– 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 37 from July 22, 2015.
Over: Dario Cueto Watches His Show And Listens To What People Say
This column’s already a weekly love-letter to Lucha Underground Temple proprietor Dario Cueto, but I have to say it: in addition to being the best wrestling “GM” character ever based on his true motivations for evil, Cueto’s the best GM ever because he actually watches his show, responds to what happens and listens to overwhelming public opinion.
There two great backstage moments for him this week. In the first, he confronts Big Ryck about being the first wrestler he signed to a big money contract, and how he’s more or less shat the bed over the past 10 episodes. He thinks Ryck’s gotten lazy and complacent thanks to Daivari’s money, and he’s got like five eye-related burns ready to go. This is a real problem with the show … in the early days, the important characters were Prince Puma, Johnny Mundo and Big Ryck. Puma’s the champion. Mundo’s still important. Ryck’s a bodyguard character for a jobber who can’t even interfere in a match without screwing it up. His dorky cousin showed up and got a more prominent spot. Cueto being all, “hey Ryck, get your shit together” needed to happen. Ryck’s response, thank God, is a lot of confrontational smoking and shaking down Cueto for not only an Aztec medallion, but a wad of cash.
The second might be my favorite inconsequential moment of the entire season, which is saying something:
Cueto invites Fernandez into his office to tell him that everyone who watches the show hates him and wishes they could beat him to death with leather straps. Fernandez is all, “whatever, shut up,” and Cueto makes a “Believers Backlash” match for Ultima Lucha. It’s a fan lumberjack match where they all have leather straps and can whip the luchadors. Everyone likes Drago and thinks Hernandez is a literal pile of wet garbage, so that’ll be fun.
The inconsequential moment I’m talking about is pitch-perfect character work. Cueto’s making himself a drink as he talks. He knows Hernandez is a lousy human who couldn’t appreciate a stiff drink, so he hands him a can of Miller Lite. That might as well have been a middle finger. Anyway, Hernandez takes it, looks at it and puts it on Cueto’s desk. Without breaking his train of thought, Cueto grabs the can, hands it back to Hernandez and wipes off his desk. It’s AMAZING. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character on a wrestling show as fully-formed as Cueto, and if the show ever loses him it’ll never be the same. A-f*cking-plus.
Over: Tying It All Together
Another strength of the show is its ability to remember character relationships, and at least make an effort to tie them together and make them make sense.
We’re a week away from Ultima Lucha — Cueto decided the show was too big for two hours and is adding a third aired a week early, because why the hell not — so most of the matches on this episode are truncated placeholders. A little last minute maintenance and water-treading to get us to the end. The first of those is Texano vs. Johnny Mundo, which we find out is a way to pull the strings on a lot of perpendicular storylines and get them all in order.
Texano wins by disqualification when The Crew interferes, and Mundo’s like, “sure, we might as well stomp this guy.” The Crew recently helped Blue Demon Jr. swerve Texano in an effort to prove which one of them is more Mexico. That brings about Alberto El Patron to run them off, and leads to a great “wait, what do we do now” moment of eye contact between Alberto and Texano. Texano’s only here because he rode up from AAA to beat up Alberto, and now he’s stuck around long enough to become a hero. Alberto sees it happening — Texano’s almost become a stand-in Alberto — but isn’t gracious enough of a dude to stick around and celebrate about it. So you have Mundo/Alberto, Alberto/Texano and Texano/Blue Demon all addressed in one post-match attack and run-in. All tied up, all aligned, and all well-reasoned.
It’s not that hard to make wrestling make sense. You just have to do it, and stop pretending like it won’t make things better.
Under: The Mack Vs. Cage
A worse example of water-treading is the feud between The Mack and Cage. They have a short match that ends quickly, with The Mack seemingly jacking up a sunset flip out of the corner and getting the win anyway. Cage started off his Lucha run as this unstoppable representation of the American Wrestling Status Quo, and now he’s getting pinned by lousy transitional moves in like two minutes. It is what it is.
Cueto shows up and rambles at them for a bit about how he’s letting them settle it at Ultima Lucha, even though Mack’s beaten Cage twice now and the beef’s over Cage getting to join an already-irrelevant heel faction, so … anyway, it’s going to be a falls count anywhere match, and Cueto’s gonna find a bunch of plunder from around his Temple to put near the ring and make things more interesting. That should be a lot of fun. They probably could’ve gotten to the same place by having them punching each other backstage or something and not had one of them take another clean pin, but here we are.
Over: The Gift Of The Gods
This is one of those spoilers I’ve been desperate to write about for weeks but couldn’t. The point of the Power Rangers-ass Aztec medallion is that they COMBINE THEIR POWERS like a Powers Rangers-ass Megazord and create Lucha Underground’s secondary championship, THE GIFT OF THE GODS.
It’s Money in the Bank, but not really. Cueto makes a point to explain the differences, which I think every wrestling fan can appreciate. We all know what WWE is and what their deal is, even if we don’t watch or like it. We know how Money in the Bank works. You get a briefcase in a ladder match, you cash it in for a cheap win. With The Gift of the Gods, we’ve seen a series of matches to win medallions, and those winners now put their prizes in this big collector’s set and compete in a 7-way match for it. The winner will have a shot at the Lucha Underground Championship whenever he or she wants, with one condition: Cueto actually likes to promote his title matches, so they have to give him at least one week’s notice. If they hoard the belt and don’t cash in their shot, they’ll have to defend it, meaning someone can beat them in a match and be the new Gift of the Gods Champion. Once the title shot’s cashed in, the medallions leave the belt and the fight for them begins again.
How great is that? You take a tired, manipulative shortcut like Money in the Bank and turn it into a reasoned, exciting, competitive thing. It’s not one exciting match and then waiting forever for a swerve. It’s a series of exciting matches building to a SUPER exciting match, followed by exciting matches until someone uses it to win or lose. Then, more exciting matches. Rocket science.
Cueto has one spot open in the belt: the center, which was to fit the medallion belonging to Fenix. Mil Muertes destroyed Fenix, so Cueto offers the medallion to anyone who can win a battle royal. Enter an injured (but still alive) Fenix, who I guess has been reborn at like 20% health — and in a shirt — because Mil Muertes don’t play. Cueto’s a jerk, so instead of just letting him have his damn medallion, he offers him a spot in the battle royal. The, uh, battle royal where if you’re one of the final two competitors you’ve got to win by pinfall or submission.
The good news for Fenix is that he makes it to the end and his opponent is Marty The Moth Martinez, which is like winning the lottery. The battle royal was all the castaway Lucha guys like Famous B and the homie Vinny Massaro so it’s not like he was in danger of running into Pentagon, but you know what I mean. Fenix triumphs, pops his adorably magnetic medallion into the Gift of the Gods and cements his spot on Ultima Lucha while Cueto stares him down.
Over: BUSINESS MIL MUERTES
There is nothing (nothing) better than a luchador in a suit. Especially when that luchador is a universe’s living personification of death. Un-living? How do you conjugate that for zombies?
Prince Puma is supposed to speak for the first time, but we get bait-and-switched by an appearance from Mil and his crew. They need a collective name, I think. Puma heroically fights off the Disciples of Death and gets so into it that he starts doing dives and flashy poses on the turnbuckles, and it’s AWESOME. Mil hits the ring and Puma manages to put him down, too, adding an extraneous backflip off the ropes into an Iron Man pose in front of the Lucha Underground Championship.
It’d be the dopest thing that ever happened if there wasn’t a 100 + extra 999 hundred percent chance Mil will murder him, as soon as he’s able to walk to the back for a second and change into his super pants.