Welcome back, fellow Believers! It’s time we journeyed back into the Temple for Lucha Underground‘s second episode of Season 4! If you wanted to catch up with the first episode, I’ve written a review on it for your viewing pleasure right here! With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the Temple has in store for us today!
The show starts with a recap of last week’s show, covering Antonio Cueto’s takeover of Lucha Underground and the debut of the new Temple, located in an Ice Warehouse used to cool beers (which I’m dubbing the Ice Temple for now). We also get a recap of the Gauntlet of the Gods (currently in the possession of King Cuerno) and the “new” Lucha Underground Trios Champions (the prior two champions, Killshot and the Mack, with the inclusion of Son of Havoc as the third partner).
We kick off the show with Catrina appearing into King Cuerno trophy room, in search of the Gauntlet. Finding the display case covered, she unveils the cloth, revealing an empty case where the Gauntlet was originally (as revealed in the recap). This brings out King Cuerno, who reveals that he had given the Gauntlet to someone else for safekeeping, admitting that “even he knew that some trophies are too dangerous to display.” This draws the ire of Catrina, who reveals that she needed the Gauntlet to regain her life-force. This was a callback to the last season, where it was revealed that Captain Vasquez, Catrina’s mother, had half of a medallion that Catrina (who has the other half) needed to be revived from the dead. King Cuerno, in response, says (in other, less-PG terms) he doesn’t care about her life-force. Upset at this response, Catrina teleports away in disgust.
We then head to the Ice Temple, where Mariachi El Bronx (which I’ll admit, I’m starting to like the tune of their music and their appearances) play to the crowd and Matt Striker and Vampiro welcomes us. We then kick it to the first match of the night.
Match 1: Trios Championship Match
Killshot, The Mack, Son of Havoc (c) vs Texano, Dr. Wagner Jr. and Famous B
This match was set to be the debut of Texano as the newest member of Famous B‘s clientele. However, Famous B (accompanied by the beautiful Brenda) announces that both Texano and Wagner were in Mexico, making him money, and that they will not be in this match. As replacements, he brings out 3 new competitors: Big Bad Steve (a mechanic), Sammy Guevara (from EVOLVE, Impact and Aro Lucha) and, in a surprise debut, “The Savage” Jake Strong (the former Jack Swagger from WWE).
Match 1 (Take 2): Trios Championship Match
Killshot, The Mack, Son of Havoc (c) vs. Big Bad Steve, Sammy Guevara, “The Savage” Jake Strong w/ Famous B and Brenda
This was a really fun match to kick off the show! Long-time viewers, as well as those who just started Lucha Underground last week, know what to expect out of the Trios champions. On the other side, we’ve got Big Bad Steve, who I’m admittedly unfamiliar with, but would love to learn more of his career. Sammy Guevara, for those who haven’t seen him before, is extremely talented, with a skill-set that is always guaranteed to wow the crowd. Jake Strong, who did not stand out much in WWE as Jack Swagger, has a chance to shine with his debut in the Ice Temple, and he certainly picked a match to debut!
The match itself, in standard Trios action, was fast-paced but played well to everyone’s strengths. We start off with Sammy Guevara and Killshot, who backhands Sammy for flipping the bird in lieu of a handshake. SoH tags to wrestle with Sammy and eats a stylish dropkick, as Sammy tags in Stevie to continue the momentum. Killshot eventually slides in to reverse the tides with a corner-619 and a leaping STO from the middle rope.
Jake Strong comes in next and lands a kick to Killshot but ends up outside where Killshot catches him a knee from the apron. This prompts Guevara to land a kick to take Killshot off the apron, which then leads to a suicide dive from SoH to Sammy. The challengers get SoH back into the ring to land a deadlift vertical suplex from Steve, followed by a Strong Bomb (Swagger Bomb) and a senton bomb from Sammy before Killshot makes the save.
Killshot and Sammy wrestle for a bit, leading to a Death Valley Driver/Pounce combo by Killshot and the Mack, before Strong comes in for the save to remove the Mack. Killshot and the Mack wrestle before Strong catches Killshot with an ankle lock. Killshot tapped out but the referee was distracted by Famous B…for reasons? The Mack breaks the hold with a boot to the face. Steve comes in but takes a stunner from The Mack and a shooting star press from SoH for the win.
Post-match, Strong beats down his partners in frustration and snags an ankle lock on Famous B, snapping his ankle (noted by the actual sound of a pop as the torque hit, which admittedly was a bit cheesy but not the end of the world).
Winners: Son of Havoc, Killshot and the Mack (Title Retained)
Analysis: This was a great match overall to kick off the show but had some issues as it went on. The Trios champs all have a flow to their pacing, with all 3 being able to switch between technical and aerial styles seamlessly. Conversely, Steve and Strong both played the powerhouses in contrast Guevara’s high-risk style, which presents a bit of an awkward synergy between the three. Adding to this, Strong seemed to be a bit out-of-step throughout. He got the moves that he wanted during the match but there were moments that slightly lulled the pace (which isn’t necessarily his fault, as he was placed against more agile wrestlers that sort of accentuated this flaw). Big Bad Steve, on the other hand, shows potential as a powerhouse force and played much better to Guevara’s speed. I do, however, look forward to seeing all these men in the Temple throughout the season.
Back from the break, Antonio Cueto comes out of his office to make an announcement. Noting that while his son has failed on many an occasion, one of his concepts was a ‘spark of brilliance’: The Gift Of The Gods. He notes that the process to crown the new Lucha Underground Gift of the Gods Champion would start with this show, with the first medallion being handed out in the next match.
Match 2: 1 of 7 Medallions for Gift of the Gods Championship
Drago vs. Dragon Azteca Jr.
Drago, still under the control of Kobra Moon, comes out to face Dragon Azteca Jr., who’s looking to gain some momentum after last week’s showing in Aztec Warfare, with a medallion for the GotG Championship on the line here.
The match starts with Drago uncharacteristically offering a handshake before booting Azteca in the gut as Azteca reaches out. The two traded some back and forth offense, complete with trips, flips and dropkicks, and were pretty evenly matched in the beginning.
The two tease a test of strength, but Azteca wisely catches Drago with a hook kick to the gut, taking control of the match. Kobra Moon hooks a leg from Azteca, however, distracting him for Drago to recover. The counters continue until the match spills to the outside, leading to a dive from Drago to Azteca. Once they returned inside, the two ended up on the top rope, with Drago loosening Azteca’s mask. He does manage to expose Azteca’s face in a tree of woe but nothing was revealed, due to clever camera angling and Azteca covering his face with his mask and forearms, eating a kick in the process.
Azteca gets his mask back on and gains some momentum before Drago takes over again with his blockbuster/DDT combo for a near fall. Drago eventually gets caught on the top rope and Azteca catches him with a wheelbarrow victory roll, crossing Drago’s legs for the win.
Post-match, Johnny Mundo comes in to taunt Kobra Moon, which leads to Taya attacking her with a spear.
Winner: El Dragon Azteca, Jr.
Analysis: Very nice match that showcases both luchadors well and provides some character development for Dragon Azteca in the process. Matt Striker also provided an excellent point in noting that Drago handled a slower pace to ground the faster Azteca, while Azteca sped the pace up as he assumed control. Azteca’s development in the Temple from rookie to maturing wrestler is in full display here, as he didn’t let his emotions or the distractions get to him as the match rolled on, despite distractions from Kobra Moon. I do hope this season starts the “Rescue Drago” arc soon, however, as it seems that there’s no development for Drago, other than Moon’s pet general.
Back from the break, we get a shot of Antonio Cueto in his office grabbing the key to Matanza’s cell before Catrina teleports in to the office suddenly. Catrina, noting that she is still stuck between the dead and the living, desires to have Fenix in a coffin. Her desire to bury Fenix in a coffin is that she will absorb his life-force in the process. She convinces Antonio Cueto to book Fenix vs. Mil Muertes in a Grave Consequences match (Casket Match) for next week before disappearing.
We’re back in the Ice Temple, as Mariachi El Bronx completes a song, before the ever-beautiful Melissa Santos announces our main event for the Lucha Underground Championship!
Match 3: Lucha Underground Championship
Pentagon Dark (c) vs. Matanza Cueto
Pentagon Dark enters the arena to thunderous “Cero Miedo” chants from the Believers (as Melissa looks on in disgust, which is a beautiful touch dating back to the first season even). Vampiro notes that he wishes that Pentagon would ‘stay true to the dark side’ and stop playing to the crowd, which is some very interesting foreshadowing to keep in the back of your mind going through the season.
Pentagon attacks Matanza from the get-go, cutting him off at the stairs and brawling with the Monster. Pentagon throws Matanza into chairs and props him onto the ringpost before unzipping his jumpsuit for a LOUD chop that echoed throughout The Temple as Antonio Cueto looks on.
Pentagon, however, plays to the crowd again by attempting (and missing) a follow-up chop and Matanza takes advantage. Matanza proceeds to pummel Pentagon Dark around the arena, including a back suplex slam into the apron of the ring before the match enters the ring.
Matanza proceeds to lay into Pentagon with slams around the ring, but getting two-counts. Pentagon eventually manages to utilize his speed, landing sling-blades and attempting his Package Piledriver. Matanza, however, powers out and lands a headbutt to take control. Pentagon manages to land a backcracker and facebuster for a two-count.
Matanza does manage to come back, catching Pentagon with a swinging back-suplex, however, for a two-count. Matanza goes for a corner clothesline before Pentagon escapes, landing a Shining Wizard even, for a two-count.
It’s all Pentagon from here, as he proceeds to land two flip-piledrivers and his signature Package Piledriver for the victory, delivering Matanza’s first singles-loss in the process.
Winner: Pentagon Dark (Title Retained)
The crowd chants for Pentagon to ‘break his arm’, as Pentagon attempts to deliver. Antonio Cueto, however, comes out with Matanza’s key, which spurs Matanza to power out and escape to the outside. Cueto then slaps his son, exclaiming that Matanza was spoiled by Dario as Matanza cowers behind Antonio to the back.
Analysis: Pentagon Dark has been positioned at this point to be an absolute world-beater, facing little-to-no trouble in this match. It’s clear that he’s going to be the face for this season and it’s very much welcome. The crowd is solely behind Pentagon Dark and it’s wise to have him as the Champion going forward. I especially like that Vampiro is in disagreement with Pentagon’s pandering to the crowd as well, as a bit of foreshadowing for when he eventually loses the title. I will admit though, I disliked the story of this match but I understand why it had to be done and it won’t reflect on my rating for this match. Matanza Cueto was built to be an absolute destroyer, brutalizing any and all wrestlers that dared to stand in his path with no trouble. It was a bit understandable that he had to lose the Lucha Underground Championship in the Aztec Warfare 3 (although, I would’ve preferred someone other than Rey Mysterio pinning him but that’s my opinion). However, very little was shown to explain why Matanza was so humanized (remember, he’s possessed by an Aztec God) between seasons to the point that he was, dare I say, squashed here in this match. I suppose more will be explained as the season goes on but it’s a bit sketchy for me at the moment.
Closing the show, Antonio Cueto enters his office, visibly fuming before he’s greeted by Jeremiah Crane. Crane, still pining for Catrina, wants to put an end to both Fenix and Mil Muertes and requests to be added to the Grave Consequences match. Cueto obliges and adds him in, turning the match into a Three Ways to the Grave match. Crane leaves satisfied, saying that he knew he wasn’t going to take long, to which Cueto remarks ‘it looks like neither will your career be either’.
Full Show Analysis: Despite the slight hiccups in the matches, the show’s pacing was done fairly well from start to finish. It’s clear that they’re establishing new storylines for the season and, coming off a long layoff, it’s expected that the show is going to have to shake some rust off. The first few episodes are always going to be what I like to call “world-builder” episodes, meaning stories need to be established first before things go full-tilt. It’s really the reason why Lucha Underground has been so popular with the masses: it’s pacing is beautifully handled so that the crowd is allowed to properly assess and prepare before the big payoffs by Ultima Lucha, the season finale. That being said, I’m not going to critique the show for ‘easing off the pedal’ this early as it would be unfair to the show AND to you, the viewer, as you’re forming your opinions of the show. My ratings have only been measured based on in-ring action and from prior established events that were set in earlier seasons. By the time we’re midway through the season, you can definitely expect me to properly assess and critique any stories and developments in a deserving manner.
Show Rating: 3.75/5
That ends my review for Lucha Underground this week! What did you all think of the show? Do you agree/disagree with my ratings? Please let me know in the comments and be sure to leave me any feedback with what you think of my reviews! I’d love to be able to use your feedback to provide a better experience for you all as we delve right into Season 4!
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Image Credit: Lucha Underground