Previously on Lucha Underground: Everything. This is it.
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And now, the Over/Under on Lucha Underground season 3, episode 40, Ultima Lucha Tres part four, originally aired on October 17, 2017.
Over: The Wrestling
Before I talk about the specifics of anything, I need to state the obvious: this is the season finale of Lucha Underground, building on three years of story and character development, so the wrestling part of the wrestling show is super good. Like, as good as Lucha can get. Puma and Mundo could have a great match with their eyes closed, but Dragon Azteca Jr. vs. Matanza in a cage was the right kind of undercard spectacle and the triple threat might’ve stolen a show with Hell of War on it. Just spectacular all around.
And unlike some installments of Ultima Luchas past, each match was very different. Ultima Lucha tends to lean towards “this is the blowoff, so go outside of the ring and do a stunt through something.” Doors, bleachers, windows, whatever. Scaffolds. The two-hour finale had a really great “three ring circus” atmosphere. Dragon/Matanza had a big spot, but was built around a nice underdog vs. EXTREMELY OVERDOG story. The triple threat was gory and violent. Puma/Mundo was all about athleticism and timing, and did what Lucha does best in tying together multiple storylines in an exciting way that makes senses and feels like it rewards you for watching. Puma/Pentagon at the very end was an emotional gut punch.
The very best wrestling shows are the ones that give you a little bit of everything, and this was the very best wrestling show.
Over: The Land Of (Seemingly) Forgotten Plot Threads
I think my favorite thing about the episode is how they brought back so many plot threads I thought they’d either forgotten or purposely abandoned. Let me just break down a few of them.
During Matanza vs. Dragon Azteca Jr., Black Lotus shows up at the top of the cage, jumps on Azteca and helps Matanza get the win. She and Dragon fought to a no contest back at Ultima Lucha Dos. But then, when you think she’s still on Dario’s side, she reveals that she knows Dario lied to her about who killed her parents. Matanza attacks and drops her, and Dario confidently agrees that he’s a liar. Combine that with Rey Mysterio trapped in a cage at the end, and — assuming Dario survives, more on that later — that’s a hell of a set-up to continue the story into season 4.
The season-ending video package (which is always the best part of the season, don’t @ me) has SO MUCH going on.
- Firstly, there’s Sexy Star getting another spider delivered to her during a press thing, reminding us that (1) whoever the spider lady is, she’s still out there, and (2) Sexy Star is definitely dying off-screen between seasons 3 and 4 via “pile of spiders.”
- Then you’ve got Daga returning, tying in his almost-relationship with Kobra Moon to her current Reptile Tribe. Oh, and he cuts off Pindar’s goddamn head to take his rightful place at the top of the snake-man food chain. Holy shit.
- We get the first appearance (?) of the actual Dark Master Vampiro’s been serving, who appears to be an EVEN MORE EVIL SKELETON MAN. Which makes sense, I guess, as Pentagon had to get the idea of being a pissed-off ninja skeleton from somewhere.
Oh, and let’s not forget this:
OVER: MY FAVORITE
Mil Muertes defeats The Man We Call Cage Because They Call Him The Man They Call Cage And We Are They and Jeremiah Crane in a triple threat elimination match for possession of whatever their version of Wolfram & Hart is called’s magical Gauntlet of the Gods. Mil celebrates, because the Power Glove is so bad, and this happens:
I have been waiting for this all season. Regular readers may know that King Cuerno is my absolute JAM, and probably the only guy on the roster I’d take over Pentagon. Dude is absolutely phenomenal, wears Dwight Yoakam-ass street clothes with his luchador mask, only owns one casual dress outfit, and has a room full of stuffed collectables and memorabilia that once included Mil Muertes’ dead body. He rules. I was in a theater watching this, and when Cuerno showed up I instinctively screamed YES and threw up my arms and started raucously clapping.
Cuerno claims the gauntlet for his own and puts it on display in his office or cabin or whatever:
I love that he took it and even tried it on, but doesn’t necessarily care to wear it and become a God. King Cuerno is the best, and should season 4 occur, I am counting on him to be one of the main characters. He’s too good to waste.
Over: Un Film De Taya
I think my favorite loose end that gets tied up is Taya’s film about Johnny Mundo. She’s been shooting it all season, and it’s one of those things you never really expected to see. You were just like, “oh, okay, Taya’s filming them.” It was a good excuse for their promos to be weird. Now it’s an actual short film, shown in its entirety, and it’s so wonderful I can barely describe it. I feel like Ricky Mundo trying to explain why Johnny’s good.
There’s so much. SO MUCH. You’ve got star wipes. You’ve got the return of the hilarious EAGLE SCREECH sound effect when Johnny’s on the roof of the Temple making bird arms. You’ve got Ricky talking about how hanging out with Johnny is what people must’ve felt like hanging out with Jesus or Buddha. Taya’s narration, where she says things like “trez” instead of “tres.” So passively heelish. You’ve got an appearance from Dario Cueto, where he does this:
And when Taya’s in his office, you’ve got her shooting “cool shots” from in front of Dario’s nameplate and with the bull in focus and Dario out of focus like a high school A.V. club member trying to shoot a Lucha Underground backstage segment. I could watch this a dozen times and find something new to laugh about each time.
I swear, this episode makes every problem I had with the season feel irrelevant. Great action, great storytelling, great comedy, great everything. [EAGLE SCREECH]
Over: The End
I don’t want this to be how Lucha Underground ends. I don’t think this is how Lucha Underground ends. But if it is, they couldn’t have come up with a better ending.
So you’ve got Johnny Mundo vs. Prince Puma for the Lucha Underground Championship in the main event of Ultima Lucha. It’s a callback to season 1, episode 1. It’s as defining of the show’s arc and legacy as you can get right now. The match itself is incredible, because of course it is. I can never quite wrap my head around Puma’s double jump shooting star to the outside. Human beings aren’t supposed to float like that.
The match is, of course, built around the idea that Johnny’s going to bring out the Worldwide Underground to cheat for him. They do, all three of them. Before they can finish off Puma with a con-chair-to, another plot thread is tied up: Angelico returns, lighting up everyone in the Worldwide Underground and sending them packing. Rick Knox even hits a plancha on them, kind of, in response to them constantly fucking with him.
But — and this is important — the outside interference doesn’t directly cause the finish of the match. Like Goldberg helping Eddie Guerrero defeat Brock Lesnar, it’s help, not the reason. You’ve gotta leave the reason to the men in the ring, otherwise you’re invalidating the entire experience. Puma and Mundo resume their beef, with the thought that they might Fight Forever, and then Puma does it: he saves his career and wins the Lucha Underground Championship for the second time. The only person to ever do that. The one who deserves it most. The protagonist, period. We’ve lost our link to him, and some of the rudo-ass Believers boo him, but he’s The Guy.
And then, uh ….
In what may end up being his final act of cruelty, Dario Cueto announces that there’s one more match on the card: Pentagon Dark cashing in his Gift of the Gods Championship for a CAREER VS. CAREER MATCH with Puma. Before it even really gets started, Pentagon breaks Puma’s arm. Puma pops it back into place, tapes it up, and keeps going. Not since Grave Consequences has Lucha Underground the TV show gotten such a pitch-perfect illustration of what makes lucha libre pathos and storytelling so engaging.
Puma fights as hard as he can, but you can’t spend nearly an hour fighting Johnny Mundo and his entire team, get your arm broken, and still defeat Pentagon Dark. Especially not when Vampiro’s at ringside to pull Pentagon out of the way of the 630, revealing his super secret plan to screw Konnan’s protege out of his career. Who knew? Maybe don’t trust a dark vampire lord who brought you back from the dead? Pentagon finishes him off, wins the Lucha Underground Championship, and retires Prince Puma.
First of all, fuuuuck the people na na na na hey hey hey goodbying Prince Puma as he’s leaving. Penta’s my dark master too, I love him and I’m happy he won the belt, but that’s Prince Puma, y’all. Most of the crowd comes around to a “thank you Puma” chant, but man. The good news is that Puma’s off to be a popular television millionaire, and/or a guy losing to Enzo Amore via roll-up on 205 Live. His Lucha send-off with the SPIDER-MAN NO MORE shots were beyond perfect. Thank you for everything, and for helping make this show as good as it is for four years and three seasons.
And finally, in a moment of ultima comeuppance, Dario Cueto gets his.
Agent (Godfrey) Winter shoots Cueto in the gut for losing the Gauntlet of the Gods. That’s seriously how they’re ending this season. The good news is that Cueto gasps back to life for at least a moment, long enough to call “Puma” on his rotary phone before he passes.
Point one, who’s he calling? The guy on the phone was speaking Spanish, and Prince Puma wasn’t not from Kentucky, so is he talking to Puma II? Puma Sr.? Whoever it is, I hope season 4 starts with them picking up Puma’s mask, lacing it up and hitting Godfrey with a double springboard something. I could get into a Prince Puma II. Put Keith Lee in the mask, I don’t care.
Point two, how funny/sad is it that Dario Cueto’s life could’ve been saved if he’d only owned a touch-tone phone?
CORRECTION EDIT: I wasn’t 100% on what Cueto said originally, so I checked closed captioning to confirm it. According to someone who would obviously know, the closed captioning on this was wrong.
And the like on this tweet confirms he said “papa,” not “Puma,” so that’s a totally different can of worms. But still, giant Prince Puma, not a terrible idea.
In The End
Bill Hanstock got to go to this taping (16 months ago, Jesus), so I got him to write up his thoughts.
At the time I attended the final taping for Ultima Lucha Tres, I had been to maybe half a dozen tapings at the Temple. The crowd that packed into the Temple in Boyle Heights every week at that time was, by and large, regulars – particularly the Faithful in the bleacher seats, as you well know if you’ve watched a few episodes of the show.
At the time Ultima Lucha Tres taped – which was a long time ago at this point – the buzz surrounding the show was arguably at its highest. The episodes currently on television when this taping occurred were killing it every week, word of mouth and the groundswell of support were growing, and fans were all in on every performer on the card.
When the main event rolled around, the Temple was the loudest I’d ever heard it. Louder than the Weapons of Mass Destruction match, louder than Rey Mysterio, or the debut of Dr. Wagner … louder than just about any non-WrestleMania show I’ve ever been to, honestly. When Puma regained the title, the roof came off the place. Everyone was elated. It was bedlam.
Then Pentagon came out, and it got louder. Then Pentagon won the title, and it became deafening. It was something incredibly special to be a part of, and I’ve been sitting on that feeling for nearly a year and a half before finally getting to share it with everyone else in the world who wasn’t in the Temple that day.
I’m glad you finally all get to see it for yourselves. Viva Lucha Underground.
I could write a eulogy for the show here, but I’m not. It’s not dead. Neither is Dario. Hell, we’ve seen multiple characters die just to get brought back to life. Whether we get taped ribs Dario, telenovela comatose Dario, zombie Dario or whatever, we’re getting him back. We’ll get the show in one form or another. If we don’t, we’ll make it ourselves. They don’t call us Believers because we think we’re losing it forever.
Thank you, infinitely, for this show. I plan on typing a lot of shit in capital letters when the season four trailer drops. You could say I don’t have any miedo about it.