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    Friday, April 1, 2016

    Temple Rants (3/30/16): When Monsters Collide

    Once again, welcome to Temple Rants! Last week was a very special show, as Lucha Underground held its second Aztec Warfare match. We saw new faces make their way to the Temple: the legendary Rey Mysterio and El Dragon Azteca Jr. finally arrived in the Temple, managing to impress in the gruesome battle that is Aztec Warfare. As great as these debuts were, neither was more impactful than the arrival of the monster, Matanza Cueto—Dario Cueto’s possessed brother. Matanza then destroyed almost half of the participants in the match, earning the Lucha Underground Championship in his first match in the Temple. This has huge implications for the balance of power in Lucha Underground, and we’ll see how that shifts starting with this week’s episode.

    The show kicks off with a band, meaning that live performances are back! I love how this is a sign that Dario Cueto’s back in charge. It shows the difference in approach that Catrina and Dario have in running this place, and the Temple is already looking less gloomy than it was under Catrina.

    El Hefe kicks off the show and immediately announces a Trios tournament to determine the next challengers for the belts, starting next week.. Here’s to finally making those titles matter more. He’s interrupted by Pentagon Jr., who demands a shot at the monster Matanza. Dario essentially calls Pentagon a B+ player, which is met with an attempt to break his arm, so he relents and makes that match for tonight. That’s a big main event we’ve got for tonight..

    Match 1: Taya & Johnny Mundo vs. The Crew (Mr. Cisco and Cortez Castro)

    The Crew take control early on, working Taya over with some nice double team moves. Taya tags Johnny Mundo in, but Mr. Cisco also tags in Cortez Castro, and the undercover cop swings the match back in their favor. Mundo tags out, managing to weasel away from another beatdown.

    Cage makes his way out, and the mere sight of the Machine is enough to send Johnny running away! With her partner gone, Taya ends up taking the bulk of the offense from the Crew, eventually falling into a flapjack/lungblower combo for the loss. Holy shit, The Crew actually won!?

    Winner: The Crew!

    Taya continues to take every ounce of punishment out there in the ring, and she’s been playing that role well. Mundo continues to be built as your typical chickenshit heel, even more so now that his partner is the one taking the beatdown so far. We’re eventually going to get to Cage vs. Mundo, but for now, it seems like they’ll continue to make life hard for each other.

    We cut to Marty “The Moth Yuppie” Martinez, who tells us that it’s time for a story. He tells the legend of the Moth Clan’s (what is this, Battle Realms?) ancient treasures, guarded by a masked warrior known as Mariposa. The Mariposa mask has been passed down from generation to generation, with his sister being the deadliest yet. We then find out that the book he’s been reading is actually empty, making this scene a whole lot creepier. This was a great way to establish Mariposa and her role in the grand mythology of Lucha Underground, especially with the ongoing quest to unite the Aztec tribes. Hopefully, she lives up to that legend in her first match.

    Dario Cueto’s back at his old office, and it seems like he’s put his personal effects back where they belong. Dario no sells Catrina’s ghost powers, and the two have a talk about their respective monsters. Team Death is coming for Matanza, which should be another monstrous match down the line. That’s what you get when you’re champion, I guess.

    Match 2: Trios Championship Elimination Match – The Disciples of Death vs. Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc (c)

    Yes, this is an elimination match, which is at least different from the standard matches they’ve already had twice. The Disciples seem to be having problems, which Ivelisse is all too happy to exploit. Sensing danger, Catrina comes up with a distraction, resulting in Ivelisse getting pinned. The Disciples now work over Son of Havoc, but he manages to roll across the ring and tag in Angelico, who cleans house with a bunch of knees. A Fall of the Angels eliminates Trece, and now both teams are even!

    Angelico and Son of Havoc take control, sending the Disciples out of the ring and hitting some dives. Angelico tries to set up a second Fall of the Angels, but Siniestro de la Muerte reverses and hits, uh, some knees to the back. That didn’t look good. Angelico is eliminated, leaving Son of Havoc as the only champion left standing. He quickly evens the score with a nice diving foot stomp into a standing moonsault, eliminating Barrio Negro.

    Catrina tries to interfere again, but Ivelisse pops up from behind and knocks her out! Son of Havoc hits a shooting star press on Siniestro, and the champions retain!

    Winners, and STILL Trios Champions: Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc!

    Remember what I said about them eventually giving Son of Havoc the spotlight since they’ve given it to the other two? Well, there you go.

    That aside, I hope that this finally puts the Disciples vs. Team Ivelisse feud to rest. This has been going on since last season, and it’s time our Trios Champions have a feud with someone else. Thankfully, Dario’s tournament to determine a new contender for their championships should provide some fresh matches. They continue to tease a Catrina vs. Ivelisse match, though, which should be very fun to watch when it happens.

    We’re back in Dario Cueto’s office, where last week’s debutant Rey Mysterio pays him a visit. Rey immediately asks about their mentor, El Dragon Azteca, to which Dario feigns ignorance. He says that they should let the past be the past, and offers a place in the Temple for both Rey and El Dragon Azteca Jr. They both drink in honor of El Dragon Azteca, all while Dario looks very shifty. Something’s not right here.

    Match 3: Sexy Star vs. Mariposa

    Mariposa’s out for her debut match, and she looks like a palette swap for Kobra Moon, except with a scarier mask. Hopefully she performs much better than Kobra Moon. Mack and Marty “The Moth” Martinez are both at ringside. Something’s clearly off with Sexy Star, who seems to be flinching at every move Mariposa and Moth make. She tries to fight back, but Mariposa hits the Butterfly Effect for the quick win.

    Winner: Mariposa!

    Sexy Star has been a shell of her former self so far this season. I’m a fan of this plot, and I’m looking forward to how they manage to get Sexy Star over her demons once they start building her up again. Moth and Mariposa also take out Mack for good measure with some nice sibling chemistry, establishing themselves as a threat in the Temple. Hopefully, we can see them ease their way into the Aztec tribes subplot while Sexy Star tries to recover. They made Mariposa look like amazing in the vignette earlier, and continued to do so here.

    Match 4: Lucha Underground Championship Match – Pentagon Jr. vs. Matanza Cueto (c)

    Pentagon Jr. starts off more cautious than usual, trying to get a feel of the monster Matanza. He lures the monster to the corner and hits his signature lungblower, and Matanza just stands up right after. Jesus. This isn’t looking good for Pentagon.

    Action spills to the outside, and Matanza is just destroying Pentagon Jr. here. Pentagon gets his masked ripped off, before trying to call the referee’s attention because he’s injured. Whoa. Matanza nails him with Wrath of the Gods, and this is over.

    Winner, and STILL Lucha Underground Champion: Matanza!

    The beatdown doesn’t end there, as Matanza continues to destroy Pentagon Jr. after the match. Vampiro gets in the ring to save his disciple, but is met with a kick by Matanza. Pentagon continues to throw up the “X” sign to indicate he’s hurt, but Matanza just powerbombs him through the announcers’ table. Medical aid finally arrives, and the show ends with Pentagon Jr. being stretchered out of the Temple. Wow.

    Last week, I talked about how Matanza was the Temple’s new boogeyman, occupying the same terrifying spot that Mil Muertes and Pentagon Jr. held last year. In many ways, this was a huge statement of power from the Cuetos. Not only did Matanza beat Pentagon Jr., he beat him in a way we’ve never seen before. For the first time in Lucha Underground, we saw Pentagon Jr. tossed aside like a rag doll. He’ll be back, but for now Matanza has solidified himself as the beast in the Temple. That makes the impending clash with Mil Muertes all the more interesting, as that will decide who is the biggest monster in Lucha Underground right now.

    This week didn’t manage to hit the heights the last two episodes have, but it was still a decent watch. We got a ton of backstage segments, as Dario Cueto reestablished himself as the Temple’s boss, as well as some great points of storytelling with the main event match and the Mariposa build. The matches were okay this week, with the highlight easily being Son of Havoc running wild in the Trios Championship match. This week’s episode clocks in at a C+—still a fine grade, but it definitely doesn’t hold a candle to the past couple of episodes.

    Cover photo taken from Wrestling Phobia.

    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 (3/30/16): When Monsters Collide Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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