Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I love pro-wrestling

I don’t know why and at forty-five I am well beyond the point that I care to explain myself. I just love it, everything about wrestling appeals to me. The comic book aspect of the characters, the work in the ring, the masks, the lights, and, as my buddy Tank puts it, the pageantry.  Indie wrestling to WWE, I consume it all (or did) and I never get sick of it. 

There are fewer things I love more than watching a wrestling event and waiting for the moment when I pop. When a move is so cool, or a match so well done, that I hit a level of excitement usually reserved for kids on Christmas morning.

I’m so passionate about profession wrestling that I started a podcast with Travis, and I started this blog. I watch it constantly. In my spare time, during lunch, on my breaks, on the weekends, anytime I’m not with my wife, I am watching pro-wrestling. 

           When your gut is ablaze with a passion like this, it’s absolutely heartbreaking to watch part of it crumble into dust. Sadly, that’s what’s happening to WWE. Rome is burning and Vince “Caesar” McMahon is playing the violin as it happens.

            This week Cody Rhodes (Stardust) walked away. He quit. He became so sickened by what WWE has become that he left the only career he’s ever had. Don’t worry; I’m not suddenly going to pretend I was a huge Cody Rhodes mark. I wasn’t, at all. I didn’t care about him before Stardust and fully disliked him during that gimmick. That being said, you have to respect a guy who walks away rather than take any more indignities from the McMahon Family.

            Rhodes wrote a brief statement when he left, one that was as powerful as CM Punk’s catharsis on the Colt Cabana show. It spoke to Rhodes’ personal issues but it also spoke to the gaping chasm that is WWE. It’s a black hole that is sucking in talent and then abandoning them to the abyss (no pun intended). Good men, who could be huge stars, are stacked on top of each other at the mid-card level so that an egotistical old man can play God.

            Part of the issue is change. WWE is not about wrestling it’s about entertainment. WWE Superstars are not wrestlers they are sports-entertainers. That’s a big distinction. Watch Ric Flair against Ricky Steamboat or Magnum TA against Tully Blanchard. That was wrestling. That was a place where stories were told in the ring as well as out, where the physical conflict was just as important as the promo. These men were looking to entertain crowds through their circus-like spectacle.

            WWE has long since moved away from that. Even in the beginning, Vince’s idea for the world of professional wrestling had more to do with merchandising and branding than it did wrestling. Foam hands and t-shirts gave way to action figures and then video games. At this stage, WWE is a global economic force, one that has very little interest in professional wrestling.

            How can I say that? Because there are two very different animals at work. One is professional wrestling. The other is sports-entertainment. PW Insider made a comparison I think nails it. Look at pro-wrestling vs. sports-entertainment in the same way you would look at professional basketball vs. The Harlem Globetrotters. Both are highly athletic, both are physical and require talent. One is there to further the sport itself, the other is there simply to entertain.

            WWE sees sports-entertainment as a launching pad to build superstars and make them viable cash cows. T-Shirts, toys, etc., that’s what the whole “wrestling” thing is there for. Family entertainment that can sell lots of crap to people that they don’t need. Wrestling has nothing to do with any of that. Wrestling is not a priority for WWE. Making stars and making money is. Right or wrong, that’s what they are here to do.

            The second, and more devious part of why the quality of the WWE is so poor right now is Vince McMahon. He loves to tell everybody that the buck stops with him and so we must point a collective finger at the man and his ego. Vince McMahon is maybe the largest reason the promotion is so unbearable to watch.

            Why? Why when it’s so obvious how upset people are does Vince continue to play his violin as Rome burns? Obviously the default is his ego. He turned professional wrestling into a billion dollar industry. He revolutionized the sport and created something nobody ever thought possible. He did all that so he knows better than everybody else and those who disagree are either removed or ignored.

            Ask any successful businessperson, especially in the entertainment field, and they will tell you that the true sign of business genius is the ability to step back. At some point the audience changes, their wants and needs become quite different. A true leader can see that their personal vision may not be what’s actually “Best For Business” and will remove themselves to allow the business to evolve. Vince can’t, or won’t, do that.

            Examples abound of this. As successful and adored as NXT is, Vince still sees it as developmental. He sees it as the minor leagues. Roman Reigns. People hate him. Nobody wants him to be champion. Vince doesn’t care. He only sees a good looking Samoan kid and so his naughty bits get all erect at the idea of maybe having found a new Rock. No matter what the reaction of the audience, Vince doesn’t care.

            Ironically, who knows if Roman Reigns could be the new Rock? Remember when Dwayne Johnson debuted as Rocky Miavia? Holy hell the audience crucified him. Thankfully, it was during a time of change, a time when WCW was breathing down Vince’s neck. Facing obliteration he had to let go of the reigns and hope for the best. What he got out of that was The Rock from Rocky Miavia and Stone Cold Steve Austin from The Ringmaster.

            If Reigns was allowed to develop naturally, he might be great. Who knows? We never will because Vince has a course and he will stay on it no matter how fast the rocks on shore are approaching. What does he care? If he fucks Reigns’ career it’s no skin off his nose, he just gets a new “It Guy” to replace him. The actual performer doesn’t matter; just how fast Vince can turn a profit.

            Another ugly side of Vince’s ego is his inability to learn from his mistakes and to not conform everything to patterns. For example, Roman Reigns is almost a Xerox copy of John Cena. The crowd hates him for the same reasons because no matter how many hits he takes, Reigns kicks out at two. He can take on multiple top talents at once and win and if he does lose he gets umpteen shots at the title until he wins. The difference here is that Cena started out his own thing and grew to fame and popularity before Vince created the Cena-Machine and vilified him. Reigns’ is starting with the hatred. That’s a hard mountain to climb. 

            Vince thinks the Wyatt Family are an unstoppable force so when they lose to another superstar, to Vince, it serves to help that star. He never considers how bad it makes the Wyatt Family look, hence the reason one of the greatest stables in WWE history is now, essentially, a punch line. The epitome of this was WrestleMania 32. Where a part-timer (The Rock) and a guy who had been on the shelf for months (Cena) kicked the holy hell out of the Wyatts. It was sad.

            Perhaps the most egregious sin committed by Vince is his inability to give the green light to push anybody he did not build himself. In NXT Sasha Banks, Charlotte and Beck Lynch revolutionized women’s wrestling. Vince got them onto the main roster and basically shit-canned all of them save Charlotte. He’s allowed Tyler Breeze to be pushed to the mid-card, he released Damien Sandow, Sami Zayn has lost just about every match he’s been in, and Kevin Owens has turned from the ultimate badass to whiney, bitching heel. Meanwhile Baron Corbin and Apollo Cruise have been brought up to the main roster and then ignored.

            You might bring up Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Okay, Rollins has become a significant star but Vince took a liking to him. Ambrose is a star but that hasn’t stopped Vince from booking him horribly. Ambrose is now little more than a stunt show fall guy. His feuds are all reasons to have stupid gimmick matches. Why? Because Vince thinks that’s what Ambrose should be doing.

            Vince saves all his real focus for the stable of stars he built from the ground up. John Cena, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, The Rock, and so on. Look at The Shining Stars, this is the third go around for a tag team nobody cares about or has ever cared about, Based on how he books wrestlers, it looks as though anyone Vince can’t own entirely is left to play a supporting role to those he can.

            Bringing us back to Cody Rhodes. He was never somebody Vince completely owned. He walked in with a pedigree. The son of Dusty Rhodes and the brother of Goldust, Rhodes had his own built in relevance. Almost from day one the WWE went to work beating the shit out of him. First he was a secondary character in a stable centering on Randy Orton. Then he was mid-card, then put with his brother (an established Vince guy), then mid-card again, then the worst of all insults, Stardust. Rhodes put it best himself referring to Stardust as “Dustin’s gimmick”. 

            Here was Rhodes, a talent who could be utilized and never was. In fact, he was treated in the same shoddy style as Dusty was decades earlier when Vince forced the American Dream, the man who revolutionized the business, to wear polka dots and dance like a monkey. According to his statement, Rhodes tried to have conversations with Triple H and Vince to no avail. More insultingly, a writer pretended to be typing as Rhodes poured out yet another idea but said writer’s computer wasn’t even on.

            There is something in all of us that strives to want to be the best. It’s almost human instinct to try and fight out of mediocrity if we believe we are destined for better things. Rhodes did. His pleas were met with deaf ears. He left. His comments afterwards echoed a lot of the same issues that CM Punk had, issues that remain in the WWE.

            Fires always burn hottest before the burn out so I'm guessing the temperature at WWE is reaching almost thermonuclear levels. Look at some of the early signs. The third hour of RAW routinely plummets in ratings and, realistically, the show doesn’t do that well to begin with. Critics continuously savage WWE’s product, the fans aren’t happy, Vince's schedule has led to multiple injuries, the problems seem endless. Vince doesn’t care. He stands upon his golden platform, playing his violin, and quotes growth from the year before.

            Unless he retires or is forced to step down, Vince’s inability to see the forest for the trees will eventually be the undoing of the WWE. More stars will leave, the current rush of indie stars to the WWE will die off as they see just how poorly they’ll be treated and at some point the allure of watching old wrestling will not be enough and subscribers to the network will diminish. 

            Worst of all, Vince’s tried and true default of falling back on the old guys and his stars only will fall be the wayside as The Rock, Stone Cold, Orton, Cena, etc. become to old or injured to be involved. That’s when Vince’s penchant for building zero new talent for so long will come back to haunt him as nobody is there to fill that void.

The fire burns. The WWE slowly starts to crumble. And somewhere in all of this, Vince continues to play his violin.   

Sunday, May 22, 2016


            While it took PWG several weeks to actually create and deliver the Bluray for All Star Weekend 12, it was well worth the wait. PWG is a promotion in the style of a ninja assassin. While other promotions are consistently making noise, PWG sits quietly until it is time to unleash one of their shows. Then, almost without fail, they strike the fatal blow by delivering amazing wrestling from the very best in the world at it. All Star Weekend 12 was no different. Here is my review of both days.

Trevor Lee Vs. Chuck Taylor
Overall: Great match. Trevor Lee really takes to his heel character. Chuck is always a pleasure to watch and it’s nice to see him stepping out of the comedy wrestler bit. I also like the “streak” gimmick PWG is using with Chuck. The back and forth was really evenly matched with some great wrestling on both sides. Much better than the usual opening match. Great excitement with the multiple near falls
Winner: Chuck Taylor
Best Spots: Chuck slamming Trevor into the wall. Trevor Lee’s huge double foot stomp. Chuck’s Liger Bomb.

Chris Hero Vs. Evil Uno
Overall: A killer match. Evil Uno is a weird one to put against Hero but it worked perfectly. It was the first time Hero’s size didn’t dominate the match. Uno held his own blow for blow and power move for power move. Uno spitting the green mist into Hero’s eyes was a nice touch as was the crowd chanting “Staring Contest” when the two were sitting in front of each other in the ring. Towards the end, after all the abuse, when the two were trading kicking out at “1”, that was exciting. The crowd was really into this match, especially as it continued on.
Winner: Chris Hero
Best Spots: Hero elbow knocking Uno out of the ring. Uno kicking the middle rope into Hero’s nuts. Uno’s Gotch Style Piledriver. Hero’s Death Elbow for the win.

Galloway Vs. Trent
Overall: An okay match. Both men performed solid wrestling, but I don’t care about Galloway or Trent. Even Chuck Taylor, who was on commentary, joked about how this was a Smackdown rematch from 2009. Essentially Galloway dominated most of the match using his size to beat the shit out of Trent. While never a boring match, it wasn’t anything I’d put into the class of “Can’t Miss”.
Winner: Trent
Best Spots: Galloway’s backdrop on Trent (the height was insane). Galloway’s belly to belly on Trent on the concrete. Galloway’s reverse Alabama Slam. Trent’s Dude Driver to win the match.

Roderick Strong Vs. Mark Andrews
Overall: Another good match. Nothing Earth shattering but still well executed. Roderick Strong is always a pleasure to watch and he’s such a good asshole. Mark Andrews did well here, establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with even though he lost. Andrew takes a lot of punishment and keeps coming back. His high flying is great but was kind of overshadowed by how much punishment he took.  The match got a little spot heavy for me but at the end of the day I was entertained.
Winner: Roderick Strong
Best Spots: Strong catching Andrews outside the ring during a botched Hurricanrana and then slamming him hard against the ring. Andrew’s big bulldog move and then dropkick from the top rope. Roddy deflecting one of Andrew’s moves causing Andrew to land on his face.

Mary Scurll Vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Overall: Holy shit what a match. Outstanding. A match of the year contender.  Scurll is so good at playing up the showmanship of his character that you forget just how good a wrestler he is. Kyle is always a top-notch wrestler to watch. These two went back and forth. Hit big moves. Exchanged holds. Punches were thrown. Elbows. They went above and beyond through the entire match. The false falls built up so much excitement. I would put it down as match of the night without question. This made me a bigger fan of both men, which I didn’t think was possible.
Winner: Kyle O’Reilly
Best Spots: Outside of a couple of cool out of the ring moments, this was more a match of actual wrestling. O’Reilly capitalizing on his insane striking ability and Scurll playing both the excellent villain and showing his strong style wrestling ability.

Adam Cole Vs. Zack Sabre JR.
Overall: Another killer match. Not the same level as Scurll/O’Reilly but Cole and Sabre JR left it all in the ring. It was surprising to see Sabre compete at this level with his title match only 24 hours away. Cole was so good here. A king heel, as he always is. Cole is allowed to wrestling in PWG on a level he doesn’t in ROH. He’s such good worker. Never the same match twice. Always quick with great moves in the moment, Cole stayed right in line with Sabre JR who is considered one of the most innovative wrestlers in the world today. This was a match showcasing two of the absolute best wrestlers around and all they can do in the squared circle.
Winner: Zack Sabre JR
Best Spots: Not too many “spots” here per say. The match was more a constant and exciting back and forth with Cole using his moves and Sabre his submissions. It didn’t need any big spots. 

Matt Sydal/Ricochet vs. Youngbucks (PWG Title Match)
Overall: Solid match. Four of the top performers in the world and they went at it hard. I think it suffered coming after two back to back matches that were incredible, but this was still a great showing. Sydal and Ricochet are probably the best high flyers in the business right now and when you pit that against Youngbuck’s level of innovation and natural ability, you can’t help but be entertained. Great back and forth, lots of cool spots, and the Bucks are always so much fun to watch.
Winner: Youngbucks
Best Spots: Ricochet’s double flip over the top rope onto the Bucks. Matt Jackson’s tribute to Kevin Steen Cannonball. Sydal/Ricochet double standing Risky Business on the Bucks. Matt powerbomb Sydal into the corner followed by an Insuguri from Nick. Nick Jackson accidentally super kicking a fan. Ricochet leaping OVER the corner turnbuckle to land on the Bucks. Youngbuck’s huge Meltzer Driver.

Chuck Taylor Vs. Marty Scurll
Overall: Good match. A more standard opening match as it was a lot of fun but nothing super exciting. Scurll and Taylor are both great at the showmanship part of wrestling and they really played that up. Solid back and forth with Taylor focusing on straight wrestling moves, while Scurll was more about holds. Nicely done and the crowd was really into it.
Winner: Chuck Taylor (The Streak Is Still Alive)
Best Spots: Not many spots. Just straight wrestling

Mark Andrews Vs. Evil Uno
Overall: To be honest I didn’t follow this match at all because I just don’t care. Evil Uno was fun against Hero and Andrews did a solid job wrestling Strong but seeing them fight each other held zero interest for me. The match was exactly what you’d expect. Andrews tried huge highflying moves and got crushed by Uno. Every time Andrews seemed beat he’d kick out. It felt incredibly long for such a short match.
Winner: Mark Andrews
Best Spots: Only one good one. Mark Andrews won by jumping from the top of the turnbuckle and stomping on Uno’s nuts.

Drew Galloway Vs. Trevor Lee
Overall: Solid match. Lee continues to impress both as a heel and as a wrestler. Galloway is making strides to come back as an actual threat after the whole Three Man Band thing. What I found most impressive was how Lee and Galloway sold the big/small man match in a competitive fashion. Instead of small guy tries and big guy crushes, they actually went back and forth. Both sold for the other man and made the match much more exciting than it looks on paper. Galloway didn’t just use power, he used a lot of great wrestling and Lee’s move was totally believable in chopping down the bigger Galloway. This was a great example of how to sell a powerhouse vs. a small guy match.
Winner: Trevor Lee
Best Spots: Galloway getting members of the crowd to hold Trevor Lee while he chopped him. Galloway tossing Lee against the wall. Trevor Lee’s dropkick on Galloway as he was jumping off the top rope. Galloway’s crucifix power bomb into the corner.

JT Dunn/Chris Hero vs. Matt Sydal & Ricochet
Overall: There are no words to describe how great this match is. Easily this is a match of the year contender with outstanding efforts from both sides. Two completely different styles of wrestling and neither wanted to take a back seat. Dunn & Hero with the strong style striking offense and Sydal/Ricochet masters of the highflying spots. From the opening bell both teams worked to make the match exciting on a level few can reach in wrestling today. At no point did it seem an easy guess who would win. Both teams sold. Multiple kickouts. It is seriously edge-of-the-seat wrestling that should be seen and studied by everyone in the business. Staggeringly good.
Winner: Ricochet & Matt Sydal
Best Spots: No way to count them all. Just watch the goddamn match and be in love.

Adam Cole Vs. Trent
Overall: Great match. I have to say by the end of this match I cared more for Trent’s solo ability than I ever had before. I’m a longtime fan of Roppongi Vice and Best Friends, but yawned at watching Trent on his own. This match showed me just how good he can be. Cole is always great, especially in PWG where he’s allowed to be a wrestler and not just a chicken shit heel. Cole starts the match with a cheap shot superkick, which gave the whole thing some weight. Instead of two guys thrown together, Cole made it seem like there was real heat. Good back and forth work, both men sold for the other and kept the excitement high. Really impressed.
Winner: Trent
Best Spots: Cole’s cheap shot opening superkick. Cole’s Shining Wizard. Trent’s use of the Sexy Chucky Knee. Cole’s package piledriver on the apron. Cole’s Avalanche Panama Sunrise.

RedDragon vs. Youngbucks
Overall: This was a weird one. This was a tremendous match pretty much ruined by a stupid ending. Part of it is my personal pet peeve that the Youngbucks remain the Tag champions even though they rarely put the belts up and recently haven’t been on PWG very often. The match was a perfect mix of RedDragon’s striking and hold ability and the Youngbucks over-the-top spots. At no point did one team seem like they were surpassing the other, which kept the excitement level really high. Then, suddenly, the Youngbucks just won for no reason. They also added a spot where the Youngbucks stuffed RedDragon’s mouthpieces down their pants and then forced them into their mouths. I know I’m in the minority here, but I grow weary of the Youngbucks Keystone Cops routine.
Winners: Youngbucks
Best Spots: With these four men in the ring it is impossible to count the amount of good spots. It’s a real shame how bad the ending fucked it all up

Zack Sabre JR vs. Roderick Strong (PWG Heavyweight Championship Title)
Overall: Again, there are no words. I have to applaud PWG for adding a level of seriousness and weight to this match. I could write a hundred pages and still not communicate to what level Strong & Sabre brought their game. Astounding work on both sides as well as a perfectly paced and executed match. Roderick played the cheating heel but never the coward. Sabre might have been the face but he did some ill work here that showed he would do anything to win. The two men played the peaks and valleys of a match flawlessly. They would raise the excitement, throw in a false fall and then bring things down a bit. Sabre was so innovative with his holds. Across the board another match of the year contender from two men who are absolutely the best at what they do.
Best Spots: Again, not really a spot match. This is wrestling, as it should be done. Not a bad moment in the entire match.

All Star Weekend is one of the best events that PWG has put together in a while. They may be doing fewer shows this year, but with the strength of these shows they don’t need to.


Thursday, May 19, 2016


        For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

       That’s a pretty standard scientific idea and one, oddly, that works right now in Lucha Underground season two. There has been an action, one that seemed like a great idea on paper. An idea that took a dark character, gave him a very serious build up, and then debuted said character in incredible style.

It felt, for the moment, that Lucha Underground had once again redefined itself within its own promotion. We all stood up and applauded, waiting with bated breath to see how this new idea unfolded.
This bold new idea came in the form of Matanza, an unstoppable force of pure destructive evil. For the entirety of season one, Dario Cueto, leader of the Lucha Underground Temple, kept his brother Matanza under wraps. We saw brief flashes of a hulking figure trapped in a cage. Every so often a failed wrestler would be sacrificed in order to satiate Matanza’s bloodlust.
Season two began with Dario, now ousted from his Temple by Catrina and Mil Muertes, training his brother in secret to be even more destructive and vicious. The plan was to retake the Temple, using Matanza as the muscle to crush any and all opposition. 

When Matanza first appeared, standing in his blood soaked uniform wearing a really fucked up looking mask, you could hear the collective gasps across the Lucha fans. This guy was going to wreck shit and the pure excitement of that kept us all buzzing.
So what happened? How did Lucha Underground paint themselves into their current corner? Matanza has gone from a new character to a common “big man”. The idea that seemed so fresh has grown ripe with the stench of a stock WWE storyline. A force pushed as so unstoppable lost all wind because, well, nobody can beat this guy so who cares?

We know who will win each match Matanza is in, at least until Ultima Lucha at the end of the season. Instead of establishing a new direction, The Matanza Paradigm has left Lucha with an uninteresting champion and robbed the promotion of some of that unpredictable magic that makes it so special.
Problems with Matanza began almost immediately and not only poked holes in his storyline, but also showed some of the chinks in the armor of the entire season. Dario’s brother debuted during Aztec Warfare and essentially turned what had been forty-five minutes of excellent wrestling into a squash match.

Within minutes Lucha Underground had turned everyone from Prince Puma (the guy who held the title for almost all of season one) to Mil Muertes, to living legend Rey Mysterio, into little more than fodder for Matanza.
The squash match ending wasn’t the only problem with Aztec Warfare. Mil Muertes, who had devastated everyone in his path, was beaten with little to no fanfare. Lucha tried to hide this weird plot point behind four or five wrestlers ganging up on Mil, but it didn’t work. Instead the fans were left scratching their heads as the manifestation of darkness was kicked to the curb by a bunch of little guys.
When Matanza stepped in and laid waste to everybody else, Lucha Underground’s reality shifted. Everyone who had mattered suddenly didn’t, or at least not as much, as Matanza. Clearly nobody could beat this guy so why would we care about any of his matches going forward?
It wasn’t as if Aztec Warfare featured Mantanza going for a grueling half hour against multiple attackers, and only his pure brutality finally managed to win against impossible odds. Nope. He just wiped the floor with multiple asses and took the belt. No effort at all to win Lucha Underground’s top prize? That just feels wrong.

Why didn’t Lucha have Mil battle through Aztec Warfare and then square off against Matanza. Perhaps their combined bashing of each other could have led to the weaker state of Mil when he was beaten. It could also have shown Matanza being strong through it all without turning the entire hour of television into the aforementioned squash match.
Lucha Underground continued unabated. First with Pentagon JR, a character they had been handling incorrectly since the opening of season two. Pentagon JR came to power with the fans because he was the personification of violence and destruction. In fact, his entire battle with Vampiro had been to show just how deranged Pentagon JR was. A student of Vampiro who would stop at nothing to win the day, Pentagon JR was the ultimate badass.
When season two started, Pentagon JR was introduced quite differently. He would do things like kiss his muscles, take cheap victories and team up with a guy like Prince Puma. By the end of the first month of season two, Pentagon JR seemed less like a force of nature and more like just another wrestler with a cool costume.
Now for those whose nipples get all red and they start peeing themselves and crying when somebody disparages Pentagon JR, relax. As a performer, Pentagon is still top notch. His matches are always exciting and varied. He ramps up the action and takes insane chances. I’m talking about the storyline Lucha came up with. It seriously dampened his power and mystique.
Lucha Underground didn’t help the cause when Pentagon JR took on Matanza. Their battle was a shit show. I have no idea what happened. Perhaps Jeffrey Cobb, the man behind the Matanza character, was nervous or maybe he was instructed to no-sell everything, but the match was a disaster.

Pentagon JR, the harbinger of doom, used his entire arsenal against Matanza and it did nothing. It wasn’t that Matanza overcame the abilities of Pentagon; he quite literally did the no-sell across the board. Even Pentagon JR’s lung blower and repeat finishers did nothing. In one swift match Lucha Underground had rendered Pentagon JR powerless and made Matanza so unstoppable that he was boring.

I’m sure the idea here is that Pentagon JR will rise from the injuries and ultimately take out Matanza, but at this point who cares? The way both have been booked it won’t be a believable victory; it will be just another notch in a storyline. That’s WWE territory; Lucha Underground should be aiming much higher.
The eye-rolling boredom of Matanza continued in his battles against Mil Muertes. Realistically, since his sad beat down at Aztec Warfare, Mil Muertes hasn’t seemed like the same guy. He isn’t as dominant, or scary. There was no real emotion going into Mil’s first match against Matanza. You knew he would lose, which he did, and it led to some critical mistakes in Mil’s story.
First, there should never have been two matches for the title. Coming off the loss at Aztec Warfare, Mil had two options to keep his character scary and relevant. One was to win the title back from Matanza, the other was to lose in the Grave Consequences match and then at some point be reborn from the darkness. 

For reasons I still can’t comprehend, Lucha Underground stuck another match in there that did nothing besides prove that when Lucha wants to stop the show they perform some stunt into Dario’s office.
Mil vs. Matanza I was little more than a spot fest and did nothing to forward either character. In fact, Mil looked like he couldn’t beat Matanza, which did not serve him well after Aztec Warfare. I think Lucha realized the dilemma because the second match between the two for the title was the Grave Consequences gimmick match. It ended with Matanza getting his ass handed to him and even Catrina being put into a coffin.

After the match it was revealed that Catrina had disappeared, which I’m sure plays into something down the road, but again, at this point, who cares? Mil looks savagely weak because he fell to Matanza twice, so what’s the point in a third go ‘round?

Lucha could have saved the show a lot of trouble by having the Grave Consequences between Mil and Matanza be the only one. Have them beat the shit out of each other and then Mil can lose and be carried into the darkness. This way it’s only one loss and when Mil returns from beyond the grave it might have some impact.

At this point, when Mil returns, the reaction will be “Oh, this guy. Wonder if he’ll lose again”. Some will argue that wrestling’s whole point is the chase. Yes, that works for faces and heels, not for Mil Muertes. Even if he doesn’t get what he wants, he should never look weak. Bested by chance. Taken out by surprise. That would serve the storyline and Mil as well. A straight up ass-stomping just makes him look weak. Even the WWE, with all their many mistakes, managed not to do that to The Undertaker until the Lesnar match that broke the streak

So here is the corner Lucha Underground has painted themselves into. Matanza has blown through everybody on the roster without even so much as a real struggle. Who could possibly take down Dario’s brother at this point?

Cue the new secret guy. The end of a recent episode exposed us to some new faceless person coming to the Temple. All we know is that he’s rich, corrupt and politically connected. The vignette introducing him was vague as to whether he’s coming to take Dario Cuerto out, or bring more heels to Lucha Underground.
The problem here is the repetitive nature of this new addition and how it goes back to my original point. Matanza in Lucha Underground is the action, and the reaction is this new guy. Why? Mainly because there’s nobody on the actual roster that can beat Matanza. 

Lucha Underground has, by their own hand, been pushed into a corner where, mid-season, they already have to repeat the storyline of a new guy shrouded in mystery about to make his unscheduled debut. If this guy does take out Matanza, what’s next? Does the new guy replace Matanza has the unstoppable force or does Matanze best yet another attacker? Either way, it rings as rather dull.
If this new secret guy is actually a face, then Lucha has made their entire roster look weak by implying that Matanza can’t be beat by anybody in the Temple. In doing that, Lucha has narrowed the focus of who can really win the belt and taken some shine off what’s supposed to be their top prize.  

For example, if one of the normal roster beats Matanza it will have to be through some trickery or deception because clearly nobody can beat him one on one. If that’s true, then when said person beats Matanza, he’s less a champion and more just lucky. If Lucha Underground does have somebody just whoop Matanza’s ass, it shatters all credibility and makes season two look like a joke. That’s a tough spot to be in.

Not to mention that none of this makes sense from the angle of Dario Cuerno as a businessman. With his brother as an unbeatable champion, one he has to cheat for, there are no more matches for the title. How does that help business? I’m also rather puzzled how a monster kept in a cage his whole life would find value in a big gold belt. It’s the same as trying to make me believe a trained bear really holds dear the tiny unicycle he rides in the circus. If Mantanza is an animal, then why would he give two shits about having a belt?
Outside of the Matanza Paradigm, Lucha seems to be plugging along quite nicely. I thought the Trios Championship was really well done, especially having Ivelisse and Son Of Havoc make a real play to hold onto their titles even with the loss of Angelico.

I was stoked to see Puma, Dragon JR and Rey pick up the titles, though those three should be in the heavyweight title picture and aren’t mainly because Lucha has already shown nobody on the roster can beat Matanza.
I enjoyed the Sexy Star redemption, and I love Marty The Moth, he is one creepy bitch. I thought the use of the cage was perfect to end the feud between Mundo and Cage.

 I do cry foul in the sudden return of Chavo from being a guy who ran away from everything to the new Gift Of The Gods champion. I’m going to assume next week Cage doesn’t win the belt back because Mundo gets involved. I really hope that isn’t the direction they go. Regardless, Lucha Underground have taken shine off their other top prize by presenting it in a storyline that lessens the belts importance.
As far as Matanza goes, if it were up to me, I’d have this new secret guy not be a wrestler but actually a manager type who is out to crush Dario for some kind of wrong done to him. Instead of some biblical debut, I’d have the new guy sneak in during a match between Matanza and somebody else, knock out Dario and steal the key.

Now Matanza is under this new guy’s control and he’s used to destroy Dario who is now forced to make an alliance with the descendants of the gods’ aka Puma, Mysterio, Aztec Dragon, Fenix and Aero Star. They bond together to try and stop Matanza by focusing their power on one wrestler.
At first I’d make it Rey but he lacks the darkness to take on Matanza and loses after a valiant effort. Enter Pentagon JR, recently tortured back into his true self by Vampiro. Reluctantly the Descendants Of The Gods put their power behind Pentagon who uses the darkness and the light to finally beat Matanza. During the struggle the key should be knocked out of the hands of the new guy and picked up by Mariposa, who now controls Matanza.
Dario can return to challenge for the control of his temple. He tries to get the key back from Mariposa but she just laughs and says she loves controlling the darkness. Dario takes on the new guy, each choosing a wrestler for control of the temple at Ultima Lucha.
Pentagon JR agrees to take on Rey Mysterio for the title. Rey can ask Aero Star to fill in for him during the Trios Championship title match. Mariposa should be using Matanza to hurt the women wrestlers so she can be dominant. At Ultima Lucha Sexy Star challenges Mariposa for the key to Matanza.

Dario chooses Cage and the new guy Chavo to battle for who controls the Temple.
I’d also have a match between the holder of the Gift Of The Gods belt (who should NOT be Chavo by Ultima Lucha) and a challenger plus a grudge gimmick match between Moth and Mack.

At the end I would have Sexy Star win the Key and destroy it. Matanza can fall to one knee as though he’s been freed from captivity. Suddenly the lights go out and when they come back on Mil Muertes is there and he and Matanza start battling it out. Mil gets the upper hand and they fight out of the arena. When Mil returns he’s holding Matanza’s mask.

Season two ends with Mil returning triumphant. It also leaves with the burning question of what happened to Matanza.  

Whatever happens I hope Lucha Underground is able to satisfactorily get themselves out of the Mantanza Paradigm without making anyone else look weak or wasting Matanza who would be, if used correctly, a serious asset to the series.