Lutz's Blog: Los Matadores and El Torito are an acceptable WWE comedy act -- for now
By Jeffrey Lutz
There's a certain stigma attached to admitting enjoyment of a WWE comedy act. For every instance of one that is entertaining, like Too Cool (my favorite WWE tag team of all-time), there are 25 dance contests or skits in which feces is the focal point. WWE could book Louis C.K. to performe a 30-minute stand-up set in the middle of Raw and people would still probably revolt because WWE's track record in the comedic genre automatically turns people away.
That said, I like Los Matadores and El Torito. It's not laugh-out-loud funny and I don't go around extolling the virtues of their act, but it is just off-beat enough for me to appreciate it. For once, I feel like WWE is in on the joke. The company often presents segments Vince McMahon or one of the writers believe is funny, only for it to fall flat. WWE often ignores or forgets elements of its past, but it is fully aware that it once had a character named El Matador and that it was a farce because it turned a respected performer, Tito Santana, into a cartoon character.
I understand and empathize with people who discarded Los Matadores as soon as they appeared on the screen with El Torito. There are probably more critical points regarding the trio than points of praise, especially if we had the luxury of looking into a crystal ball to see the three characters virtually abolished from WWE television within six months. There are so many more ways for this act to go wrong than there are for it to succeed, but success can happen.
El Torito gives the group an identity. Little people are an important part of professional wrestling history, and WWE is honoring that with a character directed toward children who can also impress adults with his acrobatic feats during the group's entrance. His presence is important because people who know Primo and Epico are under the masks likely accepted their meaningless undercard status long ago, and those who don't know will find it difficult to make a connection. Their faces can't be seen and they'll likely be given little or no promo time, so the bull is the most useful tool to get Los Matadores over, at least in their infancy.
The timing for the group's introduction couldn't be worse. WWE seems to be digging more deeply into the comedy realm recently after a welcome focus toward more serious story lines. Hornswoggle, The Great Khali, and Santino Marella have all recently returned to more regular television time, so it's difficult for any of those characters to stand out or for Los Matadores to find their niche among a heavy population of non-serious characters.
It's somewhat acceptable when principal characters such as Daniel Bryan and Kane drift into the world of comedy, but the true, everyday comedy acts have become do played out that they no longer receive any kind of reaction. Santino, Hornswoggle and even Khali had their days in the sun, but those days can't last without something new and different, which we never see from those three. All comedy acts are treated the same, as filler during Raw or as a momentary break between more intense segments. That's fine to a point -- I'm not pushing for Khali to be pushed into a World Championship feud -- but his appearances should come with a purpose, even if they're not as meaningful as the screen time given to Daniel Bryan or John Cena or C.M. Punk.
WWE fails to recognize the short shelf-life of these characters, and the company will likely run into that same issue with Los Matadores. The group shouldn't exist in the same world as the Wyatts or The Shield, so the only realistic and rational opponent for them is 3MB, another past-its-prime comedy act. Those matches will quickly grow tired. If Los Matadores evolve, it would be easier to see them as a bona fide tag team even if they're never a threat for the titles.
WWE, at least, prepared us for the silliness of Los Matadores. The over-the-top vignettes and grand announcement of their debut made it clear they would be anything but straightforward. They can develop an audience beyond the children intrigued by El Torito, though. The group is the bizarro Wyatt Family, where the entrance leaves a lot to be desired but the in-ring action is enjoyable. The lucha libre style afforded by their gimmick could help get fans behind them. I doubt Los Matadores and El Torito are the elusive Mexican heroes WWE constantly searches for, but their nationalities should enable them to take more chances with their characters.
If the act begins to get over, with kids or otherwise, it's something WWE writers can sink their teeth into, with input from the performers themselves. The entrance can become even more of a spectacle, even if it's highlighted by a ridiculous fake bullfight. Ricardo Rodriguez seems to have nothing to do now that Rob Van Dam has departed -- add him to the act to give them a promo voice and add to it an element of comedy WWE fans seem to have accepted. Just because Los Matadores is a comedy act doesn't mean it can't be taken seriously.
Unfortunately, that is probably exactly what will happen. WWE will refuse to refine the characters and they'll be relegated to the bottom of the card, if they're on the card at all. They'll be rolled back out for dance contests and sing-offs and ultimately become far more sad than funny.
Jeff Lutz has written for the Wichita Eagle newspaper in Kansas for over a decade and debuted with Prowrestling.net on November 4, 2012. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.
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