– We missed last week’s update because of Dusty Rhodes passing, so this week we’re doubling up.
– 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 Episodes 31 and 32 from June 10 and June 17, 2015.
Over: Drago Is Back, Has Wings And Is Creeping Up On You In The Bathroom
Episode 31 begins with the dramatic reveal that despite being banished from The Temple by Dario Cueto, Drago — a reincarnated dragon in the body of an also dragon-like luchador who may or may not be able to turn into a dragon … there’s a lot to it — is back. Well, he’s either “back,” or he’s been living on the roof since he got banished. Also, he has wings now. I love the idea that when he got kicked out, Drago used up all this energy to transform into a giant dragon, flew up to the roof, landed and turned back into a luchador. That’s dramatic AND super sad.
Anyway, Dario Cueto makes a No. 1 contender fatal four-way between the four competitors who’ve previously faced Prince Puma for the Lucha Underground Championship: Cage, King Cuerno, Fernandez and Fenix. Fenix has been “a-sent to an early grave” by Mil Muertes, so it gets knocked down to a triple threat. Drago confronts Cueto in the bathroom (the same place they always interact, because the Temple bathrooms are a hotbed of random enemy encounters) because he too once faced Puma for the Championship, and despite being banished feels he belongs in the match. Cueto congratulates him on finding a loophole and allows him in under one condition: If he loses, he loses his mask.
I love … basically all of this, but I’m starting to get worried about how easy it is to get what you want from Cueto. All you have to do is rough him up a little and he caves. The guy manipulated Drago into banishment, but “technically what you’re saying makes sense” is enough to let him back in? The show ends with Catrina choking him out until she gets what she wants, and we’ve seen other people just punch him in the face and be fine. If I’m a guy from a storied evil lucha libre family who owns and operates a mystical temple full of wrestling weirdos and has my deformed monster brother locked up in a cage for use in MURDERS, why am I caving to Drago? Because he’s gonna throw forearms at me? I COULD KILL HIM WITH A MONSTER.
Under: It’ll Be Just Like Starting Over
The only other complaint I have is that as the season comes to an end, we’re going around in circles with certain stories. There’s a nice “life is an endless string of the same damn obstacles” story being told, but it’s not necessarily one I want to see. Like, in Episode 1, Chavo Guerrero faced Blue Demon Jr. and lost. In Episode 2, his frustration with that loss causes him to violently attack and injure Blue Demon (and Sexy Star!) with a steel chair. By Episode 3, word of Chavo’s attacks had gotten around, and he was being warned that the fury of Mexico would soon be upon him. It took a while, but eventually Chavo bumped into Mil Muertes in the hallway, got the fear of God put in him and “quit” the company to escape into seclusion.
So! Around that time, a mysterious Asian lady started showing up at The Temple. She was revealed to be the Black Lotus, a woman who had her parents killed by Dario Cueto’s cage-monster brother. She was here to kill him — the monster, not Dario — but before she could, she was kidnapped and taken away to a dojo by the fictionally legendary El Dragon Azteca. Thanks for the run-on sentences, Lucha Underground. Anyway, Dragon knew Black Lotus would die if she confronted the monster (“Matanza”) in her current state, so he vowed to train her. She accepted his training but was too impatient to see it through to the end and bailed. Chavo Guerrero showed up and offered to help protect her in exchange for protection from Mexico — something El Dragon Azteca is influential enough to provide — effectively getting him back into The Temple as well.
SO! Black Lotus returns to The Temple, Chavo immediately sells her out in cooperation with Dario Cueto and The Crew, and she ends up sharing a jail cell next to the very cage monster she’d come here to destroy. On this week’s episode, Chavo faces a returning Blue Demon Jr. in an “anything goes” match, which is just Chavo and The Crew beating up Demon and pinning him. Lotus is in the cage, swearing that Chavo’s gonna get his. Chavo’s under the protection of Cueto and not El Dragon Azteca now, and Mexico’s gonna come for him.
I like how everything comes around full-circle, but … we’ve already been here, right? We’re 30+ episodes in and we just got to Black Lotus confronting the cage monster and Chavo pissing off Mexico by beating up Blue Demon. It could be the purposeful moving of chess pieces, but it also kinda feels like we wasted a ton of time. That’s not to say this can’t still end in Blue Demon whipping off his mask to reveal an actual blue-skinned demon and engage himself in a war with a beast revealed to be an actual anthropomorphic cage that eats people while ninjas and Guerreros battle in the background, but you know, I’m ready to get to that part.
Over: The Disciples Of Death
If you aren’t into a group of spooky skeletons managed by a sexy ghost lady with a magical rock, I don’t know what to tell you.
Their names (according to Matt Striker and Wikipedia) are El Siniestro de la Muerte, Trece and Barrio Negro. “El Siniestro de la Muerte” means “The Sinister Death” and “Trece” means “Thirteen,” which are suitably spooky names for spooky skeleton guys. “Barrio Negro” is pretty suspect, though. It means “black neighborhood.” I mean, maybe it’s supposed to mean “black hood” like an executioner or whatever, but that’d be Capó Negro. Did Lucha Underground have a brainstorming session to find the three scariest things they could imagine and come up with death, superstition and “places in town where black people live?”
Although honestly now I want to see Barrio Negro start working a Sesame Street gimmick.
Over: Death vs. Ridiculousness
The Disciples’ first match is against the returning Mascarita Sagrada and Pimpinela Escarlata, still called “Es-CARL-ta” by Striker. Sexy Star is off dealing with Pentagon Jr. and a crazy Vampiro and some Dark Masters, so Mascarita and Pimpi have downgraded their trios partner to BENGALA. He’s a giant cat. You see him and you’re like WHOA, THIS IS A BIG F*CKEN TIGER GUY I BET HE’S AWESOME, and then it’s like, well, no, he’s mostly just a 36-year-old housecat.
The match is mostly what you’d expect and is full of ridiculous situations, like Pimpi diving into the audience for no reason and trying to get people to run face-first into his butt, but it’s what you need when you’re bookending it with ninja betrayal and dragon-redemption stories. How weird is it that three skeletons having a wrestling match with a tiger, a mini and an executive transvestite is the most normal part of the show?
If you’re gonna bring back a tecnico, this is how you do it.
As mentioned, Drago gets put into a match with three of the biggest jerks in the building: Cage, King Cuerno and Fernandez — still not calling him by his actual name, in case you were wondering. If Drago loses, he not only remains banished but also loses his mask. It’s the ultimate insult for a luchador, and Cueto’s pretty into Ultima Insults so here we are.
There’s a giant, thumb-shaped problem in the match so it isn’t as good as it should be (or would be if it was just Dragon vs. King Cuerno, or any combination of the remaining guys), but it’s still fun and tells the story it sets out to tell. The highlight for me is included in the above video, when Cuerno stops in the middle of his pre-dive daunt to redirect his Arrow From Hell at Kill Shot, who’s loitering up in the cheap seats. How into a beef between the arrow hunter and the gun hunter am I?
Drago busts out the mist (which I’m going forward believing is dragon pee, because it’s like fluorescent yellow) and pulls off a miracle, winning the match and saving his … face? There’s no way that’s a mask. You don’t get born a reincarnated dragon and wear a costume, unless maybe he killed a different dragon and decided to wear its skin? I don’t know. We need more of an origin from him than “I was alive in the dark ages and now I’m good at nunchucks.” We get a feelgood staredown between the Lucha Underground Challenger and the new No. 1 contender, and the main event of Ultima Lucha is set.
… for like a minute.
Over, But Under For Everybody Else: Mil Muertes, Y’all
As previously mentioned, the show ends with Catrina GHOST ATTACKING Dario Cueto and choking him out for not putting Mil Muertes into the No. 1 contender match. Fenix was one of the announced competitors but couldn’t compete because of what Mil did to him, so she believes Mil should have gotten that spot. Cueto cowers and agrees to pull the same jerky sh*t he pulled with Fernandez a few weeks back: Mil Muertes will face Drago for the No. 1 contendership, and whomever wins THAT match will face Puma at Ultima Lucha. That sounds good to Catrina, so she goes all to tell “Mil Mortace” and vanishes.
Not really a spoiler alert, but spoiler alert: If Mil Muertes wrecked Fenix like he did in the Death Match, Drago better turn into an actual dragon before he hits the ring.
Over: One Night, One Fight
And now, a wrestling masterpiece.
The pissing contest between Johnny Mundo and Prince Puma over who’s the best guy at handshakes (or whatever) in Lucha Underground has been building since the first episode. They’ve been friends, enemies, partners, opponents, the works. They’ve bailed each other out and let each other down. Cueto knows that he’s building a No. 1 contender for the championship match at Ultima Lucha, but he isn’t sure who he wants the champion to be … so he decides Prince Puma and Johnny Mundo should face each other, one-on-one, in his new match concept: One Night, One Fight. It’s basically an iron-man match that takes up an entire episode. The man with the most pinfall or submission decisions by the end of the night — no disqualifications, no count-outs, just straight-up decisions — will be the Lucha Underground Champion at the promotion’s biggest show ever.
I’m not sure I can put this above Grave Consequences because I was live for that, and the emotional vibration of it is still in my hands. I can say, however, that Puma/Mundo is probably the best wrestling match the company’s ever featured, and if you only ever watch one episode of this show, you should probably make it this one. It’s only one match, but it accomplishes all of the story beats a normal episode would hit. It’s remarkable.
The early goings are Puma and Mundo doing their normal thing, trying to outwit each other and do the most flips and twists and pins until one of them slips up. Puma shows his pure superiority by gaining the first fall on a quick rollup. Mundo’s turned into a blistering rudo lately, but he stays pure as well … until the second fall, where he leans back and grabs the ropes for leverage. That evens them up at one fall apiece, but Puma knows where Mundo’s head’s at now and things get personal. So that’s Lucha Underground episode point No. 1: great, athletic lucha libre wrestling.
They fight on the outside and hit some big stuff, including a slam onto a box that reminds me of a backstage brawl in a video game. Johnny’s rudo tendencies flare up again and he manages to bash Puma in the head with a crowbar. Now, on WWE TV, Cena could get hit with a crowbar and be fine. It’d be enough for a nearfall, maybe. Here, Puma got hit in the head with a motherf*cking crowbar, so he’s out. He’s lucky he’s not dead. Mundo rolls him in the ring and pins him, and goes up 2-1. Because this is a real universe with rules and a guy just got hit in the face with a goddamn crowbar, Mundo’s able to lounge around and hit a couple of moves and pin Puma two more times. That gets him up 4-1. Lucha Underground episode point No. 2: Violence can happen, and it has consequences.
Johnny gets arrogant (as Johnny does) and starts screwing around, organizing these big death spots around the entrance ramp and taking his sweet time. He tosses water on Puma and basically begs him to recover, and when Puma manages to get a burst of energy and fight back, Mundo nails him with a kick to the head that seemingly puts him down for good. Being the horrible human being that he is, Mundo escapes up onto the band platform and hangs out with the musicians, one of whom Striker calls “M. Bison.” Striker is kinda brilliant during this entire thing, for the record.
Anyway, Mundo thinks he can just wait out the clock and jab at Puma with planks of wood if he tries to climb up to the band, but it backfires … Puma gets to the top, takes advantage and, in one of the most beautifully violent spots in Lucha Underground history, spears him off the platform through all the plunder set up below.
That’s enough for Puma to drag Mundo into the ring and pin him, getting on the board for the first time in like half an hour. Puma starts to finally, truly recover, start in with some real offense and bust Mundo open, and soon he’s brought the score to 4-3. Mundo realizes he’s got time on his side and starts running away, because he’s the worst and it’s wonderful. The Temple’s a big place, so he hightails it up the stairs and decides to once again wait it out … only this time he gets blindsided by ALBERTO EL PATRON, the man he put through Dario Cueto’s window a few weeks ago.
Patron lights Mundo up and kicks him down the stairs, grabbing a microphone long enough to tell both competitors to be ready, because he’s coming for them. Lucha Underground episode point No. 3: Justice is real and can happy to you, and everything that happens matters. If you toss a guy through a window, he’s not just gonna forget it.
So after almost an hour of wrestling, the stories have come together, the score is 4-4 and we build to this: the final moments of the match. How f*cking great is this?
Puma and Mundo have a standoff in the middle of the ring and start throwing everything they’ve got, going for every pin in their arsenal. Mundo gains an advantage and looks like he’s gonna pound Puma in the corner, but he goes for something too big — a super hurricanrana — and crashes and burns. That puts distance between the two, and Striker channels JR to FLIP THE HELL OUT about how NOW’S THE TIME, KID. Puma rushes in and smashes Mundo with the knees, hits a 630 splash and gets the decisive pinfall with only a few seconds left. Lucha Underground episode point No. 4: Wrestling is f*cking amazing.
I can’t say enough about this match. If you’re gonna devote an entire episode to a match on a show known for great matches, this is how you do it. Great, great love for Mundo and Puma for pulling this off, and I’m happy to live in a world where John Morrison’s suddenly one of my favorite performers.
Bring on Ultima Lucha. And keep everyone away from Mil Muertes, Jesus.