By Big Red Machine
From July 19, 2017
Fade To Black
VAMPIRO COMES ACROSS PRINCE PUMA ON THE ROOF OF THE TEMPLE - Great. Vampiro tells him that the visions he is having (and that we have been seeing him have) will consume him unless he wins the Lucha Underground Title. This was made more ominous by the fact that this whole conversation took place in front of the Lucha Underground billboard where Dragon Azteca Jr. spray-painted the Mysterio Signal to summon Rey at the end of season 1.
Then, in a nice little transition, Prince Puma looks down to see Lucha Underground Champion Johnny Mundo entering The Temple with the Worldwide Underground. P.J. Black, the last one in- and also Prince Puma's opponent tonight in a tournament for a shot at the very title Prince Puma is seeking- looked up and saw Prince Puma staring at them, so he flipped him off. That was awesome. Then Prince Puma said "I will not lose, no matter what, my master."
CUETO CUP SECOND-ROUND MATCH:
Cage vs. Pindar (w/Kobra Moon) - no rating, good segment.
Cage is wearing his magical gauntlet to the ring. Referee Justin Borden predictably instructs Cage to take off this big hunk of metal before the match begins, so Cage goes after him, getting himself DQed, at which point Cage completely destroyed Borden (although not with the gauntlet directly so his head didn't explode). This did a wonderful job of getting over the fact that Cage has become so addicted to the glove that he is willing to get DQed in a high-profile match rather than have to take it off.
CUETO CUP SECOND-ROUND MATCH:
Dante Fox vs. Son of Havoc - 5/10
Son of Madness jumps Son of Havoc on his way to the ring. They had a brawl that was brief but good, which ended when Son of Madness punched Son of Havoc with a steel chain wrapped around his fist. Dario then came out and told Son of Havoc that he would not postpone this match, and thus Son of Havoc had to choose either forfeit this match or fight in his current weakened condition. Being a good babyface, Son of Havoc chose to fight. They proceeded to have a match that, while full of exciting moves, I thought went way too long. They did so much (or, rather, they gave Son of Havoc so much offense and let him kick out of so much) that it felt like they negated the pre-match beat-down angle.
THE WORLDWIDE UNDERGROUND MEET WITH THEIR NEW AGENT BACKSTAGE - Didn't like it. They have an agent to represent them, both to Dario and to the public. He wants them on cereal boxes. This sort of thing really further muddles exactly what Lucha Underground is kayfabe supposed to be. Even worse was the whole bit where they didn't invite P.J. Black to the meeting and the agent (Benjamin Cooke) was kind of rude to P.J. and the rest of the Worldwide Underground was talking to this guy when they were apparently supposed to be talking strategy with P.J. for his match... it felt like they were setting up to turn P.J. babyface, completely out of nowhere.
CUETO CUP SECOND-ROUND MATCH:
P.J. Black vs. Prince Puma - 7.75/10
Now Striker is teasing the babyface turn, too, saying he'd like to see P.J. "fulfill his potential" but without the help of the Worldwide Underground.
They had a nice technical start to the match, which Striker first tried to connect to the famous British wrestlers of old before saying that we should pay attention to guys like Prince Puma and P.J. Black now because future generations will "start to copy everything these two have done." Yes. They will "copy" their moves and matches because it's all fake. And that was me trying to be nice to Striker. What I paraphrased as "pay attention to guys like Prince Puma and P.J. Black" was Striker telling us the viewers that "you should start to educate yourself to" Prince Puma and P.J. Black, which is the most obnoxious combination of pretentiousness and condescension that he could have possibly used in this situation. Because he's Matt Striker and he just can't help himself but be as annoying as humanly possible. You hear the stories about bullying in the WWE locker room over the years, but when you hear that Striker was bullied and kicked out of the locker room by guys like Eddie, Benoit, Bob Holly, and JBL for supposedly disrespecting people on Smackdown, I'm not entirely certain that Striker didn't do or say something to bring it on himself (and there is at least one story that the first incident was proceeded by him telling the Smackdown road agents how much better he thought the Raw roster was, while at a Smackdown show). And if you think that's me engaging in victim blaming, I suggest you go read what Striker- a bullying victim himself- had to say when he was interviewed earlier this year for an SI piece on bullying in the WWE. Hint: not only does he avoid the question, all but excusing the bullying, but he does so in a way that is guaranteed to make you want to hit him by the time you're done reading it.
Rather than saying something simple like "this building," Striker said "this unique structure known as The Temple." He also said that Prince Puma would be completely unable to escape from the Dragon Sleeper that P.J. had him in, then, mere moments later, said that P.J. voluntarily releasing the hold to try another method of attack, was "smart."
You know what? For my own sanity, I'm muting this.
I decided to turn it back on about ten minutes later because I was missing the natural sounds of the strikes and of guys hitting the match and so forth, and the very first thing I head was Matt Striker describe both men standing on the top turnbuckle as being "high atop the Empire State Building.
P.J. BLACK MEETS WITH DARIO CUETO IN DARIO'S OFFICE - In the five minutes since the match ended Benjamin Cooke has apparently called Dario seventeen times to try to get P.J. back into the tournament. He then apparently suggested that P.J. face Rey Mysterio Jr. next week, and Dario agreed. Solid booking here, as it both got over how annoying Cooke is and furthered the idea that P.J. is being used as a pawn by Mundo- but it's different this time because the strategy was developed without P.J.'s consent.
Another good show from Lucha Underground.