Lucha Underground premiered on Oct. 29, 2014, on the newly formed El Rey Network, and now with 39 episodes under its belt and a season 2 premiere set for Jan. 27, 2016, there are a few things that new viewers need to know ahead of time.
First off, the show is disarming. It’s likely a different take from every wrestling show that you have ever seen, and if you go into it expecting a Monday Night Raw, then it’s going to take a while to get your bearings.
That’s because Lucha Underground is a little bit of everything. While at its heart a pure wrestling series, it also incorporates high production values and a film-like feel to the in-between segments. There is a little crime drama, a little action movie, and a little of the supernatural in many of the story lines.
It actually feels like a mix between wrestling and one-hour drama, while in contrast, the WWE’s programming tries to mimic an actual sporting event.
Another thing you will notice with Lucha Underground is that the characters are all very comic book-like in their portrayals, and the women are every bit as much of the action as the men, with no real distinguishing characteristics between them aside from how they look.
That is to say, a man will hit a woman in Lucha Underground with the same ferocity that he hits another man. This may be off-putting to some, but the ladies give as good as they get.
There really are one of two ways you can go with intergender matches. WWE plays it safe and keeps the guys with the guys and the women with the women. This avoids the appearance of promoting domestic violence.
Lucha Underground, on the other hand, makes men and women equals and does not draw attention to the sex of each character. In other words, if Prince Puma hits Ivelisse with a steel chair, it’s Prince Puma hitting Ivelisse with a steel chair, not This Guy hitting This Woman with a steel chair.
There is actually something strangely empowering and refreshingly feminist about it. Still, it may take some getting used to.
Also, while WWE and most other promotions follow a clear line for titles where you have a male singles title, a tag team title, and a women’s championship, Lucha Underground does something different in offering a “Trios Championship,” which is essentially a tag team title but for teams of three instead of teams of two.
Additionally, there is a “Gift of the Gods Championship” that operates like a “WWE Money in the Bank” briefcase in that it grants the titleholder a shot at the main title at a time of their choosing. However, unlike MITB, it cannot be cashed in on the fly. There must be a week’s notice so the event can be properly promoted.
Furthermore, where most MITB winners go on to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the last winner of this title for Lucha Underground, Fenix, fell short in his big shot at then-champ Prince Puma.
That’s worth mentioning because it plays into something else you should know about Lucha Underground. It isn’t just different from WWE in presentation. It’s a lot more unpredictable and fast-paced.
Case in point, season 1 saw four different Lucha Underground Champions and more high spots in a single hour than you are likely to see in several three-hour episodes of Monday Night Raw. One particular highlight saw a wrestler running off a balcony and flying into a missile dropkick to an opponent, who was at the top of a ladder in the center of the ring below.
(Surprisingly, neither man was injured, and they continued on with the match.)
Is Lucha Underground better than WWE? That’s really a matter of taste. But two things are certain: it’s a lot different, and it’s never boring.
Have you seen the series, and are you going to be watching the season 2 premiere Jan. 27? Sound off in the comments section, and while you’re at it — if you’re a veteran viewer — share some other details for the uninitiated that we may have missed.
[Image via Lucha Underground Facebook]