By Graham "GSM" Matthews
I heard a few rumblings about Lucha Underground during its development, but nothing that made me think twice about watching it. The only wrestling I watch weekly are WWE and TNA. It's not because I "hate" the independent scene or anything like that. I simply don't have the time to watch anything else, and truth be told, the independent scene doesn't hold my interest usually. I gave Ring of Honor a shot over the summer and fell out of it by the fall because it wasn't convenient (I don't get the Sinclair Network where I live). I figured I'd give Lucha Underground a shot when it made its debut on the El Rey Network to at least say I did.
On Halloween, only an hour or so before leaving for Salem, I came across a link online to the show's first episode. I read reviews of the program's pilot and saw it received positive reviews, so I was inclined to give it a watch. After one episode, I was hooked and I haven't missed an episode since. One of the leading reasons behind that is because, as noted before, I don't have much time to watch anything beyond WWE and TNA, and Lucha Underground is an easy viewing because it's always under an hour, much like NXT.
Speaking of NXT, that and Lucha Underground are probably the most fun and easiest wrestling shows to watch right now. That's not a knock on Raw, SmackDown or Impact Wrestling, but their one hour format is perfect. I never thought I'd want a shorter wrestling show, but that's what it has come to in 2015 with wrestling being so overexposed. The best part about Lucha Underground, in my opinion, is that it is the ideal alternative to WWE. TNA has always struggled with their identity and because of that, they've never been seen as a WWE alternative. In fact, they tend to more things like WWE than they do differently. Lucha Underground is different than WWE in more ways than one and that's what I love about it.
Unless lucha libre wrestling "isn't your thing," there really isn't any reason why shouldn't at least give it a shot like I did. If you don't tune in the next week, that's fine, but you won't know what you're missing out on until you see it for yourself. Lucha libre wrestling is very different from what you're used to seeing in WWE, trust me, but it is incredibly fun to watch. The wrestling is always top-notch, and even their "sports entertainment" side of things is entertaining. They don't insult the viewer's intelligence or waste their time.
A wrestling match, to me, is nothing without a good match. Well, as awesome as the in-ring action is in Lucha Underground, they also succeed in telling a stellar story in each of their matches. Many of the wrestlers on the roster have rivalries with each other like any successful wrestling promotion should, but they're booked consistently. There aren't many necessary face/heel turns and a feud isn't dropped out of nowhere. It takes time to get to know the characters, of course, but after watching for a few weeks, you'll understand everyone's motives and backgrounds, making you care about each of them in the process.
It's not your typical pro wrestling show, as it takes on a completely different format. It has a "reality" feel to it, which may come across as campy to some but it makes for an interesting dynamic. The actors they use in non-wrestling roles, specifically their current heel authority figure, are excellent. Heel authority figures have been done to death over the last 15 years in wrestling, but Cuerto plays his role so exceptionally well that he adds to the product, not detracts from it. The backstage segments that air create drama and give the program a nice flow.
The talent they currently aqquire is some of the best in the world. If you're a huge WWE follower like me and aren't familiar with many guys off the independent scene, then you'll take a liking to guys such as John Morrison (now known as Johnny Mundo), Ezekiel Jackson (now known as Big Ryck), Chavo Guerrero and others. In connecting with characters that you already know, you'll also get to know other wrestlers that catch your eye and attention. Lucha Underground broadens your horizon beyond just guys you see in WWE and TNA and won't see elsewhere.
One of the most interesting aspects about Lucha Underground is that they protray all their talent as equals, and by that I mean the guys are facing other guys along with girls and even midget wrestlers. Is it believable to think that the women wrestlers will be the guys every single time? No, but the women are good enough that you think there's a chance it might happen. More importantly, they showcase their women in a way where you care about them. In all honesty, the WWE Divas may be as talented as some of the ladies from Lucha Underground, but fans couldn't care less about what they're involved in because their matches never exceed a few minutes and they have no character development. Everyone in Lucha Underground, even the guys that aren't involved in anything notable most of the time, have a story that was established in a prior video package or rivalry.
People are always asking me, "Do you watch Lucha Underground?" and telling me it's great. I have to tell them every time that not only have I seen it, but I've been watching it religiously since its debut. There's a lot to love about it, and with some of the new talent they've recently signed, it's only to get more exciting to watch as time progresses. It really feels like a breath of fresh air, and you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't check it out at least once. You'll thank me later.