Editorials Lucha Libre

In the Temple: Reflecting on Lucha Underground’s Universe

After about six months of patiently waiting, Lucha Underground’s second season is finally here and it kicked off in one hell of a way. Before the newest season started, I decided on binge-watching the whole first season. The one thing that really stuck out to me about LU was how well its universe was written and all of the neat things thrown into it.

Unlike other wrestling shows on television, Lucha Underground’s universe relies heavily on fantasy. In a time where wrestling both still faces the stigma of it being perceived as ‘fake’ while trying to rely more on ‘realistic’ elements narratively, it’s refreshing to see a wrestling show for all intents and purposes scrap that notion.

It presents itself with this tacit self-awareness of how fake wrestling is and does a damn good job of keeping it that way, and that’s a far cry from how realism and fantasy are generally coupled together in the wrestles. LU’s universe and delivery of its universe manages to be a pastiche of different things in comics, movies, and even video games, and instead of haphazardly putting them in for the sake of doing it and potentially compromising the result, it’s done cohesively, tastefully, and if anything firmly complements the other part of the show; it’s wrestling. Hell, half of the time it seems like it’s harking back to the back in the 80s and early 90s when wrestlers having outrageous gimmicks was kind of the norm, albeit with a far darker edge.

Speaking of being a pastiche of different things from different mediums, it’s actually pretty crafty how many homages from different mediums that the writers wrote into the universe without having them necessarily come off as hamfisted. There are backstories of characters that border on something you’d see in kung-fu movies, fighting games, and the cinematography of the backstage segments, while shot extremely well, still shows that hint of grindhouse aesthetic (which shouldn’t come as a surprise if you know who produces the show).

Nowadays, it seems like the wrestling business has tried to move away from the smoke and mirror elements of fantasy that wrestling has either been compared to or have used, and while I can understand the reason behind it — I definitely think more fantasy isn’t a bad thing at all if it’s done right. When fantasy in wrestling is done right, it’s possible for people to suspend their disbelief easier since there’s not a lot to disbelieve in the first place.

At the end of the day, wrestling is always going to be perceived by most as fake, and the more we try to convince them that isn’t by over-saturating it with ‘realism’, the harder it’ll be actually get them to watch. Lucha Underground’s universe knows just how ‘fake’ wrestling is seen and instead of being ashamed of it, it flaunts it in the best way without shattering it’s magic or appeal. It’s done with top notch production quality, is handled by people who know what they have and what to do with it (at least for the most part) and what makes it all even better is that it’s very far from being over.

The second season just started, there’s been confirmation for a third season, and we’re even getting a comic book that takes place in-between the first and second season. With all of this buzz going on for the show and it’s bright future ahead, I can’t help but be interested in what they do next.

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