By John Moore
Aztec Warfare Hits
Rey Mysterio’s Debut: Alberto El Patron was a huge signing last year, but his signing pales in comparison to the man who innovated Lucha Libre in the United States for the last 20 years. Rey Mysterio is a living legend and it’s a wonder that he’s still able to wrestle at a high level after all of these years. He’s not as quick as he once was (or even as quick as his 2010 self), but he’s always been a smart wrestler and knows how to overcome and hide his limitations. Aztec Warfare was mostly about Rey in that he had the most eliminations and was a part of all of the action to some level. He even earned a submission victory which is something we don’t usually get from Rey Rey. WWE had three standout merchandise and ratings pushers in the last few years – John Cena, Jeff Hardy, and Rey Mysterio. The spike in Lucha Underground ratings might be a result of Rey and hopefully this investment helps them out in the long run.
Pentagon Jr and Mil Muertes: Lucha Underground is sometimes too explicit in their foreshadowing, but being on a cheesy action network makes this fit into the El Rey network universe. You had to expect Pentagon would take out Mil due to the pre-match cinematic, and that was a smart way to possibly transition Mil away from Fenix while putting Pentagon in a meaningful program. This was one story that was told well in the match and it only took about a minute in total to tell during the match.
Jack Evans and PJ Black vs. AeroStar and Drago: The Dragon Slayer Jack Evans saga has been an entertaining mid-card story this season and this was a good start to the in ring mixing of the players after weeks of cinematics and time traveling from AeroStar. PJ Black still does nothing but lose, but everyone else is holding their end well. One funny moment of the match was all of the technicos teaming up against Evans with Mundo trying to blend in. Evans had an amazing reaction to Mundo with mundo BS-ing his way into Evans’s favor.
Marty the Moth: Last season, Marty the Moth was a creepy fanboy who seemed very unnecessary as a character. He was comic relief that wasn’t too funny. This season, he’s given more of a sadistic edge. The abuser angle of his character is a bit uncomfortable, but at least that is drawing bad guy heat. He also doing a good job with the no-selling as he sells it as masochism. You might even add him to the list of people that Will and I have talked about as being more “monstrous” than a certain Olympian that I’m going to mention in the Miss column.
Dario Cueto’s Return: This was pulled off really well on TV as well as in The Temple. Dario Cueto can be considered by some as Lucha Underground’s MVP from season 1 and was the reason most people stuck with the product due to his performance that revolutionized the stale heel authority figure role. The pop he received possibly surpassed Rey and Pentagon’s because of how the crowd feared that one of their favorite characters was gone for good. Cueto returning offers the TV viewer some hope as well in that he’s going to pick up where he left off as El Jefe of The Temple.
Aztec Warfare Misses
Overall Match: If you are a Dot Net Member, listen to the audio review that Will Pruett and I co-hosted and notice how we are okay on the match up to the point that Matanza debuts, only to leave with doubt in the future. Last year’s iteration was much better and unique. The ball seems to have been dropped here and maybe it’s because they tried to pack too much story in a limited amount of time. I felt like the way that they could have mitigated this issue was to have Matanza start his warpath next week and find a way to tell the story of Fenix that they set up well last week. Dario Cueto returning at the end to announce his brother’s debut for next week would have been masterful as it gives them the huge Cueto return while also not trying to stuff weeks’ worth of storytelling in about ten minutes.
Matanza Cueto: From a booking perspective, this was the right approach to take with a debuting monster. The flaw that I see and are hearing from many sources is that the man playing this guy wasn’t the right pick for this role. This is not just coming from wrestling reporters, but fans who attend the tapings as well. The Temple has seen this guy win and lose in dark matches almost every week since season one and he never comes off as a “monster”. They even tried to cover the guy head-to-toe, but there’s no denying that he’s the same Olympian that has been competing in front of the crowd. He’s a wide guy that can do flips inside of suplexes, but no one saw him as having “ruthless aggression” to use a Vince McMahon term. The first thing that popped up in my mind was that Mil Muertes (a/k/a Judas Mesias) or his TNA kayfabe brother Abyss would make better monsters. Dare I say, Marty the Moth might make a better one. What we saw in this match was that his style consists of no-selling and people walking into his finishing moves. I’m hoping that Lucha Underground does a good job covering the flaws with their casting choice, but let’s just say I’m not confident in what we might get.
Fenix: As bad as how WWE booked the same storyline by having Roman Reigns as the guy who took a break through half of his Rumble match, it wasn’t as bad as the way Lucha Underground booked their champion when trying to tell the same story (and to WWE fanboys, this was a coincidence due to LU doing it first. So no complaints please!). Fenix was pushed as one of the strongest wrestlers in the world, and it was all due to his hard work and amazing writing from the writing team. Rey overshadowing him was fine in that Rey’s history is huge. The unceremonious ejection by Matanza was all of the trouble. It was also a shame that the guy who carried Lucha Underground through season two so far was pushed aside so quickly. They did this last season when following Grave Consequences, Fenix was placed in the extra role to the AeroStar and Drago series. I feared him moving down the card last season and it looks like that might be the case this season.
Dragon Azteca Jr: Don’t get me wrong, the guy looked amazing in the few moves that he got to pull off. The problem was Aztec Warfare not being the right place to debut this new luchador. I would have said the same thing if they were debuting Black Lotus or even Sami Callahan (who is announced for season 3) in this spot. There were just too many other spotlights in this match that he got lost in the shuffle. Will and I also agree that the guy looks like a human watermelon via the way that his consume is designed. Azteca also joins Fenix in the easily dispatched category in his quick defeat to Matanza.