Lucha Underground’s Most Revolutionary Innovation Has Nothing To Do With Wrestling

In its relatively short time on television, Lucha Underground — both the show and the promotion of the same name — has been praised for helping to revolutionize professional wrestling and update the art form for a new era. While most of the praise has focused on the presentation of the show (particularly its cinematic elements), there’s another aspect of the show that has been equally important and even more revolutionary.

Week in and week out, Lucha Underground has focused on, lent gravity to and paid tribute to its Latino performers. The show is heavily steeped in authentic Aztec, Chicano and Latino iconography and history. Characters speak in Spanish, with subtitles. Aztec gods are characters and plot points. But above all, the heroes and villains of Latin heritage are fully fleshed out people with motivations, confidence and pride.

Chavo Guerrero — part of the legendary Guerrero wrestling family and a legitimate star in his own right — was originally contacted by the Lucha Underground creators to come in as onscreen talent. Those initial conversations led to him becoming a producer and behind-the-scenes force in the direction of the show, in addition to performing as one of the most despised heels in the company.

Guerrero agrees that it’s not just the production and structure of the show that sets the product apart. It’s the entire package. “Everybody says they’re different,” says Guerrero. “‘This is a new wrestling show, this is a different wrestling show.’ And nobody is, except us. Finally, there’s something different.”

As for Lucha Underground’s decision to embrace Central American culture and iconography, Guerrero agrees that’s an important aspect of the show. “If you’re not Latino, you’re going to watch the show and go, ‘Oh, this is a great wrestling show. It’s a great show.’ And if you are Latin, you’re going to realize there’s a lot more thought put into this than just, ‘We’re gonna make a set and we’re gonna put some spray paint on the walls.’ We research this stuff and researched the seven Aztec tribes and all their ancestry.”

Indeed, the Lucha Underground Championship doesn’t have the traditional trappings of pro wrestling belts. No words at all. The massive center plate resembles an Aztec calendar, radiating out from their now-iconic “mask” logo, a symbiosis of ancient and modern Mexican culture. The secondary title in the company is the Gift of the Gods, comprised of seven Aztec medallions that represent the seven ancient Aztec tribes.

“We really try to be true to Latino culture and putting on a great show and putting on great wrestling,” says Guerrero. “There’s a lot of Ts to cross and Is to dot. There really [are]. So we try to give that best product without really insulting anyone’s intelligence. Wrestling fans are really easy. All you’ve gotta do is give them a great product and don’t insult their intelligence.

“If you are Latino, how could you not watch and enjoy being catered to? Because for so long, we haven’t been. People [who run other wrestling companies] just don’t know how to tap into that market.