A Snake Scorned
KOBRA MOON IN MR. CUETO'S OFFICE - Good. She demands that the Reptile Tribe be given a match for the Lucha Underground Trios Titles because they haven't yet gotten their rematch after losing the belts at Ultima Lucha III. Mr. Cueto makes fun of her a bit. I will admit to chuckling at the "Your Drago is Dra-gone" line. Okay, fine. I laughed my ass off at it. There. You happy?
Mr. Cueto books the match as the main event, then taunts her some more by ordering her to be "dra-gone."
PAUL LONDON PROMO - He buries the now (likely) deceased Mala Suerte (see what I did there?), then insisted that Saltador was looking to get revenge, so Antonio Cueto booked...
"THE MONSTER" MATANZA CUETO vs. SALTADOR (w/Paul London) - squash
Saltador didn't want to wrestle the match but London threw him right to Matanza, who squashed him like a checker-patterned bug. I don't know what their endgame is with Paul London, but getting rid of the other two in such quick succession makes all of this Rabbit Tribe stuff feel like it has been a waste of time.
TRIOS CHAMPIONS BACKSTAGE - GREAT! The last time these guys appeared on the show I said I thought this feud really needed some backstage vignettes to help us understand why these guys are acting so pissy towards each other... and now we got one. Hooray!
Basically, Killshot doesn't like or respect Son of Havoc because he got his part of the titles "handed to [him] on a silver platter," and blames The Mack for siding with Sin of Havoc over him in some recent situations during matches. GREAT! That's all I'm asking for.
He taunted them over their failure to win the Gift of the Gods Title and said he would do so tonight. They noted that they also had a Lucha Underground Trios Title defense tonight and were worried that Killshot won't be at 100% for their title defense if he has already wrestled another match. Killshot did an excellent job of being a dick about everything, The Mack did an excellent job of being the hopefully peacemaker who is doing his best despite knowing that making peace will likely grow harder and harder every week because Killshot is being such a dick, and Son of Havoc was good at being angry at Killshot for being a dick.
We're getting Cage vs. Pentagon Dark in a "Last Man or Machine Standing" Match. Hopefully this will be the end this terrible feud, which has got to be the single most mishandled feud outside of promotions like WWE and TNA that you just generally expect to mishandle sh*t.
GIFT OF THE GODS TITLE MATCH:
El Dragon Azteca Jr.(c) vs. Killshot- 4.25/10
A relatively short match full of flips and kicks, but G-d damn it they were sur were well-timed and well-executed ones.
DRAGO & AEROSTAR ON THE ROOF - Good. Drago doesn't feel like he deserves this second chance or AeroStar's friendship but AeroStar insists that he does. Drago says that he did unforgiveable things as part of the Reptile Tribe, but AeroStar says that that was Kobra Moon doing those things, not Drago, and that he wasn't himself. So was he being mind-controlled? I really wish they would have made that all more clear. Drago says he must go and that he's not sure if he will ever return. Drago disappears in a burst of flame, then AeroStar says that he is certain that he and Drago will see each other again.
LUCHA UNDERGROUND TRIOS TITLE MATCH:
Killshot, Son of Havoc, & The Mack(c) vs. The Reptile Tribe (Daga, Jeremiah Snake, & Kobra Moon) - 3/10
Killshot didn't come out for his title defense, so this was essentially a handicap match. He can not like the other two, but the idea of him just throwing a title away seems slightly out of character for someone who Striker repeatedly tells us is a "solider of fortune," which is a polite way of saying "mercenary." He's motivated by pride and money, and being a champion gets him more of both of those. Then again, it's also entirely possible that Striker is just calling Killshot a "soldier of fortune" because Striker thinks it sounds cool and he doesn't actually know what the term means. Or it's possible that the character is not intended to be a mercenary and Striker is just saying he is one because Striker loves to say sh*t that he just makes up off the top of his head because he thinks it makes him sound smart, even if there is zero storyline basis for his claims. So basically what I'm saying is that Matt Striker is so bad at his job that I don't know if someone on the show is acting out of character or not because Striker's characterizations are wrong and baseless just as often as they are right.
Speaking of Matt Striker, he asked Vampiro what is so special about the Aztec gold that these titles are made out of, and Vamp's answer was an extremely disappointing (paraphrasing) "it might be from some legendary cache like El Dorado or Montezuma's treasure, and it's cool to imagine that this is the case when you're the champion so you can touch a part of history."
Killshot did finally show up, so that was good, but it really makes you wonder why the match was started without him here? Why didn't they send Cage out to cut his promo and let the freakin' Trios Titles be the main event segment instead of someone talking? Yes, I know the Cuetos like f*cking with people because it creates tension and conflict that they can market, but don't they also have an interest in maintaining the integrity of their titles and thus would prefer that the match not start if not all three champions are ready?
I feel like the LU writers often treat the Cuetos the same way WWE completely screwed up with Bray Wyatt, or TNA has done with their various crazy characters over the years (but especially in the 2013-2016 period), where they don't actually work to give them motivations and they just have the characters do whatever the plot needs them to do in that moment and just fall back on the explanation that "they're crazy, and therefore their motives don't have to make sense" or "he's got some sort of mystical mind games reason for it," or, now, with the Cuetos "f*cking with people is just what they do." Bray Wyatt is the best example of why this is harmful for a character, but it's also evident in many of the aforementioned TNA characters as well. Over time, the character starts to feel like they don't actually have any real motivations, and thus their actions start to feel empty and contrived. I fear that the Cuetos are becoming the authority figure version of this. Mr. Cueto was not a character tonight; he was a plot device. It would be a real shame to see such rich and intriguing characters as the Cuetos reduced to such a low level, and on a show specifically designed to create such interesting characters to boot.
Oh. Right. There's still a match going on.
So Killshot gets into the ring and Jeremiah Crane immediately spits in his face, and of course Matt Striker has to refer to this as "spitting venom into his face." You know. Because Crane is a snake now. Even though Killshot did not sell it as anything other than normal spit and it didn't look like anything other than normal spit.
They did that stupid spot where one wrestler buts another in a figure four neck lock thingy and then someone else runs in and puts that wrestler in the same hold and each successive wrestler runs in and does the same thing until the last wrestler turns the first one over into a Boston Crab, turning everyone over. They did that in a f*cking title match. Daga is on the end with no one putting him in any sort of hold and he is still selling it like turning him over reverses the polarity of the hold or something.
They randomly cut to a priest sitting there in the crowd. Striker identified him as "Rick O'Shea," stealing MY joke from my TNA reviews whenever Aiden O'Shea showed up." Striker told us that he would be presiding over Johnny & Taya's wedding. Okay... so why is he here tonight?
Striker and Vampiro started to argue over whether it was more important to "have your partner's back" or make more money from being champion... which makes no sense in the middle of a tag team title match because the two things are not only not mutually exclusive but in this case they pretty much go together!
This match was basically just a bunch of stupid random spots, which was a major problem because the beginning and the finish of this match clearly showed that this was supposed to be a storytelling match. The finish saw Son of Havoc do a dive that hit both Killshot and whichever snake he was aiming at. Killshot got upset by this and thus shoved Son of Havoc off the top rope when he went up there to hit his finish and just stood there and watch Crane hit his finisher on Son of Havoc and pin him to win the titles. The problem with this is that this whole match was just a big spotfest so not only was there nothing that felt like it was building to anything, but among the spots in this match were several big dives where the guy doing the dive landed on a big pile of wrestlers, including his own teammates... including one where Son of Havoc was the diver and Killshot was in the pile, and yet Killshot didn't turn on Son of Havoc after this. He only turned on him the second time, with the only reason being that the second time was the spot that was supposed to lead to the finish and the first time was not.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Meh. Killshot's heel turn is completed by him being a dick to Son of Havoc after the match, blaming him for the loss, and then hitting him with a top-rope double stomp (I'm not sure what he calls the move in LU, as calling it the Swerve Stomp wouldn't make sense and calling it the "Killshot" would be a little weird).
This whole story has been a total failure to me. Striker told us that "Son of Havoc fought valiantly and became a part of this brotherhood," but I never saw anything resembling a "brotherhood" here. It's not like Killshot and The Mack were teammates before getting put on a team together by Dario at Ultima Lucha III, and since Mr. Cueto replaced Dante Fox with Son of Havoc in the season premiere, they have only teamed together twice and have actually wrestled against each other just as many times. We've seen them in conflict from basically the very beginning. Yeah, Killshot's a huge dick, but it doesn't feel like he's ruining some sort of long-term thing that I have been given reason to care about.
CAGE PROMO - As Cage made his way to the ring Matt Striker said the following:
"There is the man who will challenge Pentagon Dark for the Lucha Underground Championship. The man who claims that he is not a man but that he is, in fact, a machine. The fact that Pentagon could not break his arm seems Cage is right. And I don't think it's so much about being a machine or a cyborg. Maybe it's about being an actual Lucha Libre machine inside the ring, like a wrestling machine. A lot of times we get bogged down by the samba of semantics."
LISTEN UP, YOU IMBECILIC PIG F*CKER! THE ONLY PERSON WHO HAS EVER TAKEN CAGE'S CATCHPHRASE TO BE ANYTHING MORE THAN A METAPHOR IS YOU!* NO ONE ELSE HAS EVER CALLED CAGE A "CYBORG" OR A "ROBOT" OR ANYTHING OF THAT NATURE OR TALKED ABOUT HIS "MECHANICAL HANDS" OR STUPID SH*T LIKE THAT OTHER THAN YOU! AND I HAVE HAD TO SIT THROUGH YEARS OF YOU SPOUTING THIS STUPID SH*T FROM YOUR F*CKING PIE-HOLE EVERY TIME CAGE COMES TO THE RING... AND NOW THAT THERE IS FINALLY SOMETHING YOU CAN CLAIM AS EVIDENCE- HOWEVER SPECIOUS IT MIGHT BE- THAT SUPPORTS YOUR STUPID COMMENTS... YOU TELL US THAT YOU THINK IT'S JUST A F*CKING METAPHOR... AND YOU DO SO MERE SENTENCES AFTER BRINGING THE EVIDENCE UP AND SAYING THAT IT SEEMS TO PROVE THE CLAIMS?!
AND THEN YOU, WHO IS CONSTANTLY FAILING TO SELL THE IMPORTANCE OF THE EVENTS YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO GET OVER IN FAVOR OF GOING ON YOUR STUPID POETIC COCK-SH*T TANGENTS ABOUT THE F*CKING MEANING OF LIFE, ARE TELLING US ALL NOT GET CAUGHT UP IN THE "SAMBA OF SEMANTICS?"
It has been YEARS of this obtuse sh*t-head running his mouth and I've hated him more and more and more as time has gone on and for YEARS I have resisted the urge to type something like telling Striker to "go die in a hole" or hoping he gets hit by a truck and winds up in a coma because those are horrible,. Terrible things to say about someone and I know that I don't really mean that and it's just the anger talking, but that is honestly how listening to Matt Striker makes me feel in the moment. Again... I don't want any of those terrible things to happen to the guy, but there is no reason that I, a fan who is predisposed to liking babyfaces and disliking heels, should ever feel like if I were in the same room as the babyface announcer it would take tremendous effort for me to not scream in his face because of how f*cking terrible and annoying he is (although, for the record, when I say something like I hope one of the wrestlers yells at him and slaps him around for being a terrible announcer and doing sh*t that is really meant to put himself over by showing us how smart he is rather than putting the matches over, I do really wish that would happen in the hopes that such a thing would actually make him change his ways.)
*There was a conversation between Dario, Agent Winter, and Limo Guy that suggested that Cage might actually be a machine because the Gauntlet of the Gods was not controlling him the way it was supposed to, but there is no way Striker could know about that conversation.
(Also, thinking about that just gave me the following thought: maybe the mysterious Limo Guy and Vampiro's shadowy master are the same person? I don't know what that would mean for any of the individual stories, but it would be significant that we only have one shadowy dark mega-villain running around instead of two.)
THE CLOSING SEGMENT - Terrible. Cage came out and just immediately went for his catchphrase but Pentagon Dark showed up and attacked him and they brawled a lot, laying out and bunch of plants and some security guys and stuff. At one point Pentagon Dark grabbed the guitar from one of the members of the band and was looking at Cage, but then turned around and cracked the guitar over the musician's head instead because the musician was following him, turning his back to his hated rival who is challenging for his precious Lucha Underground Championship next week in the process.
At one point one guy had the other hanging over a high-up railing... and instead of continuing to show us someone's impending doom, they cut away to a shot of that completely pointless camera in the announcers' desk to show us Striker and Vampiro standing up and looking off into the distance at the action that we ourselves want to be seeing right now but aren't.
They went back to the "trying to throw someone over the railing of a catwalk and murder him spot" and rather than be horrified of the impending danger and worried for a man's life, Matt Striker decided to call this by putting over how great of a shot the cameraman was getting.
Cage eventually tossed Pentagon over the lowest railing in the building. It was still about as high as bumping from the apron to the floor but the people pretty much reacted to it as if Pentagon Dark had taken a punch and rolled down the ramp (which really was the function it served in this brawl, as Cage casually leapt over the guardrail and followed him down).
At this point the priest decided to tell Cage off so Cage choked him, which allowed Pentagon Dark to hit Cage in the back with a chair. Striker reacted to this innocent civilian- not just an innocent civilian but a clergyman- being threatened by the big scary monster by making a joke that Johnny and Taya got this priest to do their wedding because a certain Rabbi wasn't available.
Then the priest tried to bless Pentagon Dark for saving him but Pentagon Dark grabbed his arm, threw him dfown and broke his arm, because obviously it makes more sense to assault someone who is thanking you for saving him than to assault your hated rival whom you are currently in the middle of a violent brawl with.
They brawled a bunch more, and eventually wound up in the parking lot where an old lady was walking around carrying a baby. Pentagon Dark grabbed the baby away from the old lady and threw it at Cage's head by Cage caught it and put it down. The old lady said "Thank you for saving my baby!" to Cage, and he responded by picking the old lady up, carrying her to a nearby bridge, and powerbombing her off the bridge and down into a rushing river, where she was eaten by a nearby shark. Meanwhile, Pentagon Dark picked up a flamethrower and was going to barbeque Cage while his back was turned because he had just finished powerbombing the old lady off the bridge, but he then decided to use the flamethrower on the innocent baby instead. Then they kept brawling off into the night.
Okay, I might have made that last paragraph up, but it's a fair summation of my thoughts on this entire segment. Overkill is not even strong enough. This was "I really want to kill an ant, so I'm going to shoot the planet with my Death Star." They're having a match next week which is a Last Man Standing Match for absolutely no reason, so they came out here and spent five minutes having the most ridiculous brawl they could, teasing guys getting thrown off of balconies and murdering a whole bunch of civilians for no reason other than to get a pop for it... which actually describes the wrestling styles of both of these men pretty accurately, so I'm really dreading next week's match.
This whole thing was just so contrived and pointless in every single way. It didn't feel like Cage had something he wanted to say but Pentagon Dark came out and attacked him to soften him up for their match next week. It felt like the bookers wanted these guys to have a big giant brawl and decided that the easiest way to do it would be to have Cage come out ostensibly to cut a promo but then have Pentagon Dark show up and start brawling with him immediately. And perhaps the worst part of this is that none of it is going to matter a single lick for next week in any way, because neither of these guys are known for selling moves mere seconds after they take them so I doubt they'll be selling an entire week later, and it's not like there is even a story to tell with someone getting the upper hand or momentum or whatever because they were still brawling with each other in aisle when we cut away to...
THE MACK AND MR. CUETO IN MR. CUETO'S OFFICE - The Mack wants a match against Killshot next week but Mr. Cueto tells The Mack that he already has a match booked for next week: he will be facing Mil Muertes in the first-ever "Haunted House Match." Yeah. Because THAT has worked out so well in the past. The good part of this was that The Mack's response showed that he was perfectly willing to confront and overcome his fear of Mil Muertes, but another stupid-named gimmick match as the first match of the feud on a show where we already have a Last Man Standing Match for the Lucha Underground Championship? This is hot-shotting, plain and simple. That's what this whole season has been. Basically everything they've done has either been hot-shotting or a "sacrifice to the gods" squash. This show is dying. I am seriously considering giving it up.