Fans that have grown weary of WWE’s stale and largely paint-by-numbers product seem to have migrated toward other wrestling shows to get their fix.
The in-house NXT has been an obvious alternative, fusing elements of Ring of Honor and EVOLVE with old-school territorial wrestling into a fine cultural stew. Elsewhere on Wednesday nights, there exists another wrestling alternative, this one more outworldly.
Lucha Underground, the brainchild of reality TV magnate Mark Burnett and splat-tastic film guru Robert Rodriguez, airs on Rodriguez’s El Rey Network, blending high-risk wrestling, outlandish characters, and surreal storylines in a way that gives it the feel of a comic book come to life.
Recognizable names such as Johnny Mundo (John Morrison), Rey Mysterio, and Alberto Del Rio (prior to his WWE return) have flocked to the Los Angeles-based company, which has also been a haven for eclectic, colorfully-masked characters such as the immovable Mil Muertes, the sky-scraping Prince Puma (Ricochet), and the sadistic Pentagon, Jr.
If you’ve seen Lucha Underground even once, you understand how different it is from WWE. Fans that have wanted something fresh have found it on Wednesday nights, and that’s putting it very mildly. For those holding out hope that WWE can become just as fresh once more, perhaps they could take a page out of Lucha Underground’s playbook, and adopt some of these eight traits that make the controlled chaos inside “The Temple” so captivating.
8. Free-Spirited Commentary
The primary reason WWE has had to skew its marketing toward kids is to cut down on viewers playing the WWE Commentators Drinking Game. Between Michael Cole’s feigned interest (while managing forty voices in his headset), JBL’s growling interruptions of the same tired points, and Byron Saxton making noise to confirm that he is, in fact, still alive, Raw’s unwatchability is half due to the announce team.
Make no mistake, Matt Striker and Vampiro aren’t the most polished duo, but they’re probably the most fun. Striker’s educated wordplay contrasts perfectly with Vampiro’s “dude-bro-brother” excitability, and the two actually sound like they’re enjoying themselves. It translates well to the viewers, who are also generally enjoying themselves.
There are no sterile bindings around the throats of Striker and Vampiro that would inhibit their work. It’s like night and day when compared to Raw.