The WWE is the promotion that gets all of the attention in the world of pro wrestling, at least in North America. They’ve earned that right. But there are other promotions out there that deserve some of your attention too (sorry TNA/GFW, we aren’t talking about you). Ring of Honor has been the main Independent promotion in North America for quite some time. Even if you haven’t watched ROH, you have heard of its existence. Within the last year, Lucha Underground has come along and created waves in the wrestling business. They have wrapped up Season 1 and, hopefully, will soon be filming a Season 2.
HTCWrestling has two residential writers that cover each promotion. Cam covers Ring of Honor, while Justin C covers Lucha Underground. They are each here to talk about their respective promotions and tell you why each could become a viable #2 wrestling company in North America.
What makes your promotion stand out from the rest and what would make it appeal to a vast audience?
Justin: Lucha Underground is different for a lot of reasons. First off, the show is 90% wrestling heavy. It is all about the action that takes place in the ring. And the backstage segments aren’t interviews. They are more like mini movie scenes with the camera shots and editing involved. Wins and losses seem like they actually matter in LU. And the guy that runs the show, Dario Cueto, helps that. Cueto is one of those slimy evil bosses you see in movies. But he doesn’t play favorites, he does what makes him money. He’s EXACTLY what an authority figure should be. It is a one hour wrestling show that flows very smoothly and gives every wrestler an opportunity to shine when they step into the ring.
Cam: What Ring of Honor doesn’t spend on high quality production value for their television show they make up for in quality feuds. They have stables that fans buy into and fast, hard hitting, in ring action. Not to mention their relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling, that allows both promotions to have their talent work for each other. Oh, and did I mention guys like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and many, many others have all worked for Ring of Honor?
Who is your company’s top star and how do they compare to a John Cena, Seth Rollins or Randy Orton?
Justin: Lucha Underground’s top star throughout the year was their Champion Prince Puma. Puma won the Title and didn’t lose until the season finally. For those who don’t know, Puma is Ricochet from Dragon Gate. My personal favorite is Pentagon Jr. He goes out and does what he wants and halfway through the year started breaking arms. He lives by his catchphrase “Cero Miedo,” which stands for Zero Fear. LU also has Alberto el Patron and Johnny Mundo which are probably their most well known stars. No one in LU is as big as Cena or Orton but given more TV exposure they could get to a point where they are more well known.
Cam: Currently, Jay Lethal is the Heavyweight and TV champion. His promo work is well above par and is as innovative in the ring as anyone in the business today. He easily draws heel heat that can easily rival the best WWE can offer.
What has been the top feud of the last year and what elements of it would have appealed to a wider audience if your company was a “#2”?
Justin: I had two favorite feuds from the first season of Lucha Underground. The first involved Pentagon Jr. He started going on a mission, breaking the arms of opponents to please his master. No one, not even Pentagon Jr, knew who the master was. Well Vampiro, who was on the LU commentary team, decided to put a stop to this. The two ended up having a chaotic brawl on the LU season finale. In the end, Pentagon Jr won and Vampiro demanded that Pentagon break his arm. He did, then Vampiro revealed himself to be Pentagon’s master. Some people didn’t like that, but I was fine with it and the brawl served its purpose of the master facing the student to make sure he is ready.
The second feud involved Fenix (The Man of 1000 Lives) and Mil Muertes (The Man of 1000 Deaths). Muertes had been dominating opponents since his debut. Fenix handed Muertes his first loss. This enraged Muertes and lead to tension between him and his manager Catrina. It lead to probably my favorite match of the season, a “Grave Consequences” match (casket match). Fenix ended up winning. But this was all part of Catrina’s plan, as she resurrected Mil Muertes. Muertes ended up beating Fenix upon his return. And now, Muertes is the Lucha Underground Champion and Fenix has the “Gift of the Gods” Title, which is very similar to Money in the Bank, except you have to give a one week notice instead of cashing it in instantly. This is about as simple and logical you can get with storytelling and any fan would love it.
Honestly, all of Lucha Underground’s feuds flow so well and easily, and are given so much time to develop, that any wrestling fan would love to follow the show.
Cam: Mr. Ring of Honor Roderick Strong (whom I didn’t mention below simply because the other talent deserved maybe just a tad more recognition in my opinion) against ROH World Champion Jay Lethal is the current top feud. Lethal has been one of the main focuses for ROH in the past year and the guy has grown nicely into his role just as Seth Rollins of the WWE has. Strong is the veteran baby face of ROH taking on the hip new heel ala John Cena against Seth Rollins, except Roddy has Cena beat by a few miles when it
comes to in ring work
What stars on the roster could you see succeeding in the WWE and how well would they do?
Justin: Pentagon Jr could succeed, but he would need to get more well versed in English. From what I have seen of him, he speaks very little of it. But fans would have gotten behind him during his “Master” storyline. He would be the heel the fans would want to cheer. There’s also a wrestler named Cage. He has the look Vince McMahon would love. Picture Ryback but with more athleticism. He was in developmental in 2009 but never made his debut.
As far as their top guys, Mil Muertes is 40 and the WWE probably wouldn’t consider him. Prince Puma is young and has the ability, and would be great in NXT, but some people say he has the face of a teenager and that soured some WWE officials on him. And obviously Alberto El Patron and Johnny Mundo had their time in the WWE and I don’t think either will be back.
Cam: I’ll start off with The Bucks. These guys are the hottest tag team in the entire world. They have been NJPW junior tag team champions and ROH tag team champions. They are probably the most well known independent wrestler(s) today. The WWE knows it and it’s just a matter of time until they are able to land these two guys. AJ Styles, another guy the WWE desperately wants, is an all around great athlete with a reputation known all
around the world. Styles would dominate the Intercontinental division in the WWE.
Jay Lethal is an amazing athlete. He could be put into a tag team or stable and be the mouth piece, all the while holding his own in the ring. Lethal would be a great upper mid card guy in the WWE. Dalton Castle is the epitome of charisma. If the WWE could land this guy gimmicks like Fandango and Adam Rose may have actually stuck.
What steps does your company need to take to become #2? (TV deals, talent acquisition, etc.)
Justin: The talent in Lucha Underground is great. They have a working relationship with AAA in Mexico and used some of their talent this season which they should continue to do. While the El Rey Network has been great for LU, they will need a bigger deal with a station that reaches more markets if they want to grow. Whether it is Univision or something like Netflix, that would be the first big step. I’m confident there will be a season 2. There are too many big names attached to LU for it not to happen. I don’t know if LU will ever be a touring brand, but it will need some more money to help with production costs.
Cam: Ring of Honor is only missing a big money backer. They have the talent, great commentary, a good enough amount of female talent and a strong enough following that they could give the WWE a run for their money if put up against Smackdown every week on TV. But the sky is the limit for this star studded promotion.
So what are your thoughts on Lucha Underground and Ring of Honor? Could either company become a viable #2 wrestling company in North America? Leave your thoughts!