Thursday, January 15, 2015

Lucha Underground: Your WWE Alternative

As a fan of pro wrestling in general, I've obviously grown up around the WWE. It was the first thing I saw as a kid and it's the one that is still standing and I still watch consistently to this day. There may have been times where I'd follow less than normal, but it was always there. During those times where it would be less interesting, I'd search high and low for an alternative. After the Monday Night Wars, the thing that I ended up finding was TNA. They were different with their focus on the X Division and the six sided ring. I fell in love for a while, only to end up disappointed. Paul Heyman said it best on the Rise and Fall of ECW DVD. He knew that a company should highlight it's strengths and hide it's weaknesses. It's what made ECW work so well. TNA didn't, and still doesn't, have the budget to compete with WWE but they would try and put on huge fireworks displays and things like that. It came off as a cheap knock off. Little things like that, as well as bringing in Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair and others, turned me away from TNA. I still watch occasionally, but not consistently. Around 2007, I began going to Ring of Honor shows. I went to maybe twelve or so straight ROH shows in New York City and that was my go to alternative promotion. Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuinness, Kevin Steen, El Generico and guys like that made it my favorite thing to watch. Unlike TNA though, my falling out of following ROH, had less to do with the product and more to do with life getting in the way. As I got older, I got busier and began to only focus on the WWE again. When I tried getting back into it, it wasn't the same show that I remember loving. By the time 2014 rolled around, I focused all of my time on the WWE; whether it be the current product or classics on the WWE Network.

As 2015 approached, I made it a point to watch other wrestling again. I checked out NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 and loved it, but the thing I'm here to discuss is Lucha Underground. I didn't catch it when it started late last year, but I've just began to watch the episodes On Demand and I'm hooked. While it's not on the level of NJPW or WWE money wise, that's not what their goal is and that makes it work as a perfect alternative. It's not a program that needs big name stars as it just relies on being an absolute blast. I mean, don't get me wrong, there are some recognizable faces. Matt Striker is on commentary, John Morrison is Johnny Mundo, Konnan is around, the former Sofia Cortez, Chavo Guerrero, Maxine and others. There is something that's just awesome about it. Maybe it's the Robert Rodriguez production value, which gives it a gritty feel just like his classic films. I've seen clips of Danny Trejo, yes, Machete himself, in the front row enjoying the show. A guy like Prince Puma, who, spoiler alert, is indy standout Ricochet, has gotten a ton of shine here. Lucha Underground is different than every other wrestling you can see on TV and it seems to pride itself on that. If you want to try something other than the WWE on American TV, my suggestion would be Lucha Underground. It is a ton of fun, an easy way to spend an hour and completely enjoyable. Keep an eye out for them.