We’ve known for a week now that Lucha Underground is coming back for a fourth season, but we haven’t known much of anything else, except that Prince Puma won’t be around. Today, however, thanks to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, a bunch of new details have emerged.
It seems that El Rey never wanted to cancel the show, that just weren’t sure where the money would come from, especially since Antonio Cue-Navarro and Alex Garcia, who bankrolled seasons two and three, are no longer interested in investing. So apparently El Rey is providing more of the funding themselves, on the condition that the show is much less expensive. Previously each taping (covering two episodes apiece) cost about $800,000, which is much closer to WWE’s budget of $1 million dollars per Raw or Smackdown broadcast than you’d expect.
We don’t know precisely what the know shooting budget for Lucha Underground will be, but it will have to be considerably less. Among other things, that means there won’t be a highly paid star in Season 4, along the lines of Alberto El Patron in Season 1 and Rey Mysterio in Seasons 2 and 3. There will most likely also be fewer and less extravagant behind-the-scenes vignettes in future seasons.
The current expectation, despite the lack of a specific announcement, is that Season Four tapings will occur in March, April, and May of 2018. The season is expected to begin airing sometime around May. The deal is for at least two more seasons, and less time is expected to pass between the Season Four and Season Five tapings than between previous seasons.
The performers who are still under contract may have mixed feelings about the announcement, as it limits what other work they can get. Due to recent deals, Lucha Underground talent can also appear on Impact wrestling, which is good news for Johnny Mundo, Taya, Sami Callihan, and Texano. However, LU talent is blocked from working with ROH or WWE, and limited in what they can do with New Japan.
Those performers who have made it big on the American indie wrestling scene, like Ray Fenix and Pentagon, will have to clear their weekends for the TV tapings, even though they’re making more money on the indies than at Lucha Underground. Of the performers in Seasons 2 and 3, Rey Mysterio and Ricochet/Prince Puma are the only ones whose contracts have expired. However, with the budget cuts being such a priority, it’s easy to imagine that other performers who want out may be able to negotiate a release.
For a show that some many wrestling fans love watching, a lot of this news feels pretty grim. But with so many great wrestlers still on the roster, hopefully the streamlined Lucha Underground will retain its unique and exciting tone, and give even the wrestlers who may not be thrilled to be there a spotlight in which to grow their image and reputation for the future.