Lucha Underground Lawsuits
Two lawsuits have been filed against El Rey Network and Baba-G Productions over talent contracts for Lucha Underground. Baba-G appears to be the production company for LU; this is a stand-in in for Lucha Libre FMV, MGM, and probably anyone else who owns the company. Both lawsuits include Hijo del Fantasma.
- Pro Wrestling Sheet first got a copy of one of the lawsuits, which argues the terms in the LU contracts are illegal and have caused Hijo del Fantasma to miss out on job opportunities elsewhere where he not restricted by them. He’s arguing he should’ve been able to leave the deal to sign with WWE or another company and, since the contract preventing him from it is not legal, El Rey/MGM owe him the money he would’ve been paid. Hijo del Fantasma is known to have had a WWE offer around the time season 2 of Lucha Underground was filmed. Fantasma’s lawyer talked about the situation with Lucha Central, making it clear this wasn’t about getting out of the LU deal but hinted there was another lawsuit that was.
- Lucha Central then posted about that other lawsuit, a class action suit involving Fantasma, Joey Ryan, Ivelisse, and Thunder Rosa looking for their releases. Joey Ryan & Ivelisse have been public about wanting out of their LU deals. Thunder Rosa is a bit more of a surprise because he’s also currently working for MGM produced Women of Wrestling using her LU Kobra Moon character. Still, she might have also gotten a contract from Ring of Honor in the current run of signing new people had she been given the option; she and Holiedad as the Twisted Sister have been semi-regulars there the last few months.
Lucha Underground hasn’t said anything about either case. There’s usually no one employed to say anything between the seasons. That is also essentially the problem here; if people were actually making money between seasons, then maybe these people wouldn’t be so justifiably unhappy. The first of two cases is looking for arbitration, the second I’m not sure of. It may take a while for these two go anywhere, but time is all they have: even if LU eventually gets picked up, I don’t think they’ll be taping until August. If LU is canceled, it does resolve the lawsuit over getting releases, but they’d probably have to find some agreement about the money owed (or hope that granting freedom would be enough to make everything go away.)
Lucha Libre Online posted an interview with Fantasma where Lucha Underground comes up, but only in how doing the King Cuerno character helped his career and how much he liked the fans. He was asked about Season 5 and said he had no idea when it would come. The lawsuits just didn’t come up. It may have been taped in advance, but it’s recent enough to be promoting the AAA tapings for this weekend. Thunder Rosa did a live stream last night. She avoided talking about LU when it was asked about in comments. (Same for AEW when it came up, for what it’s worth.)
Fantasma was at the AAA press conference today. It appears this does not affect his AAA situation; in the past, there’s been a threat of losing LU spots if people stopped working for AAA. That never seemed to happen and it apparently isn’t going the other way.
The lawsuits make it more likely Lucha Underground does not come back for a fifth season. It’s been hard to argue for a fifth season for a long time, and there must be some compelling reasons we don’t understand for this to keep going at this point because I can’t think of a way to argue for that side right now.
Pentagon & Fenix would seem to be obvious additions to both lawsuits. They have been working everywhere, but they probably would’ve been offered better deals had they been able to sign for long-term. The Young Bucks are the example here; they worked for everyone for a couple of years and seemed to end up better off when they signed with ROH & NJPW exclusively. They can argue they’re owed money just as much as Fantasma, and a release would allow them to sign with AEW (or WWE or anyone else.) It’s unclear how long these lawsuits have been in the working, so they could end up part of later on. It’s possible we’ll hear more about this later tonight; AEW has a press conference tonight and I think there’s a pretty good chance Fenix & Penta will be there.
The whole matter of Lucha Underground releases got a little more confusing this week even outside of these lawsuits. PJ Black announced he had signed with Ring of Honor a few days ago. That is strange because he would have seemed to be just as much under Lucha Underground contract as those in this lawsuit. Lucha Underground did give some people their releases, but they were usually very loudly written out. (Jack Evans, Matanza, Killshot to name three.) PJ Black did not appear to be written out. The lawyer working with Fantasma mentioned he’d helped a couple of people get their releases from Lucha Underground, maybe PJ was one? Maybe that inconsistency will come up in court.
AAA on Azteca 7
AAA will start on TV Azteca 7 on February 15th as Lucha Azteca AAA. The show will air Friday afternoons at 4:30 pm. They will be 2 hours shows, a half hour more than they’d been getting from Televisa/9 the last few years. That time slot is a movie this week and last. It leads into soccer (though there’s a 15-minute gap) and it leads off of children’s program. The announcers will be Rafael Ayala & Carlos Aguilar, who did wrestling announcing for the network both on SmackDown and for Lucha Libre Elite. (Some reports also have Gerardo Melin.)The reviews were not kind. The Lucha Libre Elite broadcasts featured Shocker (and later Veneno) also in the booth. Record says a luchador will be added to Azteca team. The only two wrestlers AAA has used as announced have been Konnan and Vampiro, Konnan has so many commitments that flying doing announcing regularly as well may not be possible, so prepared for the worse.
Apolo Valdez mentions the AAA show will also repeat on Azteca’s A+ on Sundays, though no time has been announced. There is no mention of the show airing in the US. This is the same sort of schedule Elite had, I think there’s a good chance it means AAA will likewise air in the US, but there’s no firm information to be had. If you’re a person who watches AAA on Twitch, Space or Multimedios, nothing is supposed to change. I presume the same will be true for YouTube, but nothing has been said yet. We’ll get an idea of a lot of that starting on Friday.
Leo Riano’s column has some details on the deal. TV Azteca has picked up AAA for one year, will pay all the production expenses and will pay AAA some amount in rights fee. Riano says AAA had been paying for production themselves (unhappy with how Televisa’s work). It’s been reported previously that Televisa was not paying AAA anything for the rights.
Riano also mentions Televisa is still interested in having lucha libre content and people in CMLL have told him Televisa’s talked to them about picking up their promotion again. CMLL has not been on Televisa since 2013. The story at the time was Televisa wanted CMLL to make some changes to “modernize” the product and CMLL was no interested. This could be as simple as Televisa seeing if CMLL’s position has changed – and maybe it has with different people having influence, The key point is Leo Riano is mentioned this in hopes he can get back on the air there with CMLL, since he’s not going with AAA.
El Planchitas tacks on that there’s some regret on CMLL’s side that they broke up with ELITE last year when they had a deal to be on Azteca’s A+ network, because they could be having this deal today instead of AAA. The column also mentions how much Alberto is looking for matches ($10K) and has gossip about Paige’s current relationship that I’m on touching. WWE female wrestling fans are not to be messed with.
A press event was held today at Azteca’s offices to promote the show, with a couple of matches. La Parka, Chessman, Blue Demon and Psycho Clown joined Dorian Roldans & Marisela Pena in a ring as part of the presentation. Parka & Chessman were holding the urns. Demon was prominently featured in the presentation and seemingly going forward on the show. Mascarita Sagrada, who hasn’t been seen since his Lucha Capital run, was also mentioned in the press release. About 30 luchadors were present, including people like Pagano and Lady Shani and Parka Negra and Tiger Boy (who does exist.) Hijo del Fantasma was there with La Mascara & Texano. No Rey Escorpion; he, Aerostar, Dr. Wagner, and were among those not present. No Vampiro or Konnan. The wrestlers were doing appearances on Azteca shows all today to promote the show. This is far more promotion than Televisa gave AAA.
They ran two matches, streamed on Facebook:
AAA (THU) 02/07/2019 TV Azteca Studios, Iztapalapa, Distrito Federal
1) Bengala, Hijo Del Vikingo, Myzteziz Jr. b Carta Brava Jr., Mocho Cota Jr., Tito Santana
2) Argenis & Drago b Averno & Súper Fly
Both are just about 4 minutes long and the stream quality isn’t great.
Azteca 7 is amusingly just reusing the same social media accounts they had for Lucha Libre Elite for the new show. The Facebook is the same, with most of the ELITE stuff scrubbed. It’s a good way to keep followers.
On his podcast, Konnan mentioned the Multimedios TV deal is going to lead to AAA running more shows in that northern Mexico region of the country. They think that the area is doing better financially and the Multimedios reach is strong there, so they expect good crowds. People say Disco Infierno is not smart but I’m here to tell you he really is smart because he’s figured out that the best way to get out of doing the Mexican wrestling news segment on the podcast is to ambush it off the bat by side-tracking everyone on star ratings and Dave Meltzer complaints.
KDNA now lists a Blue Demon Jr. vs La Parka vs Dr. Wagner main event to the 03/03 Monterrey show. The rest of the card doesn’t change.
Ultimo Guerrero, the only two-time Universal champion, is hoping to make it three. Niebla Roja is hoping to take out some big names.
Ultimo Maldito will take Toxin’s place on the MexaWrestling show. He’ll team with Puma King against Aramis & Arkangel Divino, which seems like great news for Divino.
LuchaWorld has the latest Lucha Talk.
CMLL (TUE) 02/12/2019 Arena Coliseo Guadalajara
1) Joker, Mágico, Mr. Samurai vs Gran Kenut, Maléfico, Mr. Apolo
2) Magnus, Robin, Vaquero Jr. vs Guerrero de la Muerte, Metálico, Sangre Azteca
3) Drone, El Audaz, Rey Cometa vs Hechicero, Templario, Virus
4) Kráneo, Soberano Jr., Valiente vs Rey Bucanero, Shocker, Terrible
5) La Bestia Del Ring, Místico, Rush vs Gran Guerrero, Mephisto, Último Guerrero [Relevos Increíbles]
That third match looks really promising. I will actually watch it. Maybe.