On their last show before premiering on Vice TV, Major League Wrestling dropped a huge surprise, reintroducing Lucha UndergroundDarío Cueto (played by actor Luis Fernandez-Gil) as an on-air presence. MLW has featured Azteca Underground as a new component of their show, bringing wrestling elements to MLW Fusion.
Looking to add a unique element to the company’s content, MLW CEO Court Bauer has introduced Azteca Underground as a new concept that shares connective tissue with Lucha Underground, an innovative wrestling show that ran between 2014 and 2018 and still held a lot of potential when it went off the air.
Talking with Illustrated Sports, Bauer talked about the return of Dario Cueto, the move from MLW to Vice TV, and the upcoming MLW draft.
Illustrated Sports: What will make Azteca Underground so different and different for MLW?
Bauer cut: Wrestling fans around the world love wrestlers, but the genre hasn’t been showcased consistently in America. Azteca Underground will provide it to fans. Wrestling is also a super competitive scene, and we have a chance to really stand out with this project.
Y: To fully commit to this project, the presence of Luis Fernández-Gil was needed, who perfectly captured the role of Darío Cueto in Lucha Underground. Thinking long term, I’m not sure this would work without him.
CB: He was a priority for us and Luis signed a long-term contract with the company. He is an incredibly talented and accomplished actor, so it was very important.
I was involved in a very limited capacity in Lucha Underground. I started out as AAA president of their US division for a period of time, so I was in that orbit, as was Konnan, who was really involved in every phase of Lucha Underground Early. It’s like going back to a recent chapter in our careers. I wasn’t involved in the creative side, but working with Luis again is phenomenal.
Y: Are you reprising the role of Darío Cueto, who supposedly passed away, or are you drifting into a new story? And, in terms of talent, should we expect any surprises from AAA?
CB: We’ll see how it unfolds over the summer, but where Dario goes, the fight follows. We wanted this to be very tight and we wanted to surprise people by bringing in a new character. We were able to afford it in a way that made people feel good.
We have big plans and there is a lot of potential to grow. We have a long-term strategy and have been sowing seeds for the last 10 months. That’s what we want, a slow recording that always works with our television and online videos. If you are so immersed in the product, we want to reward you.
Y: Beyond the reveal at the end, there were other important parts of the past week. Fusion, particularly around Alex Hammerstone’s pursuit of MLW champion Jacob Fatu and Myron Reed’s defeat of Lio Rush for the middleweight title.
CB: We will also have the draft, which will expand and improve our roster. There is much to anticipate in what lies ahead.
Y: The end of last week ruled out Salina de la Renta, who was spectacular during her MLW career. Natalia Class, who played De la Renta, added a lot to Fusion weekly. What stood out the most about your work?
CB: His character had an incredible story arc. You saw his ascension and then the mystery of his disappearance, which influenced the arrival of Azteca Underground last June when he returned. His story in MLW concluded last week with the season finale, and we saw the new power dynamic with this shady new character. The baton has been passed and he is going to be an interesting pivot.
To work with Natalia, you immediately see that she has an incredible talent. It garnered attention and flourished on national television. He did an amazing job. I wish Natalia success and health.
Y: You have a new home on Vice TV. The big picture, what does the move mean to MLW?
CB: If there was a network that fit the way we identify MLW, and how we like a raw, immersive take on the product, it couldn’t be a better fit than Vice. It is the perfect home for MLW. It’s very authentic, you see it when you look Dark side of the ring. We are very excited for this new chapter and we are ready to begin our July shootings when we shoot on July 10th in Philadelphia.
Y: What can you share about the MLW draft?
CB: We will rely heavily on our digital end, so this can be followed on social media. It will reveal the next era of MLW, with some perspectives, international talent and star power. A lot of talent will return, but the draft will really unlock in a lot of surprising ways.
Y: Will we see draft picks from Azteca Underground?
CB: Not directly. The combat world of MLW will be very different from the world of Azteca Underground.
Y: In terms of everything that is currently happening within MLW, What are you most excited about moving forward?
CB: Have fans back. They bring a lot of life to our shows. Along with Fatu-Hammerstone and the rise of Azteca Underground, from a creative point of view, it is difficult for me to sleep at night thinking about what is to come. We are very excited to show where it goes next.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.