Lucha Underground is back with new TV tapings scheduled for February 23-25, a new temple, located at the Union Central Cold Storage building in downtown Los Angeles, and some new talent-sharing agreements which could have an impact on their remaining talent.
It’s a lot of news to digest from a company that had been pretty much radio-silent since the season three finale aired back in October of last year, but here is a look at what we know, and what we don’t know, about the impending fourth season of El Rey’s hit wrestling show.
Saying Goodbye to Boyle Heights
In mid-October of 2017, the fourth and final episode of the four-part Ultima Lucha Tres season finale went off the air following a huge cliffhanger. Dario Cueto, owner and proprietor of both Lucha Underground and the Temple of Boyle Heights, was shot in the chest by his associate, FBI Agent Winter. Winter told Cueto that he didn’t have to worry about the messes he created anymore as new management would take care of things. Cueto managed to make a huge phone call to the never seen but oft-referenced, ‘Papa Cueto,’ before passing out to end the season.
Fast forward to 2018 and season four, where it is likely that ‘new management’ has decided to move Cueto’s temple to a new location. Uproxx received an exclusive first-look at the new temple, and from the images, the new building seems a fitting place to continue the show. This new temple also seems to have a new cold/icy motif, which fits in line with how Lucha Underground has done things in the past. Fans will remember how the temple was decidedly darker in season two, following Mil Muertes and Katrina taking over and leading to the arrival of Matanza Cueto as Dario looked to regain control.
— Chris DJ DeJoseph (@chrisdejoseph) February 13, 2018
As producers, Chris DeJoseph and Eric van Wagenen told Uproxx, it was important to them for this new temple to feel like a character in much the same way the old one did. The pair added that with the set being a character, they felt they had pretty much gotten everything they could out of the old building and are looking forward to rebuilding the story in the new place.
AAA and Impact: What Does it Mean for Season Four?
In March 2017, while Lucha Underground was on hiatus, Impact Wrestling signed a partnership agreement with Lucha Libre AAA, Mexico’s premier wrestling promotion and the source of much of LU’s talent pool. The alliance began that summer as talent from AAA, including Lucha Underground’s Drago and El Hijo del Fantasma (LU’s King Cuerno) appeared at Slammiversary and talent from Impact were featured on the Triplemania XXV card as well.
The co-branded shows were considered to be pretty successful for both companies but the talent-sharing didn’t stop there. In addition to semi-regular appearances from Fantasma and Texano, Impact was able to land Johnny Impact (aka Johnny Mundo), Taya Valkyrie, Sami Callihan (LU’s Jeremiah Crane), and the Machine, Brian Cage, on full-time contracts with the promotion.
We’re hungry for more @LuchaElRey and now we finally get to GO BACK TO THE TEMPLE!!!!! See you all there 🔥🔥 #Slamtown #herewegoagain #S4 #luchaunderground @TheRealMorrison @MrGMSI_BCage @darewolf333 @JackEvans711 @ThisIsMelSantos @HollyMeowy @famousb23 @hijodelfantasma pic.twitter.com/ylALQfSFJW
— Lucha Royalty (@TheTayaValkyrie) February 13, 2018
On its face, this could seem problematic given Lucha Underground’s strict contracts and exclusivity clauses. Trevor Mann, who portrayed both indie star Ricochet and Lucha Underground’s Prince Puma, revealed details of his own contract, in an interview with Sports Illustrated this summer. Mann said that while LU was airing, he was unable to appear on TV for any U.S. shows. This included NJPW’s first ever show in the United States, which aired on Axis TV. While Mann did have a unique contract in that he was one of few Lucha Underground stars not signed to the seven-season deal, it is likely the ‘not being able to appear on U.S. TV’ clause was something not so rare to just him.
Impact Wrestling itself is no longer a U.S. indie, as in November 2017 the company moved their headquarters and TV tapings to Canada. It would have been interesting to see if Impact being in Canada had any effect on the LU contracts, but as it seems, there won’t be much drama or semantics there. Due to Impact’s partnership with AAA, it is likely that talent including Mundo, Cage, Callihan, Valkyrie, etc, will continue to be able to work both promotions without much issue. That means you can expect to see the quartet, along with potentially other Impact/Lucha Underground talent, on El Rey Network Wednesday nights, and Pop TV on Thursdays.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) February 12, 2018
For those who don’t work for Impact Wrestling, the news isn’t all that promising as this is the only promotion that Lucha Underground will regularly allow its talent to appear. According to the Wrestling Observer, LU talent will continue to be blocked from working dates with WWE or Ring of Honor, and are being limited on what they can do with New Japan. In addition, with TV tapings set for Friday, Saturday and Sundays over the next few months, talent will be unable to take outside bookings during that time.
In addition to the information about the talent-sharing, the Observer revealed that the deal Lucha Underground signed is reportedly for two seasons, that all of the talent save for Puma and Rey Mysterio, are still under contract as of season four, and that the new season could begin airing as soon as May of this year.
The budget is going to be smaller and some of the top names will be missing, but overall, Lucha Underground will be returning with so many stories left to tell and so many great wrestlers and performers left to tell them.