Lucha Underground Season 2 – Episode 5 Power Rankings

Lucha Underground, Wrestling

The fifth episode of Lucha Underground’s second season didn’t quite live up to the lofty expectations built from the first four episodes, but it did feature some solid wrestling and interesting plot development.

Jack Evans continues to get over as one of the better heels in the company. His in-ring mic work is as good as anyone in LU and he really knows how to bring it in the ring. It’s interesting to see PJ Black (someone who just debuted a few weeks ago) so quickly slotted into the position of the secondary character in Evans and Drago’s feud. However, they did this a lot last year with guys like The Mack, who eventually broke out in a big way. I’ll be interested to see where these three men go from here. Black probably needs his own feud, while Drago and Evans need a longer match to really get this story revved up.

The King Cuerno vs. Killshot match was fairly forgettable. Both guys performed well in the ring, as usual, but the story wasn’t memorable. That should pick up next week with Cuerno defending his Gift of the Gods belt against Fenix. The Texano vs. Chavo and the Crew match was also pretty bland. Having Chavo cheat to win is predictable, though effective. This feud isn’t bad, it’s just extremely tame in comparison to most of the others on the show. We know Texano can bring it because of his time in AAA, but he hasn’t really shown that same spark in his LU run.

The main event between Cage and Johnny Mundo was a high quality affair that saw some good back-and-forth between two of LU’s best performers. I didn’t love the finish because I would’ve liked to see Cage go over clean and begin his ascension to the top of the card, but the inevitable rematch could take this one to the next level. We haven’t seen anything too crazy in the ring through the first five episodes and both Mundo and Cage can do some incredible stuff. Thus, I’m looking for a big spot-fest when these two meet again, with Cage going over and moving on to challenge either Prince Puma or Mil Muertes.

I would be remiss to not mention all the crazy vignette work going on in this episode. Catrina showing off her mystical death powers was a treat, but Dario Cueto’s monologue that told the tale of how his brother killed their mother was the obvious highlight. We’re obviously leading into an epic showdown between Cueto’s brother and Mil Muertes, so I love when they do things like this to build up the younger Cueto without actually showing him. The second he hits the ring, he’s going to be the biggest monster heel in the company and I can’t wait.

Anyways, on to the rankings.

10) Texano (2-1)

As mentioned above, I’m not super high on Texano right now. He’s been pretty bland thus far in his run with LU and Chavo isn’t a compelling opponent. That said, I’m still open to their feud taking us places and believe that Texano has “it” due to his AAA run. I’m slotting him here because I believe he has a big part in this season and he almost won a three-man gauntlet challenge. Think of this as me giving him the chance to really impress me.

9) The Unlikely Trio (Ivelisse: 2-1. Son of Havoc and Angelico: 1-1)

The Trio didn’t get a match this week, but they are set up to challenge the Disciples of Death for the Trios Titles within the next few weeks. I’m thinking we’re slowly building to this season’s “Aztec Warfare” moment and somewhere around the 10th episode mark we’ll have a mega-card that includes: The Unlikley Trio vs. The Disciples of Death, Prince Puma vs. Pentagon Jr., Cage vs. Johnny Mundo, and Dario Cueto’s brother vs. Mil Muertes.

8) Jack Evans (2-0)

Evans is so great at being that slimy, ultra-hateable heel that it’s almost not fair. His match with PJ Black didn’t exactly tear the roof off , but it did move forward the Evans vs. Drago storyline while keeping those two away from each other. That’s effective booking that makes the crowd really pine for Drago’s inevitable beatdown of Evans.

7) Fenix (1-1)

Next week will be Fenix’s chance to shine, as he looks to get back his Gift of the Gods title from Cuerno. Not much to say about Fenix this week, as he was barely in the show. Episode six should tell us a lot about where both Fenix and Cuerno are going this season.

6) King Cuerno (2-1)

Cuerno continues to be one of the more impressive performers during the early parts of the season. Outside of Prince Puma and Pentagon Jr., I’m not sure if anyone has been featured more often. You have to assume that means they’ll be going back to him often throughout the season. His feud with Fenix is second best going (just behind Puma and Pentagon), and his collaboration with Catrina makes him a real power player. I’m hoping for big things from Cuerno over the next few months.

5) Mil Muertes (1-0)

Still has a broken arm. Still in charge of the promotion. Still has Catrina and her rock. Still the Champion. Moving on.

4) Cage (1-1)

The Machine they call Cage may have picked up a devastating (and controversial) loss to Johnny Mundo this past week, but I don’t think it hurts him too much. If anything, it gives him a main event-caliber feud to continue building his skills. Of the guys who worked in the upper mid-card last season, I think Cage has the most potential as a main event player. He obviously has the look, and he can also do some incredible things in the ring. Really, the only thing thing he currently lacks in a great promo. That said, I would be surprised if Cage isn’t firmly in the main event picture at Ultima Lucha 2.

3) Johnny Mundo (2-0)

Mundo grabbed a cheap win against Cage, which, as mentioned, likely signals a continuation of their feud. As someone who likes Mundo, but doesn’t love him in the title picture, I think this is something I can live with. He’s going to bring in casual eyeballs, so putting him in a program with a young up-and-comer like Cage is the best use of his talents.

2) Pentagon Jr. (1-1)

Pentagon had a pretty quiet episode five, only appearing in a Catrina vignette to ask for a rematch with Puma. I wonder if booking that match for next week is a good idea, given that Fenix and King Cuerno will also be having a ladder match for the Gift of the Gods. Could it be too much for one show? Both of those matches could use about 15 minutes to really get going and LU usually only features one longer match per episode. Here’s hoping they can pull it off.

1) Prince Puma (2-0)

Puma stays on top as the de facto #1 contender for Mil Muertes’ title. Of course, that’s not really where he’s being pushed. If any two competitors are past needing a title to fight over, it’s Puma and Pentagon. I’m hopeful that they keep the strap away from these two and just let their blood feud exist on its own. When both guys are this good, you don’t need a title. Just let Puma and Pentagon destroy each other every other week and I’ll be more than happy.

Survivor: Kaoh Rong Episode 2 – “A Tribal Implosion”

Survivor

Going into the second episode of the season, I’m not sure many people would’ve predicted the final outcome of the night’s Tribal Council. After all, the person who went home was in a majority alliance with her tribe and there was a very, very obvious easy boot sitting right in front of her. But, before we get to that, let’s break the episode down tribe-by-tribe.

Beauty:

Beauty continues to be the most fun to watch tribe, largely because of Tai. Outside of the events at Tribal Council, Tai’s budding bromance with Caleb was the standout moment of the episode. His ability to be so effortlessly charming and hilarious demonstrate how on top of their game Survivor’s casting department is. This man is a gem and if he’s voted out pre-merge, I will be devastated.

That said, I don’t see Tai as a real strategic threat. Sure, he knows how to build connections and get people on his side. However, I really question if it was worth it to continue to go after the idol. Obviously, we don’t know if he’s the only one out there looking, but they’re showing him looking for a reason. I’m very worried for Tai’s long-term game because of how out of his element he appears to be in the strategic element of the game.

Outside of Tai and Caleb, the Beauty tribe was basically invisible. Michele and Julia got a confessional each, while Nick and Anna had none. That makes two straight weeks of minimal involvement of Nick, making him a candidate to be a very inconsequential player in this season. However, this may change quickly, as things tend to do in this game.

Even without a focus on camp life for Beauty, they continue to be the “jack of all trades” tribe in immunity challenges. They have brawn in Caleb or Nick, puzzle skill in Anna or Julia, and they have Tai’s dexterity for skill-based challenges. I don’t see this tribe going to Tribal Council before the swap. They’re too stacked.

Brains:

Brains had a very interesting episode that, I believe, it setting up quite a few future storylines to be explored as soon as next week. First, we had Debbie continuing to espouse all of her many virtues and talents, while not actually demonstrating any of them. Her comments about having the “immune system of a horse” really irked me. Whether it’s true or not that she won’t pick up bacteria from drinking untreated water, it’s one of the dumber things to come out of her mouth, which is saying something.

Joseph also jumped to the forefront of our TV sets this week, but, like Debbie, he wasn’t painted in a good light. He got into arguments with Liz and generally seemed like a crotchety old man, constantly bellowing at everyone, while failing to properly take care of the tribe’s fire. His confessionals were equally concerning, if you’re a Joseph fan. He seems out of his element, at least in this tribe, and I would be surprised if he’s not targeted early.

That said, there is one sliver of hope for both Joseph and Debbie. Neither were shown fighting with Aubry. Instead, all the tribal disagreements happened between those two and the triumvirate of Liz, Neal, and Peter. It’s not completely crazy to envision a world where Joseph and Debbie bring in Aubry to fight against the younger alliance.

Of course, Aubry appears to be a solid Survivor player and might asses the situation, see that the game is likely close to a swap, and assume that it’s safer to stick with the younger players and keep their numbers up heading into a swap.

Brawn:

I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so utterly and completely implode their own game at Tribal Council than the show Jenni put on tonight. I kept thinking that there’s no way this could get any worse for her and she continued to prove me wrong. She topped herself over and over again and gave any future contestants the perfect video to watch of what not to do at Tribal. Let’s quickly run down her mistakes.

1) She told her alliance that there was talk of the women coming together to blindside them. This isn’t completely terrible on the surface, if you can frame it correctly. That is not something Jenni did. In this scenario you say, “sure Jeff, there was talk, but I didn’t actually think about it”. You don’t act like it was a very real possibility right in front of the people you’re potentially blindsiding. Jenni said, “it’s up in the air…this isn’t as solid as I thought.” That’s not a comforting sentence, especially when you’re playing with someone as shrewd as Jason and someone like Scot who is constantly on the lookout for an easy out.

2) She then tried to put all the blame on Alecia, which is the right move. However, she made a huge error in how she presented herself, while Alecia exhibited, for once, some actual social skill. When your back is against the wall, it’s key to stay calm in Survivor. The second you start to look like a crazy person, that’s how people will view you and it’s where alliances get flipped. Alecia did a great job of keeping her cool, while Jenni completely lost it. That makes her look like the liar.

3) Midway through her breakdown, Jason asks who Jenni said to throw on the chopping block. Alecia pipes up with, “Jason!” and Jenni says, “Absolutely!” This guy is the ringleader of your alliance and the best strategic player on your tribe. And you’re going to tell him, at Tribal Council, that you batted around the idea of sending him home? You can’t be serious.

4) Finally, she gets up on her stool and implores to her original alliance to stick together and keep her around. During this, we see Jason and Cydney look at each other and shake their heads. Now, I’m not a mind-reader, but I firmly believe that this look was saying, “We can’t keep someone this unstable around.” Both of those player are playing a deeply strategic game and, when you’re doing that, you need to as few unstable elements as possible. You want to be in control. I don’t think they believed that they could control Jenni anymore and that is why she ultimately went home.

Now, I’ll be fair, there’s probably a lot we didn’t see. I’m sure Jenni wasn’t as bad as she showed here. And, I have to admit that she made some decent pleas toward the end of her fight. Chiefly, she stuck to pointing out how weak Alecia is in challenges and at camp. Considering the tribe she’s on, I think that might’ve worked, it certainly seemed to sway Scot. However, it’s hard to deny that her showing in Tribal Council was one of the worst I’ve ever seen, which is a shame because she demonstrated some real potential in the first episode. Maybe we’ll see her back someday.

Check back early next week for my weekly power rankings.

Survivor: Kaoh-Rong – Week 1 Power Rankings

Survivor

The first episode of Survivor: Kaoh Rong is in the books and I’ve taken a few days to rewatch the episode and collect some thoughts. What follows is a sports style power rankings and then a short ranking of who I think will be the next boot for each tribe. Alecia fans, feel free to tell me how badly you disagree in the comments.

18) Alecia Holden

Strategy: 2   Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 4   Total: 9

Wow, I didn’t know it was possible to do this much wrong in the first episode, help your tribe lose immunity, and still be on the show. Alecia was such an obvious first-boot that I have to  completely reject the idea that Darnell was voted out because he dropped the goggles. There’s something else going on here. Unfortunately for Alecia, there’s nothing going on for her. Moving on.

17) Debbie Wanner

Strategy: 3   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 4   Total: 12

Maybe I’m putting too much of myself into this ranking and downgrading Debbie because her personality grates on me to no degree; however, it didn’t seem like many of her tribemates would disagree with me when I say that this woman has no chance of winning the game. She cannot shut her mouth and is your typical “know-it-all” who can’t actually do anything. I don’t think that flies for very long with the Brain tribe and she’s out soon.

16) Darnell Hamilton

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 3   Entertainment: 7   Total: 15

Oh King Darnell, we hardly knew ye. We had that one shining moment when you took the aqua-dump and blessed us with the funniest moment of the episode. And then you dropped the goggles and the jocks threw you in the locker known as Ponderosa. It was a good run while it lasted, my friend.

14(tie) Joseph Del Campo and Nick Maiorano

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 5   Total: 15

Joseph and Nick gets a perfectly average score because they was perfectly average in their first episode. That said, Nick looks to be in a better position, as Joseph is the victim of the younger Brains ganging up on him and Debbie. Of course, it’s still early and either guy could rub someone the wrong way and turn things completely. I’m intrigued to see where both players’ games go.

13) Tai Trang

Strategy: 3   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 7   Total: 16

Oh Tai. If this season were a popularity contest, I fully expect you would win it by a mile. In fact, Tai might be the most lovable human on Survivor since Keith. That’s saying a lot. Sadly for Tai, he decided to search for Idols a little too early and a little too obviously. He looks to be on the outs over at Beauty beach and might be the target if they lose immunity. Hope you find that Idol, Tai!

12) Michele Fitzgerald

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 5   Total: 16

Michele wasn’t overly impressive this week, but she also didn’t do much wrong. She’s obviously tight with Julia and Anna; however, I see those two as more in control and Michele sort of following along. That’s hard to tell in just a few segments, so that perception could easily change in a week or two. She looks locked to make the merge, but you never know.

11) Cydney Gillon

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 5   Total: 17

I’m really feeling Cydney’s game right now. I couldn’t give her too many points because she wasn’t overly impressive in any category; however, I loved how malleable she seemed to be a Tribal. She knows she’s the fourth person in the Jason, Scot, Jenni alliance and wanted to keep Darnell around. However, when it came down to it, she didn’t fight too much to keep him around. With such an easy boot like Alecia next to you, I like that she was smart enough to keep herself out of any drama. Cydney will make the merge barring some type of insanity. I just don’t know if her physical presence will make her a threat to be the merge boot or not.

10) Peter Baggenstos

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 17

I came into the season very ready to hate a few players. Peter was one of them. So far, I don’t see anything wrong with him. Obviously, he had minimal time in the edit, but he seemed to turn off his hyper-competitive, super-leader personality and, if he continues to downplay that side of his personality, he could go far.

9) Liz Markham

survivor_peterbaggenstos

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 5   Total: 17

If Jeff Probst was dreaming up the ultimate female competitor in a lab, I’m fairly certain she would look a lot like Liz. She’s gorgeous, extremely intelligent, and looks to have a good grasp of the social game. And that’s why it’s so sad to see her screwed by the season’s twist. If she was on any other tribe, she could easily play down her intelligence and hide how much of a threat she is until at least the merge. On the Brains tribe, she has no chance. I still think she makes the merge, I just don’t see a ton of hope after that.

8) Neal Gottlieb

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 5   Entertainment: 6   Total: 17

Neal is going to be a big threat to win this game. He’s smart, but not too smart. He knows the game and understands how to work people. Really, the biggest thing I’m worried about with Neal is what happens when he gets comfortable. We know that he thinks he has a solid four with Liz, Peter, and Aubry, but Aubry is also making good connections with Joseph and Debbie. Next week will tell us a lot about the type of player Neal is. A Survivor winner will work Aubry hard and that’s what I expect out of Neal. Time will tell.

6(tie) Anna Khait and Julia Sokolowski

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 6   Entertainment: 5   Total: 17

I’m slotting these two together because I really felt they were the most connected out of the Beauty tribe. The women’s alliance looks to be running that tribe and these two are the queenpins. They also had a good showing in the immunity challenge during the puzzle portion. I pegged Anna to make it far in the pre-season, but Julia is very surprising. Maybe I underestimated the young lass (too soon?)

5) Caleb Reynolds

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 6   Total: 18

Like Peter, I was ready to hate Caleb. I did not like him at all during his Big Brother season and didn’t expect anything out of him. However, the two things Caleb can do well are compete and be a good, loyal soldier. He did that in this episode and was a big reason why his tribe didn’t lose immunity. A few more weeks like this, and you might just turn me, Mr. Reynolds.

4) Jennifer Lanzetti

Strategy: 6   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 6   Total: 19

It’s hard to give Jenni a fair shake, given that the majority of her edit consisted of her having a bug crawling around in her brain. That said, I was impressed that she didn’t let emotions get the better of her at Tribal Council. And, for what it’s worth, she actually gave it everything on the immunity puzzle, unlike Alecia. So, there’s that. She has a high ranking because she’s in a good spot with the majority alliance in the only tribe to see a Tribal. I need to see more before I believe that she can stick around the Top Five.

3) Aubry Bracco

Strategy: 5   Challenge: 9   Entertainment:5   Total: 19

Aubry had herself an episode, didn’t she? First, she had a panic attack that quickly painted her as a potential weak link. Then, she blew that out of the water (literally) by dominating the swimming portion of the immunity challenge. Finally, her one episode redemption arc culminated in her destroying the competition at the puzzle. She has to be your early dark horse candidate.

2) Scot Pollard

pollardweb_lrg

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 5   Total: 19

Scot did exactly what we thought he would. He dominated everything physical and he preyed on other contestants physical weakness when deciding his vote. Listen, Scot Pollard will never win this game, but he’s going to make the merge. Any tribe that he’s on will be more than pleased to keep this monster around to help them dominate anything physical, but when we hit the individual part of the game, he’s gone ASAP. It should be a fun run until then, though.

1) Kyle Jason

Strategy: 7   Challenge: 7   Entertainment: 7   Total: 21

Jason takes the top spot because his all-around game was on point this week. He’s entertaining in confessionals, he did his job in the challenge, and he’s the Godfather of his tribal alliance. This guy told us he was coming to play and, so far, he has not disappointed. I think Jason goes deeper than any other Brawn in this game and he could very well win it. The only thing I can say bad about him is that he didn’t steal anyone’s clothes on night one, so maybe all that Russell Hantz talk was just talk.

Next Boot:

Brawn — Alecia. I mean, come on. Did you really expect anyone else? Her only chance if Brawn loses immunity is Scot and Jason deciding to turn on each other to solidify themselves as the tribal leader. Otherwise, Alecia is gone.

Beauty — Tai is the easy pick and, realistically, I think it’s the pick that will be made. That said, I don’t see any of the men sitting in a good position just yet. It is very easy to see either Nick or Caleb sticking their foot in their mouth and taking Tai’s place as enemy number one. Plus, the preview for next week had Tai and Caleb in a potential bromance, which could spell trouble for Nick.

Brains — Debbie is the person I’d like to see go. Her personality and one-upmanship grates on my nerves pretty hard and, out of the old timers on the Brain beach, I think Joseph is the better player. Thus, I’m looking for Debbie to be the boot if the Brain tribe flubs immunity.

Lucha Underground Season 2 – Episode 4 Power Rankings

Lucha Underground, Wrestling

 

Lucha Undergound’s fourth episode kicked off with a solid (though somewhat short) trios match between the Unlikely Trio (Ivelisse, Angelico, and Son of Havoc) and Chavo Guerrero and the Crew. Matches like these are why I think LU is putting out the best wrestling product in the business right now. Out of that one match, we actually built up three different storylines. The Unlikely Trio gets to continue their quest to take back their Trios Titles from the Disciples of Death. Chavo has his next feud set up after Texano’s after-match run-in. And we got to see some development of the Cortez and Joey Ryan are cop luchadors storyline. Compare that to a place like the WWE where we’re lucky to have a match build one storyline and you can see why people are so excited about what LU is putting out there.

Another thing I really love about LU’s style of booking is that, because they only have three matches per episode, they don’t really have jobbers. Look at the match between Cage and Joey Ryan. Ryan got to debut against a main event player and was immediately booked as a legitimate threat to Cage. Obviously, Cage needed the win heading into his tilt with Johnny Mundo; however, they let Ryan get some real offense in, which tells the audience that this guy is legit. There are tiers in LU, but they aren’t as rigid as in other companies. People like Ryan or Killshot a few weeks ago can get in there and challenge the best LU has to offer. This might make it harder for one or two guys to be loved (which is arguable), but it means your roster is super strong and if someone gets hurt, you have plenty of guys who can easily take his spot.

The final match of the evening was a pretty great main event between Pentagon Jr. and Prince Puma. These are the two biggest main event players in Lucha Underground and they showed it here. You would’ve liked to see them go for a few more minutes and build something special; however, I think it’s smart to save that for somewhere down the line. Following that finish (which I really loved and don’t think I’ve seen before), I have a feeling these two are going to need some type of stipulation match down the line. Also, you have to assume that, with the number of times they hard-cut to Vampiro, that the luchadors mentors are going to play into the story soon. I’m excited to see where they go from here, but for now, let’s get to this week’s power rankings.

10) Jack Evans (1-0)

The last time Evans was on our television screen, it looked like they were building him up for a potential run at something significant. Unfortunately, he hasn’t really been involved in the backstage vignettes, so who knows? I’ll leave him here for one more week.

9) The Mack (1-0)

The Mack just barely snuck into the fourth episode, appearing in the final stinger vignette and coming to the aid of Sexy Star. The Mack didn’t look to have an obvious feud his last time out, but maybe now he and Marty “The Moth” will enter into a program? It could be interesting, especially if “The Moth’s” craziness carries over into the ring.

8)  The Unlikely Trio (Ivelisse: 2-1, Angelico and Son of Havoc: 1-1)

The Unlikely Trio got themselves back into contention for the Trios Titles this week with a solid match against Chavo and the Crew. Angelico looked the most impressive in this one, though Son of Havoc continues to be one of the most technically creative wrestlers on the roster. Ivelisse didn’t get much shine here, but the match wasn’t really long enough for all three of them to show off. Can they beat the Disciples of Death? And will Ivelisse ever get a match against Catrina? Hopefully we find out soon.

7) Fenix (1-1)

Fenix wasn’t on the card this week and that’s probably a good thing. LU is great because guys can come and go and the audience starts to really want to see their favorites back. And, it’s not like Fenix isn’t in one of the more intriguing feuds of the season with King Cuerno. I fully expect this to be one of the bigger ongoing feuds of the first half of the season. Both of those guys are great and they deserve as much time in the spotlight as possible.

6) King Cuerno (1-1)

Copy-and-paste what I said about Fenix here. These two are tied at the hip right now and I love it. Though, I would like to see them expound on exactly what Cuerno’s relationship with Mil and Catrina is. They’ve given hints, but I’m starting to want some real answers.

5)  Johnny Mundo (1-0)

Mundo is in a somewhat awkward spot after this week. He’s been playing up his skill in his promos, but continues to be shown as weaker than Cage. Heck, he couldn’t even keep Cage down when he attacked him after “The Machine’s” match with Joey Ryan. I would rather Mundo slip back into the mid-card for at least part of the season, so I’m hopeful that Cage goes over in their match next week. That said, Mundo is super over and a guy that can bring in fans because of his time in WWE. I’m very interested to see where they go with Mundo over the next few weeks.

4) Mil Muertes (1-0)

Muertes continues to be your Lucha Underground champion, the head booker, and have a broken arm. He’s really not doing much on TV, except he’s also doing everything. Puma seems to be ready to have a rematch for his belt, but will Muertes and Catrina let him? I’m not so sure.

3) Cage (1-0)

Cage picked up a big win against Joey Ryan, but next week will really show us where he stands with the company. As mentioned above, I’m betting on Cage going over on Mundo and taking his place as the #1 contender behind Puma. That said, Mundo is much more bankable, so maybe Cage needs more time in the mid-card scene. Either way, I see big things for Cage in season two of Lucha Underground.

2) Pentagon Jr. (1-1)

Pentagon Jr. ate the loss to Prince Puma; however, it was barely a loss. You have to figure that Pentagon is going to demand a rematch next week, as Puma’s win was questionable. That said, Pentagon is so over that it almost doesn’t matter how he comes out of this feud. When he enters the ring, magic happens and he’s going to be one of the most talked about guys in the company no matter who he’s feuding with.

1) Prince Puma (2-0)

Puma picked up a big win against Pentagon Jr. and set himself up for a rematch with Mil Muertes for the title. Of course, before that can happen, you have to assume that Pentagon will want to meet Puma in the ring one more time. And really, that should happen. Puma beat Pentagon, but it was a little flukey. A more decisive win for either competitor should go a long way to impressing Muertes. Either way, this feud isn’t finished yet. Expect to see a lot of these two over the next few weeks.

 

Survivor Kaoh Rong Episode 1 – “A ‘Mental’ Giant”

Survivor

Survivor is back y’all. The 90 minute premiere episode of the latest season of the world’s best reality show didn’t hold anything back and the potential seems to be there for a truly great season of Survivor. We had tears. We had bloody ears. We had idol hunting for almost no reason. We even had a crazy first tribal council that saw a tie at the first boot. What an episode.

There’s a lot to get to here, so I’m going to break it down into each tribe and talk about all of them in turn. We’ll start with the Brain tribes and then move onto Beauty and finally hit the Brawn because they have the most to talk about.

Brains:

The Brain beach was pretty mild in the premiere. We saw Peter, Neal, and Liz get together and seemingly lock in a “young people’s” alliance with Aubry. However, Aubry was barely shown with any of them and, in fact, seemed to be spending quality time with Joseph. Are they going to be able to bring her over and get the numbers or will she stick with Joseph when/if Brains have to go to tribal council.

Of course, with the way Debbie is annoying people, it might not matter too much. In the pre-season, I was very worried that Debbie was going to overstate her credentials and get herself on the outs early on. That seems to be happening and I would be very surprised in Debbie doesn’t find herself on the hotseat next week.

If Debbie is able to get out of her current jam (which, it could be argued she doesn’t even know she’s in), I think it can only come about from her really embracing the “mother” role. She seemed to lean into it some when Aubry had her panic attack/dehydration spell. I don’t know if moments like that will be enough to overcome her overbearing personality, but it looks like her only hope outside of a long string of Brain immunity wins.

Speaking of Aubry, that girl is a gamer. She might’ve had the best overall challenge performance to open the season and totally threw off any labels of weakness the tribe might’ve put on her during her panic attack. I didn’t expect big things from Aubry coming into the season, but she proved herself in that challenge.

Beauty:

Oh Tai. You had it locked up. You were so easily in the women’s alliance and had the love of America. Then you screwed it up by looking for the idol. And you weren’t even sly about it. I don’t know if this actually kills Tai’s game; however, the five other members of his tribe immediately shook hands on a five-person alliance. So, it’s not looking good for Mr. Trang.

I was a little surprised about how quickly the women came together. It seemed almost immediate and was in stark contrast to the men doing almost nothing on the strategy front until the women came to them about Tai. Obviously, Survivor is super edited down, so there’s probably more that happened that we didn’t see. It will telling to see what happens when Caleb and Nick are put up against it if they lose immunity.

That said, I think the Beauty tribe is probably the most well-rounded team out of the three. Caleb and Nick are physical beasts, Tai looks to be great at some of dexterity-based skills, and Anna and Julia seemed solid at puzzles. Michele didn’t do anything poorly, she just wasn’t overly impressive. These guys might not see a tribal council until we hit a swap.

Brawn:

I’m just going to come out and say, I think the Brawn tribe made the wrong move this week. At this stage of the game, you want to have a competition strong tribe and, while Darnell screwed up in dropping his goggles, I don’t think one screwup merits a vote out. Especially when you have someone like Alecia, who brings absolutely nothing of value to any challenge and doesn’t even help in the camp.

There has to be something else at play outside of Darnell’s goggle drop. That just isn’t a reason to vote someone out at this stage, when someone else so completely failed to do anything. Alecia was zero help in either of the physical portions of the challenge and showed so little ability in the puzzle portion that she traded places with Scot, who continually reminded us in the opening 30 minutes that he’s on Brawn because he’s not smart.

Then she had the nerve to call herself a “mental giant”. You can’t say that when a folding chair would’ve had been your mental equivalent during a Survivor puzzle. She has so little self-awareness that I almost feel bad for her. But that wasn’t even the end for Alecia.

When they got back to camp, Scot and Jason (Kyle? I have no idea) told her, over and over again, that she was safe. So, Alecia just chilled out and let Darnell be the easy vote out, right? You don’t know Alecia very well. Instead, she decided to keep coming at Scot and Kyle (Jason?). Scot got so annoyed with her that he had to just walk away. This guy is trying to help you! Why are you still trying to work him?

If the Survivor Gods were just, Alecia would’ve been sent home in a 6-0 vote. She would’ve gotten confused and thought she needed to vote for herself to stay. Unfortunately, Scot and Jason (Kyle?) are playing the end game in the first week and seem to want to keep the ultimate goat around. I don’t know if I can get behind that strategy.

So, Darnell went home and we’re robbed of one of the greatest potential bromances in television history between King Darnell and Tai. Also, Cydney is probably on the bottom of her alliance with Scot, Jason, and Jenni and won’t be able to turn things around until the swap. And, most importantly, Darnell’s one great moment was him pooping too close to camp. So, I would guess chances of a return are probably low.

All in all, it was a good first episode that set up quite a few storylines across the board. Scot and Jason are running the Brawn tribe, but might be playing too hard, too early. I’m looking for Jenni to make a move soon and take back power. Over at the Beauty tribe, Tai is on the outs, but I’m not so sure that it will stick. Next week’s preview seemed to point toward him and Caleb developing a bond, so that could turn things around for Tai and potentially pit the boys against the girls. And finally, the young foursome at Brains look solid; however, Aubry was getting close to Joseph in the premiere, so it might not be as locked down as Neal, Peter, and Liz think it is. Either way, the stage is set for a great season of Survivor, here’s hoping the contestants continue to bring it next week.

Survivor Kaoh Rong – Pre-Season Tier List

Survivor

Survivor Kaoh Rong starts up next Wednesday and has the unenviable task of trying to follow up Second Chance’s incredible returner’s season from last fall. It’s way too early to tell if it has a chance to do that; however, it’s never too early (or late, as the case may be) to do a pre-season tier list. So read on and let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments.

Tier Four – “First Boot Potential”

Debbie Wanner – Brains: I’m very interested to see how Debbie performs in this game. On paper, she looks very deadly as a competitor; however, her attitude in her video tells me that she thinks very highly of herself. If she doesn’t reign that in, she’s going to have problems. We saw this in the last version of BvBvB where the Brain tribe thought they knew everything and wouldn’t work together. Will Debbie’s “know-it-all” attitude rub people the wrong way? I would say the odds are high that she does and she’s gone before the merge.

Julia Sokolowski – Beauty: Julia’s best chance is to stay under the radar and never be seen as a threat until the merge. From there, she’d have to make some major moves to build up a resume and make a run. That said, I cannot see any group of Survivor players letting an 18-year-old girl win the game. For one, I don’t think many of the men on the island will want to work with her outside of using her as a pawn. And, more importantly, I can’t see her getting votes over anyone if she does make it to the end because she’s so young.

Caleb Reynolds – Beauty: I can’t see anybody wanting to play with Caleb for a long period of time. I watched his Big Brother season when it was airing and he’s not a mental threat and is a pretty poor strategist. That said, he does bring physical strength and has value as a number in an alliance, so he could stick around through the tribal phase of the game. Beyond that, I don’t see much hope for Caleb fans. He’s incredibly full of himself, but isn’t good at strategy. That’s a dangerous player for anyone intelligent enough to win this game and I think that makes him a lock to be voted out ASAP after the merge.

 

Scot Pollard – Brawn: I don’t care how far he gets. Scot Pollard could make it all the way to FTC, but he’s not winning the game. People just won’t vote for an ex-NBA player to win the million dollars. You could maybe convince me of a jury that’s so ridiculously bitter that they just refuse to vote for the other player, but that seems unlikely. He’s just not going to win this game. He could easily make the merge and even make a deep run into the end game. However, when it comes to the final vote, almost no one is writing Scot’s name down.

Tier Three – “Hey, Making the Merge is Still an Accomplishment”

Cydney Gillon – Brawn: I actually think Cydney has the skillset to make a deep run, I just can’t shake the feeling that people are going to want her out as soon as individual immunity comes around. In fact, I predict that Cydney will be your merge boot if she doesn’t win immunity. Also, people who try to have “multiple personalities” almost never work. Hopefully she stops that.

Aubry Bracco – Brains: Quirky, super-fans can go a lot of ways. That’s what makes Aubry so hard to peg down. Sure, she knows the game and has the brains to make it far, but she’s also odd and could easily find herself on the outs depending on her tribe’s makeup. Just from her video, I’m seeing more of the latter and believe that Aubry has major goat status. I expect her to make the merge, I just don’t see her having any chance to win this game.

Nick Maiorana – Beauty: Wow. Where do you slot this guy? I have to assume he’s playing up a character (very much so) because I can’t believe anyone would actually act like this guy in real life. He does know the game pretty well and he looks pretty athletic, so he has a chance. That said, can he keep that ego in check throughout the game? I don’t think so. I see Nick quickly rubbing his tribemates the wrong way and being a pre-merge boot.

Peter Baggenstos – Brains: Peter comes off as a guy who is a little too full of himself in both his video and his bio. That could be a major detriment to his game. If he tries to take charge too hard, too early, he might just end up being the first guy voted out on the Brains tribe. However, he also looks like a physical threat, so, if he’s able to keep his head down, he should make it through at least the first few weeks. I don’t see much winner potential in Peter, but I also don’t see him as an early boot. I expect he’ll be a mid-game boot that we don’t talk about much in a few years.

Alecia Holden – Brawn: Alecia is relatively hard to read for me. She didn’t give up much to tell you how she’ll perform either way in her video or her bio. That said, I think her comments about her temper could be the one thing that gives us insight into her performance. You could easily see her tribe lose one of the early challenges, leading to her yelling at someone and going home. Therefore, I’m keeping her right in the middle tier. She could just as easily make a run to the top as be the first boot.

Michelle Fitzgerald – Beauty: Like Alecia, I think Michelle is pretty middle-of-the-road. She doesn’t immediately pop as a potential winner, but she also isn’t an obvious early out. I have a feeling she’ll make it to around the Final Seven and have a chance to make a play for better. However, I think she gets there mostly due to the play around her, rather than her own play. She has some potential, it’s just not as obvious as some of the players around her.

Tier Two – “So You’re Saying There’s A Chance”

Jennifer Lanzetti – Brawn: At first watch, I see a lot of Trish in Jennifer. They’re both brash, do-everything women who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and don’t take any crap. That could be good for Jennifer, especially if she’s able to get behind a strong meat shield like Trish got behind Tony. She’ll have to pick her shield a little better than Trish if she plans to make the end, but she has some quality options on the Brawn tribe. I’m looking for Jennifer to get behind either Scot Pollard or Kyle Jason early and potentially make a deep run. She could win, but a lot of things will have to fall the right way.

Tai Trang – Beauty: I want Tai to win so badly. He is incredible TV in his intro video and you have to believe that will translate to the show. However, there are two major things playing against Tai. First, his accent and I don’t say that to be mean. Survivor is a deeply social game and adding in an element that makes you difficult to understand will only hurt your chances. And second, his likability. No one will want to go to the end with Tai. Everyone is going to love this man and he’s going to get jury votes, you know he is. Sadly, that means he’ll have to win a string of immunities to make it to the end and I’m not sure he can pull it off.

Darnell Hamilton – Brawn: The first time I watched his video, I thought Darnell had winner’s potential. And he could do it, I just wonder if he’ll be a victim of people not wanting to sit next to a charismatic guy who needs the money. Darnell appears to have the social chops and knowledge of the game to go far. And he could be well-placed in the brawn tribe where some of the obvious physical threats will be targeted first. I just can’t shake the feeling that he’s a Final Five or Seven boot, which keeps him from being my winner’s pick, but only just.

Joseph Del Campo – Brains: Joseph is a very intriguing Survivor player. Obviously, he has the survival skills down pat and the guy is in incredible shape for a 72-year-old. Then again, he is 72 years old, playing a game with mostly 20- and 30-somethings. Will the cultures clash in a way sees Joseph booted early? I’m thinking he’s smart enough to play up the “fatherly” role and try to provide/bond with some of the younger women in the Brains tribe. I can see a Paschal/Neleh-like bond developing between Joseph and Liz or Aubry that could help Joseph get in tight with some of the other Brains. No matter what he does, I think people will try to keep Joseph around for awhile because of his challenge strength and ability to provide for the camp. He probably doesn’t win, but he might come close.

Elizabeth Markham – Brains: Honestly, Liz would probably be my winner’s pick on another season. She’s obviously smart enough to win the game and comes across as someone who is effortlessly charming. Plus, she’s not so young that I question her ability to downplay her intelligence like I did with Spencer Bledsoe in Cagayan. However, I think the season’s theme really hurts her. Because she’s on the Brains tribe, everyone knows she’s a #MentalGiant, so she doesn’t have the luxury of being to hide it. That said, I would be very surprised if Liz doesn’t make it to, at least, the Final Seven.

Tier One – “The Favorites”

Kyle Jason – Brawn: Kyle (Jason?) should probably win this season. He’s got that Tony-esque skillset that worked so well in the first version of this season and he has a story that makes you want him to win. Will it happen? I’m not so sure. If he brings up his daughter and her medical problems, I think he’s dead in the water. He can talk about his family, he just can’t let on how badly he needs the money or no one will take him to FTC. That said, I would not be surprised to see this guy win the game. He has everything you need and has a figurative bomb to drop at FTC if he thinks he might not pull enough votes. As we saw on Second Chance, that can really turn people to your side when you need it most.

Anna Khait – Beauty: Unlike Liz, Anna gets the benefit of not being cast onto the Brains tribe. That means she can use her intelligence and strategic mind, while also being able to easily hide it. In fact, I really think both Liz and Anna are about equal in terms of winner potential; however, Anna has a slight edge simply because of her initial tribal alignment. This is why I’m not too personally high on the BvBvB format and would hate to play in it if I was ever cast on the show. I have Anna penciled into my FTC, but I don’t think she ultimately wins.

Neal Gottlieb – Brains: Neal is, by far, my favorite to win the game. He has everything you want in a “Sole Survivor”. He’s smart, he’s personable, he’s got that rock climber body type that tends to play into many of Survivor’s balance challenges, and he’s effortlessly funny. He knows the game and he has the tools to put it all together on his first try. The key is for him to pull all of that off, while also staying relatively under the radar. Considering how gung-ho most of his fellow Brains seem to be, I don’t think that will be a problem. It’s Neal’s world and everyone else is just living in it.

 

Lucha Underground Season 2 – Episode 3 Power Rankings

Lucha Underground, Wrestling

Lucha Underground’s third episode saw the return of a few familiar to the Temple, along with the debut of an all-new woman luchadore. Add in a must-see “Last Lucha Standing” match between King Cuerno and Fenix, and you have yourself quite an episode.

I was slightly down on PJ Black’s debut last week and I feel similar to Kobra Moon’s arrival. She was fine in her match against Bengala, but didn’t really strike me as too special on first blush. And, with the way they booked Sexy Star last season, it’s going to take more than a match against Bengala before I start to believe that the LU brass will actually let a woman be an actual threat to the men on a weekly basis. That said, it was just one match, so Moon could definitely grow into a solid talent.

I was really glad to see Drago back in the Temple. He was one of my favorites last year (mostly because he’s a literal dragon, but he’s also not a bad wrestler); however, he was certainly upstaged by Jack Evans. Evans debuted last in season one and didn’t really get too many opportunities to prove himself. So, it was refreshing to see him really dig into his heel character and to get so much microphone time, which signals that they may have bigger plans for Evans moving forward.

And in the main event, we saw Fenix get back his win (but not his Gift of the Gods) in a really solid “Last Lucha Standing” match against King Cuerno. It’s early in the season, but I can easily see that match hang on as one of the top ten matches of the season. That last spot was especially devastating. I expect we’re going to be seeing a lot of these two through at least the first half of the season. They’ve been putting a considerable amount of promo time into this feud and it’s paying off in the ring. I know I’m very intrigued to see where Catrina and Cuerno go from there.

On to the rankings.

10) Ivelisse (1-0)

Ivelisse continues her downward trend based solely on what other people are doing around her. I said last week that I didn’t think she’d stick here very long because she’s just not a credible singles competitor right now and that’s holding true. I would be surprised if we didn’t see her back with the Unlikely Trio next week, as they’ve been had a very minor presence on the show thus far and you know LU wants to capitalize on Son of Havoc’s babyface love at some point. Look for the Trio to be back and potential split before the midpoint of the season.

9) Jack Evans (1-0)

Evans’ arrival back on the scene almost stole the show in the second episode. He and Drago put on a solid match, but it was Evans’ end of the match promo that sold me on him being a real player in season two. We all know he can go in the ring and it’s always been evident that he could talk; however, it’s taken awhile for him to get the greenlight. That seemed to happen last week and I’m interested to see where they take him over the next few months.

8) The Mack (1-0)

The Mack is my personal favorite wrestler in LU. That doesn’t mean he’s “the best” or that he’ll ever seriously challenge for the title. It just means that I miss him dearly when he doesn’t make it into an episode. Sadly, it doesn’t appear as if he’ll be a major player in the first part of this season.

7) Cage (0-0)

Cage is in an interesting position after last week. He entered into a feud with, arguably, LU’s most bankable and recognizable star from season one Johnny Mundo and seems poised to challenge for Mil Muertes’ championship. His inevitable matchup with Mundo will tell us a lot about The Machine’s path going forward.

6) Johnny Mundo (1-0)

Mundo is, obviously, very similar to Cage. He could be making a main event push to start the season or he might just be there to put the younger guy over. Either way, you have to assume Mundo will be a mainstay of season two, just like last season. Mundo is simply too recognizable to the casual audience to keep him off the card for very long. I’m hoping Cage goes over Mundo and Mundo enters into a really good mid-card feud like last year’s series between Aerostar and Drago.

5) Mil Muertes (1-0)

Mil remains the champion and the head booker of Lucha Underground. That’s a pretty powerful position for anyone, let alone the “Man of 1,000 Deaths”. That said, they haven’t really done much with him thus far. They probably don’t have to, given how much he was able to do last year in relatively limited appearances; however, it’s weird to see the champion move so far onto the sidelines. I’m guessing that we’ll move to a collision between Cueto and Catrina soon and a battle will happen between their champions to decide who runs the Temple.

4) Fenix (1-1)

Fenix roared back into our hearts with an awesome “Last Lucha Standing” match against King Cuerno. They really played up Cuerno’s ability in LLS matches after his epic showdown with Drago last year, so it says a lot that Fenix was able to take him out. You don’t build something up that much to make it not mean anything. This all seems to be heading toward a grudge match for the Gift of the Gods’ championship in a few weeks and I can’t wait to see what these two have in store.

3) King Cuerno (1-1)

Cuerno lost to Fenix this week, but I’m keeping him above him in the rankings because he’s still holding championship gold (medallions?). That could change in the next few weeks, but, I think it’s safe to say that the people behind LU have big plans for Cuerno this season. He’s been featured too heavily for this to be his only major feud of the year. Depending on how the storylines go, I’m hoping for a match between Cuerno and Mil at Ultima Lucha.

2) Prince Puma (1-0)

Puma wasn’t on the show this and that’s probably a good thing. He’s always going to be one of their bigger stars; however, getting a break from him will only make everyone love him more when he comes back. Hopefully when he does make his comeback, it’s in a program between himself and Pentagon Jr. I would also be totally fine if Konnan and Vampiro got involved.

1) Pentagon Jr. (1-0)

Pretty much copy-and-paste Puma’s write-up here. These two are destined to have a huge matchup at some point this season and I can’t wait. Maybe if Puma wins he can take the top spot from Pentagon Jr. Maybe.

 

 

Thoughts On…The Witness (Or The Game That Finally Broke Me)

Reviews, Video Games

“This game.”

Those were undoubtedly my most said words during my playthrough of Jonathan Blow’s The Witness. Sometimes, it was said in moments of surprise (“Wow…this game…”). Sometimes, it was said in moments of frustration (“Screw this game!”). But, more often than not, it was said in moments of pure joy (“Yoooooooooo! This game, man!!!”).

Who would’ve thought that a game that is, at its most basic, just you solving line puzzles could bring so much satisfaction. But that’s what Blow was able to accomplish here. And it’s largely because of how well he and his team have empowered the player.

In today’s world of the internet, it is all too easy to get fed up with a video game and look up a guide to get through a puzzle or a particularly difficult part of a game. That is still very possible in The Witness (and something I suspect many people will do, given the difficulty); however, Blow and his team have gone to incredible links to ensure that you know, in the back of your mind, that you have everything it takes to solve the puzzle.

Blow posted a tweet a week or so ago that says, “You are smart, you can do this.” In my opinion, this tweet perfectly sums up how this game was developed. The team at Thekla have put together a brilliantly paced experience that slowly drips out just enough detail to make every puzzle solvable without a guide. It progresses at such a pace that the feeling of being overwhelmed is temporary. If you can’t solve a puzzle at this exact second, you just need a break. The solution is in your brain and The Witness does an incredible job of building you up until you feel like a genius after solving a particularly difficult puzzle.

And then, kind of like an illegal drug, you start to chase that feeling. You’ve bested the game and its designers in a way that is truly a rush and you want more. Maybe you’re not a puzzle gamer. Maybe you don’t love the games narrative (and who could blame you). Maybe you’re tired of the pretentious audio logs. That doesn’t matter. The Witness is all about the journey or the process, losing yourself in the puzzles and personally challenging yourself to get better.

That’s what I found in this game. One of the more challenging experiences I’ve devoted myself to and, more importantly, one that I really, really wanted to finish. After all, The Witness does a great job of rewarding your devotion and diligence with incredibly cool and unique new puzzles. Some of the things you see in the final main area are mind-melting and will likely go down as a few of my favorite moments of the year. Obviously, this is game greatly benefits from your own discovery, so I don’t want to spoil anything, but know that the early challenges are worth it. Not in a narrative sense, but in the sense of the accomplishment you get and the mind-bending ways some of those last puzzles come together.

(WARNING: Major spoilers ahead).

But when you “finish” the game, you haven’t really finished the game. There is one last challenge left (well, two if you count the environmental puzzles, which are really cool). And that challenge is appropriately titled “The Challenge”. It’s a doozy.

To find the last (known) secrets in The Witness you are tasked with solving a series of 14 or so puzzles in under seven minutes. On the surface, that doesn’t seem to bad; however, these puzzles are random every single time. You can’t find a guide to help you finish if the timer is too strict. You can’t pause the game to think a puzzle over (though, there is a “rest mode” glitch on PS4). It’s you versus the machine in an ultimate test of how far you’ve come.

I’ve finished almost every game I’ve ever started. It usually doesn’t matter if the game is bad or broken, I finish it. The only game I remember not seeing through to the end (outside of, arguably, World of Warcraft) is Destiny, which is the only game I’ve ever turned back in to Gamestop. Even if I’m absolutely terrible at the game, I will my way through it.

I tell you all of this to give you some background on how crushed I was after spending six total hours on “The Challenge” and being unable to finish it. For the first time in my gaming history, I had to look at a game and say, “You beat me. I quit.”

And then I started to think about my experience. I spent the last few days ruminating on what I wanted to say about the game that beat me. Would I tell that story? Does it matter? Ultimately, I decided that it does because I think it speaks to what I love so much about this game.

In spite of the fact that I can’t finish the game and that I was extremely frustrated with myself during my many attempts, I can’t help but look back on that time and remember how much I love the process. I love the journey. That is what The Witness is all about. The process.

You don’t play this game because Blow and Thekla have crafted an incredible narrative that you have to see. You don’t play this game because they’ve put together an absolutely must-see gameplay mechanic. You don’t even play this game because it looks absolutely gorgeous.

No, you play this game because you fall in love with the process. The process of learning and understanding. The process of bettering yourself and teaching yourself how smart you are. And, most importantly, the process of discovery.

It’s a cliche, but the thing to remember when you play through The Witness is that it’s never about the destination, it’s all about the journey. This a journey I fell in love with and I think a lot of people will do the same. It doesn’t matter that the story isn’t that great or that I couldn’t beat it or that the gameplay is just solving line puzzles, it’s a great journey and, like I often say in these posts, it’s worth your time.

SHOULD YOU PLAY IT?  YES!!!!

Lucha Underground Season 2 – Week 2 Power Rankings

Lucha Underground, Wrestling

I finally tore myself away from The Witness today and watched the latest episode of Lucha Underground and I was certainly not disappointed (though every second away from Jonathan Blow’s latest masterpiece is torture. Who needs sleep?) We had the in-ring debut of PJ Black (formerly Justin Gabriel, if you didn’t know), the return of The Mack and Johnny Mundo, and a few vignettes that teased future debuts of interesting and exciting characters.

With all these great performers in LU, it gets tough to put together power rankings. That said, I started doing it last week and might as well continue. Let’s get down to it.

Notes: There’s a few guys that I couldn’t get into the power rankings, but need to be spoken about. PJ Black’s debut was a little sloppy against The Mack. He slipped on a few moves and just didn’t look “clean” overall. Of course, he also possesses that high-flying style that fits in so well with the Temple, so he should slide into a solid role during this season. Here’s hoping that it was just nerves and he picks it up in his next match.

I’m super interested to see where the Marty “The Moth” vs. Sexy Star storyline goes. Who knew that Marty could be this creepy after what he brought to the table in season one? I’m also very ready to catapult Rey Mysterio’s protege into the power rankings when he makes his mark on the show. That story seems primed to the main storyline of the season.

Okay, with that off my chest, on to the rankings.

10) Fenix (0-1)

Fenix wasn’t on the show this week, but that’s pretty commonplace for Lucha Underground. Guys come and go because they only have an hour, which makes you want them more. And that’s why I have Fenix (among others) on the list. His match to open the season against King Cuerno was pretty great and the vignette between Cuerno and Catrina after the match suggests that there’s more here than just Cuerno taking the Gift of the Gods’ title. I’m banking on Fenix coming back in a big way within the next two weeks. If anyone can translate their Lucha Underground success into a WWE career, I think it’s Fenix, and it would be a mistake to not make him a big player in season two.

9) Killshot (0-1)

Killshot is probably never going to a main event player. His character is pretty minimal. Really, all we know about him is that he’s tall (thanks, Matt Striker). However, I was very impressed during his match with Johnny Mundo. Killshot was a pretty solid high-flyer last season, but no where near this level. He was all over the place and everything looked great. The card is stacked, so I’m not sure if it’s even possible, but I’m ready to see more of who Killshot is. Could that match be a signal of things to come? Or will Killshot be back to jobber status next week? Time will tell.

8) Ivelisse (1-1)

I’m leaving Ivelisse on the rankings this week because of her great showing in the first episode. I assume she’ll drop off these rankings soon because I can’t see her sticking as a main event player. Of course, given how well last season turned out for her, I don’t know if that’s necessarily a bad thing.

7) The Mack (1-0)

I’m a huge Mack fan and totally thought he would have to eat a pin against the debuting PJ Black. Imagine my surprise when Mack pulled out that surprise win. I don’t think Mack is ever going to challenge for LU’s championship, but he’s an incredible worker. Not many guys can do what he does, especially with all the extra weight he’s carrying around. However, the most impressive thing about Mack isn’t his in-ring repertoire, it’s the way he emotes. No one tells a better story with his eyes than Mack and you get more storytelling out of just watching his face than many wrestlers can tell with their entire body. It’s awesome to watch and one of the many reasons I’m so high on The Mack.

6) Cage (0-0)

Did Cage just insert himself into the title picture without even wrestling a match? It sure seemed like it. I never thought Cage was a good promo in season one, but he showed something in episode two. Obviously, he’s a got a look that Vince McMahon would drool over and his ability in the ring is unquestioned. The only thing he was missing was good mic skills and it looks like he might’ve picked those up. It will be telling to see which way LU goes if they put Cage and Mundo into a program together. I would prefer to see Cage go over and inject some new blood into the main event scene, but you can’t go wrong with either guy.

5) King Cuerno (1-0)

Still the Gift of the Gods’ champion. Still has me intrigued because of his “deal” with Catrina and Mil Muertes. Please come back for episode three!

4) Mil Muertes (1-0)

Muertes’ arm is in a sling and it doesn’t look like he’ll be wrestling for at least another three weeks if the usual timeline LU has with Pentagon Jr.’s victims stays in tact. I think it’s weird that Catrina’s rock didn’t just fix Mil automatically and someone was actually able to injure him. How powerful is that rock? And what kind of league lets their champion also book the matches? Things sure are Dark and Mysterious at Lucha Underground (I just got the pun that they were referencing Rey in that title. Wow, I’m dumb).

3) Johnny Mundo (1-0)

Mundo always puts on a show when he comes into the Temple and this week was no different. I’m happy to see them continue his heel push, as that’s really where Mundo works best. I think he and Jack Evans could make a solid tag team; however, it looks like he has some business with Cage. Mundo is in a weird spot for me because I think he’s a great performer and don’t mind seeing more of him, but I’d rather see the younger, fresher guys more. Oh well, the beauty of LU is that we’re likely to get both.

2) Prince Puma (1-0)

Puma and Pentagon Jr. “teamed” to take on the Disciples of Death in a handicap match this week. I use quotes there because those two guys did not work well together. I kind of hate when two main event guys can be so dysfunctional and still beat the promotion’s best tag team, but it mostly made sense here. It’s obvious that Puma and Pentagon have some beef with each other and you can’t put them in a match until it really matters. The idea here is to have them interact and fight each other without actually fighting. I just wish they’d gone against a team of jobbers (The Crew, anyone?) instead of the current Trios champions. Puma’s still got it, though.

1) Pentagon Jr. (1-0)

What isn’t there to love about Pentagon Jr.? He owns his character like no one else in the world and has tailored his in-ring style to perfectly suit his aggressive, dark personality. It really is a thing of beauty to watch this man work. And the best part is, it almost doesn’t matter who you put him with or what the situation is. He’ll always bring it and he’ll always completely steal the scene of any match he’s in. This guy gets it at the level of someone like Kevin Owens. He’s just on a completely differently level with his psychology and mannerisms and I can’t stop eating it up.