Following my last article, quite frankly my brain has been running, at what feels like a million miles per hour, I feel like I’m stuck in the ‘80s and I’ve just snorted a couple lines with ‘Macho Man’– And this is a straight up shoot -- I have not been able to stop thinking about the potential that the cinematic style of storytelling that Lucha Underground provides its viewers.
I’ve learnt several things from being a Padawan to Vince Russo, here at VinceRussoBrand.com and one of those things is that ratings matter!! I honestly feel that the WWEs problem with storytelling isn’t the stories themselves, but more how they present them. To me this is why a nobody from ‘Lucha Underground’ can get over better as an onscreen character than the top draw from WWE, because the WWE are still stuck in that 90s mentality.
I said it previously, the WWE are stuck booking wrestling like it’s still the ‘Attitude Era’ – Just a watered down, corporate version. They are still using the same plot devices and the same conventions to tell a story and because they have all been ran into the ground so many times over the last fifteen years, they have become tiresome.
This isn’t a knock to the ‘Attitude Era’, not at all, it was a fantastic time to be a wrestling time—arguably the best time. But that all ended nearly 15 years ago and the world has most certainly moved on.
Concepts such as the baby-face turning heel on his friend because he secretly wants the championship all to himself are tired. People want to watch a show that they can relate too. A show with three dimensional characters that have real struggles. People want to see the baby-face betray his best friend because they’re stuck in a conundrum and there’s no other choice, not because they are secretly Dick Dastardly twiddling their moustache as their evil plan falls together. What these conundrums do, is give the story depth—It adds meat to the bone.
During the ‘Monday Night Wars’ the world was introduced to the concept of reality television before the explosion of the genre in the early noughties, this was via the WCWs New World Order. Up North the world was introduced to ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin – the Anti-Hero. A man for whom the blue collar worker related to and allowed for them to vicariously live through. As each week unfolded we watched in awe as he tortured the living hell out of his Gordan Gecko esq. douche of a boss. It was anti-establishment during a time when Hip-Hop was huge in America – and the ‘F*** the Police’ mentality of Hip-Hop was mirrored each week as Steve Austin flipped the bird to his corporate boss! But wrestling was so popular back then for the same reasons why Jerry Springer was, it was the first of its kind and it was introducing viewers to a concept in which each time you tuned in you never knew what was going to happen.
Since then, as the world has evolved—so has television. We have been introduced to much more complex characters, the likes of the struggling patriarch Tony Soprano. A man whom struggled with his flawed family, his proud Italian heritage and his tortured soul all whilst being the ‘tough guy’. In one scene you would see Tony stand on a man’s face until he was dead, the next scene you would see Tony feeding ducks in his backyard pool.
Only in this era of television can people route for the serial killer in the way that people did for Dexter Morgan.
The struggles that we see create dimensions for these characters, and that’s when you start routing for the Walter Whites of the world—another example of a complex struggling anti-hero. Here’s a man who, due to cancer has been forced to “cook” Crystal Meth in order to support his family.
We live in an age where the heel is the Baby-Face and the Baby-Face is the Heel. Why do you think John Cena and Roman Reigns are boo’ed each week – Because Superman isn’t cool anymore--Deadpool is!
People don’t like Iron Man because he’s a superhero, they like Robert Downey Jr’s reckless portrayal of the character.
What Lucha Underground are doing better than anybody else right now is telling that story. I can honestly say right now that the most valuable character in pro-wrestling in 2016 is Vampiro—because he has depth to his character. Here’s a man, similar to those that have been discussed today, whom is struggling with his morals, his mental stability and it makes me want to tune in to see this struggle – I can honestly say I’m not a huge fan of Lucha Libre, but I’m a fan of good TV and what Lucha Underground are presenting to their audience is exactly that!
Lucha Underground tell stories, the WWE kayfabe their audience. Here lies the difference between each product. Lucha Underground doesn’t insult the audiences intelligence and they are aren’t afraid to push the creative envelope, to try new things and to break the traditions of wrestling to tell their story.
Instead of backstage promo’s where “This Sunday at Battle Ground, I will be the next Champion because I’m tougher than you”, Lucha Underground allow cinematography to tell their stories. They use very creative camera techniques and very visual colour correction in their edits, this along with the way they tell stories reflects a Prime Time serial drama such as ‘Breaking Bad’ – and that’s EXACTLY what the casual television viewer wants. That’s what it takes for the casual viewer to stay tuned into pro wrestling in 2016 and it prevents them from putting down the remote.
Lucha Underground is filmed in what appears to be a gritty run down building, it seems to resemble that of a scene out of ‘Fight Club’, instead of a boring HD television set with its ugly set dressing that’s tedious perfection. No-one can get hurt on the WWEs perfect TV set. But down Underground in ‘The Temple’ that’s where blood is spilt.
The set they have their gives off the illusion that what you are watching is illegal – This makes for a much more interesting experience for the viewer and allows the story to become escapism for the viewer.
Even Lucha Undergrounds commentary team are thoughly more enjoyable than anyone else in the business. Ive said before, Matt Striker is the best working announcer today! The guy is a walking encyipedia of knowledge when it comes to the history of the business and I LOVE how he can relate what is happening in the ring with the history of the business. What this does is educate the audience, it teaches them about guys like Dynamite Kid and allows the legacies of the Von Erichs to live on.
Lucha Underground allow inter-gender matches to take place on their show – Now what I love about this isn’t that concept, it’s how they completely don’t sell it, like it’s not even a big deal that this women is wrestling a man! Because they don’t constantly shove it down our throats, it allows for the female to get over – It’s when the WWE constantly force the fact that there is now a ‘Divas Revolution’ that I’m insulted. What there’s a Divas Revolution? What because YOU say so?
This Divas Revolution BS doesn’t put over the females, too me it Burys them, because too me that’s like they’re saying, “Ok, now you’re on your way to being equal to men because WE say so”. That’s not only sexist, but it’s insulting.
I hope you have enjoyed this article as much as I have writing it! I always appreciate the feedback I get from all you great marks and smarks, so thank you very much!
I’ve been Jake Jesus – Watching supporting Lucha Underground is most definitely what is “Best for Business”!
I’ll see you down the road!
Follow Jake on Twitter @IAmJakeJesus
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