We’re on the Road to Ultima Lucha and it’s time for the match-ups to start falling into place. We already know we’ll be seeing Black Lotus’ debut against El Dragon Azteca Jr. and tonight the only thing we’re doing is finding a #1 contender for the main event against Matanza. I expected a show built around one match to feel like a big event and get me excited for the matches made in its wake. What we got was a long match.
One thing Lucha Underground seems to not be doing this season is asking, “What is the purpose of this?” about everything that they put on screen. Of course, the purpose of tonight’s show was to build a #1 contender for Ultima Lucha. You could say, “Well, Pentagon won, he’s the contender, mission accomplished.” I don’t want to presume too much of the Lucha Underground writing team, but that may very well have been their mentality based on what I saw tonight.
The problem is that they didn’t think deeply enough about this match. In reality it had to do much more than simply name someone. If all they were going to do was give us a name, they could have done that by having Famous B selling raffle tickets and letting Dario draw a name. You do the match because you want to tell a broader story. You do a match with six people so that you can tell other stories and build to other matches. Outside of Mil Muertes and King Cuerno, it felt like they didn’t really build much else out of this match.
Pentagon Jr. is the challenger for Matanza’s title, but does anyone actually think he can beat the guy? Last time they fought, Matanza destroyed him and gave him the Bane treatment, as Matt Striker pointed out for us on commentary tonight. What has changed since then? We’ve seen Cage give Matanza a great match, but Cage has some… features that Pentagon lacks. Why should I believe in Pentagon now?
We had Pentagon spend all this time away. We saw him rock the Professor X chair and struggle to walk, be cured of paralysis via barbed wire bat, and finally make his way back to the Temple against his master’s best wishes. You know what we haven’t seen? How this journey has changed him. He’s got red on him now, but that is the only thing about him that is different. He’s not darker, he’s not tougher, he’s not more violent. He’s the same Pentagon, only now he’s another acceptable answer to the old newspaper joke.
What was the point? Why did we send a character away only to have them come back the same? Pentagon didn’t have a character arc so much as a circle. Things happened, but now we’re right back where we were. Except he’s almost less threatening now, as at least before he was snapping arms and taking names.
I’ve heard the arguments that Lucha Underground isn’t a wrestling show, it’s a regular show about wrestling. Tonight’s episode is the nail in that theory’s coffin. It forces you to face one of two truths. Either this show is a wrestling show after all, or it’s one of the sloppiest, laziest dramas on tv. In what other show would we tolerate what they’ve done with Pentagon? Even in the campiest of movies, characters go through circumstances and change as a result. In Evil Dead II, Ash loses a girlfriend and a hand, but goes from being a coward to a shotgun-wielding hero with a chainsaw for a hand. It’s Screen Writing 101. Lucha Underground jettisoned this principle completely.
Tonight, Pentagon should’ve been different. He should’ve made a statement. He should’ve been more violent, more brutal, maybe even more reckless. If he had been more reckless, there’s an interesting story you can tell. By taking bigger risks, he sets himself up for either great success or failure, which will it be? Could Matanza capitalize on or fall victim to this new Pentagon’s daredevil ways? See how that’s an interesting story to tell? They didn’t do anything like this tonight.
A story Lance Storm told on a podcast once has long stuck with me where he was observing a bloated script in WCW and made a comment about it to Ed Ferrara. Ferrara replied, “Well, we’ve got to tell all these stories!” Lance quipped back, “You know, we could tell some of those stories in the ring if you’d let us,” which puzzled Ferrara who didn’t seem to understand how that was possible.
That’s my problem with Lucha Underground tonight. Here was this grand opportunity to tell all these stories in one big match and they failed to tell almost any. We have Muertes and Cuerno who will certainly be fighting soon. We maybe had the beginnings of a Taya/Ivelisse rivalry, but I think I’m being generous there. And of course, we have a new challenger for the title. He’s still the same guy he was before, but he’s going to fight the champ again.
For a promotion that made its name telling stories, tonight’s Lucha Underground missed the mark in a major way. Sure, the match itself was fine. It was good. It had some fun spots, it was easy to watch. But it never hooked me. It never drew me in. And it certainly never made me think that Matanza has anything to worry about come Ultima Lucha.
- Six to Survive: Pentagon Jr. def. Fenix, Taya, Johnny Mundo, King Cuerno, & Ivelisse – Look, as a match, there was a lot here that worked. It was fun, there were some cool spots. It really kicked into gear when it got down to the final 4. It definitely was missing that je ne sais quoi though. Thumbs Up
- Pentagon and Fenix took the Dudley “WASSSUP” spot and turned into something truly horrifying. Poor Johnny and his little Mundos.
- Fenix’s chivalry was an ok attempt at a story in this match, but it never really went anywhere.
- Hey, Vampiro, maybe don’t tell the audience that two guys are doing something just to “pop the crowd”.
- Striker’s comment that the palm strikes were intentional to preserve their hands was actually a great “insight”.
- If you’ve got a guy in position for a piledriver, I guess you could torque him in a submission. Or you could like, I don’t know, drop him directly on his head!