We could argue all day long about which of the various “nerd” television shows is the best (the correct answer is The Flash and if you say differently, you’re wrong) and if you had to make up a list of the best nerd shows out there, you’ll get the usual suspects: Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., etc.
But I am here to introduce you to a superhero-like show that probably didn’t hit your radar, especially if you live in Canada.
Airing on the El Rey Network in the US, Lucha Underground is a Lucha (Mexican) wrestling show that has managed to take a step back into the past of pro wrestling as well as a few steps into the future.
They have completely dispensed with the idea that you are watching a “sport”. Instead, Lucha Underground treats it’s show as a television program, one that draws heavily from the telenovelas of Mexican television as well as traditional comic book. When you watch Lucha Underground, you watch a world that doesn’t exist in ours, the same way you would watch The Flash.
Dario Cueto (played with excellence by actor Luis Fernandez-Gil) is a promoter who has established “The Temple” in Boyle Heights, California. The Temple was created to bring the finest warriors of Lucha to battle for money and Cueto’s entertainment.
Within that template, the writers of Lucha Underground carved out an overarching story. Unlike most wrestling programs, Lucha Underground is completely pre-recorded which gives it an edge over the other shows in numerous ways. They are doing the show in seasons so, much like The Flash or Arrow, the writers have to come up with an arc for the characters as well as endings. You know, they have to follow the rules of good storytelling.
This format also allows Lucha Underground to push boundaries on characters further. The supernatural for example. Outside of The Undertaker, most supernatural elements brought into mainstream pro wrestling seem hokey and fake because…well… they are. Monday Night Raw presents itself as a real athletic competition and due to that format, you have certain things you have to adhere to. What Lucha Underground‘s format has done is said “This is our world, this is not the real world, so the supernatural can happen. Death can happen.” And I’m serious, Lucha Underground has killed off characters. These are things you can’t get away with in regular pro wrestling or that you would question if you saw it on a WWE screen. Here, they seem right at home.
Because the show is pre-taped, it also looks great, more akin to a show like Arrow than Monday Night Raw. The backstage vignettes have texture and angles and aren’t just the same old boring static shot.
So why am I going on about this, especially on a website meant for geeks?
Well, first of all, the crossover between fans of comics and fans of wrestling is a pretty big one. The nature of superheros and the characters of wrestling are very similar. If you look at how characters have evolved in comics through the ages and then look at how wrestling has evolved, you’ll find a lot of similar points in their time line.
So, some of you are bound to like wrestling.
But the main reason I am preaching about Lucha Underground is how addictive it is. As I mentioned, the show is not available in Canada [NOTE: as I was finishing edits on this piece, it was announced that TeleLatino/TLN would be carrying the second season of the show in Canada] but as I had heard so much about it, I sought it out through other, less then legal means.
I blew through all thirty-nine episodes of season one within two weeks.
Now, is it the best written show on the planet? No. It’s very much like the telenovelas that it draws some of it’s inspiration from. But because of that, they have really amped up something that seems to be slowly forgotten in many wrestling and television programs: The hook to bring me back for the next episode. Episode after episode, Luch Underground managed to compel me to keep watching. Whether it was to see the fate of a character or a match up that got announced, I just needed more.
And this is not to discredit the wrestlers because they are good. Really good. Take Johnny Mundo. As John Morrison in the WWE. he was a good worker but his high flying style seemed a little out of step with what was going on in there. With Lucha Underground, he has found the perfect home for his style as have guys like Prince Puma and Chavo Guererro Jr. In many ways, this is as close to “real” superheroes we will get: Guys in flashy costumes who fly around the ring.
If you are one of those people who complains there is nothing different on television in terms of action based series, I encourage you to seek out this incredibly fun show before season 2 begins.
And season 2 brings with it Rey Mysterio Jr.
If you’re gonna geek out, GEEK HARD!