on Cage towards the end), but remember the names, because these two are going to star in the later seasons.

    Finally, there’s Marty “The Moth” Martinez, and watching him debut as a rabid, obsessive superfan just feels so ordinary and tame compared to what he would later become. Like Killshot and The Mack, it'll take a little while for the Moth to find his bearings in the Temple.

    The Fave Five

    1. Alberto El Patron vs. Texano Jr. in a Bullrope Match for the AAA Mega Championship (Episode 20). It’s a big match between two of the Temple’s bigger boys, with their AAA feud carrying over into Lucha Underground. This had more in common with the typical weapons-based matches in the WWE than your standard lucha libre match, and it’s a nice change of pace from all the usual flips and dives we got here. Alberto El Patron and Texano beat each other senseless here, and it’s a reminder of just how good these two really were.

    2. Johnny Mundo vs. Angelico (Episode 21). This was an excellent opening match that wasn’t really about any feud or storyline at that moment. Mundo’s parkour-inspired approach meets Angelico’s long, long legs, and the result is a match where they showed off some creative ways to hurt someone with your feet. When your openers were these solid, it’s easy to see why people enjoyed the show back then.

    3. Drago vs. Aero Star in the final match of a best-of-five series (Episode 23). I suggest that you watch the whole series and not just the final match, because when you view it that way, it comes across nicely packaged as a short saga. It’s the culminating match between two of the Temple’s quickest, with bodies soaring left and right. Dario Cueto’s twist at the end made this victory a little hollow, but both men came out of this match that much more appreciated by everyone else.

    4. The Trios Tournament Finals (Episode 24). This is actually two matches in succession instead of just one, but for some reason, I can't find the first match online. Everyone loves a good underdog story, and this is Lucha Underground’s finest effort at one. Watching Son of Havoc, Ivelisse and Angelico overcome the odds and become the inaugural champions, only for Dario Cueto to put one more team in their way, helped sell just how much the odds were against this highly dysfunctional trio. From Ivelisse defiantly standing up to the Crew on one leg, to Angelico's iconic leap off Dario Cueto's office roof, this match had some standout moments on the show.

    5. Johnny Mundo vs. Alberto El Patron (Episode 26). It’s the battle of WWE alumni, and these two put on an electric affair in their bids to become Lucha Underground Champion. I don't think the crowd would've been as hot here had it been anyone else, which is a testament to the star power these two brought to Lucha Underground back then. An overall solid match that would set up another banger down the line.

    Next week, we introduce some ancient medallions, and we finally get that Marty Jannetty moment recreated in the Temple. Trust me, I’m sure it happens in the next episode.

    Photos from Lucha Underground


    Anthony Cuello is an HR professional who helps run Smark Henry, and writes the occasional piece.  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: Temple Run (5/21/20): Look, New Championships! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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