– 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 26 from May 6, 2015.
Over: How Dario Cueto Books A Show
This week’s opening doesn’t have a hook like bad Lucha Libre Kung Fu, a spaceman looking to the stars for inspiration or the threat of someone being fed to a cage monster, but it might be my favorite opening yet. Why? Because we find out how Dario Cueto books matches in The Temple.
Johnny Mundo and Alberto El Patrón are still arguing about who’s better, and they’ve decided to stop inappropriately touching each other in the men’s room and take it to the boss’s office. Cueto ultimately puts them in a match against one another with the winner moving on to face Hernandez (hilariously called “Fernandez” by Mundo) to name a true, official #1 contender to the Lucha Underground Championship. That’s all well and good, but the money is that Cueto books cards using those magnets of random words people sometimes have on their refrigerator.
Seriously, he’s got a little slip of paper that says JOHNNY MUNDO and a little slip of paper that says ALBERTO EL PATRON. That’s so amazing. I want to see the little Scrabble tile bag he keeps them all in, and go through it to see if like, Chris Masters is on the Lucha Underground roster but never gets his name chosen. Dario Cueto is an evil Spanish business mastermind who organizes his machinations with ARTS AND CRAFTS. “Tonight Chonny, you will be facing A PIPE CLEANER.”
Over: Cueto Put The Fear Of CAGE MONSTER Into The Crew
The opening match is a followup from the Trios Tag Team Championship finals-finals, and it’s a necessary one. Cortez Castro and Mr. Cisco take on Son Of Havoc and Angelico, with Ivelisse on crutches in the crowd covering her ears so she doesn’t have randos screaming her ex-boyfriend’s name an inch from the side of her head. The match is built around two motivating factors:
1. Son of Havoc and Angelico are still not friends and don’t like working together, probably because Ivelisse is the hook, and
2. The Crew is afraid that if they f*ck up again, Cueto’s going to feed one of them to his assumedly deformed, cannibal cage brother.
The story they tell is simple: one team’s motivated together and one team isn’t, so the team that is gets the win. The Crew put Son of Havoc away with their 3D-Codebreaker thing, and The Unlikely Trio has to stand around feeling bad about it. I like that they’re so dysfunctional that they can’t learn a lesson from their championship performance and have to like, ramp up their friendship for a few weeks before every big match. I want vignettes where they’re just practicing trust falls off balconies or whatever.
Also of note: I’m happy they’ve moved away from Angelico being a sexual predator, because that dude rules and is probably the easiest athlete on the show to like.
Over: El Jefe Hates Millennials
Cueto is the best character on television. It’s not even close.
We meet the Lucha Underground version of Daivari, now known as “Delavar Daivari,” and he’s getting the Johnny Mundo treatment as an acknowledged former WWE character who has moved on since he left WWE TV. The story is that Daivari’s become exceedingly rich, and that his family has bought up a bunch of property in Los Angeles. He’s suddenly entitled and detached and when he meets El Jefe, he just checks his phone and doesn’t pay attention. It’s WONDERFUL, mostly for the death glares Cueto gives him.
That’s one of my favorite things about Cueto. He’s the boss of this underground fighting league in a pulp, grindhouse world. Guys like Johnny Mundo come into his office and quip one-liners while dramatically removing their sunglasses. He confronts people by stepping out of the shadows and cryptically warning them about his future plans. He’s got a brother he keeps in a cage, being stalked by a mysterious Asian lady and her Aztec Dragon mentor. Everything’s ridiculous and controlled and dramatic, but as the show’s going on and getting more popular in this universe, Cueto’s starting to meet “regular” people. People who don’t play ball and do the pulp act. He runs into Marty The Moth, this huge dork in a t-shirt who runs into him outside the building and is way too enthusiastic. He meets Daivari, who is too busy checking his phone to play along. It’s great, and watching Cueto visibly realize that he’s in a non-ideal, non-dramatic situation is my favorite. It’s like putting Don Draper on an episode of Modern Family.
Under: Boo These Tropes, Boo Them
Unfortunately, Daivari’s match is about 15 seconds long. Texano runs out all mad and beats him up, but shoves down the referee and gets disqualified. What, did Daivari bring Smackdown with him?
There is one highlight, though: Melissa Santos pausing her introductions to say “oh shit” and bail when Texano comes hustling into the ring. Once you’ve had Pentagon Jr. drag you to the ground and try to break your arm, you learn how to use your peripherals.
Over: The Unbearable Inevitability Of Fernandez
So last week, Hernandez got put into a match with They Call Him Cage and King Cuerno and complained about it until El Jefe made it for a shot at the Lucha Underground Championship. He won — way too easily, I might add — and closed out the show by trying to jump Prince Puma. He accidentally hit Puma’s opponent and helped him win the match, but it was clear what he was going for. It’s been clear since the first moment Hernandez pimp-strutted onto the show that he was the worst person in the world and doesn’t care about anything, good or bad. At least when Cage was disrespecting the history of lucha libre and the Mexican people he was doing it with passion.
Anyway, Konnan confronts him about it, and Cueto materializes from the darkness (to make up for how boring his Daivari interaction was, I’m assuming) and puts them in a tag team match as partners. Everybody on Earth knows that’s not going to end well for Puma, Cueto included. The match happens, and Hernandez of course mails it the f*ck in, only coming to life when it’s time to hit his moves. He starts wandering into Puma’s way to block dives and physically moving him out of the way to get his shit in, and this weird “culero” vibe starts to permeate the crowd. Eventually Hernandez just kicks Puma and Border Tosses him into the ring apron, and it’s so obvious and telegraphed that Matt Striker is all, “if you’ve ever watched wrestling before, you knew this was coming.”
I want to give it an Under because Hernandez is the worst, but I have to put it Over because Hernandez is the worst. If you’re gonna have a disaffected prick character who sleepwalks through matches and coasts on how he looks and his 15 minutes of Spike TV fame, he needs to be booed. He’s a rudo in real life, you know? As a wise man once said, “you can’t turn a ho into a housewife, hoes don’t act right.”
Over: DRAMATIC SPLIT-SCREEN
Black Lotus is still SUPER SERIAL about leaving El Dragon Azteca’s mysterious lucha libre martial arts training camp, but she’s not ready. She says she’s leaving anyway, and Azteca tells her that if she can best him, he’ll let her go. They engage in a confrontational hand-jive that includes a dramatic split-screen of their concentration faces, and I’ll be cold in the ground before I throw shade at karate slapfights. She loses so badly it makes candles blow out.
At some point I want her to be like, “so hey, I went out and bought this rifle. Matanza’s in a cage, I’m just gonna go to where the cage is and shoot him through the bars. Deuces.”
Over: That’s The Kick That Won Him A Shot At Hernandez For A Shot At The Lucha Underground Championship Maggle
This week’s main-event is Mundo vs. Alberto, and it might be the best match I’ve ever seen from either of them. It’s certainly Johnny’s best, and the Lucha Underground environment has legitimately turned him into the pro wrestler people wanted him to be in WWE.
It manages to be a typical and atypical Lucha Underground match at the same time. They hit the storytelling beats a main-event WWE match would — finisher kickouts, a big series of reversals at the end, big dramatic selling on the ground — but there’s a freedom of movement and move choice that Lucha provides. They don’t have their four signature moves and try to hit them, they feel like they’re wrestling. Like they’re competing in this world of heightened physical realism where you can springboard off some free-standing cables and kick somebody in the head and it’s a good idea.
The finishing sequence is great, with Alberto going for his Harry Potter Kick, Mundo dodging it and springing off the ropes with a kick, Alberto dodging THAT and connecting with the kick (with authority) for the dramatic win. Alberto also fell a little too far back and rested on his shoulders, with his Wrestling Body Language for “this is going to be disputed.” It’s just great, great stuff, and you should seek it out. It’s powerful to watch guys you always thought of as being “held back” perform on a show where holding back doesn’t exist.
OVER: MIL BY GOD MUERTES
The show ends with Catrina using the power of magical rocks to bring Mil Muertes back to life in a more powerful form, with WHITE EYES~.
You may be wondering why Catrina’s doing this, but it makes sense if you think about it. Catrina never “turned” on Mil Muertes, she understands how he works. Mil is the man of a thousand deaths, right? If he dies, he comes back in a more powerful form. He started losing matches to Fenix, and Catrina realized he wasn’t powerful enough to achieve what they wanted to achieve. She can’t just like, pull out an ornamental knife and stab Mil in the heart, so she has to formulate a plot: she’ll stick her tongue in the mouth of a man with 1,000 lives and manipulate HIM into defeating Mil, because life is the only thing that can conquer death. Fenix and Catrina work together (this is important) to put Mil in the coffin. Mil dies. So now Catrina’s in a position to bring him back more powerful than ever, and give that whole “bringing a thousand deaths” thing another try. It’s brilliant, if you think about it. She’s the mastermind. She may also still be a ghost, I haven’t decided.
But yeah, welcome back, Mil Muertes. I hope your more powerful form involves you leaving your pinstriped blue pants in the coffin.