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Temple Rants (4/13/16): Three's a Crowd



Last week’s episode continued the destruction of Matanza Cueto, as Dario Cueto sought to firmly put the new Lucha Underground Champion above the rest. The monster was able to swat away Fenix’s challenge, but a post-match attack from Mil Muertes poses Matanza his biggest challenge yet. Elsewhere, Joey Ryan and the Crew became the first team to advance in the Trios Tournament, picking up the win when the trio of Mack, Marty “The Moth” Martinez and Mariposa couldn’t get it together. Sexy Star got some measure of revenge on Mariposa, seemingly regaining the fire she once had. We also learned that Rey Mysterio, El Dragon Azteca Jr. and Prince Puma would be joining the Trios Tournament, posing a formidable threat to any other team in the running.


Trios Throwdown, Part 2

The Trios Tournament took center stage this week, marking a fresh change of pace from the last few weeks’ Matanza destruction derby. Rey Mysterio, El Dragon Azteca Jr. and Prince Puma teamed up in this week’s main event, taking on the unlikely trio of Johnny Mundo, Taya and their rival, Cage.

You have to hand it to Dario Cueto and his penchant for putting together dysfunctional teams. It makes sense that he’d want to recapture the appeal of a team like Ivelisse, Angelico and Son of Havoc last season. Enter Johnny Mundo, Taya, and Cage.

The opening segment in Cueto’s office was great (as is his “I’m kind of a big deal” nameplate), as was his comment on Mundo and Cage having yet to win a championship in Lucha Underground. That was a clever way to get both men to look forward to their match, even if it meant having to team up with each other.

With all the talent in this match, you’d expect it to be great, and it certainly delivered. What we got was a fun, chaotic Trios match where each individual got their chance to shine. Cage was obviously not in sync with his team, refusing to take part in any of Mundo’s usual shenanigans. Despite the divide, the Machine still managed to steamroll Prince Puma and El Dragon Azteca Jr. several times. Eventually, though, Cage had enough and started to fight with his teammates, leading to Rey Mysterio and Prince Puma taking advantage. One 450 splash later, and Team Masked Men picked up the win.



Sadly, there won’t be any dysfunctional miracles this year (unless Dario can put together another bickering trio – hey, what are Drago, Jack Evans and PJ Black doing right now?), which means that we’ll continue to see Cage and Johnny Mundo make each others’ lives hell. There’s enough bad blood between these two already that you just know a big payoff match is coming, and hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.



On the other side, El Dragon Azteca Jr. continues to impress. Teaming up with two big names in Prince Puma and Rey Mysterio is a huge boost, and it looks like it’s paying off for him. This is one guy I can’t wait to see in a singles match, where he’ll have the entire ring to himself to show everyone what he can do.


Aztec Gold Rush

This week also marked the return of the Aztec Medallions, paving the way for the Gift of the Gods Championship once again. If you’ve forgotten how this works, you may want to check out how we explained it last season.

The first Aztec Medallion wast up for grabs between Texano and the debuting Daga, who headed into this match touted as one of the hottest things in lucha libre right now. He also has the distinction of being the most most ordinary-looking debutant this season. Hey, it’s tough to stand out when your competition is a cobra, a moth-human hybrid, a werewolf, a guy with a porn mustache, a possessed killing machine, and Rey fucking Mysterio. Instead, he let his in-ring work do the talking, putting on a fast-paced and entertaining match against Texano. The blue-collar brawler’s versatility was on full display here, as he kept up with the newcomer and wrestled a much faster pace compared to the pounding and brawling we’ve come to know him for.



Despite the loss, Daga managed to impress me here, as he seems to have the pace and agility we’re used to seeing in the Temple. His segment with Dario Cueto, as well as the commentary team’s praises, made him look like a big deal. Time will tell if he’ll live up to that billing.

The next few weeks should also be exciting, as we find out who among the current roster manages to claim one of the coveted Aztec Medallions, since it opens up the potential for some very interesting matchups when the Gift of the Gods Championship match comes. Texano is a good start, and I can’t wait to see who else joins him in the match.


Quick Hits



  • After last week’s vignette, Killshot kicked off this week’s show, getting an updated look in line with his backstory. He was able to snap his losing streak, pinning Argenis after a brutal piledriver. This was an alright match that served to remind everyone what Killshot is capable of in the ring. Matt Striker and Vampiro took ample time to remind everyone of Killshot’s story, and it’s good to see them committing to it. It’s great to see Killshot being given more relevance.

  • We also got some much-needed progression on Black Lotus’ character arc, as she came across the protégé of the man she killed, El Dragon Azteca Jr. Her saying that she’s just been playing along with Dario Cueto adds a twist to this plot, and hopefully that turn sets her up to finally see some in-ring action. We’ll have to wait and see where this goes.

  • El Dragon Azteca Jr.’s entrance attire looks like a bird eating a watermelon. It really does.

  • Our resident monsters weren’t in action this week, but they had a little screentime as we head towards their impending clash. We learned that Matanza is now back to living in a cage underneath the Temple, only being released when his brother wants him to do something. Meanwhile, Mil Muertes seemed disturbed at the thought that Matanza is a force far greater than the traumatic earthquake he experienced. That’s a great way to describe just how strong the Monster is, and you can tell that Catrina’s comment really affected the big, undead man.


Overall, I really liked the change of pace we had with this week’s show. It wasn’t as dark and brutal as those Matanza-centric episodes, but it still made for a fun watch. All three matches were pretty good, and they continued to build up both major and minor storylines via the backstage segments. That puts it slightly above the last couple of episodes at a B- for me.
What did you think of this week's episode? Let us know in the comments section below!

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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