With the fourth part of my wrestling cycle taking in “Stuff other than the Network” that I have access to, a roll of the dice landed on this, the third season of which I had just gotten onto. It’s the 7th of May 2016 and we’re in the Temple, for episode 301 of Lucha Underground: “Wheel of Misfortune”!
I love LU a lot, it being the perfect blend of ridiculous telenovella story-telling and really fast-paced high-impact wrestling. There can be a sense of repetition about it and what it does, but it’s rare that I have not been entertained by LU, even when the plot frequently involves actual magic powers. The third season premiere follows on from Ultima Lucha Dos, where Dr Wagner Jr debuted, Matanza retained the Lucha Underground Championship against the newly re-christened Pentagon Dark, Rey Mysterio came out on top against Prince Puma and the villainous Dario Cueto was last seen being put into police custody.
We open with the, by-now, customary look at the Los Angeles skyline. In a jail cell, Dario Cueto performs pull-ups on an upturned bed before the door is opened. “You must have friends in high places” says a guard. “You have no idea” Cueto says as he walks out. Ohhhhhh. At Prisoner Release, Cueto receives his effects, including “one giant key” from a guard played by none other than The Honky Tonk Man. Billy Kiebal has it right on him on the Attitude Era Podcast, describing Honky as “the biggest prick in wrestling”. And yet he keeps getting work. Check out compilations of his shoot interviews if you don’t believe me.
Outside the prison, Cueto is picked up by a limo. The DA from last season is inside, and informs him that all charges were dropped. A deep dark, but unseen voice, warns Cueto “If you waste my time again, the next sentence will be death”, making his point with a mailed fist. Cueto declares the Temple back open for business. See, this is why I love LU: decent production values, a perfect sense of mood with the music and slow-mo shots of feet in rain, and then topping it off with insanity: who is mailed fist guy? What is his evil plan!? I need to know!
Title card, the LA skyline at sunset, Beastie Boys-esque music of The Chimps and we’re back in the temple. The irreplaceable Matt Striker and Vampiro on commentary in front of the loudest crowd in wrestling. Striker congrats Vampiro on his recovery from the events of Ultimo Lucha Dos where his dark persona came out again as part of the Matanza/Pentagon match. Vampiro appears to draw a line under it by saying he’s nobody’s master anymore, and we go to the ring.
The Brothers Cueto, Dario and Matanza, are in the ring. Dario welcomes us back to the Temple, and says he has some big news to impart. But first, he sets the main event for tonight: Rey Mysterio vs Pentagon Dark! Oh hell yes. Cueto reminds the crowd of when Pentagon “bled Vampiro like a pig” before oinking repeatedly. Vampiro is displeased, but the crowd is more concerned with the “Cero Miedo” chants. But what about Matanza? Dario says he’s beaten the best of the best, and no one can stop him. But that doesn’t mean we can’t let them try!
Dario goes to his office to unveil his new idea: “Dario’s Dial Of Doom”, which looks like a big gambling wheel. There’s some overly-loud jackass in the crowd heckling like it’s open-mike night, whom I wish would shut up. The wheel has wrestler names on it, those that have never been pinned by Matanza yet, and whomever it lands on after a spin gets a title match…right now! Dario gives it a spin and the winner is…Son of Havoc! That starts a huge “Son of Havoc” chant, the man himself comes out and here we go.
“The Monster” Matanza Cueto (c) vs Son of Havoc (Lucha Underground Championship)
They point out that Havoc lost the chance to challenge for the title at Ultima Lucha Dos, so this is a very quick re-writing of history. Havoc in hot with a drop-kick at the start, handspring elbow and then goes for a springboard crossbody, and Matanza just steps up and lets Havoc bounce off him. Awesome spot from Jeff Cobb behind the mask. Matanza throws Havoc around for a bit, then misses a corner charge as Striker compares him, as the longest-reigning LU Champion, to Bruno Sammartino and Joe Lewis, which is a bit much. Matanza outside, Havoc sets himself up as hanging off the turnbuckle and drops an elbow “”right on his nuts” according to Vampiro, but I’m going to assume it wasn’t since no bell is called for.
Back inside, Havoc to the top, leaps over a charging Matanza, hits a big kick to the head. Dodges a clothesline, roll-up into a double stomp, good enough for two. Matanza rallies back with a swinging reverse suplex, then a huge throw across the ring, even while the “Son of Havoc” chants get louder. Dragging Havoc up by the beard, Scoop Slam and then a standing moonsault, which was impressive insofar as someone of Matanza’s size was able to do it, but not so much in that his head just collides with Havoc’s chest and little more. Then another which is just a headbutt to the left arm essentially, though Havoc sells it well. Stack cover for two. Dario wants the ref to count faster.
Havoc trying to rally back, goes for a tornado DDT off the top, Matanza catches him but Havoc transitions into a choke, beautiful wrestling. Matanza trying to toss him off, Havoc ends up dragging the Monster to the outside, then lands a huge springboard moonsault to a great reaction. Dario looks worried, and I’m loving the story of this match. Back in, Havoc hits a double stomp from the top, then a standing moonsault, 1, 2, Matanza powers out but Havoc flips it into an armbar. Crowd going mental, “Tap” chants, but no hyper-extension so a very excited Matt Striker explains it’s no good. Matanza lifts Havoc up and plants him down to get out of the submission.
Matanza battles out of a fireman’s carry, Havoc with a handspring off the ropes into a cutter for two. Havoc to the top, fights off Matanza’s attempted interference and nails the Shooting Star for two and nine/tenths. Just for a second you thought he could actually do it, that’s how well this has been booked. Havoc off the springboard flips over a charging Matanza, the champ catches him off the other rope, Wrath Of The Gods, and that’ll be the 1, 2, 3 in just under seven and a half.
Winner (and still Lucha Underground Champion): Matanza Cueto
Verdict: Felt much longer, but in a good way. Very intelligently booked to make Havoc into a possible winner, and had the crowd super-fired up. One of the best matches of this series so far.
Matanza celebrates, as Striker declares Havoc to be “just another victim”.
After a break Dario is in is office where he is confronted by the former Trios Champions the “Worldwide Underground”, they being Johnny Mundo, PJ Black, Jack Evans and Taya Valkyrie. If Havoc is getting a title match, Mundo wants a shot at Matanza, wheel or no wheel. Dario isn’t interested, pointing out that the last time he was in the Temple ring he lost the Trios Titles. Mundo blames this on Angelico, but says they’ve “taken care of him”. Flashback to “The Night Of Ultima Lucha Dos”, where the Worldwide crew ambush Angelico, beat him up and, in the words of Mundo, welcome him “to Slamtown”, slamming a car door on his leg a few times while he screams in agony. Are they writing Angelico out?
Dario thinks this is hilarious, but still won’t give Mundo a title match. Mundo asks for a match against Sexy Star for the Gift of the Gods Title instead, promising to take her to “Slamtown”. Is this a Brock Lesnar piss-take? Dario refuses again, but decides that, since Taya was the only one of them to win at Ultima Lucha Dos, she can have a GOTG Title match instead. Crazy segment, especially with Angelico’s screaming.
Back in the Temple proper, Ivelisse is in the ring. She says Catrina has cost her both of her Ultima Lucha matches, and she’s not putting up with it anymore. She wants Catrina at Ultima Lucha Tres, and wants an answer to her challenge. The lights go out, and Catrina appears on top of Dario’s office. She happily accepts the challenge, “bitch”, and the two stare each other down. A year in the making it will be huh? Not exactly Rock/Cena, but I’m intrigued.
After a break, the luchadoras for the next match are already in the ring.
Sexy Star (c) vs Taya (Gift Of The Gods Championship)
Sexy has always been Lucha Underground’s big underdog character, which can be a bit hard to swallow given some of the accusations about her conduct in AAA. Test of strength to start, Taya gets the advantage until Sexy gets some chains in to her advantage. The stars of From Dusk Till Dawn are in the house if anyone cares (remember that show? No?). More chains, and no-one can get an advantage. Vampiro, Brian Kerr style, starts discussing obscure wrestlers this reminds him of.
Taya gets on top with some hair-pulling. Double knees to the corner for two. Slam, Taya to the top, goes for the moonsault but nobody home. Star comes roaring back with a Scissor Kick, spinning elbow and a big clothesline. Taya pushed to the outside, and floored with a sit-down drop. Rolled back in for the pin, but nothing doing. Good rhythm to this now. Sexy goes for the crossbody, but caught, and Taya hits a Fallaway Slam.
Suddenly Johnny Mundo is in the house with the Worldwide Underground. While the rest distract the ref, Mundo holds Sexy for a knee strike, but she wriggles free and Taya hits Mundo instead. Sexy with the roll-up off that calamity and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just over four a half.
Winner (and still Gift Of The Gods Champion): Sexy Star, who becomes the first person to successfully defend that championship.
Verdict: Short and sweet. I guess Worldwide Underground isn’t long for this world.
Worldwide beat-down Sexy in the aftermath, but are clearly very awkwardly waiting for the save, which comes from the Trios Champions, Fenix, Drago and Aerostar, who send them packing. I sense a rematch!
After a break we’re back with Dario in the office. A phone-call he’s on gets interrupted by the arrival of the Temple’s resident creep show Marty “the Moth” Martinez. He and his family have apparently been supporting Dario while he was in jail, but El Hefe doesn’t want to talk about that. Marty, getting a bit too familiar in the office, wants to conquer LU, and is ready, at Dario’s suggestion, for war. Dario brings up Killshot, whose dog-tags Marty still wears around his neck. He proposes the Temple’s very first Weapons of Mass Destruction match between Marty and Killshot for the dog-tags, where everything will be legal. Marty, laughing like the Joker, likes that idea. I’m guessing some manner of street fight?
Rey Mysterio Jr vs Pentagon Dark
Rey wears his oldest mask, as Vampiro points out. Always loved Pentagon’s LU theme. Crowd resolutely behind Mysterio as we begin with a big shove from Pentagon. Rey counters back with some flipping chains, a rana that sends Pentagon to the outside, and then a somersault sit-down drop over the top-rope. He’s the King for a reason.
Back in for a cover, only two, and Dark getting back into it with a savage kick to the leg. Pop-up drop that gets huge air, double-stomp but only two. Another big kick, and the crowd is suddenly very much behind Mr Cero Miedo. Very loud chop to Rey against the ropes, you can never fault LU for their sound work. Pentagon hits a very sloppy looking Slingblade where he appears to drag Mysterio back by the neck, very ugly, then does the spot again properly, for two. Rey eats a super-kick, then both men find themselves on the top rope in the corner, where Mysterio is just about able to hit a Frankensteiner for two.
Some whips and dives and Pentagon sends Rey sliding to the outside. Another kick, then a whip into the ring apron. Rey with a standing moonsault off the apron, Pentagon catches him but Mysterio uses his momentum to land a tornado DDT. Awesome, and the crowd agrees, while Vampiro says Mysterio did the same thing to him 15 years ago. Pentagon back in, Rey to the top, falling splash, but only two. Pentagon hits a pumphandle driver OUTTANOWHERE, but despite it looking devastating it’s only good for two.
Pentagon goes for another, but Rey counters it into an arm drag. Dark set-up, Rey goes for the 619 but nobody home, and then another vicious super-kick floors Mysterio. Pentagon with a press into a gutbuster for two. Pentagon suddenly leaves the ring to remonstrate in Spanish with Vampiro briefly, leading to a distressed looking Vamprio to leave, with Striker alone on the desk. Back in the ring Pentagon sets Rey up for the Package Piledriver but Mysterio counters it into a rana, and this time hits the 619. Rey to the second rope, and hits a Destroyer, straight into a cover, for the pin in around eight minutes and twenty.
Winner: Rey Mysterio, and all of us who got to watch it.
Verdict: Fantastic match. LU rarely dissapoints.
As Rey celebrates, Pentagon sneaks up behind and hits a Crucifix Bomb. Going for the Armbreaker, but El Dragon Azteca Jr makes the save, looking for some payback for his own armbreak. They three stare each other down a the credits roll.
Prince Puma sits alone in the locker room, remembering his loss to Mysterio at Ultima Lucha Dos. Vampiro suddenly appears. He says he knows how Puma feels, and suggests that his crisis of confidence stems from an unredeemed loss to Mil Muertes. Puma’s surprised that Vampiro doesn’t want him to take out Pentagon, but Vampiro says it’s not about him. Puma is left sitting alone as the show comes to an end.
Best Match: Hard to call, but I think I’ll give it to Matanza/Havoc, it was just so well booked.
Best Wrestler: Rey Mysterio is a legitimate contender to be called the GOAT.
Worst Match: I suppose by default I’ll say the GOTG match, but it wasn’t bad.
Worst Wrestler: Maybe just because that Slingblade looked a bit dangerous I’ll say Pentagon Dark.
Overall Verdict: “Lucha, Lucha Lucha”. Recommended.
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