If any molecule of your being has ever enjoyed professional wrestling, then you need to be watching Lucha Underground on the El Rey network. Season one of the show was fresh and exciting, and season two has been just as good if not better. In Lucha Underground, the dramatics of United States wrestling, the acrobatics of Lucha Libre from Mexico, and the television and film talents of Mark Burnett and Robert Rodriguez are combined together to create a show that is part wrestling, part acting, part special effects, and all fiction. We all know wrestling outcomes are not real, but while other federations like WWE and TNA try to shoot for realism anyway, Lucha Underground embraces the fictional elements, combining South American mysticism and other magical elements with the high flying violence we expect from cruiserweight wrestlers. And the results are so much fun!
There was a time when it seemed like a season two for the show would not happen, but luckily for us not only is Lucha Underground still on the air, it is currently working through season three for next year. Yes, it is not broadcast live which may seem like a drawback, but the benefit of being able to control the editing of the show has been used to great effect, making many aspects of season two work very well. This article looks at the best choices made by Lucha Underground so far in season 2, which at the time of this writing is about half way over. The tremendous talent of all the wrestlers and on air personalities and the equally tremendous respect the LU audience shows to the wrestlers and personalities has made the entire season two a blast, but here are, in my opinion, the ten best elements season two has gotten right so far with honorable mentions to Famous B (who will make you famous!) and Mil Muertes’ totally boss throne.
10. Ivelisse Gets Her Due
During season one of Lucha Underground, Ivelisse Velez broke her foot, which was a big problem because she was one third of the Trios Champions. Velez couldn’t just take time off without the entire federation rewriting its story lines, but Ivelisse made sure this didn’t happen by muscling through her injury, coming out to the ring on crutches every week and wrestling despite her broken bones. When season 2 began, Ivelisse was all healed and something miraculous happened- Lucha Underground rewarded her for her hard work.
In the first episode, Ivelisse won the number one contender spot and challenged Mil Muertes for the world title. She didn’t win, of course, but remains the only woman to challenge for the world belt as of this writing. It was an amazing and hard earned night for her, and the fact that Lucha Underground takes care of its roster this way shows they are doing something right.
9. Sexy Star Kidnapping
I think in general that kidnapping angles are pretty stupid, but that’s because I’m used to WWE ruining them. We need to suspend disbelief already that one wrestler can commit a serious crime and not get thrown in jail, but even then, what repercussions happen to the wrestlers involved? Generally nothing. How many times has the Wyatt family, let’s say, kidnapped a WWE superstar only to have the superstar randomly return after a week or so and seek to beat the Wyatts in a match to get “revenge.” It’s stupid, yet Lucha Underground pulled off a successful kidnapping story.
First, LU already asks its audience to suspend disbelief, but when Marty “The Moth” and his sister Mariposa kidnapped Sexy Star, we saw her time as their prisoner, her escape from their clutches, and her psychological trauma as she fought to put her life back together. Sexy Star getting revenge against Mariposa in a brutal “No Mas” match was one of the most gratifying moments in season 2 due to the realistic handling of a normally absurd storyline.
8. Gift of the Gods Continues To Impress
In case you aren’t aware, the “Gift of the Gods” begins as a tournament for seven, ancient medallions belonging to the original patriarchs of the Aztec civilization. The tournament culminates in a unification match where the seven medallions literally become Lucha Underground’s mid-card title, the Gift of the Gods Championship belt. The belt can be “cashed in” for a World title number-one contender spot at any point, at which time the belt is de-unified into the seven medallions again for a new tournament. I love the concept, and I love tournaments, which give many wrestlers on the roster something to do; however, if the belt is immediately “cashed in” it seems like adding an unnecessary step to become number one contender. Luckily, season two of LU gave us a great feud for the belt between Fenix and King Cuerno, making the belt important on its own before Fenix traded it for his World title shot. Hopefully, when the medallions are unified once again, we can see the belt itself used for awhile before the process starts over a third time.
7. Ancient Aztec Prophecies
The amazing back stage vignettes that make up at least a third of Lucha Underground are a ton of fun, both pushing the story forward and allowing us to understand the wrestlers in a different context. The fact that LU films these vignettes ahead of time like an actual television show makes the product feel unlike any other wrestling show on the planet, but the content is also revolutionary.
There have been some great ones (Drago and Aerostar vs. PJ Black and Jack Evans in a nunchuck duel!), but what makes this list was a scene in which Aerostar traveled back in time and spoke with the ancient Aztecs, who tell him of the prophecy which makes up the storyline of season two: Matanza Cueto is possessed by a demon and only the seven tribes can stop him. I guarantee that this scene, taking place over one thousand years ago, is unique in all of professional wrestling, showing that the reason WWE and TNA keep recycling the same story lines isn’t because there are no stories left to tell.
6. Matanza is a Monster
The entire season one of Lucha Underground teased the debut of Dario Cueto’s brother Matanza, a dude so dangerous Dario keeps him locked up in a cell. We didn’t get to see him until season two, but when he debuted he lived up to the hype. Matanza destroyed half the LU roster in his debut during “Aztec Warfare” and won the World belt. Since then, Matanza has wrestled nothing but squash matches against LU’s top stars until his meeting with Mil Muertes, who had previously been used as an unstoppable monster. That match was a no contest, meaning Matanza still appears to be totally unstoppable. Matanza’s push has been unrelenting, exactly what the mythology of Lucha Underground needed.
5. Pentagon Jr. Continues to Bring Chaos
Pentagon Jr. was meant to be an evil presence in season one of Lucha Underground, breaking the arms of his opponents and attacking employees randomly. However, the violence-loving crowd made Pentagon Jr. a fan favorite, and LU listened to its audience. The question was how would Pentagon make an impact in season two, and he began immediately by breaking the arm of Mil Muertes, the then World champ. A fun rivalry with Prince Puma (LU’s main face wrestler in season one) featured the two not having a clean cut resolution, and Pentagon Jr’s encounter with Matanza left him injured in a wheelchair. This may seem like a step backward for the character, but an injury always leads to a major push upon return. When Pentagon Jr. makes his triumphant reappearance, he will be in prime position to become the new World champ.
4. Villains Allowed to Have a Personality
The villains who populate the Lucha Underground roster are all so different from each other, but are also allowed to be “themselves” and have personalities that move them beyond the standard villain stereotypes usually seen in wrestling. Marty “The Moth” Martinez is a “pervert” and plays the part with such fun and zeal. His creeping up on beautiful ring announcer Melissa Santos every time she announces him for a match is hilarious, and her reactions to him are absolutely priceless as the crowd tends to chant “No means No”. Jack Evans trash talks as much as he wrestles, and makes himself such a complete jackass in the process that it is almost unbelievable.
Johnny Mundo always reacts in a way that is perfect with his character, no matter if he is reacting to something in the ring or out of it. One of my favorite exchanges involved Mundo and Jack Evans during Aztec Warfare. Mundo tried to help Prince Puma, Rey Mysterio, and Fenix quadruple team Evans. When Evans confronted Mundo about it (both wrestlers are Caucasian), Mundo explained that he was trying to “blend in.” Racist? Maybe. Funny as hell? Definitely.
3. Not Forgetting Canon
You know how WWE and TNA will run story lines that make zero sense to any one who remembers previous story lines? Especially with superstars who have been around a long time, sometimes previous canon gets thrown out the window for new ideas. Lucha Underground has taken special care to remember the past, as evidenced with a great scene at the local police station.
The Los Angeles County police, on their evidence board compiled against the Cueto family, featured the entire season one roster who did not return for season 2, including WWE’s Alberto Del Rio and former TNA wrestler Hernandez. They were all listed as “missing persons” which is a great way to acknowledge the past and excuse their absence from the current season. It also doesn’t create a pathetic situation in which LU attacks WWE for signing Alberto and honors those wrestlers who helped shaped LU in its beginning stages but didn’t stick around.
2. Aztec Warfare
Do you remember when WWE’s Royal Rumble was awesome? I used to love the Rumble, with all the action, drama, and storytelling of an entire pay-per-view in one match! But the last few years, the Royal Rumble has been terrible. One guy the audience cares about comes out fairly early and stays in the entire match, while no one else interesting comes out until the final ten participants. Kofi Kingston does something amazing and then is eliminated. Wrestlers go over the top rope at random, and not a single story is told until the final four or so wrestlers are left, at which point the athlete least liked by the audience wins the Rumble.
Well, if you used to like the Rumble then you must watch Aztec Warfare. Every participant gets to hit at least one major spot, every action tells a story, and nothing is predictable. This year’s Aztec Warfare match delivered stupendous action, exceeding the first season’s match. This match is must-see wrestling, especially if you are as tired of lazy booking in the WWE alternative, as most people are.
1. Rey Mysterio arrives!
Lucha Underground signed some big names from the United States and AAA wrestling in Mexico, but no one is as big of a deal as Rey Mysterio. Mysterio is the most important Lucha Libre wrestler bar none, dominating every promotion you can think of in the United States with a “W” in its name and every promotion you can think of in Mexico. Mysterio basically brought Lucha into the mainstream United States wrestling, and Lucha Underground is absolutely the best place for him to be right now. When Mysterio debuted during Aztec Warfare the crowd went absolutely insane, as did everyone watching at home. Mysterio is 41 years old and still flies like he is a teenager. So far, he has won the trios championship alongside Prince Puma and Dragon Azteca Jr. (a team-up so amazing it’s hard to wait the days or weeks between their televised matches). Mysterio is primed to be the leader of the alliance spoken of by the ancient Aztecs to dethrone the Cueto family from their kingdom. If Lucha Underground, let’s say, is like Mortal Kombat, Mysterio is Raiden and his signing is easily the greatest thing to happen in LU’s stunning season two.