Lucha Underground S3E21: Sudden Death
Watch: El Rey Network, Sling
Lucha Underground Temple – Boyle Heights, California
Last week, we had an All-Night Long match that ended in a tie and was ordered by Dario Cueto to be restarted, so there’s that piece of unfinished business. The opening recap also picks up old storylines from the first half of the season, involving Prince Puma and Catrina, and Drago and Kobra Moon.
Speaking of storylines, we get our first backstage scene of the second half immediately after the recap. Prince Puma is in the bathroom reminiscing about his defeat to Mil Muertes and ostensibly plotting revenge when Rey warns him about getting involved with Vampiro. After Puma rejects this advice, a ghostly apparition of Vampiro appears in the mirror and warns Rey not to interfere.
In the Temple proper, Striker announces that there will be a trios title match and a Boyle Heights street fight between Prince Puma and Mil Muertes if Johnny Mundo and The Mack don’t go all night long again. It’s a fairly good guess that they aren’t.
Dario announces that the sudden-death continuation of Mundo vs. Mack will be Falls Count Anywhere, since Mundo had the advantage in picking the stipulation for the main part of the match.
Lucha Underground Championship Match, Falls Count Anywhere: Johnny Mundo (c) vs. The Mackgood
Since I was unsure last week of exactly how this match would be continued, I left the rating as “incomplete” last week, perhaps expecting sort of a “fourth fall” feel here. But given that they redid introductions and changed the stipulation, it makes sense to close the book on last week before getting to this segment. I still am displeased with the way that Lucha Underground returned from hiatus, but as I mentioned in the write-up for last week, the match was probably around “very good” range. So I’ll leave that as my final rating.
Onto this week, this match starts faster and is obviously going to be more compact than last week’s encounter. My biggest criticism is that, in a sense, it feels like a waste to restart the match if mostly the same people are going to run in, although there’s enough different to pause my eye-rolling at times: PJ Black’s surprise appearance from under the ring is something new, and I do thoroughly enjoy the way in which The Mack disposes of PJ with a stunner on the apron that causes him to fall through a table set up at ringside; this is probably my favorite spot of the match. The are also big spots involving the trash can, and rearranging the audience chairs on the floor is always good fun.
Mundo retains when Taya interferes and allows him to powerbomb The Mack onto a big pile of steel chairs on the floor.
I still think that this encounter would have been better served by being condensed somewhat into a single week. We’d have had a greater concentration of big spots to kick off Lucha Underground’s return, and the big powerbomb spot at the end would have highlighted the show’s zaniness in a nutshell a lot better than the tie did. This sudden-death match sort of kind of wants to be viewed as a standalone match, and yet it’s hard to think of it as such after last week. Even if there are moments that I like in both parts, I can’t help but think that there’s a single, better match, in the vicinity of “great+”, to carve out of the two parts.
After the break, Dario has an announcement: He’s putting himself over as a “lucha libre genius”. Well, no, that’s not quite the true substance of this segment. He announces a 32-man, single-elimination tournament to start next week for the Cueto Cup. The winner will additionally earn an LU title match at Última Lucha 3. He also announces that Johnny Mundo will defend his title against Rey Mysterio on the same night as the Cueto Cup finals.
Lucha Underground Trios Championship Match: Aerostar, Drago, Fénix (c) vs. Vibora, Pindar, Dragook+
No, your friendly Lucha Underground reviewer has not made a typo in the match heading in listing Drago twice in the match heading. This match begins without any introductions, and the commentary team assumes that the challengers are Vibora, Pindar, and Kobra Moon, but it’s revealed in the course of the match that Drago is on the challengers’ side, betraying Aerostar at a critical moment to allow Vibora and Pindar, along with himself, to win the trios titles. Betrayals are nothing new in lucha libre; what is new is betraying one’s teammates and being allowed to keep one-third of the titles being putatively defended. There’s some funky match accounting going on here. But this is the underground, and this is probably the last thing that Dario’s pursuers will care about.
Quality-wise, this is a fairly short storyline punctuated by all-too-brief excellent sequences involving Aerostar and Pindar. We need more of those.
Backstage, Taya announces the upcoming title defense vs. Rey Mysterio to Mundo and an onlooking and somewhat socially awkward Ricky Mandel. This news makes Mundo nervous and decides that he needs to train harder to prepare, while still clothed only in a bath towel, giving rise in the process to a new aphorism: “No time for pants.”
Boyle Heights Street Fight: Prince Puma vs. Mil Muertesgreat
This is the spectacle that one would expect from these two. In street clothes, Puma sneaks in from the side and gains an early advantage on Mil, culminating in a twisting dive. The match then transitions into more of a street fight feel involving weapons and the Temple environment, although interspersed are purely crazy high spots such as a 450 splash from the apron to the floor by Puma and a DDT against the floor by Mil. The action spills all around the Temple, briefly entering even Dario’s office and making a stop in the upper-level corner to say hello to the water heater with Prince Puma’s face.
Once back in the ring, Puma hits a crazy 630 coast-to-coast dropkick on Mil, or more accurately, on a trash can propped up against Mil. This is my favorite spot of the match and of the night:
— Jocay 🇪🇨 (@Jocay19) June 8, 2017
This is followed in short order by Puma’s trademark 630 senton, but Catrina knocks him down with her rock. Vampiro evens the sides by handing Puma a brick to smash on Mil’s head, which suffices for the win. This is a really enjoyable match, for me the first of post-hiatus LU. it feels more impactful than the Mundo/Mack encounter(s) and furthers along Puma’s development while giving a crazy performance in the process.
LUCHA UNDERGROUND S3E21: SUDDEN DEATH
Good - 7.5/10
This is a much more refreshing episode than last week's. There's only one match – the main event – out of the three that I'd really put on the recommended list, but all of them have their exciting moments, and while I normally don't go out of my way to recommend "ok+" matches, it's worth watching the trios match for the Aerostar/Pindar interactions.