When I think of Lucha Underground, a few things spring to mind. The grime, the sweat, the sleaze. The ludicrous, but well-written and actually weirdly logical storylines. Spectacular matches. Unique opportunities. Badass women. Vampiro’s semi-coherence. Gods in human form. Angelico throwing himself off Dario’s office. And of course, Aztec Warfare.
However you feel about a season of LU, you can usually rely on Aztec Warfare to get you properly hooked. It distils everything you love about the show into one fantastic, utterly bonkers episode, and every now and then you’ll get to see something really special. Last year, that was Matanza laying waste to half the company. This year, it was a moment the show had been building to since the beginning, when Sexy Star finally became LU’s first female champion.
Sexy Star has never been my favourite as a performer. In a promotion where Ivelisse continually knocks it out of the park and I’m dreaming about her match with Catrina at Ultima Lucha Tres, Sexy has always felt like a bit of an afterthought. She’s clearly beloved by the fans, and perhaps those who knew her in Mexico have a different perspective. Still, as much as I like her and respect everything she’s accomplished during her lifetime, she’s not in my top five Lucha Underground wrestlers.
Maybe that’s more of a testament to the strength of the roster than it is to any limitations on her part, because I do believe she’s one of the most sympathetic faces and convincing storytellers they’ve got. She shone in Aztec Warfare. It wasn’t about the number of eliminations she pulled off – the few that she got were the ones that counted. Most of her match, and the storyline that brought her to this point, was about survival. Survival in the face of abuse and misogyny by which she refuses to be defeated.
Watching her tearfully hold the belt high last night was a beautiful thing. I wonder if they filmed this episode knowing that a woman – and a Mexican at that – would hold the belt high just a week after the US elections: a triumph after a Hillary win, or an act of resistance after Trump. Either way, it was exactly what I needed.
It was obvious I wasn’t the only one. The real masterstroke of this season’s Aztec Warfare was to focus on the rows of female fans watching from behind their hands in the final stretch, genuinely fearful for Sexy alone in the ring with Mil Muertes. As he set her up for a top-rope Flatliner through a table, yes, a top-rope Flatliner through a fucking table, there were women in the audience on the verge of tears at the thought of seeing her hurt.
She’s an avatar for so many women who have been held back at work because their male peers stepped on them; for the survivors seeking to rebuild their lives; for everyone who has been denied what was theirs by entitled, powerful men. Her fans aren’t limited to any particular gender, either – there are always plenty of male voices chanting for her.
I know she’ll lose the title soon, because Johnny Mundo is a cheating bastard. But this week of all weeks, a lot of people needed Sexy Star to come out on top at last. I am so, so grateful that she did.