The Over/Under On Lucha Underground Episode 35: Bonfire Of The Vampiros

Pre-show notes:

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And now, the Over/Under on Lucha Underground Episode 35 from July 8, 2015.


The worth of a Lucha Underground episode is often decided in its opening moments, and this week’s opens with maybe my favorite so far: Pentagon Jr. wandering into a misty dojo, doing an elaborate CERO MIEDO hand gesture summon and evoking his DARK MASTER, who we see (in shadow) and hear for the first time. Pentagon wants to murder Vampiro at Ultima Lucha but can’t get him to play ball, so the Dark Master suggests playing to his ego. That’ll set Vampiro up for destruction, and holy shit you guys we are watching a wrestling show begin with an evil skeleton ninja summoning his Dark Lord for help in assassinating a vampire.

Pentagon Jr. is the greatest, and I’ll be upping that honor at least twice before the show’s over.

Over: Hoss Fights Done Right

Watch the Big Show vs. Ryback match that opens this week’s Raw, then watch Cage and The Mack open Lucha Underground. There’s a massive difference in context and mission statement, sure, but Lucha continues to prove that big, strong guys don’t have to be immobile and wrestle like zombies, and that they can be just as exciting and dynamic as the little guys. That division from the 90s where big = bad and small = good has been dead for a long time.

The Mack and Cage are a perfect pairing because they both represent a bigger type of wrestler you don’t expect to see doing flying kicks and moonsaults, straight-up destroying some flying kicks and moonsaults. They’re basically in opposition to prove that they’re the best of this archetype, so their match is the bell ringing and them running at each other with the most intense, high-impact stuff they can pull. What I like about it isn’t the novelty of seeing big guys flip, though, it’s the sense of urgency. Wrestling’s missing that, honestly. The idea is that you’re supposed to be in a one-on-one (or whatever) physical competition with an opponent, right? Shouldn’t there be a sense of urgency? You’re signing up to get hurt and hurt another person as your job. That shouldn’t exclusively be this rhythmic “do a thing, pause, taunt, do a thing, pause, taunt” ritual. It should be competition. The interplay of your style vs. your opponent’s and the similarities and differences in your approach to it should be the selling point. It can be phony as hell, but that’s a foundation you’ve gotta have.

I don’t always know what my brain’s trying to say, but it loves watching that feels organic and impactful, even when it involves dragons and skeletons and whatever. That’s something I’ve loved about Lucha Underground since day one … the idea that these guys are competing to prove something, and not filling roles in some weird cultural dance that’s been disrespected and semi-serious for a hundred years. It came out of the womb with an identity and a realness, despite being the most wonderfully absurd wrestling on television.

Mack pins Cage with a lucha (~!) rollup out of nowhere and gets the surprise victory, which will no doubt lead to him being Machined to death for the next four episodes.

Over: Womp Womp

I’m really loving the interaction between the show’s most fantasy characters (Catrina, Mil Muertes and the Disciples of Death) and its most “real” (Son of Havoc, Ivelisse and Angelico). The Unlikely Trio gets love because they’re accessible characters — exceptional but still fairy average jerks punching it out about love, victory and teamwork — so seeing them simultaneously go for comedy and serious storytelling with a zombie luchador, his teleporting ghost familiar and her party of electric skeletons is wonderful.

If you missed it, Catrina pops into their locker room and tries to intimidate Son of Havoc. Ivelisse goes full Aliens on her to try to get her to stop, but she teleports away and leaves them on the floor in a compromising position. Lean Ambrose shows up in the doorway all, “LOL sex am I right,” and they tell him to shut up. Keep in mind that this is a story about electric skeletons who are trying to steal their gold. I can’t emphasize that enough.

Over: The Payoff

The payoff to that segment shows how pitch-perfect this show can be sometimes, and how it not only understands its characters, but respects its audience.

Mil Muertes wrestles Son of Havoc, which gets over two stories: the Disciples of Death coming for the Trios Championships, and Mil building to his match with beloved champion Prince Puma by beating up the most locally popular guy on the show. The Temple LOVES Son of Havoc, so much so that he went from an early season goober/jobber to being one of its late-season heroes. Mil powerbombs him into a table, spears him so hard he practically comes out of his boots and generally makes his life hell. Havoc, to his credit, uses his “homefield advantage” to keep fighting and stay in the fight, even if he’s clearly (clearly) outmatched.

The interplay of the stories is what makes it work so well. The Unlikely Trio’s success comes when they remember to help each other out, so when Angelico’s getting jumped by the Disciples and Ivelisse is catching a mystical rock to the dome from Catrina, Havoc takes his eyes off the prize and dives out of the ring to stop them. His heroism saves them in the short-term, but earns him a brutal finish from Mil, who is (oddly enough) also down for his fam. They’re a weird, supernatural mirror for each other in a way. But yeah, now the threat of the Monster Squad is really real, and the Trio’s gonna have to stop hobbling around on crutches and making finger-in-the-hole jokes if they want to survive.


Vampiro tries to interview Pentagon Jr. and apologize to him (and the Lucha Underground fans) for getting worked up and sticking his nose in the wrestlers’ business. Pentagon seems unusually chill about it, but he’s biding his time … he’s waiting for that perfect moment to take his Dark Master’s advice and attack “Ian Hodgkinson’s” ego. That turns out to be an easy thing to do, and all Pentagon has to do is be like, “YOU AIN’T A VAMPIRE, YOU’RE A SHAM-PIRE” and Vampiro’s all, “WTF I’LL STAB YOU.”

Pentagon wants that match at Ultima Lucha and Vamp once again turns it down, but don’t worry, pissed-off ninja skeletons always have a backup plan.

Over/Under: The Blue Demon Swerve

One of the things I’ve learned trying to help run a wrestling promotion is that no matter how much you plan and no matter how airtight your story and performers are, shit happens. People get hurt or pregnant or signed or stuck in an airport under 40 feet of snow and stuff changes on the fly, and you’ve gotta get good at calling audibles.

The story of Chavo Guerrero’s recurring problems with Mexico and lucha libre culture has been around since the first few episodes, and was clearly supposed to be paid off at Ultima Lucha. Unfortunately Chavo injured his leg for real in his championship match with Prince Puma, so now they’ve gotta pull something out of their asses and make it work. What they pull is Blue Demon Jr. siding with The Crew and attacking Texano for saying that he loves Mexico, because Blue Demon loves Mexico, and I guess Mexico can only be represented by one dude. It’s not the best story in the world, but it’s something, and unless you want the payoff to the “Mexico’s coming for you” story to be a bunch of luchadors standing around Chavo’s hospital bed laughing at him, you do what you have to do.

I’m excited for The Crew to transform into Blue Demon’s J&J Security, though.

Over: Team Johnny

This week’s main event is a massive 8-person tag tying together basically every story they haven’t touched on so far: Alberto El Patron, Aerostar, Drago and Sexy Star vs. Johnny Mundo, Jack Evans, Hernandez and Super Fly. That lines up to handle the Alberto and Johnny beef, pits two Aztec Medallion winners against one another, addresses Fernandez’s ongoing issues with dragons not being real and lets Sexy and Super Fly punch each other over lucha etiquette disagreements. Perfect.

It’s suitably bonkers, too, and ends with Johnny Mundo reversing a flying crossbody from Sexy Star and pinning her with a handful of wedgied tights, making him basically the worst person in the world. I knew John Morrison was better as a heel than a face during his WWE run, but his work in the second half of Lucha Underground’s season has honestly cemented him as one of the best and most reliable heels in the country. That guy is just an irreparable piece of garbage and it’s great. How are you on a team with Jack Evans, Super Fly and HERNANDEZ and YOU’RE the most rudo? That takes skill.


The show ends as strongly as it began with Pentagon Jr. kicking Vampiro in the back of the head, DUMPING GASOLINE ON HIM AND THREATENING TO SET HIM ON FIRE IF HE DOESN’T ACCEPT THE MATCH AT ULTIMA LUCHA. Vamp has one week to say yes, or Pentagon will find him and BURN HIM TO DEATH.