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    Friday, January 29, 2016

    Temple Rants (1/27/16): Welcome Home

    Last week, we spent time looking at what Lucha Underground’s second season has in store. Well, we’re finally here: the Temple is back! It’s been a painful 6 months without this show, so let’s dive into it!

    We kick things off at what looks like a mental facility, where Vampiro is being interviewed. The doctor tells him it’s graduation time, and we learn that Vampiro has been committed here since the events of Ultima Lucha. After some violent delusions, they allow Vampiro to check out. He’s picked up by his broadcast buddy Matt Striker, as the two head back to the Temple, which Matt says has become a “darker place”.

    Vampiro hears voices in his head. They counsel him, they understand.

    This is a brilliant way to allow Vampiro to slide back in as commentator, as it would be weird if he just showed up all normal after his Cero Miedo match with Pentagon. Treating it as some form of delusion or illness allows us to keep Vampiro as Ian Hodgkinson, while giving us the possibility of Vampiro relapsing into his old ways at some point in the future. Don’t be surprised to see the hardcore devil come back.

    We’re back in the Temple now, in Dario Cueto’s office. Or, well, what used to be his office, as it looks like Catrina has taken over. Fenix comes in and demands his title shot, as he holds the Gift of the Gods Championship. Catrina tells him he’ll get it next week, if he can hold onto it tonight against King Cuerno. We haven’t even been 10 minutes back, and we’re already getting a title match!? Lucha Underground, everybody.

    Oh, and Mil Muertes now sits on a throne, watching the action in the Temple. People say it’s like Shang Tsung from Mortal Kombat, but it looks more like Mr. Sy to us.

    Because, you know, he'll be watching.

    Match 1: Gift of the Gods Championship Match: King Cuerno vs. Fenix (c)

    King Cuerno’s our first luchador back, and man, I missed our deer-hunting overlord. The champion comes out next, does a little ropewalk, and we’re underway! Cuerno wastes no time, hitting a DDT onto the floor, which sets up the Arrow from the Depths of Hell!

    Both men get back in the ring. Fenix gets going with a beautiful cutter into a spinning crossbody. The two trade some vicious Kobashi-like kicks, before Fenix hits another cutter and bridges into a dragon sleeper. It’s a short-lived hold, though, as King Cuerno counters into his surfboard. A double stomp only gets Fenix a two-count.

    Fenix rolls into King Cuerno, who catches him and nails Thrill of the Hunt! Pin? No! Fenix gets an opening for his springboard 450, but Cuerno moves out of the way and hits a package tombstone piledriver for the win! New champion!

    Winner, and NEW Gift of the Gods Champion: King Cuerno!

    Well, let no one ever say that Lucha Underground is incapable of surprising you. We’re one match into the new season, and we’ve already got a new champion. This was a short, excellent match, with both luchadors changing the pace at times to keep the crowd hooked. King Cuerno and Fenix haven’t lost a step, and Cuerno’s package tombstone is a thing of beauty.

    The title change brings up a new possibility, though: instead of Fenix and Mil Muertes renewing their rivalry, we might see King Cuerno hunt the deadman down instead. That’s an interesting route to take, and it provides us with a fresh feud we haven’t seen before.

    We cut to the outside, where the formerly dysfunctional trio make their return. Ivelisse is back on two legs, Angelico looks like Seth Rollins, and Son of Havoc looks even more ripped than before. The three demand their rematch for the Trios Championship, but Catrina tells them that Mil Muertes has other plans for them. Instead, they’ll be placed in a triple threat match to determine the new #1 Contender for the Lucha Underground Championship. Ivelisse accepts, and tells Catrina that she’s next after she beats up Mil Muertes. Hooray for continuity!

    As the trio make their way out, we cut to a shot of King Cuerno in the locker room with Catrina. Catrina tells the new champion to remember their deal, and King Cuerno responds (in an oddly soothing voice) that they have nothing to worry about. What could this be?

    Match 2: Triple Threat #1 Contender’s Match - Son of Havoc vs. Angelico vs. Ivelisse

    The three pals trade off pin attempts to start, and Ivelisse gets the first big pop with a rana on Angelico. She continues her offense on Son of Havoc as well, but is stopped by a solid knee from Angelico!

    Havoc takes advantage of a stunned Angelico with a high crossbody, but the South African retorts with a series of kicks and knees. Angelico eats another crossbody, this time from Ivelisse. Now the baddest bitch has control, hitting Son of Havoc with more kicks. She nails an enzuigiri on Angelico, but runs straight into a rough backbreaker from Son of Havoc. The masked road warrior takes control, hitting both Ivelisse and Angelico with dives.

    The two men get back into the ring, and Son of Havoc with the standing moonsault! Angelico kicks out, and now Ivelisse is back in. Son of Havoc kicks off Angelico and tries for the Shooting Star Press, but Ivelisse crotches him! Ivelisse ties up Angelico and rolls him up for the pin, the win, and the title match!

    Winner, and NEW #1 Contender: Ivelisse

    This was a short, quick match, with each competitor getting to show off their strengths. Ivelisse winning puts her right back on track as a credible luchadora, considering she missed the latter half of last season with a broken foot.

    We get a quick glimpse at somewhere far away from the Temple, where three random guys are looking for some “underground fight club”. Black Lotus pops up by their window, and tells them to follow her. Did their parents never tell them not to talk to strangers?

    Match 3: Lucha Underground Championship Match - Ivelisse vs. Mil Muertes (c)

    Before we start, Catrina comes out and sics the Disciples of Death on Angelico and Son of Havoc! Ivelisse is held back by Mil Muertes as she watches her pals get torn apart by the Trios Champions. Both men are taken out now, and the match begins.

    Ivelisse tries to get some early offense in, but Mil Muertes simply shakes it off. Kicks, chokes and many other things don’t hurt Mil Muertes, who locks Ivelisse in a bear hug. Ivelisse fights back with an armbar, but Mil Muertes simply kicks her off. Ivelisse goes up top and manages to hit a spinning DDT on the champion! Pin? No!

    Catrina gets into the ring and confronts Ivelisse, but the former gets pushed into a spear from Mil Muertes! Ivelisse rolls up the champion for another close pin, but the champion gets right back up. Mil Muertes hits a powerslam into the Flatliner, and this is over!

    Winner, and STILL Lucha Underground Champion: Mil Muertes!

    This was another short match, but at least they gave Ivelisse a couple of big hope spots. Catrina goes for the Lick of Death, but stops and commands Mil Muertes to pick her up. Looks like we’re getting another Flatliner— 

    NO! Prince Puma runs in and nails the champion with a superkick, carrying Ivelisse to safety. Mil Muertes is pissed, but before he can deal with the interruption, Pentagon, Jr. hits the ring! He nails Mil Muertes with the backstabber, then goes ahead and breaks his arm! Huge statement of intent by Cero Miedo here, and it looks like we’re going to see him pursue the Lucha Underground Championship! Wow!

    It’s also interesting to note that Vampiro sat in shocked silence throughout the whole thing, which adds even more wrinkles to his storyline. Did seeing Pentagon evoke those brutal memories in him?

    We’re not done yet, though. We cut back to the three guys with Black Lotus, and she’s led them to none other than Dario Cueto! He’s alive! Cueto welcomes the new guys (one of whom gets a beating from Black Lotus for being a dick) to the show, but charges them $20 each before entering. Hey, dude’s gotta make a living. He lets the three men enter a dark warehouse, and one of them has the common sense to ask who’s fighting tonight. Cueto smiles, tells them they’re fighting, and locks them in. We then hear inhuman screams as the show fades to black. Well, we know who that is inside.

    $20 to enter, I have a brother to feed. No, I meant that literally.

    We’re only one episode in, and Lucha Underground has kicked off exactly where it ended last season. The violence, brutality and grit are all back, and better than ever. Nonetheless, they still managed to throw in a few surprises. King Cuerno winning the Gift of the Gods Championship right away was a shocker, and the Vampiro/Dario Cueto segments were great to watch. It should also be interesting to see how the picture for the Lucha Underground Championship plays out, as we’ve got a couple of names thrown into the mix.

    On a lighter note, it was also really, really great to see these guys in the ring again. Seeing the likes of Angelico, King Cuerno and Mil Muertes fight again was very refreshing. It's like reconnecting with your long lost friends at a coffee shop, except we're doing it in a dark, dingy place called the Temple.

    Lucha Underground manages to come back with a solid, solid A- effort, and hopefully this trend of excellent television continues as we catch up with the rest of the roster in the weeks to come.

    Anthony Cuello is an HR professional and training designer. When he’s not sleeping or reading the Harvard Business Review, he covers PWR and 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: Temple Rants (1/27/16): Welcome Home Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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