7/12 Moore’s Lucha Underground TV Review: The Cueto Cup moves on to the second round, Fenix and Melissa Santos get romantic, Paul London vs. Mil Muertes, Jeremiah Crane vs. Taya Valkyrie

By John Moore

Lucha Underground TV on El Rey Network
Taped Early 2016 in Los Angeles, California at The Temple

This week’s intro teaser started off the same way as the last few weeks with a focus on the Cueto Cup. Sexy Star against the Worldwide Underground, Fenix’s budding relationship with Melissa Santos, Marty and Mariposa’s weird relationship, and Famous B recruiting El Texano Jr were all featured. This week’s episode was titled “A Fenix to a Flame”…

Matt Striker and Vampiro checked in on commentary. El Conjunto Nueva Ola were the house band for this episode. Vampiro was more focused and clearheaded on this episode it seems. Striker quickly passed the action to Melissa Santos to introduce the first match…

1. Jeremiah Crane vs. Taya Valkyrie in a second round Cueto Cup match. Taya opened the match by slapping Crane in the face. Taya showboated a bit. Crane kicked Taya with a boot to the face. Crane followed up with a Suicide Dive when Taya retreated to the outside. Crane did his signature lap around the ring to hit a seated Taya with a cannonball into the wooden front row seats. Crane went for a powerbomb but Taya pulled herself to escape up to the balcony area. Taya punched Crane off her to the ground. Taya hit Crane with a crossbody from the balcony to ringside.

Taya mounted punches after a Thesz press. Taya went for a corner move but Crane struck her with a kick to the head. Taya fell to the bottom turnbuckle which led to Crane attempting a running boot in the corner. Taya snuck in a low blow by lifting her leg to block an incoming Crane. Taya was all fired up at this point. Taya hit a shoulder, lariat, and double knee to Crane in the corner. The crowd chanted “Weda Loca” to Taya. Crane recovered and dared Taya to slap him. Taya gave him a series of stiff slaps. Crane returned the same amount of slaps back.

Crane no-sold a boot and gave Taya a right hand. Crane went for an Alabama Slam but Taya reversed with a reverse huracanrana. Taya set up Crane in the middle of the ring and soaked up cheers from the fans. Sexy Star distracted Taya to allow Crane to recover and sent up Taya to a boot to the face from the top rope. Crane hit Taya with a rope-bomb. Taya tried to win via the backslide. Crane came back with a pump kick and hit Taya with a Tiger Driver to pick up the victory.

Jeremiah Crane defeated Taya Valkyrie via pinfall in 6:24 to advance in the Cueto Cup.

Sexy Star nodded in approval form ringside. Once Crane left the ring Sexy Star entered the ring with high heels on. Sexy Star pulled some brass knuckles from her pockets and hit Taya with the brass knuckles as revenge for her elimination in the first round… [C]

John’s Thoughts: A strong intergender match that didn’t seem out of place with any other match we might see in pro wrestling. Taya can be AAA’s version of a crash test dummy as she sells very well and even goes too far with the stiff shots she takes, but she is tough as nails. Crane has had some really good showings in Lucha Underground since moving on from that strange Ivelisse storyline and you can see some of the psychology he’s picked up from his years in WWE. The Cueto Cup continues and it’s good that we’re consistently getting good matches.

Fenix was punching a bag while also doing core sit ups at the same time. Space warrior Aerostar had his glowing gear on and shook hands with his tag team partner. Aerostar said since he got eliminated from the Tournament he’s putting all his money on Fenix. Fenix said it’s not fair for a time traveler to gamble. Aerostar said he has no idea what Fenix is talking about. Fenix moved on to talking about making Drago see the light again and getting Drago to leave the Reptile tribe. Aerostar wasn’t sure that they can pull out Drago. Fenix told Aerostar to be a bit more optimistic. Aerostar said it’s tough to be optimistic when you can see the future. Aerostar was about to walk away to let Fenix finish his training. Fenix asked Aerostar for some future spoilers and wondered if he was going to win his upcoming match. Aerostar just gave Fenix a thumbs up and a laugh… [C]

2. Mil Muertes (w/ Catrina) vs. Paul London in a second round Cueto Cup match. The crowd chanted “Mil’s gonna kill you” to London. London did some pelvic thrusts in London’s direction. Matt Striker recommended that the viewers watch Ring of Honor matches of Paul London vs. Samoa Joe, specifically one at Death Before Dishonor, to see how tough Paul London is.

John’s Thoughts: That’s a bit odd of Lucha Underground to tell their viewers to go out and watch PPVs from another promotion?

London moved around the ring and moved his hips to taunt Mil. London touched Mil’s waist to taunt Mil some more. Mil managed to catch London with a choke. London escaped with a drop toehold and low kick. London hit a running senton on Mil and acted like Ultimate Warrior by grabbing the top rope. London then ran around ringside while Mil stood in the ring no-selling. London entered the ring to hit Mil with palm strikes that mil no-sold. Mil pummeled London with clubbing punches. Matt Striker oddly recommended more ROH encounters for London by mentioning his matches against Low Ki and Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan). Mil slammed London’s head into the turnbuckle several times.

London took a strong Irish whip to the other corner. London gained a bit of breathing room after a spinning wheel kick. Mil quickly recovered and did ten count lariats to London in the corner. London blocked a whip by grabbing the ropes Mil tried to chokeslam London on the apron. London dragged Mil’s arm over the top rope. Mil came back by knocking London off the apron with a shoulder block. Mil threw London into the announce table. London retreated to the other ringside to cause Mil to give chase. London surprised Mil with a one man superkick party.

Mala Suerte and Saltador appeared randomly. Saltador gave the referee a high five. London went for yet another superkick but Mil caught it and clotheslined London to put him back into defense mode. London hit Mil with a front kick and enziguri but Mil stood tall. London staggered Mil and hit Mil with a double stomp to the back. London jumped right into a chokeslam from Mil. London kicked out at two and three quarters. London took some punches on the top rope. Mala Suerte and Saltador ran in for the distraction but no contact. London gave Mil two boots to set Mil up for a second rope shooting star press to give London a nearfall. London hit another shooting star for another nearfall. London thought he won but the ref informed him he didn’t. Mil gave London a right arm followed by a spear. Mil then planted Paul London with a flatliner to pick up the victory.

Mil Muertes defeated Paul London via pinfall in 9:30 to advance in the Cueto Cup Tournament.

Catrina entered the ring for her ceremonial Lick of Death. London’s face sold he liked the lick. The crowd chanted “Lucky Bastard”. Matt Striker hyped up Fenix vs. Marty the Moth for after the commercial… [C]

John’s Thoughts: That’s the advantage of the Cueto Cup. The first round had all the scrubs in it to make the strong wrestlers look strong. While the second round trimmed out all of the fat to put together some great matchups. This was a great matchup that elevated both Paul London and Mil Muertes. Mil doesn’t lose anything for having a long match with London because London’s game was to run away and pick his spots. London also made the most out of his hope spots and the shooting star and superkick rallies were well done. Mil was also protected by the outside interference. I’m glad they didn’t contact Mil because it was established that DQ’s are strictly enforced in this tournament. The only thing odd was Matt Striker’s multiple advertisements for classic Ring of Honor.

El Texano Jr. was in a random bar. Brenda walked in to flirt with him. She said she wants something strong like Texano. Texano ordered two whiskey shots. Brenda said when she gets tipsy the truth comes out. Brenda said the truth was boring. Brenda said even though Texano’s an ass kicker and blue collared brawler, he’s a bit dull. Texano broke a (sugar) beer bottle with his bare hands. Texano said Texano is not dull. He tipped his hat to intimidate Brenda. Brenda told Texano that he needs a woman’s touch. Famous B was sitting in a different part of the bar as he made rope-in hand motions. Famous B tipped his cap to close out the cinematic…

Back at the temple, Matt Striker hyped up some matches for next week. Striker hyped up Pindar vs. Brian Cage, PJ Black vs. Prince Puma, and Dante Fox vs. Son of Havoc. Marty the Moth Martinez and Maripoza were in the ring as Marty invaded Melissa Santos’ personal space. Marty had an “Aztec Pride” lunchbox with him for some reason. Melissa tried to introduce Fenix but Marty stuffed his sandwich into her mouth… [C]

3. Marty “The Moth” Martinez (w/ The Mariposa) vs. Fenix in a second round Cueto Cup match. Marty Elias was the referee for this match. Striker pointed out that Fenix defeated Mariposa in round one. Marty pulled up his trunks to creep out Fenix with his thong. Marty took down Fenix with a shoulder block. Marty showed off some agility with a theatric moonsault. Fenix sidestepped Marty with a tiger feint kick to send Marty outside. Mariposa held Fenix’s leg (Marty didn’t get DQ’d). Fenix retreated to ringside as Marty taunted Fenix. Marty gave Fenix a punch. Fenix blocked being pushed into the apron with a kick flip. Fenix kicked Marty from the apron with a thrust kick.

Fenix then hit Marty with a corkscrew Tope Con Hilo. Fenix gave Marty a low slap to the chest. Marty distracted the Elias to allow Mariposa to trip Fenix off the apron. Marty ripped apart the mask of Fenix. Marty distracted the ref to allow Mariposa to get some cheap shots in. The camera is constantly cutting to Melissa Santos to show her distress when Fenix is behind. Marty gave Fenix a mandible claw to drag Fenix. Marty gave Fenix a German Suplex. Marty focused his attack back on ripping Fenix’s mask apart which drew “culero” chants.

Fenix managed to make it to a vertical base but Marty overpowered Fenix to the corner. Fenix blocked Marty with boots. Fenix went for a German but Marty blocked it with elbows. Fenix came back with a nice springboard rolling sobat kick. Fenix put Marty on the top rope and hit him with a double stomp to the back of the head. Marty rolled out of the way when Fenix went for a springboard moonsault. Marty got a nearfall after a boot to the face. Marty hit Fenix with a underhook into knees to the face for another nearfall. Marty hit Fenix with a Roode Bomb.

After a pin attempt Marty yelled at Fenix to get up. Fenix struggled to get to his feet. Melissa Santos tried to rally Fenix. Fenix recovered, dodged Marty a bit, and hit Fenix with a thrust kick. Melissa Santos stopped Mariposa from handing Marty the lunch box. Fenix defeated Marty the Moth after a body scissors rollup.

Fenix defeated Marty the Moth Martinez via pinfall in 10:24 to advance in the Cueto Cup Tournament.

Mariposa handed Marty his lunchbox after the match and slammed it into the head of Fenix. The box tented. Marty opened the box to eat some of his lunch meat. Marty pulled out a fork. Marty spiked Fenix’s head several time in what was a very violent scene. Fenix had some light bleeding and Marty licked the blood. Melissa told Marty she would do anything for him to stop. Marty licked the bloody fork as Mariposa held Melissa back to watch. Striker made some final hype for next week’s tournament continuation. The crowd was shown with sad and disgusted looks on their faces. Melissa escaped Mariposa and went to check on Fenix as Lucha Underground closed…

John’s Thoughts: Workrate wise, it was a step below the prior two matches but it was still a strong match. That wasn’t the story though. The story was this somewhat forced relationship between Fenix and Melissa Santos. I know they set this up with a cinematic, but it was one cinematic and Fenix was shown to be more interested in Catrina if you’re going with Lucha Underground continuity. The series did a great job building up that relationship while it seems like this one was a bit rushed. It’s also odd for Mellissa Santos to suddenly try to be an overacting actress in this series when she was only a ring announcer throughout. She’s a great ring announcer and the acting was fine, but it was just too sudden. That ending, was very violent and it did its job in making you hate Marty. I hope magic tricks were used because those fork shots looked real and real brutal.

Now that I wiped away that violent scene from my mind for a sec, I would say that this was a good overall episode. Here’s another starting point if you randomly want to jump in. This was a good showcase of the best of Lucha Underground’s in-ring and we didn’t even have Puma or Pentagon involved. The only downside was the quick continuity shifts. Even the shift of Crane from Ivelisse to Catrina was sudden, but I like that shift because Crane was a weird undercard guy when he was with Ivelisse, who was the star there. I’ll have more thoughts in my Lucha Underground Hit List and Audio Review, coming soon.

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7/12 Moore’s Lucha Underground TV Review: The Cueto Cup moves on to the second round, Fenix and Melissa Santos get romantic, Paul London vs. Mil Muertes, Jeremiah Crane vs. Taya Valkyrie

By John Moore

Lucha Underground TV on El Rey Network
Taped Early 2016 in Los Angeles, California at The Temple

This week’s intro teaser started off the same way as the last few weeks with a focus on the Cueto Cup. Sexy Star against the Worldwide Underground, Fenix’s budding relationship with Melissa Santos, Marty and Mariposa’s weird relationship, and Famous B recruiting El Texano Jr were all featured. This week’s episode was titled “A Fenix to a Flame”…

Matt Striker and Vampiro checked in on commentary. El Conjunto Nueva Ola were the house band for this episode. Vampiro was more focused and clearheaded on this episode it seems. Striker quickly passed the action to Melissa Santos to introduce the first match…

1. Jeremiah Crane vs. Taya Valkyrie in a second round Cueto Cup match. Taya opened the match by slapping Crane in the face. Taya showboated a bit. Crane kicked Taya with a boot to the face. Crane followed up with a Suicide Dive when Taya retreated to the outside. Crane did his signature lap around the ring to hit a seated Taya with a cannonball into the wooden front row seats. Crane went for a powerbomb but Taya pulled herself to escape up to the balcony area. Taya punched Crane off her to the ground. Taya hit Crane with a crossbody from the balcony to ringside.

Taya mounted punches after a Thesz press. Taya went for a corner move but Crane struck her with a kick to the head. Taya fell to the bottom turnbuckle which led to Crane attempting a running boot in the corner. Taya snuck in a low blow by lifting her leg to block an incoming Crane. Taya was all fired up at this point. Taya hit a shoulder, lariat, and double knee to Crane in the corner. The crowd chanted “Weda Loca” to Taya. Crane recovered and dared Taya to slap him. Taya gave him a series of stiff slaps. Crane returned the same amount of slaps back.

Crane no-sold a boot and gave Taya a right hand. Crane went for an Alabama Slam but Taya reversed with a reverse huracanrana. Taya set up Crane in the middle of the ring and soaked up cheers from the fans. Sexy Star distracted Taya to allow Crane to recover and sent up Taya to a boot to the face from the top rope. Crane hit Taya with a rope-bomb. Taya tried to win via the backslide. Crane came back with a pump kick and hit Taya with a Tiger Driver to pick up the victory.

Jeremiah Crane defeated Taya Valkyrie via pinfall in 6:24 to advance in the Cueto Cup.

Sexy Star nodded in approval form ringside. Once Crane left the ring Sexy Star entered the ring with high heels on. Sexy Star pulled some brass knuckles from her pockets and hit Taya with the brass knuckles as revenge for her elimination in the first round… [C]

John’s Thoughts: A strong intergender match that didn’t seem out of place with any other match we might see in pro wrestling. Taya can be AAA’s version of a crash test dummy as she sells very well and even goes too far with the stiff shots she takes, but she is tough as nails. Crane has had some really good showings in Lucha Underground since moving on from that strange Ivelisse storyline and you can see some of the psychology he’s picked up from his years in WWE. The Cueto Cup continues and it’s good that we’re consistently getting good matches.

Fenix was punching a bag while also doing core sit ups at the same time. Space warrior Aerostar had his glowing gear on and shook hands with his tag team partner. Aerostar said since he got eliminated from the Tournament he’s putting all his money on Fenix. Fenix said it’s not fair for a time traveler to gamble. Aerostar said he has no idea what Fenix is talking about. Fenix moved on to talking about making Drago see the light again and getting Drago to leave the Reptile tribe. Aerostar wasn’t sure that they can pull out Drago. Fenix told Aerostar to be a bit more optimistic. Aerostar said it’s tough to be optimistic when you can see the future. Aerostar was about to walk away to let Fenix finish his training. Fenix asked Aerostar for some future spoilers and wondered if he was going to win his upcoming match. Aerostar just gave Fenix a thumbs up and a laugh… [C]

2. Mil Muertes (w/ Catrina) vs. Paul London in a second round Cueto Cup match. The crowd chanted “Mil’s gonna kill you” to London. London did some pelvic thrusts in London’s direction. Matt Striker recommended that the viewers watch Ring of Honor matches of Paul London vs. Samoa Joe, specifically one at Death Before Dishonor, to see how tough Paul London is.

John’s Thoughts: That’s a bit odd of Lucha Underground to tell their viewers to go out and watch PPVs from another promotion?

London moved around the ring and moved his hips to taunt Mil. London touched Mil’s waist to taunt Mil some more. Mil managed to catch London with a choke. London escaped with a drop toehold and low kick. London hit a running senton on Mil and acted like Ultimate Warrior by grabbing the top rope. London then ran around ringside while Mil stood in the ring no-selling. London entered the ring to hit Mil with palm strikes that mil no-sold. Mil pummeled London with clubbing punches. Matt Striker oddly recommended more ROH encounters for London by mentioning his matches against Low Ki and Bryan Danielson (Daniel Bryan). Mil slammed London’s head into the turnbuckle several times.

London took a strong Irish whip to the other corner. London gained a bit of breathing room after a spinning wheel kick. Mil quickly recovered and did ten count lariats to London in the corner. London blocked a whip by grabbing the ropes Mil tried to chokeslam London on the apron. London dragged Mil’s arm over the top rope. Mil came back by knocking London off the apron with a shoulder block. Mil threw London into the announce table. London retreated to the other ringside to cause Mil to give chase. London surprised Mil with a one man superkick party.

Mala Suerte and Saltador appeared randomly. Saltador gave the referee a high five. London went for yet another superkick but Mil caught it and clotheslined London to put him back into defense mode. London hit Mil with a front kick and enziguri but Mil stood tall. London staggered Mil and hit Mil with a double stomp to the back. London jumped right into a chokeslam from Mil. London kicked out at two and three quarters. London took some punches on the top rope. Mala Suerte and Saltador ran in for the distraction but no contact. London gave Mil two boots to set Mil up for a second rope shooting star press to give London a nearfall. London hit another shooting star for another nearfall. London thought he won but the ref informed him he didn’t. Mil gave London a right arm followed by a spear. Mil then planted Paul London with a flatliner to pick up the victory.

Mil Muertes defeated Paul London via pinfall in 9:30 to advance in the Cueto Cup Tournament.

Catrina entered the ring for her ceremonial Lick of Death. London’s face sold he liked the lick. The crowd chanted “Lucky Bastard”. Matt Striker hyped up Fenix vs. Marty the Moth for after the commercial… [C]

John’s Thoughts: That’s the advantage of the Cueto Cup. The first round had all the scrubs in it to make the strong wrestlers look strong. While the second round trimmed out all of the fat to put together some great matchups. This was a great matchup that elevated both Paul London and Mil Muertes. Mil doesn’t lose anything for having a long match with London because London’s game was to run away and pick his spots. London also made the most out of his hope spots and the shooting star and superkick rallies were well done. Mil was also protected by the outside interference. I’m glad they didn’t contact Mil because it was established that DQ’s are strictly enforced in this tournament. The only thing odd was Matt Striker’s multiple advertisements for classic Ring of Honor.

El Texano Jr. was in a random bar. Brenda walked in to flirt with him. She said she wants something strong like Texano. Texano ordered two whiskey shots. Brenda said when she gets tipsy the truth comes out. Brenda said the truth was boring. Brenda said even though Texano’s an ass kicker and blue collared brawler, he’s a bit dull. Texano broke a (sugar) beer bottle with his bare hands. Texano said Texano is not dull. He tipped his hat to intimidate Brenda. Brenda told Texano that he needs a woman’s touch. Famous B was sitting in a different part of the bar as he made rope-in hand motions. Famous B tipped his cap to close out the cinematic…

Back at the temple, Matt Striker hyped up some matches for next week. Striker hyped up Pindar vs. Brian Cage, PJ Black vs. Prince Puma, and Dante Fox vs. Son of Havoc. Marty the Moth Martinez and Maripoza were in the ring as Marty invaded Melissa Santos’ personal space. Marty had an “Aztec Pride” lunchbox with him for some reason. Melissa tried to introduce Fenix but Marty stuffed his sandwich into her mouth… [C]

3. Marty “The Moth” Martinez (w/ The Mariposa) vs. Fenix in a second round Cueto Cup match. Marty Elias was the referee for this match. Striker pointed out that Fenix defeated Mariposa in round one. Marty pulled up his trunks to creep out Fenix with his thong. Marty took down Fenix with a shoulder block. Marty showed off some agility with a theatric moonsault. Fenix sidestepped Marty with a tiger feint kick to send Marty outside. Mariposa held Fenix’s leg (Marty didn’t get DQ’d). Fenix retreated to ringside as Marty taunted Fenix. Marty gave Fenix a punch. Fenix blocked being pushed into the apron with a kick flip. Fenix kicked Marty from the apron with a thrust kick.

Fenix then hit Marty with a corkscrew Tope Con Hilo. Fenix gave Marty a low slap to the chest. Marty distracted the Elias to allow Mariposa to trip Fenix off the apron. Marty ripped apart the mask of Fenix. Marty distracted the ref to allow Mariposa to get some cheap shots in. The camera is constantly cutting to Melissa Santos to show her distress when Fenix is behind. Marty gave Fenix a mandible claw to drag Fenix. Marty gave Fenix a German Suplex. Marty focused his attack back on ripping Fenix’s mask apart which drew “culero” chants.

Fenix managed to make it to a vertical base but Marty overpowered Fenix to the corner. Fenix blocked Marty with boots. Fenix went for a German but Marty blocked it with elbows. Fenix came back with a nice springboard rolling sobat kick. Fenix put Marty on the top rope and hit him with a double stomp to the back of the head. Marty rolled out of the way when Fenix went for a springboard moonsault. Marty got a nearfall after a boot to the face. Marty hit Fenix with a underhook into knees to the face for another nearfall. Marty hit Fenix with a Roode Bomb.

After a pin attempt Marty yelled at Fenix to get up. Fenix struggled to get to his feet. Melissa Santos tried to rally Fenix. Fenix recovered, dodged Marty a bit, and hit Fenix with a thrust kick. Melissa Santos stopped Mariposa from handing Marty the lunch box. Fenix defeated Marty the Moth after a body scissors rollup.

Fenix defeated Marty the Moth Martinez via pinfall in 10:24 to advance in the Cueto Cup Tournament.

Mariposa handed Marty his lunchbox after the match and slammed it into the head of Fenix. The box tented. Marty opened the box to eat some of his lunch meat. Marty pulled out a fork. Marty spiked Fenix’s head several time in what was a very violent scene. Fenix had some light bleeding and Marty licked the blood. Melissa told Marty she would do anything for him to stop. Marty licked the bloody fork as Mariposa held Melissa back to watch. Striker made some final hype for next week’s tournament continuation. The crowd was shown with sad and disgusted looks on their faces. Melissa escaped Mariposa and went to check on Fenix as Lucha Underground closed…

John’s Thoughts: Workrate wise, it was a step below the prior two matches but it was still a strong match. That wasn’t the story though. The story was this somewhat forced relationship between Fenix and Melissa Santos. I know they set this up with a cinematic, but it was one cinematic and Fenix was shown to be more interested in Catrina if you’re going with Lucha Underground continuity. The series did a great job building up that relationship while it seems like this one was a bit rushed. It’s also odd for Mellissa Santos to suddenly try to be an overacting actress in this series when she was only a ring announcer throughout. She’s a great ring announcer and the acting was fine, but it was just too sudden. That ending, was very violent and it did its job in making you hate Marty. I hope magic tricks were used because those fork shots looked real and real brutal.

Now that I wiped away that violent scene from my mind for a sec, I would say that this was a good overall episode. Here’s another starting point if you randomly want to jump in. This was a good showcase of the best of Lucha Underground’s in-ring and we didn’t even have Puma or Pentagon involved. The only downside was the quick continuity shifts. Even the shift of Crane from Ivelisse to Catrina was sudden, but I like that shift because Crane was a weird undercard guy when he was with Ivelisse, who was the star there. I’ll have more thoughts in my Lucha Underground Hit List and Audio Review, coming soon.

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