Lucha Underground S03E11: Aztec Warfare III
By Big Red Machine
From November 16, 2016
Aztec Warfare III
JOHNNY MUNDO & DARIO PASS EACH OTHER IN THE HALL - AWESOME!
I would watch entire show that was nothing but Dario Cueto being Dario Cueto. Johnny and Taya were both great in their roles, too. I don't know why, but I get the feeling that at some point Taya his going to be clonking Johnny in the head with that camera and turning on him.
AZTEC WARFARE MATCH FOR THE LUCHA UNDERGROUND TITLE:
"The Monste" Matanza Cueto(c) (w/Dario Cueto) vs. Johnny Mundo vs. Son of Havoc vs. Jeremiah Crane vs. Pentagon Dark vs. P.J. Black vs. Mariposa vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Dr. Wanger Jr. (w/Famous B & Brenda) vs. Marty "The Moth" Martinez vs. Jack Evans vs. Sexy Star vs. Ricky Mandel vs. Mascarita Sagrada vs. Famous B (w/Brenda) vs. The Mack vs. Joey Ryan vs. Mil Muertes (w/Catrina) vs. Kobra Moon vs. Drago- 9/10
This felt more like a top tier Royal Rumble than it did like the beautifully booked and intricately laid out Aztec Warfare matches of the past, but if we're being honest, those two matches set a pretty darn unreasonable standard to live up to. Still, this match had the prerequisite big moments and mostly everyone was used effectively (Ricky Mandel's use was particularly brilliant). It's just that this felt more like setting up the direction for Ultima Lucha than the previous two matches (especially the first), which were this beautiful nexus of storylines. They did have some nice callbacks to previous matches, but none of that felt quite as artsy as last year (this time it came off as more of a "well... we did some last year so we have to do some this year, too"). One very interesting thing they did in here was have almost no kick-outs, which I thought would make it feel bigger whenever someone did kick out at the end, but it really didn't do so.
This year was about one or two big stories running through the match. The big one was the Worldwide Underground's (and particularly Johnny Mundo's) strategy of both using the numbers game and being chickensh*t heels. For this reason I think it would have been a lot better to have Johnny as the last one in there with Sexy Star (Angelico's return could have simply taken out the other two).
The other reason I didn't like Mil Muertes being the runner up was that Mil has this certain mystical element to him, and because of this shows focus on the mystical (especially as pertains to Mil), it feels like the only wrestlers who should be able to defeat him are wrestlers that have some connection (or at least feel like they have some connection) to the shows mystical elements, either literally or in terms of the Aztec tribes/destiny/whatever. Wrestlers like Matanza or Fenix or Rey. And, in fact, all of the "mere mortals" who have tried to defeat him (Prince Puma, King Cuerno) have failed. Sexy Star belongs in this second category. I'm not saying she can't be a top star. I'm just saying that, like Johnny Mundo, she isn't someone who feels like she should be able to take down Mil Muertes (or Matanza, for that matter).
The other story that was focused on and paid off here was Rey getting the chance to go at Matanza again and managing to pin him. They kept them apart early on while teasing the confrontation, and then gave them the full spotlight when they finally got together. While Matanza getting pinned did feel like a HUGE moment, it didn't quite feel like it was sufficient revenge for Rey. It felt important, but it wasn't quite satisfying. Taking Rey out afterwards protects him and keeps the feud going, but Matanza shoving Dario is the thing that interest me the most.
Before I get to the finish, here are some random thoughts on random occurrences:
1. Too many ninjas. With four of them Pentagon Dark almost felt like a babyface. Black Lotus and one extra would have sufficed.
2. The Mack definitely didn't not feel like he belonged in the final three. Sexy Star's friend or not, he is just a midcarder. This did feel like an elevation for him so much as it felt like he was in a situation where he had no chance in hell of winning.
So... the final two. The wrestling there was good (although I went into my reasons for why I thought it should have been Johnny and not Mil above) and it did make Sexy Star look like a brave underdog, but not only did Striker typically overdo it on the call, but those women they kept cutting to in the crowd were SOOOO obviously plants it annoyed the hell out of me (no real fan is going to be biting his or her nails in fear because of an oncoming table spot in the ring). If you're going to do this, at least have the plants there throughout the entire set of tapings and cut to them in every Sexy Star match. Also, a lot of the cheering for her during the match seemed canned, as you could see large segments of the crowd not cheering at all (they did pop for the title change, though). I am amazed they put all of this work into Sexy Star when it would be a lot easier to just put the belt on a woman who is already over with the live crowd (hint hint Ivelisse). Hopefully she doesn't walk out of the promotion instead of dropping the belt like she has in other places.