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Reflections on the Masterpiece That Was Ultima Lucha Tres, Part Four
I always knew that this column, potentially the last recap I ever do for a Lucha Underground show, would be difficult to write. I mean come on; it’s Lucha Underground. This is the show that saved me as a wrestling fan after WWE did everything it could to kill that side of me; the show that introduced me to so many people who made me a better person, a better fan and a better writer; the show that proved to me that there are still places in wrestling where the only requirements to be a top star are how awesome you are at what you do. Sure it had its in the form of incompetent executives, lazy executives and…well pretty much anything that involved the position of executive, but on the whole experiencing Lucha Underground was like seeing Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the first time or hearing the first few beats from Bad Religion’s No Control. There was/is nothing else like it out there, and more than likely never will. It’s why last night’s Ultima Lucha Tres finale, along with the Cubs seemingly inevitable sweep at the hands of the Dodgers, had me feeling like I was taking a trip to the in-laws (if I were so fortunate to have some). Sure it could turn out well, but the likelihood was that this would be it; the conclusion of two seasons I wasn’t ready to see end just yet, giving away to that classic old science fiction trope known as the uncertain future. Now I understand why those work far better in fiction than reality.
Of course, had I known how the night was going to turn out I would’ve realized it was best to go into the proceedings 98% excited, 2% scared instead of the reverse. The Cubs season did not end thanks to Javier Baez, Wilson Contreras, Wade Davis and Dave Roberts’ continued insistence that Curtis Granderson’s corpse remain in the lineup. Even better was Ultima Lucha Tres’ finale, an event so good that the closest comparison I can make is to last year’s Game 7 victory for the Cubs and Game 6 of the 1975 World Series (the one where the guy wills the ball fair). Like those famous games, Ultima Lucha Tres was practically a Russian novel, if a Russian novel was set in a grunge style Temple in Boyle Heights, California and involved wrestling. There were good guys, bad guys, plot, heart pounding moments of tension, twists, turns, surprise returns, stakes, valuable goods to be won and me making the same face I made when Barbara Gordon shot herself in the head in Arkham Knight (SPOILER ALERT!). Throw in a Backlash 2000 style crowd and, of course, some of the best wrestling you can find and I dare say this was one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen in my twenty plus years as a wrestling fan. It was so great that I dare say doing a regular review would leave a few things lost in translation. So instead, we will break this down piece by piece, brick by brick until I’m pretty sure, much like The Operative in Serenity, there is nothing left to see.
1). Naturally we’re starting this off with the only part of the show that you could argue was disappointing. AND AFTER THAT GREAT SPEECH I JUST HAD! In fairness, Dragon Azteca and Matanza’s cage match probably would’ve been the best match on either CMLL’s Monday or Tuesday show and you can’t hate on something that featured one dude getting thrown through a cage at 90 MPH. Seriously, that happened. Compared to everything else that happened on this show however (and everything that happened on Ultima Lucha Tres parts 1-3), this and Pentagon vs. Son of Havoc were the only matches that felt like they should’ve been bigger and fell just a bit short. Then again the only consequences are Dragon Azteca’s biggest moment remains going through bleachers and Matanza is, well, still Matanza. So not much changed. Plus we finally got see Black Lotus have her “DUH!” moment when Dario revealed he lied about what really happened to her parents, which means Matanza-Black Lotus is now a thing again which means THE BLACK LOTUS TRIAD IS COMING BACK! So what if one of them left to put over Alexa Bliss from this day till the ending of the world; we’ve still got Hitokiri and Yurei to ride in on the ninja horse to combat the ultimate evil. Jot this down as reason #9,001 we need a season four. Oh, and before I forget; no Azteca didn’t get robbed. He didn’t escape the cage, he got thrown through it like Ryan Gosling got put through that wall in Blade Runner 2049. I wouldn’t given him that fluke victory either Dario; good on you for keeping it going.
2). People are sleeping on Cage-Matanza-Jeremiah Crane this morning and I will have none of that! I think you could make the argument that this wasn’t just the best match of the night but maybe the best match of Ultima Lucha Tres. I know I know, BUT WHAT ABOUT KILLSHOT VS. DANTE FOX?! Yeah that match was insane in a “Starring Keanu Reeves as Hamlet” kind of way, but let’s be real; we knew it would be. Were you expecting Cage to be doing Lionsault’s, Mil Muertes to be doing headscissors and Jeremiah Crane stabbing Cage’s mohawk with whatever those things were? Come on now. This was some Keith Lee-Donovan Dijak level shit these guys were doing and, in case you’ve forgotten, this was a year before Lee and Dijak confirmed that big guys could do what the little dudes can. I thought this match would be something special going in but it was even better. The only thing missing was Cage breaking out a Phoenix Splash and Crane taking off his mask and revealing himself to be Raven. And for all I know that may have all happened and LU cut it out to make us crazy, much like they’re doing to Rob Viper by withholding that Aerostar-Pindar match from him.
3). Can we do whatever LU is doing with Mil Muertes and tell AAA to do the same with his alter ego El Mesias? I cannot believe how the dude can be so good in the Temple and yet so lifeless down in Mexico. It’s like seeing Alicia Vikander go from Ex Machina to Tulip Fever. Actually it’s like anyone going from something to Tulip Fever. The moral of this story is avoid Tulip Fever.
4). KING CUERNO BABY! I guess death didn’t take for Good Ole Deer Antlers as he was back and stealing away the power glove from Mil Muertes before LU could get the backup generator working. Does that now make it four dudes that want the power glove, or are Crane and Cage deciding to do other stuff (more on that in the moment)? Whatever the case, Fantasma has the glove, Mil wants the glove (he did rightfully win it), Catrina is on a mission to get the glove and the longer this goes on the chances of Lucas Barton making his way to the Temple to retrieve his prize just get higher. It’s gonna happen guys and gals; the only thing standing in the way is MGM and El Rey having a dick measuring contest over the season four budget.
5). Let’s get back to movies better than Tulip Fever; like Taya’s Johnny Mundo documentary! If you didn’t like this masterpiece than we can’t be friends anymore. I laughed, I cried, I occasionally did both at the same time and I may or may not have submitted Ricky Mundo’s performance to the Emmy’s for Best Supporting Actor. This actually may have been the comedy equivalent of the entire show in that it had a bit of everything; Mundo being Mundo, Taya’s voice over narration (the most underrated part), P.J. Black resisting the urge to go postal on everyone, WHITEBOARD EVANS (who knew that Jack would be even funnier silent?!), Dario Cueto reaching apex Dario by either trying to tear his face off or doing his best impression of The Claw and future Emmy winner Ricky Mundo comparing Johnny to Jesus as classical music played in the background. You could make an argument this was the greatest thing in LU’s history and not get laughed out of a party over it. And this happened right before LU descended into arguably the greatest hour of TV they’ve ever produced.
6). Prince Puma-Johnny Mundo was everything you wanted to be and more, which is good considering these two have history going back to biblical times. It played perfectly into the rivalry these two have had since season one. It showcased all that Puma had learned in season three to become a complete worker while also featuring some old school Puma (the original costume, significantly more dives than usual). And of course the fact that there were huge stakes on both sides made the drama thicker than the fog in The Fog. It was a perfect match with just the two of them for the first ten minutes, and then amazingly just got even better!
7). For all the people who complained about interference in LU’s third season, particularly from the Worldwide Underground in Mundo’s title defenses, this match perfectly explains why they did it. I’m sure some will still complain about it anyway because they’ve conditioned to think all interference is bad and thus whenever it happens a match is ruined (in reality, interference is only bad when it’s done for the sake of it. You know, like when Suzuki-gun interferes in every Minoru Suzuki match because Gedo is too busy counting Okada’s fake money to care). But without the Worldwide Underground interfering to protect Mundo all season, none of what happened in this match would’ve meant as much. Would Angelico’s return have been as hot? Would Rick Knox’s dive have been as amazing? Would Puma’s fight back have meant as much (in fairness, the fact that his career was on the line helped too)? For the love of Grodd, would we have gotten that moment where Puma hit that springboard 450 or a near fall and the Temple roof legit almost came off?! Ladies and gentlemen I watched Money in the Bank 2011 as it happened, I’ve re-watched Rock-HHH Backlash 2000 over 9,000 times; I’ve even seen Average Joes Gymnasium win a Dodgeball contest where a grown man went on about seeing another grown man satisfy a camel (just kidding. Or am I?). Puma’s near fall after his 450, Knox’s dive and Angelico’s comeback may have been the loudest I’ve ever heard a wrestling crowd get. And it’s all cause fans were overjoyed at the Worldwide Underground interference finally backfiring and being fought off, something that wouldn’t have happened if they hadn’t been doing it all season. As Jeremy Simmons would say, interference is good!
8). Small note; you’re damn right my favorite part of this was the great Angelico’s return. IT’S ANGELICO; the only man in wrestling who I’m pretty sure can actually fly. Here’s hoping this leads to LU pushing him to the Promised Land in season four and that Ultima Lucha Cuatro ends with Angelico holding the LU title high as Dante Fox and Pentagon lie motionless on the mat. You’re damn right I’m campaigning for Angelico-Fox-Pentagon as the main event!
9). The reason I’m starting said campaign early; because even after Prince Puma overcame Mundo to become new Lucha Underground Champion (the only two time champion ever), Dario Cueto couldn’t resist revealing that Pentagon Dark had come to him during the week and asked to cash in his Gift of the Gods Championship. And yes, Dario agreed, partially because he’s that damn diabolical and partially because Pentagon threatened to break every bone in Dario’s body if he didn’t walk out LU champ back when the Cueto Cup began (did you remember that? I bet you didn’t!). I’ll admit that this match didn’t quite reach the high of Puma-Mundo (then again, I’m pretty sure only Pentagon taking his mask off to reveal he was CM Punk could’ve gotten a reaction like the Puma near fall got), but this was still awesome. Puma worked a high level despite selling a broken arm, Pentagon was Pentagon and the crowd (have I mentioned how awesome the Temple was?) went from willing Puma to save his career to turning on him in favor of Pentagon winning the title. And it worked; Pentagon Dark, after many broken bones, wheelchair rides and globe spanning searches for Black Lotus (SHE’S BACK IN THE TEMPLE PENTAGON!) is finally the top dog of LU, with an assist from Vampiro. Say what you will about Vamp but him helping Pentagon came off as awesome for three reasons, a) it allowed Pentagon to get his redemption for coming up short one year ago against Matanza, b) Vampiro gets his redemption for failing Pentagon a year ago and c) it led to the greatest moment of Matt Striker’s career where he rage quitted on Vampiro at the booth. Even Bryan Alvarez stood up and applauded Striker…actually he likely didn’t, but let’s pretend he did for the sake of this argument.
10). Remember how LU decided against another spectacular closing scene ending for season two and we all reacted like Celtics fans when Gordon Hayward landed on his ankle (too soon?)? The mistake was not made again!
11). Between Puma’s slow walk out to the back to “Thank you Puma” chants and him leaving the mask behind, the only way LU could’ve written him off better is if they had the fans carry him out, Maximus at the end of Gladiator style. A worthy send off for a special talent.
12). King Cuerno’s cabin looks a lot better with the power glove in it, doesn’t it? Hopefully he’s installed extra security this time; remember when he tried to keep Mil locked in there and Catrina found him?
13). I’d bet my Batman bobblehead doll that the Spider lady is Lady Shani, come to rid us of Sexy Star. I’d also bet that Shani wrecks Sexy off screen before season four and Sexy becomes the latest edition of the missing person’s wall on Captain Vasquez’s squad room. Speaking of Vasquez, are we sure she’s not on that wall? Last time I saw her, I’m pretty sure Field of Dreams was in theaters.
14). For the last time, Mascarita Sagrada is not the white rabbit! But he is apparently texting buddies with him and can take Paul London, Mala Suerte and Saltador to him. On the one hand, now I have to write an article speculating on who the white rabbit is. On the other hand, NOW I GET TO WRITE AN ARTICLE SPECULATING ON WHO THE WHITE RABBIT IS! Which wrestlers do we know who love Jefferson Airplane and doing shrooms while watching Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas?
15). Remember how I theorized that the person Catrina was actually in love with wasn’t Fenix? Oops! I mean unless she was stalking him and Melissa for other reasons there at the end…yeah no chance. The good news is that this means Fenix and Mil will be crossing paths soon (have I mentioned their both 3-0 at Ultima Lucha? Sounds like the makings of a great UL4 match to me!) and that Fenix-Jeremiah Raven…I mean Crane (who watched Catrina following Fenix and Melissa in their Firebird) will be beefing. Somewhere, my editor Wayne is getting another Fenix mask ready for Crane to spit into (only AAW fans will get this).
16). DAGA LIVES! AND HE HAS A SWORD! AND PINDAR HAS LOST HIS HEAD! If I was Kobra Moon I may have chopped the head off of the dinosaur instead so we could have the awesome Daga/Drago/Pindar trio I never knew I wanted till now, but still; good call not killing Daga and instead brainwashing him Kobra Moon. Also, Drago is totally sending cryptic, coded messages to Aerostar asking his buddy to save him. Did you see his face watching all of this? Nomar Garciaparra was having more fun on the 2004 Red Sox than Drago was there.
17). I was right! Pentagon isn’t Vampiro’s new member. Instead it’s Bestia 666. That’s right; breaking news here. I know some people are suggesting Kevin Kross or someone else, but the hair, the fact that the dude isn’t tall (he’s barely taller than a kneeling Vampiro for crying out loud) and the fact that Bestia comes from a long line of dark, scary dudes (have you seen Damian 666?) pretty much confirms it’s him. This is great; Bestia rules, Bestia turning Vamp into his servant rules and Bestia vs. Pentagon will also rule. Everything rules!
18). REY IS STILL ALIVE! Of course he’s trapped in the basement with Matanza but…actually I’d prefer death. I’m looking forward to see how this one works out. Does Rey come back? If not, is he killed off? And if he’s not killed off, how does he get out and work other shows? Does Azteca find him, free him, and then sacrifice himself to join Bael in the great lucha ring in the sky? These are the things I need to know. Also, nice of Dario to give Rey a new change of clothes and a new mask. Say what you will about the Temple’s basement conditions, but the service there is excellent.
19). Perhaps I should say the service was because DARIO MIGHT BE DEAD! Except he’s not really dead guys. I’ve watched enough Arrow to know that these sort of cliffhangers always end with the people being brought back. Only in this case you’ll be happy El Jefe’s alive, whereas Felicity Smoak’s continued existence just leads to depression and alcoholism (go read the Arrow reddit page if you don’t believe me). I do have questions though; why kill El Jefe now of all times? What’s wrong with King Cuerno having the power glove? Why not triple tap if you’re Agent Winters? And while I’m pretty sure Dario gets out okay, who the hell saves him? Does someone just happen to walk by? Does the red bull come to life and provide medical assistance? I think we can all agree that, regardless of what happens to LU, they need to at least film one scene that shows Dario’s fate. WE CAN’T BE LEFT HANGING!
20). On the plus side, if/when we do return, we’ll get to meet Dario’s dad. That’s who was on the phone with Dario before he passed out from the pain. I don’t know a ton of Spanish but I know enough to know I heard the word “mijo’ uttered on the other end of the phone and mijo is Spanish for son. Daddy El Jefe is coming to combat the Lord sports fans! Here’s hoping its LA Park; why have a normal dad when he can be a chairman?!
So yeah, that was the finale of Ultima Lucha Tres. Rad right? I’ll confirm this feeling later when I watch the show again (and whether you’ve seen it already or are reading the summary here, I suggest you watch it too), but right now I can safely say this was one of the best shows of all time and, combined with the other three parts of Ultima Lucha Tres, one of the greatest wrestling events I’ve ever seen. If you can find the combination of great wrestling, great storytelling, never before seen moments and unbelievable emotion on the level as this, send it to me right away because I don’t believe you. Ultima Lucha Tres is why I love wrestling and why I write about it, and just like the Cubs’ victory last night renewed my faith in them coming back, last night’s show renewed my faith that this isn’t the last we’ve seen of LU. I believe we’ll get a season our, we’ll get to see a Pentagon title reign and find out whether Dario does live or die. But in the event that doesn’t happen for some reason, allow me to thank Agent Winters, Aerostar, Alberto El Patron (yes, even him), Angelico, Argenis/Barrio Negro, Bael, Big Ryck, Beautiful (DAMMMN!) Brenda, Bengala, Black Lotus, Blue Demon Jr., Cage, Captain Vasquez, Catrina, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Chris DeJoseph, Chris Roach, Councilman Delgado, Cortez Castro, Daga, Dante Fox, Dario Cueto, DelAvar Daivari, Doku, Dr. Wagner Jr., Drago, El Dragon Azteca Sr., El Dragon Azteca Jr., Eric Van Wagenen, Famous B, Fenix, Hernandez, Hitokiri, Hugo Savinovich, Ivelisse, Jack Evans, Jeremiah Crane, Joey Ryan, Johnny Mundo, Justin Borden, Killshot, King Cuerno, Kobra Moon, Konnan, Mala Suerte/Mr. Cisco, Mariachi Loco/Saltador/Siniestro de la Muerte, Marty Elias, Marty “The Moth” Martinez, Mariposa, Matanza, Matt Striker, Melissa Santo, Mil Muertes, Night Claw, Paul London, Pentagon Dark, Pindar, P.J. Black, Prince Puma, Rey Mysterio Jr., Rick Knox, Ricky Mundo/Trece, Sexy Star (though I do so begrudgingly), Son of Havoc, Son of Madness, Super Fly, Taya, Texano, Vibora, Vinnie Massaro and all the others who I don’t know or forgot for making Lucha Underground the first promotion that made me feel like a part of something since WCW. Thank you. Let’s do this all again soon, with LA Park as Dario’s father, Flat Earth believer Juventud Guerrera as the Lord and Teddy Hart as himself.