Lucha Underground S3E26: A Fénix to a Flame
Watch: El Rey Network, Sling
Lucha Underground Temple – Boyle Heights, California
Tonight marks the start of the second round of the Cueto Cup. The opening recap covers tournament progress so far, as well as Marty the Moth’s obsession with Melissa and Famous B’s efforts in trying to recruit Texano.
Cueto Cup 8th-final: Jeremiah Crane vs. Tayaok+
This match is solid for most of its duration. There is some nuttiness early on involving a Jeremiah Crane dive into the chairs and Taya returning the favor from the top of the metal railing. The action never really returns to that early peak, but is still nonetheless more or less enjoyable while it lasts.
Toward the end of the match, however, Sexy Star comes out to distract Taya, in revenge for Taya’s interference in Sexy Star’s match. Crane takes advantage of this to win, after a few more moves, with a Cranial Contusion.
After the match, Sexy toys with Taya and then knocks her out, rather robotically, with brass knuckles.
Aerostar encounters Fénix backstage and tells him that, since he’s out of the Cueto Cup, he’s betting on Fénix to win. Fénix responds with a joke about Aerostar’s wager in light of his time-traveling abilities before discussing Drago seriously; Fénix is more optimistic than Aerostar is about being able to get Drago back to their side. As Aerostar leaves, Fénix asks him about his match outcome tonight; Aerostar answers only with an ambiguous hand signal.
Cueto Cup 8th-final: Mil Muertes vs. Paul Londongood
The overarching theme of this match is Mil Muertes’ brutality juxtaposed against the comedy of Paul London’s varying degrees of awareness of his peril and of ability to react to it. That said, London does hit some cool offense when he has the situational awareness to do so. As in London’s first-round match, the Rabbit Tribe also makes an appearance, managing to high-five the ref and later distract Mil long enough to give London a temporary advantage that allows him to hit two shooting star presses. However, Mil wins after setting his opponent up for a flatliner, which ends up being taken oddly. Catrina gives London her standard lick of death afterward.
Brenda finds Texano Jr. in a bar and tries to talk to him, making an alcohol-induced faux pas of calling him dull. She seems to dissipate his initial angry reaction by re-explaining that he needs to have a woman’s touch, much to the pleasure of an onlooking Famous B.
Cueto Cup 8th-final: Fénix vs. Marty the Mothok
Marty has an lunch box labeled “Aztec Pride,” and manages to disgust Melissa by offering her a sandwich from it before the match starts. During the match Mariposa remains ringside with Marty’s lunch box and covertly interferes by grabbing Fénix’s leg, which is a bit of a metaphor for this entire match. As I watched, I kept expecting things to shift into another gear. But that never really happens. Fénix does manage to get in a precious few interesting things, but the actual climax of the match is Melissa’s intervention to prevent Mariposa from interfering with the lunch box, thus allowing Fénix to trap Marty in a bridging pin for the win.
But even in defeat, Marty makes sure to have the last (sinister) laugh, clocking Fénix with his lunch box and cutting open Fénix’s face with a fork while Melissa, restrained by Mariposa, watches. Melissa runs over to attend to Fénix once she finally can.
This is basically a storyline match. Now, Fénix has been in some epic matches that advance storylines; this is not one of those. Comparatively speaking, he doesn’t get to do a whole lot except act as a vehicle for Marty’s creepiness. At times, it feels like he takes a backseat to Marty’s creepiness and the effect that it has on Melissa. Even if this is going to have a good payoff match down the line, it seems like a weaker match than LU should be able to muster.
LUCHA UNDERGROUND S3E26: A FÉNIX TO A FLAME
Average - 5/10
This feels more like an episode that passes time while getting people in the right slots for the tournament and advancing storylines. Good matches should not be mutually exclusive with these goals, but unless you somehow want the shock value of bloodletting by fork (which is by no means a concept new to lucha), this episode is skippable.