Lucha Underground Review: The Power Glove
Hot take alert folks; tonight’s Lucha Underground episode was looking like a minor dud going into the final match. I know, that’s blasphemy to say and there were extenuating circumstances tonight (like both Angelico and Jack Evans getting hurt during their tag match), but even without that this wasn’t exactly the best looking LU episode of all time. And that’s even with Vampiro adding to his Hall of Fame resume with this pose.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over two and a half seasons of LU though, it’s to never bet against them. And sure enough, just when it looked like this may be an off night, the show switched into high gear with a memorable main event that not only delivered one of the best matches of season three (and a late contender for 2016 Match of the Year), but enhanced both the match that preceded it and the super cool final scene that came after. Thus this episode went from “meh” to a decent episode with a great finale, a good return, tons of El Jefe and more stuff about tarantulas. Not a bad way to lead into Johnny Mundo vs. The Mack next week, or the newly announced mid season finale two weeks from now. Big things are coming sports fans. For now, let’s just focus on tonight. Moses, just meme it!
THE RETURN OF VAMPIRO’S HOUSE OF PAIN!
If you ever wanted to see Vampiro’s dojo again (and come on, you totally did) than this opening segment was for you. Even bigger than the return of Vamp’s secret lair was the fact that Puma is 100% alive, 100% into the Vampiro training program (which thankfully didn’t involve torture unlike last time) and is now also referring to Vampiro as “master.” No wonder Vampiro was happy he died in Grave Consequences III; he knew all he needed for Puma to trust him was for him to die and be reborn again. Smooth strategy Vamp. I’m still pretty sure he’s going to leave Puma hanging like yesterday’s laundry somewhere down the road, but at least this bizarre friendship is working out right now.
Jeremiah Crane defeated Mil Muertes
If you watched the first ten seconds of this match only you’d think it was the start of something really, really cool. Instead this match existed for two reasons; to bring back Prince Puma and to give Jeremiah something to hold over Catrina’s head. LU accomplished both when Puma ran out with a kendo stick and cost Mil the match, with Jeremiah giving Catrina the “Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction” look before he left. Tremendous stuff there. I would’ve preferred they had let this match actually happen (the first minute and the story behind it had that much promise), but it makes sense that Puma would want to come back and get revenge on Mil for killing him not too long ago. Plus it does allow Jeremiah to say he beat Catrina’s man now, though it wasn’t exactly clean. I guess we’ll have to wait and see more. The big question I have is what match do Puma and Mil do now? Do we go the Death Match route? A new gimmick? Something else? And does Jeremiah get involved in that? One way or another I’d be stunned if these questions aren’t answered before the mid season finale.
There’s a Spider in the Box, in the Box!
Sexy Star vs. The Tarantula continued this week, with Ricky Mandel making an appearance in the story. I believe someone may have called that…who was that guy? That being said, I’m less convinced Ricky is involved in this “freak Sexy out with spider’s” ploy that’s going on. Sure his claim that the box with the spider was left for Sexy in catering may have been phony, but the dude seemed far more interested in Johnny Mundo than Sexy’s issues, so perhaps he’s just an innocent dude who likes weird pictures and Johnny Mundo. He wouldn’t be the first. Whatever the case I’m sure we’ll get some closure on this Sexy vs. the Tarantula story next week and I’m pretty sure I won’t care about it nearly as much as I did Sexy not screaming out someone’s name in rage after finding the spider in the box. Seriously Sexy; this was your chance to go full Wrath of Khan and you didn’t take it?! Rey Mysterio, William Shatner and I shake our heads at you.
We got a rare Texano segment here and I’d say it made it pretty clear where he’s going now that the best of five is over. Texano was minding his own business, getting a few power lifts in before his match with Cage when up walked Famous B, Brenda and…no Dr. Wagner Jr. Interesting point number one. Famous then launched into a soliloquy that pretty much echoed every criticism of Texano during his LU run, how for all his bad assery he was unable to make a long lasting connection with the fans. Famous offered to help change that (and Brenda tried to help by attempting to seduce Texano), but the second generation star refused. In fact I think he was more offended by the pitch than anything, and I can’t say I blame him considering Famous all but compared him to the likes of Tim Couch and David Carr. I half expected this to lead to Famous, Brenda and Wagner costing Texano the match later on for turning them down, but it appears this was used to set up a story down the road. The question will be whether or not Texano becomes the fighting technico against the dastardly Wagner, Famous and Brenda, or if Famous can successfully recruit Texano and leaves Wagner out in the cold. It was quite interesting that Wagner wasn’t there for this (unless you count his mask on Famous’ jacket), especially considering he’s Famous’ biggest client. I’m not saying it’s a big deal yet, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
Jack Evans and P.J. Black defeated Angelico and Son of Havoc
This match…the only way to sum up this match is with that paranoid guy from The Mummy Returns.
It didn’t start that way, with Jack and Angelico FINALLY getting to fight each other and delivering the terrific sequences you knew they would when they finally got a chance to throw down. The match slowed down a little bit after that sequence but it was still on its way to being solid overall. Then Angelico slipped a bit going for a springboard knee, landed on his left arm and suddenly I was on the verge of breaking every piece of furniture in my house. I don’t know what Angelico did to Cthulhu or whatever higher power exists but they need to get over it already. This is now the second serious injury that man has suffered in the past year and Angelico is too cool a dude to deserve this fate. It killed me to watch this and you could tell it killed the other three guys in this match; it was never the same once he got hurt. To make matters worse it looked like Jack (who was clearly distraught for Angelico at points) got hurt himself, adding more injury to insult. I guess this match just goes to show you how dangerous and how cruel wrestling can be. I just hope this ends up being the last injury Angelico suffers for a long time so he be the baddest motherfucker in wrestling for as long as he wants. Damn you injury gods; damn you.
El Jefe Rules
Not that anyone fully recovered from Angelico’s injury at this point, but the show did at least start to turn around with the appearance of El Jefe. He was peaking into that box with the blue light again when Sexy Star walked in and demanded a match against Mariposa next week. Yes Sexy is still really hung up on Mariposa being behind that idea, despite the fact that anyone with a brain can see it’s not. In any event Dario granted the request with a huge smile and even asked Sexy if she wanted it to be another No Mas match. Thank Grodd Sexy declined that; the only thing awaiting her if they tried to top that was everyone rolling their eyes and turning the criticism up to eleven. Alas she and Mariposa will just be a normal match next week, which should serve as a decent undercard match to Mundo-Big Willie. Who cares about that though when El Jefe was so excited about that box?! No sooner was Sexy out the door was he back gazing at that thing as if it were the Pulp Fiction briefcase (which it pretty much is with a blue light instead of a gold one). I almost wish Sexy had come back for one last favor, followed by El Jefe tossing something at her cause he was that pissed someone interrupted him staring at that box. There’s always next week I guess.
Best of Five Series: Match Four
Texano defeated Cage
Boy did this go a lot differently than I expected. They started off fast, looked like they were going to do another hybrid power/fast paced match and then suddenly finished up quickly with Cage crashing into an exposed turnbuckle, leaving him easy prey for Texano. I was thinking we were on the verge of getting a surprise main event; then El Jefe entered and decided that they might as well do the fifth match right then and there. I guess the box seduced him into it! Can’t say it was a bad call though; maybe a mystery main event would’ve been good, but I wanted to see Cage and Texano go and them going two minutes wasn’t exactly that. I will say this though; the finish to this match proved to be very crucial in setting up both the imagery and the story of the next match, which turned out to be more important than anyone could’ve imagined.
Best of Five Final
Cage defeated Texano
This. Was. Special. There’s no other way to describe this match sports fans. From an in ring standpoint it was exactly what it needed to be; an unrelenting brutal affair that saw each men beating each other within an inch of their lives for the course of fifteen minutes while the Temple went nuts. The in match story worked tremendously, with the actions of the first match becoming a huge deal as, with Cage dealt with the after affects of his collision with the turnbuckle(which included a huge, bloody gash and concussions symptoms, at least from how Cage sold it). Cage is generally the aggressor in his matches, so to put him in a spot where he had to come from underneath was a pretty inspired choice and it worked; I’ve never seen the Machine this sympathetic in a match. Add that into the personal animosity built up over the past several weeks and this match had all the heat it could handle. Even better, these two were fighting each other tooth in nail over a prize that, as the viewer knows, wasn’t actually much of a prize at all! Whatever way you want to slice it, this was a roller coaster of match emotionally and I have a feeling it resonated with fans long after Cage finally put away Texano with that beautiful Screwdriver finisher of his.
Even now though I just keep thinking about Texano. Maybe it’s because Cage has had several matches of this caliber in LU previously and maybe it’s because of the truth Famous B spoke in his promo earlier but this match…really this episode felt huge for Texano going forward. I can’t tell you how many comments I’ve seen about how Texano was a weak link for LU, someone fans couldn’t care about; hell I’ve seen some fans suggest he’s actually a bad wrestler, a mind blowing opinion to anyone who’s seen Texano work anywhere outside of the Temple. Whatever way you slice it there was no question before this Best of Five series that Texano was just another dude in the Temple and someone who hadn’t lived up to the pedigree he had established in Mexico. I could be wrong but I think we’ll now look back on this series and this match as the moment he finally came into his own for LU. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand the whole match, looked every bit as athletic and powerful as Cage and looked like the man who deservedly held the AAA Mega Championship longer than anyone else in history. Its part of the reason I have no problem with Matt Striker, who I’ve been critical of, saying this was a classic Best of Five. The purpose of this kind of series is to leave the competitors looking substantially better than they did going in; that’s why the Aerostar-Drago series worked so well in season one and why the Cesaro-Sheamus Best of Seven in WWE this year fell flat for many. Even if the match quality wasn’t as high hear as in the other two (and I’d argue some of the matches Cage and Texano had here were heavily underrated), at the end Cage came out looking every bit of the all around mega star he is and Texano came out a man who had finally gained the respect of an audience he had long sought. I’m thrilled for him. In the words of Kevin Durant, he’s the real MVP.
The Power Glove? GROOVY!
So with the Best of Five now over, the only thing left to do was for El Jefe to give Cage his prize and for Cage to be possessed by an evil Aztec God. Or was it? Dario effectively lured Cage from ringside to his office (we fans were deemed not worthy to see Cage receive his prize I guess) and presented Cage with…a Gauntlet. That’s right; Cage winning was all about him getting a Gauntlet, one that looked like a cross between the one Ash wore in Army of Darkness and Lucas’ Power Glove from The Wizard. I’ll admit that I was feeling more misled by El Jefe than the time The Wizard actually tried to convince me Lucas was the villain of that film. Like we’re really supposed to root against a video game master with a gorram power glove in favor of Fred Savage? Please.
Naturally I was wrong with what LU was trying to do. Cage was not surprisingly uninterested in the Gauntlet (I believe he told El Jefe “I’m not a renaissance fair kind of guy”, both the best line Cage has ever uttered and the best line since “I love the power glove. It’s so bad!”) and tried to leave. That didn't stop El Jefe, who offered to just have Cage try the glove on. The Machine complied, lightning surged through his arms and, while it wasn’t made clear, I’m pretty sure the man from the 559 is now possessed by an Aztec God. That or he has the power of an Aztec God. Cage then decided to choke Dario, further decided to keep the glove and then left, while El Jefe had a look on his face that screamed “I nearly choked to death but it was totally worth it because my plan worked! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!” I’m not sure what any of this means yet; all I know is that it’s not what I expected, it’s still as interesting as I expected and good Grodd people are going to be coming for that glove. Not that I’m complaining; more Wizard and Bruce Campbell jokes for me!
And scene. That’ll do sports fans, as I now retreat to…do something else. Should’ve thought of a better segue than that. I’ll be back tomorrow though to give you luchadors 20-11 in my Top 50 Luchador(a)s of 2016 series. Till we meet again, Cage does his best Bruce Campbell.