TV Review: Lucha Underground S3 E08, “Life After Death”

Published on March 18th, 2016 in: Current Faves, Matshifter, Pro Wrestling, Reviews, TV, TV Reviews, Underground/Cult |

By Sachin Hingoo

fenix with the people

It’s a gigantic week in Lucha Underground, friends. After last week’s outstanding triple-threat match between champion Mil Muertes, Pentagón Jr., and Prince Puma, Fenix cashed in his Gift of the Gods title shot which is our main event for tonight. Let’s also hope that the inter-gender content will be handled better this week, because we have a Trios title match between the Disciples of Death and the team of Son of Havoc, Angelico, and Ivelisse that should be pretty good.

In the locker room, Fenix is admiring his title when Catrina walks in. She sounds, somehow, more human than usual and says she wants his powers to give her life again. She wonders aloud if she should have stuck with Fenix last season instead of betraying him for Mil Muertes, and they actually make out a bit. The camera pans full circle around the two and the dramatic music swells, giving it a real end-of-a-Nicholas-Sparks-movie feel. Catrina, reminding us that she’s a literal witch, stops things dead and says that this was his last kiss, and that death is coming for him tonight. She vanishes as poor Fenix just looks confused. Ice cold, that Catrina. This was one of the best vignettes they’ve had on the show so far, from the way it was shot, to the music, and even Catrina’s acting.

WHOMP WHOOOOMP

We’re back in the ring for our first match and it’s between the Disciples of Death and Ivelisse, Angelico, and Son of Havoc. If the latter team loses and fails to win the Trios titles back from the ghost skeletons (not to be confused with Pentagón Jr., who is a skeleton ninja), they’ll have to leave the Temple forever.

If you’re watching along, this is a good opportunity to see how Lucha Underground can do inter-gender matches right. There’s a tone and pace to this match that’s decidedly different from the systematic, brutal beatdown they put on display with Taya Valkyrie and Cage last week. After a lot of high-flying action, and in spite of Catrina being a nuisance to them throughout the match, Ivelisse’s team picks up the win and the titles, meaning that one of my favorite acts on the show get to stick around. As they hold up their titles in the ring, it’s a genuinely emotional moment as the Believers chant “you deserve it.”

Puma is hitting a punching bag because exercising is all he does when he’s not wrestling. A real Jillian Michaels, this one. Johnny Mundo comes strutting in and starts razzing Puma about not winning against Muertes and Pentagón. Mundo says he’s going to take him to “Slamtown” (ew!) in Aztec Warfare next week, and shoulder-checks Puma before smugly sauntering away. Puma gets so mad that he punches a hole right through the bag, which seems short-sighted given that those things are expensive and difficult to fix.

puma punches through a bag

Rey Mysterio and Dragon Azteca Jr. are hanging out in their lucha dojo and Rey presents Azteca with an ornate envelope. It’s an invitation to Aztec Warfare, Lucha Underground’s annual crazy battle royal for a shot at the title that takes place next week. Rey reveals that he’s received an invitation as well, and says he’s also got something to prove. Teacher and student share some tequila, which doesn’t seem to be conducive to safely executing backflips and dropkicks.

Texano Jr. will face Chavo Guerrero next in a bullrope match, meaning that the two opponents will, as you’d expect, be tethered together with a bullrope. Chavo shows up with The Crew but they ditch him immediately because I guess they just remembered how mean he was to them a few weeks ago. Now Chavo’s scared and the rest of the match is mostly him just being beaten soundly all over the ring (and outside it) by Texano. It’s pretty good, actually, and Chavo has just such a smarmy, punchable face so it’s pretty rewarding to see him get his shit wrecked. In the end, Chavo tries to jump off the top rope for a frog splash, but Texano just pulls on the rope and he falls off. Texano hits a powerbomb and that’s it for Chavo.

Backstage, Mil Muertes is extremely upset with the Disciples for losing their titles, and very nearly kills one of them before Catrina forces him to relent. This probably should’ve been more serious than it came off, but the presentation was so cheesy that I couldn’t help but laugh at the weird thunder sound effects every time Muertes landed a punch. It evokes all the fear and intimidation of Sesame Street’s The Count. One punch from an undead mesomorph..AAA,AAA, AAAA!! 

We’re at Dario Cueto’s shipping container, 375 miles from Boyle Heights. We hear, but don’t see, Matanza killing several guys who die with cartoonish screams. Dario and Lotus are outside and he tells her he’s ready, and it’s time to take back the Temple. Dario opens the door and we see Matanza for the first time.

its matanza!

Holy cats, it’s Jason Voorhees if he were a luchador. He’s a huge guy wearing a filthy, ragged coverall and he is caked in blood. This came off very well and is a really satisfying reveal, considering that it’s been built up for a whole season. Between the last segment and this one, they’ve set up a cool War of the Monsters situation when Matanza and Muertes finally meet in the Temple.

Fenix vs. Muertes is our main event, and it’s nothing short of a complete war. The two mortal enemies go hard at each other, leaving both with torn, bloody masks. It’s a great example of storytelling in a match, and it’s the simplest one–David and Goliath–for wrestling to tell. Fenix tries to chop the much bigger Muertes down, but Mil is having none of it. Both guys tear at each other’s masks, the ultimate sign of disrespect in lucha libre, and both men are left with their faces barely covered by the ragged, blood-soaked hoods. After a stunning reversal and a complicated-looking cradle pin, Fenix gets the upset victory and immediately cheeses out of the ring to celebrate with the fans. The whole Temple is going crazy for this moment, as it’s the culmination of another year-long rivalry and the ascension of one of the show’s biggest heroes.

Catrina jumps in the ring and basically screws Fenix over by telling him that next week’s Aztec Warfare match, normally for a number one contendership, is now for the Lucha Underground title itself. The mayonnaise on this shit sandwich is that Fenix will have to enter the match first (thereby having to beat and outlast everyone else) and Muertes will enter last. I’m starting to get the impression that Catrina is just not very nice.

This was one of the best episodes of Lucha Underground yet, and over the course of just an hour we got big reveals for the biggest stories on the show, two major title changes, and the setup for next week’s huge Aztec Warfare match, which is more than other shows usually accomplish in twice that amount of time. On top of that, we got another blow-away main event that cemented Fenix as a major player and the new champion. For the past few weeks, each episode of Lucha Underground has been better than the last. With Aztec Warfare looming, Matanza’s debut in the Temple, and the promise of Fenix having to fight his way through the entire roster, next week could be the best of all.

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