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Temple Rants (2/10/16): Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them




A quick note before we get to the show: if you haven’t seen it yet, then I highly, highly recommend that you check out the Lucha Underground comics they’ve been putting out. It adds a ton of detail to the show as we know it, and fleshes out some of the things we’ve been seeing on television. They just released the second one, which covers Mil Muertes (the first one released, which is about Rey Mysterio, can be found here.) It’s a new medium that complements their weekly shows, and it even explains why we won’t be seeing certain guys this season. See if you can find which luchador kicks the bucket.

In what is a change of pace, we’re kicking off this week with a match!


Match 1: Bengala vs. Kobra Moon

So, uh, does anyone else think Bengala got fat? Like really, really fat? What the hell has he been doing since Ultima Lucha? His opponent is the debuting Kobra Moon, whom we saw a vignette of last week. Her ring attire stands out, so I guess we won’t be forgetting her anytime soon. The bell rings, and this interspecies intergender (both, actually) match kicks off!

Bengala is clawing at Kobra Moon, who responds with some slithering and hissing of her own. Yeah, if this happened anywhere else, it’d be terrible. Kobra hits a dropkick and immediately sends Bengala to the floor with a headscissors. Bengala gets back in the ring and the two trade some strikes for a bit. Bengala gets the upper hand thanks to his size advantage, so that actually worked out for him. Bengala keeps the offense up, and levels Kobra Moon with a vicious superkick!


Bengala goes up top and tries for a moonsault, but Kobra Moon gets the knees up! She takes advantage and locks Bengala in a Snake Sleeper for the submission victory!

Winner: Kobra Moon!


Okay, that was quite a departure from the usual Lucha Underground match. Kobra Moon’s style isn’t going to appeal to everyone, but I understand the approach they’re going with. She seems to be in perpetual slow motion (or at least relative to everyone else), but that actually works with the snake-like theme and all. Still, her in-ring action was quite sloppy, and that outfit doesn’t seem to be helping her in the ring. I think that this is something that’ll take time to get rolling, so hopefully she fares much better in her next lucha.

We pay a visit to Catrina’s office, where Fenix shows up again. Catrina tells him that she still gets a “tingle” whenever he’s around. Don’t stick your dick in crazy, man. Anyway, he demands another shot at King Cuerno after losing the Gift of the Gods to the hunter, after which he’ll deal with Team Catrina. Nice nod to continuity there.

Meanwhile, we cut to a shot of some tribal kid, who is drawing some ancient symbols on the ground. We hear someone say that the ancient Aztec tribes are at war, and another voice replies that the tribes must come together. Voice #2 says that is the only way to stop the ancient Gods, and reveals himself to be Aero Star! The Aztec chieftain tells him that the Gods won’t be around for another thousand years, so Aero Star blasts off into space to find them.



Okay, just one second. Did we just travel back in time!? I’m pretty sure that’s what happened, with all the talk of ancient Aztec wars and Gods as men. That was great character development for Aero Star, who goes from “space guy” to “space guy that can time travel”. He’s the luchador version of Doctor Who (El Medico Quien, from here on.) I’m interested to see how this story moves forward, and hopefully we see them expound on this in the next few episodes.

We go back to Catrina, who is now with King Cuerno working on dem gainz. She’s sad that Fenix is still alive and kicking, so he gives the new champion one more match to get rid of the bird. Looks like we’re getting King Cuerno vs. Fenix later tonight.


Match 2: Drago vs. Jack Evans

Drago is back to a huge reaction from the believers, complete with his trademark costume and slimy tongue. He’s squaring off against aerial master Jack Evans, and this is going to make for a fast match. The two feel each other out to start, and engage in a nice sequence of counters and reversals. Evans gets the crowd riled up, and Drago responds with a flurry of strikes and punches. Drago tries to lock in a submission, but Evans bites his hand and hits a series of fast kicks. Some more fancy footwork from Evans leads into an eye gouge, of all things, but Drago catches him at the turnbuckle with a wicked kick!

Evans gets up and starts to pound into Drago, but the winged warrior armdrags him right out of the ring! Drago follows that up with a dive and a DDT, but that only gets him a 2-count. He hits a crunching blockbuster on Evans and goes for the Dragon’s Lair, but Evans counters with one of his bridging pin variations to pick up the victory! Oooh, sneaky use of the ropes to gain leverage!


Winner:Jack Evans!


Evans snatches the mic from Melissa Santos and announces himself as the winner and the “Dragon Slayer” to much heat from the crowd. Folks, this is someone who just gets it. He’s right up there with the WWE’s Kevin Owens in terms of getting the crowd riled up, and it does wonders for him in his role as a rudo. Evans is a combination of Kevin Owens’ jawing, Dolph Ziggler’s selling and Neville’s aerial and innovative offense. That’s one hell of a package.

This was a solid, fast-paced match that was really fun to watch. Both men brought their A-game here, and I’m hoping we’ll see them fight again in the future, especially given the way this match ended.

Now it’s time to visit El Texano Jr. He’s still not over the Chavo Guerrero loss, so he beats up some guys at a bar (who are also wearing luchador masks). We’ll see him again next week!

Meanwhile, Catrina (who is really taking over the Dario Cueto role of talking to everybody) interrupts Prince Puma’s bathroom time. She talks to him about God and praying, and about how Puma’s mentor Konnan was praying as he was locked inside a coffin. Wait, so does that mean Konnan is dead? After dropping that feels bomb, Catrina tells Prince Puma that he’ll be facing Pentagon Jr. one-on-one next week. Now that is something to look forward to.


Match 3: Last Luchador Standing – Fenix vs. King Cuerno

Both men trade elbows to start with, and Fenix hits the first big move of the match with a springboard rana. King Cuerno is sent to the outside early, and Fenix attempts a suicide dive. Unfortunately, he crashes and burns as the hunter simply walks away. Bitch, you do not try that on Mr. Arrow From the Depths of Hell.

King Cuerno takes advantage and starts to toss Fenix around the audience area. We get into a pattern of King Cuerno tossing Fenix and the ref beginning to count, but Fenix gets up every time. Action goes back into the ring as Fenix gets something going with a superkick a beautiful corkscrew dive! The ref starts another count, but King Cuerno gets up at 9! That was close!


Fenix tries for another flashy move, but King Cuerno kicks him off and hits the Arrow from the Depths of Hell! The weapons are out now, and King Cuerno wastes no time ramming Fenix with a ladder. Fenix is out cold and the ref counts him out, but King Cuerno stops him while setting up the ladder. The Bird of War gets up and scales the ladder, climbing up to Catrina’s office roof (AKA Angelico’s favorite place.) King Cuerno attempts pursuit, but Fenix kicks the ladder back down and sends King Cuerno crashing through a table! The hunter is out cold, and Fenix picks up the victory!



Winner: Fenix!


Mil Muertes is pissed off that Fenix won, as that’s another threat to his championship. Both men managed to outdo their season-opening match, and it was an absolute joy to watch. King Cuerno brushing off a tope suicida only to show later how to do it was great storytelling. With the series now tied at 1-1, and with Fenix having beaten the champion, this will likely lead to a Gift of the Gods championship match soon. Hey, at least Mil Muertes can calm down for now, as they probably won’t be challenging him soon.

We get our ending vignette for this week, as we’re on the heels of a woman who is in some kind of building. We learn that she is Captain Vasquez, and she asks the man in her office what he’s got for her. The camera pans around to reveal... Cortez Castro from the Crew? What?

He tells her about the Crew, Chavo Guerrero and Blue Demon Jr., but she scoffs at all that and asks him about their main target: Dario Cueto. Cortez Castro says that Dario hasn’t been seen in months, prompting Captain Vasquez to appoint Officer Reyes (his real name) a new partner, who conveniently walks right in.


IT’S JOEY RYAN! The King of Dong Style! The Master of Sleaze! The YouPorn Ambassador (no, really!) Ryan remarks that he has to clean up Cortez Castro’s mess, and Captain Vasquez tells them to pretend to not get along. Their mission: take down Dario Cueto.

Folks, that was brilliant. In two minutes, they managed to make everyone care about the Crew. Yes, the very same Crew no one really knew last season are now important figures in this undercover cop story. Now we know that Cortez Castro matters, and this is enough reason for us to remember his face (I kept confusing him with Mr. Cisco last season.)

The Joey Ryan debut wasn’t a secret, but he’s got the perfect character to play here in the Lucha Underground universe. It’s a different take on his usual sleaze stuff, and I can’t wait to see this guy in the ring. Who’s up for a Cero Miedo match between the King of Dong Style and Pimpinela Escarlata? That’s Ultima Lucha material right there, folks.

As usual, Lucha Underground put on another solid show this week, excelling in both storytelling and in-ring action. We got 2 great matches and a ton of plot revealed via the vignettes, which they do better than anyone in the business. They made Aero Star and Cortez Castro look important, and I’m looking forward for more to be revealed soon. The Kobra Moon-Bengala match wasn’t good, though, which unfortunately docks points from what would otherwise be an excellent episode. That’s still enough to put this episode at A-, and I’d say this has been the best episode of the young season so far.

Cover photo taken from Lucha Underground.


*****
Anthony Cuello is an HR professional and training designer. When he’s not sleeping or reading the Harvard Business Review, he covers PWR 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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