Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Blog of the Gods: Life After Death?

That crazy look will suit Jake Strong well in the Temple
Photo Credit:
Lucha Underground... well, it happened last night. I don't know what to say ahead of the breakdown other than this episode felt more like it was interstitial than anything. I mean, some plot was advanced, as seen below, but it felt a lot like superficial advancement. But enough blathering in introduction, the time has come to pay homage to the Temple.

Gloating in the Face of Death

So Catrina, stuck between worlds until this week's opening segment, regained her entire life force back by draining what was left of Fenix's rebirth mojo while he was still above dirt. Then, in a power move to end all power moves, she went and taunted Melissa Santos over it. If wrestling has taught me anything, it's that when a villainous presence leaves that much of their hubris laying around the scenery, the victim of that gloating comes back with receipts. Catrina giving Santos the half-a-pendant and the lingering shot of Fenix in the coffin to end it only threw fuel on that fire. I don't think the King of Rebirth is done at the Temple.

The Leg Taker

Jack Swagger in WWE was the opposite of a supernatural character, and his interstitial period between televised wrestling stints had him test his amateur wrestling bona fides in the arena of mixed-martial arts. If you had doubts as to whether he'd fit in the hyperfantasized Temple. Leading off the intro to his match this week by reporting that Famous B might need to have his leg amputated thanks to a "Savage" Jake Strong ankle lock is a good way to start. Using his former "We the People" chest beat as a trigger for no-selling his opponents attacks is both another way to make him fit in and also a great repurpose from the original intent which would make him a real life heel in that locker room. His match against Big Bad Steve was about as competitive as John Heisman leading his Ramblin' Wreck against Cumberland College, but it served a purpose. Strong took Steve's leg, and then he took a piece of his gear as a trophy. Strong as a stylized-for-the-Temple version of Kraven the Hunter might not be the worst thing in the world, and since he takes legs, maybe that's foreshadowing for a showdown with a certain skeletal Champion who takes arms. I guess that remains to be seen. Whether it'll be for the title depends on if Cage leaves anything left in his path of destruction. Speaking of which...

Unique Opportunities Abound

...Cage vs. Mil Muertes, that's a hoss fight waiting to happen, ain't it?

That being said, the big takeaway from the Antonio Cueto office segment is that King Cuerno is lyin'. Remember last week's episode, when Cuerno told Catrina he stashed the Gauntlet of the Gods with someone whom he trusted wouldn't let it fall into the wrong hands. This week, he told Cueto that someone stole it off him. He's lying to someone, but the big question is, to whom? Personally, I wouldn't trust either figure with protected information, even if it was just low-detail leads on where the Gauntlet might be. If you want my guess, Cuerno still has that fuckin' glove, and it's hidden somewhere where even the Lucha Underground Cops would have trouble finding it. Of course, Cueto either didn't suspect the lie or still has a plan afoot, because he gave Cuerno a shot at one of the Gift of the Gods medallions, which he wrestled Chavo Guerrero for in the main event.

As for said main event, well, it left me flat. Parts of it held the kind of interest a main event match should. The parts that felt like a scummy lucha libre brawl were good. But I'm not sure where the other parts flopped for me. I don't want to lay blame solely at Guerrero's feet, because the parts where he controlled the action brawling over Cuerno were among the best parts of the match. I don't know. It's been awhile since I've actually seen Cuerno work to know whether he's good and a misfit with Guerrero or a rich man's Jinder Mahal. Sorry to get the show out of order, but the Cuerno/Cueto conversation felt a bit more crucial going forward than the actual main event.

Oh No, There Goes Tokyo, Oh No VIBARA

The best match on the show saw the continuation of the feud between the Reptile Tribe and the Worldwide Underground. Even though both Taya Valkyrie and Johnny Mundo started out a bit loose, they shook the jitters out and rounded into a fine tag match against Daga and Kobra Moon. The revelation here, at least for me having lapsed so many episodes of Lucha Underground the last few seasons, was Daga, who flew around the ring and made high spots look effortless like the S-class luchadores in LU tend to, including Mundo when he's on his game. I'm a huge fan of taking normal, taken-for-granted tropes in the early match and making something interesting out of them, so you know I loved when he put the brakes on Mundo sliding underneath him and stomped the back of the leader of WU.

However, the match was more of a setup for future shenanigans between the two groups, with PJ Black providing the illegal assist for Valkyrie to get the (Super Dragon/Cheerleader Melissa-style, not Seth Rollins) Curb Stomp win on Moon. It only drew out the Temple's closest approximation to Godzilla himself, Vibara, who cleaned house like the kaiju that he is. Whenever the atomicos match between the two happens, whether sooner or at Ultima Lucha Cuatro, it should be a fast-paced and fun affair, even if the hate between the two teams boils over over the next few weeks.

One thing to watch out for is dissension between Mundo and Valkyrie, as the theme of that segment seemed to be the former throwing the latter into harm's way. It started during the actual match when Mundo laid out his main squeeze with an accidental superkick, but they laid it on thick during Vibara's attack, when on several occasions, Mundo used Valkyrie as a human shield to delay getting murked by the Luchasaurus. It was so obvious that even the commentary team, which usually needs to be shocked with 10,000 volts to notice their surroundings, pointed it out. Season four might just be the one where Johnny Mundo's empire comes crashing down around him, since last week already established that Jack Evans really doesn't give a flying fuck about this war with the lizard people.

Pour Out a Shaker of Protein Drink

Robbie E was the subject of reports last week as he was one of the many wrestlers who received a tryout at WWE's Performance Center, which came as perfect timing as his character, Mr. Pectacular, wasn't so much written out of Lucha Underground, but consumed whole and spat out as part of Matanza Cueto's rebirth. The Matanza who worked against Pentagón DARK and the one who just fuckin' mauled the well-chiseled sacrifice were as different as, say, affable hoss Jeff Cobb and early Undertaker mixed with the meanstreak of Big Van Vader. While Strong/Pentagón seems to be one endgame, I'd like to see the deranged former Swagger do battle with the bloodthirsty Cueto offspring, like "Kraven's Last Hunt," only instead of Spider-man, the tracker's prey is like if the Carnage symbiote attached itself to the Incredible Hulk.