Its an exciting time to be a wrestling fan. While WWE flails their arms to remind people they are still the biggest promotion in the world while providing subpar storylines and wasting a number of talented athletes in lackluster feuds others have stepped up. From WWE’s own developmental, NXT, producing the most buzz of a WWE program to the fact indy wrestling is reaching more and more people. New Japan Pro Wrestling, #1 in Japan, has got their foot in the US market. TNA continues to survive and Ring of Honor is looking to expand nationally. The best thing of late however has been the rise of Lucha Underground.
United Artists produced with filmmaker Robert Rodriguez for his El Rey Network, LU has become the most acclaimed wrestling program on television. It features stars of Mexicos AAA promotion, indy talent from the states, and a few recognizable former WWE stars in a product with a telenovela slant and glossy Hollywood production. Filmed on a set with a rabid audience chanting and cheering loudly as the product delivers high paced action and engaging feuds. Its been 19 (20 when I publish this) episodes and Lucha Underground is their way to being the competition WWE hasn’t had in years.
What LU does right that WWE proper does wrong comes into play within their feuds. WWE might have the strongest roster in the world but it means little without the drive and emotion when it comes to feuds and storylines. WWE will throw in quick month long feuds, or dump athletes in a run for a title that is really an afterthought. Outside the main event picture and main event stars WWE portrays a lot of their product as filler. LU right now is avoiding this, using the limited time to hit all the right marks. Episode 19’s main event, Grave Consequences, perfectly illustrates this.
The monster Mil Muertes who, since arriving at LU, had dominated feuding with the first man to beat him in one on one competition, Fenix. A high flier who caught the eye of his valet Catrina. The telenovela framing and Lucha mythology propels this further. Mil Muertes means a 1000 deaths where as Fenix is the man of a 1000 lives. Muertes background is as the survivor of a deadly earthquake. he is a larger than life character and larger physically then Fenix, a high flier who made his debut in an insane triple threat match against also debuting Pentagon Jr. and Drago (who both have achieved success within the LU crowd). Mil and Fenix’s previous matches have been excellent encounters with Muertes strength and power versus Fenix speed and aerial arsenal. Mix in the excellent vignettes and the LU produced a better feud and storyline in short time leading to Grave Consequences. A casket match, one of the least interetsing gimmick matches of all time. These two may have done the best one of all time and, as some say, the first true classic of LU.
That says a lot as LU has delivered several amazing matches over its short time. The previous week the former John Morrison now Johnny Mundo had an incredible cage match with King Cuerno. Earlier in the year more than a dozen wrestlers engaged in the amazing Aztec Warfare elimination match to crown a champion. Plus other great matches to have been held in earlier episodes.
However I won’t argue this was the best. From the start the match had much drama with a Day of the Dead type parade around the ring complete with cool casket and floral arrangements from individuals in traditional dress. The match started when Mil Muertes launched through the ropes at the smaller Fenix. The two even brought the casket into use within the match. The most beautiful of which was when Fenix attempt a dive only for Muertes to throw the coffin up into Fenix’s head, stopping his attempt at flight. Muertes was a man possessed and unleashed a level of violence that was haunting. I’ve seen bloodier matches and hardcore matches that were over the top but the violence here was more cutting. For a show with so much over the top drama the action did not play out like a cartoon. Muertes ripping the mask and biting the bleeding wound? Evil. Only a piece of the assault Muertes launched on Fenix who struggled to get into the match. Taking risks and throwing vicious kicks. LU took advantage fo their set to add more excitement, taking the match through the crowd and teasing a nasty spot. I worried about how Catrina would factor in but her part was limited mostly to a couple moments but the show was smart to cut to her reaction shots throughout. The ending was incredibly strong, weird for casket matches but in this case incredibly effective.
Grave Consequences cemented Lucha Undergrounds status as the buzz wrestling show on TV. I already was loving them but now-I can’t wait for whats next.