Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 3 Episode 2: The Amulet

ER: Hey Joey Ryan and Castro had a horrible fake fight in their super secret cop room, and it was about as bad as their cop acting. Why is the cop story still a thing?

MD: I'm with Eric on this. The word to use with all this cop stuff is bemused. Also, if this was all going to be so goofy, they should have cast Lisa Marie Varon as the head cop. More wrestlers as cameos to make this stuff more tolerable.

1. Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Mascarita Sagrada

ER: Doc was at least generous taking head and arm drag for the guy and not spiking him with the Wagner Driver. This seemed clipped. Not sure what Sagrada is going to do to get revenge on Famous B, but I predict it will somehow end with Brenda turning on B and aligning herself with Sagrada.

MD: Again, I like the logic here. It makes sense for Sagrada to be the surprise opponent, and Santos sure announced him with gusto. I kind of love the full on ridiculousness of Nurse Brenda. It feels like 90s AAA with the themed ring girls. The work itself was fine. Sagrada's been so weirdly competitive against people that for Wagner to really squash him helped cement him as dangerous. You have to think most of the audience has no idea who he is, so every bit helps.

ER: Captain Vasqez and Castro need to take a workplace communication course as they clearly both have different goals. Castro was openly working all last season on catching Cueto, and reporting this to Captain Vasquez, but now he's apparently not supposed to go after Dario....even though she's been fully aware of what he's been doing the entire time...This fucking story.

MD: My co-contributor here just no sold "A Millennia Ago." I personally want this to go 10 seasons and to have a complex Lost like underpinning that they're working out as they go. Embrace the kayfabe insanity. It's all crazy. They want to tell this Mortal Kombat type story and they decided the best way to do so was in a backdrop to fully complete pro wrestling matches, using those tropes and half pre-existing characters with their own legacies outside of this (like Chavo or Rey) and half new ones. This entire thing is madness. It's also painfully mundane at the same time. I don't understand what other side Castro was supposed to choose. Either he was with Captain Not-Victoria or He was going to go after Dario then and there? Joey Ryan's on Dario's side. Somehow I think we were supposed to see this as a clear duality of choices and that wasn't it at all. Still, "A Millennia Ago."

2. Argenis vs. Mil Muertes

ER: Another quick squash, again feeling like stuff was clipped out, and more Striker idiocy with him calling Cuerno/Muertes "the biggest feud in our history". I have no clue what criteria you can come up with to make that statement true.

MD: Why was Puma out there again? And why does a Reaper have a Trident and not a Scythe? Is he a Maritime Reaper?

3. Weapons of Mass Destruction: Marty the Moth Martinez vs. Killshot

ER: So the main take away from this match was that this was, indisputably, the worst Matt Striker has ever been on commentary. This commentary was right down there with the absolute worst pro wrestling commentary I have ever heard. It was so distractingly bad, did such a disservice to the actual violence occurring, and was so meticulously planned out and just continuously vomited into our ears, that it didn't seem sustainable. But he managed. He started out terribly, and managed to keep getting worse, and worse, and louder, and it was constant. Usually his commentary elicits somewhere between an eyerolling groan all the way up to just an eyeroll. But this was far worse than his usual degrees of eyerolling jackassery. Here he was just distractingly, aggressively, needlessly horrible commentary. The jokes were bad, the puns were bad, it downplayed just about everything being done in the ring, and then he had to cap things off by bring rape into the whole mess. Every word spoken was so embarrassingly planned out, you could just picture him googling "Famous Quotes About War" and then writing all of his puns down, like the world's shittiest @ Midnight contestant. I'm not sure he reacted genuinely to anything the entire match. It's clear he had a list of jokes he was going to tell, and he was going to shoehorn them in no matter the situation. I'm curious how he had them ordered, if he had them written out in what he felt were the "best to worst", and then he picked evenly throughout (because you can't just front load with ALL of your A+ material), or if he had the jokes divided up amongst categories of moves, like "After Guy Takes Table Bump, Say _____", "After Guy Takes Weapon Shot, Say _____".

Whatever his method, it couldn't have worked worse. Again, there was no genuine reactions from him the entire match. Every movement in the ring was used as a vessel for him to transfer his specific brand of dogshit from his mouth to our ears. Instead of reacting to a move with excitement or attempt to build any sort of narrative, he would just use each wrestler's movements as an opportunity to scream out another inane war-related pun. "SEMPER FI" after a clothesline, on down to mind numbing stuff like yelling "BOUTROS BOUTROS-GHALI!!!" after another move. I have no clue how that even relates to war, but REFERENCES~ I thought the references would die out eventually. Striker will often make a bad pun, Vampiro will groan about it, and then he'll go back to actual business. But these puns never died. They kept going, relentlessly, each one less clever than the last; each one taking away from actual violence and pain that Killshot and Moth were going through, all for the end result of ham fistedly shoving REFERENCES~ into the atmosphere. And then it all peaked with Marty the Moth looking at Melissa Santos, licking his fingers while making a V sign, and Striker blurting out how he was eyeing Santos, "perhaps the spoils of war??" Yep, just because Marty was playing dress up and we got to see a prop fight with fake grenades, we can also just make mention that Moth might rape Santos after he conquers and loots Killshot's village. What a remarkably stupid thing to say. "The spoils of war", after they've already done a foolish and misguide rape angle. This somehow overshadowed all his remarkably insensitive and assholish remarks about napalm. I'm sure every wrestler would want to work their matches while some blowhard reminds people about villages of innocents being burned to the ground. I honestly cannot believe he didn't just double down and start making Holocaust jokes. He was already doing his best to draw any attention away from what was actually happening in the ring, he might as well have gone for broke.

The match itself was a lesser version of the kind of wander around the Temple matches we've gotten used to. This one was more gimmick-y as weapons and Styrofoam boxes were already arranged around the ring for them to fall into, but it still lead to some nasty spots. Moth outed himself as a wild bump maniac last season, and that was on full display in the first minute of this as he made a through the crowd brawl with Killshot pretty brutal by falling onto surfaces that aren't easy to fall on. Killshot takes a few ungodly bumps of his own, the most impressive is him getting run face first into a ladder that had been set up from the apron to the ring barrier (with Moth almost hitting a fan in the face while setting it up, then showing the fan he didn't care). It was an amazing shot, with Killshot taking it the way Lawler would take a ringpost bump, and making it look as good as the best Lawler post bumps. Earlier he took a backdrop driver onto the apron, later he would take an insane bump through tables that had been set up at ringside. This was probably the best Killshot has looked, but he's still just not good enough to give any sort of drama or meaning to these dangerous bumps. They would never actually lead to anything, and he's not good enough to put over the gravity of them (and Striker certainly wasn't helping with that). The match oddly felt too long, and too short; too short to really put over the danger in some of the spots, to properly sell the damage. But it wasn't short, it was 25 minutes, and the idea of it getting another 10 just seems absurd. So overall it didn't really work for me, while also liking plenty of it. How annoying am I? I had to honestly ask myself if Striker's commentary made me like the match itself less than I would have with somebody else talking over it, or had I just muted the TV. And I don't think so. I was impressed by the insane bumps, but also felt they got recovered from too easily. And overall, I just don't think the feud "deserved" this level of match. One guy stole dog tags. That doesn't really get to "blood feud" for me. I think having these two have a match like this just dilutes things when they have a match like this between two actual main eventers, with something bigger than dogtags on the line.

MD: Eric went off on Striker, so I won't say much about that; just if this was supposed to be seen by us as vicious and brutal (and I think it waS), then Striker's commentary made sure we were going to see it as one big joke instead. Personally, I thought his "Sorry I love you" moment from Puma vs Rey was far worse since it completely disrupted a genuine match that was the main event of the entirety of season 2. He was absolutely terrible though. Tonally, I agree with Eric that the level of brutality didn't seem earned from a storyline perspective, not like, let's say, the No Mas match from last season was. They can't just put on something like this without meaningful build, treat it like a joke, and then have it resonate. For what it's worth, Striker's worst moment here was after Killshot grabbed the dog tags on the ladder and he shouted "The symbolism couldn't be any louder!" Louder? Maybe not, but it could have sure been better if he just kept his trap shut.

I though the match itself did more things well than not, though (even past how great Marty's been as of late). I think I'm higher on it than Eric. For starters, Killshot's most annoying tendencies seem to all be based around the ropes. You take that away from him and he's not doing a bunch of springboard or handspring goofiness. The walk and brawl and plunder stuff they did here seemed to suit his slightly off the wall offense far better. It created a natural set of limitations that forced him to censor himself. Second, I really like how this was laid out with set pieces, in that it avoided the traditional Sabu-ness of everything stopping so that they could set up a table or a ladder. When those things were involved, they set them up between other spots and then paid them off later. It helped the flow. I think they should have had Mariposa assert herself earlier on (even if they took her out for a while before the end). When she did show up, it was in the usual "ladder match" moment, which made no dramatic sense here since there was nothing hanging over the ring. In general, though, these matches are so heavily produced and when it works, you get something that's really sort of cinematic and far better than it could have possibly been otherwise. That was this match. The problem is that when something is so heavily reliant upon production, all of the elements have to come together, and that's nigh impossible in a world with Matt Striker on commentary.


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