Lucha Underground, What Happened?
For a video on this topic and much more pro wrestling see here: 15 Wrestlers Who Died In The Ring (Documentary) - YouTube
The body crunching spectacular which is the wonderful world of Pro wrestling has been around for a long time. You can trace it’s modern roots back to the start of the 20th century over 100 years ago with carnival shows being put on for the entertainment of the masses.
Over that century, a few companies have managed to obtain a strangle hold over the industry, the likes of World Wrestling Entertainment in North America, who have been the industry leaders, for better and for worse for most of that time.
With the industry being led by a small number of organisations, there is a certain way in which pro wrestling has evolved to be presented, especially over the last few decades where WWE’s monopoly has meant that for the most part, unless you were doing things their way, then in terms of pro wrestling at least, you weren’t doing it at all.
On October 29th 2014 the coming of a revolution was signified when Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide better known simply as Triple A and iconic film director Robert Rodriguez joined forces, in an attempt to shake up the status quo.
Initially titled Lucha Uprising there was a real buzz surrounding this hotly anticipated new product at the time: "Each week 'Lucha: Uprising' will bring drama, excitement, and action as the masked heroes and villains battle it out in the ring for wrestling supremacy.”
Filmed in front of a passionate studio audience in Boyle Heights, California. Lucha Underground was born from a desire to showcase what the world outside of the norm could deliver. With top Mexican stars filling the initial roster as well as some lesser known, but expertly talented names from the independent wrestling scene, Lucha Underground felt like the spark which was needed in order to change the grappling landscape.
Prince Puma became the first Lucha Underground Champion and fittingly so. An unbelievably agile wrestler wowed audiences with his take on lucha libre. A perfect encapsulation of what Lucha Underground was all about. Taking the very best of the Mexican wrestling style and producing it with an American slickness and visual style which quickly became the talk of the wrestling world.
By the time the first season culminated with it’s first special show, Ultima Lucha, myself and many other wrestling fans were hooked. Delighted to be witnessing first-hand the start of what felt like the future of pro wrestling outside of WWE.
Wrestlers from all over the globe were seemingly also impressed and Lucha Underground’s second series, began to feature more recognisable names, which in turn brought in a wider audience.
Over the next four seasons, Lucha Underground focused on the cinematic, story-driven side of pro wrestling. Less concerned with sports entertainment and more a place where in a single hour of television, the athletes on our screen would progress, improve and continue to garner the respect and adulation of lucha fans worldwide.
The story lines were over-the-top, this is pro wrestling after all. The drama was intense and the matches matched their level of ferocity. One hour shows flying by at the same lightning speed displayed by the masked luchas in the ring.
Continuing to grow, Lucha Underground began to partner with the likes of Impact Wrestling, the International Wrestling Syndicate and Major League Wrestling, all helping one another by sharing performers and putting on what could be described as super-shows, with cross-promotion and bigger events continuing to attract an ever widening viewership.
By November of 2018, following the final episode of season four, Lucha Underground had become the only pro wrestling show which I had to watch weekly. I didn’t want to miss a moment and it had sincerely become my favourite part of the entire roster of weekly grappling programmes.
However, when I heard that Eric van Wagenen stated that “the series had amassed budget concerns, and would require a major reboot on a lot of levels to produce a fifth season,” my heart sank.
I knew that this could only mean that Lucha Underground had overextended themselves and was concerned that it may have dramatic repercussions for the show as a whole.
Little did I know at the time, that no season 5 would ever get made and that the shimmering light which was Lucha Underground would fizzle out mere months later. 2019 came and went and no show was being produced. I knew then that my favourite part of wrestling was about to die.
So three years after the final episode, I wanted to take a look at the performers which made Lucha Underground so special and see how even though the show was cancelled, many of the wrestlers who rose to prominence in the Lucha Dojo continued on their upward trajectory.
Many of whom are now big stars, leading the way in other promotions and taking with them the spirit which made Lucha Underground so special. A desire to be different, to tell interesting and thoughtful stories and most of all to continue to amaze audiences with their un-matched athleticism and in-ring splendour.
All Elite Wrestling has been the talk of the town over the last couple of years. Seen by many as a legitimate contender to WWE’s throne atop the wrestling world, AEW has endeavoured to sign some of the most exciting talent that the industry has to offer, both young stars and established veterans have flocked to this upstart company at the same rate that long time wrestling fans have.
Vibora is an enormous half dinosaur, half luchador who has won the hearts of any a wrestling fan since his departure from Lucha Underground. Following a spell with WWE and a run on a reality TV series, Austin Matelson is performing in AEW as a member of the super-popular Jurassic Express stable alongside Marko stunt and Jungle Boy, under his Lucha Underground nickname, Luchasaurus.
Sammy Guevara is performing in AEW under the exact same name as he made in Lucha Underground, currently enjoying a run as the TNT Champion and as a popular upper-midcard babyface performer, a man whose cockiness is backed up by in-ring talent far surpassing his years in the ring.
XO Lishus is performing in AEW as Sonny Kiss, as a lower-midcard babyface. A fun persona whose progressive stance on gender and sexuality stands Sonny Kiss out as a wrestler who breaks the mould.
Pentagon Jr. / Dark was one of my favourite parts of Lucha Underground. His vicious offensive style brought a ominous feeling to all of his matches, his iconic feud with Vampiro is a stand out from the promotion and is an expert piece of storytelling within the ring. He is performing in AEW as Penta El Zero Miedo, as the World Tag Champion with his brother.
Fenix, the other half of the super-popular Lucha Brothers team. The brothers have also dominated Mexico and Impact upon their departure from LU. And for good reason. Fenix, the younger half of the lucha bros is one of the best highflyers in the entire wrestling business today, performing moves in his matches which many non-Mexican wrestling fans simply wouldn’t have seen elsewhere. A real vision for the future, Fenix has the world at his feet as one of the most promising performers in recent history.
Brian Cage stands out amongst even the most overly muscled wrestlers as a man whose swollen physique allows him to execute a deadly powerful move set. However, Brian Cage was once as high-flying and death defying as any of the other luchadores on this list and thus brings with him to the ring a rare combination of unbridled strength and agility. Since leaving LU, Cage has fought around the wrestling world and made appearances for Impact Wrestling, he is performing in AEW under the same name, as an upper-midcard powerhouse babyface.
Kobra Moon is performing in another stand out from the Lucha Temple to make their way to AEW. Now known as Thunder Rosa, she is arguably the most popular woman in the promotion not named Britt Baker.
Legend of the industry Chavo Guerrero Jr. way held in high esteem before making his wat to the Lucha Underground promotion. He has since worked on the Netflilx show GLOW where he imparted his wealth of knowledge on the actors there. He is performing in AEW under his real name now, most recently managing Andrade El Idolo.
Wrestling is often said to be one large extended family business. Staying with the Guerreos, daughter of wrestling legend Eddie Guerrero, Shaul Guerrero appeared in WWE before making her way to Lucha Underground, recently she has appeared as a ring announcer for AEW during their Women's Tag Tournament.
Jack Evans has been a pro wrestler for more than 20 years, he is performing in AEW under this exact same name as he did in Lucha Underground with his quick offense and years of experience he is a valuable asset to the locker room and is a member of Matt Hardy's HFO faction.
Evan’s tag partner was another highlight of Lucha Underground. Angelico’s death-defying style bringing us one of the shows most memorable moments, flying from seemingly out of nowhere to deliver one of my favourite dropkicks of all time. The South African luchador is currently performing in AEW where he remains a close ally and tag partner of Jack Evans. Many speculate that during his run in Lucha Underground, Angelico was positioned to be one of the biggest stars of the promotion, his in-ring work and connection with the fans was clear for all to see. However, he suffered two serious injuries which unfortunately held him back.
Ivelisse was a part of the trios schedule in Lucha Underground and went on to hold several championships within the promotion. She appeared in AEW briefly, but was released in 2021.
Formerly a world champion with WWE under the name of Jack Swagger, Jake Strong was a notable signing for Lucha Underground at the time. Now with a legitimate background in MMA, he is performing in AEW as Jake Hager, Chris Jericho's right-hand man in the Inner Circle stable.
After appearing on WWE’s Tough Enough Marty The Moth went on to become the sadistic champion in Lucha Underground.
He said: “I worked my freakin’ butt off to make this happen. I started as comedic relief. When I had the belt wrapped around my waist, I felt that I’d made it to the top of the mountain in Lucha Underground.”
His dark, tormented style of story-telling stood out amongst the grittier feel during his time in The Lucha Temple. The Moth has recently worked enhancement matches for AEW under his real name, Martin Casaus and only looks set to achieve more in the future.
We regularly see performers in pro wrestling, especially lucha libre, narrowly avoiding death in their attempts at pushing the limits of entertainment. The same can be said for Impact Wrestling, formerly TNA. A company which has undergone several near deaths and rebirths over the last decade has seemingly finally found more steady footing. With it, the quality of the action on display has been more consistent than ever, with it attracting some of the industries brightest acts.
ECW alumni Tommy Dreamer has been involved in a lot of controversy lately. The hardcore legend made some insensitive comments on Dark Side of the Ring which has seen him fall out of favour of wrestling fans and companies alike. After leaving Lucha Underground and prior to the controversy, he was working as a member of Impact's booking crew.
When I got back into wrestling via NXT in 2015, one of the standout stars for me on that show was Solomon Crowe a post-punk anarchist with a stocky frame and exciting in-ring ability. Since then, Lucha Underground’s Jeremiah Snake / Crane has only improved and had a host of must see matches for several promotions. He is now performing in Impact under his most well-known name, Sami Callihan, as one of the company's top guys over the last three years.
The Mack was a part of a faction teaming with Big Ryck and Killshot as an all-black, all action trio in Lucha Underground. Since then The Mack has gone on to win the X-Division title performing in Impact under his more known name of Willie Mack, in a fun tag team with Rich Swann as well as a handful of appearances for the National Wrestling Alliance.
Paul London has seemingly not wrestled since his time in LU ended, however he has done work for Impact as a producer.
Although probably better known for his time wrestling and commentating for WWE and ECW, Matt Striker was the lead commentator for Lucha Underground for most of it’s four season run, alongside Vampiro becoming the voices of the English speaking presentation. Matt Striker is continuing with what he is seemingly best at, performing as a commentator for both Impact and AAA.
Hernandez is a former multi-time IMPACT World Tag Team Champion as part of the legendary tag team LAX. Since his stint in Lucha Underground he has returned to the company where he has spent a large chunk of his career. In Impact he has continued under the exact same name, as a midcard veteran.
Melina has recently popped up in both Impact and NWA.
Major League Wrestling, the New York based promotion may not be the name on everyone’s lips in 2021, but the company has continued to make strides amongst pro wrestling’s die hard fans and still have a rabid fanbase, which only looks set to expand since signing a new broadcasting deal recently. After the end of Lucha Underground, they signed a host of the companies stars to continue to develop the MLW brand.
Son of Havoc is performing in MLW as Matt Cross, having recently returned to the business.
Konnan has popped up in AEW and MLW multiple times over the last few years, commonly managing whatever incarnation of LAX is available.
Daivari has recently made appearances for both Impact and MLW, as a member of the company's top heel faction, CONTRA.
Dario Cueto is performing in MLW as Cezar Duran, the authority figure of the promotion.
Mil Muertes is performing in MLW as King Muertes, while also doing a lot of work on the indies.
Being the biggest name in sports entertainment, it was no surprise to see WWE scooping up many talented names from the Lucha Underground roster once their contracts expired. The NXT developmental brand has been home to many of the faces which made their way through the Lucha Temple since the show ended in 2018.
The White Rabbit in Lucha Underground cut a formidable figure with his imposing size and aggressive in-ring style. Since leaving the temple, he had a character change and became Karrion Kross who made a bigger name for himself performing in NXT. However, his popularity with the developmental brand saw him called up to the main roster in WWE as Karrion Kross, where he was fitted with an unfortunate gladiator gimmick which many of his fans saw as a huge downgrade. Nether the less Kross has since been working as a mid-card talent after a dominant run in NXT.
The Lord had already earned a reputation as a bare-knuckle boxers in the UK and on the main roster of WWE before his time in Lucha Underground. Since his departure, he has featured as commentator on short-lived World Of Sport and is now performing in WWE once again as Wade Barrett, working as a commentator in its developmental territory NXT.
Dez X is performing in WWE as Wes Lee, where he is the NXT Tag Team Champion with his long-time partner Nash Carter. Despite being the top team, MSK are seemingly struggling to become popular with the fans. I for one am still left wondering what their tag-team initials stand for, what is MSK?
Wes Lee explained “It’s us. MSK is Wes Lee and Nash Carter. It’s what we stand for, it’s who we are. It’s what we do. It’s a lifestyle. It’s a mentality.”
So I still don’t know.
Killshot is performing in WWE as Isaiah Swerve Scott, a leader of the Hit Row faction who earned success in NXT and a North American Championship run before being drafted to the main roster of WWE and Smackdown alongside his Hit Row teammates.
When Lucha Underground revealed the signing of Rey Mysterio Jr. was when me and other fans started to believe that the brand had a real chance at mainstream success. In the states and Europe, there is arguably no bigger name in the whole of pro wrestling under a mask. A man who has consistently been one of the most popular wrestlers wherever he has appeared in a ring, from WCW to the independent Mexican wrestling scene, there is no doubt that Rey Mysterio is a mega star. Since his time in Lucha Underground Rey Mysterio has been performing in WWE with his shortened name, teaming with his son Dominik.
Doku is signed to WWE as an ambassador under her Kairi Sane name. The hard-hitting Japanese athlete having a great run from the Mae Young Classic in NXT, through an excellent partnership with Asuka. However, Kairi Sane’s husband and family were all still living across the other side of the world in Japan and she felt the need to move back in order to truly be happy. She has continued to keep a close relationship with WWE and perhaps we will see her appearing sporadically for the brand in the future.
Taya stood out as a woman who had it all in Lucha Underground. A great look, confident personality, and desire to push the boundaries within the ring. Teaming up with now real-life husband Johnny Mundo in the Temple, Taya had some great matches and even received one of the brands most brutal looking suplexs through a table. Going on to become Taya Valkyrie, she bulked up, improved further, and had a decent run with Impact Wrestling where he became the longest reigning Knockouts champion. Always moving forward, Taya has since rebranded and is performing in WWE as Franky Monet an upper mid-card heel in NXT.
Hitokiri is performing in WWE as Io Shirai, one of the more decorated wrestlers in NXT's women's division. Shirai’s run in Lucha Underground was brief, but as part of the black lotus triad, an invasion of Japanese promotion Stardom Wrestlers, had a superb run of matches against Pentagon, which stand out as some of the best inter-gender wrestling matches in recent memory. Io is an absolute monster in the ring, here definitive size and cute looks often catching news fans completely off-guard. She is ferocious as much as she is talented and one of my favourite wrestlers on this list.
The man under the Aztec mask has a career of highlights and must watch matches going all the way back to the early 2000s, however with his vibrant animalistic appearance, Prince Puma was the initial stand out star from Lucha Underground’s first series going on to be crowned as the companies inaugural champion.
For me, he is the reason that I was instantly hooked on the show. I had seen fast faced wrestling before and attended a few lucha events in the UK, but something about his style made me excited to watch the next episode, with the hopes that a Prince Puma match would feature.
Under the mask, the wrestler could ignore his perceived weakness on the microphone and focus solely on what he does best. Since his time in the Temple, the puma mask has been removed and the wrestler Ricochet has continued to grow. Alongside Matt Sydal, Ricochet featured as the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions in New Japan and is currently performing in WWE as Ricochet, as a mid-card babyface that is occasionally spotlighted. However, there is no doubt that Ricochet is unfortunately hampered by his position in WWE and he hasn’t often enough been given a chance to show his true potential.
A man with as many different names as he has muscles on his torso, the high-flying, parkouring superstar Johnny Mundo was one of biggest none Latin names in the Lucha Underground series. From Johnny Nitro to Johnny Impact, this excellently charismatic wrestler is now performing in WWE again, this time as John Morrison, having recently turned babyface with the same glittering wrestling style as he’s always displayed over the past two decades.
King Cuerno is performing in WWE as Santos Escobar, a leader of Legado Del Fantasma stable and looks to have a bright future within the company.
Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide, more widely known as Triple A were part of the core foundation of Lucha Underground, with many of their talented roster featuring prominently on both shows. Since the end of the fourth series, most of the Latin American performers who were initially featured for AAA have gone on to have success around the wider wrestling world.
Some however, have continued to stay loyal to the brand in which they first made their name. One benefit for these performers is that they can continue to operate under the characters which were seamlessly transitioned between Lucha Underground and Mexico’s biggest lucha promotion.
A mainstay in AAA since 2008 Argenis played 2 characters in Lucha Underground, the aforementioned Argenis as well as Barrio Negro, part of the Disciples of Death team, he has remained performing in AAA since.
Often teaming with Argenis is AAA, Aerostar had one of the coolest looks amongst the luchadores within the Temple. His light up chest piece and belt going someway to describing his superhero persona within the ring, always reminded me or Iron Man. He has been another stalwart of the AAA roster since 2003 where he continues to pass on his wealth of experience to the younger generation. He is also known to pop up in PWG and other smaller wrestling promotions in the US.
After his time in Lucha Underground, Texano filed a lawsuit against the El Rey Network in 2019. He claimed that the promotion had signed a contract which “illegally restricted” him and other performers from working in their “lawful profession” by not allowing them to wrestler elsewhere whilst barely making any money from their Lucha Underground appearances. He refused to work during the final series of the show as has since explained that he wasn’t paid by the company from 2016 to 2018. Since then, Texano recently departed AAA after being in the promotion for almost a decade.
Pimpinela Escarlata is one of if not the greatest Exotico in the history of lucha libre. A classic trope in the world of Mexican wrestling, a drag act of sorts who wears female clothing to do combat and often plays a comedic role during matches. I was lucky enough to witness Pimpinela wrestle in London a few years back and the character was one of the most popular and fun things on the entire show. The Scarlet Pimpernel has been a mainstay of Mexican wrestling since the 1980s and has continued to perform in AAA to this day.
Drago is a character which would have terrified me as a kid and to be honest still gives me that chill down my spine as an adult. There is something so ominous about his detailed horned attire, his realistic reptilian wings and that horrible black goop which seeps from his mouth which has always made Drago stand out as an interesting character within lucha libre and was certainly one of the most eye-catching performers in all of Lucha Underground. The sinister Drago’s looks don’t always represent evil however and he is currently wrestling in AAA as a midcard babyface.
Whether wrestling underneath a mask or without one, as a technico good guy or rudo villain Super Fly has a diversity to his character work and wrestling style which has served his longevity within the business. He is now back in AAA without a mask, but who knows what the future holds for Super Fly.
Part of a prestigious wrestling lineage Dr. Wagner Jr. has been around the Mexican wrestling scene since the mid-1980s. Although his career has drastically slowed with age, since leaving Lucha Underground he has been doing some occasional indy touring after leaving AAA last year.
Sexy Star is a complicated one. In Mexico, it is often not the wrestlers who are famous, but the mask and character whom they portray in the ring. This leads to situations where a wrestler may forfeit their mask for a number of reasons, and it be given to another performer to keep the lineage going.
The Sexy Star who appeared in Lucha Underground was embroiled in several controversies following her time in the temple, notably and purposefully injuring a fellow wrestler by hyper extending her opponent Rosemary’s arm causing a dislocated elbow which saw Sexy Star blacklisted from most major promotions. The lady under the mask now performs for Alberto El Patron’s promotion sporadically as Sexy Dulce, in Mexico and with all the hate directed at the two athletes for the darkness in their personal lives, it seems like a perfect fit.
The character of Sexy Star lives on however and she is performing in AAA, working mainly tag matches.
INDIES & OTHER PROMOTIONS
In 2021, the world of pro wrestling seems wider than ever before. There are more places for these performers to ply their trade and make a living, even if they aren’t assigned to one of the big wrestling promotions in the United States. Some wrestlers prefer the lighter schedule, some have other ambitions outside of the squared circle and some are yet to hit their stride on their way to realising their full potential.
Working the independent scene in America since leaving Lucha Underground are the likes of Ricky Mandel, Mascarita Sagrada and Son Of Madness as Johnny Goodtime, who are working the California indies. Bengala who most recently has worked for GCW.Cortez Castro is back to performing under his Ricky Reyes name, on the Indiana scene. Bael is also performing on the indie circuit under his more famous B-Boy name, his last appearance being in Bar Wrestling last year. Mr. Pectacular is performing in OVW as Jessie Godderz, as an upper mid-card performer.
In Japan you have the likes of Yurei, who is back in Stardom under her real name. And Matanza, who is performing in NJPW as Jeff Cobb, as a dominant member of the United Empire stable. He has also made an appearance for AEW, wrestling their top babyface, Jon Moxley.
NO LONGER PERFORMING
The final group of wrestlers have since departed the wrestling industry, some retired due to age and health and some on this will surely not be missed. First, let’s look at the stars who we will remember fondly.
Vampiro, the voice of Lucha Underground and 90s wrestling legend brought a real passion and emotion to the show. He seemingly poured his heart and soul into the company and was said to be frustrated when it could no longer continue to operate. Vampiro faced off in my favourite storyline throughout the whole of the series against Pentagon and showed that even with his advancing age and ring rust, he was still a master of macabre storytelling within the ring. Sadly, he is seemingly away from the business, dealing with severe health issues in recent years.
Big Ryck retired from the business shortly after his tenure with LU ended, now working as a personal trainer.
Mariposa has seemingly not wrestled in 2 years, the last promotion she worked for being SHIMMER.
And now, the fuck ups!
We’ve already spoken about the horrid history of the original Sexy Star but she wasn’t the only wrestler to appear on Lucha Underground whom fans have since rejected.
Joey Ryan is thankfully not performing anywhere anymore. He is a sexual deviant and a proven scum bag. He deserves no more attention and I am glad he is no longer part of the wrestling business. Fuck you Joey Ryan.
Alberto El Patron has been involved in numerous scandalous activities over the last five years. Cocaine, domestic abuse and a litany of other shady dealings have turned this once WWE Champion and one of Mexico’s biggest stars into a shadow of his former self. Recently, he teased a return to WWE, which most of us hope does not happen.
Catrina, Daga, Black Lotus and WWE alumni Joey Wrestling have also seemingly left the business.
WHAT MADE IT SO SPECIAL
Now that we’ve gone through the roster and seen where all of these amazing talents ended up. It’s hard not to be completely blown away by just how stacked the Lucha Underground roster was at the time. But the depth of the roster wasn’t the only reason that the promotion will always be remembered so fondly. So, what did make Lucha Underground so special?
Firstly, the presentation. With Dario Cuerto at the helm as the maniacal on-screen owner of the Lucha Temple, responsible for making the big decisions and often favouring the brands bad guys, this formula is nothing new. However, the man who plays Cuerto is a classically trained actor and not a wrestler. With him, he brings a real presence to every performance and took the storylines which are often as ridiculous and over the top as you’d expect from a wrestling show, and gives them a real grounding in some sort of fantastical realism.
This means that when the more unrealistic elements of Lucha Underground come into play, the likes of lizard winged demons battling robots from outer space, or magical spells taking hold of a character’s motives, this gritty realism brought forward by Dario Cuerto somehow makes the whole thing gel.
Lucha Underground may be a company with some of the most elaborate and mystical storylines in any promotions ever, but even with it’s tongue placed firmly in it’s cheek, the presentation always takes the story and more importantly the action in the ring, dead seriously. This makes you feel valued as a viewer and doesn’t give you that sense that the wrestling company you are supporting takes you for granted or it treating you like a child.
It’s campy in places, silly in others but Lucha Underground’s world is consistent and that allowed me to fully immerse myself in this fantasy realm and lose myself in the show.
Secondly, the world. Executive producer Eric Van Wagenen said “We may be too weird to be spoiled, plot-wise.” And to a large degree, I agree. Lucha Underground built a world where pro wrestling wasn’t just a form of entertainment put on by pro wrestlers for the entertainment of the masses such as seen in AEW or WWE. The fighters in the Lucha Temple entirely stayed in character, in a world built around the noble art of combat as set out in the old Aztec tradition.
The crowd in the arena are the “Believers” who are there to be fully engrossed in the action and not just some random guys off the street. The arena of combat for Lucha Underground known as The Temple originally held around 350 people. All of whom are seemingly there to be lost in the story and swept away by the action. The crowd for every single show is full of energy and love for pro wrestling and it shows during almost every segment. Having this electric crowd supporting every moment of every show means that as an audience member at home, it is easy to do the same. There are so many times when I watch a WWE match and feel a sense of excitement before the ring bells tolls, only for the crowd in attendance to be bored during the entrances and deliver lack lustre reactions whilst the action is taking place in the ring. With Lucha Underground, this simply isn’t the case.
WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG?
Finances were the eventual killing blow for Lucha Underground. In the years since 2018 there have been several performers speaking out about their issues with the promotion, all of which seem to stem from the fact that the wrestlers weren’t being paid enough to survive, and some were even stopped from working for other promotions via their contract.
A long running legal case concluded in the wrestlers favour, with the court ruling that the contracts which Lucha Underground insisted their talents signed were not ethical. The documents from said court case explained: “Most wrestlers under a Lucha Underground contract make less than $4,000 a year. Wrestlers working for other promotions make a living wage, usually starting around $50,000 a year and entering either 6 or 7 figures.”
Vampiro said: "Lack of communication. Too many chiefs, not enough Indians. Lack of communication and lack of accountability. There was millions of dollars in play and our biggest error was not going on tour after season one when it was hot. By season three -- it's classic in wrestling. When you take independent talent who has mega charisma and much talent and you do not put rules in place from day one, when they become powerful and then you try to bring them back down, it doesn't work. It's like a prison riot. I think the talent did the right thing. They took the bull by horns, looked out for their careers, and moved on. That's life. It's not good business, but they brought it on themselves. As beautiful of an experience as it was, it's a shame because it was a great product," he said.
The ill feeling towards Lucha Undeground will be hard for many performers to make their way back to. Who would want to work for a company when their relationship had soured so entirely by the end. Not to mention the fact, that as witnessed in this video, many of the wrestlers who were lesser known names when they originally signed for Lucha Underground, have since gone on to much bigger success elsewhere.
Vampiro explained: “90% of the roster is in AEW, the other 10% is in WWE. The writers are gone, the production crew is gone, the company is split. I would pretty much put my money on, it’s over and done.”
Greed seemingly took hold as it does so often when a young upstart company begins to make big waves in it’s industry and there is no denying that it left a sour taste in the mouths of wrestlers and fans alike.
However, with a different approach and the right people at the helm, we’ve seen with the likes of AEW that the wrestling world is crying out for change. And fans of this unusual mix of glitter and grappling are desperate to get behind fresh and innovative companies who offer new ways of enjoying this century old art form.
THE FUTURE OF LUCHA
The wrestling landscape with the resurgence of Impact wrestling as well as the foundation and continued success of AEW, is vastly different to what it was even a few years ago in 2018.
That being said, I believe it is always in the best interest for fans of pro wrestling if there is more choice, thus more places for our favourite performers to ply their trade and more importantly, more competition between brands breeding innovation and quality.
As a huge fan of the original era of Lucha Underground, I would love to see the promotion make a comeback.
Recently, there have been many rumblings online that the popular series may be undergoing somewhat of a resurgence.
With industry journalist Dave Meltzer reporting: "There is at least the beginning of talk of reviving Lucha Underground. It would be the same type of ideas, although with a different name."
The name Azteca Underground has been floating around the wrestling ether since January and MLW have been working closely with Dareo Cuerto in the time since. There is now a website online which references several aspects of Lucha Underground including it’s reserection. However, as of right now, nothing is set in stone.
I for one cannot wait to see what the next chapter in this saga holds for Lucha Underground. But here’s hoping there is still at least a few more UNIQUE OPPURTUNITIES for some GLORIOUS VIOLENCE.
For a video on this topic and much more pro wrestling see here: 15 Wrestlers Who Died In The Ring (Documentary) - YouTube