Welcome to the Over/Under of Lucha Underground for season 3 episode 11, featuring Aztec Warfare 3. If you need to catch up — if you aren’t caught up, you should need to catch up — you can read about season 1 here, and season 2 here. Season 3 episode recaps can be found here.
Re-post: If you’re still wondering how to watch the show, it airs every Wednesday night on El Rey Network. If you don’t have El Rey on your cable system, you can get it on Sling. If you can’t do that, you can download the episodes on iTunes. They’re selling a “season pass” right now where you can get every new episode right after it airs. If you can’t do that, and you demand viewing information without just being a cheapskate and googling “watch lucha underground online free,” I don’t know what to tell you. Watch the show.
And now, the Over/Under on Lucha Underground season 3 episode 11, originally aired on November 16, 2016.
Over: Aztec Warfare 3
If you’re a Lucha Underground regular, you know that Aztec Warfare is not only one of the best episodes of the year, it’s the match that brings the season into focus, ties all the preexisting storylines together and sets the stage for the next 20-or-so episodes between it and Ultima Lucha. If you’ve been on the fence about any season, Aztec Warfare usually waltzes in and corrects that for you. If you want to read about the original Aztec Warfare you can do that here, and you can read about its masterpiece sequel here.
One quick “under” before we get going though:
Under: The Announce Team
I’ve tried to chill a little this season and not pick apart everything Matt Striker and Vampiro say, but they were like the greatest hits package of the worst of themselves on this episode.
First of all, we’re back to all the women being seductive. I don’t know if Striker’s ever actually been seduced by a woman, but his idea of seduction is existence within proximity. Mariposa shows up and he’s like THERE SHE IS, THE SEDUCTIVE MARIPOSA, when all we’ve seen her do is beat up dudes in a parking lot, abduct a lady and like, get weird with her brother. Also, she’s a moth woman. Not exactly a Brian De Palma erotic thriller happening in the ring. Vampiro gets in on the action, too. The Black Lotus Clan debuts and kicks Pentagon’s ass, and the second (the second) they’re out of the ring, Vamp is like, “they’re hot!” They are, and that’s fine to say, but they also did other things that are probably more important to the story, bro. More important to YOUR PERSONAL STORY you’ve been trying to tell for like three years.
Second of all, Matt Striker was at his most Matt Striker-y here. Oh my God, dude had six improv’d Bible verses for literally everything that happened. AND THE LORD SAYETH LET THERE BE LIGHT, FOR IT IS HE WHO SHALL STAND AMONGST THE GODS AND SPARKLE WITH RELEVANCE AS THE SOOTHSAYER RICKY MANDEL DOES A REGULAR ARMDRAG. It’s like Mauro Ranallo joined a cult. Does he get paid by the word?
Okay, now that that’s out of the way, let’s break format a little to discuss the 10 Best Things That Happened During Aztec Warfare 3. In no particular order.
BLACK LOTUS CLAN
Since I mentioned it already, here’s the in-universe, technically in-ring debut of the Black Lotus Clan, last hinted at and shown in ski masks way back in episode 4. Turns out the clan is Black Lotus flanked by Mayu Iwatani, Io Shirai and Kairi Hojo from the STARDOM promotion in Japan. Yes yes yes yes. As a heads up, Hojo’s got the best goddamn elbow drop in the entire world. Adding them to the roster is one of the best ideas LU’s had all year. Probably ever.
They show up to wreck Pentagon Dark, who as you may remember showed up in the middle of Ultima Lucha Dos and broke Black Lotus’ arm. They hit him with … pretty much everything, and Johnny Mundo steals the pin. A favorite to win the match gets eliminated, and Pentagon Jr./Dark once again falls victim to his own massive, inscrutable balls.
Johnny Mundo is absolutely incredible all night, and is the match MVP without a doubt. He opens the show by confronting Dario Cueto in the hallway, revealing that Taya’s filming a documentary about him, showing us his entrance number (12), telling Dario to just play along for the cameras and demanding his Gift of the Gods title shot against whoever ends up champion tonight. He wants the champ at their weakest, and he also wants to just use his shithead friends to help him win the match so he’ll be champ AND #1 contender. It’s a good plan, honestly, and plays on a very obvious loophole WWE often forgets. Like, what WOULD happen if somebody won the Money in the Bank briefcase, but went on to win the title without cashing it in? They’d just have a sweet briefcase and nobody to suddenly challenge them all year. Anyway, Cueto hates Mundo’s guts forever and tears his number in half, making him enter at #2 for showing ass to him.
Mundo in the match is wonderful. The highlight of the entire thing is him sneaking into the ring to steal pins. He does it when the Black Lotus Clan attacks Pentagon Dark, and he does it again later in the match when Matanza cripples Rey Mysterio. Both times he pumps his fists and screams YEAHHHHH like he actually did something. Also great: him hiding under the ring for half of it.
Worldwide Underground, Just In General
As you might’ve guessed, the glory of Mundo extends to the entire Worldwide Underground, who are at their Backflipping For No Reason best. They ALL hide under the ring at one point, and just routinely pop into the ring to do wacky poses — like a triple handstand handshake, which is next level — and take opportunistic pins. Jack Evans is like, right behind Matanza in eliminations, and he isn’t really straight-up eliminating anybody.
Here they are dragging Sexy Star around the ring to help Mundo eliminate her, after Evans and PJ Black have both been eliminated. It’s no disqualification, why wouldn’t you just stay out there if you could, you know?
When they’re about to put her away, we get a moment we’ve been waiting for for a while:
Welcome Back, Angelico
Angelico returns in the only way he knows how … by diving off the roof of Dario Cueto’s office onto all three members of Worldwide Underground, knocking them out and not only saving Sexy Star, but setting her up to crawl over and get the pinfall on Mundo. Once again, the lady who refuses to be afraid gets the best of the most arrogant and secretly most afraid guy on the show. That’s what you get for slamming a dude’s leg in a car door, J-Mu.
So glad he’s back. Just sad he got his return the episode after Ivelisse got injured again. We’re never getting the band back together, are we?
The Little Stories
As always, Aztec Warfare isn’t just about tying together the big narratives, it’s about acknowledging ALL the show’s stories. For example, Mascarita Sagrada enters and gets instantly eliminated by a massive, MASSIVE extra-spin Wrath of the Gods from Matanza. Famous B hops up and down at ringside, laughing at him.
Later in the match, Famous B enters. The only guy standing in the ring when he does is Rey Mysterio Jr., who happens to be not only the most famous person in the company, but arguably the most famous lucha libre star of all time. B is starstruck, gives him a 423-GET-FAME card and gets aggressive about how Rey knows “423” is his number. Rey’s like, “no, 619,” 619s him and eliminates him. How’s that for comeuppance and symmetry?
Also great are the callbacks:
187 On An Undercover Cop
Joey Ryan managed to stay in Aztec Warfare 2 for something like 40 minutes thanks to his ingenious plan of handcuffing himself (with police handcuffs, cough) to the outside railing. Falls only count in the ring, so there’s no way he could be eliminated, right? Well, aside from the “what do you do when it’s down to you and one other person, like, how do you win,” Joey didn’t take THE MONSTER MATANZA CUETO into consideration. Matanza ripped him off the gate, turned him into a baby oil stain in the middle of the ring and eliminated him.
This year, Joey decides to play it smart again. Matanza’s already in the match, so he can’t be taken by surprise. Plus, he can chain himself to those railings along the entrance steps, which would be nigh impossible to break. What he doesn’t consider this time is that the next dude out is fucking MIL MUERTES. Mil slowly walks down the steps, breaks Joey’s handcuffs — didn’t think about that, I guess — baby oil stain, yadda yadda.
Ah well, he’s still doing better than Cortez Castro. Or Mr. Cisco.
The Big Showdown
One of my favorite images from the match is Matanza and Mil Muertes independently destroying someone, then ending up face-to-face while they make covers. That’s just beautiful staging. I love that there’s still no clear answer as to which one of them is truly more powerful, and aside from them both falling through a roof and almost killing everyone involved, it’s gonna be a while before we find out.
And speaking of Matanza …
Matanza Gets Got
GOD DOWN! GOD DOWN!
In the biggest shocker of the match, Matanza Cueto gets pinned. It happens at the end of a long string of finishers and signature moves, with everyone remaining in the match teaming up to hit Matanza with everything they’ve got, culminating with two 619 attempts from Mysterio — one successful, one not — and a counter into a sunset flip bomb for the flash three. Dario’s hubris sent Matanza in at #1, and it blew up in his face.
I also love them trying to actually address another couple of loopholes by having Dario tell the referee he makes the rules, and trying to keep Matanza in the ring. If Matanza just destroys everyone, Dario can say he’s still the champ, right? So Matanza absolutely RUINS Mysterio, leaving him prone for an elimination from Mundo. But instead of sticking around, he goes against Dario’s orders, flips out, shoves Dario on his ass and leaves. It’s Matanza’s choice, and that keeps him from staying and exploiting the evil GM “what I say goes” Eric Bischoff-level bullshit. Sorta like how Angelico’s dive eliminated the chance of Worldwide Underground running back out and nerfing Sexy Star.
The Way Willie Mack Sells A Flatliner
Jesus Christ, dude.
Sexy Star, Lucha Underground Champion
Say what you will about Sexy Star’s wrestling ability. She’s not as athletically balanced as a lot of people on the roster. She’s not as smooth. Her moves aren’t great, and sometimes what she does is truly unbelievable. But what she IS is one of the very best entertainers in the company, and she’s as good at telling a story in the ring as anyone they’ve got.
That’s proven here, when the match comes down to Mil Muertes and Sexy. Completely outmatched, Sexy has to somewhat literally fight for her life, hitting Mil with everything she’s got. She hits him with multiple chairshots to the face, but it’s not enough to keep him down. She dodges a spear in the corner, causing Mil to crash through a table, but it’s not enough to keep him down. She keeps fighting and coming up short, but she doesn’t give up.
I think the real money of the entire episode is the shot of that row of women watching Sexy get deposited on the top rope, and their fear that she’s gonna get Flatlined through a table and, again, possibly literally murdered by the literal murderer she’s trying to beat.
Sexy manages to push him off through the table, and the women cheer. She leaps off with a double stomp to the chest, grabs Mil’s leg with everything she’s got, and … gets the pin. And becomes the champion. For real.
She had to fight the entire Worldwide Underground. She had to survive Matanza AND Mil Muertes. She had to survive Marty the Moth and Mariposa being in the match. She had to lean on her friends for a little help, and she had to stand and fight against all odds for all the women who desperately needed to see her win. And she did. And that’s awesome. That’s the kind of moment where the parts of wrestling that aren’t wrestling become the most important. That’s unforgettable.
Of course, let’s not forget that Johnny Mundo is cashing in his Gift of the Gods Championship next week, and that Sexy overcame Worldwide Underground and pinned Mundo in Aztec Warfare. There aren’t a lot of happy endings in Lucha Underground, so I’m guessing her reign as champion lasts about a week, but it doesn’t take away the moment. Nothing ever takes away the moment.
And hey, that Mundo documentary’s gonna be great.