By John Moore
Lucha Underground on El Rey Network
Taped May 2016 in Los Angeles, California at The Temple
This week’s Lucha Underground intro teaser included clips of the AR Fox and Killshot relationship, the Cueto Cup, and the Catrina and Sami Callihan relationship. This week’s episode was titled “Macho Madness”…
Mil Muertes was meditating at his shrine. Catrina told him to rise and that it was time for Mil Muertes to do battle. Catrina said he’s going back on his journey to reclaim the Lucha Underground Championship. Catrina’s rock glowed with cheap special effects. Catrina told Mil to destroy them all. Mil said he will destroy them for Catrina, his love. He held out his hand for Catrina. Of course, in the teaser Catrina told Sami Callihan that she doesn’t love Mil. Catrina gave Mil a kiss as she told Mil to bring her the Cueto Cup. Sami Callihan was shown unhinged in the background darkness…
Matt Striker and Vampiro checked in on commentary from the temple with Sergio Arau’s band providing the music. They quickly passed it over to Melissa Santos. Veneno (my favorite wrestling name to pronounce next to Cezar Bononi) was already in the ring. Veneno has already been revealed as Ricky Reyes in a mask. Mil Muertes was going to destroy him…
1. Veneno vs. Mil Muertes (w/ Catrina) in a first round Cueto Cup match. Mil gave Veneno a spear to start off the match. Mil gave Veneno no chance with straight up punches and powerbombs. There were some boots too. Mil gave Veneno a lariat and continued with the hands from the high guard. Mil gave Veneno a swinging chokeslam followed by the flatliner.
Mil Muertes defeated Veneno via pinfall in 1:08 to advance in the Cueto Cup Tournament.
Mil rolled Veneno into the center of the ring which allowed Catrina to lick him. After showing the brackets they cut to commercial…
John’s Thoughts: Brian Cage should take notes at this one. This is how that match should have ended up. Short at sweet. Veneno/Reyes is one of the guys on the roster who makes the big monsters look strong. Mil’s also the blueprint as to how a monster should act and present himself in the ring. He just goes all out. I expected a cop out answer when talking with Lucha Underground head writer Chris DeJoseph about his MVP of the show, but DJ told me Mil was his personal Lucha Underground MVP and Mil shows why every time he wrestles.
2. Paul London vs. Vibora (w/ Kobra Moon)in a first round Cueto Cup match. Paul London had a carrot in his tophat. Vibora is the guy known in the temple as “The Luchasaurus” since he looks like a dinosaur. London gave Vibora a dropkick to keep him from getting in the ring. London then did a baseball slide through the second rope to follow up. London hit some light palmstrikes on Vibora which vibora nosold. London saw that and rolled to the other corner. London teased cutting Kobra Moon with the carrot.
London tried to clothesline Vibora with the carrot but he caught a punch. The crowd chanted to “Save the Carrot”. London sold a clothesline to the back to the head by flipping completely. Vibora did some big man moves to dominate Vibora. London gave Vibora some thrust back kicks to stagger the big man. Vibora caught London on the top rope and back tossed him. Saltador and Mala Suerte quickly ran in and out of the ring to distract Vibora. London locked Vibora in a headscissors and managed to get him out of the ring. In a scary moment (which happened about a few yards from where I was sitting) London went for a trust fall and Vibora forgot to catch him sending London’s head into the wooden chairs and ground. London and Vibora were heading back to the ring. London made it. Vibora had his legs held by the Rabbit Tribe guys to give London the countout victory.
Paul London defeated Vibora via countout in 3:54 to advance in the Cueto Cup Tournament.
Vibora tried to explain to Kobra Moon at ringside that the Rabbit guys kept him from entering the ring. Kobra slapped him in the face. Striker hyped Joey Ryan vs. Taya in a match after the commercial…[C]
John’s Thoughts: That was a legit scary moment at the tapings when Vibora didn’t catch London in the trust fall. You could hear the skull come into contact with the wood and ground. It sorta made for a sour moment at the tapings since people were legit worried for Paul. As for what we saw, it was a solid match with a little bit of editing if I remember correctly. When I saw it live, the match was not good. Vibora isn’t great in the ring. Vibora reminds me of Eli Cottonwood.
3. Taya Valkyrie vs. Joey Ryan in a first round Cueto Cup match. Joey Ryan did his Joey Ryan things. He had a lollipop and poured oil into his trunks. Taya acted disgusted and rightfully so. Joey Ryan rubbed the lollipop on his chest hair and tried to offer it to Taya. Taya slapped the pop away and put the boots to Joey Ryan. Taya gave Joey the double knees against the ropes. Ryan tried to escape but Taya scratched him in the back. Taya put Joey in the ring. Joey gave Taya a superkick when she was on the apron. Joey Ryan argued with the referee to count faster. Joey continued his attack on the outside. Joey put Taya in position for a high risk move. Joey took too much time teasing and Taya gave him many slaps on the top rope.
Taya gave him a body slam followed by a double stomp. Taya got a nearfall. Vampiro said that was dope as hell. Joey sidestepped Taya and slapped her in the ass. Joey put Taya in the Electric Chair. Taya escaped and hit Joey with her Northern Lights into a double stomp finisher. Taya picked up the pinfall win.
Taya Valkyrie defeated Joey Ryan via pinfall in 3:34 to advance in the Cueto Cup Tournament.
Taya kicked Joey out of the ring. Striker revealed the bracket. The bracket showed that she would be facing Jeremiah Crane (Sami Callihan) or Killshot (Shane Strickland) in the next round. They cut to Drago’s bathroom where Mil Muertes was dressed in a suit. Mil Muertes walked out and was blindsided by Sami Callihan/Jeremiah Crane. Crane beat down Mil with a steel chair. Crane told Mil “She’s Mine!!!”. Crane hit Mil with a con-chair-to that didn’t look like it hurt…
John’s Thoughts: This might be our first intergender match this [mid-] Season, and it was a good one. Intergender matches might not be for everyone but Lucha Underground does a great job in not making it a male vs. female match but rather just a match that would happen between anybody. Taya is a really good brawler and she showed it in her good first round match. Joey’s a good wrestler too, but he seems to rely a bit too much on his sleazy character as opposed to telling any story.
We got another Michael Schiavello hype vignette hyping up the Rey Mysterio vs. Johnny Mundo title match. Schivavello cut to interviews where Rey and Mundo’s peers talked about them. Chavo was billed as a “Retired Luchador”. Chavo said Rey and Johnny have no weaknesses. Cage said Mundo may be champ but he has lost to people like Cage. Cage said Mundo can be beat. Cage said Rey has an answer for anything. Prince Puma said Johnny thinks outside of the box and uses what he can get away with. Puma said Johnny is usually bigger and stronger than his opponent. Puma said Rey has intangibles and a million ways he can defeat people. Puma said Rey is the gold standard of Lucha Libre. Matt Striker compared the match to Muhammed Ali vs. Joe Frazier, Rhonda Rousey vs. Misha Tate, or Ric Flair vs. Ricky Steamboat. Striker said the one thing is the victor had to endure everything from their opponent. Striker said the heart of the champion is in the kickout; the decision to keep fighting. Striker said the winner will be the person who wants it more.
Schiavello said the experts agree on one thing and that is they can’t pick a winner. Chavo picked Rey. Chavo justified his pick by saying that Rey was the only person who pinned Matanza Cueto. Cage picked Johnny because of strength. Cage said the pressure is on Rey because of Johnny’s championship advantage. Cage said Johnny’s a cheater and a bit cagey, no pun intended. Striker said he was supposed to be impartial. Striker said he expects Rey to fight for the legacy of his name. Striker said he expects Mundo to do whatever it takes to keep the belt. Striker said you will hear the little kid come out of Striker that night on commentary. Puma said Rey is going to win because he doesn’t know how to lose…[C]
John’s Thoughts: Another good Michael Schiavello sports vignette with a nice twist with the interviews. Rey’s peers offering their thoughts gave this match a dream match feel. This is what they should have done with Prince Puma vs. Rey but it was in that bad Season 2.5. Season 3.5 has been good so far! This reminds me of some of Taker’s matches where they would do this. It’s a bit tough with Johnny, since Johnny has been presented as a coward/Miz-type heel. He even has a stunt double now. They did give Mundo a bit of in ring credibility back in that good series he had with Willie Mack. Back to the interview, it was all good, but I wouldn’t have put Prince Puma in it. For one he’s supposed to be darker and a few weeks ago they had Puma talk down to Rey while in his face so to see him praise Rey to the moon was jarring.
4. Jeremiah Crane vs. Killshot in a first round Cueto Cup match. Killshot was dubbed, the Weapon of Mass Destruction. Marty Elias was the referee. Killshot started the match with a nice sidestep roundhouse and tope. Crane recovered and hit a tope from the bottom rope. Killshot recovered and came back with a moonsault over the top rope to the outside. Crane came right back with a tope. Crane showed things down with a forearm. Killshot came back by tossing Crane into the barricade. Killshot was tossed onto the hard camera area. Killshot came off the area with a senton to Crane.
Killshot gave Crane a stiff slap. Crane escaped an encore slap with a forearm. Klllshot got off his prepared slap and knocked Crane “on his ass” as Vampiro put it. Crane whipped Killshot into the barricade and followed up with a quick exploder suplex. Crane pushed around Killshot’s dogtags which Killshot put in the corner. Crane cleared the crowd and gave Killshot an elbow to put him on the front row seat. Crane gave Killshot a chop with a running start. Crane ran around the ring for a running start for his cannon ball onto Killshot. The crowd was crazy for this. Killshot staggered Crane with some slaps as he was on the top rope. Crane recovered and went for a sunset flip.
Killshot escaped the sunset flip, missed a roundhouse, but transitioned nicely into a back kick. Killshot hit his sweet pinpoint dropkick on Crane. Killshot got a nearfall off the kick. Killshot waited for Crane to get up but missed a forearm. Crane hit a roundhouse and came at Killshot with a running knee. Crane went for another knee but ran into a rolling cutter from Killshot. Striker pointed out that Crane showboated a bit too long to allow Killshot to recover. Crane escaped a full nelson, but Killshot maintained pressure with clubs to the back of the head. Killshot went for a Full Nelson Slam, but Crane reversed into a rollup.
Crane maintained pressure with a thrust kick to the back of Killshot’s head. Crane hit Killshot with a brainbuster. The crowd chanted “both these guys”. Crane came at Killshot with a running elbow. Killshot came back with a running elbow of his own. Crane came back with a pump kick. Killshot came back with a thrust kick. Crane came back with an axe handle. They traded knees. They took each other out with pump kicks. The crowd gave them a standing ovation. Crane and Killshot struggled to get to their feet. Crane did a low shoulder tackle to come at Killshot. Nice touch. Crane spit in the face of Killshot when they stood up. Killshot whipped it on his hand and slapped Crane with that hand. Killshot then came at Crane with a nice CQC combo. The crowd chanted “fight forever”.
John’s Thoughts: Random fact, this show was taped a few weeks after Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura at Takeover: Dallas. So that’s why “Fight Forever” was fresh in the crowd’s minds.
Crane survived on his feet from Killshot’s CQC onslaught. Crane got some breathing room with a kick. Killshot managed to hit his nice corner swinging DDT. Killshot got a nearfall but didn’t allow for a reset by locking Crane in an armbar. Crane sold a shoulder injury as Killshot stalked the apron. Crane gave Killshot some right hands to gain a slight advantage. Crane went for a tornado DDT but Killshot caught Crane in a fireman carry and hit Crane with an Attitude Adjustment on the apron. Killshot went for the Kill-Stomp and hit it. Crane kicked out of Killshot’s finisher. Killshot went for a half nelson slam but was distracted by AR Fox who was standing in the rafters. Fox told Killshot that it wasn’t over between them. Crane took advantage of the distraction to hit Killshot with a Tiger Driver for the victory.
Jeremiah Crane defeated Killshot via pinfall in 13:07
Matt Striker said AR Fox and Killshot have feuded since Basic Training according to his sources. Striker said he truly believes that Killshot would have won if not for Fox. They showed the brackets and Jeremiah Crane was facing Taya in the next round. The lights went out and Catrina teleported in the temple. Crane stared at Catrina who held up her rock. Crane blew Catrina a kiss. Striker closed out the show as the credits ran…
But Wait? There’s More! In the post credits scene Dario Cueto was super hyped up for the final night of the first round of the Cueto Cup with a few hot matches including Sexy Star and Dragon Azteca in action. He was chatting to Son of Havoc. It wasn’t Son of Havoc as they tried to fool the crowd. We found out that this was “Son of Madness” who’s a Son of Havoc doppelganger? He’s a guy with a thick beard and Son of Havoc’s attire. Son of Madness also claims to be from “The Open Road”…
John’s Thoughts: To quote Bruno Mars, that was too hot, hot damn, call the police and a fireman. Search YouTube for “Killshot and Will Ospreay Uptown Funk” to find out why I made the reference. But seriously, that match was too hot, hot damn! Interesting story behind this. Speaking of funk, by the time this was taped, Will Pruett and I were in a real Lucha Underground funk with Season 2.5 sucking so bad. We also had low opinions of Killshot. So I was in the crowd here and had the lowest of expectations. Man, were those blown out of the water. Shane Strickland is amazing and he really does well when he gets to have longer matches. This was his best match to date but he’s also been putting on some stellar performances in season 3. Even the match I dub the worst match in Lucha Underground season 3, the WMD match, was still good from a wrestling perspective on his end.
Sami Callihan/Crane was great as well and I think he picked this up from his time in WWE. He’s extremely safe in the ring, even when doing a New Japan Never Openweight style match. The moves look stiff, but he just sells so well that it’s not stiff at all. Unlike the WMD match where there were standing stiff weapon shots, there were magic tricks used here. And ZERO weapons. This was a true war! This was the best match in Lucha Underground season 3 hands down. To keep up the hype regarding Killshot, there’s more to come [wink!]. I’ll have more to say in my LU Hit List and Member’s Audio Review.