(Information is taken from the Wrestling Observer, media appearances by various people, and other sources. Drop more questions in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer them.
Last updated August 6.)
Will there be a Lucha Underground Season 2?
We’re not sure. No season 2 has been officially announced, but people involved with the show say it’s still being working on.
Every group involved in Season 1 wants there to be a season 2. El Rey wants to bring them back and hoped to have them back on the air in October. Unimas is said to be happy with the show. AAA remains happy with the show. The luchadors were said to be signed to as long as seven year deals, so they’re all on board
The hold up is a funding gap. Lucha Underground’s main revenue stream is TV rights fees, and El Rey & Unimas alone aren’t enough to cover the expense of a season 2. Season 1 was more expensive than originally expected, the goal is to return for a second season without cutting back on any aspect of the show.
How expensive was Lucha Underground? Why was the show so expensive? What’s could be done to bridge the funding gap?
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter has repeatedly reported season one cost $20 million (or $500,000 per hour.) Lucha Underground personnel have disputed that number.
It’s not clear why the expenses were so high. It’s possible the cost of filming in Los Angeles and the level of production simply was more than they were expecting. Lucha Underground was filmed and produced more like a traditional TV show than a wrestling promotion, which meant a bigger and more expensive day of filming staff. Season one seemed to have a bigger special effects budget too. The trademark vignettes might also be a source of the unexpected costs. The original plan was for only the opening vignette with Dragon Azteca to be ‘movie style’, but the people in charge loved it so much that everything going forward was to be filmed that way (and early scenes were scrapped and refilmed to fit the new look.)
There have been speculation Lucha Undeground might cut back at production or move to a cheaper location to save money. The finale of the show indicated Season 2 would take place at a different location, and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter has said Texas is the most likely possibility, throwing out San Antonio and Austin as possibilities.
Moving may create more problems. Many of the production people took less than the normal because they were able to stay in their home of Los Angeles and film rather than relocating; those people would either look for a raise or may choose another project. (In his interview with Steve Austin, Eric Van Wagenen brought up those points; in the context of the season finale, it sounds like he was making the case against a move.)
Everyone involved has said they’d prefer to keep the quality of the show as is and are more focused on finding funding than cutting back on the show. They’re only really doing interested in doing season two of Lucha Underground if they can do the same or better as season one.
What are they looking to do to bridge their funding gap?
They’re looking at all options.
The most persistent rumor is a deal with Mexico’s Televisa. The giant network would pay for the show, which would begin airing along side AAA in Mexico, and would provide the funding for a second season. A deal between Lucha Underground and Televisa has been talked about for about the entirety of 2015, but nothing has ever been offiically said by Televisa.
Another frequently brought up possibility is Lucha Underground’s US Spanish broadcast moving from UniMas to big brother Univision. Univision would bring greater clearance in addition to a higher rights fee.
The problem appears to be ratings for the show haven’t been strong enough to draw enough interest. The English version is said to be doing
around at most 100K viewers (PWTorch), good for a network the size of El Rey but not comparable to WWE or even the smaller wrestling promotions. The Unimas viewership is about 300K viewers, but the total current viewership hasn’t yet be enough to convince people to put more in. There’s clearly a significant viewership watching the show outside of traditional methods, but they don’t seem to count.
Beyond that, there’s been talk about literally every possibility: getting onto one of the internet based networks (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc), selling the merchandise rights, or whatever other deal is out there. Lucha Underground hasn’t quite gotten to the Kickstarter level, but they seem to be exploring everything else.
(It’s unknown exactly how much they need.)
Is there any chance they’ll just go back on the air and figure out the finances later?
Nah. Mark Burnett, one of the people at the very top of the Lucha Underground pyramid and man in charge of dozens of shows, noted any show can run forever as long as it’s making money. They’ll do Lucha Underground as long as they can make money on it and, if they can’t, they won’t do it.
The people in charge essentially tried the “do it and figure out how to make money on it” for one season. It’s hard to expect the same for a second season.
When would a second season start? When do we know if there’s a second season? When do we know if there’s not?
The original plan was to run 39 episodes, take 12-13 weeks off, and come back for season 3 sometime in October. The start of the season one was delayed three weeks, so perhaps the ideal return date would now be November. It appears to take about three weeks to go from taping an episode to airing, which means tapings would need to resume in late September or early October. However, no tapings have been announced and wrestlers have been taking bookings in September and October.
It appears everything Lucha Underground related will roll directly back into action the moment the funding gap is closed. Everything will go from quiet to very busy in no time. The problem is no one has any idea when that gap might be closed, when the deal they need will be made. It could happen today. It could happen at TripleMania. It could happen on some random Thursday in September. It could never happen.
There is not a public drop dead date for the show either. People involved with Lucha Underground have floated the idea that it might be a longer than expected break between seasons, but one which wouldn’t necessarily mean the show is canceled. Lucha Underground appears to have long term deals with most of it’s wrestlers and AAA, so it’s possible the Lucha Underground machine could be restarted even after a prolonged slumber.
(This could set up a dreadful situation where wrestlers are tied to a show in near-permanent limbo, unable to move onto another group with television. The Hernandez situation displayed Lucha Underground would enforce their contracts, but also implied they’d be willing to let people out of them assuming they wait to get a full release and aren’t on competing television while Lucha Underground is airing. The latter wouldn’t seem to be a problem if LU is off the air.)
One more time: will Lucha Underground be back for a second season? What do you think?
My instinct says we’d know Season 2 is happening by the end of Season 1. The only reason you’re reading this post is because that didn’t happen. That’s not a great sign.
TripleMania (08/09) feels like the realistic endpoint for any major news. AAA’s on a kick of emphasizing it’s international aspirations and it’s be fitting for them to either announce a new show airing in Mexico or any new partnership as part of TripleMania. It’s a dismal sign if there’s nothing new to report after this weekend and Lucha Underground has so far only come up in passing as one of a number of AAA projects.
I would not believe there’s a chance of season 2 at this point if Lucha Underground people involved weren’t so relentlessly positive. The continued presence on social media and the media rounds prior to the finale also indicate it’s still alive, not abandoned. I’ve also been wrongly pessimistic on this project. In my head, this is a show holding out for a last minute miracle, but maybe I’d believe it was close to carrying on if I knew what others knew. I don’t want to say no because I would’ve lost my house if I bet on no before, but there needs to be some sign of action and there hasn’t been much.