Posts Tagged ‘Dario Cueto’

Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Authority Figures

December 2, 2017

WILPW

One way or another, all of us have a boss at some point in our life. We get up, we go to work and we do our job under their watchful eye. It is their job to troubleshoot problems, write the checks, and make sure we are doing our job right. Usually we only really have the hands-on approach from the big bosses when everything has gone to hell or there is a staff meeting of some sort. Even people whose first job was starting their own business has had to face authority somewhere in their life. Whether it is your parents, teachers, police, or judges, somebody laid down the law and made sure you knew that you just cannot do whatever you want. Whether the authority figure is evil or good, they help move the plot along and give characters a larger world to react to.

The Corporation/The Authority – World Wrestling Federation/World Wrestling Entertainment

Sorry WWE-haters but I could not get through this post without mentioning these two (technically one) groups. The Corporation was established during the Attitude Era when Vince McMahon, announcer, became Vince McMahon, the evil boss who screwed Brett Hart. As the owner of the company, Vince and his family could stack the deck in their favor. They blatantly screwed superstars who did not fall in line and handpicked loyal superstars to support by bending or even re-writing the rules. They feuded with Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Union, Degeneration X and many more. Often, instead of defeating some of their enemies, they just bought them and brought them into the fold. Vince fully embodied the overbearing, completely unfair boss while his kids portrayed the entitled rich kids that everybody hates.

In sort of a revival, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H dusted off the faction and re-dubbed it The Authority, further driving home that they were in charge. Wielding absolute power, they did everything in their power to bring those who opposed them under their heel. At times they feuded with CM Punk, John Cena, The Shield, Dolph Ziggler, and many more. Playing off their real-life positions in the hierarchy of the company, they blurred reality by becoming the focus of the fans’ hate. Their storyline was long and encompassed the whole family and the only way to fight back was to break the rules or find some way to make the rules work in the rebels’ favor.

Dario Cueto – Lucha Underground

Dario Cueto is a different animal entirely and “animal” might be an appropriate word. He showed up at AAA’s Triplemania and offered a briefcase of money to anybody who wanted to come compete for it. He seemed like any other shady promoter. No corporate backing, no board of directors. Cueto is the ultimate authority in his temple which seems to be a front for both a criminal organization and some sort of supernatural entity. The point is, whatever Cueto says goes and there is absolutely no wiggle room for anybody who opposes him. However, faces/tecnicos have been able to exploit his love of violence to get their way but Cueto seeks to screw them at every opportunity. He is heavily in support of anybody he can hold under his thumb, often pushing his own contract players over all challengers. There was a time when I thought that Cueto might actually be The Devil and I still am not completely convinced I am wrong. The El Rey Network made the interesting decision to grab an actor who was completely uninvolved in pro-wrestling and make him one of the faces of their organization. He is not an ex-promoter, a family member of the owner, or an ex-performer. They literally cast his part as if he was in a movie and it really paid off. While both methods of introducing a character like this can work, this proved that getting the best pure actor can pay huge dividends.

Jim Cornette – Ring of Honor

If you are trying to elevate your independent, you can do a lot worse than hiring Jim Cornette to be your onscreen authority figure. He has a distinctive voice and a high charisma partially due to the southern charm he exudes. He also has a big loud mouth and I am sure even he would agree with me on that point. In the real world, Cornette may be sometimes ridiculously out of touch with the product. He still has a great mind for the business and, if I had a wrestling company, I would want him on hand to lend at least some of his wisdom. In front of the camera, he was exactly the shot in the arm that Ring of Honor needed as they got their deal with Sinclair Broadcasting. Cornette was there to shout down the bullies and protect the babyfaces in a direct contrast with who he was as a manager. What really makes me think back with fondness on Corny’s time as the boss on Ring of Honor TV is his feud with Kevin Steen (who is now Kevin Owens). In real life, Cornette hates Kevin Steen and Kevin seems to hate him right back. That real-life hate really translated on screen and was eventually the catalyst for one of my favorite ROH storylines that I have seen (The SCUM storyline). Cornette was the babyface on screen but was kind of the bad guy backstage but it all worked out in the end.

William Regal – NXT

Regal is the on-air commissioner of NXT. On paper, NXT is the latest developmental territory but it has become so much more. It is a place where new blood mixes with seasoned professionals and stars are given freedom to create fun new characters. Because of all this new energy, I feel like they have always liked to infuse at least a touch of the old school to add to its mythology. The trainers down there are older independent, WWE, and WCW performers. Adding Regal was a no-brainer. The NXT can be a wild and lawless place sometimes. In kayfabe, Regal has a long history with the company since events in WCW and WWE are both canon. He has an air of gravitas as the old hand at the wheel, with the experience to talk to the stars of today. In addition, Regal was almost always a heel and was a well-known rule-breaker who was also legitimately tough. It makes sense to have a reformed bad guy as the boss in your organization. He sees everything and knows a lot of the ways heels will try to wiggle out of a fair fight. He really portrays seemingly genuine amusement when he is able to put one over a weaselly heel. He is also great at displaying shadowy, righteous anger when things get out of hand and he has to put his foot down. He is the old sheriff who used to be a bank robber, proud of his wicked past but determined to hold the line.

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Why I Love Pro-Wrestling: Lucha Underground

April 27, 2016

WILPW

So I am really into professional wrestling (though I still feel uncomfortable about that term). I mean, that much should be clear by now, right? There are tons of editions just like this one on this blog and all of them are titled Why I Love Pro-Wrestling except for the one that is jokingly exchanges the word ‘love’ for ‘hate’. I grew up watching and I fell in love with the wild storylines and larger than life characters. I imagined myself with entrance music and pyro and I actually still do to psych myself up for stuff. I still write promos as they pop into my head (see earlier this month). In the comfort of my home, I recite New Day and Enzo and Cass promos along with the crowds at the arena. I watch NXT and pay-per-views with my WWE Network subscription. I think it’s safe to say that I am a fan.

I came in during the mid-nineties and while I have adapted to changes well, my experience has been perpetually old school. I was late to the party on ECW and ROH. I gave up on TNA at some point. I still have yet to see a single New Japan match even though I’ve been told how good they are. I know what I like and I tend to stick with it even when the WWE has lulls and I am barely paying attention. Still, every so often something comes along that is a shock to my system. Something that is new and exciting and clever and I cannot help but like it even when I thought I would hate it. Case in point: Wrestling Society X. WSX was a promotion put together for an MTV television show. The production value was high and so was the level of talent. The fictional story of the show was that it was a secret society that put on matches in a large bunker. If you blinked, you missed this surprisingly entertaining show.

Flash forward to earlier this year when I am enjoying WWE but I am just in the right mood to want to experience something else in addition. I was listening to my favorite sports entertainment podcast (The Rough House) and Christoff was raving about something called Lucha Underground. Of course, I had heard the word ‘Lucha’ before. There had been Rey Mysterio for a long while, Chris Jericho talked about it in his first autobiography and more recently the Lucha Dragons are a thing in WWE. So I hopped to it and decided to check this thing out through On Demand and YouTube. I was not quite prepared for what I was going to see but I guess I should have known better.

In Mexico, luchadors are like superheroes. They wear masks, are extremely athletic and their performance style encourages a lot of leaping and flying through the air. A little bit of that style can even be seen in North American performers like Chris Jericho, Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins among others. The in-ring action on the show is very wild and crazy. The psychology of the matches is very different from the WWE. In the grand scheme of things, wins and losses do not matter as much. You could go on a losing streak and still conceivably get a shot at a championship belt. It is the big matches where wins and losses matter. Matches are more to show that each luchador has fighting spirit and amazing abilities. It is a little startling to watch for the first time but, like watching a new tv show after a Law and Order marathon, it is refreshing.

All of that is really great but what really surprised me was the storytelling. The storytelling is completely off the rails and crazy and it is one of the top reasons why I have latched onto Lucha Underground. The WWE has a certain level of reality that we all accept. It is a scripted show but within that script, we accept that these are normal human beings who are paid to beat the tar out of each other. The shows are promoted and backed by several corporations working in harmony. In Lucha Underground, the fiction is that a criminal named Dario Cueto runs a lucha temple out of a warehouse in Boyle Heights. He runs the temple according to some obscure Aztec traditions and  that includes the use of actual magic. The in-ring action is woven together into a story using backstage vignettes which are shot like a movie and have an intricate, out of this world story. I mean, the thing is produced by Robert Rodriguez so you know there’s a lot of effort behind it.

The show has a lot of stars you might be familiar with if you’re a pro-wrestling fan. Among them are John Morrison, Rey Mysterio, Alberto Del Rio, Chavo Guerrero, Justin Gabriel and Vampiro. Some of them are working under different names. In addition, there are a ton of people who were new to me like Prince Puma, Pentagon Jr., Mil Muertes, Fenix and many more. All of these performers are taking on new and interesting roles. There is Aerostar, a man who might be a time traveler or robot. He is friends with Drago who is a dragon who has taken human form. There are two undercover cops who have gone undercover as wrestlers to bust Dario Cueto. There is Mil Muertes who is probably undead and comes back stronger each time he is defeated. Half the performers are mystical descendants of Aztec tribes. It sounds wacky but I love it. You just have to let go and enjoy the story as it comes right out of left field.


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