The July 15 episode of “WWE Raw” presented a segment unlike anything else that appeared on the show. In it, tag team champions The New Day went to the Wyatt Family’s compound and a giant brawl ensued that looked less like a wrestling show than a fight scene from a movie.
Many wrestling fans immediately noted that the entire segment was inspired by the “Final Deletion” match between Matt and Jeff Hardy one week prior on “TNA Impact.” Both segments had varying degrees of cinematic quality as they attempted to show wrestling in a different light.
What some fans may not realize is that this is nothing new. In fact, both TNA and WWE are borrowing from a wrestling series currently in its second season on the El Rey Network.
“Lucha Underground,” executive produced by Mark Burnett and movie director Robert Rodriguez, is changing the game when it comes to how professional wrestling is presented and if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, what they’re doing is getting noticed.
Really, what “Lucha Underground” did was as simple as it was revolutionary.
“Most professional wrestling TV shows like to present themselves like a sporting event,” wrestler Joey Ryan explains. “Lucha Underground is presented more like a TV show or an HBO series.”
That means those backstage scenes that tend to drive storylines in wrestling are only seen by the audience at home, rather than the wrestlers in the ring or the crowd watching the matches. It also means a more cinematic look to the product that “Lucha” established to set themselves apart.
“If we came out and did what WWE did, they’re the Coca-Cola of wrestling. We would have been RC Cola,” producer and wrestling legend Chavo Guerrero Jr. says. “Mark Burnett always says that he would rather fail being different than succeed being the same.”
Of course, it helps that “Lucha Underground” serves an entirely different purpose than “WWE Raw” or “TNA Impact.”
“Other companies, they’re a wrestling product. But it’s not really a TV show. They’re shows promote their pay-per-views and their live events and their network,” Guerrero admits. “We don’t have pay-per-views and we don’t have live events. Our show gets you to watch next week, then next week, then the next week.”
That means even their biggest event — their version of WWE’s “WrestleMania” — isn’t outside of their regular show, but rather integrated into it. For “Lucha Underground,” that’s their “Ultima Lucha” episodes, which also serve as season finales.
Currently, the company is presenting “Ultima Lucha Dos,” which is a three-part series that will see, among other things, a Gift of the Gods Champion crowned.
So if you’re a pro wrestling champion that’s getting a little tired of seeing the same thing over and over again, it’s time to switch channels to the El Rey Network and see exactly what “Lucha Underground” is doing. Because it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
“Lucha Underground” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on the El Rey Network.