3/23/16 – Andrew Berg – @WrestleRosters
A champion enters a sequential battle royal first and has to outlast most of the roster to retain his belt? Yes, that description applies to Roman Reigns at the 2016 Royal Rumble. It also describes Fenix defending his title at Lucha Underground’s Aztec Warfare 2, which was recorded before this year’s Rumble. LU specializes in creating the impression of high stakes no matter what is happening on the card. With the title on the line and almost every luchador involved, it was not difficult to establish the meaning or the drama of the match.
Per Katrina’s instructions, Fenix entered first. The bigger surprise was that the second entrant was the debuting Rey Mysterio Jr. It has been years since the 20+ year veteran was at his prime, but Mysterio still has the agility and ring generalship to entertain. Just seeing him enter The Temple was enough to get a big reaction. After King Cuerno entered and squared off with Fenix, Mysterio got the first elimination on Argenis with a 619 and an Eddie Guerrero-esque frog splash.
Johnny Mundo and Joey Ryan were the next two stars to enter the fight. Lollipop in hand, Ryan handcuffed himself to the bleachers outside the ring to shield himself from danger or any pin attempts. Last year’s winner, Prince Puma, once again entered at #7 and hit a sky-high shooting star press on a crowd of wrestlers at ringside. Jack Evans and Taya followed and teamed up with Mundo to take on Puma, Mysterio, and Fenix.
While Famous B handed out business cards from the front row, Mundo put the just-entered Cage through an office window. Cage recovered quickly to hit Weapon X on the floor. Puma took advantage with a running shooting star and eliminated Mundo. Mid-carders continued to enter and Marty Martinez was eliminated quickly due to teamwork from Mysterio and Mascarita Sagrada. The Mack entered as Martinez left and gave him a stunner as payback for his treatment of Sexy Star.
Mundo reappeared at ringside with a cinderblock for Cage, which allowed Taya to eliminate him. Mysterio quickly hit Taya with a German suplex and took her out, as well. Drago and Evans were simultaneously eliminated by PJ Black and Aerostar, respectively. A new wrestler named Dragon Azteca Jr. entered next and traded fast-paced offense with Black. He added a topez con giro out of the corner of the ring to Mack while Texan joined the fray.
With only one entry still to come, Texano hit Black with a powerbomb to pin him. As was previously announced, Mil Muertes was the final addition to the match and Katrina joined him on the stairway. As he entered, Pentagon Jr. attacked him with a chair to punish Katrina for keeping him out of the match. He bludgeoned Mil and threw him in the ring. Mysterio hit a splash from the top rope and Puma helped Mysterio pin Mil to quickly eliminate him. Katrina finally lost her cool and screeched at Vampiro to get Pentagon away from Mil.
Even though all 20 entries had been made, the clock continued to count down. Dario Cueto made his first appearance of the season in The Temple to introduce a 21st entrant, his brother, Matanza Cueto. Matanza came to the ring in a tattered jumpsuit and a Hannibal Lecter-like mask. He fought through every other luchador and quickly pinned Fenix to guarantee a title change. He finished Mack with a vicious German suplex on his neck. Aerostar went out next with a lariat and another German. He took out Texano and noticed Joey Ryan handcuffed at ringside. He ripped apart the metal bars to drag him back in the ring. Three rolling gutwrench suplexes were enough to take him out.
Puma, Mysterio, and Dragon Azteca tried to team together, but Chavo took out the first two. Dragon Azteca mounted a bit of offense, only to be grounded with a giant side slam. Chavo tried to form an alliance with Dario and Matanza and quickly fell victim to a standing shooting star from the big man.
That left Puma and Mysterio as a pair to fight the monster. He ejected Mysterio to the floor and took out Puma with a German. The crowd got squarely behind Mysterio as he prepared to make a final push against Matanza. It was the type of passionate fan support that only happens when the fans care deeply about a wrestler. Mysterio’s speed and Matanza’s power neutralized each other until Mysterio hit a 619. He went to the top rope for a hurricanrana, but Matanza caught him and turned it into a running powerslam to win.
As soon as Fenix took down Mil Muertes as the unconquerable monster at the top of Lucha Underground Matanza emerged as an even more impressive force. While it feels like Matanza became a giant star overnight, LU deserves credit for building him up very patiently and deliberately over all of season one and this far into season two. They could have debuted him the week after he “ate” Bael, but the long wait made it even more impressive when he finally appeared. Altogether, it was a frenetic and enjoyable show, and it set up for even more in the weeks to come.