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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Table Breaks Presents: The Temple Crumbles

    THE TEMPLE CRUMBLES


    Boyle Heights, CA was once the home of a legendary war that stretch across both time and space. Ancient Aztec tribes broke both new ground and old as they battled for Ultimate Power; the Power of the Aztec Gods. Most of the time, the odds were against them, both in the ring and out. A new form of combat had shattered any and all expectations of what professional wrestling is, was and would forever be. But the struggles were real, and while the rabid Believers that made their way into the Underground were fiercely loyal, the future was almost always in question.

    Some could look to Lucha Underground’s resident Spaceman for answers, for surely Aerostar knew what lie in wait ahead of them. He’d seen the beginning of everything, as well as the end. So how is it that no warning came from his lips that the Ultimate Battle would be not within the confines of the Lucha Temple, but instead within the walls of the Judicial one?

    For four seasons, the El Rey Network has blazed new trails with Lucha Underground. The Believers are many, but even with their loyal support the numbers just weren’t strong enough to ever believe that each subsequent season could be their last. When Season 4 wrapped last fall, we were left with a storyline that had just begun to spread its wings. The Evil Cabal had claimed all the power in the Temple, including both the Gauntlet of Power and the Lucha Underground Championship, possessed by the dominant Jake Strong. But again, Aerostar would make his presence felt, and time would ripple once again as he walked to the past to awaken the deceased Dario Cueto, perhaps the only man that could stop the evil that was to come.

    As viewers, we were left hanging with bated breath. The Temple had never been in such danger, even when the evil of Mil Muertes gained control. How would Dario’s new lease on life affect the events of Ultima Lucha Cuatro? Who would dare side with a man that up until that point had done nothing but make his Luchador’s lives miserable? Season Five couldn’t come quickly enough.

    And then……..nothing.

    For months we’ve waited. For months the Lucha Temple has been silent. For months the Powers That Be behind this groundbreaking show have uttered not a word about its future. The talent became restless, some of whom signed extensively long contracts under the guise of continued employment. Seven years is a long time to commit to something, but when the faith that you’re creating something amazing exists, it also seems like a drop in the bucket.

    Yet the well has seemingly dried up. Ivelisse, one of the fiercest and capable female Luchadors in the business has taken to Twitter, proclaiming herself a hostage to her contract. Unable to sign anywhere else, she has watched major opportunities pass her by. And while she’s able to wrestle independent dates on a short term basis, she cannot sign with Ring of Honor. She cannot sign with Impact Wrestling. She cannot sign with AEW. She cannot SIGN anywhere, for she’s tied to a deal that may never be fulfilled; a deal that El Rey and Lucha Underground will not let her out of.

    In retrospect I’m sure these deals would be reconsidered, but as they say hindsight is 20/20. When Lucha Underground first started, it had been rumoured that the Young Bucks were on their radar, but the Bucks knew the risks with a deal that long-term and would not sign. Others did, and now others are feeling the ramifications of their swipe of a pen.

    Season One saw a group called The Crew run roughshod over the Temple. Their dominance was short-lived as one by one they were taken out. The first to go was Bael; murdered at the hands of the Monster, Matanza Cueto. Bael was one of the talent who signed the extensive contracts, and while his character was most certainly dead, he was not immediately released from his deal. Somehow, in this instance, LU had decided they were no longer in need of him and released him from his 7-year deal; a deal which didn’t even see him last a full season. Most others though have not been so lucky.

    That brings us to the most recent development; a lawsuit brought forth by the man known to the Believers as King Cuero, aka El Hijo del Fantasma. His suit claims that he, and other talent have been illegally restricted from finding work in violation of California law. The lawsuit claims that LU talent make usually less than $1,000 per episode and with considerable downtime between seasons, and the uncertainly of whether or not they’d appear on every episode, their options are limited.

    In comparison, a full-time contract with a promotion that has no off-season usually affords the talent a living wage; somewhere between $50,000 a year working upwards to six or seven figures depending on their success. Imagine if you will a wrestler of the stature of Seth Rollins signing with Lucha Underground and making less than $5,000 a year, while spending much of the year sitting on their couch hoping the phone rings for another season.

    Along with Cuerno’s lawsuit, a potential class action lawsuit involving other Lucha Underground talent is currently in the works as well, including the aforementioned Ivelisse, Kobra Moon (Thunder Rosa) and Joey Ryan, who has been quite vocal in his support of not only Ivelisse but others in their quest to get out of contracts that find them bound and gagged by legalities. Ivelisse is on record saying she requested her release on several occasions and has been denied on all of them. Joey Ryan stated that prior to Season 4 they were told that anybody that wanted their release could have it, and while some did, most had faith enough in the product to stay the course.

    Their faith is not being rewarded.

    As one of the Believers I stood by Lucha Underground every step of the way. When there weren’t any LU columns on the internet there was always “Welcome to the Underground.” I staunchly supported a show that took storytelling in wrestling to new levels. The depth and layers of mythos that the Temple was built on was unlike anything that had been seen in wrestling in a very long time. But where do we go from here?

    The show has lost its way. The Believers are not sure what they are supposed to believe in anymore. The Luchadors no longer look to fight for the Temple, but to fight for their very existence in the business. Even if a Season 5 is announced, where does that even leave us in terms of our faith in Lucha Underground? Many have left the Temple for greener pastures, such as Fenix and Pentagon Jr., who would appear to be two of those that opted out as they’ve recently signed with AEW. Many others would be skeptical of coming back even if there were to be something to come back to. So I have to ask once again?

    Where do we go from here?

    The answer sadly is one that I’m not sure I’m ready to accept; let the Temple crumble and fall. We would unfortunately be left without conclusion to the ultimate struggle for Aztec power, but the current struggle for independence appears to be much more important. I’ve lost my faith that anything can be salvaged that would even remotely resemble the product that I’ve loved for the last four years. So let us not tarnish any further the good that Lucha Underground brought to the business. Let us remember Lucha Underground for its insane mixture of both power and prose. Let us always fondly remember the words that made the Believers giddy with excitement each and every time they were uttered.

    “The following Lucha is scheduled for one fall!”

    Set them free so they may soar once again.

    Until next time,
    Rob Out!
    Last edited by Rob S.; 02-07-2019 at 04:35 PM.

  2. #2
    HUGE Member TheLAW's Avatar
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    It truly is a shame to see something with so much promise wither and die like this.

  3. #3
    this column just sucks me in. i havent watch any Lucha underground except some matches on youtube, but seeing that wrestlers are tied to this awful contract and also how the show died but still prison the wrestlers is very sad. as you said, I rather freedom to the contracted workers than to drag this out and further hurt everyone involved. It just aren't morally right.

  4. #4
    The Brain
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    This is a real heartbreaker for me. It isn't right when WWE keeps people tied up on the shelf, and it's not right now that LU is doing it too. Wrestling contracts are garbage across the board but the especially restrictive ones should be done away with. Put the power in the hands of the workers.

    As for LU, I'll always regard them as one of the best and most creative wrestling promotions of all time, but it's sadly true that this is probably the end of them. Best case scenario for me is they work out a deal with anyone who wants to go and do one final season to wrap everything up. It's possible, since Fenix and Pentagon actually still are under contract (their AEW deal is non-exclusive) and have supposedly indicated they're open to finishing the project under the right circumstances, as have some others. But it's a long shot, and it's true that even if they do get back on the air there's no guarantee it'll have the old magic. I guess we'll have to see.

    Above all, I can't forgive those who have mismanaged this once beloved product into such a sorry state. The hype around season 1 was absolutely incredible, but they never capitalized on it and slowly they lost ground, and now here we are. The suits really fucked this one up.

    As I said on Twitter, the silver lining is you coming out of retirement for this. Awesome piece, really glad to see you back even for just a one-off.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
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    Been a while since I've done this.

    A little feedback if you please:

    LAW- it truly is a shame. You're right, there was so much promise. There was potential for a movie which was discussed, more merchandising, etc. But it seems with most wrestling organizations politics and money trumped creativity.

    JWG- Glad you enjoyed it. Wasn't sure if I still had the knack for this writing thing, but the topic warranted discussion. I'm with you in that I hope the contract situation is solved, especially with no clear movement on a Season 5. There are a lot of great wrestlers sitting around missing out on some big paydays

    Mizzie- I agree with literally everything you said except for wanting one more season. I don't think I could sit through that considering that state of things. I can't imagine having talent furious about being kept to contracts and then have to go back in and wrestle again or fear being held in breach of those same contracts they're fighting to get out of. It would be a disaster of a season. No, I think I'll wrap up the story in my own head and keep good thoughts that LU clears the way for talent to move forward. As for this writing thing, I can guarantee you this won't be a regular thing, but you may see me pop in now and then. As I said, Chair Shots is retired, but Tables Break.

  6. #6
    The Brain
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    Another season would definitely be predicated on working out the contract situation in a way that the talent is satisfied by, I agree forcing people to come to a place they've grown to hate would just be sad.

    But like you said they did discuss a movie at one point, so if they could find some way, somehow, to wrap it up that works for everyone I'd be the happiest guy around.

  7. #7
    Forgotten Ponder Super Hoody's Avatar
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    Sorcery! WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DID YOU DO WITH TRIPS

    Good to see you back Rob

  8. #8
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    Man, it's good to see you back!

    LU has developed somewhat of a cult following and because of that they need to do at least one more season tying up all the loose ends and creating a sense of closure.

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