Welcome back, believers! Once again, it’s time for us to venture back into the Ice Temple for this week’s episode of Lucha Underground! If you needed to refresh yourself in preparation for this week’s recap, I have last week’s recap all ready for your viewing pleasure right here! Also of note for this review in particular, I’ve decided to suspend the ‘Match Rating’ system for the time being, as I feel it needs to be re-tooled just a bit, and I feel that it’s a bit too ‘influencing’ on opinions, so to speak. Nevertheless, this week still promises to be an amazing show, as we’ve got the return of Grave Consequences in the form of a Three-Way to a Grave Match.
The show opens with a very quick recap of Dario Cueto’s death at the hands of Agent Winter, Antonio Cueto’s takeover of Lucha Underground and the announcement of Grave Consequences, Pentagon Dark‘s win over Matanza Cueto and the upgrade of Grave Consequences to the Three-Way to the Grave Match.
We kick off the show in a green and gloomy locker room. Here, Ricky Mandel is introducing the creepy doll he was holding back in Aztec Warfare to both PJ Black and Jack Evans, who are both utterly confused. We learn here that the doll’s name is Rosa and that Ricky found her during a trip to the Island of Dolls in Mexico. Rosa creepily replies “Hola” after Mandel pulls on the doll’s string. Johnny Mundo and Taya appear soon after and noted that they called the meeting to note that the Reptile Tribe had declared war against Worldwide Underground. Mundo orders Jack to call out one of the members of the Reptile Tribe, but Jack mentions he doesn’t do snakes, even though he’s beaten Drago and calls himself “the Dragon Slayer”. Jack backs out of the meeting, claiming a colonic appointment (?) and leaves. Mundo reassures that the rest of the group have their marching orders and they all leave….except for Mandel. The camera pans to Rosa, who responds, without any string pulled. “Don’t worry, Ricky, your secret is safe with me.” To this, Ricky has a maniacal smile etched on his face as the camera slowly zooms out, centered on Mandel.
We’re back at the Ice Temple as Mariachi El Bronx plays us in and Matt Striker and Vampiro welcome us back for our weekly session of lucha violence. Already in the ring is Jack Evans, who had called a “Put Up or Shut Up Challenge” (Open Challenge) match.
Match 1: Jack Evans vs XO Lishus (Put Up or Shut Up Challenge)
Before the match starts, Melissa Santos introduces us to our debuting wrestler, known as XO Lishus. XO Lishus, based on visual interpretation and the fact that this is the first time I’m seeing him, looks to be an eccentric, very outgoing wrestler with an interesting choice of attire. I will say, he seems to have his character nailed down rather well! Jack Evans, to the surprise of no one, does his own introduction, announcing himself as ‘Jack Evans from the heavens’ (which does have a nice ring to it). The match starts out with a frenetic pace right from the start. XO Lishus kicks off the match with a speedy combo of headscissors, hurricanranas and an arm drag to catch Evans off-guard quickly. XO capitalizes on a stunned Evans to deliver a slap onto Evans in the corner before dodging a clothesline with a Matrix-esque dodge. This, however, allows Evans to quickly launch into a standing shooting star onto XO. Evans doesn’t hold this momentum for long as he’s quickly sent over the top rope before XO launches onto him with an impressive Plancha to the floor (followed by a celebratory twerk for the Believers).
Back in the ring, XO continues the momentum on a prone Evans by twerking to a buildup for a backflip but Evans dodges and manages to clip XO’s legs during a chase, sending him face-first into the ropes. From here, Evans starts to gain some offense, with kicks and strikes to wear his opponent down before locking in a modified gogoplata. At this point, the Believers begin to chant “X-O, XO”, as XO begins to fight out of the hold with kicks, landing a split-legged jawbreaker for a two-count.
XO attempts to gain some momentum, but Evans swiftly delivers a spinwheel kick, followed by a corkscrew pike for a two-count. Evans heads up the top ropes but XO lands a back-handspring hurricanrana to force him off the top to the mat. XO follows up with a top-rope split-legged legdrop for a two-count. XO heads back up to the top but gets caught by Evans with a springboard kick. Evans prepares to set up a maneuver but is countered by XO, who drives Evans down with a top-rope split legged X-Factor for the pinfall victory.
Winner: XO Lishus
Analysis: So, a bit of a side-note, I was given a tip from a reader, Kenneth Rodriguez from New Jersey, regarding XO Lishus. I was told that he was an extremely impressive talent and that he would definitely be worth the watch as soon as he debuted in the Ice Temple. I’ll admit, I’m a bit of an analytic nerd when I watch a match. Some of the key points I’ll always base my opinion on would be: the flow of a match, any established storyline (if applicable) and the wrestler him/herself (gimmick, consistency, etc.). With that being said, XO Lishus was definitely on my watch list and this was his chance to shine.
Did he deliver? Absolutely! XO Lishus, from the get-go, stood out in this match. His stylish presentation, mixed with unique offense, helped to deliver a very frenetic pace in tune with his opponent, which is always a plus when it comes to a Lucha Underground opening match. Jack Evans, in turn, couldn’t be any better as an opponent, as his adaptive style is tailored to deliver excitement and flash at the drop of a dime. As an interesting and possibly unintentional effect, Jack Evans’ flashy freestyle technique and XO’s flexible characteristics actually elevated the presentations of each other in this match. I feel as though the Believers picked up on this as well, as XO instantly caught on (the “X-O, XO” chants were a perfect example of this). That being said, I look forward to seeing more of XO Lishus in the Ice Temple.
After the match, we get a screen promotion for the main-event: the Three-Way to the Grave match between Jeremiah Crane, Fenix and Mil Muertes! Before that, however, we’re told that Pentagon Dark will be in the ring next to tell us his thoughts!
After the commercial break, we return to the ring, where Pentagon Dark is already inside with a microphone in hand and the lights are dimmed. Pentagon talks about Aztec Warfare and how everyone tried to take his title and failed. He also mentions that Cueto’s son, “The Monster” Matanza Cueto, had also tried and failed. He ends his statement by saying that anyone who wants to try to take the title from him will fail and end up broken because HE IS PENTAGON DARK, EL CERO MIEDO!
Pentagon’s music begins to play, but in the background (sneaking in through the dark), Cage comes in and attacks Pentagon with a Rolling Elbow and some ol’ fashioned ground-and-pound. He then nails Pentagon with his championship title and proceeds to set a table up on the outside of the ring. Dragging Pentagon to the outside, Cage slams him through the table before declaring that he was the next luchador to attempt to take the title from him. After all, he’s not a man, HE’S A MACHINE!
Analysis: Cage vs. Pentagon Dark? I’m definitely okay with that! Cage is a machine (pun intended) in the ring and has always delivered a level of intensity in his matches that brings out the best in his opponents. When you mix that with the absolutely dominant momentum that Pentagon Dark is currently carrying, you can expect this match to be a highlight reel. It will also be interesting to see Cage’s development following the loss of the Gauntlet of the Gods and if there are any side-effects to losing that power as well.
We are then told that the Three-Way to the Grave match is next……..a two-match card? Not sure how I feel about that one yet…
Back from the commercial break, we cut to a locker-room scene, where Fenix is warming up with Melissa Santos sitting backstage with him. Melissa is clearly worried for Fenix’s safety, to which Fenix assures her that the last time he was in this match, he was victorious. Melissa astutely points out, however, that there are two opponents to worry about this time. Fenix notes that he is the ‘Man of 1,000 Lives’ and Melissa mentions that every one of those lives belongs to her, before the two kiss.
We then cut back to the Ice Temple (sans Melissa Santos), where three caskets and wreaths surround the ring. Each casket is noted to have different emblems on the lids, resembling the respective wrestlers in the match. Melissa Santos is shown to come back to the ring from the entrance ramps, alluding to the idea that she was coming back from speaking to Fenix (which is a very nice touch of consistency, given that the backstage promos are shot after the matches).
Match 2: Mil Muertes (w/ Catrina) vs Jeremiah Crane vs Fenix (‘Three-Way to the Grave’ Grave Consequences Match)
Given that this match is a three-way, the stipulations for Grave Consequences was amended here so that the match ends when 2 of the 3 wrestlers are placed in caskets and the lid is shut. This rule explains why there are three caskets surrounding the ring, instead of the standard single casket.
The match breaks down quickly, as Fenix and Mil Muertes immediately go at each other. Fenix’s speed works to his advantage here, leading to Fenix landing a quick DDT to subdue Mil for the moment. This allows Crane to take advantage and pounce on Fenix. Crane manages to catch Fenix in a rather impressive hybrid half-and-half suplex with an STO transition. This sends Fenix to the outside, where Crane gathers speed and catches Fenix with a topé. Crane’s momentum doesn’t last long, however, as Fenix recovers enough to kick Crane away and lands a seamless moonsault onto Crane. A quick camera shot shows Fenix clutching his ankle, which Striker quickly points out. In the midst of this, Muertes uncharacteristically climbs to the top and dives onto both Crane and Fenix to take them out.
From here, Muertes establishes dominance as he targets Crane by attacking him with a wreath and slamming him into a nearby casket. He then powerbombs Crane onto the casket, which produces a sickening thud and dents the lid of the casket. He then drags Crane to Striker and Vampiro’s table, and attempts a powerbomb onto the table. Crane, however, fights out and runs a lap around the ring to build for his push-kick. All it did, however, was leave Crane open for Mil’s Reaper’s Trident spear, dropping him to the floor. Muertes then proceeds to pull a table out and sets it very close to a row of audience members (propped to their right, on a wall).
Fenix, in the background, manages to get to a higher level, on a crowd barricade. Catching Muertes by surprise, Fenix drops him with a hurricanrana to halt Muertes’ momentum. Fenix’s momentum, however, comes to a screeching halt, as Crane is up and drops Fenix. Crane makes the mistake of going after Muertes, whic leads to Muertes chokeslamming Crane onto a casket. Muertes attempts to set Fenix up for Flatliner but is stopped by multiple punches by Crane. This barely fazes Muertes, who grabs Crane as well and prepares a double Flatliner onto both competitors. Fenix and Crane fight out, however, and catch Muertes with stereo superkicks to stun him. Fenix then catches Crane with a kick to the gut and catches Muertes with a step-up hurricanrana (with Crane as the step). Crane, in turn, uses Fenix for a step-up crossbody onto Muertes before slamming Muertes through the table with a powerbomb, finally taking him out for the time being.
Meanwhile, Crane and Fenix battle it out up the stairs and into the crowd. Crane overpowers Fenix from here and piledrives Fenix into the concrete, incapacitating him. Crane begins to taunt the crowd as Muertes suddenly appears behind him from the elevator entranceway in a very cool spot. Muertes grabs Crane and slams him with the doors of the entranceway before carrying him over his shoulder. In the midst of this, Fenix climbed up the entranceway to a platform and dives onto both Crane and Muertes.
Fenix and Muertes fight but Muertes clearly has the upper hand, as he proceeds to send both Crane and Fenix tumbling down the stairs. Muertes walks down the stairs slowly and methodically, which exudes a sense of dominance and confidence over his opponents. Back at ringside, Muertes pulls out two tables, setting one nearby an empty audience row and another in the ring. He sets Crane on the turnbuckles in the ring and prepares a superplex, but Fenix manages to kick Muertes out of the ring with a springboard kick. Fenix then sets up a Frankensteiner onto Crane but, in a fake-out, dives onto Muertes through the table outside. Fenix then heads back into the ring to a prone Crane, preparing to stomp him through the other table. Crane, however, catches Fenix on the top rope and follows him up before delivering a piledriver to his prone opponent through the table!
Crane points to Catrina, who also points back to Crane, as he orders a casket to be opened. Crane manages to roll Fenix into the casket and prepares to shut the lid. Before he can do that, however, Ivelisse storms the ring and clips Crane’s knee with a hammer (continuing their feud/breakup from Ultima Lucha Tres). Ivelisse shouts at Crane for betraying her, repeatedly smashing Crane in the arm and the hand, breaking the hammer in the process. Crane, in defiance, flips the bird in her face before one final whack of the hammer’s stick busts Crane open and sends him into the casket. Ivelisse closes the casket, eliminating Crane as caregivers, dressed in Dia de los Muertes attire, carry the casket away while Ivelisse looks on.
Jeremiah Crane Eliminated
Back from commercial break, Fenix and Muertes are back in the ring and fight goes on. Fenix relies on his speed to catch the stronger Muertes off guard, but is caught in a powerslam. Muertes, in a continuing tradition with each Grave Consequences match the two are in, tears Fenix’s mask open (rather effectively too, as his face is BARELY covered as a result). Muertes then rips off the bottom-most turnbuckle padding and catapults Fenix face-first into the exposed bar, busting him open.
Muertes loosens the turnbuckle bars, loosening the bottom rope in the process, while Melissa Santos checks on Fenix. This, however, brings Muertes face-to-face with Melissa, which spurs Fenix to fight back, but he is ultimately clubbed by Muertes. Muertes brings the casket bearing his emblem into the ring and props it onto the turnbuckles. A wave of “Animo” chants from the Believers drives a weakened Fenix back into the ring, where Muertes attempts to Irish Whip him into the casket. Fenix, with life left in him, counters out and nails two kicks on Muertes to send him into the casket. However, Muertes powers out of the casket to continue the match.
Muertes lands a belly-to-belly suplex to send Fenix into the casket, denting it pretty badly, and then attempts a powerbomb, but Fenix fights through and attempts his handspring back elbow. The ever-strong Muertes, however, catches Fenix post-spring and drives Fenix back into the mat. Muertes runs towards the rope to set up a Reaper’s Trident but is met with a rolling pop-up cutter by Fenix to send both to the mat.
Both men are up and Fenix lands a hook kick onto Muertes. Fenix prepares a springboard technique but is caught by Muertes and chokeslammed into the casket as a result. Muertes picks up a prone Fenix, but the “Animo” chants from the Believers spur Fenix to fight back and land a springboard missle dropkick. Fenix, feeling the momentum, prepares one more springboard onto Muertes, but Muertes catches Fenix mid-jump and nails the Flatliner to stop Fenix cold. Muertes carrys Fenix outside on his shoulders to the casket bearing Fenix’s emblem and stuffs him inside before closing the lid and ending the match. Melissa coldly announces that Mil Muertes has won the match and Catrina grasps at Fenix’s casket before sending it away with the caregivers.
Winner: Mil Muertes
Analysis: I was skeptical as to why the show only had a two-match card, but now I know it was to feed the time to this match. True to its reputation, this match was violent and brutal from the get-go. The inclusion of Crane into this match added some variety, since we’ve seen Fenix and Muertes have faced off in Grave Consequences back in Season 1. That’s not to say this match would’ve been any less exciting since watching these two go to war has always produced some of the best matches in Lucha Underground, but having Crane here does more for storyline purposes as well as allow the stories of all the involved characters to intertwine, which leads to another layer in the storyline. Does Catrina now receive the life-force of Fenix and resurrect from limbo? Does Jeremiah Crane fight against Ivelisse and still chase after Catrina and Mil Muertes? How will Melissa Santos cope with her boyfriend’s loss? What happens to Fenix now? All of these questions raised from subtle actions in both the match and the storyline, which results in compelling television.
As for the match itself, it was everything you could expect from Grave Consequences: violence and brutality. Mil Muertes always shines in this match (as he should, it’s his signature match) and it’s no different here as he came off as a dominant entity from start to finish. Fenix always plays well against Muertes’ powerhouse style and does well against Crane’s brawler style. Crane, in this case, got a fair share of moment to shine and he delivered, but you knew going into this match that he wasn’t going to win, which may have hurt his presentation a tiny bit. Nevertheless, the match delivered exceptionally well, but I would honestly prefer for Grave Consequences to remain as a two-person match, but that’s honestly just my own opinion.
During the credits, we’re taken to a dark area with a wooden floor. As the camera pans up, we see Matanza Cueto, standing with his arms chained to the floor. Antonio Cueto is on a platform above, speaking to Matanza and noting that he failed Matanza. Antonio noted that when he offered Matanza as a tribute to the Aztec Gods, he asked for a sliver of his humanity to be retained. The gods granted Antonio’s wish, retaining Matanza’s human soul in the key that Dario and Antonio Cueto carry to control Matanza. Antonio mentioned that when Dario took the key from him, Dario wanted to exploit the monster but he kept the key close to him because he cared for his brother. Antonio noted that that care made Matanza weak, however, and made the decision that he did not want to tolerate weakness any longer. With that said, he bid his son good-bye and tossed the key to Matanza with the intent of destroying it and ridding him of his humanity. In a blinding flash of light, the chains around Matanza fall apart as he roars fiercely. The camera pans down to show the tattered links of chains and the key that held Matanza’s soul, now broken into pieces, as the show comes to a close.
Full Show Analysis: This was definitely one of the better episodes of the season so far. Lucha Underground is still in its world-building stages for the season, but still has managed to deliver some effective set-ups to keep the story moving for each of the characters in this episode going forward. Pentagon Dark’s got a new contender in Cage, which does promise to deliver a high level of intensity for Pentagon to combat and we’ve yet to discover the effects that losing the Gauntlet of the Gods will have on Cage. Added to that, we now have the established Worldwide Underground/Reptile Tribe feud that promises to deliver some intriguing match-ups for the time being (although I’m not sure who the heels are in that one, which is not a bad thing either). The main event provided a plethora of questions and layers that will most likely feed a significant chunk of the season for the time-being, especially Catrina’s arc, as she got her wish with Fenix losing the match and being placed in the casket.
The ending scene with Matanza and Antonio was probably the most impactful of the show, in my opinion. As I mentioned in my last review, I didn’t like the fact that Matanza seemed to lose a LOT of steam between seasons, taking a pinfall from Rey Mysterio (granted, that was in Aztec Warfare) and Pentagon Dark fairly easily (or much easier that I would’ve liked). This provided some much-needed explanation as to why this was the case. It wasn’t explicitly stated, but rather hinted heavily throughout the prior seasons, that Matanza’s body was possessed by an Aztec god and that was why he was an utterly destructive entity. However, the explanation that there was still a shred of humanity left in Matanza explains that he was weakening because of his own humanity. Now that the key holding that humanity has been destroyed, there’s a world of possibility that can be explored with Matanza. He could either be a mindless monster, hellbent on maiming anyone in sight, or JUST MAYBE, there’s a chance that Matanza’s human side may still be in there somewhere….released from the key and locked in a mental cage while an Aztec god runs rampant in his body. I wouldn’t be surprised if Matanza ends up once again holding the Lucha Underground Championship once again during the season, but this scene has definitely established that Antonio Cueto has a serious and very dangerous agenda in store for the Ice Temple.
That’ll do it for this week, Believers! What did you all think of the show? Do you agree or disagree? Is there anything you thought could’ve been done better or worse? I’d love to hear your opinions! Also, as Kenneth did, if you have any wrestlers that you want me to keep my eye on, please feel free to let me know and I’ll gladly keep an eye out! With that being said, I look forward to all of your feedback as we continue on through Season 4 of Lucha Underground!
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Images Credit: Lucha Underground