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Temple Rants (4/29/2015): The Dragon's Trial

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Welcome to Temple Rants, your weekly coverage of the hottest wrestling show today, Lucha Underground!

In last week’s episode, we had the final match to determine the first Trios Champions. Two teams (and another) fell down, and one trio stood–the odd pairing of Son of Havoc, Ivelisse and Angelico! Also, Pentagon Jr. looked to make Sexy Star his latest sacrifice, but was thwarted when the female luchador pinned him in a fun match. Meanwhile, Johnny Mundo and Alberto El Patron had some tense words, and Black Lotus continues to train under El Dragon Azteca.

This week, the spotlight is on one man–er, dragon–as he competes in what will be the most pivotal match of his career in Lucha Underground. Drago battles Prince Puma for the Lucha Underground Championship–win, and he gets glory; lose, and he has to pack his bags. Will we see a new champion, or is it the end of the line for Drago? Meanwhile, Cage and King Cuerno want revenge on Hernandez, so Dario Cueto has set up a triple threat match! Plus, after an impressive start to his LU career, Kill Shot takes on Fenix in one-on-one action. Sounds like we’re in for a jampacked hour of wrestling, so let’s begin!

We kick things off with Dario Cueto talking to The Crew–Cortez Castro, Mr. Cisco, and Bael. He tells them about lay-ups, and how their opportunity for the Trios championship last week was supposed to be very easy. However, they could not get the job done against “two losers and a girl on one leg.” Cueto says they need motivation, and usher them into a room. Inside, they are introduced to Dario Cueto’s “brother.” He’s locked behind bars, and Cueto tells the Crew that the next time they disappoint him, they can apologize to his brother.

Alright, color me curious. I’m glad that they’re not leaving the Crew as just another returning team after last week’s match–they’re Dario Cueto’s boys. They’re his hired muscle. And Cueto’s brother? Well, the Crew’s faces at the end of the segment told us that this guy is to be feared. If you can scare the Crew, you can scare pretty much anyone, so I’m interested to see who this mystery man is.

Back to the temple, and the band wraps up their set as Striker and Vampiro welcome us to the show for our first lucha!

Match 1: Kill Shot vs. Fenix

Fenix gets the jobber entrance, for some reason, as he’s already in the ring as Melissa introduces him. Kill Shot makes his way out next. He’s been impressive in his short stint here in Lucha Underground, and I’m excited to see how he fares in singles action. Striker makes a good point about how Kill Shot carries himself. The way he moves tells us that he’s very calculated and cerebral. I like these small ways to build characters up, as it fleshes out the edges. Those comments make Kill Shot stand out from your typical masked luchador, and that goes a long way towards building someone who’s unique.

We start off with a handshake and some wristlocks, with neither man getting the early advantage. Fenix gets the first edge with a dropkick and huracanrana. That doesn’t last long, though, as Kill Shot hits a dropkick and dive of his own. Some nice strong style slapping from Fenix, before Kill Shot takes charge again. We get our first lungblower this show from Kill Shot, but that only hits a two count. The two give a flurry of exchanges and reversals, before Kill Shot takes Fenix out with a BEAUTIFUL kick to the head.
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Locked & loaded: Fenix falls down with a vicious headshot.
Kill Shot tries for the top ropes, but Fenix with a knee, and he picks Kill Shot up for the piledriver and the win!

Winner: Fenix!

That was a short, but solid, match. Fenix putting on a good match is nothing new. Kill Shot continues to generate some buzz, as he was impressive here in defeat–nothing wrong with losing to Fenix. I love how Kill Shot’s moveset has these strikes and slams that just sound hard. That kick above was like a gunshot.

Meanwhile, Dario Cueto finds Drago in that bathroom (isn’t he always there?). Cueto talks about gratitude and pumps Drago up for his match, and that he’ll thank him at the end of the night. In typical Drago fashion, he just hisses and leaves. We then cut to Cueto and Prince Puma, and this time Cueto is saying how the career stipulation shouldn’t affect Puma–he’s a champion, and losing Drago is a small price to pay for keeping the belt. I love how he’s playing the two competitors against each other here. That’s slimy boss tactics at its finest.

As he leaves, Cueto then runs into Hernandez. He tells Hernandez that he’s the only reason Prince Puma is still champion, and that means a claim to the title just as King Cuerno and Cage have. The boss raises the stakes and makes it a number one contender’s match, and Hernandez says he likes the way he thinks. This all happens outside Prince Puma’s locker room, and he overhears their conversation as he prepares to defend his title.

Back to the ring, and we’ve got a four-way match!

Match 2: Famous B vs. Ricky Mandel vs. Vinny Massaro vs. Argenis

Oh, look, it’s the Pentagon’s Bitches free-for-all! All four men have one thing in common: Pentagon Jr. broke their arms. This match is a chance for one of them to get back up again, so each man should be craving the victory.

At least that was the plan, before Texano clears them all out. Nice seeing everyone, I guess.

No Contest (I guess Famous B wins by DQ, because Texano attacked him first.)

Texano clears all four guys (and the referee, for good measure). He then grabs the mic and cuts a promo, daring the guy who attacked him last week to come to the Temple so he can give him the beating of a lifetime. I like how they’re addressing this the show right after that happened; with the one-hour format, I was worried they’d push it back. This really plays up how pissed Texano is with what happened last week, and I’m curious to see how Daivari responds to this–or even if he will.

More Dario Cueto, and this time he’s walking out of the building before a guy in a yellow shirt comes to him. Cueto brushes him off as a fan, before the guy, who introduces himself as Marty “The Moth” Martinez, says he wants to be part of the show. Cueto looks at him, before telling him that he’ll just get squashed like a moth. Brilliant. Cueto then locks him out as the Moth tries to look for another way in.
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“I think you would just get squashed… like a moth.” Cold. Ice cold.
Before anything else, though, let me just say that “The Moth” is the worst possible name you could pick. Seriously, it’s a fucking moth. How is that supposed to make you look like a threat? I’ll tune in to see how this develops, but the name isn’t doing him any favors. Who picks a moth as their spirit animal!?

We cut back to Melissa, and now it’s time for our third match!

Match 3: #1 Contender’s Match for the Lucha Underground Championship – King Cuerno vs. Cage vs. Hernandez

All three men are in the ring from the start as introductions are made. Hernandez talks some trash before the tag partners from last week gang up on him. Cuerno and Cage argue as they try to pin Hernandez, realizing that this is a triple threat match. Cage takes control by attacking King Cuerno, and Hernandez takes advantage with a double clothesline. Now it’s Hernandez in control, but Cage & Cuerno make that short-lived with their flapjack-kick combo. Hernandez takes control again, though, dropping King Cuerno face first onto the mat.

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Hernandez is not impressed with his opponents. Or with you, for that matter.
Before Cage and Hernandez can go at it, The Moth charges into the ring! The Temple is open to everyone, after all, but just as Cueto said, The Moth is squashed as Cuerno, Cage and Hernandez easily send him packing. Hernandez takes advantage of the distraction to kick Cage to the outside, before picking up Cuerno and hitting a Dominator for the win.

Winner, and NEW #1 Contender: Hernandez!

Well, that was quick. Hernandez didn’t dominate the whole match, but that was due to Cuerno and Cage teaming up to take him out. I hope they take the tension between King Cuerno and Cage further, as that would make for a nice match. Hernandez knows how to put on a show, though, and I’m looking forward to the dynamics between him and Prince Puma, as they are friends.

After the commercial break, we cut to a segment with Vampiro interviewing our new Trios Champions–Son of Havoc, Ivelisse and Angelico. Ivelisse takes credit for calling the shots as team captain, but Son of Havoc and Angelico argue otherwise. Ivelisse buries Angelico’s dive from last week. LOL. The trio argue some more, and it seems that things haven’t changed despite winning the belts.

Back to the ring, and it’s time for our main event!

Match 4: Lucha Underground Championship Match – Prince Puma (c) vs. Drago

Melissa announces the stipulation, and Drago makes his way to the ring. The champion, accompanied by Konnan, comes out next. Vampiro takes his usual shot at Konnan by calling him a “dark cloud” behind Puma’s “star.” Never change, Vampiro, never change.

We get a handshake to start things off, and here we go! Typical lucha exchange to start things off, before Drago takes control with a hurricanrana and a dive. Puma takes back the momentum with some kicks followed by a dive of his own. The champion takes control and locks in a stretch submission, slowing down the match. Drago fights back with a nice corkscrew and an arm drag, before locking in a unique submission!
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Probably not the Saskatchewan Spinning Nerve Hold, but it still looks damn cool.
Prince Puma gets his foot on the rope, though, as the crowd cheers Drago on. Puma takes control with a suplex and a running shooting star press. Drago fights back with some kicks and a crisp reverse huracanrana for a near two-count. They exchange some strikes, but Puma can’t put away Drago. Puma lifts up Drago and knocks the referee out. He goes for a kick, but Drago moves and hits a flipping piledriver! Pinfall, but the referee is down!

Uh oh, Hernandez makes his way out to the ring. He charges at Prince Puma seemingly, but Puma ducks and Hernandez hits Drago instead and Prince Puma is pissed at the interference. Konnan yells at him to finish Drago off, and he picks up Drago for the Thunder Driver and the win!

Winner, and STILL your Lucha Underground Champion: Prince Puma!

Konnan comes in to the ring to celebrate, but Prince Puma waves him off; he didn’t like how the match ended. He picks up Drago and the two embrace, Puma raises Drago’s hands up–the ultimate sign of respect–and walks to the back upset. Drago walks to the back as the crowd chants “THANK YOU DRAGO!” while the credits roll.

Drago comes across Dario Cueto backstage, and tells him that they will meet again. He exits via a curtain, and fire blows out of it as Drago disappears into the dark.

Well, that match certainly had a lot going for it! While it’s sad to see Drago leave, I have a feeling that this isn’t the end for him. His final words to Cueto sounded like a promise instead of a plea. He’s swearing that he WILL come back. It remains to be seen just what kind of plot Drago will make his return to; revenge on Hernandez, perhaps?

Speaking of Hernandez, his actions left us wondering what his intentions really are. For a moment. he looked like he was about to charge at Puma before going for Drago. His actions certainly didn’t sit well with the champion, further building the tension between the two. This sets their title match up nicely, and I’m curious to see as to what role Konnan will play in that. Yes, he’s Puma’s mentor, but he and Hernandez go way back. He’ll certainly play a role in that match.

Overall, this was a jam-packed show with a lot of little things driving some of the current storylines forward. The card had 4 scheduled matches, but one wasn’t really a match, and two were very quick. That left much time for the backstage segments, where we saw a lot of Dario Cueto. The boss of LU had a lot of airtime, and continues to be one of its strongest assets. He was everywhere - trying to play Drago and Prince Puma against each other, turning down a rabid fan, and even introducing The Crew to his family. Kill Shot-Fenix was a solid opener, even if the match itself was short. The main event was also a bit short, but prior to the Hernandez interference we got a good display of skill and athleticism from Prince Puma and Drago.

That’s it for this week, and see you next time for another recap of Lucha Underground!


TL;DR Results:
  • Fenix def. Kill Shot
  • Famous B vs. Ricky Mandel vs. Vinny Massaro vs. Argenis ended in a no contest
  • Hernandez def. Cage and King Cuerno to become the new #1 Contender to the Lucha Underground Championship
  • Prince Puma def. Drago to retain the Lucha Underground Championship

*****

Anthony Cuello is an HR professional and training designer. When he’s not sleeping or reading the Harvard Business Review, he covers NJPW and Lucha Underground for Smark Henry. A psychology nut, he tends to watch wrestling looking for these small nuances of in-ring behavior. He dreams of a wrestling business with good people management practices, and hopes to help make that happen one day.

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