Think you know about lucha libre (free fighting), that high-flying, high-impact, free-flowing wrestling style originating from Mexico?
Sure, we’ve been exposed to it from the days when World Championship Wrestling (WCW) brought Mexican luchadores into its Cruiserweight division. Their talent has been showcased in Extreme Championship Wrestling and, of course, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) too, with the current practitioners there being the Lucha Dragons, Sin Cara and Kalisto.
Outside the ring, so to speak, remember the Mucha Lucha cartoon from the early 2000s? Or Jack Black’s famous caped bumbler from Nacho Libre? And did anyone catch that creepy Grimm episode recently about the luchadore whose mask was made from the faces of Wesen?
Whatever you think you know about lucha libre still probably won’t prepare you for Lucha Underground, a new hour-long pro wrestling show from executive producers Mark Burnett (Survivor, Shark Tank) and Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Sin City, From Dusk Till Dawn).
An independent wrestling franchise affiliated with Mexico’s Asistencia Asesoría y Administración (AAA), the Lucha Underground promotion will feature the unique lucha libre style combined with Burnett’s take-no-prisoners reality show sensibilities and Rodriguez’s darkly bizarre, grand theatrics.
Familiar faces will be seen alongside new ones. Veterans like Konnan, Chavo Guerrero and Rey Mysterio will be seen alongside AAA staples like Blue Demon Jr and Sexy Star, and Lucha Underground’s own Prince Puma, all tied together storyline-wise by heel promoter Dario Cuerto.
And then there’s Johnny Mundo, who fans will recognise as Johnny Nitro, later John Morrison – you know, the acclaimed former WWE wrestler who pulled off that amazing escape at the 2011 Royal Rumble. He’ll be one of the promotion’s major forces, and you can expect to see a lot of him from the series’ debut episode onwards.
The good news for fans who remember his MNM (Mercury, Nitro and Melina) days is that at some point, we’ll get to see Melina in the show too!
With a name like Johnny Mundo (“world” in Spanish), you know that anyone who steps into the ring with him is stepping into his world. And anyone who wears out their welcome will leave it after a devastating split-legged corkscrew moonsault known as the End Of The World.
In an e-mail interview, Mundo fills you in on what sets Lucha Underground apart from … everything else.
What can the Malaysian TV audience expect from Lucha Underground? Our exposure to wrestling is mostly through US pro wrestling shows from WWE, though fans also know the luchadore style from the WCW Cruiserweight division days on down.
Malaysians can definitely expect a completely revolved style of wrestling. It’s lucha libre blended with the American style of storytelling. All in all, viewers will be impressed with the way we tell the story.
Lucha Underground draws a fair bit from Mexican history, folklore and tradition. Any advice to viewers who are new to all this, to ease us into embracing the cultural elements of the show? For example, the masks?
Lucha libre is a Mexican style of wrestling that is hugely respected all over the world. It has now evolved to become a huge part of American pop culture and is this amazing and cool art form.
My advice would be, expect to be amazed, expect to see something completely different and something that has never been seen before.
How did you get involved with the show? Given your ring ability and past performances, would you say it was a relatively smooth transition?
I used to wrestle in WWE, where I met Chris (DeJoseph, a Lucha Under-ground writer) and have stayed good friends with him. Well, he contacted me before the show started and he wanted me to be the first person he signed up. You know how you never really believe anything until it happens.
So I came down to the set, and we started talking about how Lucha Underground aims to portray wrestling, the production styles and everything. It was a sure thing, as I was already really interested in film production, Robert Rodriguez’s work and wrestling.