– 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.
And now, the Over/Under on Lucha Underground episode 23 from April 15, 2015.
Over: Omnipresent Dario Cueto
Earlier today on Twitter, somebody asked me if I liked NXT or Lucha Underground better. I didn’t answer, because the answer varies. That said, this week’s NXT opened with Solomon Crowe wrestling CJ Parker. This week’s Lucha Underground opened with Aero Star standing outside of The Temple staring up at the heavens to help him find a way to defeat Drago in the 5th match of their Best-of-5 series, and Dario Cueto creeping up behind him to be the devil on his shoulder and condescendingly tell him he hopes he sees a shooting star. So, to answer your question, Lucha Underground.
There’s a great follow-up segment, too, with Cueto creeping up behind Drago in the restroom and pulling the same act. That’s thematically appropriate because the first time they talked — on the night of Drago’s debut in the Temple — they had a discussion there. Both times Cueto told Drago to impress him, and both times Drago won. That Temple men’s room mirror has weird motivational properties. It’s like the opposite of the NXT Oculus that turns girls heel.
Over: Trios Trios Trios!
The first match of the show is a goddamn blockbuster: Prince Puma, John Mundo and AIR NANDEZ (© Konnan) vs. the ultimate Super Villain team-up of King Cuerno, Cage and Texano. That’s how they open the show.
There’s a lot of important story stuff on the show later, so the job of this match is to be off-the-wall bonkers and invite everybody involved to get in their shit as instantly and regularly as possible. It’s barely a match. It’s the escalation of last week’s Supernatural Guys vs. Pervert Love Triangle match with the star power and ability to be ridiculous amped up on both sides.
The tecnicos pull off a sequence late in the match where they start hitting move after move after move on Cage and absolutely do not stop, and you can hear the crowd get slightly louder after every move because they’re loving the hell out of it and are ready to do the YEAH WE SAW THAT, YEAH pop. But it KEEPS GOING, and the inevitable THIS IS AWESOME chant becomes this millisecond thing in everybody’s head. They’re just like OH that was great THIS IS AWESOME OH that was great THIS IS AWESOME on loop, so by the time the sequence ends, their asinine chants become BLAARRGHHH WOOOOO!! That’s my favorite moment as a wrestling fan: when something’s so good you stop thinking about what you’re doing and react with your nerve endings instead of your brain.
The finish is great, too, with Texano saying “f*ck it” to competition and just circling around the ring with a cowbell and murdering people in the face with it. It’s awesome rudo cooperation. Cuerno’s like, “wait, you have to hit Puma” and sorta wheels Puma out through the ropes so a wandering Texano can bell him. He follows that up by Thrill Of The Hunting Puma in the middle of the ring and covering him with the tightest, most effective looking cover I’ve seen in ages:
Doin’ it. The rudos win, and I’m happy to see it happen, because:
Hernandez has value as the bigger, muscular guy who can jump over the ropes, but man, he’s the worst. Your tecnico shouldn’t be catching your top rudo two seconds into the match and standing there like he doesn’t give a shit about anything while super rudo-ass rudos have to lie there in his arms and pretend they can’t fight back. Vampiro sorta side-eyes him with “too much ego,” but that’s it. We get it. You think you’re better than this, and everybody has to pause and be helpless while you do your pimp struts and Superman animations.
Long story short, compare Hernandez and Cage. One of these guys is a character on the show who is working hard and contributing on a high level. The other one is rocking KING CUERNO like a baby 30 seconds into a match.
Under: ‘What’ Chants
‘What’ chants are terrible in WWE, where the ‘what’ chant was born and has a context. Why the f*ck are you ‘what’ chanting an amazing actor portraying an entertaining character who is sharing important storyline information for a show you love? If you chant ‘What’ at a wrestling show in 2015 you should be thrown in prison.
Over: The Mack
I’m giving Mack the Over, but it’s for the entire match.
After the Trios jazz goes down, Cueto shows up and says that a representative from each of the three Trios Tournament finals qualifiers will face off in a triple threat match. It ends up being Cage vs. Son of Havoc vs. The Mack, and I love all three choices.
Of course Son of Havoc is going to represent his team, because (1) he’s the tecnico and wants to fight with honor now, I guess, and (2) he’s riding a hot streak. Big Ryck can’t rep for his team because he’s the biggest weapon in the damn tournament, and they need him at full strength next week. The Mack is a wild card, and he’s got enough size and ability to enter something impromptu like this against a random assortment of opponents and come out okay. If it was announced as a match full of classic luchadors, Kill Shot probably would’ve gotten the nod. As for Cage, HE’S A MACHINE, so he’s the guy on the team with the endurance to wrestle again (and win) after a 10-minute Trios match where he wrestled the champ.
The match itself is great, too, and the combination of sizes and abilities is really interesting. Son of Havoc diving through the ropes to the outside and getting caught by Cage in position for a vertical suplex continues to be one of those things that blows my mind every time I see it. Willie Mack is a guy you just need to put on TV every week or two so people can keep seeing him and keep being shocked by what he can do. Cage picks up the win because of COURSE he does, but I like that him having wrestled already leveled the playing field. It wasn’t just Cage steamrolling these guys. They had a chance, he’s just the alpha.
Over: SACRIFICES MUST BE MADE
Melissa Santos is in the ring ready to present The Following Lucha, but Pentagon Jr. is there to whisper in her ear and make her announce that he dedicates his next sacrifice to his dark master. She goes to leave and he suddenly snatches her by the hair, because SHE is the sacrifice.
Now, Pentagon Jr. trying to break the helpless female announcer’s shoulder for no reason would be awesome. I love him because he’s amazing, but stepping back from my shitty rudo fandom, he’s DESPICABLE. He’s a pissed-off ninja skeleton trying to end peoples’ careers to please an evil karate God or whatever, so ignoring how great he is, he should be booed tremendously. But like every Lucha Underground moment that matters, the context and story make it priceless: Pentagon Jr. is trying to draw out and hurt Sexy Star by physically abusing a helpless woman, knowing that her entire career is based on how she was once a victim of domestic abuse and managed to rise up and become powerful enough to not only fight back, but become an avatar of female empowerment. Melissa is just a regular lady who wants to announce the following lucha. So OF COURSE Sexy’s going to see this and get in his face. It’s two top-level characters that make sense and have personalities and motivations clashing with each other BASED ON those personalities and motivations. It’s brilliant, and as complex as you want it to be. All you really need to see is that scary motherf*cker promising death, and Sexy Star cutting an amazing, subtitled YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR THIS TIME, ASSHOLE promo on the outside. Love it.
Over: The Unique Opportunity
If you haven’t watched the episode, watch it. Aero Star and Drago finish out their Best-of-5 series with the best match OF the series — as it should be — and Drago gets the win with the Dragon’s Lair. There’s so much to like here, from Aero Star’s amazing outside-in springboard senton to that ridiculous table spot where he overshoots it just enough to make it look like they’re both dead.
The money of the match is the payoff, which is the announcement of Cueto’s unique opportunity: Drago will now get a shot at the Lucha Underground Championship, but if he loses, he’s banned from The Temple forever. HOW ARE YOU GONNA BAN A REINCARNATED DRAGON, DARIO? HE’S IMPRESSED YOU. TWICE. I love the idea that Cueto’s basically a kid playing with action figures, and if one of his best figures gets broken he’ll just buy a new one. He gets tired of them sometimes and wants to throw them away, even if he’s had fun with them, because he’s cruel, like a child. It’s AMAZING.
I also love that Dario’s “unique opportunity” gag has become a thing of consequence. It’s the same vibe Vince McMahon had a while back with “guaran-damn-tee.” It’s just a phrase, but it becomes an indicator. When you hear it, you know something important’s happening. That’s the best.