By John Moore
Lucha Underground on El Rey Network
Taped Early 2016 in Los Angeles, California at The Temple
Yet again, the primary focus of the intro teaser was on the continuation of the Cueto Cup. Also getting recapped was Cage getting his magical gauntlet, Son of Madness, Dante Fox, and Rey Mysterio chatting with Prince Puma. This week’s episode was titled “Fade to Black”…
Prince Puma was staring at Downtown Los Angeles from the roof of the Temple. Puma flashed back and was haunted by Mil Muertes “killing” Konnan as well as putting Puma in the coffin. Vampiro was shown in the memory as “resurrecting” Puma. Puma had more flashbacks of getting beat up by Mil. Vampiro talked to Puma on the roof and said Puma must be getting some peace and quiet. Vampiro said there is only one way to quiet the voices. Puma said it was the Championship. Vampiro said the Championship is his purpose. Puma asked Vampiro what would happen if he doesn’t win. Vampiro said the visions will consume Puma until there is nothing left. Puma saw Johnny Mundo and the Worldwide underground walking into The Temple from the parking lot. “The Darewolf” PJ Black gave Puma a middle finger. Puma had visions of Mundo winning the championship. Puma said he won’t lose no matter what “my master”…
John’s Thoughts: So Prince Puma now has the same motivation as Kratos from the God of War series? The reason things don’t add up so much is because the championships in Lucha Underground don’t mean too much after the Matanza reign established the belt as a show opening title. I’m also not sure why winning the title will cause Puma to forget about Mil putting Konnan in a coffin? When Puma was champ, the title meant something. Since Matanza got the title and defended it in opening matches, the title has regressed in importance in the Lucha Underground world. This is also possibly a result of all the random tournaments, mcguffins (like the Cage glove), and new wrestler introductions. Lucha Underground should try to develop more rather than constantly adding new layers.
Matt Striker and Vampiro checked in from The Temple with El Conjunto Nueva Ola as the house band. Striker talked about Fenix, Mil Muertes, and Jeremiah Crane already advancing in the tournament. Striker passed it over to Melissa Santos who announced the next Cueto Cup match. Trios Champion Pindar was billed “From when Reptiles ruled the earth”. Cage came to the ring with his magic glove…
1. Pindar (w/ Kobra Moon) vs. “They Call Him” Cage in a second round Cueto Cup match. Referee Justin Borden ordered Cage to take off the glove. Cage ended up giving the referee an axe handle. Referee Borden waved to the time keeper while on the ground to stop the match.
Pindar defeated Cage via DQ in 0:32 to advance in the Cueto Cup Tournament.
Melissa Santos announced Pindar as the winner. Striker commended the referee for keeping the rules. Cage gave the referee a sitout front suplex. Cage raised his hand (w/ the glove) in the air while up the steps. Pindar celebrated his win… [C]
John’s Thoughts: The one misstep in Season 3.5 has been the development of Cage and his magic glove. It’s similar to how the Trios Titles degraded once put in the hands of the putty patrol guys. Cage has looked weaker since getting the glove even though it is supposed to give him powers. Of course he blew up the head of Lorenzo Lamas in a cinematic, but in the temple he had a competitive match against Vinnie Massaro and a nothing match against Pindar. He even beats up a ref for no reason while not looking very vicious doing so. Pindar was introduced as some sort of big deal by Drago, but so far he’s just a random lizard dude (even though he’s solid in-ring). This segment could have been reworked a bit to mean something but as it stands it was a waste of time with minute character development.
Before the match could start. Son of Madness blindsided Son of Havoc with a chain and tried to choke him out. Striker reiterated Vampiro’s point from the first round about this being some sort of biker gang quarrel. Havoc and Madness brawled in the crowd with Dante Fox confused as to why he wasn’t getting his match. Madness missed punching Havoc with a chain. Havoc ended up jumping into the chain. Fox smiled at Havoc getting knocked out. Dario Cueto walked out and said the Cueto Cup must continue and this match was not postponed. Cueto asked Havoc to choose to forfeit or fight the match after getting beat up. Havoc chose to fight… [C]
2. Dante Fox vs. Son of Havoc in a second round Cueto Cup match. Fox took advantage of a fatigued Havoc with a running boot. Fox put the boots to Son of Havoc. Fox kicked Havoc outside. Havoc did a running senton bomb over the turnbuckle to ringside. Fox hit Havoc with a guillotine legdrop on the apron. Fox sold tailbone pain due to the force of the legdrop. Fox hit Havoc with a Final Cut to get a nearfall. Havoc tried to springboard but Fox’s foot caught him. Fox put the brakes on a Senton. Havoc managed to wheelbarrow Fox into the steel barricade to get his first advantage in the match.
Havoc went for a springboard move but Fox flipped away from Havoc’s strikes. Havoc hit Fox with a pump kick. Fox was put on the top rope. Fox pushed Havoc off and kicked him to set him up for the Swanton Bomb. Havoc did hit signature rebound cutter to get a nearfall. Havoc hit a handspring back elbow. Fox reversed the fireman carry into a rollup. Fox hit Havoc with a leap up second rope C4. Fox and Havoc traded forearms on the apron. Havoc hit a pump kick. After a little struggle, Havoc hit Fox with an Attitude Adjustment to the ringside ground from the apron.
Havoc hit Fox with a footstomp to the back and standing Shooting Star. Fox dodged the top rope Shooting Star. Fox hit Havoc with the Brainbuster Suplex to pick up the win.
Dante Fox defeated Son of Havoc via pinfall in 9:07 to advance in the Cueto Cup Tournament.
Fox sold pain to the gut after the match. Fox did the finger gun point to Havoc. Striker hyped up Puma vs. Black in the main event… [C]
John’s Thoughts: There’s some smart booking here. Fox picks up a win over a seasoned vet in Lucha Underground while Havoc was protected due to the pre-match attack. It would have helped if the commentators put more emphasis on the pre-match attack playing a factor, but you can’t be perfect all the time. Fox is a freak athlete and smooth. The only change I would like to see from him is for him to tone down his cartoony facial expressions. Those expressions can work for a highly expressive person, but he plays a battle-hardened soldier who shouldn’t be shocked in most situations. Shane Strickland/Killshot has done a way better job at getting across the serious and stoic facials even through a mask. Killshot also only looks shocked when he found out that Fox wasn’t dead and even there he wasn’t cartoony.
It was cinematic time. Johnny Mundo introduced PJ Black and the Worldwide Underground to his new agent, Benjamin Cook (who looks like an actor, but I’m not familiar with who he is). Cook was a cliché d-bag agent. He accidently called Mundo “Mondo”. Cook said the other guys were good in addition to Mundo, except Mandel. Cook talked about how the Worldwide Underground should be the faces of the underground fight club known as the temple. Cook pitched being their representation. Cook told Black if he won later on, The Worldwide Underground would own Lucha Underground. Black left to his match as Cook chatted with Mundo about possibly getting along well with Dario Cueto…
John’s Thoughts: Mixed feelings on this new Benjamin Cook character. For one, the guy seems solid in the role as an agent character from an off-Broadway musical. On the other, I think he’s completely extraneous on so many levels. I’m not sure why they don’t just utilize Famous B in this role since that was what they were building up B for. I also don’t see the need for another douchey manager type played by an actor. Dario Cueto should stand alone in that. This also goes into my criticism that Lucha Underground tries to introduce too much “new” rather than season what they already have.
Striker hyped up Mack vs. Texano and Pentagon Dark vs. Drago for next week. Vampiro passed it over to Melissa Santos to introduce the main event… [C]
3. “The Darewolf” PJ Black vs. Prince Puma in a second round Cueto Cup match. Prince Puma walked to the ring wearing his black gym clothes. Black and Puma traded wristlocks and takedowns early on. Puma took off his tank top and sweater for this match. He wore black denim pants. Puma hit Black with punches which Striker pointed out was not usually how Puma fights. Black took down Puma with a sweep. Black tried to monkey flip Puma but Puma landed on his feet. Puma and Black traded headscissors and landed on their feet. Black acted afraid outside while Puma feigned a Tope in favor of his flip to the center of the ring.
Puma caught Black with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker in the center of the ring. Puma hit Black with a shotgun kick. Puma put the boots to Black in the corner which Striker said was a sign of a more aggressive Prince Puma. Black used the drop toehold to stagger Puma in the corner. Black hit Puma with a reverse Suplex into a dragon sleeper. Black let go on purpose to give Puma a few elbow strikes. Black used his hips to body stretch Puma. Black tried to pick up the win with a backslide. Black hit a spinning back kick on Puma. Black gave Puma the claw to the core. Puma turned the tide with a quick Tiger Feint Kick followed by a springboard clothesline.
Puma went for another springboard but Black gave Puma a boot. Puma came back with a boot, pendulum DDT, and standing Shooting Star. Black and Puma traded stiff arm shots. Puma reversed a backbreaker into a guillotine choke. Black converted the choke into a suplex. Puma escaped the crucifix. Puma hit Black with a running Cutter and cradle Suplex. Puma hit a jumping elbow and knee. Black counter with a popup cutter and flapjack slam. Black and Puma traded some awesome sounding kicks. They then moved on to punches. Then to low kicks. Then to Chops. Puma won the exchange with a Trouble in Paradise. Puma hit a Northern Lights to regular Suplex.
PJ Black came back with a back kick and lionsault. Puma caught Black. Black escaped but got crotched on the top rope. Puma took some time to rest. Black punched Puma off the top rope. Puma kicked Black. Puma hit Black with a reverse Frankensteiner. Puma put Black in position for and called for the 630. Puma and Black brawled on the top rope. Puma hit a standing Frankensteiner on Black. That took a lot of balance! Puma hit Black with a shotgun dropkick. Puma then (barely) hit the 630 to pick up the win.
Prince Puma defeated PJ Black via pinfall in 15:54 to advance in the Cueto Cup Tournament.
Matt Striker said there were two more matches to be had to fill out the next round of the Cueto Cup. Matt Striker closed out Lucha Underground with the credits rolling…
But Wait! There’s More! In this week’s post-credits, Dario Cueto received a phone call. Dario then had PJ Black walk into his office. Cueto said he was sorry that Black didn’t advance in the tournament. Cueto said that was Benjamin Cook on the phone who called 17 times to demand that Black gets another chance. Wow! How could he call 17 times in about two minutes? Black obviously walked from the ring to Dario’s office. Black pointed out the same point I just did. Cueto pulled out his phone cord because of another Cook call. Dario said Black will get a chance to redeem himself by facing Rey Mysterio next week. Black was happy at Dario’s decision. As Black left the office, Dario’s iPhone rang. Dario threw the phone in the trash since it was Cook calling again…
John’s Thoughts: That was a great main event matchup with both men doing more grounded moves than we’re used to seeing from them, but they did them in such a great way. This is another example of how PJ Black was damaged in season 2. They brought him in right after being a loser in WWE and GFW (Black was Next-Gen Champion but lost most of his TNA TV matches). In season 3, PJ Black hasn’t had a bad match yet and has been a nice surprise. If he wasn’t established as Mundo’s cannon fodder, he would be a possible main eventer in Lucha Underground. Luckily, he can benefit from Rickey Mandel being added to be the new cannon fodder guy. On the other side of the ring, Puma still does his cool high flying stuff, but also has added a lot of grounded aggression which plays well into his transformation into the more “Dark” Prince Puma. There were ups and downs in this episode, but the ups outweighed the downs. The first down was the Cage story and the apprehensive down was the introduction of yet another character. Big Ups for PJ Black! I’ll have more thoughts in my Members Exclusive Audio Review and Hit List.