Why Lucha Underground Works

If you follow wrestling on the internet (which happens to be 100% of CSS readers!), you've no doubt heard a few things about Lucha Underground. Initially, there were lots of concerns that this wouldn't be worth your time. As time went on, those concerns melted away, and now it's hard to find anyone speaking critically about Lucha Underground.

While it can be tough to watch, those wrestling fans who watch don't like it. THEY LOVE IT. As a new believer (WWE has the WWE Universe, Lucha Underground has the Temple Believers, the temple being where the shows are taped), I'd like to give you some things Lucha Underground does that makes them interesting, and hopefully give you a reason to watch it.

1.) It's Simple

Now if you've read anything about the show, that point might surprise you. How can anything involving cage monsters, a dragon in human form (who turns into a dragon breathing fire!) and a battle between the avatars of life and death be simple?

While we normally take simple to mean dumbed down, I like to think of simple as in straightforward. Yes, Lucha Underground has a lot of wacky mysticism and high fantasy. The thing is, if you are willing to invest in it, its world makes sense. Feuds makes sense. King Cuerno is essentially the avatar of the God of the Hunt. What better trophy than to hunt a dragon? It just so happens the Temple has Drago, who is supposed to be a reincarnated dragon in human form. Immediately you have a compelling feud.

Another big feud was Fenix vs. Mil Muertes (more about him in a bit). Simple and straightforward, Muertes was the man of a thousand deaths, and he faced the man of a thousand lives in Fenix. Death vs. Life. One of the oldest stories around, and these two told it perfectly.

2.) The Characters Have Depth

While the motivations of characters (all of them, not just the main guys) are pretty straightforward, there's also surprising depth to them.

Take Sexy Star, one of the few female wrestlers on the show. A woman trying to prove it in a "man's world" is pretty old hat. For Sexy Star, she's a domestic violence victim who wants to succeed in the temple so she can serve as inspiration for other victims that they no longer need to be afraid.

Almost every wrestling federation has done some take on death before, but nobody has done Mil Muertes. Muertes was a young child whose entire family was killed in an earthquake, and, staring death in the eye, embraced death. He became the visible manifestation of death to this world, and he's been unleashed in the temple.

If you want a more "conventional" feud, consider Johnny Mundo (you might know him as John Morrison from WWE) and Alberto el Patron (known before as Alberto Del Rio.) Both of them have "mainstream" credibility, and they leverage it in the temple. Mundo was a star, and demanded he be treated like it. When Patron arrived, he demanded not only similar treatment, but better treatment. This led logically to a feud between two big names who weren't as interested in gold as they were in showing the other up. Simple, but deep.

3.) Dario by Gawd Cueto

If you've heard anything about the show, chances are you heard about him. Dario Cueto is the on screen evil authority figure for Lucha Underground.

Now before you start groaning and rolling your eyes, he's not like WWE's Authority in the least. The first thing to notice is that, so far at least, he does not single out one person for persecution and focus all his energy on that. Heel or face, you must kiss Cueto's ring and bend to his will. He also manipulates both heels and faces towards accomplishing his will, often against each other. This adds an extra layer to all of the feuds, because you often need to take Cueto into account when wanting to start your next feud. He'll give you what you want, but you gotta give him something.

What makes this all work is that he's not capricious. All of his decisions make sense. Mundo and Patron have been at each other's throats since the beginning, but they didn't get a match until it served Cueto's purpose. Hernandez won a #1 contender match, and Cueto wasn't happy with that. So he finally lets Mundo and Patron fight each other, so the winner can get a shot against Hernandez, hopefully taking care of the problem for him.

Other times he forces enemies to team up (a popular trope) but they are put in situations where they are forced to work together, not just win by overpowering everyone in a singular display of power. Cueto might not like them winning, but they create a riveting program in the progress. So his enemies either get destroyed, or they make him rich. He's never let on which one he desires more.

All of this is done in a very nonchalant fashion. He doesn't need twenty minute promos or lengthy emoting sessions to make his point. Almost all of his action happens in his office which overlooks the ring. The segments are quick, and almost always done in a low-key fashion. Cueto has more money and power than all of these guys. He knows it, they know it. He doesn't need to flaunt it. He exercises it just enough so they know it. WWE's authority is normally criticized for it's ad hoc nature, so it is refreshing to see a heel authority figure whose logic always makes sense, but still makes him a jerk.

4.) Commentary is Not Awful

Okay, so commentary isn't great. They talk way too much and can distract from the action. But if that's a fault, it's a fault that is mitigated by the fact their constant talking is at least about the characters in the ring. They also make sure to bring people up to speed on every feud during the match. Compared to JBL and Maggle screaming while King makes "jokes" about masturbating to the female talent, Matt Stryker and Vampiro are a freaking revelation.

When you add all of these things up, what do you get?

5.) A program that shows its work and is easily accessible

I can't overestimate the importance of this. I've only been watching for about a month, and I already know all I need to know just from watching those episodes. There are backstories I can pursue for greater interest, but just by watching the show you learn who the players are, what they are capable of, and why they are doing what they are doing. They do this by showing their work and making sure there is no pointless filler. Everything that is done advances the plot, whatever that plot is. If you want to get into Raw, you normally need weeks to figure out what is going on, and that's with five hours of programming a week! Lucha Underground respects their audience, knows they don't have all the time in the world, so they have to earn your attention.

They've earned mine, and if you watch it for a few weeks, I'm pretty sure they will earn yours as well.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.