Lucha Underground S3E23: Family First
Watch: El Rey Network, Sling
Lucha Underground Temple – Boyle Heights, California
The opening recap covers the Cueto Cup and the last week’s first-round matches, as well as Cage, the glove, and the murder of a politician.
Melissa meets an arriving Fénix, and they have a moment together. Fénix promises that he’ll win the Cueto Cup for her, which enrages an eavesdropping Marty the Moth.
Cueto Cup 16th-final: Cage vs. Vinnie Massarook
This is essentially a squash, and I don’t think anyone had any delusions to the contrary going into this match, although it does last longer than I was expecting. The only real twist is that there’s a brief moment when Vinnie grabs Cage’s gauntlet, giving a momentary sense that he might turn the tables for a moment — or perhaps equally likely, that he might hasten even further his impending doom. But nothing really comes of this attempt, and Cage ultimately hits a piledriver for the win.
The gauntlet does come into play after the match: Cage uses it to bust Vinnie’s forehead wide open before he chokeslams him to the floor.
As with last week, we get another video package to hype the Rey Mysterio vs. Johnny Mundo match. This one goes a bit more in depth, highlighting promos from the two contestants.
Cueto Cup 16th-final: Marty the Moth vs. Saltadorgood
There’s an extended bit of stalling at the start of this match to highlight the different eccentricities of Marty and Saltador. The idea is definitely to convey that these two are unable to focus mentally on having a match for their own reasons, although Saltador seems relatively normal once the action gets going in earnest. On the other hand, Marty continues to divert his attention to Melissa Santos from time to time. All in all, this ends up being a perfectly fine match contrasting Saltador’s quicker offense with Marty’s power moves. Marty advances to the next round by pinning his Rabbit Tribe opponent after a cool frontcracker variant.
Speaking of the Rabbit Tribe, Saltador’s friends find Mascarita Sagrada backstage and, disappointed with their loss, look to him in awe for guidance and success. Understandably nonplussed at this deification, Mascarita Sagrada flatly refuses to let them in on his match and walks out.
In the room with the ominous ceiling light where he had once tied up Sexy Star, Marty has apparently contructed a personal makeshift shrine of sorts for Melissa and fantasizes about her with a creepy monologue. Mariposa walks in on his daydreaming and interrupts him to remind him sternly that their father had told them that family comes first. She vows to defeat Fénix tonight and then Marty next round, hypothesizing that Marty’s obsession with Melissa “has made [him] weak”.
Cueto Cup 16th-final: Mascarita Sagrada vs. Pindarvery good
This is pretty a pure exhibition in equal parts of impressive offense by Mascarita Sagrada and of impressive basing by Pindar. There are a couple cheapshots by Kobra Moon in here, but Mascarita gets in about 90% of the offense until the end, when the Pain Killer gives Pindar the win. Pindar makes his opponent really shine until the finish, though.
There’s nothing truly groundbreaking with Mascarita’s offense here, in contrast with Aerostar’s precious few minutes of creativity on display in recent weeks, and I might be going a bit high with the rating here, but this is about as enjoyable of a spotfest as can fit in the time allotted, and that should count for something.
— Jocay 🇪🇨 (@Jocay19) June 22, 2017
Cueto Cup 16th-final: Fénix vs. Mariposavery good
Going into this match, I was unsure of how well Fénix and Mariposa would mesh; they definitely exceeded expectations here. Whereas the previous match had been more or less a pure high-spot exhibition, this one focuses more on clever counters and sequences; I particularly like Mariposa’s reversal of an attempted powerbomb into a Code Red. Of all the matches on the card, this feels like it had the most potential to improve if it had been given more time. Fénix wins with the Fire Driver.
Marty runs in to attack Fénix after the match, but Fénix eventually regains the upper hand and hits an impressive tornillo on both Marty and Mariposa.
LUCHA UNDERGROUND S3E23: FAMILY FIRST
Good - 7.5/10
This episode's second half is particularly enjoyable, with two matches executing very well in different ways. The story involving Marty, Mariposa, Fénix, and Melissa is coherently developed throughout the episode, quite literally from start to end, and Marty's match furthers that goal as well while being a serviceable match in its own right. There have been episodes with much higher highs, for sure, but there really isn't a palpable lull in this once Cage finishes squashing Vinnie.