The name of tonight’s episode was “El Jefe is Back” and boy, is he ever. While the first stretch of the season focused around the new darker, more sinister, Temple, the return of Dario Cueto has seemingly brought us back to the Temple we all grew to love. In retrospect, it’s pretty incredible how they made the first several weeks under Catrina’s reign feel so different. For the first time all season, Lucha Underground feels like a wrestling promotion again.
Dario Cueto is, above all, a wrestling promoter. He wants to deliver the best matches to the fans and give them a show they want to pay to see. That doesn’t always jive with the best interests of the heroes of Lucha Underground and he’s pretty sketchy behind the scenes, but Dario is in this to please the fans. He is a logical heel authority figure. The crowd cheers when he shows up because it means something entertaining is about to happen, even if it frustrates the técnicos we also cheer.
Dario is in this to please the fans. He is a logical heel authority figure.
Back this week were the bands playing us in from commercial. The announcers seemed more clued in to what was happening and why. The booking built in logical ways to future match-ups. The ship runs much more smoothly with The Boss at the helm.
Even still, two new monsters officially began their reigns of terror tonight. And they did so to very different levels of success.
We were treated to an outstanding story from Marty the Moth about the origin of the Mariposa. He told us how the Moth tribe ruled the Aztec Empire. Their pride and wealth caused them to be envied. Fortunately for them, they were defended by the Mariposa, a brutal, deadly warrior who was feared by all. The mask of the Mariposa has been passed down through the ages from elite warrior to warrior, resting now on the visage of the deadliest Mariposa to ever don the hood.
At the end of the story, we see that the book Marty is reading from is empty. Blank pages that tell no such tale. Is he fabricating it all? Or is the Mariposa something to be truly feared?
The fight sequence while he spoke was not terribly convincing. It was more campy kung fu fighting. That, in and of itself, isn’t really a bad thing, but I didn’t like it here. If you’re going to tell us that her viciousness is “legendary,” I’m going to need more. Last season we saw a dude eat someone’s face off. A few kicks and punches aren’t convincing enough for “vicious” anymore.
Later, we saw the Mariposa in the ring. Sexy Star cowered before psyching herself up to bravely face her fears. When the match began, Mariposa struck and was… not all that scary at all. Her ring gear looks low rent and ugly. Her offense looked pretty bad. It wasn’t smooth or violent. A moonsault off the top looked like it wasn’t quite right. Her finish, a vertebreaker named the Butterfly Effect, looked brutal (and has a great name) but that’s mostly just because the move itself is terrifying to see performed.
I’ve never seen a full match from Cheerleader Melissa (the “real life” identity of Mariposa, sorry if that ruined Christmas), but I’ve got to believe she’s better than this. For her to be as acclaimed as she is on the indies, to be a “Future Legend” and all, she has to be capable of more. After tonight, I can buy Mariposa’s viciousness as “legendary” only if by that you mean “mythical.”
The other monster… well, I have no problem fearing Matanza.
Pentagon Jr. interrupting Dario and threatening a broken arm if he did not get a title shot was exciting and got the crowd really going. I wondered, “Where’s Matanza?” until later in the show we saw that he is still kept in his cage. When do you think he’ll grow tired of his confines?
A match between Pentagon Jr. and Matanza, man, that’s a main event I was pumped to see. Truly, Pentagon has “cero miedo.” That defining quality ended up being his undoing as the monster destroyed him, breaking his back as ordered by his brother. Pentagon threw everything at him, even hitting his back cracker in the corner and failed to even drop Matanza to a knee.
Then, we saw Matanza toss Pentagon around like a baggage handler that hates his job. This is the same man we’ve seen give Mil Muertes a serious fight. The same man who took everything but the kitchen sink from Vampiro and dished out even more. To Matanza, he was nothing. The monster threw him around the Temple and injured him, before slamming him like I would my Wrestling Buddies as a child and finishing the job.
You couldn’t rate it as a match. It was as thorough a squash as you’ll see. And it wasn’t some jobber being squashed… it was Pentagon.
THAT is how you build a monster. Who can stop Matanza? There’s no one I can think of outside of possibly Mil Muertes. Even then, I don’t like his chances. Is there anything other than fear and dread that you would feel when your favorite luchadors are signed to face the champion? A match against Matanza is death sentence. That’s how you get a guy over as a threat.
Ultimately, Dario can bring back the fun elements of the show. He can book and promote to make the Believers happy. He can make deals with Rey Mysterio Jr. and Catrina. He can set up a tournament to crown worthy challengers for his titles.
But, the train’s already out of the station.
We haven’t changed course. Dario loves money, he loves power, but he also loves violence. We’re headed to the same place we’ve always been this season. You could see it in Dario’s glee at Pentagon’s destruction. You could see it in the shock of the Believers. You could see it in the shift that happened across Vampiro’s face as he rode off in an ambulance with his disciple.
“Where are we headed, Maestro?”
- Cortez Castro & Mr. Cisco def. Johnny Mundo & Taya – This wasn’t very good. The crowd didn’t seem to connect to it all that well given the heel vs. heel nature of the match. It got across Mundo’s cowardice well and allowed the Cage feud to keep going, but aside from that there wasn’t much here. Thumbs Down
- Trios Championship Elimination Match: Son of Havoc, Angélico, & Ivelisse def. The Disciples of Death – For the first time, the Disciples of Death actually felt like individual wrestlers instead of a trio of Putties. Ironically, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the last time we saw them. The match was pretty good, but not great. The elimination nature took away from it a bit, I think, and kept it from feeling as frenetic as their previous matches felt at times. Thumbs Up
- Mariposa def. Sexy Star – Mariposa was a big let down here. She’s not nearly as bad, but I gotta say, I got some Kobra Moon vibes from Mariposa based on her outfit and jerky offense. Doesn’t inspire confidence in her performing a vertebreaker every night, that’s for sure. This wasn’t very good, but I wouldn’t call it skippable. Thumbs in the Middle
- Lucha Underground Title Match: Matanza def. Pentagon Jr. – Barely a match, only I mean that in a good way. Matanza just dominated and destroyed Pentagon. A sight to see, that’s for sure. Thumbs Up
- “She would never break her nose.” – Vampiro on Taya
- Marty the Moth is such a great creep.
- Black Lotus is the worst bodyguard ever. Catrina could’ve killed Dario and she’d have no idea.
- One of the Disciples of Death is named Barrio Negro? You were coming up with names that trigger thoughts of evil and scary and you went with “Black Neighborhood”? Guys…
- Vampiro doesn’t know what “short and curlies” means.
- Dario’s name plate on his desk: “I’m kind of a big deal”. *****
- If you have a whiskey that’s good enough to be put in a decanter, why are you drinking it as a shot?
- “Aztec Warfare featured twenty-one of the greatest fighters, that man took out eight of them.” – Matt Striker throwing unintentional(?) shade at someone. Probably Joey Ryan.