Monday nights. Plop in front of the television. I would watch WCW Monday Nitro and WWF (now WWE) Monday Night Raw, taping one and watching the other live. You can get four, five, sometimes six hours of wrestling doing this.
But many things happened after that. The death of Eddie Guerrero. The murder-suicide of Chris Benoit and his family. Storylines that were so bad, I could predict how long it would take for them to appear on the wrestlecrap.com website, an online portal that shows the worst of professional wrestling.
To be totally honest, I gave up on the sport. And yes, I say it’s a sport.
But suddenly … a few months ago … I was flipping through my television channels on a Wednesday night and stumbled across El Rey Network. Produced and owned by director Robert Rodriguez, El Rey Network is a new cable channel that features action films, Hong Kong wuxia movies, and an occasional original television series. I didn’t plan on watching El Rey Network… but that Wednesday night, there was a professional wrestling show on the schedule, a program called Lucha Underground.
When I used to watch professional wrestling on a regular basis, I enjoyed the cruiserweight matches – the masked battles between stars like El Ultimo Dragon, Juventud Guerrera Jr., Super Crazy, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, Psichosis and the like. Those were fun.
Okay, there’s a couple of wrestlers on the show right now – let’s see… it’s a specialty battle called “Grave Consequences,” in which the loser must be locked into a coffin. Yeah, been there, done that, Undertaker, Kane, yawn city. Let’s see what these guys can do.
First man in – Mil Muertes, who I looked up on Wikipedia and discovered that this wrestler was a former wrestling champion in Mexico’s AAA federation. Okay. Sounds like this might work. And he has a valet named Caterina. Okay, wrestlers with valets always work for me, reminds me of the days of Macho Man Randy Savage and his valet Elizabeth…
Second man in – Fénix, another Mexican professional wrestler. From what I was able to determine, Fénix and Mil Muertes had a nasty feud over Caterina the valet, to the point where Caterina shifted her allegiance to Fénix. Yeah, the same classic storyline in professional wrestling.
So here’s the match that I saw. And I apologize ahead of time for the crowd noises in the video. The language in the audience is not safe for work.
Mil Muertes almost tore Fénix’s mask off. And the coffin got dented from wrestlers falling on it. And that’s no cheap coffin.
That was amazing. I gotta watch more of this.
And a few weeks later, I saw another outstanding match on Lucha Underground. The backstory for this episode is such – the team of Angélico (a South African professional wrestler with extensive lucha training), Son of Havoc (an American wrestler who lives a “straight edge” lifestyle) and Ivelisse (a former WWE developmental wrestler) had just won the trios championship, essentially a three-person tag team title. And all of a sudden, Lucha Underground boss Dario Cueto comes out and makes one more match for the weary combatants – against a group of street thugs called The Crew.
Again, please be aware that as the action increases and the danger rises, the crowd gets into this in ways I haven’t seen since the original days of ECW Wrestling. Watch and be amazed.
Say it with me. “THIS – IS – AWE-SOME (clap clap clap-clap-clap)! THIS – IS – AWE-SOME (clap clap clap-clap-clap)!!”
I’m watching the matches and I’m thinking to myself… wow, these are some seriously strong battles going on. It’s a mixture of Aztec symbolism and lucha libre wrestling and passion and oh man I gotta watch one more match. One more match…
And this time it’s the reigning Lucha Underground champion, Prince Puma, going up against one of the top challengers in the organization, King Cuerno. In fact, I think it’s King Cuerno’s mask that stands as the logo for the Lucha Underground TV show.
Once again, please bear with me – the language in the audience is kinda salty, but the action in the ring is totally sweet.
Lucha Underground airs Wednesday nights on El Rey Network, which is available from Time Warner Cable and other providers. Previous episodes are also available on demand.
All I’m saying is this – if the other professional wrestling federations ever did half of what these guys in Lucha Underground are doing…
I never would have stopped watching. Not with action like this.