It’s been awhile since I’ve watched any Lucha Underground so it’s time to rectify that. We start things off with a prestige drama-esque previously on Lucha Underground recap that shows us stuff that previously happened that will undoubtedly be important in understanding this particular installment. Since it’s been over a month since I last checked out an episode from this season of LU this recap thing is invaluable to me.
Meanwhile in Dario Cueto’s Office…
Dario Cueto blows smoke up Fenix’s ass, talking about how impressive he has been these last few weeks. Cueto, all rubbing his nose like a cokehead, asks Fenix for a favor: he wants him to destroy Prince Puma tonight. Fenix quickly dismisses him saying that he doesn’t fight for Dario Cueto, he fights for himself. Cueto tells him that he thought he might say that and says that the match with Puma will be a title match. Fenix can win the Lucha Underground Championship and then destroy Puma and embarrass Konnan.
Fenix seems to be cool with this offer and gets up to leave and we cut to a shot of the mysterious Asian woman lurking outside the window to Dario’s office. I guess she was eavesdropping on their conversation.
Meanwhile in the Temple…
We get the Lucha Underground logo and then head to the temple where the house band is hyping up the crowd. They have an accordion player with an amazing M. Bison look going on. Striker and Vampiro are, as always on commentary. Striker tells us about some of the matches scheduled for this evening before throwing it to the ring for the first bout of the evening.
Match 1: Aerostar vs. Argenis vs. Angelico vs. Cage
Four-Way Elimination Match
All four of the competitors in this match are apparently making their Lucha Underground debuts here. Aerostar is out first. He apparently hails from THE COSMOS! This has surpassed the illustrious, Parts Unknown, as my new favorite place for a wrestler to hail from. Then we get Argenis who hails from Mexico City is apparently a combination of Dr. Wagner Jr. and Silver King in terms of his in-ring style.
Out next is Angelico, hailing from Johannesburg, South Africa. Matt Striker compares him to Zack Sabre Jr. and X-Pac. Vampiro is a little less lofty in his praise of this man and says that he looks like a guy who races BMX bikes.
The final combatant is Cage, a man whose debut they’ve been teasing for awhile now. He hails from the 559 which a quick Google search tells me is the area code for Fresno, CA.
The match begins with Cage manhandling the three flippy dudes before the team up and triple team him and send him out to the floor so the other three guys can do flips n’ shit for a bit. Argenis gets to shine for a bit early on, kicking Angelico right in the butthole before the South Africa gets sent out to the floor with a headscissors. Aerostar then goes on offense, hitting a pretty good ropewalk Frankensteiner. He follows with a handspring off the ropes but Argenis counters it into a German suplex.
Angelico goes for a dive but Cage comes back and wrecks his shit with a lariat. Cage continues his rampage, by superplexing Argenis in from the apron. Aerostar dives at Cage but Cage catches him in a perfect vertical position and wrecks him with a Jackhammer for a two count. He then nails Angelico with a rack neckbreaker before Argenis comes back with a rana that sends Cage out to the floor.
It’s time for the parade of dives as Argenis hits Cage with a springboard moonsault. Aerostar dispatches Angelico and then goes for a dive of his own, hitting Argenis and Cage with a crazy springboard trust fall thing that takes all three men out.
Not to be outdone, Angelico then leaps over the ringpost with an insane dive that takes out everyone.
Back in the ring Aerostar takes Angelico down with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors while Cage destroys Argenis with a pump handle slam of sorts that smashed Argenis face-first into the mat. This is enough to eliminate Argenis from the match. Cage follows almost immediately by powerbombing Aerostar and then hurking him up and hurling him into Angelico in the corner. Cage then takes off Aerostar’s head with a discus lariat which is enough to send the man from the cosmos home.
Angelico stuns Cage with a kick to the head and then comes off the ropes but Cage recovers and takes Angelico’s head off with another tornado clothesline to eliminate him and pick up the win.
After the match Cage gets on the mic and declares, “They call me Cage, because I’m not a man…I’M A MACHINE!” I don’t know if I’d consider a cage to be a machine, but I’m not going to argue with him since he could probably rip my arms off and use them to play me like a xylophone.
This was a pretty good opener. The flippy guys all got a chance to do flips n’ shit before Cage ultimately wrecked their shit with RAW POWER. Lucha Underground continues to do a good job of making everyone who steps into the ring for them look like stars, even when they’re on the losing end of a match. [***]
Meanwhile in the Ring…
Back from break Chavo is sitting in a chair in the ring. He says that he wants to apologize to Blue Demon Jr. for ruining the friendship that existed between their families and asks Blue Demon to come out so he can apologize to him face to face.
Blue Demon comes out in a dress shirt and slacks. This is one of my favorite lucha libre things ever: when a luchador is in street clothes but still has his mask on. Anyway Demon gets in the ring and Chavo asks him to sit down. Demon eventually does as does Chavo.
Chavo puts his hand on Demon’s knee which leads to some great reaction shots of Blue Demon looking bewildered. Chavo does the fake apology thing stating, “I’m sorry that I didn’t expose you for the fraud that you are. I’m sorry that I didn’t rip that mask off your face. I’m sorry, Blue Demon. I’m sorry that I did not remove your mask and cover your face with a mask of your own blood.”
While he is delivering this rant he gets up and gets a pair of brass knuckles out of his pocket and puts them on, but Blue Demon was ready for him. Demon drops Chavo and unloads on him with punches. He then gets a chair and nails Chavo with it as Chavo begs off. The crowd chants for him to do it again so Blue Demon obliges and nails Chavo in the back with another chairshot.
Demon then leaves the ring and gives Chavo a pixelated double deuce as Chavo lies, laid out in the ring. Matt Striker does some post-production voice over stuff about how things seem to be over between Demon and Chavo for now but wonders where they go from here.
Match 2: King Cuerno vs. Drago
King Cuerno’s out first. His deer head headdress is money. Drago comes out and the match begins with a brief feeling out process. Each man holds a victory over the other so neither man wants to make a mistake. Drago strikes first with a Frankensteiner that earns him a quick two count.
Cuerno comes back with a dropkick that sends Drago out to the floor. He then floors with a dive that drops Drago. Cuerno goes under the ring and pulls out a table that he sets up on the opposite end of the ring while Drago sells on the floor.
Cuerno sends Drago back into the ring and picks him up on the apron and looks for a Thrill of the Hunt through the table, but Drago fights free and dropkicks Cuerno off the apron out to the floor. Drago then comes off the ropes and hits a corkscrew plancha out to the floor.
Cuerno grabs a chair and swings for the fences but misses. Drago comes back with a kick to the face that causes Cuerno to gingerly land on the table. Drago then sprints up the stairs and onto the roof of Dario Cueto’s office. Drago runs and dives off the roof sending Cuerno through the table and smashing his own face into the floor. Both dudes are dead.
The bell is rung and it is announced that due to a double count-out the match has been ruled a draw. Paramedics head out and load both men onto stretchers as we go to commercial. TAPE MACHINES ARE ROLLING!
This feud must continue! I have no problem with a non-finish on a match like this. These two dudes have continually had good matches with each other and if a man diving off a high height onto a man laying on a table leading to a count-out is what it takes to give us at least one more match between these two so be it! Usually I don’t rate these sort of non-finish matches all that highly, but the table spot was pretty cool as a stand alone thing and it caused the match to end so it had that going for it. [**]
We get a video of fire and Fenix fighting dudes as Voice Over Guy (no, not the one from WWE’s Saturday Morning Slam…maybe his manly uncle) tells us, “Legends say the phoenix is a bird that can not die. When a phoenix falls, he rises again. When a phoenix is weakened, it only makes him stronger. And from the ashes of defeat, the bird is always reborn. If you try and destroy Fenix, his rebirth will be your end.” The main event is coming up after the break!
Match 3: Fenix vs. Prince Puma (c)
Lucha Underground Championship Match
The two technicos shake hands to begin. Code of Honor being adhered to for our main event. They work a pretty fantastic back and forth exchange of offense with neither man really gaining the advantage. Striker and Vampiro do a good job of putting over the fact that this opening feeling out stuff allows the luchadors to establish timing and distance and stuff like that. Makes it seem more scientific than “Dudes doing extraneous flips n’ shit looks cool!”
Both men cartwheel out of headscissor attempts and we end in a stalemate. More back and forth before Puma manages to connect with a dropkick that sends Fenix to the outside. Puma builds up a head of steam and looks for a dive, but Fenix catches him with an enziguri.
A springboard dropkick from Fenix sends Puma out to the floor and now it’s Fenix who looks to fly. Puma, however, cuts him off with an enziguri from the apron and then sends Fenix back out to the floor with another dropkick. Puma then runs and finally manages to execute a dive, connecting with a rotating suicide dive that drops Fenix out on the floor.
Back in the ring, Fenix gets back in control and sends Puma out to the floor and then connects with a corkscrew plancha. We see a shot of AAA’s Dorian Roldan in the crowd which prompts the announcers to say that it would be a huge deal if Fenix were to capture the Lucha Underground Championship and take it back to AAA with him.
Back in, Fenix works over Puma with a series of forearms and avoids a dropkick from the champ. He connects with a Victim Kick that ears him a near fall. A second Victim Kick from Fenix gets a one count. Fenix follows with more forearms and then nails Puma with a Stinger Splash into a deadlift gutwrench suplex that gets that earns the challenger another near fall.
Puma comes back with a spinning back kick to the ribs to take over on offense and then blasts Fenix in the back of the head with an axe kick which leads Vampiro to wax poetic about getting wrecked by Booker T with a similar move in WCW 2000. Puma then hits a Victim Kick and a standing moonsault for a near fall of his own.
Puma follows with more kicks and a big chop before hurking Fenix up for an inverted torture rack that he transitions into a slam. He the gets Fenix in a bow and arrow crucifix submission before transitioning into a roll up for another near fall.
We get another big chop from Puma but Fenix comes back with a step-up enziguri and then hits the back handspring cutter to earn himself a near fall. Fenix hurks Puma up for a Samoan Drop, but Puma slips out and drops Fenix with a Go To Sleep and the hits a standing shooting star press for another near fall.
There is a strike exchange during which Fenix gets back in control after a series of rapid-fire strikes and a spinning backfist. He goes for another back handspring cutter, but Puma catches him off the handspring, and nails him with a Northern Light suplex before rolling though for a deadlift suplex and going for the pin.
Fenix manages to kick out at two and Puma is clearly starting to get frustrated. He heads up top and goes for a Phoenix Splash but Fenix avoids it. Fenix then hits a German suplex and holds on, getting two off a half and half.
Fenix heads up top and connects with a 450 for a close near fall. Striker claims that Fenix stole the move from Puma but gets called out on this by Vampiro who claims that Puma also borrowed the move from guys who came before him which is true. He then name-checks Jushin Thunder Liger, Great Sasuke, and Super Delfin, none of whom I recall ever having seen do a 450 splash in their lives.
Fenix goes for a lifting reverse DDT but Puma slips out of in and connects with a Tombstone Piledriver for another close two count. This leads to the finish of the match which comes when Puma heads up top only for Fenix to cut him off with a palm strike that leaves him stunned on the top turnbuckle.
Instead of climbing up and superplexing him off the top turnbuckle like a normal wrestler, Fenix scurries up to the top turnbuckle across from where Puma is. He then proceeds to RUN AT PUMA ON THE GODDAMN TOP ROPE! I can only assume that he’s going for a Frankensteiner off the top rope or something but I honestly don’t know because as he’s RUNNING AT PUMA ON THE GODDAMN TOP ROPE, Puma recovers and proceeds to kick Fenix off the rope back into the ring.
Puma then hits the 630 splash and covers to pick up the win. Do you know how insane a spot has to be to make a person look at a 630 splash and be like, “Meh, that’s not that amazing…” because that’s pretty much what happened here.
Puma does not have much of an opportunity to celebrate his first successful title defense though since Cage emerges from “the bowels of the Temple” and blindsides Puma from behind and smashes him in the dome with forearm strikes. He follows with a tornado clothesline and a series of powerbombs on the champ before roaring at the camera as the show goes off the air.
Winner: Prince Puma
This was another very good match. They started kind of slow, but by the end they were pulling out the crazy flips and high risk maneuvers that we all watch Lucha Underground for. Once again, with this match Lucha Underground did an excellent job of making both dudes look like stars. Fenix could have seemingly won this match at any point but took one risk too many and ended up losing the match. So even if he lost he could theoretically be put back in the title scene pretty easily.
I also thought the post-match stuff with Cage was pretty good as it established him as someone to be reckoned with and set him up as the next obstacle that is being put in Prince Puma’s path by Dario Cueto. This is another thing that Lucha Underground does well. Each episode builds to the next and storylines flow together. In the beginning of the episode Cuerto told Fenix that if he was unable to finish Puma he’d find someone who could. Fenix came up short and almost instantly Cage hit the ring to wreck house leading us all to assume that Cage was the someone that Dario was talking about.
Anyway this was a fine television wrestling match and one well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it yet. [***⅔]
Lucha Underground continues to be one of the best written wrestling shows around. While there are probably people who will dislike the cinematic style of the backstage segments or how zany some of the stuff gets (Aerostar being from the cosmos and Drago maybe being an actual dragon) but within it’s own self-contained universe the stories that are being told are progressing in a logical fashion. I also appreciate the fact that the show pays extremely close attention to the small details during the backstage stuff. Nothing that happens in those segments seems accidental and everything they show has meaning and a purpose.
But this is a wrestling show and even the most carefully plotted scenes and painstakingly crafted dialogue does not a good wrestling show make. Fortunately Lucha Underground delivers on that front as well. The in-ring stuff is some of the best in-ring action on weekly television in the US today. The matches are generally solid from bell to bell and even those that end in non-finishes (like the Drago vs. Cuerno match this week) aren’t particularly disappointing because you know that there’s a payoff coming.
If there’s one complaint about Lucha Underground it’s that it, like most prestige dramas, is fairly episodic and thus requires viewers to follow in along episode to episode. While there’s some continuity in every televised wrestling show, it’s generally a lot broader (Wrestler A has the title and Wrestler B wants it) and thus easier for new viewers to get caught up on very quickly. Lucha Underground has a lot more long term builds so there’s stuff that someone randomly watching a particular episode probably wouldn’t be able to understand fully. I guess this is my way of saying, if you aren’t watching Lucha Underground and are going to start, start at the very beginning rather than just trying to jump on with whatever season is currently happening when you read this.