Despite Key Departures, Lucha Underground is Poised for a Very “Special Season”

Lucha Underground promo poster

Lucha Underground, El Rey’s groundbreaking take on a wrestling show, returns for its much-anticipated fourth season on Wednesday, June 13th, and according to head writer Chris DeJoseph, it will be more than worth the wait.

“There’s a lot of twists, turns — things you’d never see coming,” DeJoseph said in an interview with ESPN. “There are so many new tidbits of information and stories that are developing that have been building since Season 1. I think that makes it one of my favorite seasons. This is a special season.”

The long wait (about eight months) between the season three finale, which aired in October, and the season four premiere in June, has done nothing to quell the anticipation of the believers who are ready to step back into the crazy and beloved world of Lucha Underground. Not to mention, to discover the answer to last season’s cliffhanger. We know who shot Dario Cueto and we know why, but what we don’t know is if the proprietor of ‘The Temple’ survived. Although, we can make some inferences about that, as well as casting notes, from the season four trailer which was released a few weeks ago.

But before we break down the trailer and the specifics about who’s in and who’s out, some of the things we definitely know about season four:

  • A Shorter Season: There will only be 22 episodes, which would make this season the shortest of the four seasons (S1 – 39, S2 – 26, S3 – 40). The show will continue to air on Wednesday nights, 8 PM ET, on El Rey Network. There has been no word yet if S4 will feature a mid-season break such as the one S3 had last year.
  • Saying Goodbye to Boyle Heights: In a way, with Prince Puma leaving, seeing the end of the Boyle Heights Temple was symbolic as after all, Puma was the local star, billed from Boyle Heights. Perhaps more than anyone, the Temple played into his narrative. Now, there is a new venue and a new temple, this time at the Union Central Cold Storage building in downtown Los Angeles.
  • A New Owner: With a new temple, comes a new owner, this time in the form of Antonio Cueto, Dario’s oft-spoken about but never seen father. Dario made the desperate phone call to Papa Cueto during the season three finale after he was shot. Our first look at Antonio is revealed in the trailer as poignantly, he announces, “this will be my temple.” For fans of Dario however, even if the man has met his demise, the actor who portrayed the character will also be playing Dario’s father.
  • AAA and Impact: Thanks to Lucha Libre AAA and Impact Wrestling‘s talent-sharing agreement, Lucha Underground stars such as Johnny Mundo (Johnny Impact), Cage (Brian Cage), Jeremiah Crane (Sami Callahan), Taya, King Cuerno (El Hijo del Fantasma), Pentagon Dark (Pentagon Jr), Fenix and others, have been able to appear on Impact as different characters. This would not have been possible before this season as LU had a strict policy regarding where its talents could work, which was largely limited to AAA and their partners. The new working agreement seems to have offered appeasement to certain stars who considered leaving the promotion. And while there has been no indication this will happen, the new agreement does open a potential door for Impact talent to cross over and find a new character within the LU universe.
  • The Storylines and the Cliffhanger: As season three wrapped up, we were left with more than one cliffhanger as Cueto was shot, Cuerno stole the Gauntlet of the Gods from Mil Muertes before he could put it on, and Vampiro was revealed to seemingly have his own master, whose bidding it was for him to get rid of Puma. All of these stories are likely to continue to play out in season four as well as some new ones, as evidenced in the trailer. And speaking of that off-the-wall, crazier-than-even-Lucha-Underground-fans-have-come-to-expect trailer…

Breaking Down the Trailer

Even for Lucha Underground, which has been known to press the boundaries and tow the line between fiction and reality, all while framing their narrative around action taking place in a four-sided ring, this is pretty out there. Johnny Mundo and Taya in an Indiana Jones cosplay, the Rabbit Tribe covered in blood, someone laughing maniacally from inside a strange cell as Kevin Kross sits on his throne, Ricky Mandel taking his doll obsession to a new level, a conversation about time travel, a seemingly Marvel-inspired plot to get rid of the Gauntlet of the Gods…

Now would be the time where it’s only normal for you to put your phone aside or step back from the computer and ask yourself, “What did I just watch and why am I so drawn to see more of it?” Simply put, that’s the effect Lucha Underground has always had on its following from the very beginning. Fortunately, that much isn’t changing.

Trying to make sense of the trailer, which was spectacular in how much information it gave away without really giving away anything at all, was made easier thanks to thecubsfan, who broke down the nearly three-minute cinematic event (if you haven’t watched it yet, the trailer really is THAT good) frame-by-frame-by-frame.

The Faces of Lucha Underground

So, what do we know about the 22-episode season four, more specifically who do we know is going to be involved? Well, at about the 2:23 mark of the trailer, several wrestlers quickly appear on screen, one-by-one, starting with Taya and ending with Johnny Mundo, who, alongside Prince Puma, main evented the first episode of the series/promotion.

The wrestler images are interspersed with footage from what thecubsfan suggests could be from Aztec Warfare 4, which historically has been broadcast between episodes 9 and 11 over the first three seasons.

In addition to Taya and Mundo, the solo shots feature the familiar faces of Lucha Underground Champion Pentagon Dark, Trios Champions, The Mack, Dante Fox and Killshot, as well as Ivelisse, Kobra Moon, Ricky Mandel, Joey Ryan, Officer Reyes/Cortez Castro, Daga, Kevin Kross, the Rabbit Tribe (Saltador, Paul London and Mala Suerte), Son of Havoc, El Dragon Azteca Jr., Jeremiah Crane, Chavo Guerrero, PJ Black, Aerostar, Drago, Marty the Moth, Mil Muertes, Catrina, Matanza, King Cuerno and Fenix. It should be noted that Cage does not receive a solo shot, however, he is seen in a clip from the trailer, looking at his bare arm where the gauntlet once sat.

The good news is, several fan favorites seem to be returning, including ones who at several points over the last eight months, had their status very much up-in-the-air. These included Fenix and Pentagon, who had left AAA in 2016 and 2017 respectively. Fans learned of their return in December of last year, as both were announced as having to miss a show with an independent promotion due to LU tapings. As champion, there had been little doubt Pentagon, who became a household name in large part because of LU, would be returning. Since season three ended, however, Pentagon’s profile has exploded on an international stage and most recently, he won the Impact Global Championship. Returning to what will now be ‘his’ temple, it should be interesting to see where the Vampiro-Pentagon-Man in a Skull Mask storyline goes in season four as it has been such an integral part of the show leading up to this point.

Another whose status was uncertain was Matanza Cueto played by wrestler Jeff Cobb. In January, Cobb revealed that a return to Lucha Underground was not guaranteed as for him, things would need to change. Cobb, like many others, had a sour taste left in his mouth due to LU’s contract situation and the limitations it put on the type of shows the wrestlers could work. It seems the two sides have come to an agreement however as Matanza features heavily in the trailer and at one point, is even seen to be walking under his own power, seemingly freed from the chains that bound him. Could the Monster perhaps be freed by his father and set on a path of vengeance for Dario’s possible death?

Notable by their absence in the trailer are two men we knew weren’t going to be involved in season four, Rey Mysterio and Puma, and two who had left the company but their status for the season was uncertain, Angélico and Jack Evans. Evans had revealed that he was going to be in the season for “a bit” but Angélico offered no such response. Given both are nowhere to be found in the trailer, it is likely neither will be around long if at all.

The absence of all four men will certainly impact the show as Mysterio is an iconic luchador and Puma was iconic LU character. It was only fitting that his journey would in effect, end where it began, as Puma took the title from Mundo in a career vs title match, only to lose it moments later in a career vs career match against Pentagon during the final match of Ultima Lucha Tres. As Puma left, dropping his mask on the way out, everything had come full circle for the star who had helped to put LU on the map. With Angélico, Lucha Underground is losing one of its most entertaining stars, which is another void to fill. Evans too offered entertaining moments but the big question behind his absence will be what happens to Worldwide Underground? Mundo has lost his title, Evans will soon meet his demise, Mandel has gone crazy. The fate of Mundo’s group could hang in the balance. Maybe that’s why he needed that rope in the trailer.

Losing these four definitely stings but LU has brought in a new crop of wrestlers, who are sure to bring an exciting new flavor to the new temple. As revealed in the trailer and previously reported on from the TV tapings, these new names include Tommy Dreamer, Jack Swagger, Sonny Kiss, Jessie Godderz, Sammy Guevara, Chelsea Green and Jason Cade. While the specific characters and roles of this group have yet to be defined, each will bring something new to the table.

Exploring the New Temple and New Storylines

Of course, it will be the veterans who are looked to the most to fill the voids left, especially by Puma and Mysterio. No doubt Pentagon will play into this as with the title, the target is now firmly on his back. This group could include Cuerno, Aerostar and Dragon Azteca, all of whom seem poised for a big storyline involving the gauntlet, based on another scene from the trailer. A fan-favorite, Cuerno seems due to be a focal point and given the way the gauntlet has been presented ever since its introduction to the show, being around it in any capacity storyline-wise is a good thing. The same then would go for Aerostar and Dragon Azteca, who as Mysterio’s protege, could carry on his presence throughout the Temple this season. Then there is the whole Mil Muertes-Catrina-Crane angle, which is no doubt far from finished. And Drago, who is back in his own chains from the looks of things.

Lucha Underground will be able to elevate new characters and explore their potential, something DeJoseph has said is a priority for season four.

“In show business, in anything, the show has to go on,” he said. “You have to find new people and new people to step up and take that role. In Season 4, you’ll start to see some characters take those new roles of some of those characters that are gone and battle their way to take that spot as the top guy in the show.”

There is also the curiosity of how the new cast members will fit in. What role will Tommy Dreamer play? Who is Chelsea Green’s character? Will Jessie Godderz replace Jack Evans in Worldwide Underground? And then there’s Papa Cueto. Now overseeing his temple, how will Antonio change the culture of Lucha Underground and what if anything, will that have to do with his chained up son, Matanza?

As mentioned above, the trailer is so jam-packed with insane scenes that it seems hard to imagine all of that will fit in just 22 episodes. But there is no doubt it will and no doubt that season four will highlight the best of Lucha Underground. And according to DeJoseph, the action won’t be slow to build either.

“We kick off in a really, really big way right off the bat,” he said in the ESPN interview. “It will build to a huge and absolutely mind-blowing culmination at the end of the season.”

Mind-blowing culmination? Now there are three words fans should be happy to hear.

Viva la lucha libre. Viva la Lucha Underground!