Does the Lucha Dream Deserve to Die?

Robbie Radford

Robbie Radford

Robbie covers NJPW, Lucha Underground and a few other promotions as well as various other articles. He is also a co-host of the PuroLads podcast. Robbie lives in Leeds, England.
Robbie Radford

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I sit here disgruntled and somewhat irritated following another underwhelming episode of Lucha Underground, formerly the hottest weekly wrestling show on television, which by any stretch of the imagination, isn’t the most difficult accolade to be awarded.

Lucha Underground exploded into life in season one, a refreshing taste in the sometimes bland wrestling scene. A show featuring stars like Ricochet, Pentagon Dark, Rey Mysterio Jr,  Fenix and many others should be destined for success, although by season three, the show’s destiny is growing closer to a date with death.

Normally you tend to have your top guys as the top stars in the company, as you’d generally expect. This tends to be the norm in all wrestling companies; Kevin Owens (formerly Kevin Steen) is the WWE Universal Champion, Kazuchika Okada is the IWGP Heavyweight Champion and Samoa Joe is the NXT Champion. All three of these men are arguably the top guys on their respective rosters, if not, their challengers or previous champion can also be argued for being placed in the top guy role. Lucha Underground have done their very best to go against that norm, especially in season three, where in bizarre and head-scratching circumstance, Sexy Star, who’s arguably the weakest female wrestler the company have, undeservedly captured the Lucha Underground Championship in Aztec Warfare III, despite the company insisting that Sexy Star “deserved” to win the title that, up until last Wednesday, had a reasonably good lineage for the short time it has existed.

As inorganic as you like!

Prior to Sexy Star, Matanza Cueto  was champion: a very dominant and destructive champion even at the worst of times. Nobody could even hold a candle to this monster that debuted at Aztec Warfare II, the brute ripped through the division in impressive fashion and looked to retain the championship at Aztec Warfare III, unless you read the hard-to-come-by tapings results, due to Lucha Underground enforcing a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) on the tapings, meaning no footage or photos can be shared anywhere.

Once it eventually became public that not only would Matanza be pinned in this match, losing for the first time since debut, Sexy Star would win the Lucha Underground Championship. The internet, or the small sections that care about the fairly small promotion, proceeded to explode.

2016 was the year of many successful moments for women in wrestling, the World’s biggest wrestling promotion, WWE, had a women’s match main event a Pay-Per-View, many female wrestlers, especially on the UK scene, were skyrocketing towards big things. Lucha Underground, especially the women’s division, by mid-2016, were coming back down to Earth after skyrocketing in season one. The former top guys weren’t around as much, newer stars were ushered through the door in their masses in order to sustain the “anybody is welcome” narrative that the promotion is keen to enforce in storyline, with AR Fox, Sami Callihan, Dr. Wagner Jr and plenty more all joining the promotion in season two and three. Reasonably big names, you’d expect the overall show to improve wouldn’t you? Well that’s where you’d be surprised.

Season one is widely regarded as having some of the most interesting, entertaining action that hourly wrestling has seen for a long time. Season two of Lucha Underground dropped in quality a little, although it was more noticeable to some than others. As we approached the end of season two, the viewers had dropped in numbers. By way of correlation, the less Mil Muertes, Ricochet and Pentagon Jr were on the show, more viewers were tuning out of the show. Even Ultima Lucha Dos didn’t pull in as many viewers as Ultima Lucha did, despite having a stronger card. By the time season three arrived, the mood surrounding the show was fairly flat, despite an enticing trailer that was aired a few weeks prior to season three beginning. The pre-televised season three spoilers had definitely left a sour taste in the mouth of even the most loyal of fans, however the booking isn’t certainly the only really irritating thing about the temple.

Step forward Matt Striker. The Lucha Underground commentator that shares his booth with Vampiro has, more often than not, greatly attributed to that sour taste resonating on the Lucha tongue. This past week, Killshot and Dante Fox squared off in a fantastic match, to not only try settle their differences but to try progress what’s been a fairly interesting storyline so far. The downside of this contest was Matt Striker doing his very best to make war puns, whether it was aimed towards Enola Gay and Hiroshima, Vietnam or even going on record saying something very similar to “ISIS would be scared of these two!”

This isn’t the first awful commentary job by Matt Striker and it certainly won’t be the last. Striker recently at AAA Triplemania loudly and proudly proclaimed “Hepatitis for everyone!” when Texano Jr was busted open during his match.

I’ve been reviewing Lucha Underground on a weekly basis since April/June time, reading the comics alongside it to gain further understanding behind the characters and their motives. When I review the weekly show and read the comics, I often convince myself that the show should have just been an illustrated series all along, that way I can place the comic book down and walk away from it, knowing it ends on the last page. The weekly show does it’s best to discourage me and many others from watching. With it’s bad booking, woefully unbearable commentary and nauseating fanatical crowd that are called “The Believers” the show continues to struggle through season three. With Mil Muertes and Pentagon Dark becoming somewhat of a “oh he’s there next week” feature, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for even the most passive of viewers to enjoy the full hour. Looking at the recent tapings, it looks like we may be in for a tough time.

“The Lucha dream deserves to die” was a quote from a friend of mine when we discussed the show, sharing and agreeing on many grievances we have with the show we once looked forward to. The match quality plummeted when Matanza was the top guy, due to him being booked like a monster that could crush every competitor with relative ease. Pentagon Dark, the most popular character that features on the show, nearly completely disappeared in season two whilst he prepared to face Matanza Cueto, a match which was fairly average and predictable, in the end.

A big reason why people are placing the nails in the lucha coffin, is the writers have no real aspect or understanding of emotion that the fans can generate. A big indication of this happened to Fenix when he captured the Lucha Underground championship and then dropped it a week later. Another big no-no on the emotion play was when Son of Havoc, a big fan favourite captured the highly anticipated “Unique opportunity” on night one of Ultima Lucha Dos, he dropped the prize to Dr. Wagner Jr just 10 minutes after capturing it.

In season three, we’ve already had the resounding disappointment of Sexy Star’s reign, Pentagon Dark has already disappeared, Marty Moth and Mariposa are sucking the life out of any match or segment they’re featured in and so much more annoyance has occurred in record time. With all these tedious antics occurring already, I ask the reader this:  

Does the Lucha dream deserve to die? You decide.

Robbie Radford
About Robbie Radford 137 Articles
Robbie covers NJPW, Lucha Underground and a few other promotions as well as various other articles. He is also a co-host of the PuroLads podcast. Robbie lives in Leeds, England.

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