Lucha Underground Review: Midseason Finale
Well…that was it sports fans. Lucha Underground has concluded half of season three tonight with their midseason finale, an episode that featured some great shit and one thing that made me want to pull my hair out. Let’s start with the latter. We all knew going into this episode that Lucha Underground was going to be off the air for awhile; we just didn’t know how long. Well now we know, or at least we know more than we did before this episode. So when is LU returning? Why not until the Summer of 2017, which could be any time between four to seven months from now! There’s really only one way for me to sum up my feelings on this matter; let me show you.
Yes folks, this long layoff sucks, I’m legit ticked off about it and in the coming days I will have plenty to say as to why I think this has happened. Rest assured some people won’t be happy about what I have to say but it needs to be said. For now though let’s focus on tonight’s show, a show that did what it needed to do and ended the first half of season three hot. How much that helps the second half when it’s several months away beats the hell out of me but there’s nothing anyone can do about it now. For tonight at least the show had good quality, set up stories for the second half and gave us a great final fifteen minutes between El Dragon Azteca Jr., Matanza and Rey Mysterio. Normally I’d feel great about it all, but then I keep thinking about the long layoff and I start seeing white dots. Whatever; like I said we’ll tackle that tomorrow. For tonight let’s just review this gangbuster of a show. Moses, meme like you’re going on vacation for the next several months.
Azteca Meets the Renegade
Unless I’m mistaken, does Councilman Delgado’s meeting with El Jefe in El Jefe’s office count as their first meeting in the Temple? Took them long enough. The two were shooting the shit about Cage and his new power glove before El Dragon Azteca Jr. walked in. He wanted Matanza, he didn’t care whether or not El Jefe was responsible for Matanza costing him that Battle of the Bulls match weeks ago (he wasn’t) and demanded a Death Match. Those never end well! Delgado seemed impressed, I was impressed (not the last time Azteca would do that this evening) and even Dario seemed to be impressed as well. And that’s how the main event came to be folks. Maybe it’s because we actually got development with the Azteca-Matanza madness later on but the most interesting stuff here was the discussion about Cage, the glove and even the phone call Dario made informing someone there was a new main event. That’s clearly going to be a big part of the second half of the season and the way Delgado was talking it sounded like there could be a huge stable brewing with Cage, Matanza and even the Lord. Yes I’m interpreting the “we will be men among gods” comment to mean that. Also, I’m not sure that was the Lord Dario was on the phone with. I have no idea who it could possibly be otherwise, but I’m just not convinced. Damn you LU for giving me more mysteries when you’ve got this extended vacation coming up. It’s not fair!
Vampiro calls out Mil
This was short but worth mentioning because Vampiro was so fucking awesome here. Striker brought up Mil Muertes’ attack on Vampiro last week (part motivated because Vamp brought Prince Puma back and part motivated because Mil wanted revenge for Vamp beating Mil’s pal El Mesias back in 2008) and Vamp wasted no time responding. Vamp’s quote itself wasn’t the reason this was epic (it was good, but it was your basic “I SHALL CRUSH YOUR BONES INTO DUST!” revenge script); it was the way Vamp said it, the way he sold it with his facial expressions, the way he articulated that Mil was going to suffer when the time is right. I absolutely loved it. If nothing else, we can at least say that Lucha Underground helped get Vampiro the recognition he long deserved when all is said and done.
Texano defeated Joey Ryan
This will be rated low by people because it was a slow, by the book match but that’s a disservice. For what this was I thought the two dudes did a hell of a job. There’s definitely more “oomph” in the step of Texano these days, and Joey Ryan remains as underrated a performer as ever, getting a reaction simply by sticking a lollipop in his pants and then doing despicable things afterwards. The big story here however was Famous B coming out with Brenda to cheer on Texano, which not so coincidentally led to Texano taking control of the match and ultimately pulling out the win after Brenda handed him a golden horseshoe. I was pretty convinced that meant Texano and Famous were in cahoots, but after the match Texano pushed Famous away and seemed far more interested in Brenda than anything else. Quite interesting. I’m not sure if this is leading to Texano pulling Brenda away from Famous or Famous using Brenda to turn Texano rudo, but there’s definitely something going on between those three come the second half. I can’t help but note the absence of Dr. Wagner Jr. again too. Is he done with Famous? Or are they waiting to deploy him into this story at the right time? Remember these questions months from now when the feud heats back up. Good Grodd, what are we going to do with all this spare time?!
Live from Slamtown
I think this was the first time in awhile that LU has actually done a long promo segment on the show. They may want to do more honestly seeing how well this one worked. I’ve watched Johnny Mundo since he was Johnny Blaze on RAW; never in his career has he been cutting the promos and doing as good of character work as he is right now. He was exceptional here, talking himself up, giving shout outs to Taya (stuck at home working on Mundo’s documentary, though we all really know it’s because he doesn’t want her stealing his spotlight), broing up with Jack Evans and P.J. Black. Good Grodd he even compared Big Willie Mack to the Hot Tub Guy (what a burn that was!). All that combined to get this type of heat by the time Mundo put the mic down.
Naturally that was also the point when The Mack came out and things got crazy. There was brawling, there was Stunners to Jack and P.J., there was no Sexy Star (I’m sure many were saddened by this), there were security guards and there was Johnny Mundo further being awesome by cowering like Gaston in the final five minutes of Beauty and the Beast. Hell Mack even got to get a few lines on Mundo at the end. I thought this was overall absolutely tremendous overall, and it doesn’t work if Mundo doesn’t get the crowd all riled up prior to it. Furthermore a talking segment like this is easy to remember for when they eventually do this match after the break, so it should be fresh in people’s minds. Without question this was one of the strongest segments of the evening.
Cage defeated Veneno
A couple big developments. First, Veneno is clearly Cortes Castro/Officer Reyes. They didn’t show the flashback in the opening recap of Castro getting a mask for nothing folks; that was clearly him, and if the recap didn’t give it away then the fact that Veneno looked and moved like Castro certainly did. Second, Cage actually didn’t work this match with the glove. Then again he didn’t need to, as he turned this match into a basic squash by running over Veneno despite the latter’s valiant efforts. I guess the idea is that the glove is too dangerous for Cage to crush guys with, but even still it makes him more powerful and aggressive just by wearing it. I can live with that and clearly there will be more to that story once we get to the second half. As for Veneno/Castro, it looks like Sexy Star is who he’ll be dealing with next. Sexy came to the ring after the match, put the boots to Veneno and pretty much named him the guy leaving her spiders. In fairness to Sexy, Veneno does have a spider symbol on his mask. That said, I seriously doubt it’s him and this is just going to lead to Sexy still having no freakin clue who this guy/girl is. I wouldn’t be surprised if they stretched the “who is sending spiders to Sexy?!” story till the end of the season. As long as it keeps her out of the main event I doubt people will have issue.
Yet another strong segment here. Puma was kendo stick training (as one does) but seemed to be struggling through some PTSD here as he kept flashing back to moments with Konnan from season one (complete with K-Dawg’s advice). Catrina arrived, we had got some sexy trash talk (seriously; can Catrina trash talk without seducing her enemy or me at the same time? She’s too good!) and as per usual Puma was left with Catrina dancing around in his head like Jack Evans. The long story short is that Mil vs. Puma is definitely happening again in the second half; Puma believes he’ll be leaving Mil lying in a pool of his own blood and Catrina believes it’ll be the opposite. That doesn’t sound epic in print, but believe me it was here with Puma fighting off the demons and Catrina being Catrina. Chalk this up as another thing I cannot wait to see later this year, especially if this intertwines with Jeremiah trying to win over Catrina along with Ivelisse and the mysterious Catrina love interest (IT’S FENIX) getting involved.
Matanza defeated El Dragon Azteca Jr.
Everything about this ruled and I will fight anyone who disagrees. Seriously; I LOVED everything about this match and the immediate aftermath. The story here was a relentless El Dragon Azteca taking it to Matanza with all sorts of offense, only Matanza is an indestructible force that cannot be stopped ever. That dynamic can work great with two great performers, which makes it a good thing that both of these guys are just that. I may be alone but I thought this was the best work of Azteca’s LU tenure. This is just some of the moves he hit in this match; a satellite hurricanrana, a running dive off a chair to the floor, a senton from off a ventilation shaft and even a hurricanrana at the top of the stairs that nearly sent Matanza down the stairs. Those moves are amazing by themselves, but they worked even better here because you could feel the relentless desperation in Azteca, a young luchador in over his head trying to get revenge on Matanza. The problem was that Matanza was just too good, too powerful and too diabolical to stay down, thus he kept coming and coming until this match ended with, and this legit happened, Matanza put Azteca through the bleachers with a chokeslam. That’s right; HE CHOKESLAMMED HIM THROUGH THE GORRAM BLEACHERS!
That was enough to get Marty Elias to stop the match and honestly LU could’ve ended the show then and I would’ve been a satisfied customer. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! Instead Rey Mysterio, back in the Temple for the first time since Aztec Warfare III, arrived and went to check on Azteca. Of course Matanza, the man who put out Rey and the same man who Rey pinned in Aztec Warfare, immediately went after Rey and we got a brawl that was almost as good as the match. This is the power of Rey Mysterio folks; you put anyone else in this position and it just feels like two guys fighting. This legit felt like Rey was fighting for his existence because Rey is just so good at those little things and making Matanza look legit terrifying. In the end though Rey was able to not only survive but leave Matanza is a heap too after he, and this is also true, back dropped Matanza over the railing and through the roof of…is it the Temple closet? Who knows and who cares; in the span of five minutes we had two guys going through structures and falling great heights. FIVE MINUTES people.
So yeah, this was something. In the span of fifteen minutes we got a great match that made both Azteca and Matanza look great, Azteca being utterly wrecked, Rey Mysterio returning and then Matanza getting utterly wrecked. All while Dario Cueto sold this entire thing like he was itching for that Academy Award nomination. That’s a whole lot of good shit folks and it was a great way to close the in ring action for this half of season three. And like a lot of the other stuff from tonight, this story isn’t over either. I’m not sure if this is leading to Rey being the one to finally take Matanza down or Azteca being the one to do it (I’d prefer the latter) but I can’t imagine the direction is anything but one of those two scenarios for these three going forward. I’m all for it. If they’re putting each other through roofs and bleachers now then I can only imagine what will happen the further down the rabbit hole we go. Gorramit; why do we have to wait so long?! WHY AM I ASKING QUESTIONS THAT I’LL BE ANSWERING TOMORROW?!
Welp…there’s one thing I can definitely say for sure about this closing segment and that’s that Marty the Moth is definitely going after Melissa Santos in the second half. You see the way he was stalking her after the show was over? It’s totally happening, and I wouldn’t doubt he’s the guy we saw keeping close tabs on Melissa Santos and Fenix in the season three trailer. What I can’t figure out however is what is going on between Marty and Mariposa. Last week Marty attacked Mariposa, which looked to me to be a betrayal. Then this week Melissa kidnapped Marty, tied him up in the Temple basement and then…I’m still not sure. All I know is she said that Marty had her attention, she wondered if he had finally seen the light and then left him tied up following a slap. That could mean numerous things, as could Marty laughing hysterically saying that he did good, and this is why MIDSEASON FINALES ARE DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS THAT SHOULD BE DONE AWAY WITH! Can you tell I’m upset? I have no idea what they’re doing here but considering Marty has been magic throughout LU’s history and Mariposa has now just finally become interesting I’m willing to find out. I just know that the chokeslam Marty gave Mariposa last week no longer seems as cut and dry as it once did. As DDP would say, that’s a good thing.
That’s it sports fans. I take my leave now, but I will be back tomorrow to talk more extensively about Lucha Underground and my feelings on this long break. There may also be a CMLL preview fit in there as well depending on my mood. Till then, D to the U to the C to the H to the O to the V to the N to the Y! DUCHOVNY BABY!