Over the past few years, the pro wrestling world has seen a boom in popularity. That is in large part to organizations like AEW forming, New Japan Pro Wrestling expanding and all the exciting and innovative wrestlers that are involved in the sport. There are multiple ways to watch wrestling, a sport that is applauded for its theatrics as well as for its athletic background.
Some could say that it wasn’t until the very late 2010’s until WWE’s style of wrestling was changed for the better. You can credit a variety of factors. One thing is for sure, however: you can never forget about Lucha Underground’s impact on the sport.
Created in 2014 by Mark Burnett, who has been involved with competition shows such as Survivor, The Voice and The Apprentice, as well as famous director Robert Rodriguez, Lucha Underground was meant to be a true difference-maker. Airing on the El Rey Network and showcased all over YouTube, Lucha Underground was a true escape for wrestling fans who wanted more.
What exactly did the fans and the wrestlers themselves want that only Lucha Underground could provide? A revolutionary product that truly brought pro wrestling to life. Mexican wrestling and the traditions that followed (although a bit dramatized) was being highlighted on a season by season basis.
Want to know what all the hype was about? Check out this incredible display of athleticism from Angelico (6:13 into the video).
Thanks to the cinematic skills of Rodriguez and Burnett’s vision, Lucha Underground became the home of some of the biggest stars we currently see all over wrestling today. Names that come to mind include Pentagon Jr., Rey Fenix, Brian Cage, Taya Valkyrie, The Mack, Jeff Cobb, Sexy Star, Mariposa, Prince Puma (Ricochet), Son of Havoc, Mil Muertes, Ivelisse, Joey Ryan and Johnny Mundo.
A star like Mundo (John Morrison) thrived following his departure from WWE, making him one of the most desirable athletes in wrestling. Fans got a chance to see who Pentagon Jr. was while also seeing intergender wrestling in its truest form. Ivelisse and Sexy Star felt like they belonged with the men and were rewarded with championship gold. Jeff Cobb was known but didn’t have a true spotlight on him until he debuted as Matanza Cueto, a monster who everyone feared. It was all really innovative, especially for a major promotion being watched by a plethora of viewers.
It wasn’t just the wrestling that was highlighted. Using YouTube as a platform for those who didn’t have El Rey was a genius move. The above video has over 117,000 views while a Prince Puma v. Johnny Mundo All Night bout has about 83,000. A Prince Puma v. Rey Mysterio bout? Over 900,000 views.
Companies like WWE and Impact benefited from YouTube-related content, while the NWA and AEW use Lucha Underground’s strategy for their own YouTube shows, NWA Powerrr and AEW Dark.
The fall of Lucha Underground was a result of its uncertainty and the contracts in which wrestlers were bound upon. It vanished without a trace. Lucha Underground’s talents were stuck in their contracts while filming and that wasn’t even a consideration beforehand. This really held the company, as well the stars, back. Ricochet was a victim of that for a long time when he was working with NJPW. Recently, wrestlers like Joey Ryan and Ivelisse were granted their freedom.
Regardless of how poorly it all ended, we are still feeling the effects of the program. Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix are thriving in Mexican promotions and AEW, while Aero Star and Texano were provided a platform to become stars. Ricochet now entertains millions around the world with WWE. Fans still want Dario Cueto to be involved in pro wrestling, so much so that they are making pleas for him to be the next authority figure for AEW.
Ahead of its time, the ground-breaking promotion truly did shape the wrestling world, for better or for worse. Lucha Underground the company was left behind in the last decade, but its memory will live on forever.