wrestling / Columns

Lucha Underground 101: A Beginner’s Guide to the Best Promotion on Television

January 26, 2016 | Posted by Wyatt Beougher

Introduction: In a few short days, Lucha Underground will finally return for a second season on the El Rey Network. Before their series premiere last year, I wrote a column listing off the reasons that I thought that they would be successful; in spite of that column, I was not prepared for what Lucha Underground was able to accomplish in season one. Lucha Underground was able to take the wrestling world by storm during their inaugural season and, in many ways, redefine for American fans what professional wrestling could be after a decade and a half of WWE setting the tone for “sports entertainment” programming in North America. While their ratings did not exactly set the world on fire due to El Rey’s low household penetration numbers, the show was successful enough to get a second season. This column, and a follow-up that will go live on Wednesday, in advance of their season two premiere, is my attempt at bringing new fans up to speed before the second season premiere. Part one is the beginner’s class, and will look at what Lucha Underground is and break down their roster, while part two will focus on season one’s storylines and what Lucha Underground does so well.

[Author’s Note: As I write this, I have consciously avoided spoilers for season two of Lucha Underground; however, this column will contain some spoilers for season one, considering the last episode of season one aired almost five months ago. Please refrain from posting season two spoilers in the comments. -W]

What It Is

Lucha Underground is an offshoot subsidiary promotion to Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion, a lucha libre promotion based in Mexico City that was founded in 1992 when Antonio Pena, the booker of Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) – which Pena had helped to rename/rebrand from Empressa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL) in 1989 – left his former employer over differences in the creative direction of CMLL. Pena proved to have a better vision for the future of lucha libre, as AAA quickly became the top promotion in Mexico, a distinction that they currently enjoy nearly a decade after Pena’s death. For the past nine years, Pena’s sister, brother-in-law, and nephew have run the company, and Lucha Underground was originally conceived as a way of bringing American wrestling fans on-board with AAA’s vision of lucha libre by featuring a mix of stars gathered from AAA’s roster, the United States independent scene, and even former members of WWE.

AAA recruited a former member of WWE’s creative team, Chris DeJoseph, to head up their creative team. DeJoseph is probably best known from his time in WWE as his on-air character, dX stripper Big Dick Johnson, but as the guiding hand of season one of Lucha Underground, it is clear that DeJoseph’s real talent lies behind the scenes. Another member of Lucha Underground’s creative team is former WWE star Chavo Guerrero Jr, whose status as part of one of lucha libre’s most famous families, combined with spending nearly twenty years in nearly every major American promotion, gives him a unique perspective on blending the tenets of lucha libre with what works in American professional wrestling. Perhaps most importantly, though, AAA was able to woo Survivor producer Mark Burnett on board as an executive producer, along with El Rey founder and Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez, and Eric Van Wagenen (a former producer on shows like The Amazing Race, The Apprentice, and even WWE’s Tough Enough (the 2011 version) and Legends House.

Having people who made their names outside of the wrestling business producing Lucha Underground has made an instant and dramatic impact on the tone and presentation of the show, as it feels different from any other weekly wrestling show in North America right now. Even in HD, the show feels gritty, a nod to Rodriguez’ favorite genre, the grindhouse/exploitation film, and backstage segments feel more like telenovela segments than something you would normally see on a wrestling show (and I mean that in the best way possible, as even though some roster members aren’t particularly strong actors, the segments themselves feel light years better than what we’ve come to expect from wrestling over the past thirty years). Perhaps most importantly, the way the in-ring action is presented takes the basics we’ve come to expect from WWE and TNA and adds in little touches that give the whole thing a more cinematic feel.

And Lucha Underground’s on-screen non-wrestling personnel also shine, with El Jefe Dario Cueto arguably the brightest star of the first season. Going into the season one premiere, I was afraid that Cueto would be yet another “evil owner” authority figure, and on paper, he could come across that way, but it’s the execution of the character, especially the sublime portrayal by actor Luis Fernandez-Gil, that really makes the character stand out. Hiring an actual actor to portray the bloodthirsty proprietor of the Temple was a masterstroke that has paid dividends for the promotion almost from day one. Cueto doesn’t start every show with a twenty-minute promo, nor do his backstage segments dominate the show’s runtime; however, his presence is felt throughout each episode, and it’s a testament to the skill of both the creative team and Fernandez-Gil that they’ve taken an extremely tired wrestling trope and made it feel not only fresh, but vital to the show’s overall presentation. LU’s non-wrestling staff remains small, as in addition to Cueto, there are only a handful of other performers – ring announcer Melissa Santos, commentators Vampiro and Matt Striker, managers Konnan and Catrina, and a handful of referees. I will write more about most of them later when I break down the roster, but El Jefe really deserved to be mentioned separate of the roster discussion, as he was easily one of the highlights of season one.

The Roster

The Wrestlers

Aero Star: Aero Star is an astronaut who may or may not live in space and can potentially return there whenever he chooses. At first glance, he might not appear to be the most nimble guy on the roster (he looks more like 2015 Rey Mysterio than 1995 Rey Misterio Jr), but he flies with a grace and agility that belies his build.

Angelico: One part Dean Ambrose nutjob heartthrob, one part Jeff Hardy daredevil, Angelico started his Lucha Underground run as a lothario who found himself in the midst of a messy breakup between Son of Havoc and Ivelisse. As the season went on, the so-called Unlikely Trio grew to care for one another and became one of the best storylines of the first season. The South African also provided a few of season one’s most memorable moments, as he kept finding new ways to launch himself off of high things in spectacular fashion.

Argenis: The younger brother of former CMLL/AAA/WWE star Mistico I/Sin Cara I/Myzteziz, what Argenis lacks in his brother’s masked charisma, he more than makes up for by not botching nearly as much in front of American audiences as his brother did. Argenis was a victim of Pentagon Jr’s arm-breaking tributes to his dark Master.

Barrio Negro: Not much is known about Barrio Negro, one-third of Mil Muertes’ group of followers, the Disciples of Death. Along with El Siniestro de la Muerte and Trece, he is one-third of the current Lucha Underground Trios champions.

Bengala: Bengala is a masked wrestler who appeared in Lucha Underground fairly late in season one, but still managed to capture one of the seven ancient Aztec medallions that would allow him to compete for the Gift of the Gods championship at Ultima Lucha, Lucha Underground’s season finale. Bengala put on a strong showing but ultimately did not pick up the win.

Big Ryck: Perhaps better known as Ezekiel Jackson from his days in WWE, Big Ryck was often used as muscle for hire throughout season one. He briefly turned technico after the Crew turned on him and burnt his eye with his own cigar, prompting him to return with a swank eyepatch; however, after an unsuccessful run in the Trios Title Tournament with his cousin The Mack and their associate Kill Shot, Ryck turned his back on them and started working as muscle for DelAvar Daivari. Ryck was also given an Aztec medallion which allowed him to participate in the Gift of the Gods match at Ultima Lucha (the only competitor in the match who did not have to win a match to earn their medal), and while it look like Ryck would easily win the match, Daivari attacked Ryck with a chair and fired him, which proved to be distraction enough that Fenix would pull off the win. While it originally looked like Ryck would start season two as a technico, rumors of his retirement made their rounds in the fall and he either opted not to participate in season two or the Lucha Underground brain trust believed him to be unavailable.

Blue Demon Jr: Blue Demon Jr is lucha libre royalty, the adopted son of the original Blue Demon and the first Mexican wrestler to win the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. With over thirty years of experience, Blue Demon Jr is a crafty veteran who debuted as a technico (babyface) character in season one but eventually became a smug, suit-wearing rudo (heel).

Cage: Cage is former WWE developmental wrestler who has also appeared sporadically for TNA, but is best known around the American independent scene for a high-flying ability that belies his musclebound physique. In Lucha Underground, Cage has been a rudo since his debut, notably tearing the original LU title belt in half after losing to Prince Puma and comprising one-third of Dario Cueto’s rudo super-team for the Trios Title Tournament (along with King Cuerno and Texano). Cage was treated as a serious threat to anyone on the roster throughout the first season, and his character was dismissive of lucha libre traditions, making him a brash outsider, the perfect foil for Prince Puma and other technicos.

Chavo Guerrero Jr: Third generation superstar and part of one of lucha libre’s most famous families, Chavo reinvented himself in Lucha Underground at age forty-five and had one of the best runs of his career, culminating in a title shot against Prince Puma that was unfortunately cut short by a legitimate injury to Chavo. Chavo has truly embraced the Guerrero way – Lie, Cheat, and Steal – and he’s become as good a manipulator as he has a wrestler. Chavo also set off what would become a major storyline when he attacked first Blue Demon Jr and then Sexy Star with a chair.

Cortez Castro: Part of the villainous Crew, henchmen at various points in season one to anyone who was willing to pay them, Castro is perhaps better known as Ricky Reyes, one-half of the Havana Pitbulls and a familiar face on the American independent scene. Castro and Mr. Cisco saw their third compatriot, Bael, have his head crushed by Dario Cueto’s monstrous brother Matanza after they had failed Cueto.

DelAvar Daivari: Known simply as Daivari in WWE and Sheik Abdul Bashir in TNA, DelAvar Daivari appeared in Lucha Underground as a privileged heir to an oil fortune. He was portrayed as being extremely arrogant and more than willing to take shortcuts, including using his ever-present drink as a weapon and hiring Big Ryck as a bodyguard. Daivari attacked Ryck with a folding chair and fired him during the Gift of the Gods match at Ultima Lucha, but it does not appear as though either man will be back for Lucha Underground’s second season.

Drago: A dragon reincarnated as a man, who may or may not be able to turn into a dragon at will, Drago had his ups and downs in season one, but managed to capture the hearts of the LU faithful almost immediately with his outlandish ring gear and high-flying style. He and Aero Star were involved in a Best of Five series of matches; Drago came out on top and earned a title opportunity against Prince Puma, but Dario Cueto, who was desperate to have the title off of Puma, forced Drago to put his career on the line in the match. Drago lost thanks to the interference of Hernandez (about whom the less is said, the better) and he disappeared from the Temple for several weeks before returning with a darker appearance and persona. He put his mask on the line for the right to return to Lucha Underground and won, earning another title shot in the process; however, he lost that shot to Mil Muertes when Hernandez again interfered, which set up a strap match between the two at Ultima Lucha.

Famous B: No one really knows what B is famous for, but he is a jobber character who had his arm broken by Pentagon Jr.

Fenix: Easily one of the breakout stars of season one of Lucha Underground, Fenix is this generation’s Rey Misterio Jr (circa 1995). Charismatic and somewhat undersized, Fenix defies gravity like few other performers can, and many of the most memorable spots in season one of Lucha Underground involved the Bird of War. He was also part of one of the main storylines of season one of Lucha Underground, which culminated in my 2015 Match of the Year, the Grave Consequences Casket Match. I will discuss the storyline in more depth in the second installment, but it essentially boiled down to Fenix, the avatar of life and rebirth, taking on Mil Muertes, the living embodiment of death. And lest he be dismissed as a spot monkey, the Grave Consequences match was so wonderful largely because of its psychology and build, which Fenix was a huge part of. At only twenty-five years old, I expect Fenix to have a long and illustrious future in the wrestling business, and he starts season two as the Gift of the Gods champion, which is Lucha Underground’s unique take on WWE’s Money in the Bank briefcase. With his rival Mil Muertes the current Lucha Underground champion, I would expect Fenix to play a significant role in season two.

Ivelisse: Another third of the Unlikely Trio, the self-styled “Baddest Bitch in the Building” has had no problem throwing down with men, and started her character arc as the incessantly nagging girlfriend of Son of Havoc. They went through a messy breakup, only to find themselves paired together (with Angelico, who was something of a creep at that point in the show) for the Trios Title Tournament, simply to entertain Dario Cueto. While they were initially a highly dysfunctional team, by the time they made their way through the tournament and won the championships, they realized that they actually made a very good team, and, perhaps more importantly, that they did care about one another. Season one ended with Ivelisse and Son of Havoc seemingly back together, and it appears as though they will re-team with Angelico to try to recapture the Trios Championship from the Disciples of Death.

Jack Evans: The former Ring of Honor standout has competed extensively throughout the world, even holding the AAA World Tag Team Championship on two occasions with Angelico (though that did not carry over into season one of Lucha Underground, and while the two wear similar ring gear, no relationship between them has been mentioned). Throughout much of his career, he’s portrayed a very urban character, but those elements have been toned down in Lucha Underground in favor of making him an overly flashy and cocky guy who thinks he’s a ninja. Evans is capable of some amazing feats of physical dexterity, and Lucha Underground has not limited his in-ring style. Arguably Evans’ biggest highlight in season one was beating Argenis to claim an Aztec medallion that allowed him to go on and compete in the inaugural Gift of the Gods championship match at Ultima Lucha. Evans but on a strong showing in the match, which was eventually won by Fenix.

Johnny Mundo: Best known as Johnny Nitro/John Morrison during his time in WWE, Johnny Mundo has found a promotion in Lucha Underground that allows him to fully utilize his unique skills and abilities. Where he always felt like an afterthought in WWE, Mundo has been treated as one of the biggest stars in Lucha Underground since its debut episode, and his on-again, off-again rivalry with inaugural champion Prince Puma led to some of the most exciting matches of the year, most notably their All Night Long Iron Man match. While Mundo’s acting in backstage segments is overly melodramatic, that actually works within the highly stylized context of Lucha Underground, as does his parkour influenced wrestling style. After losing to Puma in All Night Long, Mundo turned heel, kicking off a program with Alberto El Patron that culminated in a violent match at Ultima Lucha that Mundo won when Melina returned to assist him. El Patron had the last laugh, beating Mundo down after the match, and with the former AAA Mega Champion now back in WWE as Alberto Del Rio, it seems unlikely that Mundo will get his revenge, but the momentum of his win at Ultima Lucha should keep him near the top of Lucha Underground’s pecking order.

Killshot: CZW’s Shane Strickland joined Lucha Underground as the masked Killshot, a part of Big Ryck’s trios team. When they were eliminated from the tournament by eventual champions the Unlikely Trio, Ryck turned his back on his associates, leaving Killshot to fend for himself. Killshot went on to have some singles matches, though he did not enjoy a great deal of success. Still, he has proven to be a very talented high flyer and will likely get plenty of opportunities to redeem himself during season two.

King Cuerno: One of my favorite characters from season one of Lucha Underground, King Cuerno is the LU-exclusive identity of a AAA star, and he is portrayed as the ultimate hunter, stalking his opponents and waiting for them to make a mistake. Cuerno started off the season strong, winning his feud with Drago, but losing feuds to Johnny Mundo and Prince Puma left him more or less without a direction and while he was involved in the Trios Title Tournament and the Gift of the Gods match, he was still my pick for most underutilized member of the LU roster in season one. Regardless of his relative level of success, Cuerno has one of the most beautiful tope suicidas in wrestling, the Arrow From Hell, and it is a move that never fails to liven up the LU faithful in the Temple.

The Mack: Big Ryck’s storyline cousin, The Mack was left to fend for himself when Ryck was hired as muscle for Daivari, which led to a series of brawls with Cage that ultimately culminated in a highly entertaining Falls Count Anywhere match between the two at Ultima Lucha. While Cage came out of the match victorious, Mack impressed Lucha Underground fans in the same way that Cage did – by pulling of moves of agility that a man of his size and unique build should not have been able to perform.

Mariachi Loco: Perhaps the sole jobber character from season one to escape Pentagon Jr’s armbreaking spree, Mariachi Loco nevertheless disappeared midway through season one, never to be seen again. He was introduced by Dario Cueto as a mariachi from a restaurant down the street from the LU Temple, and the running joke was that he would perform a song for the audience if he won a match, something that did not happen during his relatively brief tenure with the company.

Marty “The Moth” Martinez: Marty “The Moth” began his career as a diehard fan of Lucha Underground who hung around the Temple looking for an opportunity to join the roster. Dario Cueto eventually gave him an opportunity, one that Marty lost, and the cracks began to appear in his nice guy, superfan persona, revealing a mentally imbalanced man who flapped his wings like a bird and not a moth. He became obsessed with Sexy Star and during the character vignettes at the end of Ultima Lucha, he was revealed to have kidnapped the luchadora and told Sexy about his sister in a threatening way. (And if Marty looks familiar, it’s because he was a contestant on the 2011 edition of Tough Enough, whose run through the show ended when he sustained an injury that left him unable to continue on the show.)

Mascarita Sagrada: A mini-estrella, Mascarita Sagrada does not let his small stature prevent him from tangling with foes much larger than him. Sagrada enjoyed early success in Lucha Underground, picking up singles victories over Son of Havoc and Mariachi Loco, and he teamed with Sexy Star and Pimpinela Escarlata to defeat the Crew in a no-disqualification match, though both he and Pimpi were incapacitated in the match. He and Pimpi also tagged with Bengala in a loss to current Trios Champions The Disciples of Death in the latter group’s debut match in the promotion, and Mascarita Sagrada also lost the battle royale to determine who would win the final Aztec medallion and earn a spot in the Gift of the Gods match at Ultima Lucha. Perhaps the most important thing Mascarita Sagrada did in season one, though, was demonstrate that minis could be used for more than comedic relief, which has generally been their niche on American wrestling programming.

Mil Muertes: Mil Muertes started season one as a monster rudo, the living embodiment of death, whose hubris caused him to lose to Fenix in what appeared, at the time, to be a fluke. Muertes would gain a measure of revenge in a rematch, only for Fenix to win the Grave Consequences match and seal Muertes in a casket. This proved to be an integral part of a plot orchestrated by Muertes and his manager Catrina to allow Muertes to shed the limitations of his mortal form and be reborn even more powerful than before. When he returned to the show, Muertes brought the Disciples of Death with him, and by the end of season one, the faction had captured both the Trios Championship and the Lucha Underground Championship. With Catrina and the Disciples at his side, can anyone challenge the reign of Mil Muertes?

Mr. Cisco: The other half of what remains of the Crew, Cisco, like Cortez Castro, had to stand by in shock while Matanza crushed the skull of their associate Bael. He and Castro continued their mercenary ways, acting as backup for anyone who could pay them. At Ultima Lucha, they helped Blue Demon Jr defeat Texano in a no disqualification match.

Pentagon Jr: Arguably the breakout star of season one, Pentagon Jr started the season as the least important, least interesting participant in a three-way match that also included Fenix and Drago. As the season went on, he and his motto of “Cero Miedo” (literally, “Zero Fear”) grew increasingly popular as he dispatched jobber after jobber with a devastating armbreaker. When Sexy Star saved Super Fly from sharing the same fate, Pentagon attacked her. He eventually broke Super Fly’s arm anyway AND defeated Sexy Star in a submissions match, so I think it is safe to say that he came out ahead in that feud, even if Vampiro did prevent him from breaking Sexy’s arm. But perhaps the most important component of Pentagon’s popularity was the fact that he was breaking all of those arms in a tribute to his dark master. Ultimately, his master demanded a greater sacrifice – Vampiro – and not the dude-bro, Vampiro-in-name-only color commentator who had been sitting ringside for the entire season, the master wanted the real deal, lucha libre legend El Vampiro Canadiense. When Vampiro refused the match, Pentagon beat him down and dumped gasoline all over him, threatening Hodgkinson with immolation if he did not accept. That proved to be enough to get Vampiro to agree to the match, and at Ultima Lucha, the two squared off in what was easily the most violent match of the entire first season of Lucha Underground. It featured light tubes, thumb tacks, chairs, flaming tables, and more, and it was a surprisingly good match, considering I do not particularly care for hardcore matches and Vampiro has been broken down and mostly retired for a few years now. After losing to Pentagon, Vampiro rolls back into the ring and demands that Pentagon break his arm. Pentagon hesitates and then does so, ONLY FOR VAMPIRO TO REVEAL THAT HE’S BEEN PENTAGON’S DARK MASTER ALL ALONG! In hindsight, it was an obvious payoff, especially after Perro Aguayo Jr’s untimely death (he was rumored to be Pentagon’s master, as Pentagon had joined his Los Perros Del Mal stable), but the execution was perfect and it made the whole thing extremely memorable.

Pimpinela Escarlata: Pimpinela Escarlata, affectionately referred to as “Pimpi”, is an exotico, a male wrestler who cross dresses and/or acts extremely effeminately. Pimpi is probably the most notable active exotico, and, like Sexy Star and Mascarita Sagrada, Pimpi was used to show that anyone can compete on an even playing field in Lucha Underground. Pimpi was a fan favorite and often a sympathetic figure throughout season one of LU.

Prince Puma: Probably better known for his exploits outside of Lucha Underground, Prince Puma main evented the first episode of LU and was treated as arguably the most important character in all of season one. He was the inaugural Lucha Underground champion, winning the first-ever Aztec Warfare match, and he defended his title successfully on multiple occasions, including a fantastic Iron Man match with Johnny Mundo. In the ring, Puma is one of the most talented performers in the entire promotion, and while he never said a word during the duration of season one, the story of how he was brought into Lucha Underground by Konnan and the differences that they experienced as a result of their differing philosophies made him essentially an everyman character in a promotion filled with superheroes and villains, ninja skeletons and dragons. And while Puma’s honor and idealism at times clashed with his mentor’s more opportunistic side, Puma still put his title on the line against Mil Muertes after Muertes’ Disciples of Death incapacitated Konnan and trapped him inside a coffin. Puma would lose the match, and his title, at Ultima Lucha; however, as the most important figure in LU season one, it only makes sense that Prince Puma will figure prominently in season two.

Ricky Mandel: Mandel was another victim of Pentagon Jr’s sacrifices to his Master, but even before that, he had done little of note.

Sexy Star: Sexy Star was used as a symbol of equality in Lucha Underground, as she went toe-to-toe with her male compatriots all season, and also as a role model for young women, as her backstory was that she had overcome abusive relationships in the past to show how powerful women can truly be. While her first major angle involved her falling victim to an unprovoked chair shot to the head by Chavo Guerrero, Sexy would get her revenge and move on to feud with the likes of Big Ryck (both of whom gained a measure of mutual respect while simultaneously attempting to take out the Crew), Super Fly, and Pentagon Jr. In fact, Sexy Star was the winner of the only lucha de apuesta match this year, when Dario Cueto forced her to face Super Fly in a mask versus mask match. She also defeated him in a singles match with an Aztec Medallion, which earned her a spot in the Gift of the Gods match at Ultima Lucha. Sexy was ultimately unsuccessful in her bid to become the Gift of the Gods champion, but as one of the most prominent female wrestlers on the LU roster, she will almost certainly play a large role in season two, especially since Marty “the Moth” Martinez was shown to have kidnapped her at the end of Ultima Lucha. (And, for the comic book fans out there, one of Sexy’s ring outfits was Carol Danvers’ navy blue-with-a-lightning-bolt Ms. Marvel costume.)

El Siniestro de la Muerte: One-third of the Lucha Underground Trios Champions, El Siniestro de la Muerte remains a mysterious figure who follows the directions of both Mil Muertes and Catrina.

Son of Havoc: Son of Havoc started out as a character so overconfident that he was losing (or nearly losing) what he believed to be easy matches against Sexy Star, Mascarita Sagrada, and Pimpinela Escarlata, drawing a great deal of chagrin from his girlfriend/valet/tag team partner Ivelisse. The strife between the two would continue, eventually leading to a breakup, but then Dario Cueto paired them back together (along with hopeful suitor to Ivelisse Angelico) in the Trios Titles Tournament. The experience of not only enjoying success in the tournament, but also winning and defending the titles brought the duo back together, and while they lost their titles, they left Ultima Lucha apparently back together as a couple. Son of Havoc started out the season as an unlikable jerk, but over time he became a lovable loser and then a full-blown favorite of the Temple faithful, and he will likely remain a popular fixture in season two.

Super Fly: Super Fly debuted on Lucha Underground as a cocky, masked high flyer, but he did not win a single match until after Sexy Star had unwillingly claimed his mask in the season’s only lucha de apuesta match. Even after losing his mask, he wasn’t particularly successful.

Texano: The former AAA Mega Champion, Texano came into Lucha Underground as a rudo looking to continue his feud with Alberto El Patron, but over the course of the season he became a favorite first of Dario Cueto and then of the Temple faithful after Blue Demon Jr and the Crew beat him down for claiming to be the pride of Mexico. And while that same group, combined with the manipulator of the whole situation, Chavo Guerrero Jr, ended up beating him down at Ultima Lucha, Texano is too important to AAA and Lucha Underground not to be back for season two.

Trece: The third and final member of the Disciples of Death, Trece is every bit as mysterious as his compatriots, doing the bidding of Catrina and Mil Muertes. He is also (unsurprisingly, if you have read about Barrio Negro and El Siniestro de la Muerte) one-third of the current Lucha Underground Trios Champions.

Vinny Massaro: Last, and arguably least, of the wrestling roster is Vinny Massaro, who looked like a cross between Taz and Bull Dempsey with none of the talent or intensity. As you can probably expect if you’ve been paying attention, Massaro, too, fell victim to Pentagon Jr’s arm-breaking rampage, and while poor Vinny eventually returned to the show, he never won a single match.

There were also some new names added to the roster for season two, most notably Rey Mysterio Jr (who should really be going by Rey Misterio Jr again, but that is a discussion for another day) and PJ Black (better known as Justin Gabriel in WWE), but as they have yet to start writing their LU stories, at least on television, I will mention them only in passing here.

The Non-Wrestlers

Black Lotus: Lotus first appeared as a mysterious visitor to the Temple and it was eventually revealed that she blamed Dario Cueto’s monstrous brother Matanza for the death of her parents. Before she could seek her revenge, she was abducted on order of El Dragon Azteca, who wanted to train Black Lotus, rather than see her killed by Matanza in her quest for revenge. As young, impetuous vengeance seekers are wont to do, Lotus challenged El Dragon Azteca to prove she was ready to take her revenge, and even though she lost, she still fled back to the Temple…where she was promptly captured by Chavo Guerrero and the Crew and locked in a cage beneath the Temple, right next to Matanza. Cueto managed to convince her that it was El Dragon Azteca who was responsible for the death of her parents, and when El Dragon Azteca came to rescue her, breaking a long-standing and mysterious treaty simply by setting foot in the Temple, Black Lotus killed him, setting off a war that sets the stage for the events of season two.

Catrina: Billed as a “femme fatale”, Catrina initially seemed like a pretty face on the arm of Mil Muertes (albeit one who claimed to have the ability to allow Muertes to claim his opponents’ souls through a Lick of Death), but she has since been revealed to have ghostly teleportation powers as well as total control over the Disciples of Death. And, if that weren’t formidable enough, Catrina also duped Fenix into burying Mil Muertes, which allowed her charge the ability to shed his physical limitations and be reborn as an even stronger incarnation of death, proving she has the brains to go with her beauty.

Dario Cueto: I’ve already covered El Jefe in-depth earlier in the column, but it bears repeating that he is the most entertaining authority figure in wrestling today and easily one of the best non-wrestling characters period.

Dragon Azteca: At some point in the past, El Dragon Azteca made a treaty with Dario Cueto, or perhaps his parents, who ran an underground fighting ring. As part of the treaty, Dragon was not allowed to step foot inside Cueto’s Temple, something that he did during Ultima Lucha in hopes of rescuing Black Lotus, who he had hoped to train in order to prevent her from sacrificing her life to Matanza in a misguided attempt at revenge. Unfortunately for Dragon, Cueto was able to convince Lotus that Dragon was the one who was responsible for her parents’ deaths and she killed Dragon when he attempted to rescue her. At the close of Ultima Lucha, it appeared as though another individual took up the mantle of El Dragon Azteca, so that storyline is far from over.

Hugo Savinovich: During WWE’s Attitude Era, any time someone went through the Spanish Announce Table, Hugo Savinovich was one of the commentators who was inconvenienced. He left WWE in 2011 and provided Spanish language commentary for the first season of Lucha Underground.

Konnan: Konnan is likely familiar to anyone who watched WCW from the mid-nineties until their closure, as well as TNA fans from 2001 until 2007 or so. He is also a Mexican legend, becoming the first ever CMLL World Heavyweight Champion, the first-ever AAA World Heavyweight Champion, a centerpiece of the fledgling AAA promotion, and eventually its booker. And while he left AAA to start his own promotion, which folded after two short years due his commitments in the US, Konnan returned to Mexico after WCW closed and remained one of the country’s most popular competitors. And while his in-ring career is likely over due to health issues including a kidney transplant and hip replacement surgery, he proved to be a valuable source of veteran knowledge as he guided Prince Puma to the top of Lucha Underground.

Matanza: Dario Cueto’s murderous and mysterious half-brother, little is known about Matanza, though Dario kept him locked in a cage beneath the Temple for the entirety of season one and that he likely killed Black Lotus’ family.

Matt Striker: Former WWE wrestler Matt Striker serves as play-by-play commentator for Lucha Underground. While Striker does have his drawbacks (he likes to prove how smart he is with extremely obscure references; he tends to delve into misogyny any time an attractive woman is near ringside), he has proven over the course of season one that he is more than competent at play-by-play commentary.

Melissa Santos: Lucha Underground’s ring announcer, Melissa Santos is a model who has proven to be amazingly adept at the art of ring announcing. She changes her inflection, her tone, and even her facial expressions depending on who is coming to the ring. Pentagon Jr also used her as a way to draw Sexy Star out to the ring and prolong their feud, so she’s more than just a pretty face and an engaging voice. When compared with the likes of Lillian Garcia, it becomes even more clear that Lucha Underground hit the jackpot with Santos, who is every bit as vital to a Lucha Underground match as the participants and the referee.

Vampiro: Like Konnan, health issues have forced Vampiro into retirement from regular performances, but his status as a lucha libre legend have made him a more than capable color commentator, and while his dudebro inflection can sometimes be distracting, his extensive knowledge of the history of lucha libre over the past two-plus decades has allowed him to provide plenty of excellent insights over the course of season one. And, of course, he was involved in the most brutally violent match in season one, as Pentagon Jr goaded him out of retirement to offer him as a sacrifice to his then-unknown Master. It was only after Pentagon Jr put him through a flaming table and subsequently broke his arm that Vampiro revealed that he had been Pentagon’s master all along. With that revelation coming during Ultima Lucha, Vampiro’s status as color commentator is likely up in the air for season two.

The Referees (Justin Borden, Marty Elias, Rick Knox): Lucha Underground’s referees are obviously a vital part of the action, but, to their immense credit, the best thing that I can say about them is that they have never detracted from my enjoyment of a match. They do their jobs, they do them well, and while we have seen a few personality quirks from each of them, they remain bunched together here for the simple fact that they are not taking away from the action in the ring.

Whew. At nearly 6500 words and counting, I think it is time to draw this introductory lesson on Lucha Underground to a close. If you have made it this far, I am sure that you almost certainly have questions, and I will do my best to answer them in Wednesday’s installment, which will focus on the stories that Lucha Underground told throughout the course of season one, as well as an explanation of sorts for how Lucha Underground is able to make its supernatural overtones feel like a natural part of a weekly wrestling show.

Wyatt Beougher is a lifelong fan of professional wrestling who has been writing for 411 for over four years and currently hosts MMA Fact or Fiction and reviews Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

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Lucha Underground, Wyatt Beougher