When one of Hollywood’s biggest film makers partners with one of television’s biggest producers on a project named “Lucha Underground,” it stands to reason that they’d call on one of the biggest names in Mexican pro wrestling.
“You can’t have a lucha libre show without the Guerreros,” said Chavo Guerrero, a third-generation member of the Guerrero wrestling family. “You just can’t have it. It’s like having a Canadian wrestling show without the Harts.”
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Guerrero lends his considerable wrestling experience, both as a performer and producer, to “Lucha Underground" which airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on the El Rey Network—the upstart Latin American flavored cable network founded by director Robert Rodriguez (“From Dusk Til Dawn,” “Planet Terror”). A Spanish-language version of the show airs on the more-widely available UniMás Saturdays at 4 p.m.
Executive produced by reality television pioneer Mark Burnett (“Survivor,” “Amazing Race”), “Lucha Underground” combines elements of primetime dramatic television with traditional pro wrestling programs to create an entirely unique sports entertainment universe that already has drawn rave reviews from wrestling fans.
“If you look at any other wrestling show, they’re filming backstage segments and promos on video with one camera. We’re filming them like a movie. We have lighting, a props department, wardrobe. We’re filming them from all sorts of camera angles, spliced together with music in the background,” Guerrero said. “I think, and not just because I’m working there, that this is the best wrestling product on the market. The best.”
“Lucha Underground” features some of the brightest young stars from the U.S. independent scene, such as Prince Puma (a.k.a. Ricochet), mixed with legendary Mexican names such as Blue Demon Jr., and American stars recognizable to most WWE fans, including Johnny Mundo (a.k.a John Morrison) and Guerrero.
Although the program’s showcasing of former WWE stars has drawn criticism from some fans, Guerrero said everyone has earned their way onto “Lucha Underground.”
“If they couldn’t do that style, I would see the difference. If they pushed a guy with big name brand recognition who can’t do lucha libre, who is kind of just adding name value, I would see people getting upset,” Guerrero said. “But you have a John Morrison, who can do things in the ring that a lot of even the Latino luchadors can’t. So it’s not like he’s a charity case.”
Guerrero said high expectations are something he had to learn to live with early on as a member of Mexican wrestling royalty. But at 44, and with a storied career that has included championship reigns in WCW, TNA and WWE, Guerrero said "all that weight is gone.”
“People told Eddie that he wouldn’t be as good as his brother or his dad," Chavo said. "People told me I wouldn’t be as good as Eddie. We’ve all heard it. There’s only one Eddie Guerrero. There’s only one Gory Guerrero. There’s only one Chavo Guerrero 'Classic.' And there’s only one Chavo Guerrero Jr.,” he said. “Yes, we have some of the same flare, because we’re from the same family. But we’re all different. You can’t wear somebody else’s shoes. You’ve got to have your own . . . Our family has already cemented its legacy.”
And, heading toward the 10th anniversary of the death of the Guerreros’ most celebrated member, Eddie Guerrero, Chavo said he is still touched by the messages and Tweets he receives from fans who tell him “how much they loved him and what he meant to them.
Now in his latest professional endeavor, Guerrero can’t help but wonder how his Uncle Eddie would have fit in “Lucha Undergound.”
“He would have loved this. This product is so different and gritty. I know he would be asking, ‘How do I become part of this,” Guerrero said. “His wrestling IQ was off the charts . . . As great as [Lucha Underground] is now, it would be even better with his knowledge.”