I’ve spent a lot of time on this here website trying to debate the merits of professional wrestling. I still believe that the death of kayfabe – or the end of people believing wrestling was not staged – is the best thing to ever happen to the business. By removing the need to pretend that the wrestlers are anything but exceptionally talented athletes putting on a show (a very dangerous, highly athletic show), the end of the era of kayfabe has lead to some of the most exciting programming in years. But while the biggest wrestling shows have still clung to the past and tried desperately to make the old ways work, only one televised program this year has completely abandoned the pretense of being anything other than a TV show.
That program is Lucha Underground.
Just so we’re clear, that is a man dressed as a dragon wielding nunchucks in a battle during last night’s Ultima Lucha: Part One. If that intrigues you, read on. If it doesn’t – I’m not sure when the hole in your soul began, but see a Cleric of Bahamut at your earliest convenience.
I don’t blame you for not having heard of Lucha Underground this season – they’re on Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey Network, which almost nobody has, in an era where television is moving towards streaming full time. It’s hard to catch Lucha Underground unless you get yourself a free trial of Sling – and after the free trial, that gets expensive. But believe me when I tell you, this show is worth it.
Most wrestling shows don’t have “seasons” per se. They just keep continuing on and on, with no breaks in TV at all. This leads to two problems – character motivations become completely unbelievable as the same man turns from good to evil forty times in a career (or 500 times, if you’re the Big Show), and the performers burn out from injury much faster. It also makes it confusing for you non wrestling fans out there to follow if you want to jump in. Lucha Underground doesn’t have that problem. They’re just wrapping up their first season, which had two or three overarching plotlines that developed from week to week, and are leading up to a big finale next Wednesday. Here’s a quick sample:
It all comes to a head with the final night of Ultima Lucha, next Wednesday at 8pm EST. You have a week to catch up. Go, go, go!