Remember What Was TNA?/What Is Impact? and What is New Japan Pro Wrestling? I’m back, you animals, and I’m here with zero fear because of one of my favorite things to happen in recent memory to
wrestling: LUCHA UNDERGROUND.
Henry, tell us this isn’t just another pro wrestling show.
Pardon the cliche, but it’s the truth: Lucha Underground is not just another pro wrestling show. In fact, it’s the rebirth of the genre, and one of the best damn things on television in the last 3 years.
Wait, why are you just telling me about it now?
Wait, have you seen my twitter? I’ve been raving about Lucha Underground since Dario opened the temple (more on that in a minute). But to answer your question, I’m ranting because now you’re fresh out of excuses for not watching it.
So, how do you see Lucha Underground?
March 15, 2017 will be marked in the annals of wrestling history as the day Netflix got the first two seasons of Lucha Undergound. Well, just Netflix in the Americas. And anywhere that has a VPN service.
Wait, what’s the big deal about this show?
So, Lucha Underground is a show about wrestling, specifically the matches and backstage noir antics that take place in the temple of one Dario Cueto
(Luis Fernandez-Gil). Here’s Dario in his office with his red bull statue and a glass of liquor:
Here’s Dario Cueto with one of his favorite things (MONEY):
If you can’t tell, Dario Cueto has the brash egomaniacal chutzpah of Vince McMahon, but he’s working on a seedier level. But of all the things Dario Cueto loves, he probably would put VIOLENCE at the top of that list.
So, what does a promoter with a love of violence and seedy behavior do? Open up an arena in a shady part of Los Angeles (the show is taped in the actually grungy Boyle Heights district) and operate it like his own fight club.
That’s the ground Lucha Underground is built upon, and it’s been a strong-enough base for 84 hours of blisteringly good pro wrestling, with 21 more episodes coming this year. The show is presented in hour-long episodes, making it far more manageable than most other promotions, and built to binge-watch.
So what makes it so great and different from, say, NXT? That’s an hour-long wrestling show too, ya know.
Another thing that separates Lucha Underground from the pack is its narrative style. The show tells stories every way it can, from in the ring to film-quality vignettes and scenes shot in the same arena or on locations.
Throughout it all, Lucha Underground has this strong visual charm and a noir way about itself that is delightful, which makes sense, given that it’s on El Rey, a network started by Robert Rodriguez. You know, the writer, director and producer of such films as Desperado and El Mariachi.
Other wrestling shows offer minimal attention to detail, but Lucha Underground exists only as a television show, so storytelling is its only master. It won’t sell talent up the river because it’s developmental. The show has season premieres and finales, and the writers have plans for how to get from one to the other.
If you watched WWE during the 00’s, then you’ve got at least one familiar face: Johnny Mundo. But you probably remember him as The Prince of Parkour, John Morrison. Good news, he’s getting to live his best life in Dario’s temple as a super smug chickenshit baddie.
Modern day wrestling fans who spend time in online communities might know about Ricochet, as his super-flippy match with Will Ospreay at the 2016 Best of The Super Juniors tournament went viral. In Lucha Underground, he’s Prince Puma, a local and fan favorite.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Lucha Underground’s cast of characters is rich and deep. You’ve got two couples: Son of Havoc and Ivelisse (who might be dating?) and Mil Muertes who is managed by Catrina. You’ve also got mysterious masked … not-men, such as Drago who seems to be part dragon and Pentagon Jr. the zombie-ninja.
The show also features some of the best women wrestlers on the map. At first, it’s limited to Sexy Star (whose talents are limited if we’re honest), but then Ivelisse kicks things into second gear. Season 2 introduces Taya, who is excellent, as well as the dangerous Mariposa.
So, it’s called Lucha Underground… is it in Spanish?
Not entirely, unless you prefer it. The El Rey presentation of Lucha Underground uses English commentary and a mix of English and Spanish dialogue, with subtitles when appropriate.
Those with the UniMás network can see the series entirely in Spanish.
What else is different about Lucha Underground?
The biggest difference between Lucha Underground and most televised wrestling is that women and men can fight each other in Dario Cueto’s temple. It might take some getting used to, but when you realize these are performers and their art is about trust and not hurting each other, you realize there’s not much difference between someone wanting to get revenge on Taya or Cersei Lannister. Equality, many argue, is the right to perform with anyone.
If you get used to it, and not everyone will (we all have different histories), you’ll get to enjoy a relatively rare version of pro wrestling. Further, it gives Lucha Underground an even greater number of potential matchups.
How does one follow Lucha Underground?
If you love seasons 1 and 2, you can see season 3 in one of the following ways:
- Get a Sling TV account. Its $20 package includes El Rey.
- Find a cable package with El Rey. Season 3 is available via Video On Demand. I’d try to avoid going with DirecTV, as they’re limited to SD versions.
- Buy it on iTunes . Episodes cost $3 each in HD, or get a season pass with all 19 episodes for $40 (for a savings of $17).
What are the divisions & championships in Lucha Underground, and who holds those belts currently?
With TNA and NJPW, I was OK with explaining this, but you know what, this is all best saved for watching. Have fun.