– For clarification purposes, this is the second Lucha Underground report posted this week in an effort to catch up after some unexpected surgery. Whoops! If you missed yesterday’s write-up of episode 21, make sure you read that one first.
– In case you always skip the pre-show notes and still haven’t picked up on this, there are now legal ways to watch Lucha Underground online. You can check out the UniMas website for episodes streaming in Spanish or find El Rey Network on Sling TV for the English language version. Watch this show!
– If you’d like to read about previous episodes or catch up on the latest Temple news and gossip, 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 22 from April 8, 2015.
Over: As Always, Dario Cueto’s Actually Evil And Manipulative Machinations
It’s so refreshing to see an evil authority figure who is actually evil, and not because of bad wrestling writing reasons. He’s not an evil guy because they need an evil guy to move stories forward … he’s just a fundamentally cruel and self-obsessed pile of garbage. It’s WONDERFUL. He has two important masterstrokes in this episode:
1. He brings Konnan and Prince Puma into his office, where he has the Lucha Underground Trios Tag Team Championships laid out across his desk for no reason. Then he’s like, “yeah so you’re one of my stars, so you’re in this tournament whether you like it or not, and you have to find your own partners. Also, you’re facing King Cuerno in the tournament and in a singles match tonight. Also, King Cuerno’s bringing his trios partners to ringside and he’s basically assembled an evil wrestling Legion Of Doom and they’re going to kill you. Also, your title’s on the line. Deuces.” All Puma can do is wear his casual street clothes hoodie and shake his head in disappointment.
2. Last week, Cueto put Sexy Star on a team with Super Fly and Pentagon Jr. because he hates her and wants her gone, and knew it would implode. Super Fly ended up taking the pin and almost got his shoulder broken by Pentagon as punishment, but Sexy got all noble and jumped in to save him. Now Pentagon wants Sexy Star’s head. What does Cueto do? He puts SEXY STAR AND SUPER FLY in a match against one another, and makes it a mask vs. mask match at the last second to ensure they forgo the lucha sportsmanship pleasantries and fight to the death.
Cueto is easily the most reasonable and effective “heel GM” character I’ve ever seen. He does things that actually make him look like a scumbag, and “he’s so entertaining and good at being this character” is the only justification to like him. The show itself doesn’t give you reasons, because it shouldn’t. You shouldn’t be able to say “well, here’s why the rudos are right” like I do on basically every Raw.
Over: The Trios Tournament Continues, Or
Under: The Trios Tournament Is Almost Over?
Okay, so the Lucha Underground tournament to crown Trios Tag Team Champions is AMAZING. The only problem is that it’s the shortest tournament ever. Unless I misunderstood the announcers (and I’m too afraid to check Wikipedia and be spoiled), it’s three semi-finals matches and then the finals, which I guess is a triple threat. Lucha Underground just HUSTLES through booking sometimes because of the finite amount of episodes they have to work with, and sometimes that can be a detriment. Maybe I’m used to American pro wrestling’s meandering bullshit, but to go from “we’re having a trios tournament to name tag team champions” to “here are your new tag team champions” in like four weeks is a little much.
Anyway, this week’s opening match and the second semi-finals match in a tournament that is almost over is TEAM SUPERNATURAL GUYS (Fenix, Aero Star and Drago) vs. TEAM STOP HAVING A LOVE TRIANGLE (Son Of Havoc, Ivelisse and Angelico). It is BONKERS. It completely skips all match planning and is built around one guy accidentally falling to the outside and EVERYBODY IN THE MATCH doing dive after dive after dive after dive until one team loses. Sometimes that’s all a match needs to be, you know?
It also continues the plot thread that Dario Cueto has assembled exactly one team that works cohesively and shares a common goal (Cuerno’s team, which we’ll talk about a little later) and is just outright sabotaging everybody else for his amusement. He puts Son of Havoc, Ivelisse and Angelico on a team immediately following their creepy breakup and sexual harassment stuff because he knows they’re gonna fall apart, and they do. Ivelisse bails on Son of Havoc’s hot tag and leaves him to finish the match by himself. Pentagon Jr. obviously didn’t handle his team losing very well and is trying to murder both of his opponents, and even the tecnico team here is at odds with one another because Drago and Aero Star are four matches into a Best-of-5 series. I’m not sure what Cueto’s motivations are in setting up these scenarios to look legit on the surface and then undermining his own creations, but I guess that’s humanity, right? Hubris is the reason we do (and f*ck up) most of our efforts.
If you missed the match, Havoc goes for a hot tag at the very end and Ivelisse bails on it. Before she’s up the steps, Havoc manages to shit-can Aero Star and hit a shooting star press on Drago to pick up the solo win. It’s so weird that a Sons Of Anarchy-themed jobber with Stone Cold Steve Austin’s trunks on his face is such a cult hero at The Temple — especially when basically everybody else on the show is cool — but the heart wants what it wants. Havoc continues his rise to hero status and his sexually abrasive friends are along for the ride.
OVER: Prince Puma And Johnny Mundo’s Arnold 80s Action Movie Handshake
Cueto has told Prince Puma he needs to find two partners for the Trios Tournament, so Konnan goes out and recruits Hernandez, possibly the least trustworthy person in the history of pro wrestling. Like, he could’ve added Lex Luger to the team and there would’ve been less of a chance of a swerve. K-Dogg’s all, “we’ll find out a third guy soon” and the appearance of SILENT PARKOUR JOHNNY MUNDO alerts him to the reality that a third man’s already been found. To celebrate, Puma and Mundo share the greatest handshake I’ve ever seen in my goddamn life.
Marvel in the beauty of this thing:
That’s officially the best thing that’s ever happened on Lucha Underground. My new life goal is to be good enough friends with somebody dorky enough to do this with me on the reg. Roman handshake, arm wrestling handshake, daps. It’s a work of f*cking art. I instantly love both of these guys now, and I hope this isn’t the last time we see them shake hands. This was basically the opposite of Alberto El Patron threat-spooning Johnny in the bathroom last week.
Under: Mask Vs. Mask Matches With No Meaning (Which Is Totally Explained By The Announce Team, At Least), Or
Over: The Kind Of Match Women Should Be Having In Lucha Underground
Just to say it, an impromptu mask vs. mask match is SUPER against etiquette and feels wrong. That’s good, though, because that’s the point. Dario Cueto has no respect for lucha libre tradition and culture, so he’s got a natural way of undermining the honor and dignity of the tecnicos in the way someone who didn’t grow up with a reverence for Mexican pro wrestling might if he were suddenly running a lucha promotion. It makes total sense. It’s just wrong, man.
But anyway, Sexy Star’s forced to wrestle Super Fly and basically take his life a week after saving it.
It’s the kind of match women should be having in Lucha Underground. Sexy is treated as a top-level wrestler in a high stakes situation, and Super Fly just wrestles her like she’s a competent opponent. None of that hacky “I’m not gonna hit a girl” stuff, no underestimating her abilities, just two people with the same job in competition over something important. There’s a little bit of heat when Super Fly levels her and that’s to be expected because our society is f*cked and terrible to women, but the announce team does a good job of explaining that, too. Sexy’s BEEN that person in the f*cked up and terrible situation, and now she’s risen up to be an example of how you can fight back, and how when you get hit you can get up and hit back harder. Acknowledging the situation and moving on is a hell of a lot better and more productive than lingering on the “aw how could he yakuza kick THIS GIRL” stuff they do sometimes. He could yakuza kick her because they’re in a f*cking wrestling match and they’re wrestlers. Deal with it.
Sexy wins, too, and it’s not a fluke. She dodges a moonsault and pops La Magistral on for the duke, and it’s not treated like Super Fly should be embarrassed for losing to a girl. He lost to a good wrestler. So he has honor and accepts the stipulation and makes her take off his mask, and they celebrate each other when it’s done. That’s tradition. That’s honor. That’s what makes lucha libre great.
That, and the pissed-off skeleton ninjas who show up and ruin everything.
Over: SURPRISE, IT’S SKELETON DEATH
Sexy Star steps out onto the apron and THE BADDEST MAN ON THE PLANET shows up to knock her to the floor. Super Fly’s like, “hey what’s going on” and is immediately package piledrivered, because Pentagon Jr. will kill you in real life. A few seconds later he’s breaking that arm he’d promised to his dark master, and making sure to do it in Sexy’s line of sight. Because he is INFINITY PERCENT RUDO.
I couldn’t love this more. I also love that Super Fly lost his mask via La Magistral, then got his shoulder and arm snapped in a setup that ties up the arm in the same way. Physical psychology foreshadowing. Lucha Underground is my favorite thing.
Over: PUMA HOOD
I’m just typing the rest of the column in capital letters. I didn’t think Prince Puma could improve upon his Ken Shamrock in Champions handshake, and then he comes to the ring to face King Cuerno in cape with a giant puma head cowl. Unreal.
Over: King Cuerno’s Legion Of Doom
Cuerno reveals his Trios Tournament partners and they’re the most evil guys he could find without risking having his shoulder broken: Texano and Cage. I’m not sure how they got me to mark out this hard over a super villain team-up only 22 episodes in, but I’m all in on it.
Over: The Main Event
Unsurprisingly, the Lucha Underground Championship match between Prince Puma and King Cuerno is a good damn wrestling match. It’s two guys at the top of their game going nuts for ten minutes. You really can’t ask for more than that, and then whoops, Puma gives Cuerno’s severed deer head a kiss before hitting a 630 splash and everything everywhere is wonderful forever.
I’m not a huge fan of Cuerno losing all the time because he’s the only guy on the show I’d put in Pentagon’s league right now, but he’s a role player, and this was basically just an excuse to set up Puma/Mundo/Hernandez vs. Cuerno/Texano/Cage. I’m okay with that. A supplemental Over goes to Johnny Mundo for that insane dive he pulled that almost killed him, where he went tumbling sideways over the ropes, clipped his foot on a guy’s arm and basically fell over onto his head. He accidentally elbow drops Cuerno on the way down so it ends up looking awesome, but man, five more degrees of rotation and it could’ve been the end of his life. That’s scary.
So, we’re caught up. All that means is now I have to wait half a week to see the next episode. Maybe I should’ve waited until the first 40 episodes were out and binge watched them. Who does a guy have to attack with a steel cane to get a Season 1 DVD set of this when it’s over?