A Beginner’s Guide to Lucha Underground

With over-the-top grindhouse wrestling show, Lucha Underground, coming to Netflix, here's an introduction to what to expect for new viewers.

Lucha Underground arrives on Netflix today, which is great news because the main drawback to this show is the hurdle of getting eyes on the product. The crazy hybrid of Mortal Kombat and Wrestling Society X is currently in the middle of its third season, but new viewers will be able to binge on the first two soon enough.

And for real, this is the kind of wrestling show you can binge. It’s fun, filled with great action, and ridiculous storylines that pan out and rarely overstay their welcome (the latter is something WWE’s been struggling with for some time).

If you are thinking of dipping your toe into the dark, lucha waters, this is the guide for you. I’m going to be as non-spoiler-y as possible, especially when it comes to specific showdowns or plot twists. At the very least, I’ll be vague about it.

THE FORMAT

Lucha Underground is an hour long show that takes place in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles in a dingy arena known as The Temple. Season one is 39 episodes with season two being only 26. Each season builds up to Ultima Lucha, a PPV-like special that is spread across several episodes, ending in a two-hour finale.

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There are no gender-based divisions. Men and women can and will wrestle each other on a regular basis.

The matches on the show are taped months in advance, which is a double-edged sword in ways. It does keep people in the dark about certain plot points, which is one of the main things that differentiates Lucha Underground from your usual wrestling show. In WWE or TNA, anything that happens on TV is witnessed by everyone and is in no way a secret. Commentators will reference it as a thing that happened while replaying the footage.

In Lucha Underground, backstage segments are more heavily-produced and are only seen by us. Developments and verbal exchanges may shape what happens in the ring, but the commentators aren’t aware of them. Usually, the viewer will have a better idea of context and what’s going on than Striker and Vampiro.

These backstage storylines feature a lot of supernatural and science fiction concepts. It’s like the guys behind the show were big Undertaker and Kane fans and decided to dive deeper into that reality.

CHAMPIONSHIPS

Over the first season, three different championships are introduced to the promotion. First is the Lucha Underground Championship, the most highly-sought-after title. This championship is introduced in the ninth episode, where they hold an episode-length match type called Aztec Warfare. Aztec Warfare is the show’s answer to the Royal Rumble: A twenty-man, lottery-based match where you can only be eliminated via pinfall or submission. If you’re on the fence about the show, this episode will be the decision-maker for you.

Later in the season, a Trios Championship is added. Six teams of three are entered in a month-long tournament, culminating in a three-way elimination finals.

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Then there’s the Gift of the Gods Championship. Seven Aztec medallions are awarded via various means—usually from winning specific matches. The seven holders of the medallions earn their way into a seven-person battle where the winner is the Gift of the Gods Champion. As long as you give at least one week of notice, you can turn in your championship for a shot at the Lucha Underground Championship. If you don’t ask for a title shot, you will eventually have to defend your own championship.

Once the belt is exchanged for a title shot, the seven medallions are scattered and the process begins anew.

OUR CAST

Here’s a look at a big chunk of the roster, though I’m going to talk about those introduced in the first season. I will say that one of the lesser wrestlers on the show from season one does get reinvented into an amazing character by the second season and it’s amazing.

Anyway, just think of these as fighting game bios you’d find in a manual or during the arcade’s attract mode.

DARIO CUETO

During the AAA event Triplemania, Dario Cueto appeared and offered a whole lot of money to any wrestler tough enough to enter his Temple and thrive. Although his family has been linked to the lucha libre community, little is known about Dario himself. He’s a very rich enigma who uses Lucha Underground to quench his endless bloodlust. He has a perverse love for violence and will twist even the closest friends into becoming bitter enemies if it suits his interest.

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Even though Lucha Underground is his vanity project, there is the feeling that there’s more to the promotion than being Dario’s personal sandbox. What is he truly up to? Why does he wear a large key around his neck? What… or who is he hiding?

THE VOICES OF LUCHA UNDERGROUND

Melissa Santos acts as the show’s ring announcer and does a damn good job at it, but even she gets dragged into the drama of the show at times. The commentators are Matt Striker and Vampiro. Matt Striker, formerly of WWE, is a bit more upbeat and excited, but Vampiro is there to talk him down when he keeps talking about whichever Marvel superhero the match their watching reminds him of. Vampiro has far more experience as a wrestler than Striker and is quick to bring that into play. Although he tries to move on from the dark days in the ring, Vampiro does occasionally have issues with bias.

Especially if Konnan is involved. Vampiro hates that guy.

PRINCE PUMA AND KONNAN

Prince Puma comes from the streets of Boyle Heights, hand-picked by veteran wrestler Konnan to reach the top of Lucha Underground. While Puma’s acrobatic style is second-to-none, his personality is almost undefined. He never speaks, mainly because Konnan chooses to speak for him. While he may be learning to be better by the day, he also runs the risk of being nothing more than a mere puppet, worthless without his mentor.

Prince Puma’s bloodline traces back to the Jaguar Tribe, making him one of several modern-day representatives of the Aztecs in the promotion.

KING CUERNO

There are so many reasons why people choose to be wrestlers, but King Cuerno wears his on his sleeve. Cuerno is an expert hunter, and by taking part in Lucha Underground, he can essentially hunt humans for sport from within The Temple. Cuerno is a callous and patient warrior who stalks and tags his prey before finally going in for the kill by piercing them with his trademark attack, The Arrow from the Depths of Hell.

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SEXY STAR

The masked luchadora comes from a troubled past. She suffered from an abusive relationship that almost destroyed her, but she wouldn’t let it. She powered through and made a stance of “never again.” She represents all of those women around the world who endure torment. In her eyes, every woman is Sexy. Now she enters The Temple to prove her worth against her male counterparts.

PENTAGON JR.

Pentagon Jr. is a loner, albeit not by his own choice. Pentagon’s ruthless and vicious ways have made him many enemies over the years and have made him hated by his colleagues and the fans who watch him. While he enters The Temple to find success as a competitor, he also hopes to find a place where he belongs and is respected. Then again, if he can’t, he’ll just break everyone in his way regardless.

CHAVO GUERRERO JR.

Chavo is one of the most well-known members of the Guerrero family and goes into Lucha Underground to continue to uphold their legacy. While his late uncle Eddie Guerrero’s antics left a positive impact on the world, one can’t forget that lying, cheating, and stealing are still the acts of a sinner. Chavo’s behavior can and will cause trouble and in this environment, the receipt may be more than Chavo can handle.

MIL MUERTES AND CATRINA

As a child, Pasqual Mendoza watched his whole world crumble around him. An earthquake in Mexico City destroyed his home and killed his entire family. He survived in the rubble for days and the experience warped his mind and soul. He came out of the disaster changed and found peace in the arms of death itself. He grew to become the otherworldly Mil Muertes—a man that even Dario Cueto feels uneasy about having on his roster.

Catrina is less of a valet and more of a companion. She acts as an advisor of sorts to Mil Muertes and it’s up for debate over who’s truly in charge. She tends to carry with her a crude stone. This remnant of the Mexico City earthquake enhances Mil Muertes’ strength and gives him the inspiration needed to bring death to his enemies.

JOHNNY MUNDO

Johnny Mundo, once known as John Morrison, walks into The Temple with a pedigree of mainstream appeal. A showboat, his flashy style will feel right at home in Lucha Underground against a myriad of opponents who best complement his acrobatic nature. As he oozes with confidence, he’s also obsessed with getting what he feels he deserves. He’s entitled and has an excessive amount of confidence, but there’s no question that he’s good enough to back that up.

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DRAGO

Centuries ago, dragons ruled the Earth and protected mankind. Then came a time when they were hunted and killed. One dragon knew to adapt in order to survive. Somehow he was reborn as some kind of half-man/half-dragon. Drago intends to slay the competition while wielding his nunchakus and laying low in the shadows.

BIG RYCK AND THE CREW

This here’s what you’d call domination. Not only is Big Ryck massive and seemingly unbeatable, but he’s followed by The Crew, a trio of street thugs out to do his bidding. While Big Ryck sits in the background and smokes his cigars, Baal, Mr. Cisco, and Cortez Castro go to work on their targets and tear them apart like hyenas. Big Ryck fights solely for the payday, but might be inspired by revenge if someone rubs him the wrong way.

FENIX

Fenix’s personality might be lacking, but don’t dismiss him for that or you’ll miss out on one of the show’s most talented high-flyers. Fenix is an honorable and heroic wrestler, but what defines him is his never-say-die attitude. Fenix is empowered by a thousand lives, making him able to recover from some of the nastiest beatings. As an avatar of life itself, Fenix is an object of curiosity to Catrina and an object of annoyance to Mil Muertes.

SON OF HAVOC AND IVELISSE

Son of Havoc hails from the open road. This proud biker enters Dario Cueto’s promotion to seek competition worthy of him. The problem is that he’s got a bad case of toxic masculinity and garners some prejudice against any kind of competitor he feels is beneath him. He’s joined by his girlfriend, “The Baddest Bitch” Ivelisse, who is there to get on Son of Havoc’s case in case he screws up and take matters into her own hands if need be.

AEROSTAR

Aerostar is a cryptic one. He’s flashy and in-your-face with his moves and attire, but he also tends to keep to himself. While others train and lurk the locker rooms, he stands upon the rooftop of The Temple, quietly looking off into the stars. He appears to be more than just a man in a cosmic-themed mask and tights, but how much more? Who is he, really? What secrets does he know? Is he here to save the world or destroy it?

CAGE

Cage claims that he’s a machine. While that may be more of a figurative description, he at least comes off as a total package. Not only is he immensely powerful in everything that he does while being incredibly resilient to any and all damage, but he is still able to pull out some slick moves for a man his size. Virtually unstoppable and high on his own might, Cage takes what he wants from whoever has it and laughs as they try to impede his reign of destruction.

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EL DRAGON AZTECA

El Dragon Azteca does not and cannot wrestle at The Temple. The elder luchador has some bad blood with the Cueto family and is barred from ever entering that building. The old and wise warrior can only sit on the sidelines and find others to oppose Dario Cueto’s will for him. He has eyes and ears in The Temple and can only hope to find a worthy student capable of following in his wisdom and helping him bring down the evil behind Lucha Underground for good.

ALBERTO EL PATRON

Several years ago, Alberto left the WWE due to boldly standing up for his Mexican heritage. For a while, he traveled the world while being considered something of a hero for the way he left that promotion. His journey brought him to The Temple, where he wants to show his worth and dominate the competition. Considering his momentum, he’s easily going to become a big deal rather quick.

Alberto enters the series as AAA Mega Champion, and a certain former champion follows him to Lucha Underground for a whole lot of payback.

MARTY “THE MOTH” MARTINEZ

With The Temple open to all comers, one must question the state of mind of those up for the challenge. Take Marty. Despite appearing as nothing more than an eager fanboy, this wrestling enthusiast insists that not only does he have what it takes to stand tall in the ring, but he’s actually a descendant of the Aztec Moth Tribe. His skills and stature do certainly get his foot in the door, but what will truly define him is the broken mind hiding behind the bright eyes and smile.

KILLSHOT

Killshot is one of Big Ryck’s most trusted associates. All he knows is war. It’s all he’s ever been good at. While the details are sketchy, Killshot was once a skilled soldier, spending his days cutting down terrorists and rescuing his allies. He was damn good at his job, but not every mission had a happy ending. Killshot finds his calling in Lucha Underground because, ironically enough, the unending violence distracts him from all the ghosts of his past life.

THE MACK

The Mack is Big Ryck’s cousin. While he doesn’t mind a good payday, Mack is a bit more pure-hearted than his kin. Mack is defined by his unending loyalty and dependability when it comes to friends in need. He may not have the world’s best physique, but he can fly just as well as he can brawl and he’s always ready to open up a can of whoop-ass. In a world of psychopaths and sociopaths, it’s good to have The Mack there to crack a smile in the darkness.

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COMICS

One nice touch about the series that you won’t find on Netflix is the series of Lucha Underground comic books. Four free issues were created, filling in some blanks in-between the first couple seasons. There’s one about Dario Cueto, one about Pentagon Jr., one about Mil Muertes, and one about…well… We won’t say; that would spoil one of the season one cliffhangers.

One of the selling points of these side stories is that it does show the fate of one of the wrestlers who doesn’t make it to season two.

Gavin Jasper isn’t good enough to write a profile paragraph for Blue Demon Jr. that’s in any way interesting. Follow him on Twitter anyway!