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Temple Rants (7/22/15): PenUltima Lucha

We’re very, very close to Ultima Lucha now, and the finale has taken shape for the most part. Last week, Vampiro finally agreed to face Pentagon Jr. one on one, in what will be his first match in quite some time. Vampiro sent a loud and clear message to the Temple, indicating that he’s going to bring the fight to Cero Miedo on the big stage. Meanwhile, Prince Puma continued to have the odds stacked against him, as his mentor Konnan was locked away in a coffin by Mil Muertes and the Disciples of Death. With his guiding force gone for now, how will the Lucha Underground champion deal with the immense foe he faces at Ultima Lucha?

Once again, we’re in Dario Cueto’s office to kick things off. Big Ryck is this week’s visitor, it looks like. El Hefe makes an awkward blind joke, but goes on ahead and gives Big Ryck the remaining Aztec Medallion. Oh, and some money that he just has laying around in his office. Well, Cueto can do whatever he wants with those medallions, and this is a very good way to put Big Ryck back in the hunt. Last week, I aired my disappointment at the possibility of Big Ryck doing nothing at Ultima Lucha, but it seems they’ve corrected that here. It’s a bit abrupt, but I’ll take it. Big Ryck provides a very nice contrast in style to the other Aztec medallion holders, so this is a welcome change.

Match 1: Johnny Mundo vs. Texano Jr.

Juanito’s out first, and man, they found a way to make that pose work without the slow motion capture. The crowd seems to be popping hard for Texano, so that’s a good sign of his face turn working out. Mundo gets the early edge by working on Texano’s leg in the corner, grounding the former AAA Mega Champion. Texano fights back with a crisp superkick, but Mundo grounds him on the outside with a neckbreaker.

A leg lariat doesn’t score Texano the pin, so Mundo seizes the advantage with a springboard kick. Mundo misses the End of the World so Texano fights back again. That’s the cue for the Crew to pop up and smack Texano, causing the disqualification!

Winner: Texano Jr.! (via DQ)

Mundo and the Crew continue the post-match beatdown, but here comes Alberto El Patron! El Patron takes out the Crew, and Texano with the bullropes! Texano and Alberto stand together in the ring, before they realize they don’t like each other and some tension builds up. That was a great way to remind us of the rivalry between Alberto El Patron and Texano. Even that takes a backseat, though, with Alberto setting his sights firmly on Johnny Mundo. Speaking of the American, this brief match was a good way to showcase Mundo’s heel style. As a face, Mundo would usually fly all over the place, and there were a couple of obvious spots here that he didn’t go for it. Nice way to mark the change in his wrestling style now that he’s a heel.

We’re back on the Dario Cueto show, and this time Fernandez is on the hot seat. The two share some drinks, and Dario announces that Ultima Lucha starts next week. Holy shit! The Drago vs. Hernandez match is up next week as well, and Dario says he’s been listening to fan feedback about it. He says the fans hate Hernandez (who hates us all back, by the way), so the match is now a Believers’ Backlash match. It’s basically a lumberjack match where the lumberjacks are fans. With leather straps. Oh, and they can beat up the wrestlers. That kind of fan involvement sounds awesome, and man, I really have to catch one of these tapings live. This seems to put Hernandez at a disadvantage, though, so it’ll be interesting to see how he takes on this stipulation.

Match 2: The Mack vs. Cage

Why the fuck is Mack doing the Cero Miedo sign? IS HE PENTAGON’S MASTER? HOLY SHIT!

Cage rams Mack early on, tossing him around the ring at will. Mack counters a corner charge with a sunset flip, and that’s the pin! Wait, what!?

Winner: The Mack!

That doesn’t stop the two from going at it, and they continue to brawl around the ring. Security comes out to stop them, but they toss these guys around too. Well, I don’t know how you can restrain two guys this big. Vampiro is loving all of this, because he thinks security getting beaten up is cool. Dario Cueto halts the brawl, and says that next week on Ultima Lucha, he’s going to let these two beat the crap out of each other. Cueto announces the Mack vs. the Machine in a Falls Count Anywhere match, and there’s another match for next week!

Okay, so it looks like they’re filling out the rest of the card for the last two weeks, and we’ve got some solid matches so far. A lot, actually. However, adding a third hour to Ultima Lucha means there’s enough time now for everyone. I assume we’ll get the big matches (Mundo vs. El Patron, Prince Puma vs. Mil Muertes) on the finale, as well as whatever happens with the Aztec medallions. Oh, speaking of, Dario Cueto’s going to say something about that right next!

El Hefe is in the ring. He says that the Aztec medallions combine to form the Gift of the Gods championship, and he unveils a very trippy-looking belt in the ring. Damn, that looks beautiful!

Cueto says that the Gift of the Gods champion is guaranteed a Lucha Underground Championship match whenever he/she wants. However, Cueto says that there won’t be some “cashing this in” type of shit (heh), and says that the bearer must give him a weeks’ notice before using his championship shot. Hey, he needs to promote the match, you see. But, if the bearer of the Gift of the Gods waits too long, another luchador can fight him for it and take it away. Once the championship shot is used, the medallions are distributed again, where the cycle continues. Basically, it’s some sort of a fun cross of the ideas behind WWE’s Money in the Bank (you get a title shot, can cash in when you want), NJPW’s G1 Climax (people can fight you for your championship shot), and the Dragon Balls. In short, it’s pretty awesome.

Cueto calls out the bearers of the medallions, and here they come! Jack Evans, Aero Star, King Cuerno, Bengala, Sexy Star and Big Ryck come out to some hammy Cueto announcing (way to make Melissa obsolete, dude). Oh, wow, the belt is magnetic! The medallions actually fit into the belt, so the six luchadors put their medallions in one by one. Cueto then realizes that we only have six guys, because Fenix died weeks ago. So now we’re going to have a battle royal for Fenix’s medallion, except that once there are two men left, the match can only be ended by pinfall or submission.

Wait, Fenix is back! He looks pretty alive, if you ask me, but he’s still late. Cueto gives him another chance and lets him enter the Battle Royale, which is up next!

Match 3: 10-Man Aztec Medallion Battle Royal (Fenix, Killshot, Argenis, Famous B, Mascarita Sagrada, Vinny Massaro, Ricky Mandel, Super Fly, Delavar Daivari and Marty “The Moth” Martinez)

Hey, it’s a bunch of guys we haven’t seen in a while! Pentagon’s bitches (Massaro, Mandel, Argenis and Famous B) are in the ring along with guys who’ve seen more TV time recently, so don’t expect the quartet to win. See? Mandel and Argenis are the first two out. Early elimination for Killshot, thanks to Daivari pushing him off the ropes. Massaro is the next to go, while Mascarita Sagrada eliminates himself along with the third Uso. That’s how you trim the fat!

So Daivari, Famous B (what), the Moth and Fenix are left. Famous B is out thanks to Daivari and the Moth teaming up, and they gang up on Fenix as well. Fenix eliminates Daivari, and we’re down to two men! Apparently Vampiro is now a fan of Martinez. You just trashed him on commentary a few weeks ago, brother. Martinez plays to the crowd, allowing Fenix to hit a springboard elbow and a flippy arm drag! Fenix soars!

Martinez tries for a tilt-a-whirl, but Fenix counters with a pin and gets his medallion back!

Winner: Fenix!

Dario Cueto looks on as Fenix puts in the final medallion in the puzzle. This was a nice way to reintroduce Fenix to the audience, with the match highlighting his aerial style. Credit to Martinez who’s been improving in the ring, though he fails in his third attempt to pick up an Aztec medallion. The cast is now set for the Gift of the Gods Championship match, and expect it to go even faster with the addition of Fenix.

Prince Puma makes his way out to the delight of the Temple, and he’s got some new gear! His new mask looks like King Cuerno’s with yellow highlights. Before he can speak, though, Mil Muertes comes out to interrupt in a suit. The Disciples of Death come in for the ambush again, but Prince Puma wipes the floor with all of them! Solomon Grundy, er, Mil Muertes, makes his way down, and the two finally go at it. Prince Puma uses his speed against Mil Muertes, and he hits the 630 splash! The champion stands tall to end the show!

Prince Puma finally got the upper hand for once, and just in the nick of time as we head on to Ultima Lucha. Their brief exchange showed Puma’s blueprint for success, as he needs to use his lightning quick speed against the slower, but more powerful Mil Muertes. David vs. Goliath isn’t anything new, but I’m excited to see how this match pans out at Ultima Lucha.

Short amount of in-ring action this week, as we only really had two matches. Still, they made the most out of it, with Texano and Johnny Mundo figuring in a good bout and the Battle Royal showcasing Fenix as he made his return. Once again, storytelling was great, with Dario Cueto’s reveal of the what the Aztec medallions meant being a key highlight. Lucha Underground scores a B+ this week, right before we head on to what should be a thrilling conclusion at Ultima Lucha.

TL;DR Results:
  • Texano Jr. def. Johnny Mundo via disqualification
  • The Mack def. Cage
  • Fenix won a Battle Royal to regain his Aztec medallion. (Other participants: Ricky Mandel, Argenis, Killshot, Vinny Massaro, Mascarita Sagrada, Super Fly, Famous B, Delavar Daivari and Marty "The Moth" Martinez")

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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