Let me tell you about Lucha Underground. If you’re a wrestling fan, this series was made for you. If you’re not a wrestling fan, this series was still made for you. Friends have been recommending this show to me for some time but it was only until recently when this wrestling bonanza arrived on Netflix (it originally ran on El Rey in the U.S.) that I was able to delve into the world of wrestlers containing such superstars as “Prince Puma,” “Johnny Mundo,” “Big Ryck,” “Sexy Star,” and my personal favorite, “Mil Muertes” (translated into English as “1000 Deaths.”)
Now keep in mind, I myself am not a huge wrestling fan. I dabbled when I was young, spurred on by the fact that one of my classmates in kindergarten happened to be the child of a big time WWE (then WWF) wrestler, granting us backstage access to some of the bigger events during the year. However, I eventually dropped off and would only hear about the world of wrestling in passing. I am amazed as anyone that Lucha Underground has managed to pull me in as much as it has, and this article is a result of that, as I cannot recommend the series enough.
Wrestling has always been something of the equivalent of a soap opera, albeit one with pile drivers and Frankensteiners. But whereas the WWE now tends to stay more realistic in its storylines, Lucha Underground has no such restrictions. Each of the wrestlers in Lucha has a backstory straight out of comic books, unafraid to take a deep dive into some outrageous events that push each of their matches that much further. In traditional pro-wrestling, wrestlers will call out other wrestlers, a match will be scheduled at a major event, and title belts will be exchanges. Lucha Underground turns this idea on its head by having the same basic structure, but adds an overall storyline during the season where each wrestler has rivalries, weaknesses, and fully fleshed out back stories that resonate with audiences. I find myself riveted following each of these characters when they’re betrayed or manage to achieve their dreams of championship, or are hinted to make an appearance during a future episode.
To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, Mil Muertes is a behemoth of a wrestler in Lucha Underground who appears to lean toward the supernatural. Losing his family as a child during an earthquake, “Mils” discovers that the only way he can truly live is by training his body and coming close to death as much as possible — the best way of doing so conveniently being in the wrestling ring. Joined by his beau, Katrina, Muertes destroys his opponent while being held in sway by a piece of rubble from the collapsed building that killed his parents. This of course is told to you through a well filmed, overall gloriously cheesy, flashback showing the events themselves that transpired while starting with text reading, “Death is a Debt that must be Paid.” Nearly every character gets one of these minute-long sequences, and they do a fantastic job of giving you an understanding of each character’s motivations, origins, and personalities.
With the characters themselves, they are but a sum part of the whole, but the main attraction is really the wrestling itself. Every wrestler in Lucha Underground spends each match looking like they’re trying to kill themselves, which I mean as a huge compliment. Some of the matches contain moves that I have never seen before in my life. Jumping from the top turnbuckle, Prince Puma will flip about 4 times before landing on his opponent to end the match. Pentagon Jr. will break his opponent’s’ arm as he thanks his mysterious master in the center of the ring. Draco and Aerostar will soar through the air inside and outside of the ring in a battle of flamboyant gymnasts. It makes for some great entertainment, spurned on by the story content that really has you interested on what is going on in the ring.