LUCHA UNDERGROUND GETS IT
Earlier in the week I wrote a blog on who young wrestlers should be watching on film. In that blog, I described what my personal taste for in-ring product encompasses. Lucha Underground’s in-ring style is almost the exact opposite of what I prefer. How is it possible, then, that Lucha Underground is my favorite wrestling program to watch? Simple. They understand exactly how to make the viewer care about what happens during a match. In short, they “get it.”
The brains behind L.U. don’t just throw two competitors into the ring, have a match, and magically hope that the audience cares who wins or loses. They give us reasons to care for each talent on the roster. With the minor exception, every wrestler that has graced the Lucha Underground ring so far in their initial twenty-two episodes has been presented with some kind of backstory. Not only that, but the writers provide storylines going forward that develop these characters. Characters like Fenix, Big Ryck, and Catrina have evolved since their debuts. It shows how well done the story between Angélico, Son of Havoc, and Ivelisse is when Son of Havoc grabs a microphone in the middle of a match to dump Ivelisse and it gets a huge pop.
There are rarely matches in Lucha Underground that are “cold matches.” What I mean by that are matches where two people wrestle with no purpose or story involved. If two people get into a match in L.U. with no prior history, there is usually a good story that comes out of the match. It’s not just a winner and a loser with no lasting effect going forward. For example, while the teaming of Sexy Star and Superfly seemed random last week, it paid off this week. The consequence of Sexy Star saving Superfly from Pentagon, Jr. motivated Dario Cueto into having them face each other in a mask vs. mask match. That is how you tell stories and follow up on previous results. It wasn’t just a match that we forgot about by the time the next episode came on.
I tweeted on Monday night that I wished WWE would be less predictable in their match results. Most fans can sit for three hours during Raw and tell you who is going to win each match. Not in Lucha Underground. They have done such a well job in making each person on the roster important that the results of the match are usually in doubt. If something does seem obvious, they have the tendency to take you the other way. I was surprised that Mil Muertes lost the Grave Consequences match to Fenix. A match is so much more entertaining if you have no idea who is going to win.
Lucha Underground does a great job at holding the audience’s attention during the entire match, and a lot of credit for that goes to the team of Matt Striker and Vampiro. Unlike other programs, I am not irritated by having to listen to these guys during a match. In today’s product that would have been enough, but these two actually enhance my enjoyment of L.U. They are able to both call the match and get over the storylines with ease, while educating the fans in the process. One thing I greatly respect about these two is that they don’t treat the audience like they are idiots or children. They also don’t have to fake their enthusiasm, which tells you how strong of a product it actually is. Not once do these two ignore what is going on in the ring to put over something that isn’t relevant. Everything that happens in Lucha Underground is important and Striker and Vampiro treat it as such. They allow the product to speak for itself, instead of constantly telling us how this is “the greatest thing we will ever see in our lives.”
I’m entertained thoroughly by Lucha Underground. It isn’t a chore to watch like other wrestling programs out there. I know when I sit down for the hour, I’m not going to be bored and I’m not going to see the same ol’ crap week after week. I’m going to get matches with meaning, great stories, and a reason to watch next week. Why is it so hard for other companies to understand that this is the way to go? How come other companies don’t “get it”? Unfortunately I don’t think we will ever be able to answer that question, but I’m just glad that Lucha Underground does.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffLane22