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Lucha Underground: Professional Wrestling on a Turner Broadcasting Network?
Lucha Underground has developed a cult-like following during the course of their three years in existence. They’ve developed this following, even though, until a week ago, they didn’t do live events on the road and despite them being on a network with such limited viewership as El Rey Network. However, the rebel promotion seems to be looking to expand said viewership with their latest business endeavor.
The Turner.com Press Room announced that Lucha Underground would be airing on German television starting December 10th. This will air on Saturday nights on TNT Serie.
“Lucha Underground captivates the audience, not just with spectacular matches, but above all with an exciting story that is told throughout the season.” – Turner’s Central Europe programming director, Marion Rathmann.
While some have hypothesized that this will likely be a syndicated English or German translated run of their first couple of seasons and air already six to twelve month old material, much like the New Japan Pro Wrestling shows on AxsTV on Friday nights. Though this very well may be the case, I think that many are not seeing something that’s truly remarkable with this deal.
This is being aired on a Turner network, the same network that aired World Championship Wrestling; The same WCW that went from a struggling franchise in the early 1990s to the juggernaut that it became, beating the then World Wrestling Federation, in the ratings for 82 straight weeks. Saturday nights seemed to be a turnoff for some. But WCW Saturday Night did surprisingly well. Vince McMahon’s Saturday Night’s Main Event also was no slouch in the ratings. These facts lead me to believe that TNT Serie may be on to something here.
Yes, this is just a small first step towards getting Lucha Underground more national exposure. But the fact that a Turner company is willing to do business with any pro wrestling promotion, especially given how certain people in their upper management unceremoniously removed wrestling from their programming schedule some 15 years ago, is a huge step in the right direction.
Wrestling in the 1990s reminded me of another boom in that period, the comic book industry boom. That industry nearly went belly up when the bubble burst and certain companies nearly went bankrupt. Expanding too big too fast is not what’s best for business. Lucha Underground is making the right moves and they understand that slow and steady truly does win the race.