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    Friday, February 19, 2016

    Temple Rants (2/17/16): Bullropes, Baby Oil and Bad Blood

    Once again, we kick things off in Catrina’s office, and this week’s guest is Ivelisse. Ivelisse goes straight to the point: she, Angelico and Son of Havoc want the Trios Championships back. Catrina turns that down, because there are no automatic rematches in her Temple. There’s another team who want a shot at the Trios Championship, so Ivelisse and friends need to face them first. Ivelisse takes that challenge on, and says that once they’re done winning the belts, she’s coming for Catrina. Catrina, uh, licks that knife she’s been holding. Girl, I don’t think you want to know where that’s been.

    We cut to the Temple to kick off the show, as Matt Striker and Vampiro announce tonight’s main event: Pentagon Jr. vs. Prince Puma! Vampiro’s bias for Pentagon is shining through here once again. I wonder if that will come into play later on.

    Match 1: Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc vs. Chavo Guerrero and the Crew (Cortez Castro and Mr. Cisco)

    Chavo Guerrero and the Crew make their return to massive heat from the crowd, and it seems no one has forgotten their actions against Texano Jr. at Ultima Lucha. Undercover cop Cortez Castro is back with his buddies, and I don’t think Captain Vasquez would be pleased. Dude, you’re supposed to be looking for Dario Cueto.

    After a brief scuffle between Angelico and Mr. Cisco, Ivelisse gets decked in the face by Cortez Castro. Chavo distracts the referee, allowing the Crew to attack Ivelisse. Son of Havoc comes in and takes out Mr. Cisco with a moonsault and a back elbow. Chavo gets some Guerrero tactics going on, though, and now the Crew take turns beating the masked warrior up. Son of Havoc fends off all three and gets the hot tag to Angelico, who starts starts cleaning house with some kicks. Chavo eats a Pele Kick on the ring apron, and that sets the former champs out for some airtime! Angelico drags Cortez Castro back in for the Coup De Grace (sorry, wrong show) diving double foot stomp, and this is over!

    Winner: Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc!

    Team Ivelisse continues to win on their path back to the Trios Championship. All three got some good moves in, but it was Angelico who shone. Since Ivelisse had her turn on the season premiere, I’m expecting some Son of Havoc highlights next time. Also, it’s great to see that Angelico can finish a match without having the urge to jump off roofs.

    The rudos start bickering in the ring, but here comes Texano Jr.! Chavo bails out of the ring, and it’s the Crew who receive a bullrope beatdown. Chavo looks on furiously, and these two are on a collision course. It looks like we’re finally getting these two in a ring soon.

    We get a video package from Johnny Mundo, who is upset that he hasn’t been treated like a star. He’s not Lucha Underground Champion, and he served as a curtain jerker at Ultima Lucha. Mundo also claims he stole the show at last year’s finale, which means that he probably wasn’t paying attention to the Cero Miedo match. Once more, he scoffs at Cage’s challenge, and says he’ll make the Machine obsolete. Short, but excellent video package. This drove home just how full of himself Mundo is.

    Meanwhile, Cortez Castro is icing himself backstage when Officer Ryan walks in. Ryan ribs his partner for being a crappy luchador, and it’s clear that these two aren’t exactly fans of each other. They’d make for a good buddy cop film. Ryan tells Cortez Castro to sit back and watch him take the ring, or as he calls it, “good, old-fashioned police work.”

    Match 2: Joey Ryan vs. Cage

    And here he is! Ryan comes out to 80’s porn music and is billed as hailing from Reseda, CA, which is a nice nod to his PWG heritage. He’s also, uh, oiling his dong, which leaves Matt Striker and Vampiro speechless. We’re going to enjoy Joey Ryan at Lucha Underground. Cage comes out all smiles and slapping hands with fans, and we’re underway!

    Ryan uses the lollipop as a distraction, but Cage runs the police officer over with a clothesline. He dodges a spear and grounds him, catching the big guy with a dropkick and a suplex. Cage shakes it off and hits more clotheslines into a powerslam. Ryan catches him with a spinebuster, as Vampiro can’t believe that some oiled up guy is holding his own against Cage. He hits some superkicks, but Cage counters the last one and hits a piledriver for the win! Did he just pull off the Steiner Screwdriver?

    Winner: Cage!

    Another losing debut, but let’s not throw the word “bury” around. Ryan actually went toe-to-toe with Cage here, and Vampiro even admits that you don’t usually see Cage down on the mat. Just goes to show you how you can still establish someone well in a loss.

    Cage celebrates, but here’s Johnny Mundo with the blindside! Mundo spears Cage from behind, then tries to set up the End of the World. Cage isn’t having any of that, though, and nails him with Weapon X! That’s twice now that Cage has gotten the better of Mundo, and that has to get the self-proclaimed star rattled.

    Elsewhere, Rey Mysterio and the new El Dragon Azteca are having a little sparring/storytelling session. A long time ago, Dario Cueto’s father teamed up with the original El Dragon Azteca to find the seven Aztec tribes. However, the older Cueto became obsessed with dark legends, and started to make sacrifices to the old gods. He even sacrificed his son’s body to a god, resulting in the monster we know as Matanza. Wow. Rey also explains the treaty between the Cuetos and Dragon Azteca, which states that neither can step in the other’s territory. Yes, that means that El Dragon Azteca cannot just hunt down Dario, so Rey tells him his actual mission: find a way to unite the Aztec tribes.

    That is a ton of detail, so let’s try to process it bit by bit. First, we get much more backstory on the Cueto family, and now we know that Matanza is actually some sort of ancient Aztec god. The more they build him up, though, the less likely it looks that we’ll actually see him in the flesh. I don’t know how they can pull off the “overpowered ancient god in a mortal body” trope, but here’s to seeing Lucha Underground attempt to do so. This also ties in with last week’s episode, where Aero Star revealed that he was a time-traveling spaceman looking to stop the Aztec gods. Will we be seeing Aero Star clash with the Cuetos soon?

    I’m also interested to see how the new El Dragon Azteca will try to unite these Aztec tribes, let alone identify them, as that’s the one area the show hasn’t delved into. We know that certain characters (Prince Puma, Marty Martinez) have ties to ancient tribes, but are these the people El Dragon Azteca is looking for? Who are the others?

    What all of this shows, though, is a significant change in Lucha Underground’s essence. If you’ve been watching this show from the very start, you’ll recall that it started off as the dark, gritty show about an underground wrestling ring in California. We watched feuds about money (RIP Big Ryck), winning championships and Mexican wrestling families trying to mess each other up. Mentions of Aztec history were spread throughout, with Mil Muertes being the only major supernatural element. In other words, these were feuds that felt real.

    This season, Lucha Underground has taken big steps in the realm of Latin American fantasy. We’ve talked about the expansion of Aero Star’s story in the previous weeks, and now we’re presented with the idea of Matanza being an actual Aztec god. Sure, we still have the gritty, dark elements (see Joey Ryan’s undercover cop plot), but now it’s mixed with a whole lot of Aztec mythology and fantasy. It’s a bold change in the way they present things, and while some people won’t be fans (hi, Jim Cornette!), this helps Lucha Underground carve an even more unique spot for itself in modern wrestling.

    Match 3: Pentagon Jr. vs. Prince Puma

    Vampiro has his Pentagon Jr. fanboy shirt on for this match. Both men are dead even to start with, until Prince Puma kicks Pentagon out of the ring. Pentagon baits him into coming outside and rams Prince Puma into the ring post. Pentagon catches Prince Puma with a powerbomb, and the latter fires back with a dive onto Pentagon. Man, this guy makes it look too easy.

    The two trade strikes until Prince Puma eats a backstabber. He tries for a lionsault, but Pentagon nails him with a dropkick in mid-air. Prince Puma responds with an impressive bridging suplex, setting up the 450 splash, but Pentagon gets his knees up! Pentagon nails Prince Puma with a package piledriver and locks in a surfboard lock. Both men’s shoulders are down, prompting the ref to count, but Prince Puma gets his shoulders up at the last second to pick up the victory!

    Winner: Prince Puma!

    Pentagon Jr. doesn’t get what happened, so he takes out the referee. Prince Puma brawls with him again and threatens to break his arm, but backs off at the last second. That was quite the reversal of roles this time, but it served to establish a difference between Prince Puma and Pentagon. Vampiro is seething in the commentary booth due to how the match ended. Easy there, brother, they did warn you not to revisit those violent thoughts.

    The credits roll, and right after we cut to a shot of Sexy Star running away. She runs right into the Mack, who asks her what happened. Sexy Star tells him that it’s Moth, and points to her—someone we can’t see that leaves Mack in utter shock. That’s obviously the Moth’s sister, but it looks like we’ll have to wait to see her.

    Once again, Lucha Underground delivered both in-ring action and storytelling.The matches were solid this week, but none were good as the Fenix/King Cuerno match last week. That slots in this week’s episode at a solid B+, which means that Lucha Underground continues its solid run of shows to open this season.

    Cover photo 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 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 (2/17/16): Bullropes, Baby Oil and Bad Blood Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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