World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (or WWE) has been the iconic image of professional wrestling since 1980 but has become repetitive and subpar compared to its beginnings. Fans are looking for something different. In October of 2014, Lucha Underground was launched and has since found significant success. It has aimed to bring lucha libre, the Mexican style of pro wrestling, to a new audience.
Although the basic rules of lucha libre are fairly similar to American professional wrestling, lucha libre is definitely capturing fans’ attention with its emphasis on high flying, fast reversals, and smooth transitions. The acting and storylines are exceptional as well, with concise and satisfying stories and relationships. This is unlike the WWE, which tends to drag its plotlines out past their expiration date. But what really sets Lucha Underground away from the WWE is the enlightened attitude towards gender. Rather than being reduced to mere sex objects, luchadoras are able to compete against men in and prove that they are just as capable in the ring week after week. Notable examples are Sexy Star and Ivelisse.
The famous male counterparts include the current Lucha Underground champion Prince Puma and the dominant “rudo” (or villain) is Pentagon Jr. Although Prince Puma was born in America, he takes lucha libre to a whole new level with his agility and invincibility. This comes as no surprise as his manager is lucha legend, Konnan. Pentagon Jr. is a second-generation star, known for his tremendous acting. His bearing and movements exude pure malice and every time he steps into the ring, the crowd goes wild. He is one of the biggest reasons why Lucha Underground makes such an entertaining and unique show.
Lucha libre is rich with culture and tradition that dates back nearly a century. In the 1930’s, the first Mexican wrestling promotion, Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (now known as Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre or simply CMLL) was founded by Salvador Lutteroth. He had seen American pro wrestling in Texas and was convinced it would be just as successful south of the border. And he was right. The sport grew in popularity throughout the 1950’s, and many of its top stars began to wear masks in the ring to avoid being mobbed in their private lives. The mask became the iconic symbol of lucha libre, with stars like El Santo and the Blue Demon having film careers while never even showing their face.
In recent years, a handful of luchadores have found popularity in the United States and increasingly so. Thanks to the El Rey Network which hosts Lucha Underground (check here for listings), old and new fans will be able to watch their favorite masked wrestlers every Wednesday. Those fluent in Spanish can tune in as well on UniMás on Saturdays. However, no matter what language you speak or where you are from, any wrestling fan will be able to enjoy the culture that is lucha libre.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Brandon Engel is a Midwestern blogger with a keen interest in wrestling, boxing, horror movies, and classic Russian literature. Follow him on Twitter: @BrandonEngel2.