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    Thursday, June 18, 2020

    Temple Run (6/18/20): A Much Darker Place

    Welcome to this week’s Temple Run, and welcome to Season Two of Lucha Underground!

    This week, we’re covering the first eight episodes of the second season. However, before you do that, I highly recommend you check out the Lucha Underground comics that were officially released in between the first two seasons. There are four chapters you can find over here, and they help set the tone for Season Two. Particularly, it helped explain why a certain luchador shows up this season, as well as the departure of one of last season’s more prominent figures.

    Story Beats

    With Catrina at the helm of the Lucha Underground Champion and the Trios Champions, she stepped up as the show’s main proprietor. It’s a lot different from how Dario ran things—whereas Dario was your quintessential showman hyping up a spectacle, Catrina was more concerned with making sure her wards stayed on top. She removed the automatic rematch clause for former champions, enlisted King Cuerno to take the Gift of the Gods Championship off Fenix, and kept Mil Muertes far away from everyone in his own throne at the top of the Temple. No, seriously, Mil spends the first few shows looking down at everyone like a god, and it is glorious. If you’re a Mortal Kombat fan, this is very much the show’s version of Shao Kahn’s throne room. The best part is that the throne of bone even has actual lore behind it—it’s made out of the skulls of a ton of victims, including former Temple mainstay Big Ryck. That’s one hell of a way to write someone off a show.

    Despite everything feeling a little darker, it’s still the same show that delivered some great lucha libre. Several feuds picked up right from the start, revolving around who got the chance to take Mil Muertes off that throne. For King Cuerno, that meant taking away the Gift of the Gods Championship from Fenix. Meanwhile, Pentagon Jr. and Prince Puma engaged in a contest of one-upping each other to stake their claim for a title match, with Johnny Mundo and Cage doing the same. It’s the same key guys from most of last season, which shouldn’t come as a surprise—these are the show’s standout performers so far, so it made sense for them to take up most of the spotlight.

    The rest of the Temple mostly chugged along, setting up some major plot points we’ll see play out later on. We got a pair of Ultima Lucha scores that were settled, with Chavo Guerrero/Texano Jr. and the Unlikely Trio/Disciples of Death feuds continuing on. Sexy Star managed to escape abduction from Marty “The Moth” Martinez but seemed to have been traumatized in the process. Drago went up against another man who wanted to extinguish him in Jack Evans. Cortez Castro is revealed to be an undercover cop tracking Dario Cueto. Speaking of El Jefe, he’s been running a Lucha Underground offshoot in exile, which is probably the most Dario Cueto thing to do even if you’re on the run for your life.

    These first few episodes of Season Two ended on a high note, at least—Fenix won the Lucha Underground Championship from Mil Muertes, giving us a little light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a nice reward for a man I’d argue to be Lucha Underground’s standout performer at this point. Unfortunately, Fenix got a rather short reign as champion, but that’s something for next week when we talk about Aztec Warfare.

    Notable Debuts & Appearances

    There are a lot of new faces that showed up in Season Two, of course. First is the Darewolf, PJ Black, who should be a familiar face to WWE fans. The former NXT/Nexus/Corre member brought a thrillseeking persona to the Temple and was introduced via one of the cooler vignettes we’ve seen so far. Seriously, go watch it and tell me you didn’t buy into PJ Black as a potential main eventer after that. He doesn’t hit quite those heights, but he does form a pretty solid partnership with Jack Evans and, later on, with the Worldwide Underground.

    Taya also made her debut early on in Season Two, coming to the aid of Johnny Mundo in his match against Cage. She’s introduced as Mundo’s partner, taking on the role we all thought Melina would fill at Ultima Lucha. Despite never being part of those big feuds and championship matches, Taya had a great run in the Temple as part of the Worldwide Underground. She’s since made a killing at Impact Wrestling, becoming the longest reigning Knockouts Champion in the promotion. Also, she’s now married to Johnny Mundo, who is currently busy putting out musical hit after musical hit.

    Here’s another face that should be familiar to most of you—Joey Ryan, noted penis pioneer and master of one the greatest modern wrestling spots. He’s actually more than just a penis guy at Lucha Underground, though—Ryan portrayed Cortez Castro’s undercover partner, who joined the Temple as part of a police surveillance mission on Dario Cueto. If you’ve seen him wrestle before, you already know what to expect. It’s a ton of baby oil and dick spots, and on a show that got too serious and dark at times, Ryan provided those light, fun moments that were good for a laugh or two.

    Finally, we also saw the debuts of Kobra Moon and Mariposa in these episodes. They were nice additions to a roster that sorely needed some luchadoras at this point, and both made their mark on the Temple in different ways. Mariposa immediately got featured in a stellar match against Sexy Star that we’ll talk about next week, while Kobra Moon took around a season and a half before being revealed as the mastermind behind a group of reptilian wrestlers living underground.

    The Fave Five

    1. The Fenix/King Cuerno Trilogy (Episodes 1, 3, and 6). I know I’m cheating by listing three matches in one entry, but I also want to feature other luchadors rather than have these two take up most of the space. This was the marquee feud of early Season Two, and they put on a trio of stellar matches. King Cuerno fired the first salvo with a surprise title win, only for Fenix to get him back at his own game in a Last Luchador Standing match. They cap it off with a great Ladder Match, where Fenix won back his championship. The real winners for watching these matches are all of us, of course.

    2. Pentagon Jr. vs. Prince Puma (Episode 4). There’s a nice parallel between these two—it’s a feud between a man who just lost his mentor and another one who just found his. These two engaged in a match of constant one-ups and an “anything you can do, I can do better” vibe, which resulted in a fun match.

    3. Mil Muertes vs. Pentagon Jr. vs. Prince Puma, Lucha Underground Championship Match (Episode 7). Add an angry Mil Muertes to everything I said above, and you get another belter. Pentagon’s mission of antagonizing everyone led to him pissing off Mil Muertes, and so we got this three-way for the Lucha Underground Championship. This match served as a means to reintroduce the force that is Mil Muertes after some time on the shelf, and he did so with a statement win over two of the biggest names in the Temple.

    4. Son of Havoc, Ivelisse and Angelico vs. the Disciples of Death, Trios Championship Match (Episode 8). It’s an Ultima Lucha rematch for the Trios Championship, and one that surprisingly goes beyond the often formulaic matches of the Unlikely Trio. For once, there were no Ivelisse injuries or suicidal Angelico dives—instead, the three work cohesively as a unit, and they pull through after some great teamwork. That was enough to win back the Trios Championship and keep their jobs in Lucha Underground while showing everyone that these three were just really good wrestlers.

    5. Fenix vs. Mil Muertes, Lucha Underground Championship Match (Episode 8). It’s a rematch of last season’s Grave Consequences, only this time with championship gold. Fenix and Mil is Lucha Underground’s version of Kevin Steen and El Generico—they’re destined to fight each other, and this is just another chapter in that storied rivalry. It’s fun to see these two learn from facing each other all the time—Mil Muertes was able to anticipate Fenix’s dives in this match, which was a nice level up from their old matches.

    Photos from Lucha Underground
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    Item Reviewed: Temple Run (6/18/20): A Much Darker Place Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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