By Justin Fitchett
The most original and most popular wrestling program on television by far this year has wrapped up its first season on the El Rey Network. Many fans on social media have been praising Lucha Underground since their first episode launched on October 29, 2014, almost one year after the El Rey Network launched by actor, film director and producer Robert Rodriguez in 2013. The entire show and the conclusion to Ultima Lucha, Lucha Underground’s two hour season finale, has opened the mindset of many fans with excitement and several possibilities as to what Lucha Underground has to offer for a second season. With negotiations between Lucha Underground and the El Rey Network about a possibility for a second season of the promotion, I think its best for the small, loyal wrestling fanbase and for the wrestling industry right now is for Lucha Underground to come back for a second season.
For many that do not know what Lucha Underground is all about, this wrestling promotion features the top stars from the AAA promotion, one of the most biggest and popular wrestling promotions in Mexico, as well familiar and popular stars from the American independent wrestling circuit. Lucha Underground presents a lucha libre style of wrestling while adding the mix of American style of professional wrestling. While the WWE is on top of the wrestling world right now with Raw, Smackdown, and the internet favorite NXT, TNA reluctantly still hanging on as a company while due to the lack of leadership and management, and ROH is still seen on local networks while on Destination America, Lucha Underground feels like the better weekly wrestling show this year. Lucha Underground presents their product with innovative ideas that might seem confusing and ditzy to some, but when you watch it unfold, it is well thought out and it makes good and interesting television.
I’m not saying Lucha Underground is perfect, as there were a quite of few mishaps with visa issues for a few luchadores and a few writing missteps along the way. But further down the road, it still manages to deliver the best quality of pro wrestling and entertainment out there, managing to become a revolutionary and unparalleled wrestling product.
What makes Lucha Underground so unique and special is of course the wrestling, which is not the case. Granted, Lucha Underground has produced some, but many story-driven and top notch matches that cause a buzz over the internet, for instant the brutal and blood thirsty bout between Fenix and Mil Muertes in a Casket Match or the match between Prince Puma and Johnny Mundo for the Lucha Underground Championship that took up the whole hour of the show. However, there are some matches that seem to be a bit tedious if you’re not that frantic on the more spot-fest type of wrestling matches that they have.
However, what makes Lucha Underground special is their attention to detail and presentation on screen. Even though its suppose to feature wrestling, especially in a lucha libre style of wrestling, it feels more like a television sitcom than an actual wrestling product. Right away, when you watch any episode that Lucha Underground has aired, you’ll notice the camera angles, the filtering effects, the backstage production style, and the cinematic feel that blows you away as a fan and what other wrestling companies have failed. Their cinematic approach created a world that felt existed; from a man that turns into a half dragon, a pissed off, Spanish-speaking ninja that breaks arms as a sacrifice to his unseen “master”, a owner and the promoter of Lucha Underground that locks a “monster” of a brother inside a cage, to a wrestler-turned-announcer who is trying to put his past behind him, but was provoked into becoming that once again vampire wrestler. It might sound unorthodox on paper, but when you watch it, it doesn’t feel that insulting as a viewer. It makes you feel like you’re watching a movie or television show that you know can be somewhat ridiculous at times, but enjoyable and not embarrassing.
Lucha Underground features a large group of diverse wrestlers and the ones that appear regularly on television have unique, interesting and a clear defining character. Every character on that show has a motive for being there with a logical, well thought out story that leads to its conclusion. When ring announcer Melissa Santos introduce the wrestlers, the fans know who they are, what brought them there and where they want to go. In today’s generation of pro wrestling, this is often overlooked. There were many characters with a wide, broad out purpose for being on the show, for instant the main villain and current Lucha Underground Champion Mil Muertes. From the get-go, Mil Muertes was being portrayed as this unstoppable force that cannot be stopped. From an episode of him losing in a Casket match to several episodes later being resurrected by Catrina as a stepping stone to advance his character and setting his focus on winning the title, his journey to the top and overall his character was pretty much clear and well thought out. It also helped develop characters like Johnny Mundo and the former Lucha Underground Champion Prince Puma into legitimate top stars over their matches that made quite a buzz on the internet.
Throughout the first season, many episodes and storylines took time to explain the history of lucha and why their traditions are important, especially a luchador losing their mask is sacred to them. Lucha Underground takes everything that studio wrestling used to be and blended it together with cinematic production and a fast paced athletic style of wrestling with clear and logical storytelling. Many matches on the show are not going to blow you away every week, but it’s worth watching because there are going to be a few stories that are going to progress no matter what.
Lucha Underground has felt like a breath of fresh air for the wrestling business. It makes you want to believe in the fantasy story-telling of wrestling and not feel insulted as a viewer, in which is one of the main reasons that wrestling should be all about in my opinion. Lucha Undergound has shown that wrestling can be fun in a bonafide thought and intent behind it. In its first season, Lucha Underground has smashed through the boundaries of what wrestling has been so unchangeable for so long.
Even if Lucha Underground doesn’t get picked up on the El Rey Network, doesn’t find another network broadcast, or the company just folds, Lucha Underground brought a presence of what wrestling should be. If Lucha Underground returns for a second season, its the right step for not only for the promotion, but for us as loyal and passionate wrestling fans and for the wrestling business.