1/11 Moore’s Lucha Underground Review: Mid-Season Finale, last new episode for several months, Matanza Cueto vs. El Dragon Azteca Jr, Cage vs. Vanano, El Texano Jr. vs. Joey Ryan

By John Moore

Lucha Underground on El Rey Network
Taped April 2016 in Los Angeles, California

This week’s intro video started off with El Dragon Azteca finding his destiny after he got beaten up by Matanza. The LAPD storyline is back Ugh. And Reyes is infiltrating the temple under a mask. They also showed the scene where Famous B informs Texano that he’s not connecting with the audience. Mack and Johnny Mundo’s impending encounter was also featured in the lead up to the “All Night Long” match which I assume is happening in the next season (or mid-season as they would like to call it). This week’s mid-season finale was titled “Gods Among Men”…

Dario Cueto was chatting with LA City Councilman Delgado about Cage liking his new Gauntlet (which I still postulate contains the storyline soul of former WWE Superstar Montel Vontavious Porter who was released from the promotion before his debut). Dario said Cage would be in action tonight. Dario said Cage was consumed by the power and that power was controlling him unbeknownst to him. Delgado said he and Cueto will soon be just men among gods. Dario said the gods should owe them gratitude.

Everyone’s favorite Lucha Watermelon, El Dragon Azteca Jr, walked in to interrupt Dario’s meeting. Azteca said he was not here to meet new friends but to rather destroy old enemies. Dario figured it was Matanza who was the old enemy and Azteca Jr said he wants Matanza in the ring tonight. Dario said it was fine and granted but he didn’t send Matanza after he and Rey. Azteca said he doesn’t care because he broke Rey and tried to break him. Azteca is speaking in Spanish while Dario in English. Delgado said he likes that Azteca has balls. Azteca said he does have balls which is why he requests a Death Match. Dario booked the match on his red phone…

John’s Thoughts: Dragon Azteca may still be a bit cheesy, and his attire looks goofy, but he came off a bit better there when speaking in Spanish as he seemed more comfortable. When they have him speak in English, he sounds like he is reading lines from a teleprompter in a middle school play. That said, I thought Dario shouldn’t have been so quick in booking Azteca in a match against Matanza and he should have put at least one roadblock in his way. Maybe AR Fox or even Dr. Wagner?

El Metalachi was the band again and they were playing that mariachi song that people usually hear coming from Ice Cream trucks (or at least Ice Cream Trucks in SoCal, I honestly forgot the name of the song). Matt Striker and Vampiro checked in on commentary and he said he was just informed that Dragon Azteca Jr will be facing Matanza Cueto in a Death Match. Striker pointed out how the Death Match possibly ended the career of King Cuerno.

John’s Thoughts: A little background info: this was around the time WWE was picking up cruiserweights for the Cruiserweight Classic. There were reports that King Cuerno was one of the cruiserweights that WWE was trying to sign but Lucha Underground blocked them. It’s only rumors though as it could have also easily have been Cuerno was injured in Mexico.

Striker asked Vampiro about what Mil did to him last week with the flatliner. Vampiro said it may not be tonight, or not next week, but he was telling Mil that his time will come. Striker said our time is now so they have to continue with the show…

1. El Texano Jr. vs. Joey Ryan. Joey Ryan put the lollipop in the crotch portion of his tights. Joey Ryan started the match off by avoiding the tieup in the corner. Ryan locked in a headlock that Texano easily escaped. Ryan failed to take down Texano with shoulder blocks. Texano was more successful with the shoulder block. He hit Ryan with an elbow drop. Texano hit Ryan with a slingshot senton in the ring to get a nearfall. Ryan ran around the ring and staggered Texano with the ropes. This allowed Ryan to toss Texano into the metal barricade.

Joey Ryan put the lollipop in his mouth and Matt Striker swears he saw a pube go in Ryan’s mouth. Ryan used his boot to press Texano in the corner. Ryan then kept things slow with the chinlock. Ryan hit Texano with a dropkick. Famous B and Brenda entered the temple wearing cowboy gear and cheering on Texano. Texano came back with a springboard Ruff Ryder leg lariat. Texano picked up a nearfall after a kick.

Texano hit Ryan with a backbreaker followed by a dropkick sending him outside. Texano teased a Tope Con Hilo but Ryan ducked it. Texano hit Ryan with a plancha when Ryan was gloating outside. Ryan managed to crotch Texano on the top rope and hit Texano with a pumphandle suplex. Famous B was mic’d up. Famous B also stopped Ryan from pulling off the apron cushion. Brenda handed Texano a horseshoe which he used to punch Joey Ryan. Texano picked up the pinfall.

El Texano Jr defeated Joey Ryan via pinfall in 7:03.

Texano acted confused as to why Brenda and Famous B were clingling to him. He pushed Famous B down while also making some moves on Brenda. Famous B was delusional and claimed that Texano will like him soon. Matt Striker said that Champion Johnny Mundo has a message and will say it tonight… [C]

John’s Thoughts: While things were getting a bit too meta with Famous B pointing out how fans don’t connect with Texano, that match actually did a good amount of good to help build Texano somewhat while also establishing Famous B a bit. Texano will probably never be a main eventer in Lucha Underground, but he can be a good mid-card fan favorite if Lucha Underground plays their cards right. He might even have to revert to being the heel that debuted against Alberto Del Rio where he had a bit of an edge.

Johnny Mundo was cutting a promo in the ring. Mundo said he has been waiting for this moment for a long time. Mundo gave a shoutout to Taya who was away from The Temple. Mundo said his name was Johnny Mundo, the Mayor of Slamtown, the face of Lucha Underground, and the crowd can call him names but they are forced to call him Lucha Underground Champion. Mundo said he came to this upstart fight league as its only star. Mundo said he beat everyone who stood in his way. Big Ryck, Sexy Star, Prince Puma, The Crew, etc. and nobody believed in him. Mundo said they weren’t believers since they didn’t believe in Johnny Mundo. Mundo said the only person who believed in him was Jack Evans and PJ Black.

Johnny Mundo said Black and Evans were the best badass friends he could ask for. The Underground shared a hug and did their three way handshake. Mundo then sent Black and Evans away. He directed his attention to Willie Mack. Mundo said Mack was not built to last all night long and he doesn’t deserve to be in the same ring as Mundo. Mundo said Mack deserves to be on a couch with hot tub guy with a bag of Funyuns. Mundo said this was Mundo’s world and every single person including the Mack was going to believe that. Mundo was about to end his promo as Mack ran in to put the boots to Mundo. Evans and Black saved Mundo from the beatdown and they put him in the middle of the ring. Mack gave Black a stunner and did the same to Evans.

Mundo called for security and the generic security guards pulled away Mack. Mack they cleaned house with the indie wrestling security guards. Mack stood tall in the ring with the Lucha Underground Championship. Mack said the belt was going to be his and ultimately he’s going to whoop Johnny’s ass “all night long”. Matt Striker hyped that Cage will be facing a debuting wrestler in Cage’s first appearance since winning the “Ultimate Opportunity”… [C]

John’s Thoughts: Mundo does come off as a bit nervous sometimes when trusted to carry a promo segment, but the rare in-ring promo segment was a huge positive to have in Lucha Underground. In some strange way, Mundo vs. Mack is building up to be one of the better Lucha Underground feuds in a while. This reminds me of the awesome setups for Prince Puma’s feuds in Season 1 where they took their time while also building to climaxes. One thing I do think they should bring back (in addition to Konnan as a creative consultant) is the Ringside with Vampiro show, They always talk about wanting to be different from WWE or TNA and they always come off as contrarian in the negative. That talkshow segment was perfect and different in a positive way. I really wonder why they extricated that from the show?

2. “They Call Him” Cage vs. Veneno. Cage wore his gauntlet to the ring. Vampiro wondered if Cage was a terminator. Striker said he was Dr. Doom. Veneno walked and looked like Cortez Castro/Ricky Reyes under a mask because he was Ricky Reyes under a mask. Veneno wore a bootleg Venom mask. Vampiro said Veneno was Spanish for Venom.

Cage took the glove off and quickly took down Cage. Veneno kicked Cage several times. Cage no sold kicks and the forearm. Veneno quickly recovered and dominated Cage for a sequence. Striker pointed out how it was odd that Veneno got more offense in than a lot of people (not Chavo for some reason!). Cage hit Veneno with a clothesline from Hell. Cage hit Veneno with a Suplex into the Pile Driver for the victory.

Cage defeated Veneno via pinfall in 1:24.

Cage put his glove back on and acted aggressive to the referee. Cage then played to the crowd. Sexy Star ran in after Cage left and Sexy Star ran in said “It was You!” (in Spanish) to Veneno. Sexy Star kicked him because he looked like a Spiderman and Sexy Star hates Spiders.

John’s Thoughts: The match lasted only a minute and a half, but even Striker had to point out that it was odd to see Cage give up so much offense to the jobber. Cage did this exact thing to Chavo for some reason where he dominates most of his opponents but to this random guy that usually jobs to everyone (Chavo and Castro), Cage decides to sell. Odd. Especially after he got the powers of the MVP Infinity Gauntlet. What’s even more odd is this strange feud that Sexy Star is having with spiders. It’s funny as hell but why did Sexy Star go from main eventing shows to feuding with fake spiders?

Prince Puma was training with wooden sticks as he heard words from Konnan in his head. He was using the Kali Sticks to do some Eskrima on the punching bag. Puma held his head in insanity. Catrina teleported in and said it’s never the same when you die. Catrina said once you cross over into the spirit realm, those voices come back to you. Catrina said she hears the voices too. Catrina said there is only one vision that he can’t get out of his head, blood and pain. Puma said it was not his pain, it was Mil’s. Catrina said she had a similar vision, except it was Puma’s blood. Catrina teleported away and Puma went back to the Eskrima which knocked down the bag…

In what was the smartest move of his career, El Dragon Azteca Jr walked to the ring not wearing that dumb goofy cartoon Dragon/parrot headdress. He still looks like a watermelon though. Dario Cueto accompanied Matanza to the ring… [C]

3. El Dragon Azteca Jr. vs. “The Monster” Matanza Cueto (w/Dario Cueto) in a Death Match. Azteca used his quickness to dodge Matanza. Azteca hit a few kicks on Matanza which he no sold. Matanza stood tall after a dropkick. Matanza hit a popup side suplex on Azteca. Matanza quickly pummeled Azteca. Matanza walked to the outside to grab a steel chair. Azteca kicked the head of Matanza to get to his feet. Matanza went for a clothesline but Azteca popped up into a huracanrana.

Azteca dodged the chair Matanza put in the corner and kicked the chair into Matanza. Azteca tossed the chair into Matanza which he did sell. Azteca set up the chair and used it to help in do a long Tope Con Hilo. Matanza powered up and threw Azteca like a long dart into the ringpost. Matanza slammed Azteca into the steel barricade. Matanza carried Azteca to the top of the steps. Azteca tried to kick his way out while at the top but he was choked by Azteca. Matanza went to the top of the closet area, where there was a spotlight point out where Mil power bombed Fenix.

Azteca escaped and jumped to a random crane. He did a senton from the crane to Matanza. Azteca ate a right hand from Matanza. He came back with a huracanrana into the stair handrail. Matanza no sold moves and toyed with Azteca. Matanza chokeslammed Azteca through the bleachers as he fell to the bottom (hopefully on a bed of inflated pillows). Marty Elias called for the bell.

Matanza defeated El Dragon Azteca Jr. via ref stoppage in 6:25.

Dario Cueto was ecstatic and held Matanza’s hand up high in the ring. Rey Mysterio returned which lured Matanza to toss around “fans”. Rey and Matanza brawled. Matanza dominated early on. Matranza gorilla pressed Rey over the top of the high barricade. Rey escaped a gorilla press with some kicks. Matanza fought Matanza from the electric chair. Matanza blocked the huracanrana. Matanza slammed Rey on the high threshold on the top. Rey recovered and kicked back at Matanza. Rey backdropped Matanza and Matanza fell into the roof of the closet area. Dario Cueto rang the ring bells to send people away. Rey Mysterio stood tall under the spotlight and the cheers of the crowd. Matt Striker implied the next show will be “All Night Long” as the credits rolled…

But Wait? There’s More! Melissa Santos was taking pictures with fans on the outside as she was being stalked from afar by Marty the Moth. Marty was then kidnapped for once! Marty was in the same cocoon position as he had Sexy Star in Season 1. Mariposa had kidnapped him as she said “Bravo Martin”. She said Marty has her attention and maybe he wasn’t a little boy and maybe has seened the light. She struck him as he laughed like a masochist. Marty said “I did good” many times like a maniac as the show ended. In fact a commercial aired that Lucha Underground was gone until Summer! And next week was going to be a “best of” episode…

John’s Thoughts: The match was one of Matanza’s better outings and Azteca held his ground but was ultimately overcome by the more dominant monster. Not too entertaining from an in-ring perspective but good in storyline progressing. It progressed that Azteca Jr. is way in over his head and Matanza was still strong. Matanza looked decent for once on offense with a good balance of selling, no-selling, and aggression. Aggression is what he’s usually missing. What was even better was the Rey Mysterio post match brawl. That was actually the entertaining match we could have hoped for before, but the Azteca beatdown was necessary. Plus, Rey is considered to be the monster to Matanza. It does make me a bit disappointed that they did this story to perfection with Mil Muertes and Fenix, but at least there’s no way you can mess up on Rey Mysterio. Rey also has the only pinfall over Matanza, which give Rey all the credibility.

The post credits scene was more progression on Marty turning on his sister. Mariposa is looking to be the next project of Lucha Underground to try to get over which is needed for her because she has zero character other than that one time where she beat up generic luchadores in the street. Lucha Underground has to figure out that they should keep wrestlers at the top rather than fall under the classic Vince McMahon cliché’ of the “Shiny New Toy” syndrome.

All that said, who would have thought, that the shows that I attended, the shows that I had such high praise for were in what is technically their Season 4. Season 3 was okay, it wasn’t amazing, but it was miles better than that garbage known as Season 2.5. Now we’re getting decent into what may be some of their better work. What I don’t like is that they’ve developed a few bad habits during season 2 which crept their way into season 3. Hopefully they pull it off in the home stretch and I’m super glad that I’ll get a break from Lucha Underground during the spring until summer. I’ll have more thoughts on this mid-season finale in my All-Access audio review of this Lucha Underground episode later today.

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