The Season 3 finale of "Lucha Underground," Ultima Lucha Tres, was a culmination of many of the key storylines and feuds that had been driving the show throughout its 105-episode run. The jam-packed two-hour finale saw the crowning of a new champion, the final match of arguably the most important figure on the show and the apparent death of on-screen owner Dario Cueto (yes, that all happened in one episode).
Even so, the finale left fans with far more questions than answers. Those questions extended beyond the twists, cliffhangers, and the chaotic storylines within their cinematic-style presentation that became the show's signature appeal.
Instead, fans were left wondering if "Lucha Underground" had a future at all.
Ultima Lucha Tres aired in October 2017, but it had been filmed 16 months earlier in June 2016. "Lucha Underground" took an unexpected four-and-a-half-month midseason break during the broadcast run of Season 3 -- a decision El Rey Network President Daniel Tibbets said was "a normal programming cadence." But even with the hiatus, the end of Season 3 came and went without El Rey announcing future seasons, which had fans wondering if Ultima Lucha Tres was the series finale of "Lucha Underground."
They had to sweat it out, but El Rey finally answered that question when they announced plans for "Lucha Underground's" fourth season in November. The first of Season 4's new episodes -- there will be 22 in all -- will air on June 13.
"When we were doing [Seasons] 2 and 3, we finished two and then we went right into three. Here, we're trying to tell as many stories as possible but in a shorter period of time," head writer and co-executive producer Chris DeJoseph explained about the new approach. "It's obviously a little bit different, but I think sometimes it's good because we put the pedal to the metal and go for it."
DeJoseph and his team spent two months writing Season 4 after over a year of exchanging texts back and forth with storyline ideas. "Lucha Underground" started filming in February, a full year later than originally planned, and completed the tapings in a month. In comparison, the show taped 40 episodes for Season 3 over the course of three months.
"It was really hard, really stressful. Really hard on everybody," DeJoseph said of the condensed shoot. "It was a really crazy ride doing it that fast and doing that many [episodes], but we all stuck together, hung in there, and pushed through it. There's a lot of late nights and a lot of hours worked, but in the end I think the show will prove once again 'Lucha Underground' separates itself from anything else that's out there."
In addition to the rigorous filming schedule, DeJoseph and his staff had to adjust to shooting in a new location. "Lucha Underground's" setting for the first three seasons, "The Temple," became as key a part of the show as any of the characters. Season 4 moves the action to an old icehouse in downtown Los Angeles across the river from the Boyle Heights warehouse that housed "The Temple".
DeJoseph scouted the location with Eric Van Wagenen and other crew members and found what was, at the time, just an empty icehouse. It felt right, and everyone in the room started coming up with ideas for the new set as they came away knowing "Lucha Underground" had found its new home.
"[Switching locations] gave us a lot of new things to play with," DeJoseph said. "It will play out over the storyline -- there's a reason why "The Temple" has been moved to this particular location. It's a really great set. You'll see some of the cool sets and the things we were able to do that we weren't even able to do at our last location."
The changes for Season 4 of "Lucha Underground" go well beyond a new backdrop.
Ultima Lucha Tres finished with a shocking twist, as Pentagon Dark defeated Prince Puma to capture his first Lucha Underground championship -- ending Puma's Lucha Underground career. Career-threatening and retirement-based matches in professional wrestling seldom hold up, but this instance was different; Ricochet, who wrestled under a mask as Puma from the very first episode of "Lucha Underground," had been waiting for some time for the final episodes of the show to end so that his contract would officially expire.
When the finale went out to the world, Ricochet was finally able to pursue other opportunities as he signed with WWE shortly thereafter.
Losing Prince Puma (real name Trevor Mann), the first-ever (and only two-time) Lucha Underground champion and face of the show, was undeniably a setback for "Lucha Underground."
"Obviously, initially, I was bummed out about it," DeJoseph admitted. "Trevor is a tremendous performer and I think it was great to see him develop even more on "Lucha Underground." At the same time, he was a guy who carried the show for us for a long time. He was there from the very first day and helped build what this show has become now. It was sad in that aspect, but at the same time we're very happy for him having the opportunity to go somewhere else and explore and continue his career as a performer. He really worked hard for us, so we're happy for him."
"Lucha Underground" will also have to deal with the departure of one of the biggest names in lucha libre history, as Rey Mysterio will not appear in Season 4 after being an integral part of the past two seasons. Mysterio was left off the Ultima Lucha Tres card after main-eventing the finale a year before -- a decision he said was "a mix-up of dates." DeJoseph, who has known Mysterio for over a decade since his time as a writer for WWE from 2004 to 2010, knows the lucha libre legend is leaving behind a void no one can fill.
"I mean obviously having Rey Mysterio around "Lucha Underground" is an amazing thing and you can't really substitute him," DeJoseph said. "In show business, in anything, the show has to go on. You have to find new people and new people to step up and take that role. In Season 4, you'll start to see some characters take those new roles of some of those characters that are gone and battle their way to take that spot as the top guy in the show."
They'll all be chasing Lucha Underground champ and longtime fan favorite Pentagon Dark.
Pentagon has become a sensation all over the professional wrestling world since his character debuted in Season 1 of "Lucha Underground." He's become a top guy wherever he wrestles, from top independent promotions like Pro Wrestling Guerrilla in Los Angeles and AAW in Chicago, to IMPACT Wrestling, where he just became the world champion.
Ultima Lucha Tres may have been the end of Prince Puma, but it also represented the beginning of Pentagon's reign as the new face of "Lucha Underground."
"Pentagon over the past three seasons has become the centerpiece of 'Lucha Underground.' He is probably the most important character on the show," DeJoseph said. "This season will highlight that and show his battles now that he has the Lucha Underground championship and he has [the] big target on his back now instead of Prince Puma. There's a lot on his shoulders, but I think he'll be able to carry the load with 'cero miedo.'
"He's such an amazing antihero," DeJoseph continued. "Not only that, Pentagon himself as a performer is just so charismatic and he connects with the people so well. He could break 10 people's arms and everybody would go crazy and cheer for him. He really is the coolest bad guy ever."
A lot of other familiar faces will be returning for Season 4 of "Lucha Underground," but there's also a whole new cast of characters joining the fray. Familiar faces for WWE fans like Tommy Dreamer and Jack Swagger are among the new additions, as is clear in the new trailer for Season 4. That trailer also reveals the debut of characters who only exist in the crazy universe that is Lucha Underground.
"Sometimes we might get a phone call from somebody who's like, 'I really love "Lucha Underground." I would love to be involved in it.' Then we're like, 'How can we get this talent involved in the show and find something for them,'" DeJoseph said. "It's always fun to basically play with new toys and explore some of these relationships. Some of these characters we've known what we've wanted for some long period of time and have just been building to them finally arriving in 'Lucha Underground.' It's exciting to finally see those stories and those characters come to life."
The loss of key figures, fewer episodes, a more compact schedule and a new venue didn't change the writing process for DeJoseph -- "Plan the end, and work backwards." It's a formula that has worked for DeJoseph since the first season of "Lucha Underground," and he expects Season 4 to be no different.
"We kick off in a really, really big way right off the bat. It will build to a huge and absolutely mind-blowing culmination at the end of the season," DeJoseph said. "There's a lot of twists, turns -- things you'd never see coming. There are so many new tidbits of information and stories that are developing that have been building since Season 1. I think that makes it one of my favorite seasons. This is a special season."