El Rey Network’s high-adrenaline, telenovela style wrestling series Lucha Underground held its first ever non-televised event down in the Austin City Music Hall this week as part of that city’s famed South by Southwest festival. I had the good fortune of being able to attend the show – which featured the likes of Rey Mysterio, Johnny Mundo, Pentagon Jr., Ivelisse, Cage, and many more – and to talk to some of the starts and creators about what an important event this was for the company.
“This is a historical event,” Johnny Mundo told us during a pre-event press conference. “This is the first time we’ve left the Temple. I know everybody backstage is really excited about the show. We’re excited about the way the Austin City Music Hall looks right now. And about the possibility of touring. Whether or not we’re going to tour is not something we’re going to decide tonight, or any tome soon, but the idea that we’re expanding things beyond the Temple and that more people are watching Lucha is very special. We feel really honored to be a part of tonight’s event.”
“Certainly we don’t have the type of budget that a lot of the big promotions have so we can’t rent big venues and charge tickets and put it in front of 15 thousand people,” said showrunner Eric Van Wagenen. “But that was never our goal. And so we want to compete in ways that can make our product shine. And part of that is having a set. And part of that is doing the vignettes and filmed scenes backstage. In a unique way. Which was also a function of our budget. So obviously touring and bigger things like that are part of the long term plan, but right now we want to work on building an audience on the El Rey network.”
Vampiro, who serves as an agent and an on-air commentator for Lucha, then spoke a bit about why taping shows in the Boyle Heights “Temple” made for such a energetic, engrossing experience. “One of the big thing about Lucha Libre,” he said, “from what I saw in Mexico many years ago, is that the fans can actually touch the guys who are in the ring. Because the arenas are built different there. So if a guy dives out of the ring and lands in the fans, the fans pick him up and put him back in. I’d never seen that. That’s something that’s particular to Lucha Libre. Another thing about Lucha Libre is that some of the masks – like of Blue Demon, El Hijo Del Santo – it’s generational. So those characters are passed on from generation to generation. From fans to fans.”
“So when these people come to the Temple,” he continued, “a lot of these are the grandsons of the fans who went and watched Lucha Libre back in day. It’s in their DNA. The fans make the show. Without that energy and that connection with the fans, it wouldn’t be the type of show that it is. That’s most magical part of being in that building.”
The legendary Rey Mysterio then added his own thoughts about the Temple. “With my first appearance with Lucha Underground, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d seen the fans before, as a fan myself, on TV. And so when they first announced my name, I walked out and the fans just went crazy. And that pumped me up, motivated me, drove me, and filled me with emotion to get in the ring. The barricade of people. Because as Vampiro said, there are no real barricades, no fences dividing me from the fans, so when you walk out it’s very personal. When you stand at the very top before you go down the stairway, you can make eye contact with every single person if you’d like to.”
Results of Austin Warfare:
Pentagon Jr defeated Aero Star, Drago, and Son of Havoc in a Fatal Fourway match
Fenix defeated Mil Muertes
Ivelisse defeated Taya
Cage, Prince Puma, and Rey Mysterio defeated Johnny Mundo, PJ Black, and Jack Evans.