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    Friday, February 26, 2016

    Temple Rants (2/24/16): A Cog in the Machine

    A quick note: Lucha Underground released its third comic earlier today, titled The Demon Within. The latest chapter covers the relationship between Vampiro and Pentagon, Jr., and adds a ton of detail to what we already know about the two. You can read the full comic at Lucha Underground’s official Imgur account, which can be found here.

    Right on cue, we kick off this week with a look at Pentagon, Jr., who is in a meeting with his master, Vampiro. Vampiro explains that Ian Hodgkinson had him trapped for so long, but thanks to the events of last season, he has been able to break free and return to power. It’s a convenient explanation to help us separate commentator Vampiro from Sith Lord Vampiro. Of course, I’m sure things aren’t as clear cut as they look like here, so expect this distinction to be further built upon in future episodes.

    Match 1: Jack “The Dragon Slayer” Evans vs. PJ Black

    Just like his first match back, Evans cuts off Melissa Santos and does his own introduction, once again calling himself “The Dragon Slayer”. He’s brought his vocal chops tonight. The Darewolf is out next, and hey, his entrance music actually sounds pretty good (we didn’t hear it clearly the last time).

    Evans gets the jump on Black, but he’s quickly floored with a series of kicks from the Darewolf. Black hits some suplexes, but those get a couple of 2-counts. Evans hits a beautiful springboard kick, finally getting some breathing room. Hey, who’s that on the office roof?

    It’s Drago, and for some reason, he looks like a goat! He plays around with the nunchucks again, much to the ire of Evans in the ring. This gives the Darewolf a window to hit the Black Diamond, and he nails Evans! Pin? No! Drago makes his way down to ringside, and spits out green mist—only it hits PJ Black instead of Evans! Evans nails a backslide bridging pin, and this is done!

    Winner: Jack Evans!

    Well, that just sucks for PJ Black. Dude had all the momentum in this match, only to be denied victory at the last minute thanks to some untimely interference from Drago. That gives the Darewolf reason to get more involved in the Drago/Evans feud, though, which should make for some exciting matches. Overall, this was a good match for the short time it had, and I hope these guys get more time to show off their skill.

    We get a vignette showing Famous B, who makes his return to Lucha Undergroud. He’s in one of those campy old school car commercials, and he says he’ll take you from being a jobber into a robber. 423-GET-FAME, guys. This was an unexpected return, but at the very least, Famous B seems to have something going for him this season. It should be interesting to see who takes him up on his offer. On another note, I'm glad to see that Famous B is back. We still don't know why he's famous.

    Match 2: King Cuerno vs. Killshot

    Hooray for continuity! These two had a brief feud last season that spawned some pretty good matches, so here’s to hoping that trend continues. Killshot hits some loud kicks early on, brawling with King Cuerno on the outside. He tries for a second dive, but King Cuerno ducks and nails him with a superkick. That gives King Cuerno the space to hit the Arrow from the Depths of Hell, and he connects!

    Action spills back into the ring, and Killshot hits a terrible cutter on the ring apron. At the very least, it looked like that move hurt. The two trade some more forearms and kicks, before King Cuerno tries to set up for the piledriver, but Killshot counters with a lungblower. Killshot tries for a twisting senton, but King Cuerno moves out of the way and hits Thrill of the Hunt for the win!

    Winner: King Cuerno!

    King Cuerno continues the post-match assault, but here comes Fenix for the save! This rivalry continues to heat up, and this match was a good way to keep King Cuerno looking strong as they head towards that rubber match. This wasn’t as good as their match last season, but it was still a decent effort.

    Match 3: Gauntlet Match – Texano, Jr. vs. Chavo Guerrero and the Crew

    Texano is already waiting in the ring, as Chavo Guerrero argues with the Crew. They eventually send Mr. Cisco in first, and the match begins! Texano hits a superkick and Mr. Cisco is eliminated! Thanks for coming, hombre.

    Cortez Castro gets the jump on Texano, who takes him to the corner and beats him up. Cortez Castro fights back with a nice DDT, and he’s actually giving Texano a run for his money here. He hits a neckbreaker into some more kicks, before Texano puts him out of his misery with a sitout powerbomb. Points to Cortez Castro for actually looking like a threat, though!

    Chavo gets the jump on Texano after the pin, but he eats a clothesline for his troubles. Texano charges at Chavo in the corner and stomps some mudholes into him before continuing to toss him around. Texano lifts Chavo up for a suplex, but Mr. Cisco distracts the referee, and Cortez Castro ties the bullrope around Texano’s feet! Chavo takes advantage of a stumbling Texano for the pin and the win!

    Winner: Chavo Guerrero!

    A little bit of lying, cheating and stealing gets the job done, as Chavo runs away with Texano’s bullrope. It looks like this feud is still going to continue, since Texano has more reasons to continue going after Chavo and the Crew. Hopefully their payoff match turns into something special.

    We cut to the other Temple far away from Boyle Heights, where Dario Cueto and Black Lotus are feeding Matanza some fresh smark meat. Cueto tells Black Lotus the story of their mother, and how she was the living incarnation of the devil. At one point, Mama Cueto almost killed Dario, but Matanza rescued him by killing their mother with the bull statuette he carries around. Black Lotus laments the sad ending, but Dario tells her that it was a good experience because it made him realize how much he loves violence. Solid character building for the Cueto family here, and I can’t wait to see these guys back in the real Temple.

    Meanwhile, Catrina makes her first (yeah, I’m not making that up) appearance on this week’s show, doing the rounds backstage. She comes across Pentagon, Jr., who demands another match against Prince Puma due to how their last encounter ended. We get a nice sparring session between the boss and the employee, before Catrina relents and gives Cero Miedo his match for next week. Before she leaves, though, she tells Pentagon Jr. that laying hands on her was a terrible mistake. That probably means Mil Muertes is going to get involved next week, which should add an interesting dynamic to this feud. Heck, just put Prince Puma, Mil Muertes and Pentagon Jr. all together in one ring. That will be magic.

    Match 4: Johnny Mundo vs. Cage

    Johnny Mundo is out with a beautiful pink fur coat, which should be the early frontrunner for Lucha Underground’s best #SGQ outfit. The Swole-verine (god, that is just a perfect name) is out next, and it’s finally time for these two to go at it!

    Mundo kicks things off with a bitch slap, and it’s dead even early on as both men brawl around the ring. Cage no sells some parkour from Mundo before starting to hit him with slam after slam. Cage mounts Mundo in the corner, but Johnny manages to slink away and launch himself at Cage with a beautiful corkscrew drive on the floor! Vintage Mundo, folks!

    Action spills back into the ring, and Mundo keeps Cage grounded with a headlock. Great variety of moves from Mundo so far. Cage gets up and runs over Mundo, before hitting a sitout Alabama Slam. Some more back and forth leads to Cage hitting an F3, which Mundo kicks out of. Mundo misses the End of the World, and walks straight into a discus lariat from Cage! Weapon X connects!

    What’s this!? A blonde woman runs in and leaves a pipe in the ring, distracting the referee. Cage tries to get her to leave, but Mundo takes advantage of the distraction and nails Cage with the pipe for the win!

    Winner: Johnny Mundo!

    The blonde woman is identified by the commentators as Taya, as she and Mundo continue to beat down on Cage after the match. That was definitely not who I expected to see run in to help Mundo, seeing as how Melina helped him fend off Alberto El Patron at Ultima Lucha.

    Nonetheless Taya is another name from AAA making her way to the Temple, and I’m excited to see her take to the ring. This should add even more girl power to a roster that already has Ivelisse and Sexy Star, and hopefully she’s just as good as these ladies. Cage is going to want payback for this, though, so don’t think this is the end of the Cage-Mundo feud.

    Before we fade to black, we see King Cuerno once again meeting with Catrina. He gives Catrina the Gift of the Gods Championship, telling the proprietor that he wants his title match against Mil Muertes next week. Instead, Catrina books King Cuerno in one more match against Fenix, but this time with the Gift of the Gods Championship at stake. Catrina also hopes that King Cuerno can fly, because next week’s title match is going to be a LADDER MATCH! Now that should be amazing!

    After a solid start to the season, Lucha Underground seems to have finally hit a snag with its weakest episode so far. It’s not that there was anything really bad on the show, but there was nothing that reached the level of excellence previous episodes had. Decent matches, decent worldbuilding, but nothing to really make you jump out of your seat. Instead, this felt more like a set-up episode, with several feuds having their lifelines extended as we continue to go through this season. A decent Lucha Underground episode is still a good episode by most standards, though, so this one clocks in at a fine, if not spectacular, C+.

    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 (2/24/16): A Cog in the Machine Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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