Lucha Underground Returns! by Jerry Whitworth
In the past, Comic Art Community has discussed the connection between comic books and wrestling and how the former has influenced the latter such as in Chikara (and what it could do for WWE, who has recently adopted a comic-like storyline with Arrow‘s Stephen Amell, Stardust, and Neville) as well as how wrestling could be adapted for the DC multiverse. In the last year, a new, significant player has been added to the mix. Lucha Underground, a weekly, seasonal television series produced by Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice) for Robert Rodriguez’s (Sin City, From Dusk till Dawn) El Rey Network, features performers from AAA (Asistencia Asesoría y Administración, essentially Mexico’s WWE) and American independent wrestlers in a decidedly comic book realm of storytelling (referred by some as a darker version of Chikara). Starring the likes of Mil Muertes (“1,000 Deaths,” the survivor of a massive earthquake resurrected as an undead monster), Drago (a dragon from Hell taking human form), Aero Star (an alien warrior who travels amongst the stars), and Pentagón Jr. (a crazed martial arts fanatic worshiper of the demented Vampiro), it’s easy to see the parallels to the four color page. The first season ended at the beginning of August as fans were left wondering if the series would be picked up for a second season. In the last week, that question would be answered with a resounding ‘yes.’ Lets examine what a second season of Lucha Underground in 2016 could present its fans.
In the first season finale “Ultima Lucha,” a number of storylines were put in place. Dario Cueto, the in-story owner of Lucha Underground, has fled the Temple (the promotion’s arena) with recent convert Black Lotus (a martial arts assassin hunting for her parents’ murderer) and his brother Matanza (a monster bred by their father for underground fighting who Lotus suspected of being her target) following the execution of El Dragon Azteca (a descendant of one of the seven original Aztec tribes that Cueto brainwashed Lotus into believing was the killer she sought). Fénix (based on the mythical phoenix), who had just earned the inaugural Gift of the Gods Championship which guarantees a title shot for the Lucha Underground Championship, is being stalked by the cowboy El Texano Jr. following his defeat by Blue Demon Jr. (who has aligned with the villainous Chavo Guerrero Jr. and the Crew). Crazed lucha fan Marty “The Moth” Martinez has kidnapped and tied up Sexy Star (a scene drawing likely some parallels to the Joker and Batgirl), the top female wrestler of the promotion, promising the arrival of a sinister sister. The unlikely trio of high-flyer Angélico, no-nonsense female warrior Ivelisse, and all-around wrestler Son of Havoc (a group that maybe a nod to DC Comics’ Trinity) begin a journey to reclaim the Trios Championship from The Disciples of Death, undead creatures summoned by the dark seductress Catrina with her Stone of Death toward her bid for power. Drago and Aero Star part ways as staunch friends, returning to their respective domains of the great beyond. Pentagón Jr., having come full circle in his training by besting his master Vampiro in bloody combat, delve deeper into darkness together. A youth saved by El Dragon Azteca at the beginning of the season dons his mentor’s mask and spray paints a question mark across the Lucha Underground billboard atop the Temple. And Mil Muertes, the mightiest servant of Catrina, now carries the Lucha Underground Championship having defeated Prince Puma (another known descendant of the seven original Aztec tribes). There are also, of course, other notable stars such as Alberto El Patrón (Alberto Del Rio in WWE), King Cuerno, Johnny Mundo (John Morrison in WWE), Big Ryck (Ezekiel Jackson in WWE), Brian Cage, Willie Mack, Jack Evans, Killshot, DelAvar Daivari, and Super Fly with parts to play.
Among the various storylines, perhaps the greatest over-reaching mystery is that of the seven original Aztec tribes and how it ties into the overall mythology of the series. With El Dragon Azteca (and likely his protege) and Prince Puma already identified as descendants of these bloodlines, it’s likely that more members of the roster will be revealed as more descendants (Marty the Moth made reference to being part of a tribe during the Gift of the Gods tournament). Based on the premier of Lucha Underground that introduced the thread, it’s possible warriors like Mil Muertes, King Cuerno, and Sexy Star could have been hinted as descendants. Rumor has it world famous wrestler Rey Mysterio Jr. (who currently works for AAA) could join the cast in its second season which could prompt him to be revealed as a descendant as other prominent AAA performers such as Alberto El Patrón and Myzteziz (Sin Cara in WWE) would also fit well into such a story arc. Chances are also good that this ongoing story could tie into secrets surrounding Dario Cueto and his brother Matanza as El Dragon Azteca seemed to be closely monitoring Cueto and his Temple and who seemed to have all the answers (which explains why Cueto had him killed). It’s also likely no accident that the Gift of the Gods Championship is supplemented by seven Golden Aztec Medallions with a major clue in the aforementioned remark by Marty the Moth to bring the Moth Medallion back to his tribe. Cueto had mentioned acquiring the medallions would make one “immortal” which has been accepted as meaning “famous,” but given the supernatural elements of the show, could it be far-fetched that perhaps the tournament (and even founding Lucha Underground) was a plot by Cueto to obtain some greater power? And as death is no stranger to LU with characters like Mil Muertes (who has since been resurrected), Bael, and El Dragon Azteca (as well as possibly Konnan) meeting their ends, perhaps the surviving tribe members could be intended sacrifices for that power? The hunt for Cueto and the emerging story between Fénix and El Texano Jr. could very well overlap and interweave into this greater arc.
The other significant storyline undoubtedly continuing will be surrounding Catrina and the power she wields as the master of Lucha Underground Champion Mil Muertes and the Trios Champions in the Disciples of Death. This of course paints a target on her back as Fénix, her former associate and the man who killed Mil Muertes, carries the Gift of the Gods Championship granting him the right to challenge Muertes for his title at any time. There is also Prince Puma, the former champion, who will likely fight to regain his belt. Not to mention, there’s a host of other fighters like Johnny Mundo, Alberto El Patrón, Cage, and Big Ryck who were consistent top contenders for the title during Puma’s reign who will likely still be in the mix (and should Rey Mysterio Jr. and Myzteziz emerge, undoubtedly they’d be considered top contenders). Add into all of this the Disciples of Death with at least Son of Havoc’s trio seeking to regain their titles and a host of other entities (like the Crew) gunning for the belts. The question becomes, does Catrina simply wait for these contenders to seek out her champions or will she try to steamroll the competition and perhaps takeover Lucha Underground, seemingly abandoned by Cueto, for herself? Further, perhaps she could try to obtain the Gift of the Gods Championship for her stable by sending her Disciples individually against Fénix (which could explain their adoption of individual identities for “Ultima Lucha” in Barrio Negro, El Siniestro de la Muerte, and Trece). This tactic would secure all of the gold currently available at the company as well as protect Muertes from being forced to face any opponent who happens to wield the Gift of the Gods title. Of course, should it come to light Cueto seeks a greater power through the seven Aztec tribes, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Catrina would likewise try to obtain this power for herself.
Despite having an active roster at about three dozen wrestlers, there’s always room to grow especially in a new season. In addition to aforementioned references to AAA stars (and former WWE talent) Rey Mysterio Jr. and Myzteziz, rumor had it Lucha Underground initially sought to contract Evolve stars Ricochet, AR Fox, and Rich Swann but, due to cost, could only afford Ricochet (who portrays Prince Puma). Since the start of LU, Swann has reportedly been signed by WWE and AR Fox is no longer under contract to Evolve which would make him more cost effectively available to LU. With WWE snatching up talent from the independent scene for its expanding NXT brand, the pool of high quality talent has diminished a bit. That said, performers like Andrew Everett, Kevin Kross, Trevor Lee, and more have the talent and look to make them candidates. LU also has a tendency to work with former WWE talent and such current indie guys include PJ Black (Justin Gabriel), Paul London, Brian Myers (Curt Hawkins), and Raj Singh (Jinder Mahal). There is also a wealth of talent yet to find its way to LU from AAA with such notable wrestlers as La Parka Jr., Los Hell Brothers (Cibernético, Chessman, and Averno), Psycho Circus (Psycho Clown, Monster Clown, and Murder Clown), Faby Apache, Lolita, and Taya Valkyrie.