Lucha Underground S3E19: Gods Among Men
Watch: El Rey Network, Sling
Lucha Underground Temple – Boyle Heights, California
As a note, this episode is the mid-season finale to Lucha Underground season 3. They’re supposed to resume in “summer 2017”.
The opening recap has Dragón Azteca Jr.’s quest for revenge against Matanza, Officer Reyes donning the mask and returning to the Temple under orders from his captain, Famous B’s efforts to recruit Texano Jr., and the setup for the All Night Long match between The Mack and Johnny Mundo-
Dario is in his office discussing Cage’s gauntlet with his “associate”, Mr. Delgado. Dragón Azteca Jr. comes in to demand to face Matanza in a death match, which Dario unhesitatingly books that as the main event.
Texano Jr. def. Joey Ryanok
The only really noteworthy thing that happens in the first part of this match is that the crowd erupts into a “This is awesome!” chant when Joey Ryan takes his trademark lollipop out of his trunks and sticks it back into his mouth. I’m not sure whether this says more about the crowd or about the match itself — i.e., does the crowd pop for that simply because it’s the most exciting thing that they’ve seen so far in the match? Either way, it’s not a good sign.
About midway through, Famous B comes out with Brenda, ostensibly to try to court Texano again. I knock Matt Striker’s commentary almost weekly, but I’ll mention here that I did laugh at his comparison of Famous B’s costume to that of Don Flamenco. At one point, Joey Ryan and Famous B get into a tug of war over Texano’s rope. With the ref distracted by this development, Texano clocks Joey Ryan with a horseshoe for the pin.
The whole point of this match is to set up the interaction between Famous B and Texano; anything else is a bonus. It accomplishes its task straightforwardly without anything to warrant deviating from an average grade.
After the match, Texano rejects Famous B’s sales pitches, as before, but seems slightly less outright dismissive of Brenda, perhaps foreshadowing something to come.
Texano Jr. def. Joey Ryan in 7:03 by pinfall.
After the break, Johnny Mundo is in the ring with his Worldwide Underground partners to cut a promo on The Mack. Curiously, he tells PJ and Jack to leave at one point, giving The Mack an opportunity to run in and jump Mundo. The Mack ultimately has his way with everyone, including security guards for whom Mundo calls.
Perhaps what gets put over most by this segment is not The Mack or Mundo or their match, but the Hot Tub Guy, to whom Mundo compares The Mack in terms of physique. (If that’s a surprising take, know that I tend to think in terms of how things deviate from the average or expected, and the promo is more or less standard material outside of the nod to the Hot Tub Guy.)
Cage def. Venenook
Cage enters with his gauntlet to face a debuting Veneno. It’s never stated explicitly, but Lucha Underground wants the audience to be able to make the quick deduction that Veneno is actually Officer Reyes (Cortez Castro) under the mask: LU tries to make the opening recap extremely topical for the current episode, regardless of how much time has passed since the events depicted, and Reyes is in tonight’s recap for a reason.
This match is a quick squash for Cage. Sexy Star runs out afterward, having deduced that it’s been Veneno who’s been leaving the spider around for Sexy Star. The only problems with this conclusion are that Sexy Star has been wrong before, and there’s no overt reason for a returning Reyes to meddle in Sexy Star’s affairs. One has to wonder whether Sexy Star’s ire is misplaced again and there’s more to the spider story.
Cage def. Veneno in 1:22 by pinfall.
We next see Puma training and thinking about past events. Catrina visits him, and Puma tells her that he has a vision full of Mil’s blood and pain. Catrina responds that her vision is similar, except that she sees Puma’s blood.
Death Match: Matanza def. Dragón Azteca Jr.very good
This feels short (although it’s probably meant to be that way, given Matanza’s status), but it’s a lot of fun while it lasts. The focus is really just on doing crazy things, initially in and near the ring and later upstairs, until the finish, and I’m okay with that. The match almost practically starts with a catch suplex by Matanza, and gets wackier from there. When the action heads upstairs, Dragón Azteca Jr. uses the rafters as a diving platform and immediately afterwards sends Matanza tumbling halfway down the stairs with a headscissors. Matanza wins the match, though, by chokeslamming Azteca through the bleachers, eliciting a primal scream of elation from Dario.
Again, the length keeps me from giving this a higher rating, but what is there is simply crazy. No, this isn’t the first match in LU with a crazy bump from the upper level, nor do I suspect that it’s the last, and if that were the only thing going for this match, it’d be problematic. But Matanza and Azteca pull off enough crazy things before that for me to recommend this.
Matanza def. Dragón Azteca Jr. in 6:26 by referee decision to stop the match.
But wait: There are still about five minutes left to the episode at this point, so there’s more coming. Rey Mysterio runs out to avenge Azteca, and a fight ensues again in the upper level of the Temple. The crazy spot here is Matanza blocking an attempted misteriorana in order to knock Rey’s head against the rafters. But ultimately, Rey backdrops a charging Matanza through another spot in the Temple bleachers, sending him to a world of pain similar to that of Azteca. A spooked Dario orders everyone out of the Temple.
In the post-credits vignette, Marty the Moth creepily watches people leave the Temple, until Mariposa suddenly captures him, ties him up and subjects him to a flashing lightbulb, in a scene similar to the one at the end of season 1 involving Marty and Sexy Star.
P.S.: I’ll be back doing these reviews whenever LU is back airing episodes. In the interim, look for other articles covering lucha.
LUCHA UNDERGROUND S3E19: GODS AMONG MEN
Strong Effort - 7/10
I'm left feeling that Johnny Mundo rambles on too long and the main event runs too short (even if intentionally so), but also in the end that the main event and aftermath are enough to make the time investment worth it. There wasn't any of that last week. With the All Night Long match slated to occur after the break, I had been skeptical of LU's ability to make this episode feel like a "mid-season finale". But even if the first half of the show doesn't feel like an Última Lucha 2.5, sending two luchadors through the bleachers and causing Dario to panic will do the trick.