– If you’re a Temple regular or are planning to be in Los Angeles for this month’s Lucha Underground tapings, guess what? ME TOO. I’ll be there for this weekend of tapings, January 24 and 25. If you’re there and you read the column and/or have any idea who I am, make sure to say hello.
– As we always try to mention, you can watch these shows the legal way by having El Rey Network or UniMás. The El Rey website says streaming episodes are “coming soon.” Go to the site and type in your info, they’ll tell you where to watch it. If you don’t have any other option, it’s worth it to find them wherever you can find them, but you didn’t get that from me.
– If you’d like to read about previous episodes, head over to the Lucha Underground tag page.
– Shares, likes, comments and other social media things are appreciated. Tell @LuchaElRey that you read and love this column.
Please click through for the Over/Under on Lucha Underground episode 11 from January 21, 2015.
Over: The Crew
One of the most unexpected positives from this week’s episode is that it’s largely about The Crew, Big Ryck’s mostly non-descript posse of Hispanic thugs. “Gangbangers” as Vampiro calls them, but Striker makes a “gangbang” joke about 0.00005 seconds after he does so we’re gonna say “thugs.”
Anyway, the opening match is Cortez Castro and Mr. Cisco against the delightful team of Pimpinela Escarlata and Mascarita Sagrada, affectionately known in my brain as ESCARGRADA. Right off the bat The Crew shows more personality than ever, with Melissa Santos announcing “Cisco” and him aggressively correcting her and telling her to add the “mister.” I love that.
The match itself is built around Pimpi being Pimpi, just kinda hopping around and doing old person falls off the ropes while everyone runs around in a gay panic. In context it’s a lot more endearing than it sounds. The idea of the world’s most talented little person teaming with a 45-year old exotico is one of two reasons tag team wrestling exists. The other is “matching pants.” The Crew takes it with a flapjack/lungblower combination that Striker cannot WAIT to call every combination of WWE names in the world.
That brings Big Ryck into the ring to give a speech about how he’s going to go through anyone and everyone to get the Lucha Underground title. Surprisingly this motivates The Crew to jump him from behind, because hey, even hired goons are “anyone.” They get PROP BRUTAL with him, too, burning out his eye with his own cigar.
The announce team comments on the weird smell but kinda goes along with their day, and I’m like YO DID YOU JUST SEE THAT GUY GET HIS EYEBALL BURNED OUT BY A CIGAR? WHY ARE YOU CALLING THIS LIKE YOU JUST SAW A DISAPPOINTING ARMDRAG. Vampiro I can understand, I guess. He’s wrestled in a graveyard and once lit Sting on fire and threw him off a scaffold. He’s been around. Striker should be crapping his pants about this and breathlessly asking Vampiro if he thinks The Crew knows where he lives.
Note: If this leads to Big Ryck wrestling in an eye patch I am so in. It’ll be like Nick Fury having a baby with The Hulk.
Later, we find out more about the double-cross. The Crew has now cut out the middle man and are working directly for Dario Cueto, because he’s kinda dug himself in a hole and needs the protection. Lucha Underground’s character relationships are so well developed you can actually connect all these dots and blame Big Ryck for his own burned-out eyeball. He’s the one who used The Crew like foreign objects in no-DQ matches and disrespected them in Aztec Warfare. He’s the one who ran interference for Cueto in the first place and dicked Johnny Mundo and Prince Puma out of 100 grand. If he hadn’t done that, Mundo wouldn’t have come for Cueto and been able to blackmail him. If that hadn’t happened, Cueto wouldn’t need protection.
The best part is that Cueto pays them off and promises them more if they play ball, but still makes them say “yes sir.” Because he’s THE DEVIL.
Under: Two Small Complaints
1. In good fun, Pimpinela Escarlata’s gotta be the worst tag team partner ever. Mascarita Sagrada’s getting double-teamed in the ring and pinned and Pimpi’s outside “soaking it in.” It’s not like he had to fight off Bael. Nobody has to fight off Bael. Bael’s on the damn ground. Pimpi’s just clapping and staring at the crowd for a solid minute while they lose.
2. Can somebody teach Matt Striker how to say “Escarlata?” It’s like “scarlet.” The Scarlet Pimpernel. It’s not “Esca-larta.” It doesn’t seem like a huge discrepancy when you aren’t a native Spanish speaker, but it’d be like Michael Cole repeatedly calling Randy Orton “Randy Otron.”
Over: Fantasy Booking The Mysterious Asian Lady
The sneaky Asian lady who wandered into the Temple from The Nebuchadnezzar via landline phone keeps downgrading, and now she’s just working security. I would die if the payoff to this was that she just liked going to wrestling shows and hung out for a few episodes until she could talk to someone about helping set up. Like, that’s the entire story of mysterious Asian lady. We just think she’s mysterious because she’s Asian.
Over: Any And Every El Mariachi Loco Appearance
As we previewed in this week’s exclusive clip, Sexy Star takes on my vote for the very best (and possibly worst) character on the show: El Mariachi Loco, the former restaurant hand turned dancing luchador. The announce team explains that he works for tips, and that when his match is over he walks around and collects dollar bills from the audience. I just want to Citizen Kane clap everything he does.
It’s a great match for Sexy Star, too. Since debuting in Lucha Underground, she’s been portrayed as the great underdog. Battling to prove herself against Son Of Havoc, battling to prove herself against Chavo Guerrero, and so on. Here, she’s presented on a more level playing field. She’s just a wrestler. She beats El Mariachi Loco without someone having to come out and help her do it, which is GREAT if you want to keep her moving forward as one of your marketable stars. A woman competing at this level shouldn’t be a novelty; it should be a new establishing of the rule. If you’re a good wrestler, you’re a good wrestler. You might be smaller, but not everybody bigger than you is better. The genitals aren’t as important as you think.
(I’m bringing so much money to the Temple for El Mariachi Loco, by the way.)
Under: Striker’s Choices For The Greatest Women’s Wrestlers Ever
Trish Stratus, Lita, the Fabulous Moolah and Sherri Martel. Hey Matt, you aren’t under WWE contract anymore, you don’t have to pretend Trish and Lita were good. Weren’t you just in Japan? Couldn’t somebody toss you a Manami Toyota comp? Even Vampiro’s like “Moolah maybe, but Jesus Matt, get your shit together.”
Over: Pentagon Jr. Greater Than
Another character getting a much needed breather is Pentagon Jr. He was brought in as a guy so evil even the other rudos couldn’t work with him … a guy who got thrown out of every wrestling establishment in Mexico and had to go to Japan to train. He briefly found a partnership with Chavo Guerrero, but Chavo’s the ultimate scumbag and betrayed him the first chance he got. Now Pentagon’s alone, again, and looking for a friend.
Pentagon takes on Super Fly, who’s one of those guys you feel like makes a better impression in AAA than in The Temple. There’s just nothing to him. He flips a lot and he seems good at that, but he doesn’t do a lot of moves. He just flips. He’ll run to the ropes, flip off and land on his feet while his opponent’s standing 10 feet away. He seems like he’s in it for the jumping. I dunno.
Pentagon rules, though. Everything he does looks great and has a purpose. He puts Super Fly away and announces that he’s THE MOTHERF*CKER (not his words) and that he’ll find SOMEBODY who appreciates him. I love the idea of Pentagon Jr. as the lion with a thorn in its paw, lashing out and scaring everybody because he can’t find a mouse to pull it out.
Under: Last Luchador Standing
I don’t want “under” to make you think I thought this week’s main event was bad, but it was a little disappointing.
Since the show started, one of the most interesting rivalries has been King Cuerno vs. Drago. A legendary hunter who wears a deer body to the ring “hunting” a reincarnated dragon in the body of a luchador. One’s great with a bow and arrow. The other’s great with nunchucks. You can’t get much more WAIT I WANNA SEE THAT than that.
This is the blowoff to their feud, operated under Last Man Standing rules. Instead of pinfalls and submissions, you win by beating your opponent so badly they can’t answer a 10 count. Last Man Standing matches are always (always) better on paper than in practice, because the whole “pinfalls and submissions” thing is what makes wrestling exciting. It’s what makes it work. It teases wins and losses in these organic, living moments of competition. Even the BEST Last Man Standing matches are build around asking an audience to sit still and watch someone lie on the ground doing nothing for 9 seconds.
It’s especially weird when the last Cuerno/Drago confrontation ended with Drago jumping off Dario Cueto’s office and putting the King through a table. It was a big time spot that took both men out. This match doesn’t up the ante. It devolves the beef a little. If the biggest thing you can do is a splash from the office through a table and you know you’re gonna have a Last Man Standing match, shouldn’t that be here? We get a driver from the apron through a table that’s pretty cool, but from the opening moments it’s just Cuerno and Drago taking turns hitting moves and waiting to see if it works. I just wanted more, you know?
I also really disliked the finish. It’s the John Cena Last Man Standing finish. The idea of the match is that it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt you’re the tougher fighter. You can’t surprise anyone or roll them up and get a flash win, you have to beat them within an inch of their life and break their will. Instead of that happening, John Cena will come up with a “cute” way to win, like duct taping Batista’s ankles together so he can’t stand up. And it’s like yeah, he technically “won” the match, but he didn’t prove anything. He didn’t follow through with the promise of the match. Here, Cuerno puts Drago through a table and gets close to winning, but gets pissed when Drago starts to stir. Instead of following up with another big move, Cuerno puts Drago in the corner and uses a bungee cable to tie him down in the corner. The referee considers this being “down” and counts to 10, and that’s it. Can you lose a Last Man Standing match in a sitting position? Like, if you sit down at the beginning of the match can you be counted out? Are we taking “standing” too literally?
The worst part is that the announce team states that this is the definitive end of the feud, and Cuerno puts his deer head on Drago like he’s accomplished some great feat. If he’s the rudo — and he is — the story should be that he won via crummy trick. Instead, Drago sells it like he’s dead and defeated. Why, because dude tied you up? How does that prove anything? Why did that knock you out?
Ah well. The good thing about Lucha Underground is that disappointments seem like a fluke, and not the status quo. Big Ryck shows up in an eye patch and I’ve forgotten everything that let me down.