Hello and welcome back, my fellow Believers! Once again, it’s time for us to venture back into the Ice Temple for this……err, I mean LAST week’s episode of Lucha Underground!
So I totally owe everyone here an explanation in regards to why this review wasn’t available last week. First and foremost, I do want to apologize to you all. Behind the scenes, your friendly-neighborhood analytic (that’d be me) works as a banker and the work commitments, in addition to other personal issues on my behalf, completely resulted in me being unavailable for all of last week. As a result, I made the decision to post last week’s review here for two reasons: 1) Since Lucha Underground is on Wednesdays, we’re all in the mindset to be ready for the show tonight and 2) what better way to prepare for the new episode than to be refreshed on last week’s episode? That being said, I’ll be doing my absolute best to be more diligent in my reviews for you all from here on out and I promise that I will be delivering nothing but the best for you all!
However, as a shameful plug, feel free to refresh yourself on Episode 2 by clicking right here! (I promise it’s just as good or you’ll get a chocolate chip cookie from me sometime in the year 2047).
That being said, on with the review!
The show opens with a very detailed recap that highlights the bigger stories that initially occurred in the Temple and are continuing in the Ice Temple. Given that Lucha Underground was in syndication for a while, this was a great way to refresh the viewer on events that led to our current episode. The highlight reel starts off with some history between Fenix and Catrina, who craves Fenix’s life force so that she will no longer be in limbo (which wasn’t revealed at that point in the story). From here, we get highlights from different episodes to piece each story together. Some of the highlights include: the declaration of war between the Reptile Tribe and Worldwide Underground, Catrina’s relation to LAPD’s Captain Vasquez and the deal that was struck, the fate of the Gauntlet of the Gods and Matanza’s ascension into godly madness. It’s a very detailed package but it’s definitely recommended to review the events in the story so far.
Backstage in a shrine-like area, we see Catrina walk towards the casket that contains Fenix’s lifeless body following his loss in the Three Way-to the Grave Match last week. After a soft kiss, Catrina proceeds to steal his life force. This triggers a transformation within Catrina, as a light envelops her and her outfit changes from a tight leather one-piece into a sultry red dress. Catrina revels in the change as she walks away while the camera shifts to Fenix’s unmoving body.
We then change scenes to the locker room, where we see a grieving Melissa Santos browsing through photos of Fenix and her together. While she is deep in thought, Catrina sneaks up behind her. Catrina “consoles” Melissa, noting that Fenix gave his life to the woman that truly loved him and that he was never coming back. She then gives Melissa the other half of the pendant that kept Catrina from dying as a token of remembrance. The camera pans out as Melissa stares at the pendant and the show’s logo shows up.
We’re now back into the Ice Temple as we are welcomed by Matt Striker and Vampiro and serenaded by Mariachi el Bronx. Striker recaps the debut of Jake Strong as a member of Famous B’s group until Jake breaks away from the group and snapped Famous B’s leg with his ankle lock. Striker notes that Famous B had undergone many surgeries and doctors were concerned that they would have to amputate his leg. I guess that ‘snap’ from last week was a LOT more serious. There’s no reason to worry, however, because Vampiro notes that Famous B has been checking his voicemails! If you wish to send your favorite hypeman any get-well wishes, feel more than free to dial 1-423-GET-FAME and wish him well (Side-note: I am not sponsored by Famous B Productions, though I wouldn’t mind it *cough*call me*cough*).
The ever-beautiful Melissa Santos is in the ring and we’re on the way to our first match!
Match 1: Big Bad Steve (w/ Beautiful Brenda) vs. “The Savage” Jake Strong
We’re kicking off this episode with the equivalent of a hoss fight, as Jake Strong (the former Jack Swagger, for those just watching) against Big Bad Steve, who made his debut two episodes ago as a member of Famous B’s clientele. Before you even finish reading that statement, Jake Strong has already started off forcing Steve to a corner and delivering a flurry of gut punches. Steven does manage to come back with hard hooks to the face of Strong to no effect. Strong muscles Steve to the corner and hammers him with shots to the back (while Striker repeats ‘pee blood’ with each shot for reasons I’m not comfortable disclosing) and the head. Strong proceeds to deliver the Strong Bomb and a stiff clothesline to Steve and locks in the ankle lock for the quick submission victory.
Post-match, Jake snaps Steve’s ankle as well and delivers a gut-wrench powerbomb to Big Bad Steve on the outside before stealing his bandana, all while the Believers feverishly chant for Strong.
Winner: “The Savage” Jake Strong
Analysis: In just two episodes, Lucha Underground has turned Jake Strong from a WWE-afterthought into a threatening powerhouse and I absolutely love it. This match was definitely meant to play to the strengths (both figuratively and literally) of Jake from bell to bell. Big Bad Steve got little-to-no offense in this match so, unfortunately, I can’t accurately rate his performance here but he does make for a good ragdoll, I guess? The fact that Jake caught on with the Believers fairly quickly is a very telling sign, as it’s reminiscent of Cage’s early start in the Temple, mixed with the Pentagon Dark-style build of the ankle lock resulting in a broken limb. This is probably a bit too early to say but I can definitely see Jake Strong being a big player for Lucha Underground if his momentum continues like this, including a possible title shot in the future!
We come back from commercial in the Ice Temple, where Mariachi el Bronx is playing to the crowd and we’re taken into Antonio Cueto’s office. Here, Cueto (with beer in hand) and King Cuerno are in discussion. Antonio asks Cuerno about the location of the Gauntlet of the Gods, to which Cuerno says it was stolen from him and that he doesn’t know where it is. Cueto reinforces the danger of the Gauntlet and is unconvinced of Cuerno’s explanation. In return, Cueto offers Cuerno a chance to win the Aztec medallion of his tribe tonight against Chavo Guerrero, the man that eliminated Cuerno in Aztec Warfare. At this point, Cage enters the office, noting what he did to Pentagon last week and requests a title match. Antonio declines the request, mentioning that attacking the champion doesn’t promise him a title match. However, he does offers him a chance to win a medallion against Mil Muertes next week (while noting that Cuerno alluded to Muertes having the Gauntlet, which isn’t true). We’re then taken back to the Ice Temple for the next match.
Match 2: Daga and Kobra Moon vs Johnny Mundo and Taya
We’ve got tag-team action next as Worldwide Underground’s Johnny Mundo and Taya face off against The Reptile Tribe’s Daga and Kobra Moon. Taya and Daga kick the match off with a slow but sound pace, with counters, headscissors and a crucifix pin from Daga to Taya for a two-count. Taya’s momentum, however, is dropped with an impressive dropkick by Daga, leading to a Mundo tag-in. Mundo and Daga go back-and-forth with Daga getting some early offense in through a step-in on a Mundo slide for a two-count. Mundo manages to regain momentum with a running knee strike to a prone Daga and a standing (but barely missed) shooting star press for a two-count. Moon eventually tags in and takes Mundo down with a springboard hurricanrana off the ropes and covers for a two-count. Daga tags back in and they double team Mundo with corner dropkicks and a lifted cross-body drop but only landing two-counts. Daga manages to land a few chops, but Mundo fights off and catches Daga with a leap-kick and a springboard corkscrew cross-body for a two-count.
Taya tags in and the duo double teams Daga (while Striker mentions ‘rumors’ that they are romantically linked and mentions ‘DNA swapping’….they are actually married in real life but why was this line needed?). Daga manages to reverse behind Taya, leading to Mundo firing a superkick and nailing Taya by accident. Moon tags in and fires knee strikes to both Mundo and Taya and prepares to finish Taya off. PJ Black sneaks in, however, and kicks Moon in the back of the head leading to Taya hitting a curb stomp for the win.
Post-Match, Vibora comes out and cleans house against the Worldwide Underground, destroying PJ Black and Taya before finishing Mundo with a chokeslam and a standing shooting star press (which was impressive, given his height). Moon, Vibora and Daga proceed to intertwine Taya and Black together by the arms while Moon exclaims that Mundo will soon bow down and call her his Queen.
Winners: Mundo and Taya
Analysis: This was an okay event to further the ongoing battle between these two groups. As a match itself, it was alright for what it was. However, there were a few points in this match that came off as slightly sloppy, namely Mundo’s standing shooting star press which resulted in Mundo clipping Daga with his arm and the weird exchange before the Mundo superkick to Taya. Now I totally understand moves like those are very hit-and-miss, given their nature, and I completely understand that, but I also understand that Mundo has this trope with his offensive maneuvers, namely his Fin del Mundo finisher, which is mostly hit-and-miss (more ‘miss’ than ‘hit’). Overall, I don’t dislike this match and it sure was entertaining for what it was worth, but it definitely screamed ‘middle of the card’ moreso than anything, which is an odd way to describe this match. Taya and Daga are always entertaining and I can certainly understand that this was just the start of their feud so, naturally, they would hold back until the later half. That being said, based on this match alone, they didn’t really shine much here and came off a bit more as background characters rather than part of their groups (Daga got more shine than Taya because he worked most of the match but it was mostly to take offense rather than give it). Kobra Moon, as she is, is alright for what she brings. She’s not going to capture you in the ring with her style but she definitely has her character down-pat and that’s great for the story going forward. I would much prefer her as the manager though as I feel it suits her to be in control rather than being on the frontlines, but I digress.
We suddenly cut to an unknown location, where Antonio Cueto unlocks a giant door and walks in. Inside this location, which is barely lit, we see a shadow in the far back wall of what appears to be a living human hanging by the wrists as another shadow punches continuously. The shadow walks ominously into a sliver of light, revealing itself as Matanza Cueto, as Antonio turns a nearby light on. Antonio calmly says that it is time for Matanza’s first sacrifice and to follow him, as Matanza ominously walks down the hall, following his father.
Following the commercial break, we’re back in the Ice Temple as Melissa Santos introduces us to Mr. Pectacular (the former Jesse Godderz from Impact). At this point, Antonio comes out to address him (pronouncing his name wrong in the process). He noted that this is Mr. Pectacular’s first and last singles match, calling this match a “Sacrifice to the Gods” Match before bringing out Matanza Cueto.
Match 3: Mr. Pectacular vs. “The Monster” Matanza Cueto (Sacrifice to the Gods Match)
Despite the name of the match, this is just a standard singles match with no stipulations attached. Matanza rushes in (no entrance music or introduction from Melissa) and is drop-kicked by Pectacular to no effect. Pectacular poses, unaware that Matanza is still standing, and is viciously suplexed by Matanza. Matanza stomps Pectacular down before slinging him up into the air and viciously dropping him with a swinging back body-drop. Matanza then whips Pectacular into the ropes and lands a Wrath of the Gods onto the Aztec seal for the pinfall victory.
Post-match, Matanza raises his arms and a lightning flash occurs, blackening the screen. When the feed returns, Pectacular has disappeared from the ring.
Winner: Matanza Cueto
Analysis: THIS is what I wanted from Matanza Cueto from the start: an absolutely destructive, vicious animal hell-bent on destruction and violence. His strength absolutely impresses me to no end and watching those slams and the Wrath of the Gods never ceases to amaze me every time. I know I’ve always complained that watching Matanza on the defensive is annoying and I know he has to take some offense, otherwise what’s the point? However, all I wanted was to see Matanza as the actual beast they hyped him up to be, which makes the one to take him down all the more powerful. The match with Pentagon a few weeks back was not a good display of Matanza, in my opinion, because Pentagon was pretty much firmly in control and that’s counter-intuitive to Matanza’s whole presentation as a God that possesses an earthly body. With this new-found power and elimination of Matanza’s humanity, I’m looking forward to how Matanza’s development will be handled in later stories.
Back from commercial break, we’ve got our main event ready to go, with Chavo Guerrero and King Cuerno set to battle.
Match 4: King Cuerno vs. Chavo Guerrero (1 of 7 Aztec Medallions for Gift of the Gods Championship)
Chavo immediately starts off the match with a dive into Cuerno as Cuerno makes his entrance. Guerrero then slams Cuerno into the nearby chairs and slams him back-first into the ring post. Chavo continues the offense on Cuerno by slamming him into a nearby table and into the commentators’ table. Chavo rolls Cuerno back in and climbs the top rope but is met with a dropkick by Cuerno for a two-count. Cuerno lands a hard-chop on Chavo but Chavo sneaks out of a running knee-strike and drops Cuerno with an elbow to catch his breath. Chavo pulls Cuerno up but gets caught with a clothesline for two. Guerrero throws in some punches and attempts to run into Cuerno, who tosses him out of the ring. Cuerno follows with a dive but is stopped by Chavo bringing out a chair. Cuerno saw it coming and slides away. Cuerno continues the battle against Chavo but is sent into the stands by Chavo with a modified back-body drop. Chavo follows but Cuerno manages to cut him off with a DDT and sends him back ringside. With the help of the believers lifting him to the barricade (and by that, I mean Cuerno literally holds their hands to balance himself, not any of that “heart of the cards” stuff), Cuerno lands a high cross-body onto Chavo, sending the Believers into a frenzy.
Cuerno sends Chavo back into the ring and proceeds to head to the top rope but Chavo cuts him off. Chavo follows him up and lands a superplex but only gets a two-count. Guerrero continues the offense and chokes out Cuerno, catapulting him into the bottom rope neck-first but only gets a two-count. From here, Chavo, true to the Guerrero name, tears off the turnbuckle pad and proceeds to send Cuerno into it head-first. Cuerno manages to fight him off and regain some momentum. Chavo attempts (but looks to have botched) a catapult spot and Cuerno manages to land an enziguri and then a knee strike to send Chavo outside. Cuerno follows up with Arrow from the Depths of Hell to drive Chavo down and rolls him back into the ring. Guerrero, however, manages to sneak in a small package for a two count. Cuerno sets up Thrill of the Hunt but Chavo grabs the referee to hold on. Chavo sets up for his uncle’s Three Amigos suplexes (causing a breakout of ‘Eddie’ chants from the Believers), landing two of them. Cuerno counters the third one, however and nails Guerrero with Thrill of the Kill for the pinfall victory.
Post-match, Cuerno celebrates with his medallion, symbolically rubbing the sweat of Chavo Guerrero on the medallion before exiting to end the show.
Winner: King Cuerno
Analysis: This was another okay match for the show as a whole but, overall, it’s clear to see that King Cuerno drastically outclassed Chavo Guerrero here (which is weird to say, considering Chavo is a Guerrero, after all). Chavo does bring a small sense of gravitas to this match as a whole because of his name but, in terms of in-ring action, his moments drastically dropped the pace overall. Cuerno, on the other hand, managed to bring the crowd up with his fast-paced offense and you can tell there were moments where he tried to play to Chavo’s style to better match his opponent. This may be a case where the styles of both luchadors just clashed a bit too much to provide a ‘main-event’ feel to the match. It wasn’t a bad match, by any means, but it was a match that never really kicked into the next gear. The crowd may have been chanting for Chavo and Cuerno, but you get the sense that it was a chant moreso out of respect to Chavo rather than because of the match itself.
Full Show Analysis: Overall, this was a ‘middle-of-the-line’ show and that certainly isn’t a bad thing. Stories were definitely furthered in this show, we got a death in the form of Mr. Pectacular being sacrificed to the Gods and another Aztec Medallion was given out. In terms of presentation, however, I feel this show was paced backwards. I honestly felt (even though it’s much too early at this point) that the opening bout between Strong and Steve would’ve better suited as the main-event, especially if there was a story added in for Strong, as there was a bigger ‘feel’ to that match because of how Jake was presented and his aura, similar to how Pentagon Jr. was being built up at the time before he became Pentagon Dark. The main-event, while still a great match, didn’t really get to kick off to another gear and I feel this was because of Chavo’s moments dragging the match down. The commentary team tried their best to push Chavo as the legend that he is (and it’s very well-deserved, don’t get me wrong), but you can only do so much with that hype if the performer isn’t catching on or, even worse, takes away from the match.
Speaking of the commentary, I’m not sure what happened here on this show but the commentary was just very odd here. Matt Striker’s comments regarding Steve being attacked by Strong with ‘pee blood’ chants and the Mundo/Taya ‘DNA exchange’ quip just came off very awkward and a bit cringe-inducing. I’m all for the passion of a commentator emphasizing his/her words and adding to the match but this was bordering on ‘fan who snuck into the booth and put on a headset’ territory. Hearing those snapped me out of the match that I was watching and, honestly, a bit much. At moments, it seemed that Vampiro didn’t even know what to say at those points and ad-libbed just to eliminate the dead-air at that point. Striker is an amazing analyst and commentator and I would never take that away from him ever. However, I feel that he really could’ve dialed it back here and placed more focus on the match as an analyst rather than react to things in a ‘marky’ or even ‘smarky’ fashion (I seriously and honestly hate using those terms but that’s what it was in this case).
That’ll do it for this…I mean, LAST week’s show, fellow Believers! I’ll have the review for this week’s episode sometime tomorrow or Friday the absolute latest so be sure to stay tuned and keep on believing! Again, I thank you all for your patience in waiting for me to have this ready for you all and I’ll be sure to give you nothing but the best from this point forward! Have yourselves a fantastic night and I’ll see you all on the next review!
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Image Credit: Lucha Underground