By Will Pruett
On January 27, 2016, I was counting down the hours. I honestly could not wait until Lucha Underground’s second season debuted on television. After season one, I praised it as one of the most original approaches to wrestling I had ever seen. I talked about the cinematic scenes redefining wrestling’s often-corny backstage segments. I discussed the continuity and season-long storytelling Lucha Underground showed us in episodes like Aztec Warfare and Grave Consequences. As I sit at my home on July 21 having watched the end of Lucha Underground season two, I wonder how it all went wrong.
Lucha Underground season two is one of the more disappointing followups I’ve seen a television show present. Gone was the continuity I praised more than anything else. Stories in season two seemed to meander to the finish line, then get resurrected randomly. The second season of this show brought us Sexy Star’s feud with Marty “The Moth” Martinez and his sister Mariposa. This feud featured a few cinematic vignettes and a couple matches. The blowoff of the feud was the amazing “No Mas” match between Sexy Star and Mariposa. The two weeks before this blowoff lacked any build up for the match. This is something season one would have never let happen.
What about Pentagon Jr, the undisputed most popular star in Lucha Underground? In season one, he broke out of the mold and garnered the adoration of the people. In season two, he disappeared in Vampiro’s sex dungeon for weeks, returned for two episodes, then was gone for over a month prior to main eventing Ultima Lucha Dos for the Lucha Underground Championship. It’s like every episode of the second season was created in a vacuum and was meant to lack follow-through. It’s enormously disappointing.
It’s not like the matches in season two were significantly worse than those in season one. The in-ring action was just as electric as ever. Mil Muertes vs. Fenix for the Lucha Underground Championship was one of my favorite matches of 2016. The same goes for the awesome and emotional Sexy Star vs. Mariposa “No Mas” match. Lucha Underground provided us with some great action.
Where Lucha Underground failed in 2016 was their storytelling. They didn’t support these great matches and moments wrestlers created in The Temple. They didn’t honor the experiences they wanted fans to have. The structure of the show felt fragmented, with far fewer episodes naturally leading into the next. Weeks went by without many top stars appearing. Matanza vanished at one point, not to be seen until Ultima Lucha. This was never mentioned. He just disappeared.
It wasn’t just uneven storytelling that lead to Lucha Underground’s sophomore failure, but picking the wrong stories as well. At Aztec Warfare, just a week after the amazing moment of Fenix capturing the Lucha Underground Championship, Matanza was introduced. Matanza, in this one match, proceeded to dominate Fenix, Rey Mysterio, El Dragon Azteca Jr (who was also debuting), The Mack, Aerostar, Texano, and Prince Puma. A week later, Matanza put Pentagon Jr out of action for months. This was the wrong story to tell. One of the most attractive aspects of Lucha Underground was the match quality. With Matanza on top, match quality suffered. Matanza proved to lack the versatility Prince Puma and Mil Muertes provided as champions. Matanza can wrestle one type of match and he brought the overall quality of the show down.
Speaking of Matanza, his silly costume along with his stature truly hurt one of the most important moments of the season, his debut. The silly costumes continued with El Dragon Azteca Jr’s weird dragon pelt. I’ve gotten used to the Puma head sported by a certain Prince, but a cartoon dragon head (that is far less impressive than Drago’s mask) is too much.
Finally, Lucha Underground played with the emotions of their fans far too often this season. When Fenix won the Lucha Underground Championship, instead of letting fans have a chance to soak in the victory, they immediately told us he’d be number one in Aztec Warfare and defending the title the next week. When Son of Havoc, another perpetual favorite who was basically forgotten for most of the season, won the “4 A Unique Opportunity” tournament on night one of Ultima Lucha, fans were teased with the idea of Son of Havoc getting at title shot at Ultima Lucha Tres. This tease proved fruitless and it was completely deflating.
If I had to pinpoint a moment when I lost faith in Lucha Underground, it was the aforementioned Fenix moment.
Lucha Underground season two caused me to lose faith in the creators of the show and the overall direction. I won’t be counting down the days until season three begins. I won’t even be watching. I’ve heard it’s a better season, but that doesn’t matter. Lucha Underground season two was largely a waste of everyone’s time.
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