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    Friday, April 22, 2016

    Temple Rants (4/20/16): Clash of the Titans

    The Trios Tournament continued last week , with another spot in the finals at stake. The dream team of Rey Mysterio, Prince Puma and Dragon Azteca Jr. are through to the next round, after taking care of Johnny Mundo, Taya and Cage and their issues with one another. Meanwhile, El Jefe began to release the Aztec Medallions once more, and we saw Texano pick up the first despite an impressive display from the newcomer Daga. Resident monsters Matanza and Mil Muertes didn’t do a whole lot last week, but it all comes to a head this week as the two finally meet in a match for the Lucha Underground Championship.

    Unstoppable Force vs. Immovable Object

    The big clash of the titans finally happened, and the resulting destruction left us with the beginning of a big war in the Temple.

    Right from the start, you could tell that this was going to be different. One, we normally don’t get a hoss fight in Lucha Underground. Two, seeing Mil Muertes bring Matanza down early was huge, as we finally saw the monster beaten down after having his way in past matches. The match wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was still fun watching these two behemoths beat the crap out of each other. They built nicely into a great ending, with Mil Muertes putting Matanza through Dario’s office roof with one of the biggest Flatliners in Lucha Underground history. If you’ve been wondering where all their budget has been going, then look no further than El Jefe’s office space. That thing has been wrecked and rebuilt several times now, and we keep wondering why these dirtsheets report that Lucha Underground is losing money? No shit, guys.

    If anything, what made this match memorable was seeing Dario Cueto’s reactions throughout. He went from a confident brother to a man genuinely afraid of what could happen to his kin. Watching him get physically involved to stop Mil Muertes’ assault was a nice touch, as it showed how far he was willing to go just to keep the one thing that makes him powerful. Dario keeps Matanza around not because he loves him (would you keep your loved ones locked in a cage?), but because it is through the Monster that he's able to lord it over the Temple.

    The war between the Cuetos and Team Death looks to be the central storyline moving forward, and it promises to be even more destructive than what we saw. This isn’t the last time we’ll see Mil Muertes and Matanza clash, and it should be interesting to see how they build up to an eventual rematch between the two.

    Trios Throwdown, Part 3

    Meanwhile, Jack Evans and P.J. Black teamed up with Fenix against the Disciples of Death in a Trios Tournament Match. Fenix, Evans and Black won the match after flying all over the place, with a ton of flippy shit to pick up the win. This was a fun Trios match to watch, and I really wouldn’t mind seeing Fenix team up more with the Darewolf and the Dragon Slayer. The tension between the three made for an interesting match, and it was very reminiscent of how Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc started out last year.

    It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Jack Evans up close, but seeing him in the spotlight again makes me wonder why we aren’t seeing him more often. Watching him troll his partners with those near-tags and jumping jacks was fun, and he’s one of the few people in Lucha Underground who can stand on the apron mouthing off all day. I’m not sure how they’ll fare in the Trios Championship match next week, but they should at least give everyone else a run for their money.

    After the match, El Siniestro De La Muerte ripped out the other two Disciples’ black hearts, turning them into piles of ashes. You can now add Barrio Negro and Trece to Lucha Underground’s grim list of deaths (or is it double death, since they were already Disciples of Death to begin with?) I’m curious to find out as to what this means—did Siniestro absorb the other two, turning him into a super Disciple of Death? Did he just kill them off? Siniestro has our attention now, and it’ll be interesting to see where he goes from here.

    The one thing that feels weird, though, is that the Disciples of Death are probably no more. While they’ve been sputtering all season long, I’m going to miss seeing them because they’re the only trio so far that actually looked like a team. Everyone else feels like a random collection of masks and individuals.

    One More Time

    Drago and Aero Star renewed their rivalry once more, with an Aztec Medallion at stake. Notably, Aero Star slipped as he tried to bounce off the ropes, which Matt Striker attributed to “all the sweat that accumulated on the ropes.” That's a witty way to explain it, but there's probably more than just sweat on those ropes. They picked up where they left off from their scintillating best-of-5 last season, with Aero Star winning after a springboard facebreaker. Definitely not their best match, but it was still a nice opener.

    During the match, Matt Striker pointed out a concern that caught my attention—Drago seems to be in a sophomore slump. After cementing himself as a big fan favorite at Ultima Lucha, Drago seemed poised for a run at Lucha Underground gold. Instead, we haven’t really seen him do anything this year other than a couple of brawls with Jack Evans. For someone who gets consistently loud reactions from the Temple, you have to wonder what they plan to do with Drago right now. Perhaps things may change in the coming weeks, and I really hope they do.

    Quick Hits

    • We got a sneak peek into what Johnny Mundo and Taya do outside of the Temple, where we learn that Mundo is not just a man, he’s the man. Normally, I’d break that segment down, but ah, just this once:


    Sufferin’ succotash, son.

    • Anyway, the Mundo-Cage rivalry comes to a head next week, as Dario has booked both men in a steel cage match for another Aztec Medallion. This sounds exactly like the type of match Cage wanted, as this should keep Taya out and leave Mundo with nowhere to hide. Talk about Cageception.

    • Son of Havoc, Ivelisse and Angelico are actually in the Trios Tournament, which culminates next week when they face the three winning trios in an elimination match for the Trios Championship. Yes, it wasn’t made clear, but at least Dario gave them a bye into the finals. Vintage Dario Cueto, everybody.

    • The show closed with Captain Vasquez being confronted by a certain Delgado (played by popular Latino actor Lorenzo Lamas) who seems to be representing a powerful individual. Delgado asked Vasquez to drop the case against Dario Cueto, which prompts questions as to who our mystery man is and what his stake is in this plot. It’s a nice way to introduce new characters, and now we know that someone in the shadows is rooting for Dario to continue his show.

    • Matt Striker was on his A-game today, with several quips that just made me laugh out loud. Right before the trios match, he told fans to "check the date and see how high we can get." Obviously, that's referring to the fact that Evans, Fenix and Black are all high flyers, but do check the date, just to be sure. Striker is either very good or unbearably bad, and this week, he was a joy to listen to.

    While this episode had its big moment, it didn’t feel as strong as some of the previous episodes, although it was still a solid watch. We got a good trios match, an okay opener, and a jaw-dropping highlight to cap off the show. As usual, though, Lucha Underground built several characters up nicely, including making us care about guys we’ve never cared about before. This puts it right into B- territory for me, continuing from last week’s show at a steady pace.

    What did you think of this week's episode? Let us know in the comments section below!


    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 (4/20/16): Clash of the Titans Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Anthony Cuello
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