– As we always try to mention, you can watch these shows the legal way by having El Rey Network or UniMás. The El Rey website says streaming episodes are “coming soon.” If you don’t have any other option, it’s worth it to find them wherever you can find them, but you didn’t get that from me.
– If you’d like to read about previous episodes, 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 maybe one day they’ll let me sit in the front row and wave at the crowd. I can yell “culero” at Chavo, trust me.
Please click through for the Over/Under on Lucha Underground episode 7 from December 10, 2014.
Over: MACHETE DON’T MARK
Here’s a quick list of WWE’s recent guest stars:
1. a guy who hosted a trashy tabloid talk show 20 years ago
2. two drunk 60-year old women who hate wrestling and used the ring to get even drunker
3. a shoot house cat who is a millionaire because her mouth looks like a frown and we’re stupid
4. the fourth best comedian on the Blue Collar Comedy Tour
5. the Rally’s “cha-ching” guy
Lucha Underground’s first guest star is F*CKING MACHETE. Danny Trejo’s in the crowd in an LU shirt, and his role is to stand up, wave, let everybody know Danny Trejo’s in the front row and then sit his ass down to enjoy the show. That’s how you do it. Save the Chrisley Knows Best promotion for the YouTube channel.
Just wanted to point out the difference. One show gets what’s cool, and one doesn’t. One has Enrique from ‘King Of The Hill’ in the crowd, and one doesn’t.
Under: Super Fly, Vampiro And The Downside To Pre-Taping A Season’s Worth Of Shows
This week’s opening match was King Cuerno vs. a guy named Super Fly, a luchador who has been a fixture in AAA since 2005. The announce team really builds him up, too, claiming that he’s a huge legend and all the other luchadors rip him off. That could be true, I guess, but we don’t get to see any of it. Cuerno beats him down, takes a couple of moves and then plants him in the middle of the ring for an easy victory.
Also, the story doesn’t really check out. Striker tries to earn brownie points by mentioning the big moment in Super Fly’s career: when he defeated (and subsequently unmasked) Super Caló. Remember Super Caló? He’s the terrible luchador from WCW who was the mascot for a rap group and had sunglasses and a hat built into his mask. His existed so Bobby Heenan could make “why isn’t his hat falling off” jokes. He was basically one of the Public Enemy with a pair of underwear on his head.
The “other luchadors rip him off” thing doesn’t check out either, because his big signature move in the match is a Sasuke Special. You know, as performed by The Great Sasuke. 20 years ago. Vampiro makes me his enemy for life by saying the move was created in Michinoku Pro by “The Great Michinoku.” What the hell is going on with this “The Great ____” stuff? Renee Young says Hideo Itami was trained by “The Great Kobashi” instead “Kenta Kobashi.” Earlier this season Vampiro did the same thing, saying a diving leg drop reminded him of “The Great Kobashi” in the 90s. Now he’s calling Great Sasuke “The Great Michinoku?” I hope Jim Ross sees a spinebuster at Wrestle Kingdom and says the guy learned it from The Great Arnold.
The final problem with Super Fly is that he’s competing on a pre-taped show. Why’s that a problem, you might ask? Because dude lost his mask to Aero Star in Mexico FOUR DAYS AGO. That means he’s accidentally no-selling a luchas de apuestas ruling and breaking decades of tradition by losing his mask on a Sunday, then showing up on national television with it on on a Wednesday. WWE’s made putting the mask back on a little more socially acceptable (because “money,” and because popularity can overrule anybody’s common sense or decency) and yeah, it’s hard to cross promote a bunch of major wrestling promotions, but it’s still a bad look.
Anyway, here’s a complimentary thing: King Cuerno says his tope is “an arrow shot from Hell.” I love King Cuerno a lot.
Over: Pentagon Jr.’s Origin
Growing up, one of my favorite “outside the ring” character moments was when Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat decided to amp up his martial arts training by wandering into a Japanese tea garden and battling ninjas. Lucha Underground touched that special part in my child-brain this week with Pentagon Jr.’s origin story, featuring him going to Japan and karate fighting guys in a dojo. He breaks their arms so hard it BLOWS OUT NEARBY CANDLES. I don’t know if he’s supposed to be killing them and that’s their souls being extinguished or what, but I am SO INTO IT.
These origin videos are the very best thing Lucha Underground does. Nothing else in wrestling comes close to them. They hit all the right melodramatic, ridiculous notes — the tragedy of Mil Muertes, King Cuerno killing a prancing deer with his bare hands, Drago doing nunchucks in a sunset — in these quick, beautifully put-together packages. I want season one of Lucha Underground on DVD, and I want all of them in a row as a special feature.
Over: Chavo Guerrero Is Doing The Best Work Of His Career
At one point in the second match, Fenix comes off the top with a Meteora and Chavo rolls through and turns it into a single-leg crab. It was then that I realized none of this is a fluke or a lucky few weeks of storytelling; Lucha Underground is actually making me love Chavo Guerrero. That’s awesome.
By “love,” of course, I mean hate. But it’s the good pro wrestling kind of hate, not the “buh, I wish this guy wasn’t on my television” hate. Not “Chavo Guerrero’s in this match when somebody much better could be” heat like the kind he got in TNA. He’s pulling a Goldust. He decided that his mid-40s were as good a time as any to be the best he’s ever been. I don’t want to see him get his ass kicked because he’s bad and I want him gone … I want to see him get his ass kicked because he deserves to get his ass kicked. That’s wrestling done right.
And of course I love Sexy Star. I hope her threats are true, and that they go way too far with it. Like, I don’t want another match, I want Blue Demon leaping out of the shadows and stabbing Chavo in the heart with an ancient knife.
Who knew a guy named “Cage” would fit so well in Mortal Kombat-ass Lucha Underground?
If you’ve never seen Brian Cage before, you’re probably going to love him. Imagine if Mason Ryan was slightly shorter but could do convoluted springboard moonsaults and hit 619s. His only problem I guess is that he doesn’t have a lot going for him beyond the freakshow athleticism — one of the reasons he’s shown up in WWE developmental and TNA but never stuck — so I’m excited to see what Lucha Underground does with him. Videos about him flipping tires and having threatening sideburns are a good start.
Over: LADDER MATCHHHHH
I love a lot of what WWE does, so I don’t want the Lucha Underground column to just be “here’s what I don’t like about WWE” over and over. That said, this week’s main event did so much right, and it’s hard to praise it without pointing out the difference between it and what we’re used to getting.
Firstly, it was an uninterrupted 25-minute main-event. “Uninterrupted” is a big deal. On Raw, they’ll show us the show-opening, half-hour speeches that set up the matches, then immediately go to commercial when the matches start. It makes the actual competition aspects of the show — the things that got us here, keep us here and move literally every story forward — seem unimportant. It doesn’t matter if you’re Seth Rollins and Dolph Ziggler and you were the final two men in a Survivor Series match that decided the fate of your company, 8 days later Raw will “roll on” after the break because nobody cares about your feeling out process.
Secondly, it was a match of consequence. It built on all the stories Lucha Underground’s given us so far. Prince Puma’s rising star. Big Ryck being a tool of Dario Cueto’s manipulations and commanding a gang of placeholder Hispanic thugs. Johnny Mundo sorta being a good guy, but really only being here for fame and fortune. Cueto promising his wrestlers a $100,000 cash prize for impressing him, then taking it back and holding it over their heads. Literally. Even the little stuff comes back, like Mundo taking Cueto’s mysterious Legend of Zelda key necklace and using it as blackmail. They build on past matches, too, like Big Ryck having Cisco and Cortez Castro show up to help him the entire time because it’s no DQ. Everything makes sense and everybody’s here for a reason.
Thirdly, it’s physically spectacular. There’s a lot of stuff here you’ve probably never seen before, like Puma’s dive over the ropes THROUGH the ladder to the outside. The best part is that having Cisco and Castro there running interference allowed the match to make more sense and move forward without the stall/set something up/stall/set something up thing that plagues most ladder matches. I watched clips from Full Metal Mayhem on TNA’s Best of 2014 special last night, and even the HIGHLIGHTS are 80% “guys setting up the next spot.” By having a wrestler have destruction-obsessed cronies, you allow the people in the match to tell their stories and do all their cool stuff without bogging them down with prep. It’s great. Remember how much better TLC 2 was when Lita, Rhyno and Spike Dudley randomly showed up? It’s the same idea.
Fourthly, I love that Lucha Underground doesn’t have “pay-per-views.” I think they’re an archaic concept. WWE TV is f*cking meaningless right now because nothing ever happens outside of the “important” shows. They’re just a stale retreading of the same standing water every month, and then if you’re LUCKY something shifts and changes. Even NXT’s started doing it. Before, anything could happen. Now, the only place something can happen is at a live special. You aren’t going to see title changes on the weekly show. With Lucha Underground, there’s no “end.” Every week is the next step in the story. Every week says “what happened before, and what should happen next?” It’s such a simple concept and NOBODY ELSE IS DOING IT. If it makes sense to blow off the story in a triple threat ladder match for the biggest prize your company’s established, HAVE IT. Get people interested in watching your show, and excited to watch every episode. That’s how good TV shows do it.
Great stuff. I’m excited to see how they top it, and if they let Dario Cueto scream the match stip again.
Under: Johnny Mundo Gonna Die
I use “under” from a fan perspective, because I’m me. Johnny Mundo wins the match and the $100,000 prize, effectively getting what he wants. He’s beaten his top peer and his biggest rival, gotten the prize withheld from him by the corrupt boss and earned as much fame as you can wrestling in an LA-area temple-themed warehouse. He even got away with blackmail! Now that it’s over, Cueto is willing to cut his losses and just wants his key back.
He isn’t even really rude about it. He demands it back and asks Johnny to “be a gentleman.” Johnny agrees, then punches him in the face.
Now, from an average fan point of view, that’s the good guy winning and the bad guy getting comeuppance. The problem is that Johnny already WON, and honestly the most dramatic comeuppance Dario Cueto’s earned in seven episodes is having his plans go awry. Cueto’s not Vince McMahon, you know? He’s not going to kidnap you or set you on fire or whatever, he’s just a shady businessman with a bunch of dark secrets. He might get there and deserve a fist in the mouth every time he appears, but Johnny’s taken it a little too far. Harassing the guy in the bathroom, blackmailing him, and now unprovoked assault when he’s already won? I don’t know, man. I hope they play up Mundo being kind of a self-obsessed creep and not a badass anti-hero, because that’s the vibe he’s sending.