Lucha Underground Is This Generation’s ECW

12/24/2023 6:25 AM

By using this website, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information. 🍪

Lucha Underground Is This Generation’s ECW

Lucha Underground Is This Generation’s ECW

December 24, 2023 6:25 AM
Lucha Underground Is This Generation’s ECW
Wrestling News

Why Lucha Underground was such an influential promotion.

Who knew that such a short-lived promotion could make a huge impact on the business? When Lucha Underground first made its debut on October 29, 2014, fans and critics were in awe over how unique the product truly was. The Lucha Libre promotion flipped the professional wrestling game on its head and caused quite a stir within the business.

For four seasons, Lucha Underground introduced audiences to a different world that belonged alongside WWE or New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be with Lucha Underground as the indie promotion would crumble after four seasons and 127 episodes. Through the lifespan of Lucha Underground didn’t last long, it’s easily the most influential wrestling promotion to hit the market since the days of ECW.

The ECW Craze

ECW (only the original version, not WWE’s watered-down resurrection) was a promotion that was ahead of its time. Extreme Championship Wrestling offered something that was generally different from the wrestling landscape. Introduced in 1992, ECW crashed onto the market with its focus on extremely violent, R-rated, and hardcore wrestling-focused content. ECW wasn’t afraid to push boundaries: From the crucifixion during the Raven and Sandman feud to the wild Barely Legal pay-per-view.

Extreme Championship Wrestling brought in a new era that WWE wasn’t prepared for. Granted, the promotion wasn’t a ratings juggernaut like WWE and WCW, but the Attitude era was heavily influenced by the incarnation of Paul Heyman’s unforgettable promotion. It wasn’t particularly shocking that the brand went under in the early 2000s. ECW was a niche product. This isn’t just about the adult aspect. But it was too violent for some. Too vulgar and racy for others. 

ECW could’ve survived as an independent promotion, but the chances of it reaching WWE levels were slim. Even when WWE’s demographic was geared towards adults during the Attitude era, the company still had mainstream appeal and never came close to the extreme violence and R-rated content that ECW produced. ECW was different and wore that tag from beginning to end. It’s an iconic brand because it dared to venture outside the parallels of what was deemed professional wrestling, and still had a major impact despite closing down rather quickly. 

Lucha Underground Took The Bold Path That ECW Went

It’s hard to stand out in today’s professional wrestling. The standard is WWE. It remains the most successful wrestling promotion of all time and that’s not changing anytime soon. Naturally, wrestling is a business first and foremost, so promotions need to make sure that their business turns into a lucrative profit first. It’s pretty much the reason that the Attitude era is a thing of the past. Though the company isn’t afraid to tout what many deem as the company’s best period in wrestling, the time and landscape of the culture changed, so WWE needed to adapt. 

For Lucha Underground to introduce a product that flips the business on its head is quite astounding. Turning traditional storylines into Telenovela soap opera nonsense that was fresh and exciting to watch. More importantly, the stories matched the in-ring action, which featured some of the best lucha libre North America has seen. 

Names like Ricochet, Rey Mysterio, Swerve Strickland, Wade Barrett, Johnny Mundo (or Johnny TV), Taya Valkyrie, and Brian Cage helped bring the historical promotion to life and Lucha Underground had plenty of parallels to ECW; There were plenty of matches and moments of extreme violence, but the biggest notion was that men and women were on an equal playing field. 

Men and women didn’t just fight. They had bloody wars against one another! Some of the most violent matches came from women bleeding left and right. Like ECW, Lucha Underground was a niche product. The man-on-woman violence was not something that the mainstream was ever going to fully embrace. 

Though places like Impact Wrestling started to adopt the man vs. woman concept, only Lucha Underground did it right because it was established right out of the gate. Men and women started on an equal playing field, so it wasn’t weird when Pentagon Dark broke the arm of Reklusa or Brian Cage and Taya standing toe-to-toe with the former not being in fear of the latter. Lucha Underground was far from perfect, but it offered something that no other promotion was bringing to the table: originality.

Lucha Underground’s Influences Still Ring Today

Though the promotion is gone, it surely hasn’t been forgotten. TNA/Impact Wrestling has integrated LU’s cinematic style, for better or worse. There was also a brief period when cinematic matches were a thing in WWE and TNA/Impact Wrestling. 

Lucha Underground remains the most original promotion to come to life since ECW. The promotion broke barriers on how wrestling should be and presented a true alternative that no other business has yet to touch. Lucha Underground was simply ahead of its time. It’s hard to be original in today’s wrestling landscape. As proven with LU and ECW, originality doesn’t always guarantee success. But Lucha Underground has forever left a mark on the business despite its short time in the market.