Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Blog of the Gods: Whacking Day, Lucha Underground Style

Snake-eaters? What a thrill...
Photo Credit: Lucha Underground, via VultureHound
The first show of the Dragon Azteca, Jr. as Gift of the Gods Champion era is in the books, and boy, it continued the streak of murder. Lucha Underground sure loves murder, doesn't it? I found out that it was a creative way to let guys out of their contracts so they could be free to sign elsewhere, so I'm guessing if King Cuerno ends up in a darkened room with the Rabbit Tribe bearing down on him with a bloodlustful look in each of their eyes, then his signing with WWE is imminent, right? Right. Anyway...

I Hate Snakes

The war between the Reptile Tribe and the Worldwide Underground bookended this week's episode. The first chapter saw Daga, Kobra Moon's king, take on the Darewolf and Johnny Mundo's consigliere himself, PJ Black. You would think this match would've been an off-the-charts spotfest, but it actually played out mostly on the mat. Surprisingly, the grounded stuff was the highlight of the match, which is weird considering Black made his hay as the Nexus' high flyer, and Daga might be the best guy in that milieu that LU has on the roster now that Feníx is, well, dead. Perhaps it's that WWE is such a land of giants that Black is smaller and more agile in comparison to his average former co-worker. I never knew how big he actually was, kinda like how I never got an appreciation for how massive Drew McIntyre/Galloway was until he popped up in EVOLVE between his WWE stints.

Anyway, trying to tell the story of big vs. little and slow vs. fast was a good call, because anytime Black tried doing something high risk, it looked weird. Like, nothing looked like a flat-out botch or something that looked as if an untrained geek were trying it, but they were never able to sync with each other when they left the mat. Still, this match had a lot of tasty bits in it, like Black pulling out the pendulum swing and bashing Daga's head into the bottom turnbuckle, Daga hitting a really nifty DDT into a front choke, or the finishing sequence when Daga broke out his inner UFC submission specialist and locked Black in some kind of kimura variant.

After the match saw another pull-apart brouhaha between the warring factions that ended with Moon promising Mundo would bend the knee, and obviously, with Vibora in tow, the Reptile Tribe could make those kinds of claims. The deal was set, and the two factions would meet with the winners getting a wish granted. I'm sure it's not the kinds of wish John Cena grants on the reg, although it would be funny to see The Franchise show up at The Temple and start throwing around Attitude Adjustments like it was a 2010 episode of RAW in the Nexus era. Wow, two Nexus references in one column. If I put one more in, I might be inviting evil onto the page, so that's enough of that. Anyway, if Vibora was around, Mundo knew he couldn't win, so what did he do?

That's right, murder. Of course, the closing bookend didn't seem to mean an ending in Vibora's untimely demise at first. All Mundo and Taya Valkyrie wanted was a sword, but after she wailed on the Luchasaurus with her baseball bat and had him prone, well, no more tombstone piledrivers, right? It'll be interesting to see how the big match plays out next week, since the Reptile Tribe will now be down their big hired gun. If you count Ricky Mandel's creepy, sentient doll as a member of Worldwide Underground, and I'm not sure you can totally discount it, then they're at a two-member disadvantage. Somehow though, I get the feeling this whole thing wrapped up just a little too conveniently for Mundo and his crew. I wouldn't be surprised if Moon has powers of resurrection and Vibora is back in zombie form when this match happens.

Also, Mundo quipping to a chained-up Drago "We were never here" was incredible. Worldwide Underground is, on its surface, a fucking cheesy-ass stable, but something about Mundo and the B-movie setting of LU makes them work.

I Want Your Skull

You don't piss in the wind. You don't tug on Superman's cape. And you definitely don't deny Mil Muertes a shot at the Gift of the Gods Championship. Catrina sent the message to Mack in the form of the skull of his departed cousin Big Ryck, replete with the eye patch and stogie. Man, I still can't believe LU got me to care about Ezekiel Jackson. Small miracle, I know. Anyway, for as ominous as a date with Mil Muertes seems, maybe his impending demise wasn't the most pressing concern. Mack did have to defend his Trios Championship with a partner in Killshot that wasn't exactly on the best terms with him. Despite the fact that elseworlds' Shane Strickland had Mack's (and Son of Havoc's) backs when Muertes attacked last week, he didn't seem to be the kind of person who'd forget the perceived betrayal that kept him out of the Gift of the Gods title match in the first place.

Their Trios challengers were the Rabbit Tribe, who know a thing or two about murder themselves. Granted, the White Rabbit wasn't there to guide them towards bludgeoning any of the three opponents, but they were still dangerous foes for a team in turmoil to be going up against. Of course the match was entertaining on many levels. Whether it was Killshot and Mala Suerte doing some tasty lucha stuff at the beginning, Paul London and Havoc working in some subtle Three Stooges shtick (seriously, go back and watch how London sold getting cracked in the face in the corner, and then the subsequent elbow drop spot from Havoc, and if you still don't get it, you're obviously not an old like I am and I envy your youth), Killshot taking plain stupid bumps on the apron, or the double stomp fiesta Killshot went on in the closing stretch, and it was a mostly satisfying affair. My one big gripe was that they got all six guys involved in the Tower of Doom spot and it still looked like shit. Oh well.

But the tension in the Champs' corner seemed to evolve from enmity into pride, at least concerning Killshot. Havoc blind-tagging in on Killshot at the beginning to the latter's dismay and Killshot blind-tagging Mack before he hit the bullfrog splash on Suerte bookended the match and showed that while they can work together to great effect, they have a long way to go before they're a real team. The thing is, the way Mack sold the impact on himself after hitting his splash showed that Killshot making the tag to maximize efficiency in getting the win was the right call. I don't expect that logic to work well on the headstrong purveyor of Chocolate Thunder though. My big question is whether they'll have time to gel before Muertes comes calling for one or more of them. I have a bad feeling that it won't, but hey, who knows.

Now You See That Evil Will Always Triumph, Because Good Is Dumb

Azteca's victory promo was great because it was a fiery babyface promo, and it was, well maybe not bad but very familiar because it was a definite babyface promo. See, wrestling's good guy/bad guy dynamic has always put the babyfaces behind an eight ball because being smart has always been seen as a heel trait. The good guys overcome their own stupidity with brute force or heart or some other tactic that doesn't really involve thinking or strategizing. Azteca promising not to cash in his Gift of the Gods title until the main event of Ultima Lucha Cuatro while promising to defend it against all comers is totally not the finest in strategery. However, it is the action of selecting another path, the one that celebrates honor and nobility in battle. If he makes it that main event with the belt intact, and I think the chances are good he does, then he'll have gotten over huge enough that him winning the title would be a happening befitting the main event of the biggest show of the year (and maybe the promotion's final show?).

A Hired Gun

So yeah, Pentagón DARK selecting NO ONE for his big tag match against Cage and his handpicked partner Cuerno was not surprising, but it didn't exactly build much hope for the prospects of a thrilling main event. Either it was going to be a WWE-style handicap match where the noble shorthanded ronin overcame the odds, or it would turn out to be a beatdown. It ended up being the latter after a few minutes of Penta getting the white hot heroic treatment, but the surprising thing was how well he was at being a dynamic force of nature against all probability. I think after watching the match on the whole, I'd think twice about laying out any match where Penta was asked to take an extended heat segment.

Anyay, for as dull as the match was after the heels took over, it did set up two things. One, that Cage is really serious about trying to murder Penta to take his title, and two, that I'm sure having Cuerno come out as a hired gun didn't come cheap. I would imagine that if Cage ends up taking the title, Cuerno will be among the first to receive a shot in return for helping him do some lightwork beforehand. At least that's how I read it, unless Cage somehow has money for mercenary help laying around. I'm sure they'll explain it in the coming weeks. AT least I hope they do.