One of the hallmarks of Lucha Underground is the fact that everything has a purpose. This is a wrestling show that effectively has no filler. Every match and every backstage segment has a reason for happening. Every character on the show has a story complete with goals, wants, and motivations. This week’s episode was a perfect example of this, as we saw four matches and a handful of segments that all drove their various stories forward.
Pentagon Jr and Vampiro have plans to actualize their dark dreams in Lucha Underground at the expense of anyone who might try to stop them, including (or especially) the Temple’s new proprietor, Katrina. Jack Evans has gotten too big for his britches after a win over Drago and the latter is out for revenge. King Cuerno is locked into a vendetta with Fenix with both men vying to take advantage of the wounded champion, Mil Muertes. Texano is out for revenge on Chavo Guerrero and his lackeys, The Crew. Dario Cueto readies his brother for the war on the horizon. Cage, for whom this episode was named, is ready to make a run at the title, but can’t seem to shake Johnny Mundo.
Meanwhile, the side characters in these arcs are not left without stories of their own to tell. Killshot is being hyped as this year’s breakout star and a serious back and forth with King Cuerno points to that possibly becoming a reality. Famous B made his return and seems to have a new direction, as we were given an infomercial with him playing a new role somewhere between Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman and a motivational speaker. Cortez Castro is not only a member of Chavo’s “Crew,” but an undercover cop waiting for more intel on Dario Cueto. Mr. Cisco was given a similar focus by commentator Matt Striker as a guy to watch this year, only for that to be paid off with comedy as Texano eliminated him from their gauntlet match immediately. Sure, that’s probably not something he’s going to tell Momma Cisco to set her DVR for, but it was a comedy beat that was well executed and paid off a setup from weeks prior. This attention to detail is what makes Lucha Underground such a breath of fresh air.
The South African elephant in the room is PJ Black. While virtually every single person on the show is given something to do that moves them forward or develops their character in some way, the Darewolf seems to be spinning his wheels, losing his matches and having little to do. (The nickname certainly isn’t helping either, but he did that to himself.) Normally, I would be reproachful of a wrestling show for treating an exciting, interesting character this way, but I’m going to give Lucha Underground a bit of a pass here. Not because I think what they’ve done with Black is particularly good, but because the story is not yet finished.
By telling their stories in the consistent, deliberate manner they do, the writers of this show have built up a great deal of trust with their audience. I don’t know what they have planned for Black, but I have reason to believe they do indeed have something planned. The track record of this show from its beginning shows that my faith is by no means blind.
We were treated to some terrific performances this week both in the ring and out of it. Chief among them, by no surprise, is Dario Cueto. Recounting the story of his little brother saving his life from their abusive mother and beating her to death with a ceramic bull Dario still (literally) holds dear, Luis Fernandez-Gil’s work here was chilling. By holding the camera on his face, removing the background and focusing your attention on his expression, you could see the various emotions at play in this memory. The terror, the sentimentality, the bittersweet joy all came through. Black Lotus is repulsed or disquieted by this tale, but Dario is lost in a black sea of nostalgia.
The production values were top notch, as always. Pentagon’s dojo, Katrina’s office, and Dario’s warehouse all looked beautiful. I particularly would like to spend some more time in Pentagon’s dojo, though not literally, as my arms are quite fragile. The direction and cinematography on the show are exceptional. It’s crazy that a pro wrestling show looks this good.
Not everything on the show was great, however. Katrina’s kung-fu fight with Pentagon Jr. was a bit strange. For a bruiser like Pentagon to fight like this at all seems out of place. Having it be with Katrina and in what appeared to be slow-motion made it look more like a practice run than a final cut. Katrina’s condescending look as Pentagon threatened the arm-breaker was a bright spot, though, as her black magic is strong and one wonders what she has in store for Pentagon as revenge. Perhaps he’ll have at least poco miedo.
I also would be fine never seeing a match between Texano and Chavo Guerrero again. It’s not that the gauntlet match tonight was bad, per se… it just simply isn’t interesting. The motivations are in place, the build has made sense, but I just don’t find these characters compelling.
For next week, we have a pair of big matches to look forward to. Pentagon Jr. gets his wish and will battle Prince Puma. King Cuerno and Fenix will presumably bring their feud to an end with a ladder match to determine the Gift of the Gods champion. After firing on all cylinders from a story-telling perspective this week, I look forward to next week’s focus on high-level in-ring action. When a wrestling show can deliver on both of those fronts, you’ve got something special.
- Jack Evans def. PJ Black: Pretty good match with two guys whose styles blended rather well. Some flashy offense from Black and some great annoying heel work from Evans made for a pretty entertaining bout. At least Drago cost Black the match to save him from losing clean. Thumbs Up
- King Cuerno def. Killshot: Killshot got a surprising amount of offense in against Cuerno, dominating the early portion of the match. At one point, Killshot reversed into tombstone position, only to turn it into a chest buster. Why wouldn’t you just drop the guy on his head? Thumbs Up
- Chavo Guerrero, Cortez Castro, & Mr. Cisco def. Texano: The superkick quick pin on Cisco was a pretty funny spot. The rest of the match was fine, but unremarkable. Texano getting screwed at the end probably means this feud continues and I could not be less interested. Unenthusiastic Thumb Up
- Johnny Mundo def. Cage: Really fun stuff here. Cage and Mundo both have some really cool looking offense and it made for an entertaining match. The debut of Taya Valkyrie was well done and extremely well received. It will be interesting to see what she does from here. Easy Thumbs Up
- Did anyone else hear the drums playing during Killshot/Cuerno? Was that just me? What was up with the drums?
- “You don’t need to fear if a dragon should appear!”
- How is Cage not in WWE? Does Vince not know this man exists?
- The “pipe” Mundo hit Cage with kinda reminded me of Fit Finlay’s shillelagh.
- If they sold Katrina’s bloody skull snow globe on the Lucha Underground website, I’d at least seriously consider buying one.
- Call me crazy, but Matt Striker actually added a lot to this show.