The WWE sits atop the world of pro wrestling with pride. WWE is the recognized industry leader in sports entertainment, with their episodic programs averaging over 3 million viewers per week. But there’s a new contender in the ring and they’re looking to outshine the competition.
Lucha Underground is the latest pro wrestling program to show up on cable television. Debuting in the fall of 2014 on the El Rey network, Lucha Underground has gained a massive cult following.
The show is filmed in a cinematic style giving it a high-end aesthetic. The characters are outlandish and the storylines are darkly intricate—likened more to a dramatic television series than a pro wrestling show.
Jason Solomon is a popular wrestling podcaster. On a his show, “Solomonster Sounds Off,” he said, “If you are not watching Lucha Underground then shame on you, because it is the best wrestling show on television today.” Solomon slots Lucha Underground even higher than the most popular WWE show, Monday Night Raw.
Lucha Underground does not have the same level of television exposure as WWE programming, but that doesn’t stop them from producing a professional quality product. “The production values are phenomenal on (Lucha Underground). The way it’s shot and filmed and everything, it’s just great … the biggest thing I want to see is for Lucha Underground to go mainstream,” Solomon said.
Operating out of Boyle Heights, California, Lucha Underground has transformed a dingy warehouse into an ancient Aztec Temple. They refer to their fans as “believers” and incorporate many aspects of Aztec symbolism into the show.
On this show, men and women wrestle as equals. The championships are not gender specific and can be contested for within an inter-gender environment. This taboo element of the show has pegged it as a bit controversial.
Loyal believer Adam Toplass appreciates the shows fresh take on pro wrestling as a television series. “They play the wild fantasy storylines so straight, it comes off as authentic and not insulting to the viewers’ intelligence,” Toplass said.
Lucha Underground has been critically acclaimed by industry professionals. It was up for an Emmy nomination shortly before the show’s first season finale. High-profile stars such as Rey Mysterio and Alberto Del Rio have recently made their presence felt in the Temple. The show also features Utah pro wrestling star Marin Casaus who wrestles as Marty “The Moth” Martinez.
Tyler De Loa is another believer of the Lucha Underground. De Loa enjoys the show’s consistency and attention to detail. “They tell consistent stories with their wrestlers and present them as serious combatants in a Mortal Combat-like atmosphere, said De Loa. “Lucha Underground is a breath of fresh air to any real wrestling fan. We should wish the Temple mucho success.”
Lucha Underground is currently in their second season. New episodes air Wednesday evenings on El Rey network. Individual episodes are also available for purchase on iTunes.