"Lucha Underground" on Netflix: What Better Time Than Now?
You may not have noticed, but 2017 was a tough year for Lucha Underground, so much so that it seems like forever ago when the promotion seemed to be the hottest thing in wrestling. The year began with the El Rey Network, unexpectedly putting LU’s third season on hiatus, both to bring the show back during sweep season and buy time for financing to be obtained for a fourth season. Then several LU stars bolted AAA for The Crash, leaving their LU futures in doubt for a few days. Then there was Court Bauer announcing the February 15th date for an LU/Netflix deal, info fed to him by Dorian Roldan that was later proved to be false and presumably fed to Bauer so Roldan could announce the correct date later, thus making himself look . . . you know I still don’t get what his plan was there. The point is shit got dark, so dark that I wrote a really long column wondering just how we got here followed by me taking a break from LU. It’s one I needed; I couldn’t stand to think about LU, let alone talk about it, when the conversation consisted of people burying the promotion while others snickered about the misfortune. Even as the product onscreen remained great, everything else about Lucha Underground, from the fans to the executives to the pundits commenting on it felt like it got lost. I couldn’t recognize it. I didn’t want to recognize it.
Thank Grodd today is a day I can say LU is actually taking a step forward. Or should I say tomorrow? That will be the day, March 15th, 2017, that Lucha Underground finally makes its long-awaited jump to Netflix. I know; can I really believe that after all the drama that happened last month? Rest assured you can dear reader; the LU Twitter account has confirmed it, several Netflix sites have confirmed it, the most important people in Lucha Underground have confirmed it; IT IS HAPPENING PEOPLE! It’s almost surreal in a way. Even when Lucha Underground was hot and many people (myself included) were heading the charge of a #NetflixNeedsLucha movement on Twitter it seemed like LU on Netflix was something that could only happen in dreams. Now from here on in (hopefully) LU will be available to over 49 million subscribers in the US and many more in Latin America and Canada. It’s a whole new world for LU; it also means that your wrestling friend who hasn’t watched LU because “it’s not easily accessible” has fewer excuses than the Atlanta Falcons after the Super Bowl (unless they live in Europe. Then they still have a valid excuse).
But let’s say your pal remains unconvinced despite LU’s new availability. Maybe they’ve been turned off by the going ons of Dorian Roldan and Factory Made Ventures off-screen, maybe they’ve heard the product isn’t that good; who knows what the reason is. If they’re still on the fence about seeing what Lucha Underground on Netflix and you just can’t find the right words to convince them, then worry no longer. As it turns out I happen to have a few reasons why now is the right time to get into the LU now that it’s there for all to see.
1. It’s a Gorram Unbelievable Show
Some people out there have tried to claim recently that Lucha Underground isn’t as good as it once was. One, most of those people are saying that because they feel Pentagon Jr. should win every single match and if he doesn’t then the show is bad. Two, even if that were true (and I cannot stress enough that it’s not) it doesn’t change the fact that season one of Lucha Underground is considered by many to be one of the most perfect things in the history of wrestling. So you can’t miss either way, and naturally, once you give the show a chance you’ll find that it’s absolutely extraordinary and has something for anyone. If you like great wrestling, LU has great matches all over the place. If you like outside of the box ideas, LU is chock full of them. If you prefer storytelling, no one in wrestling today does it better than LU. There are literally unlimited options for you and you won’t be disappointed in any of them. Well unless you get too attached to Pentagon. That guy really knows how to get the people behind him.
2. You’re Going to Get to See Some of the Future Stars of Wrestling, as Well as a Legend or Two
I think it goes without saying that it’s a great time for wrestling as far as talent goes. There are so many dudes and dudettes out there who not only can work but can work at a high level. Lucha Underground is no exception. The aforementioned Pentagon Jr. isn’t just one of the best luchadors in the world but one of the best wrestlers in the world, with a spotlight now on him like never before. Exciting high flyers like Fenix, Angelico, Aerostar, Drago, Jack Evans, Prince Puma, and countless others will explode off your screen. Bigger dudes like Willie Mack, Brian Cage, and the Monster Matanza Cueto will pulverize people and somehow fly around just as well as the little guys do. Women like Ivelisse, Sexy Star, and Taya Valkyrie will do things and go to places you’ve never seen women go to in wrestling. Oh, and you’ll also get the chance to see former WWE stars John Morrison, Alberto El Patron and Rey Mysterio Jr. doing their thing. That’s just the tip of the iceberg mind you. Even if Lucha Underground doesn’t grab you with the other stuff right away, the talent onscreen definitely should, if for no other reason than you just never know where you’ll see these luchadors again a few years down the line.
3. Lucha Underground Will Take Risks and Challenge You as a Wrestling Fan
Now, this one is sort of a mixed bag and if you’re someone who likes to play it safe, maybe LU won’t work for you the way it does for others. But where’s the fun in playing it safe? Look, nothing in wrestling will ever be perfect. There will always be chances taken that don’t work, ideas that look good on paper that don’t translate; you get the picture. Lucha Underground has had many of those instances. But it hasn’t stopped them from continuing to try new things, pushing the envelope as far as it can go and making the audience actually think a little bit. You will see women fight men on LU and you’ll see them beat men, something that doesn’t happen in most wrestling promotions. You’ll see storylines involving dudes who are dragons, ancient aliens, undead zombies, ninja skeletons and so on. Hell, some wrestlers even get “killed off.” I do not exaggerate that LU has done things that no other wrestling promotion has done before, with Wrestling Society X being the only one to come close. Does that mean all of this will work for you? No. Will some of it fall into camp territory? Sure, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing. But in an age where everyone is trying to be WWE lite, I can guarantee that nothing will be more refreshing than seeing LU trying to do something different every episode.
4. Even With All the Baggage, Getting Into Lucha Underground Still Represents a Chance to Be a Part of Something Special
Note that this section is just as much for lapsed/disgruntled fans as it is new fans. As I said before, it hasn’t been easy to be a Lucha Underground fan recently. The irony is the biggest reason for that has little to do with Lucha Underground itself. Are Dorian Roldan, Factory Made Ventures and (to a far lesser extent) Mark Burnett involved with Lucha Underground? Absolutely. But aside from throwing some money into the mix every once in a while, the only person associated with Roldan, FMV or Burnett that’s done jack shit for Lucha Underground is newly assigned FMV head of talent Vampiro (a move that may turn out to be the only good thing FMV has ever done. Knock on wood). Beyond that, they’ve done nothing. Dorian Roldan has never contributed anything worthwhile to what you see onscreen with Lucha Underground. Neither has FMV or Burnett; the only things they’ve done is drag the brand through the mud in a misguided attempt to make themselves look good, or they’ve sat back and done nothing. You know who has done something for Lucha Underground though? How about showrunner Eric Van Wagenen, writers Chris DeJoseph and Chris Roach, director Skip Chaisson and the rest of the production staff? How about Aerostar, Angelico, Argenis, Black Lotus, Beautiful Brenda, Brian Cage, Catrina, Chavo Guerrero Jr., Cortes Castro, Dante Fox, Dario Cueto, Drago, El Dragon Azteca Jr., El Mariachi Loco/Sinestro de la Muerte/Saltador, Famous B, Fenix, Ivelisse, Jack Evans, Jeremiah Crane, Joey Ryan, Johnny Mundo, Killshot, King Cuerno, Kobra Moon, Mala Suerte/Mr. Cisco, Mariposa, Marty “The Moth” Martinez, Matanza, Melissa Santos, Paul London, Pindar, P.J. Black, Rey Mysterio Jr., Sexy Star, Taya, Vampiro, Willie Mack, and even Matt Striker, the on-screen talent that works their ass off every episode? It seems as though people have forgotten in all the hoopla what Lucha Underground is. I’ll tell you; it’s everyone I just named there and more, not the clueless/ignorant executives looking to use LU’s name to make themselves look good (and similarly not caring when they make LU look bad).
Why do I say this? Because it’s exactly why you need to watch this show. The combined efforts of Van Wagenen’s staff and the talent essaying DeJoseph and Roach’s writing has led to a show that, over the course of two and a half seasons, has never insulted my intelligence, has always given the impression that everyone on screen has just as good a chance of being a top star as anyone else and has always, and I mean always, tried its best to be great. There are television shows, and even other wrestling shows, out there that have the ability to be great all the time and not only aren’t, but don’t put the effort in. Lucha Underground always puts the effort in; maybe the show isn’t always the best thing ever, but you’ll never doubt the effort to make it so. It’s why I’m sticking around, why I refuse to believe that LU’s best days are behind them and as you can see, one of the many reasons I implore you to give LU a shot.
It doesn’t even have to be for that reason either. Maybe you just want more good wrestling in your life. Maybe you want more good TV in your life. Hell, maybe it is because you want to find something deeper in wrestling that another promotion just isn’t giving you. Regardless, Lucha Underground can give it to you and now for the first time it’s available on a wide platform. There’s no more “it’s not available” cry to hid behind, no more “there’s no place where I can watch it in HD” complaint to throw out and quite frankly claiming you won’t watch because of Dorian and FMV is absurd because again, They've done nothing to affect the onscreen product! Maybe one day that happens but it hasn’t yet. So for now, use this opportunity LU and Netflix has given us to give Lucha Underground a shot, or another shot. You may just find what you were looking for from wrestling all along, as I did.