The Over/Under On Lucha Underground Episode 4: These Hands Of A True Queen

Pre-show notes:

– Make sure you’ve read about episodes 1-3 of Lucha Underground before reading this one. Also, make sure your television has a mute button.

– Reminder: you can watch these shows the legal way by having El Rey Network or UniMás. If you don’t have those, I’m sure Dario Cueto would be willing to sell you the VHS version in the lobby of his temple.

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Please click through for the Over/Under on Lucha Underground episode 4 from November 19, 2014.

Over: Sexy Star’s Pre-Match Promo

As good as Lucha Underground’s been so far, I’m not sure even it is prepared for a character like Sexy Star.

If you remember her debut on episode 1, her match with Son Of Havoc was prefaced by an incredible video profile about how she’d come from a history of abuse and became a luchadora to show women they could be strong. That’s heavy. It was followed immediately by Son Of Havoc insulting her a bunch, then pinning her. The next time we saw her she was pinning Son Of Havoc, but only after Chavo “chivalrously” beat him up and gave her the pin. Here, she cuts an awesome, melodramatic promo about how she’ll pay Chavo Guerrero back for what he did to her, Blue Demon Jr. and Mascarita Sagrada. It features the phrase, “I, WITH THESE HANDS OF A TRUE QUEEN, WILL FINISH THE GUERRERO DYNASTY.” It’s AMAZING. The stakes are STUPID HIGH. It’s followed immediately by a slappy, awkward match with Ivelisse and Matt Striker calling them catty girls for seven minutes.

I’m worried that Sexy Star is too ambitious for a wrestling promotion at this level, because they’re introducing these big, progressive ideas of powerful women standing up for themselves and being heroes in one breath, and saying “aw, look at the girl, she did okay” in another. It’s a step in the right direction, don’t get me wrong. I just want them to take more than one step. You’re walking, guys. Nobody else is brave enough to walk. Keep walking.

Under: Matt Striker, All Night Long

Roughly 95% of the blame for how I feel about Sexy Star lies with Matt Striker. I’ve tried to give Striker the benefit of the doubt on these shows because I’m so enthusiastic about them, and aside from a few hiccups like making boner noises when Catrina licks people, he’s been fine.

Last night, Matt Striker was not fine.

It was like he was doing a Greatest Hits package of bad Matt Striker announcing. Burying talent before they have a chance. References for the sake of references. Calling moves by weird names to try to “pop” the audience. Here’s a highlight reel of things he said that pissed me off:

– Sexy Star and Ivelisse start off their match with some brawling, which Vampiro puts over as an “anti-Diva ass-whooping.” Striker responds by saying they aren’t going to be calling a lot of wrestling, this is just going to be a bunch of hair-pulling, punching and kicking. He says it’s a “feast for the senses” and a “festival of flesh.” You can’t say “these are two of the best luchadoras in the world” and explain yourself with “they can’t really work, but I’d sure love to f*ck ’em.”

– “Luchadoras the Exploras.”

– “Ivelisse doing a little seductive trash-talking as well!” Seductive trash-talking? Do you know what “seductive” means, or do you have a page of LADY ADJECTIVES in front of you that you pick and choose from for an hour? Ivelisse fishhooks Star, which Striker says is “kinda hot.”

– He calls them the finest athletes in the world, then compares them to his sisters fighting for the bathroom. He and Vampiro also have a D-grade comedy club discussion about how they’d never wrestle women, because they get enough of that in their marriages.

– “Normally it’s the men that get the ovation, but on this night the believers in the temple rise to their feet in appreciation of Sexy Star!” At some point this stops being a conversation about how to make women’s wrestling identifiable for a largely male audience and becomes a shitty guy with issues who’s never been called on it.

– For the rest of the night, the biggest problem is the announce team over-selling everything. The stuff these wrestlers are doing is great, you know? You can be excited about it and explain why it’s great, but you don’t need to Tony Schiavone it. Not every single transitional thing is The Greatest Moment In The History Of Our Sport. Vampiro deadpans the word “wow” probably 20 times. Also, it’s weird to talk about how you aren’t exclusionary towards other wrestling promotions and still pretend like shit’s being invented in front of you. Pentagon Jr. uses Shingo’s Made In Japan and they’re all, THIS IS THE ONLY PLACE IN THE WORLD YOU COULD SEE THIS! Come on, it’s not even the first time it’s been seen in this building.

– In the main event, Striker goes Full Alex Riley by comparing Big Ryck to every other black person he can name. He says he’s like “Kimbo Slice mixed with Suge Knight.” He also says he can knock you out with one punch like Mike Tyson. I’m surprised he didn’t start talking about what a “great natural athlete” Ryck is.

– As I mentioned, Striker decides to call moves things to pop viewers like me, but it just pisses off viewers like me. He calls a cutter a “Koji Cutter.” That’s great if you love Satoshi Kojima, but it’s probably the 5th or 6th thing even a nerdy wrestling fan would call it. Kojima probably doesn’t even call it the Koji Cutter. The worst is when Pentagon Jr. uses a Sling Blade and calls it a “Tanahashi.” He’s done it two weeks in a row. Tanahashi does the Sling Blade. Tanahashi doesn’t do the “Tanahashi.” Do you call leg drops “Hogans?”

I can’t believe a guy running a wrestling blog is gonna type this about a guy calling a televised wrestling show, but stop being such a creepy f*cking mark.

Over: Dario Cueto Is My Favorite

Dario Cueto’s the kind of guy who’ll approach a man dressed as a bile-vomiting dragon from behind in an abandoned, barely-lit warehouse bathroom to chastise him for not winning or being pinned in a triple threat match. Drago tries to intimidate him. Cueto’s response? Sell it for a moment, then notice himself in the mirror, lick his thumb and slick back his eyebrows.

When I grow up, I want to be Dario Cueto.

Over: Character Development, Even If It’s Not About A Child Being Trapped In Earthquake Rubble

Last week’s episode was a treasure trove of character development, whether it was Chavo Guerrero getting a chip on his shoulder and being afraid of the consequences or Mil Muertes carrying around a piece of rubble to remind him how empowered he felt when he watched his family die in an earthquake. Even El Mariachi Loco got an origin story. “He works at the restaurant up the street, and he’ll only play a song for you if he wins!”

This week was disappointingly low on that, but there were two bright spots. The first was King Cuerno, which I’ll get to (with gusto) on the next page. The other was Pentagon Jr., who cuts a pre-match promo with minimal typos about how nobody respects him. It’s simple stuff. A guy feels entitled to respect instead of earning it, and doesn’t understand why being a rudo and taking shortcuts makes people hate him. These little character-building moments are important, though, because Pentagon could very easily just be “the black and white guy.” Remember Super Calo in WCW? Can you tell me anything about him other than “his mask has sunglasses and a hat?” I think he was a rap group mascot.

Anyway, more of this. Anything to have people who aren’t Matt Striker talking for a few minutes.

Over: Fenix

I know Prince Puma’s supposed to be the hero of this thing, but Fenix is my jam. He’s everything you want a luchador on American television to be: remarkable, easy to identify by sight and willing to bust out something you’ve never seen before on a weekly basis.

My favorite moment of the match is probably his springboard dropkick, which is the most superfluous thing I’ve ever seen. The dancing and alphabet chanting before The Worm probably make more sense. Regardless, dude grabs a knuckle lock, walks up to the top rope and slaps Pentagon to RELEASE it. Then he drops down to bounce off the middle rope, bounces back up and off the top rope into a sky-high dropkick. It’s so bonkers and unnecessary, and I love it.

Also great? This:

The finish is Fenix springboarding to the top rope and hitting a Spanish Fly for the pin. It was really iffy, and the fact that it worked and nobody died is a testament to how good these guys are in the ring. From the first bounce, it was like NOPE. NOT WORKING. Somehow Fenix still got up, everybody balanced long enough to get the gist of the move, and everybody backflipped in time. I guess the upside to Lucha Underground being taped is that if it HADN’T worked, we wouldn’t have had to see it. It would’ve just been two guys near the ropes, a big SCENE MISSING still, and everybody lying in the ring with broken necks.

Two “Unders,” though:

1. Referee Rick Knox did not even come CLOSE to looking at the shoulders here. Look:

Pentagon’s right shoulder is on the top rope. It’s in the rafters. What could he even be looking at? His field of vision is 100% shoulder up.

2. Vampiro says that Fenix’s diving leg drop is reminiscent of “The Great Kobashi” from All Japan. Remember when Renee Young did that on NXT? What the hell? Is “Kenta Kobashi” trademarked or something? Why can’t stateside announcers say the guy’s name?

Over: King Cuerno

Meet your new favorite wrestler, King Cuerno. His name means KING HORN, and he’s a hunting luchador. That should be enough, but the first time we see him he’s (I’m assuming) chasing down a deer on foot and killing it with his bare hands. He then wears the deer’s head as a crown and its skin as a cape as he walks to the ring. Five. Stars.

Note: Matt Striker almost ruins it two seconds in with, “in the savage garden of the temple, the hunter becomes the hunted!” WHAT ARE YOU EVEN SAYING, MATT?

If you’re a lucha libre fan you might recognize him as El Hijo del Fantasma. He’s competed in CMLL and Toryumon Mexico and is the current AAA World Cruiserweight Champion. In my opinion he has the best match of the episode wrestling Drago, which is instantly a perfect pairing. You’ve got a hunting themed guy, so send him after your animal-themed guy. A to B. Drago wins with a flash pin, too, and it’s the right decision. You’ve got to establish the thrill of the hunt! If the hunter succeeds on his first try, there’s no drama. Kraven didn’t show up and immediately bury Spider-Man. Actual bury, not wrestling terminology bury. Shoot bury.

Anyway, yeah, this was great. Cuerno’s got one of the best topes you’ll ever see, and the stuff they did with Drago jumping off the ref’s back was fun. I’m excited to see Cuerno eventually get his win back and start wearing Drago’s head as a crown.

Over: The Prince Puma Cutscene

The main event of the show is Johnny Mundo vs. Big Ryck, and it’s without a doubt the best John Morrison vs. Ezekiel Jackson match you could imagine. Instead of wrestling like interchangeable video game characters like they might on a WWE B-show, they wrestle like actual characters, and it makes a world of difference. Mundo has to strike quickly and get the hell out of the way, but he’s arrogant, so he leaves himself exposed too often. Big Ryck doesn’t have a lot of technical skill, but he’s got superhuman strength, so if he can grab Mundo it’s over. There are also a lot of little touches, like Mundo’s parkour background actually coming in handy whenever Ryck tries to throw him. +1 forever to Lucha Underground for making wrestling parkour make sense for the first time ever.

The best part of the match, though, is the PRINCE PUMA CUTSCENE. Earlier in the show, Konnan confronts Puma and reminds him to stay out of Mundo’s fight. In the middle of the main — right in the middle — the camera jumps backstage to find Cisco and Cortez Castro jumping Puma in the locker room. They take him out, then run out to the ring to beat up Mundo. That causes a corny main event DQ, but it works. The bad guys know Puma’s going to be noble and stick his nose in their business, so they take him out before jumping Mundo. The hook is that Puma probably wasn’t going to help because of what Konnan said, but now they’ve made it HIS fight, too. That’s awesome. What’s also awesome is Lucha Underground paying attention to stupid wrestling loopholes such as “why isn’t my friend running out to help me here, besides it not working for the story.”

One bad thing, though:

Under: The Most Pre-Cut Table Of All Time

Big Ryck puts Mundo through a table to end the show, and what should be a memorable visual turns into an exercise in not noticing how pre-cut the table is. Look at that thing. Unless Mundo’s a stegosaurus and went through it plates first, the table shouldn’t have broken like that. Even WWE video games know the table has to break jagged. Cut it in a zig zag, guys, not in a straight line.

Will Johnny Mundo be able to survive being slammed through an enormous graham cracker? FIND OUT NEXT WEEK!