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.