FanPost

By a landslide, Lucha Underground is leading the pack for best current wrestling TV show

Lucha Underground has surpassed every weekly wrestling show, and unless they do not renew another season, that will not change. It is the most consistent wrestling television show, as it is everything a wrestling TV should be and there are many reasons as to why.

Firstly, their production values are unparalleled. Customarily, wrestling looks and seems better when a director shoots it kindred to a sporting event; yet, Lucha Underground goes against the grain - alternatively shooting their show analogous to a movie. But, by dint of how exquisitely they shoot it, it comes off so inventive and revolutionary that it works consummately. The nonpareil camera angles, the dramatic music, the opportune zoom-ins and zoom-outs, and the smooth and crisp way the camera shots effortlessly transition, all augment the virtuosity of the show.

Honestly, Robert Rodriguez produces some of the best directing for wrestling – developing a roller-coaster journey, via the lens of a camera, which carts its spectators on continuous tour through the ins-and-outs of the Lucha Underground temple. There is a reason directors avoid doing this work other than the high-cost, and it is due to its need of dexterity, adroitness and patience to effectuate it all in an aesthetic manner. While the show is aesthetically pleasing, it establishes a deep and dark feel to it too - sending the inclination no one is safe there and anything can happen.

It has become interesting to see what new techniques Rodriguez will insert into the show next. Production values will not make-or-break a wrestling show, but they can animate the product and make shows pleasing on the eyes. Lucha Underground's production is not only pleasant on the eyes; the production is awe-inspiring and mesmerizing, and something wrestling has never seen before.

Lucha Underground also implements one of the most peerless booking and storytelling philosophies, which is K.I.S.S (keep it simple, stupid). Wrestling does not be complex. Its plots do not have to be intricate, and there does not have to be underlining meanings behind them. All wrestling needs is well-defined characters with clear motives and ones that can relate to people,as well as perspicuous storylines that are about some sort of conflict.

Theater’s fundamentals and traditions have not changed, since most theater follows the same formula writers have used for centuries, as the basic plot to most movies is: an antagonist does something evil and then a protagonist makes him/her pay for their sins. If theater’s traditions and fundamentals have barely changed, neither should wrestling’s traditions and fundamentals.

The creativeness depends on how interesting the characters and conflicts are as well as the peaks and valleys the journey takes its viewer. Which means, the formula on how to create a conflict – exposition, rising action, conflict, climax, denouncement, and then resolution – never needs to change. In essence, wrestling storytelling is about building the tension and drama of a conflict to its crescendo in a logical and believable manner.

Every conflict additionally needs something at stake. Without consequences or rewards, or nothing ever changing in general – people will become disinterested with the product. What is a stake can be a concrete or an abstract thing – e.g, a title or someone trying to win to prove it to themselves. Matches with nothing at stake are meaningless and too many of them can drive an audience away.

In Lucha Underground, most matches mean something, and it is largely because they make their titles important. After all, every wrestler’s ultimate objective should be to win the title; so, in a perfect wrestling world, every time they win a match, they should become one-step closer to earning an opportunity at the championship.

And, unlike most wrestling companies today, Lucha Underground does not change due to its week-to-week ratings. It is more interested in its long-term plans and what it will be in the future; which means, they do not have people on a show every week just because they are a big draw. They allow their storylines to marinate until their payoff and rushes nothing for the sake of it - which causes the anticipation to see the match to intensify progressively.

The show evinces less can be more. It gives its audience what it wants but never overindulges them with content, forcing them always to want more. Also, the promotion promotes its upcoming shows – providing the audience a reason (or reasons) to watch every week – whether it be an upcoming match, segment or just progression in a story. It is ultimately a dramatic serial where each episode has something leaving the audience in suspense.

Along with its production values, another cool thing about the show is there's an unsettling sensation within the temple - as it displays and teases the possibility of something eerie going on, suggesting and hinting to paranormal activities. For example, the "owner", Dario Cueto, is an affably evil antagonist – as his attitude constantly changes; but, his kindness seems insincere – creating the probability he is concocting an even larger evil scheme. There are assumptions suggesting Cueto could be the great adversary of humanity himself. It is risky implementing supernaturalism in the confines of wrestling, although Lucha Underground does a sufficient job with it, as the perception of supernaturalism is often more daunting than supernaturalism itself.

Frankly, it might be smarter to keep the audience in suspense over who Cueto’s brother is, or who Pentagon Jr’s master is in contrast to reveling it. Not everything has to be black-and-white; there can be ambiguous stories which force the audience to ask questions. Ambiguous endings, after all, are why people discuss movies like "The Shining" to this day.

When Matt Striker stays professional, he is one of the splendid announcers in the business. He can elucidate the psychology behind why someone occurs inside the ring. It could be a character’s motive, or why he did a particular move, or what kind of impact a move has on a certain body-part, etc. He is sometimes the wrestling version of Cris Collinsworth, limning and clarifying the ins-and-outs and strategies in the wrestling world. Allowing his fandom to overwhelm his professionalism has always been his weakness, although he has been mostly professional in Lucha Underground, and thus he enriches the product.

Lucha Underground is also bursting with some of the best wrestling talent today, and, more importantly, they allow these wrestlers to display their craftsmanship on a consistent basis. The company has had some of the best TV wrestling matches of both 2014 and 2015, insofar as it is almost a given you will see a good match each week. The in-ring quality matches – if not surpasses – any competitor in the United States today.

The company is moreover bringing violence back into wrestling. Violence is a substructure for wrestling - so if you take violence away from wrestling, wrestling has a difficult time standing on its own feet. Therefore, there has to be a level of violence within wrestling, particularly for sadistic antagonists, as it is hard to cross the line when a product is artificially sanitized.

Wrestling is also most effective when its characters act practically, meaning characters reacting in a believable and realistic manner so that everything comes across as organic. A character that retaliates with an attenuated attack, or responds with an inoffensive insult, will not come across as believable. Heels are supposed to get under people’s skin and make them want to see someone give them their comeuppance. It less stressful to do it when a product is surrounded with violence and can cross a certain line. For sure, Lucha Underground understand this.

Finally yet importantly, the show writes not only stories for its upper-card wrestlers. It writes them for the entire card. The company does not swim-or-sink based on its main arch plot; ergo, if the main story is not captivating everyone, there is still other ongoing stories that person may enjoy. Stories developing up and down the card also give everything a purpose, eliminating filler which is currently plagues so many other wrestling shows.

By virtue of using innovative directing techniques, up-to-date wrestlers and characters, storytelling and TV-series traditions, and presenting wrestling in an external fashion, Lucha Underground has created an alternative and developed a niche every fan can enjoy, and furthermore has cemented itself as the best current wrestling television show.

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