Lucha Underground Season 2 premiere!
Bernie Barnes @thedailyjobber
After months of uncertainty, after rumours of talent exodus, budget cuts, production difficulties and the lot, Lucha Underground has returned for a second season on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network!
Which stars would return? How has the Temple in Boyle Heights, CA changed under new management? What surprises will this new season hold? Let’s get to the Run-Down.
The show opens inside a maximum security psychiatric hospital where Vampiro (aka Ian Hodgkinson) has been treated for hallucinations and violent thoughts for the past six months. He fantasizes about killing the doctor evaluating his progress before being prescribed an anti-psychotic and cleared to re-enter society.
Vampiro is reunited with Matt Striker, who tells him they have been invited back to a “much darker” Temple.
Inside the Temple, Dario Cueto’s office has been taken over by Catrina, who informs Gift of the Gods Champion Fenix that he will defend his title against King Cuerno.
From upon a gothic throne high above the ring, reigning Lucha Underground Champion Mil Muertes looks on.
The opening lucha between King Cuerno and Fenix was the right match to kick off a new season of LU. Both enmascaradas are over with the crowd, who were hot for every moment of the action. Both are talented luchadores as well, blending chain mat wrestling with daring aerial acrobatics.
In a move to hook fans old and new right into the unpredictable drama of the show, Cuerno upset Fenix to become the new Gift of the Gods Champion, guaranteeing him a shot at Mil Muertes. Behind closed doors, however, it is revealed that Cuerno has some sort of villainous deal worked out with Catrina.
Everyone’s favourite trio arrives at the Temple. Ivelisse, Son of Havoc and Angelico are greeted by Catrina, who informs them they will be facing each other in a three-way match, the winner of which will get a title opportunity versus Muertes.
The three-way match was based more on character work than death-defying stunts, the performers playing on their relationships with each other. The crowd gave love and support to all participants equally, and no one took on a rudo role. Son of Havoc showed off his gymnastic skills, but it was Ivelisse who surprised Angelico with a star roll-up for the victory.
Before the LU Championship match commenced, Catrina brought the Disciples of Death to take out Angelico and Son of Havoc, leaving Ivelisse on her own against Mil Muertes.
Matt Striker did an excellent job getting over both Ivelisse’s mixed martial arts experience and the fact she was disadvantaged, having just fought in a three-way match. Despite her handicap and severe size and strength deficit, Ivelisse fought valiantly, trapping Muertes in a triangle choke, an armbar, and a guillotine choke.
Muertes proved to be the better lucha this night, however. Using aggressive power offense, he overcame the plucky challenger with the Flat-liner slam. After the match, Catrina ordered him to hit Ivelisse again. At the last moment, former LU Champion Prince Puma made the save, sweeping Ivelisse from the ring and beckoning Muertes to follow.
From the blindside then came Pentagon Jr, who attacked Muertes and performed an arm-breaker as Vampiro looked on in speechless awe.
The night concluded with Black Lotus playing guide to a trio of local yokels looking for violent entertainment. She takes them to the Temple gates, where Dario Cueto is there to take their money and let them through the door, where his monster brother tears them to pieces.
All in all, the season premiere did an excellent job giving old fans what they’ve come to expect from the series. It also introduced new fans to some of the features which make LU such a unique product:
- The opening match got over the high-flying, fast-paced lucha libre style.
- The cinematic sequences exhibited the strange characters and supernatural phenomena that heighten surreality.
- And the final match not only served to familiarize old and news feuds central to the LU Championship, it also featured a female competitor being treated (more or less) as an equal in the ring, a persistent taboo which no other wrestling promotion has yet attempted to crack.