Monday, September 27, 2021

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Lucha Underground Analysis (January 27th, 2016): Ivelisse Bags a Golden Opportunity


Move over Christmas Day – last night was the most anticipated night of the year as Lucha Underground returned – and it was even more crazily refreshing than ever! Three luchadoras showed their faces last night, once of whom has much greater responsibilities than ever before. The Mistress of Macabre, Catrina is now in charge and Beyoncé would be proud. WHO RUN THE TEMPLE? Catrina.

Whilst Cat still has a serious bloodlust, she is all about giving opportunities too, presenting one of the more major ones of the night to Ivelisse. The former Trios Tag Team Champion had to square off against her partners for a shot at the Lucha Underground Title. If she won, the title match facing Mil Muertes would be later on that night. Talk about high stakes for a season première!

Melissa Santos was also back conducting ring announcing duties and Black Lotus also made a return, albeit outside of the temple. Still seemingly on the run with Matanza and Dario Cueto after she murdered El Dragon Azteca, she tried to lure some new victims into Matanza’s clutches. So not only did she murder someone in Season One, she is now setting up murderous activity in Season Two. Delightful!

Let’s get into what was a superb first episode back. Make sure you watch the intro to the show featuring Vampiro and Matt Striker too – possibly the most bad-ass movie-style element I’ve ever seen in a wrestling product.

Liker all good authority figures, Catrina is our first female in the spotlight:

The temple’s office is now glamorously mystic, but of course, open for business as usual. Catrina showcases both her leniency and ruthlessness in her opening encounter – a conversation with Fenix. The temple’s Proprietor says she will let Fenix cash in his Gift of the Gods Championship next week but only if he can successfully defend it tonight against King Cuerno. She masterfully offered up an opportunity, only to practically take it away. Still as sinister and sultry as ever – love her!

After Fenix loses his title to Cuerno, we see Ivelisse, Son of Havoc and Angelico arrive at the temple:

Catrina is there to greet them, and she presents an opportunity. She says that Mil wants the three of them to face off. As a reward for going at it with each other, he will face the winner… tonight. The trio reluctantly agree knowing what is at stake. Ivelisse says that once she’s got the title, she’s coming for Catrina. Yes. PLEASE.

Before the triple threat takes place, Catrina is seen explaining what is about to go down to ring announcer, Melissa:

But of course, Catrina couldn’t just give Melissa information. She had to meander over to her, stroke her and suggestively whisper. She has this character absolutely down. WWE were so dumb to let her go.

With introductions over (and Ivelisse getting the final entrance no less!), the match begins. Angelico tries to pin Ivelisse early on, but she is quick to kick out and shrug it off. She hits a seated crucifix pin to try and get the win for herself, much to the delight of crowd, impressed by all three combatants.

Ivelisse has no time for Angelico’s Justin Bieber-looking antics during a potential test of strength and she chops Angelico and slaps the living hell out of Son of Havoc. The baddest bitch is well and truly back in the building! Ivelisse then decks Angelico with a simply stunning hurricanrana but he absolutely obliterates her with a running knee shortly after.

After a brief time out of the match, Ivelisse dives back in crossbody style, keeping Angelico down for a two count. Miss Velez’s turns her attention to her ex immediately after, chopping him before hitting 10 lightning-like kicks. Despite that great flurry of offence, it isn’t long before Havoc gets his own back, snapping her with a backbreaker before darting on top of her on the outside.

Ivelisse is seen shortly afterwards, thwarting Son of Havoc’s attempt at his finisher. TBBITB rolls up Angelico in a La Magistral fashion… and shocks herself by getting the win! Coming up in the main event, Ivelisse will be the first woman to challenge for the Lucha Underground title – WOW!

After the break, we see Black Lotus “help” three guys in a car who are looking for directions:

They have heard of an underground fight club called The Temple. Whether tricking them into thinking they are headed to the Lucha Underground arena, or if she is just taking them to what they believe is just any normal illegal fighting ring they have heard of, you can bet cut-throat intentions are on her mind. If Lotus and Cueto really have set up a place where they can lead Lucha Underground fans to a grisly fate, then that is wickedly sadistic.

Back in the actual temple, Ivelisse is staring down Mil Muertes, her attention gravitating towards him. Out of nowhere, Catrina appears, and she beckons the Disciples of Death. The callous collective ambush Ivelisse’s friends, leaving her alone in a dark, dark situation. Gulp.

Ivelisse gives it all she has in the opening moments, kicking Mil and dishing out world-record speed forearms. It simply has no effect on him, and he clubs her to the mat. Catrina looks on cackling as Mil hits a backbreaker – a move targeting a part of Ivelisse’s body that was weakened earlier in the night. Well done Matt Striker for highlighting that! He knows how to perfectly tell a story over at the announce booth. Fantastic commentator!

The Man of 1000 Deaths gets barely roughed up by Ivelisse before he tosses her like a rag doll. Picking up her up by her throat, his next weapon of choice is a hard boot to the chest. The challenger fires back with a chokehold, but Mil applies a submission of his own – a huge bearhug. After throwing her to waste, Mil chokes Ivelisse again. This time around, our challenger applies a brief triangle choke! Mil lifts Ive into a powerbomb position, but the scrappy contender elbows him in his actual temple (see what I did there?) before draping him over the top rope with an armbar!

After the hold is broken via vicious knees to Ivelisse’s ribcage, Mil is clutching at his wrist, the joint that Striker points out is the weakest in the body. Realising she has a major chance, Velez takes to the top rope. Throwing caution to the wind, Ivelisse send Mil crashing to the mat with a sensational spinning DDT!

1… 2… NO!

Mil kicks out at the last second after what was a believable display of offence from Ivelisse. The crowd are totally pumped as the first ever female champion in Lucha Underground tries to think of her next move, a play that could make her the first two-time champion! Before Ivelisse can capitalise, Catrina enters the ring, and Ivelisse grasps her throat. Ive then jolts out of harm’s way, leading Mil to spear Catrina! Ivelisse hits a schoolboy and…

1… 2… NO!

The believers are on their feet as Ivelisse was just a whisker away from a historic win. Ivelisse charges at Mil, but the champion is at the top of the ladder for a reason. She cripples her with a powerslam before sealing her fate with the Flatliner.

After the match, Catrina decides not to dish out the first Lick of Death of the season, as she wants Mil to inflict more damage. The Champion looks set to flatten Ivelisse again, but Prince Puma saves the day! He, Ivelisse and Catrina look on as all of a sudden, Pentagon Jr bolts to the ring. He hits a backstabber before BREAKING the arm of Muertes!

I need to catch my breath. That was so much epic.

Before I can gather my thoughts, Black Lotus closes the show to throw a spanner in the works:

She and the three gents from earlier greet Dario Cueto, who says that they can fight tonight for $20 a piece. Before entering “The Temple”, one of the men asks why “the chick is here”. Black Lotus’s fist to his crotch and elbow to the nose let him know loud and clear. Despite that, he and his friends enter the building. Judging by the painful sounding groans coming from inside, I doubt those boys will be venturing back out.

Thoughts: What a way to start the series! The beautiful blend of genius cinematography, outstanding in-ring action, kick-ass characters and other-worldly storylines make Lucha Underground the most captivating wrestling product on the planet. In terms of a Diva Dirt standpoint specifically, what a breath of fresh it is to see not only a female authority figure dominating the episode, but to see a woman wrestle a man in the main event and another female but the mots interesting character in wrestling history.

Let’s start with Black Lotus. She really is the most interesting character ever developed in wrestling. She has gone from a woman avenging her parents death like Batman to living long enough to see herself become the villain. She was unknowingly trained by the man who murdered her parents, and is now tainted by that tutelage. Instead of heading down the right path, she is helping orchestrate murders. She is stood in the exact same spot that El Dragon did for all of those years, knowing he killed her parents. She has now allowed someone else’s family members to die. That definitely makes her a heel. She’s a total anti-hero, but a heel nonetheless.

Random note relating to the aforementioned Black Lotus segments, who knew wrestling companies could hire guest actors who can actually act? Take note WWE (random lawyers) and TNA (Claire Lynch). Sorry to tarnish this recap with that last reference guys! I surprise myself sometimes.

As for Ivelisse’s performances, I thought she did fantastic. She is defiant and doesn’t take kindly to messing around, which are such cool qualities. The booking of her was really relatable and realistic too, something that Lucha Underground gets right each and every time. Women can hang with the men, but most of them cannot realistically go head-to-head with them in the way that mean would. Instead of being unrealistic or disrespectful to women by having men squash them, LU treats its females as intelligent forces to be reckoned with that think outside the books and exceed expectations. Through moves like her slick hurricanrana and impactful DDT, Ivelisse showcases those traits tremendously.

As for Catrina, not one negative can be uttered about her. She is scintillating and captivating, and her dangerousness matches up to her deliciousness. Superb performances from Karlee tonight.

Bring on next week. What with many new female competitors teased, I can’t wait for them to tear it up!

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