By John Moore
Lucha Underground on El Rey Network
Taped May 2016 in Los Angeles, California at The Temple
This week’s intro teaser started out same as the intro teaser for the last month or so where Dario Cueto introduced the Cueto Cup and Rey vs. Mundo match. As for additional teasers, Matanza was teased for the first time in a while. PJ Black vs. Rey Mysterio from the prior episode was also recapped. This week’s episode was titled “The Hunger Inside”…
Dario Cueto entered Matanza’s cage area with a plate of raw meat. Dario said Matanza has been a slave to his hunger, hunger for revenge. Dario said the hunger makes Matanza weak and is what made Matanza put his hands-on Dario. Dario said the hunger allowed Matanza to be overpowered by Rey Mysterio. Dario said Matanza has the power of a god in the size of a man. Dario said Matanza must overcome man or else the gods will take away Matanza’s humanity. Dario said the gods can take away what’s left of Dario’s brother and destroy him. Dario gave Matanza the raw meat. Dario asked Matanza to control his hunger or else it will destroy them both. Matanza reached out for the meat and instead decided to stand and roar against the cage…
John’s Thoughts: As a little recap, Rey Mysterio was the first person to get a pinfall victory over Matanza. I like that they’ve kept Matanza off of TV for a while as it allows him to come back renewed (in real life, he was recovering from a serious injury where he accidentally punched a glass window – Will Pruett was in attendance at the taping where the injury occurred). What’s interesting about Dario’s promo, is how it’s a solid allusion to how Matanza really does have to overcome a lot to come off as a monster since he’s not playing the part well. It’s essentially the same criticisms that Will and I had about the Matanza concept.
At The Temple, El Conjunto Nueva Ola provided the house band music for the night. Matt Striker and Vampiro checked in on commentary. Striker recapped the Cueto Cup as a bracket graphic appeared on the screen. Vampiro hyped up Johnny Mundo vs. El Dragon Azteca Jr match for later on in this episode. Fenix got a full televised entrance. They kept cutting the camera to Melissa Santos to show you she has puppy love for Fenix. Rey Mysterio’s family was in the audience including a grown-up Dominic. Pindar was already in the ring…
John’s Thoughts: Lucha Underground, like most great serial TV shows, is at its best when stories are given organic development and subtle storytelling. This Fenix-Melissa thing is too on-the-nose. It’s also a bit of a credibility killer for Melissa who has come off as an absolute professional until she got this “role” as Fenix’s fangirl/girlfriend.
1. Pindar (w/ Kobra Moon) vs. Fenix in a Quarterfinal Cueto Cup match. Fenix scoped out Pindar to start the match. Fenix managed to get a rear waistlock. Fenix dominated initially in the kick battle. Pindar grounded Fenix with a boot to the face. Pindar maintained control with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. The crowd chanted “Animo” to rally Fenix. Fenix landed a three kick enziguri combo. Kobra Moon choked Fenix while Pindar distracted the ref. Pindar hit Fenix with a spinning wheel kick in the corner. Fenix came right back at Pindar with a punch-backfist combo. Pindar staggered Fenix with a strong forearm and launched Fenix with a monkey flip. Fenix rocked Pindar with some kicks. Pindar caught Fenix in the crossbody. Fenix escaped. Pindar hit a nice double underhook to a sideslam.
Vampiro pointed out the back pain that Fenix was selling. Pindar gave Fenix some headbutts in the corner. Fenix flipped out of the corner. Fenix hit a Disaster Kick on Pindar. Fenix gave Pindar a forearm to allow him to hit the German Suplex. Fenix gave Pindar a rising palm strike while he was on the top rope. Fenix executed an armdrag from the top rope and stayed up there to hit a diving double knee strike on Pindar to pick up the win.
Fenix defeated Pindar via pinfall in 5:19 to advance to the Semi-Finals of the Cueto Cup.
Striker talked about Fenix getting some revenge on Pindar for corrupting Drago… [C]
John’s Thoughts: I’m not 100% sure of my theory yet, but I’m pretty sure Fenix is the most over babyface in Lucha Underground given how the Temple have chosen him as their representative via crowd reaction. It’s Fenix’s popularity that has made Drago receive so much pure heat. To be honest, I would rather have Fenix stick to this feud with the Reptiles rather than Marty. I just don’t like the camera shots and editing that’s trying to force you to get into this Melissa and Fenix “relationship” that came out of nowhere!
Back from the break it was time for a Dario Cueto office cinematic where the entire Worldwide Underground were in Dario’s office. Dario asked Jack Evans about how the recovery to his jaw was coming along. Jack spoke but was inaudible. Dario made a smartass comment about how ironic it was that the loudmouth of the group got his jaw shut. Jack Evans tried to talk to no avail. PJ Black said Jack Evans was talking about ventriloquism and a vasectomy. Evans tried to say that PJ Black was wrong with the translation. Dario berated the Underground for failing even though they employ every underhanded trick possible. Dario Cueto then banned the Worldwide Underground from ringside for Mundo’s match or else he’ll take away their opportunity to win Medallions on next week’s episode as well as their jobs… [C]
John’s Thoughts: I raise an eyebrow every time they have the cinematics point out the problems in their wrestling booking philosophy. Dario Cueto pointed out that the Worldwide Underground are bumbling idiots and that Matanza’s character is weak in the same episode. Eh. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It allows them to own up to their mistakes and steer things back on track. In other news, the Gift of the Gods is back! Here’s hoping they find a way to utilize the medallions creatively rather than have them just be admission tokens.
2. Dante Fox vs. Prince Puma in a Quarter-final Cueto Cup match. Fox and Puma dodged each other’s moves to start off the match. Fox hit Puma with a Suicide Dive. Puma hit Fox with a Suicide soon after. Fox hit Puma with a Tope Con Hilo. Puma soon hit Fox with a corkscrew Tope Con Hilo. Fox hit Puma with a Tiger Feint Kick from the bottom rope. Fox went for a Shooting Star from the apron but was caught midair by Puma. Fox turned the reversal into a Tornado DDT. Fox worked on Puma on the outside. Back in the ring Fox went for a pin attempt. Puma and Fox had dueling chants from the fans.
Fox slowed things down with a thunder clap chinlock. Puma escaped and gave Fox some European Uppercuts. Fox blocked a backslide. Fox countered Puma into a cool Final Cut suplex. Puma tripped Fox with a low kick and followed up with the Tiger Feint Kick. Puma hit Fox with a high cross body block to get a nearfall. Puma went for a back suplex but it was blocked. Fox and Puma then ran the ropes like crazy. Puma hit an RKO outta nowhere and then hit Fox with a running shooting star press. Fox escaped the Benadryller. Fox hit Puma with a drop toehold, running senton through the ropes, assisted roundhouse, and then a springboard Codebreaker. Puma kicked out at two.
Puma escaped the fireman carry. Both men traded nearfalls. The next sequence was so crazy I can’t write it all. There were kicks into dropkicks into enziguris into lariats. Puma hit Fox with a Blue Thunder Bomb for the nearfall. Puma hit Fox with a forearm and double knee. Fox escaped the corner with a uranage. Fox hit Puma with a corner lariat and skinned the cat into a dropkick. Fox hit Puma with a cartwheel DVD. Fox was having fun at this point because he was smiling. Puma blocked Fox’s 450 splash and got a close nearfall. Fox dodged Puma’s Trouble in Paradise but not the three kick variants that followed.
Puma hit Fox with a northern lights into a vertical suplex. Nearfall for Puma. Fox kicked out of a dragon sleeper. Fox superkicked Puma on the top rope. Fox went for his springboard C4 but Puma held on to the ropes. Puma hit Fox with Super reverse exploder suplex from the top rope. Puma then hit a modified driver to get a nearfall. Puma pulled out an imaginary shotgun and followed up with a Shotgun Dropkick. This was the setup to a successful 630 Senton. Prince Puma picked up the win…
Prince Puma defeated Dante Fox via pinfall in 11:04 to advance to the Cueto Cup Semi-Finals.
Striker commended Dante Fox for putting in such a great performance. Killshot stormed the ring and gave Fox a double stomp. There were “Culero” chants from a portion of the crowd. Killshot hit Fox with a delayed One-Winged Angel. Matt Striker said “war is hell” (which makes me think of Ace Ventura pet detective for some reason). Killshot grabbed a mic for a promo. Killshot said Fox was right in this not being over between them. The show then abruptly cut to commercial… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Some people may not like all of the flips and stuff; but I have to say that was one hell of a crazy match. What else would you expect when you put AR Fox and Ricochet in the ring! That was amazing! Check this match out! Go! It does go against the narrative of Puma supposedly having a “darker” style, but that doesn’t matter when such a fun match comes from it. This reminds me of why I liked Lucha Underground initially back in season 1. This is why Ricochet is so important to the Lucha Underground promotion. That said, if Ricochet truly is leaving, AR Fox isn’t a bad replacement. How awesome is this Killshot vs. Fox series going to be?
It was LAPD time! Captain Vasquez was watching Ricky Reyes lose his matches as “Veneno”. Vasquez said that Cage was a god. Reyes said Cage wasn’t a god, he’s a machine. Vasquez said Cage was a murderer. Vasquez showed Reyes pictures of Cage blowing up the head of the LA City Councilman Delgado (played by Lorenzo Lamas). Reyes said they should arrest Cage. Vasquez said she would rather have the gauntlet. Reyes said nobody can take that thing away from cage. Reyes walked out. Vasquez pulled out her half of the female immortality medallion and told herself that Ricky may be right… [C]
John’s Thoughts: Just to recap, Vasquez is supposedly 1000+ years old due to this Aztec magic trinket that allows women to live forever without aging past 20ish. The supernatural stuff has made this awful LAPD storyline palatable. I’m also fine as long as they keep this away from being the main event. Last year, goofy cops Joey Ryan and Ricky Reyes were presented as the main event storyline.
3. Johnny Mundo vs. El Dragon Azteca Jr. in a non-title match. Azteca still looks like a parrot eating a watermelon! The parrot now has dreadlocks. Striker pointed out that Dominic was in the audience and how he last saw him at eight years old, which is around the time where Rey faced Eddie Guerrero on Smackdown for custody over Dominic. Mundo overpowered Azteca early on. Azteca slapped Mundo. Mundo and Azteca had a chain wrestling sequence. Azteca and Mundo dodged each other’s strikes. Azteca landed the last kick.
Mundo called for a test of strength but it was a trick to kick Azteca. Azteca hit Mundo with a springboard huracanrana. Mundo blocked a huracanrana with his core and gave Azteca a spinebuster on the outside. The camera cut to Dominic several times during this match. Mundo hit Azteca with his signature running knee. Mundo had a choke on Azteca with a wide foot base. Mundo hit Azteca with the flying chuck. The crowd called Mundo a princess. Azteca tried to roll up Mundo but Mundo came right back and beatdown Azteca in the corner.
Azteca backtossed Mundo to the outside and hit Mundo with a Tope Con Hilo. Azteca gained a nearfall in the ring. Azteca hit a triple kick combo on Mundo and a hanging knee legdrop which led to a nearfall. Mundo retreated to the turnbuckle. Mundo hit Azteca with an eyepoke. Vampiro talked about how the eye poke is a legit strategy in Krav Maga. Azteca hit Mundo with an overhead kick. Azteca blocked moonlight drive. Mundo hit a standing C4 on Azteca. Azteca staggered Mundo on the top rope and tried to pick up the win with a sunset flip. Mundo crotched Azteca on the top rope which put Azteca in position for Starship Pain. Mundo hit Starship Pain for the win.
Johnny Mundo defeated El Dragon Azteca Jr. in 8:58.
Azteca rolled on the ground selling crotch pain. Mundo jabbed Azteca with a chair and tried to guillotine Azteca with the chair. Rey Mysterio ran in and saved his student. Rey consoled Azteca in the ring. Mundo posed with the title up the steps. Rey Mysterio held up the hand of El Dragon Azteca Jr. Rey gave his family some hugs. After Rey left Mundo came back to chat with Dominic. Mundo pointed out how Dominic got bigger since we last saw him. Mundo called Rey “shit”. Mundo taunted Dominic. Dominic stood up and mouthed off with Mundo. We got a rare appearance from Lucha Underground security. Mundo ran to save his son but the Worldwide Underground held back Rey. Mundo hit Dominic with the Lucha Underground championship causing his mom to cry. Rey escaped and chased Mundo to the back. Lucha Underground ended with Rey checking up on his son as the credits rolled…
But wait! There’s more! Fenix walked Melissa Santos to her car. Melissa asked Fenix if he wears a mask all the time. Fenix said, not always, mostly when he fights. Melissa Santos made Fenix give her a piggy back. Marty the Moth was shown watching from afar. He said Melissa Santos will see how ugly Fenix is when he takes off the mask…
John’s Thoughts: Another good match for the episode and a good credibility booster for Johnny Mundo who is continuing to wipe away the midcard stank of being associated with the chickenshit Worldwide Underground faction. It was smart to give Mundo a dominating win heading into his title match. If I were editing I would have swapped the first and second match of the night since all we needed was a cooldown from that breakneck paced match right before. It was cool to see Dominic back. It also makes a bunch of us feel old because if you’ve been watching Smackdown for any length of time you can remember that Dominic was a little kid at one point and now he’s grown up.
This was a great episode of Lucha Underground and I would even recommend it as a standalone if you want three solid matches. The Dante Fox vs. Prince Puma match was a real treat and you should go out of your way to see it if you want to see some moves and counters that you’ve never seen in pro wrestling before. One more criticism. Whoever was editing this episode did a bad job with the camera cuts. I’m talking specifically about the overdone camera cuts to Melissa Santos and Dominic to try to tell a story with lack of subtlety. The Dominic camera cuts were particularly bad in that it gave away that there was going to be a post-match angle. I’ll have more thoughts on this episode in my Members’ Exclusive Audio review as well as Hit List.