WWE is stuck in a creative rut, but as the dominant No. 1 promotion, there’s no need for it to get out of its complacency resulting in some uninspired matches and stories. Fortunately there’s better options out there from Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor and WWE’s development brand, NXT. But the best of the bunch and further separating itself from the pack more and more each week is Lucha Underground.
With a colorful roster reminiscent of the glory days of The Hulkamania era of WWF; aerial warfare recalling the best of WCW’s cruiserweight division; unbelievable stunts similar to ECW and a core of strong personalities like the WWE’s Attitude Era, Lucha Underground takes the best aspects of some of the past’s most exciting wrestling promotions to create a must-see show that is fast becoming appointment TV for fans.
I had a hard time whittling this list in half, but here’s five reasons why Lucha Underground is the best thing going today.
Matt Striker and Vampiro
No doubt there’s some great wrestling in New Japan and AAA, but unless you’re fluent in Japanese and Spanish, a part of the ideal wrestling presentation is missing, which is why Lucha Underground’s decision to hire former wrestlers Matt Striker and Vampiro as commentators was so savvy.
As former wrestlers they understand the importance of keeping the focus on the wrestlers currently competing in the match whether the opening match or the main event. You’re not going to hear a lot of conversations involving an app, the Lucha Underground website or anything that takes you out of the match. While Striker is the more traditional commentator, Vampiro is fantastic as he talks like your basic wrestling fan watching the show.
Melissa Santos, Ivelisse, Sexy Star and Catrina
Lucha Underground has some ridiculously hot female talent on its roster. Ivelisse and Sexy Star are luchadores who battle against the men and the booking is smart in that they’re not overpowering guys, but using their speed and momentum to get the upper hand.
Melissa Santos is in contention for all time hottest ring announcer and Catrina is the devilish valet to Mil Muertes so if you just want to watch wrestling for eye candy, LU has definitely got you covered.
Dario Cueto and actually interesting backstage segments
After the end of The Monday Night Wars, WWE turned backstage segments into bathroom breaks featuring lame skits that turned its
wrestlers sports entertainers into lousy actors. In Lucha Underground, the segments are shot on film to give it a movie-like look instead of the standard wrestling backstage visual.
LU keeps the segments brief and instead of simply setting up the matches for that night’s show, they’re used to have the luchadores interact to set up/continue future storylines. But the main focus backstage is Dario Cueto, the best heel president/CEO/general manager since Mr. McMahon. He’s a shady, manipulative bastard frequently making life difficult for the fan favorites and helping out his cronies just to keep things interesting.
This really is awesome
The ‘This is Awesome’ chant is ridiculously overused to the point it has little meaning and less value for those rare occasions when it really should be used. Lucha Underground fans are no exception, it’s just in LU’s case, each week there’s another match vying for contention for Match of the Year honors.
From the Best of Five series between Drago and Aerostar; Grave Consequences; Prince Puma vs. Cage; the finale of the Trios Title Tournament and arguably the best candidate Johnny Mundo (the former John Morrison in the WWE) vs. Alberto El Patron (Alberto Del Rio in WWE), the show delivers at least one jaw-dropping spectacle every week.
In WWE, the best chances for a great match are on the monthly shows while Impact Wrestling’s high quality contests get ravaged by commercials. Lucha Underground just brings the awesome
True episodic TV
With no network to endlessly hype, a pay-per-view show to discuss all month long or even a big arena show to promote, Lucha Underground’s only concern is getting the audience to come back each week with captivating stories that develop a little more each week. Longtime wrestling fans may be able to see where some of the storylines are headed, but the beauty of LU is that the writers aren’t trying to trick the viewer and if a storyline makes sense to go left, they’ll go left instead of right just to throw off the viewers.
The Son of Havoc, Ivelisse and Angelico storyline that began with Son of Havoc and Ivelisse dating and breaking up during their feud with Angelico and subsequent forced pairing into a Trios Team may be the best booked angle of the year.
The beauty though is other story lines have just as much potential (El Patron/Mundo could be in contention for Feud of the Year) and you’re curious to see how they play out and the only way to do that is to keep watching.
Once you start though, you’re not going to be able to look at other promotions in the same way again. Give it a shot and let me know what you think. Very curious to see how quickly you get hooked like I did.