Ready or not, season three of Lucha Underground is here! I’ll admit, it snuck up on me a bit. I was prepared for a nice off-season, thought I’d have a little break from the weekly review grind, but before you know it the warriors of the Temple are back into the Temple and our living rooms. The short break between seasons makes season three feel like season two continued, rather than a whole new season all its own. Back is fantastic action in the ring, missing is any sort of new direction for the show.
Season two of Lucha Underground had its ups and downs, but carried a well-defined thesis throughout its run. In one of the last shots of season one, Pentagon asks Vampiro where they are going, to which Vampiro replies, “Somewhere darker.” That comment ended up being the guiding principle for season two, as the overarching story seemed to be that the Temple was getting darker and more twisted. Episode one was called, “A Much Darker Place,” Catrina’s brief rule made the Temple darker and more sinister, Dario’s return brought the reign of Matanza, an evil champion if ever there was one. This story didn’t always make for interesting television (Matanza’s squash matches got old quick, for instance), but it was a consistent direction for the show to go. Season three began last night with tremendous wrestling, but seems to lack a unifying theme.
The biggest piece of story we got this week was Dario’s release from prison, facilitated by none other than the Honky Tonk Man. (I’ll admit, I got WAY too excited for that cameo.) Dario was picked up by Councilman Delgado and his boss. We got a Dr. Claw-esque introduction to the dark lord, seeing only a gloved hand and hearing a threat to Cueto in Spanish. Whoever this guy is, he scared Dario. Anyone that scares Dario Cueto is someone to be reckoned with.
This episode was primarily about the wrestling. Most of the show was devoted to matches; we got two great ones and a third that was almost as bad as the other two were good. We kicked off with Dario’s new Dial of Doom, which spins to determine a title challenger for Matanza, rather than a gimmick for the match. Tonight’s “winner” was Son of Havoc, who is probably now definitely wishing he took the money on Ultima Lucha Dos.
The match was much better than I would’ve expected. Havoc found ways to get offense in and put Matanza in compromising situations without completely erasing his mystique. Matanza still felt like a hardcore monster man, but sold and almost lost on a shooting star press. I thought this match was worked astutely, making for a great match that told a great story.
Rey Mysterio Jr. took on Pentagon Dark in the main event in another great match. I think it’d be impossible for these guys to not put on a good show and they didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t a match of the year candidate or anything like that, but it was a solid tv match. Rey was sporting a new look, both wearing the mask of his uncle, Rey Misterio Sr., over his own for his entrance and rocking a mohawk down the back of his open mask.
The end of the match saw Pentagon attack Rey and attempt to break his arm, only for Dragon Azteca Jr. to make the save. Azteca was still wearing a compression sleeve from where Pentagon broke his arm on Ultima Lucha. The save seemed to have been motivated by revenge as much as, or perhaps even more than, saving his master. Perhaps the many enemies Pentagon has made will be catching up to him this season.
The match in the middle, however, was atrocious. Sexy Star and Taya competed for the Gift of the Gods Championship in a match that was not only bad, but seemed custom tailored for them to fail. They began the match with a long, slow stretch of technical wrestling. This culminated in something I can’t recall ever seeing before in my twenty-plus years of watching wrestling. A chain of holds, counter-holds and reversals lead to a stand-off spot, the kind I believe I first saw in the Rob Van Dam/Jerry Lynn rivalry. However, instead of getting a big crowd reaction, as this has every other time I’ve seen it performed, there was no response. They worked so slowly and sloppily, the crowd didn’t even notice they had built to a stand-off.
Sexy Star didn’t even look good running the ropes in this match. When you’ve got the caliber of female performer on national television weekly that we do now, a match like this stands out as being far inferior. The finish set us up for an 8-man tag with Worldwide Underground and the Superfriends, which at least means Sexy Star and Taya won’t be focused on for the entirety of a match.
All in all, tonight’s show was a breeze to watch, with good action, efficient vignettes, and a mostly high level of quality. I’m looking forward to the wackiness missing tonight we’re sure to get out of some of the stories they tell this season. However, if every episode of season three is this easy to watch and this good across the board, I can’t imagine complaining about much.
- Lucha Underground Title Match: Mil Muertes© def. Son of Havoc
- Good match, far exceeding expectations.
- Dario Cueto is still one of, if not the best heel manager in the business.
- Matanza blocking a cross body with nothing other than his chest is quite the visual.
- Gift of the Gods Title Match: Sexy Star© def. Taya
- This was awful.
- Who sent these women out there and told them to work a technical match?
- Finally Taya got to hit Mundo for a change, at least.
- Rey Mysterio Jr. def. Pentagon Dark
- Great match.
- Pentagon does the “quiet the crowd down” chop in a way I don’t think anyone else does. He comes off like a legit psychopath.
- The crowd was super into both guys, but eventually seemed to coalesce behind Rey.