It’s safe to say that I’m a little bit in love with Lucha Underground. The whole project clicks with me on multiple levels and well, why not write about how and why they do. So lend me your eyes for a few moments and indulge me as I write a gushing love letter to the Temple. Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways….
Being a gentleman of considerable carriage I never feel wholly comfortable evaluating in ring efforts because I admire anyone willing to risk life and limb for wrestling. Instead I look at the stories behind the matches, both the content and delivery and it’s here that Lucha Underground basically had me at hello.
The grimy filmic quality of the backstage vignettes and emphasis on a variety of plotlines sing to me, as does the emphasises on character and character development most of all. Every principle player has just enough of a character to make them interesting but several have extra layers added on top to allow for nuance and subtlety. Some of these are little more than you’d see from fighting game characters but in modern wrestling, some of these outlandish Luchadores’ bios are unique to Lucha Underground and it has the good sense to play everything straight. Lucha Underground’s world makes complete sense within the rules of its setup and I like many lap it up.
The supernatural stands side by side by side with athletic endeavour and drama in such a way that no one diminishes the other. Undead monsters battle immortal heroes while undercover police detectives infiltrate Latin American gangs and adrenaline junkies compete to find that next big thrill all overseen by a shady gangster with perhaps more goals than money and power in his eyes as well as a great cast of supporting characters all swirling around a regular night of pro wrestling.
If all that sounded like a comic book or videogame you are correct. Lucha Underground is a living, breathing comic book TV show based on a book that didn’t even exist prior. This is a throughly modern take on presenting professional wrestling that genuinely offers an alternative product to everything around it and to me that is commendable. WWE, New Japan and others do what they do extremely well but LU does something different and it was something I never knew that I wanted but am I ever glad it exists.
This is nothing to say of the in ring product which is also good to great, although the pretaped nature of the show means any bumps can be ironed out prior to airing which is no bad thing at all. As I’ve said about NXT in the past, the prior recording of shows leaves little room for knee-jerk changing of minds and ideas and stories are allowed to reach satisfying and natural conclusions. This is compounded by having a traditional tv season, so everything can build and build to a strong conclusion at the season finale like regular tv dramas and allows for a reset and upheaval in the Temple between seasons.
Also, the Lucha Underground roster is a colourful cast of warriors many of whom I was unfamiliar with but with their ring work, presence and storytelling has made me fans of many of them. Even Rey Mysterio Jr who I had grown incredibly tepid towards even after leaving WWE is more interesting to me and with away from a situation where he is the underdog in every single match I find him compelling once more and I couldn’t write this without a special mention of the most recent member of my favourites list, Pentagon Jr. Pentagon is ostensibly a villain, he does and says very villainous things but like Stone Cold Steve Austin before him, these traits serve to make Pentagon into an anti hero who as long as he’s targeting the really bad guys, we can live with his more extreme methods, he’s essentially a mix of Austin and the Punisher with a little Ghost Rider thrown in for good measure.
So Lucha Underground is perhaps my favourite 45 minutes of wrestling television a week, easily on par with NXT in an ease of enjoyment and different enough from each other to stand side by side as equals. Congratulations to everyone involved in its production and long may its success continue.