Looking Back at Lucha Underground Season 1: A Piece of Aztec Gold | Smark Out Moment

Looking Back at Lucha Underground Season 1: A Piece of Aztec Gold

Posted by Marc G Thursday, October 1, 2015
Never in a million years did I think I would enjoy a wrestling show where people have been eaten, a man came back from the dead with ghosts as his disciples, and Chavo Guerrero Jr. was a prominent on-screen character. But, not only did I enjoy it, I think it's the best wrestling show on television.

logo Lucha Underground mask wallpaper
The Lucha Underground logo.
For months, fans of Lucha Underground waited patiently as the LU team looked for financial support for season 2 of its wrestling show based out of Boyle Heights, California. We finally got confirmation as Lucha Underground announced its second season to begin in 2016. With Lucha Underground costing over 2 million dollars to produce, we weren't sure if we'd ever see it again, and now wrestling fans everywhere are gearing up to watch another fantastic season of Lucha Underground.

I probably watch enough wrestling in the week to lose my mind. Monday Night Raw is 3 hours, then on Wednesday, NXT comes on at 8 o'clock, Impact comes on at 9 o'clock, and Ring of Honor comes on at 11. On Thursday, a not-so-action-packed version of Raw called SmackDown comes on for 2 hours. Last, but certainly not least, New Japan runs their house show cards usually on the weekends. This is a week without a WWE Network special (pay-per-view? special event?) or a New Japan special event. Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely spoiled by how much wrestling is on TV, but the formula most wrestling companies follow is "the formula."

Lucha Underground went in a completely different direction. Where most companies rely on backstage segments shot live to drive their storylines, Lucha Underground took a more unique route. All of their segments or scenes are scripted and shot on film. It ends up feeling more like Guardians of the Galaxy than it is UFC. This opened up the door to things we'd never thought we'd see in a wrestling show.

In celebration of these great moments I've compiled the elements in which make this show so special.

The Temple

The Temple, in all actuality, is a piece of crap warehouse somewhere in California, but the production team at Lucha Underground does a great job of creating the atmosphere around it. When you watch wrestling in The Temple, you feel like you're watching underground pit fighting. The lighting is perfect and most importantly, the fans love being there. Anytime something big happens in the ring, rest assured, the fans in The Temple will show their appreciation. The Temple is one of the most important characters on the show, providing a gritty yet beautiful backdrop for the cast of colorful characters that make up this roster. Being in The Temple is a great honor for them all.

Lucha Underground production set
The Temple in Lucha Underground

El Jefe

Without a doubt, my favorite character on Lucha Underground is Dario Cueto—the owner of Lucha Underground who is in love with chaos. I imagine him snorting mounds of cocaine before handing out one of his many "unique opportunities" which usually doesn't benefit the wrestler too much. Dario is never really heel or babyface, although sometimes you like him and sometimes you hate him. He seems to just be in this business because he "loves violence" and has the cash to throw around. He has no problem bribing a talent to get what he wants, he also doesn't mind murdering you either, which he has done twice. I guess Dario is a piece of crap, but in the end, he is smart, cunning, and ruthless. He plays his game by any means necessary, do not cross El Jefe. Ask B-Boy..

Lucha Underground  Dario Cueto
Dario Cueto in his office.
The Announce Team

Wrestling shows live and die by their announce teams. They are the main voice the viewer hears when watching a show. They are reflective of what your show is trying to get across. Combining the knowledge of Matt Striker and the experiences of Lucha legend Vampiro, Lucha Underground has struck gold with this unique combination. Striker is always eager to call the match and keep you there every step of the way, while Vampiro provides excellent color commentary alongside him. Out of all the wrestling shows on television, this commentary team seems to be the one that has the most fun, as they are invested with everything that goes on in the ring. As a bonus, they also have a beautiful ring announcer by the name of Melissa Santos, who is as talented as she is curvy (she is so curvy) and also adds a legitimacy to the product. She does little things like not being excited to introduce Pentagon Jr. because he is a scum bag. Did I mention how curvy she is?

Lucha Underground commentary team
Matt Striker and Vampiro of Lucha Underground's announce team.

Never has a wrestling roster looked so ridiculous on paper. Let's start with Mil Muertez. Mil is a powerful monster heel with a beautiful valet by the name of Catrina. By all intents and purposes, Catrina is a ghost. She pops out of nowhere all the time and licks the faces of Mil's enemies, marking them for death. Catrina conspired against Mil with the wrestler Fenix to have Mil buried once and for all. But it was a trick! Catrina got Fenix to bury Mil alive and Mil died (that's right, he died bro) and came back stronger than ever with Catrina by his side and destroyed Fenix. Watching that storyline play out was week-to-week was wonderful! Add characters like Drago (who is basically half man, half dragon), Pentagon Jr. (who breaks people's arms in service of his "master"), King Cuerno (a fearless hunter who methodically picks apart his opponents), Fenix (a never say die Luchador), Prince Puma (a direct descendant of Aztecs and the best fighter in Lucha Underground), and many more and you can't help but make compelling television, no matter how crazy the storylines seem. Which brings us to...

Lucha Underground wrestlers photos
Some of Lucha Underground's roster.


Beyond a shadow of a doubt, the main reason this show is so different is it's dedication to storyline writing. Every feud on Lucha Underground's television was compelling. From the major ones, like Johnny Mundo being jealous of Alberto El Patron's success, all the way to Big Rick getting revenge on the Crew for putting out a cigar in his eye. He lost the eye by the way. Everything that happens on Lucha Underground is going down for a reason, unlike a lot of wrestling shows at the moment. One hundred percent of the time you need to keep your eyes on the television, because you might miss something important.

Lucha Underground Maxine WWE Divas
Catrina (in black) marking Fenix (in red) with the kiss of death.

Never before in the history of professional wrestling has a wrestling television show been shot on film. When you are in Dario's office, it feels like you're watching a good old fashioned grindhouse movie. The music is always perfect for the setting and the acting is pretty good for the most part. Of course, sometimes the acting can be a bit iffy because they are wrestlers. Characters like Konnan (manager of Prince Puma), Dario Cueto, Pentagon Jr., Drago, Brian Cage, and Big Rick benefit a lot from this format. Rick, formerly Ezekiel Jackson in WWE, was never a good promo but in this can come off has big and as scary as they need him to be. This is by far my favorite thing about Lucha Underground. The most memorable of these segments came by way for Dario Cueto and The Crew. Dario ordered the Crew to take down the Trios Champions: Son of Havoc, Angelico, and Ivelisse. When they failed he told them that they must be punished. Dario takes them to a basement where is monster (not monster heel, actual monster) brother sits in a cage. He tells the Crew that they must choose one of them to be eaten alive by his brother. All three of them look at each for a little while until Cortez & Cisco grab poor B-Boy and put his head up to the cage. Without hesitation, the monster eats B-Boy's head and blood squirts all over his former partners in crime. That's right, Dario Cueto is a murderer, how's that for heat?

karate kid Lucha Underground promo video
Lucha Underground vignettes are revolutionary.

Everybody in Lucha Underground has a price. If Dario Cueto needs something done, he makes it rain a little. All of the matches have stakes attached to them. Prime example: two good friends, Drago and Aero Star, have a match against each other in which Drago emerges victorious. At the end of the match, Dario comes out and congratulates Drago on his victory, but wants to offer something to them both to make it a little more interesting for him. He books them against each other in a best of fives series where the winner is afford a patented Dario Cueto "unique opportunity". The matches are great and competitive as both men start to develop a rivalry and are spread out over the next five weeks. Tied at two matches a piece, Drago squeaks out the final victory against his friend and enters Dario Cueto. He congratulates Drago and gives him his prize—a shot at the Lucha Underground champion Prince Puma! Although, if he loses, he must never return to The Temple. Booking 101! Having so much at stake for a match like that makes it feel huge. Stakes will always equal great television in the wrestling world.

Lucha Underground briefcase of cash
Dario Cueto with a briefcase full of cash.

Fighting Champion

As I stated earlier, Prince Puma is the best fighter in Lucha Underground. How do I know this? Because he proved it. Before losing his title to a reborn from the dead Mil Muertez at Ultima Lucha, Puma successfully defended his title eight times against seven different opponents. Fenix, Cage, King Cuerno, Chavo Guerrero Jr. Drago, Johnny Mundo, and Hernandez all fell victim to Puma's will and tenacity. The best thing about every title defense was that Puma could lose. Every opponent he faced was a legitimate threat to his title reign. Fenix matched speed with Puma, and stayed with him every step of the way. Cage was a powerhouse that could also move like a light heavyweight and almost beat Puma twice. King Cuerno was slow, methodical, and precise. He tried to break the champ down to no avail. Drago had absolutely nothing to lose as it was win or go home for him. Hernandez was very powerful and tried to win by any means necessary, but was unsuccessful. Johnny Mundo came the closest to beating Puma in an Iron Man match, but was unable to outlast our champion. Chavo, of course, in true Guererro fashion, tried to cheat and was shut down. Everything about Puma's title defenses were special. The announcers would put it over big time, the matches were A1, and the atmosphere was electric.

Lucha Underground championship Prince Puma
Prince Puma with the Lucha Underground title.
This concludes Part 1 of A Piece of Aztec Gold. In Part 2, I will hand out awards (not really, trophies are not in the budget here at Smark Out Moment) for categories like, "Best Wrestler", "Best Match", "Most Developed Character", and "Holy Shit Moment".

Don't agree with anything I said? Do you hate Lucha Underground? How much cocaine do you think Dario does just to stay balanced? Get it off your chest and leave it in our comment section below.

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