This has been a confusing week for me, filled with folk music, opera, and algebra tests, so I was a bit late in watching this episode. Had I been consciously considering that the show was promoted as containing two rematches bigger than anything planned for Wrestlemania so far, I might have foregone the couple of hours of sleep I go to watch it sooner. But the great thing about this age of DVRs and the Internet is that time will, in fact, wait for any man willing to push the pause button.
We get recaps of Sexy Star's ordeal with The Moth, Prince Puma & Pentagon's issues this season, and the war between Fenix and King Cuerno. We already know we're getting rematches between the latter pairs, I assume we'll be seeing Sexy Star in action tonight as well.
In the temple, Mils Muertes kneels before an alter. Catrina arrives, noting that Mils summoned her. He's upset that Puma & Pentagon are fighting each other again instead of him. (Is this the first time Muertes has spoken?)
Catrina reminds Mils Muertes that she's known him since he was a little boy, when she saved him from the rubble that buried him after the earthquake. For the first time, I'm beginning to realize they may be implying that Catrina is some sort of immortal witch because she appears to be younger than Mils at this point. The Man of a Thousand Deaths lifts Catrina in the air by her throat. "If I could bury you right now, I would!" He then demands matches with Puma and Pentagon so he can bury them instead. Catrina simply says no and teleports away, leaving Mils to yell in frustration.
Random Point of Interest: Catrina stated that it was the gods who buried Mils Muertes with that earthquake. Whoever holds the Gift of the Gods title is his biggest threat as champion.
In the temple proper, Matt Striker welcomes us to the show as Vampiro points out that Muertes is not sitting on his throat, wondering where he is. (We've firmly established this season that the announcers have no idea what goes back stage.)
Sure enough, our first match is Sexy Star vs Kobra Moon. This is the first time Sexy Star has appeared in the ring this season and the crowd are hot for her. The last (first) saw Kobra Moon defeat Bengala in what it appeared everyone else here thought was a much crappier match than I considered it to be.
No sign of The Moth, his sister, or The Mack, who was supporting Sexy Star at the end of last week's episode.
Chain wrestling to start out. Sexy Star gets a waistlock on Kobra Moon but Moon drops down, practically Bubba Bombing herself, slides back through Sexy Star's legs, then shoves her off with both feet in her ass for one of the more unique escapes I've seen in quite awhile.
Back and forth, mostly in the form of kicks, until The Mack wanders out to ringside, prompting a WILL-IE MACK chant from the crowd. Striker dilligently refers to him as The Mack but Vampiro calls him by his real name. And frankly, "The Mack" is fine as an occasional nickname but it's a stupid full time ring name and one of the very few things Lucha Underground has done that has consistently annoyed me.
Viscious looking move where Kobra Moon has Sexy Star in a front facelook, locks in a hammerlock, lifts her up in what looks like might be a DDT but then just sits out, ramming her into the ground. Sexy fights back and manages to lock in a pendulum swing shades of Ultimo Dragon on Velocity. Before Kobra can submit, however, The Moth appears in the crowd, distracting Sexy and allowing Kobra Moon to lock on the dragon sleeper w/ body scissors, forcing Star to tap out after a struggle.
Afterward, The Moth taunts Sexy from the stands as Sexy looks on in terror. Meanwhile, the Mack... I guess got bored and went to get a hotdog or something. The match was just sort of their, as the angle clearly took prominence. I'm sad that we didn't get to see the Mothess but I'm sure that's coming soon. Unless Willie Mack ate her.
Back from commercial, we get a commercial. Oh, wait, it's Famous B again. He's dominated the world of underground fighting and now he wants to help you get faaaamous. It turns out that El Hijo de Dragon Azteca Jr. II is actually watching this commercial, but Rey Mysterio (who I suspect is Jr in Lucha Underground but since he hasn't appeared in the arena, Matt Striker doesn't even know he's connected to the temple in any way, thus hasn't said his name) chides him for wasting time because he has to get ready. "Ready for what?" "Your destiny."
At this point, I think they could actually pull off never using Rey in a wrestling capacity and only have him acting and it would still trump 99% of what the WWE is trying to do. At this point, I'm almost convinced that Lucha Underground could put Vince Russo in charge of creative and somehow end up with a bunch of logical storylines. (By no means do I want them to test this theory.) Also, I'd pay $5 to see footage of Bull James (nee Dempsey) calling Famous B's #.
A video package informs us that King Cuerno isn't a blood thirsty killer, he simply enjoys the hunt and finds it satisfying. That success means the death of his prey is simply a fact of life. He vows to win the ladder match tonight and then take Mils Muertes' championship, assuming his rightful place as a god.
And it's time for Prince Puma vs Pentagon Jr Redux. Lets take a moment to consider what we're looking at here.
Prince Puma was the first every Lucha Underground champion. You could make a very strong case for him being the most over guy on the roster during season one from his debut in the main event of the very first match.
Pentagon Jr, on the other hand, started out as practically a jobber early on in the series. In fact, at the halfway point of the season he had only beaten jobbers and was just starting to get over with his arm breaking routine. He did win a big match at Ultima Lucha but it was against an announcer who hadn't wrestled in years, who was then revealed to be Pentagon's higher power. He initially got over because he's fucking awesome and then the booking caught up to him, reaching a fever pitch at the end of the season two premier when he broke the arm of Mils Muertes.
At the end of season one, had you asked people if they would be excited to see Puma vs Pentagon, the response likely would have been "Uh... huh... yeah, I guess that'd be a pretty good match." Even someone like me who is a fan of Puma and a Pentagon fanatic would have had trouble getting terribly excited about the prospect. But in less than a minute, at the end of the season premier, the two men were inextricably linked. One tag match later and fans are clamoring to see the two of them go at it. In episode 4, they face off for the first time to nuclear heat. And two episodes later they're facing off again and the fans are just as into it.
In half-a-season, which was ~20 episodes, they took Pentagon Jr. from jobber to one of the hottest guys on the card. And he likely didn't appear in half of those shows.
In the span of a month, dedicating less than 20 minutes to the pairing per week, they turned a first ever matchup into a Wrestlemania main event quality match.
And WWE can't get Roman Reigns over with a year-and-a-half of effort. Vince McMahon should resign in embarrassment.
But enough about that. Prince Puma and Pentagon f'ng Jr are about to go to war!
They start off with a slugfest and then Puma attempts to whip Pentagon into the ropes but Pentagon breaks his grip and then forearms Puma in the face. Pentagon tries to run the ropes but Puma charges right behind him and smashes him with an elbow.
Puma smacks Pentagon across the back of the head then hits the ropes. Pentagon wants a backdrop but Puma rolls over. Pentagon leapfrogs a rolling Puma and then Puma tries for his backhand spring into the headscissors but Pentagon just completely runs off in the other direction and nails him with back to back slingblades.
Puma rolls to the outside and Pentagon takes a moment to play to the crowd but Puma immediately reenters the ring with a springboard elbow to the chest. Pentagon then rolls to the outside but Puma no-hands cartwheels over the top rope, smashing his needs into Pentagon's head, and landing on his feet.
Puma rolls Pentagon back into the ring and then springboards off his knees into a rolling senton, followed by a big kick to the chest. He tries for a pin but Pentagon kicks out at 2. Pentagon then reverses a whip into the corner. Puma tries for a rebound handspring elbow but Pentagon dropkicks him while he's upside down. Pentagon then goes for a pin but only gets 2 as well.
Pentagon removes his glove and hits the big open hand slap to the chest which rings out across the arena. He wants a pumphandle but Puma reverses it into a rollup for a near fall.
Pentagon charges but Puma sidesteps and nails a Superman Punch, then hits the rolling Northern Lights Suplex into a vertical suplex and even with a little bit of a stumble it's still an impressive showing of power from Puma. Running mooonsault only gets 2 again.
Puma wants the 630. Pentagon rolls out of the way but Puma lands on his feet. Pentagon charges but Puma elevates up to the turnbuckle and slaps the taste out of his mouth. Suddenly, Mils Muertes appears at the top of the stairs.
This apparently distracts Puma long enough for Pentagon to come off the second rope with a flying destroyer piledriver. He tries for the pin but Puma kicks out as Mils Muertes makes his way down to the ring, tearing off the sling as Pentagon goes for the package piledriver on Puma.
Pentagon senses that Muertes is about to attack and lets Puma go. He then throws a big clothesline but misses and Muertes catches him with a swing uranage, drawing the disqualification. Puma superkicks Muertes in the face but Muertes simply takes a step back, shakes his head, and PUNCHES PUMA'S FUCKING HEAD OFF. He then crushes both men with spears and then picks them up and finishes them off with a double flatliner, standing tall in the ring with his championship belt.
1.) Mil Muertes has the best right hand in wrestling today. Steve Williams would be impressed.
2.) One man just destroyed two men but did so in a way that made the one man look like a devastating monster, not the other two guys look like chumps. If Mils Muertes went on a 20 year undefeated streak at Ultima Lucha, he'd probably lose for the first time to an upstart who was destined to become a huge name in the business.
3.) The match just ended in a non-finish but a.) didn't leave fans feeling like they'd wasted their time watching the match and b.) left them clamoring not just to see Puma & Pentagon face off again but also to see Puma vs Muertes and Pentagon vs Muertes. And Muertes most likely has to face off against whoever wins the main event that's still to come, either of which will be a credible challenger. Lucha Underground has 3-4 men that both have a chance at becoming the champion and that fans want to see fight for the title. WWE doesn't have a single person that falls into both of those categories.
In the back, Catrina walks alongside Muertes, telling him that she knew he only needed a little motivation. He says that was nothing compared to next week when he vows to defend the title against both Puma and Pentagon, because this is his temple and no one can stop him. Catrina snorts as Muertes walks on. (And I'll throw it back to when Dario Cueto was reluctant to bring Mils Muertes into the temple in the first place.)
And now it's time for the main event, a ladder match for the Dragon Ball Gift of the Gods Championship. But first, Striker has some breaking news. The invitations have been sent. Mils Muertes and Catrina have invited 20 of the greatest luchadores in the world to partake of Aztec Warfare, with the winner being crowned the #1 contender for Muertes' championship. That's happening in three weeks.
The ladders surround the ring as Fenix makes his way to ringside. Fenix was the #1 entrant in last year's Aztec Warfare, being eliminated by Chavo Guerrero after a chairshot to the head. Fenix is also, I believe, the only person to have a one-on-one victory over Muertes. Puma pinned Muertes at Aztec Warfare to win the title but there were 18 other guys involved in that match.
Coincidentally, the first person Cuerno did battle with in Aztec Warfare was Fenix. Cuerno was eliminated by a surprise rollup from Johnny Mundo seconds after Cuerno had eliminated Drago.
That's all water under the bridge at the point though because this match is for the Gift of the Gods championship, which didn't even exist a year ago. Mils Muertes returns to his throne to observe the battle. But consider this. This is the sixth episode of season two and the third time that Fenix and King Cuerno have done battle. They've literally fought on every other show this season and the fans haven't gotten tired of it. Lucha Underground could turn Big Show heel and the fans would give a shit.
The bell rings with ~18 minutes to go. Fenix goes flippy right off the bat, eventually hitting a tornado dive to the floor. Fenix tries to climb the ladder but Cuerno makes it back in in time to shove the ladder over and Fenix with it. Cuerno leans the ladder against the turnbuckles and then powerbombs Fenix onto it.
Cuerno then sets up two ladders side-by-side, creating an angled bridge between the ring apron and the barrier. Cuerno wants to front suplex Fenix onto the ladders but Fenix keeps blocking so Cuerno eventually just chucks him over the top rope. He then presses him up and drops him face first onto one of the ladders.
Cuerno sets up a ladder against Catrina's office, which is what he tried to do back when he lost the last man standing match. Cuerno tries to whip Fenix into that ladder but Fenix reverses. Cuerno manages to jump up and land on the ladder, then dive off with a clothesline, however. He then chucks Fenix into the chairs as Vampiro has PTSD flashbacks to Ultima Lucha.
Both men make their way up a ladder and it appears Cuerno wants to suplex Fenix off the top but Fenix manages to fight out and shove Cuerno off onto his back. Fenix then climbs up onto the roof of the office, from which he dove off of during his very first match in the temple. He then SOMERSAULT DIVES OVER THE LADDER ONTO CUERNO ON THE FLOOR! Even Vampiro stands up as a Holy Shit chant morphs into a This Is Awesome chant.
Fenix charges Cuerno but gets alley-ooped up into the balcony. Cuerno gives chase and dives off the railing with a big stomp across Fenix' chest, drawing a big ooooh from the crowd. Dueling "Let's Go Fenix!/Let's Go Cuerno!" chants because the temple believers are wrestling fans and they appreciate the work of wrestlers, not bookers.
Fenix comes back with a hard kick to Cuerno's face. He climbs up on the railing for a dive but Cuerno recovers and just shoves him off, causing Fenix to fly through the air and land sideways on the ladder that's leaning up against the ring. That looked fucking brutal and Fenix sells it as such. "He broke his ass," Vampiro says solemly.
Cuerno tries to decapitate Fenix but Fenix dodges and the ladder smashes into the ringpost, hurting Cuerno's arm, as Vampiro questions whether either man will be able to climb the ladder by the end of the match.
Another big superkick floors Cuerno and Fenix starts to climb up the ladder to the office roof again. Cuerno is back on his feet and shoves the ladder over but Fenix manages to land on his own feet and catch the ladder. He shoves it back at Cuerno but Cuerno catches it and sends it careening into Fenix's head.
Cuerno has finally had enough of the hunt and goes for the belt but Fenix manages to knock him off the ladder with a springboard dropkick. Both men ascend the ladder but instead of the standard exchange of punches, they race to get the belt, resulting in both of them dangling from the perch, eventually ending in both of them falling to their backs 10' below. Vampiro excuses himself from the announce desk to go chant holy shit with the fans.
Cuerno hits Thrill of the Hunt in the corner but pulls out a table rather than go for the belt. More PTSD for Vampiro as the last time a table entered the ring, it was set on fire and he was slammed through it.
Cuerno wants the Thrill of the Hunt off the top rope, through the table. Fenix has other ideas, though, slipping out, hitting a jumping palm strike and then a springboard 'rana sends Cuerno through the table. Fenix then heads up the ladder to regain his Gift of the Gods championship. He stands aloft, facing Mils Muertes, holding his belt aloft, and Muertes meets his faceoff, raising his belt from atop the balcony as we fade to black.
The two main matches of this show were more interesting to me than the entire Wrestlemania card thusfar. In fact, I think both matches were better than the entirety of the Wrestlemania card last year. I think in April I'll shell out the $15 or whatever it costs to get Lucha Underground legally, rather than waste $9.99 on Wrestlemania. Or maybe I'll just order a Pentagon Jr shirt and break the arm of any wrestling fan who asks me who it is.
Y'know what's also a relief? The announce team not trying to overtalk each other. No loudmouth midcard Texan shouting his bosses opinion and reusing the same tired sound bites because he's scared of being embarrassed by his boss, or a guy who's been a commentator for almost two decades who verbalizes the apex to a dramatic match or a surprise wrestler's appearance the same way he shows excitement of going to a commercial break.
I didn't like Striker at all in WWE, and I wasn't sure how Vampiro would work out at the table. I really didn't want him to get involved in story angles because I have bad flashbacks to Lawler having the token match when WWE got near Memphis pre-heart problems. Striker and Vampiro not only gel together and play off each other well, but the catch even the smallest detail in the match and know the past details of each luchador. Stuff I've long forgotten Striker catches. When the match get's too good Vampiro is into it like I'm into it as a fan.
I think they are elevating the product because they love being a part of it. Vampiro and Matt aren't just working at a job where they do the bare minimum and get paid. They believe they are part of something dramatically different in wrestling and know that their small number of peers are doing so much with the bare minimum. I believe Nxt with Graves and Phillips have a similar philosophy.
In the end of the day, current day Vince sucks ass.
(edited by CruelAngel777 on 5.3.16 1315)
(edited by CruelAngel777 on 5.3.16 1317) Cole: "Yeah, thanks to Kane. You should buy Kane a Rolex watch for what he did for you." Rollins: "Oh don't be silly, Kane doesn't wear watches."