Matt Striker Talks Lucha Underground, How It's Different, Women On The Show, If He'll Wrestle

Lucha Underground returns tonight on the El Rey Network at 8pm ET. As noted last week, I spoke with lead Lucha Underground announcer Matt Striker about the series. You can check out the full interview below:

Wrestling INC: Tell fans more about Lucha Underground, and how you became involved with them.

Matt Striker: Mark Burnett teamed up with Robert Rodriguez and the folks at the El Rey Network to give people something different. The "wrestling market" has been a one horse town for quite some time. The wrestling fan has something to look forward to, but there's the fan of action, soap operas, dramas. There's a lot of genres out there attracting large fanbases and Lucha Underground has their arms in those genres. It's something to look forward to and something to look forward to is always good. Finally there's an alternative that people can be entertained by.

Wrestling INC: You started off as a wrestler, and for Lucha Underground you're the lead announcer along with Vampiro. Can you walk us through how that transition happened?

Striker: He's [Vampiro] a great partner to have. It's something I've always done as a kid. I had wrestling matches with all of my GI Joe figures and I'd tape all the matches. It really goes all the way back to a 7-year old Matt Striker. I was always doing commentary in my mind, and I always say I have Joey Styles to thank and that's someone who I pattern my play-by-play styles from.

It was really just a natural fit, but I don't think that I came into my own until Lucha Underground. All of the lessons that I've learned from other people and places I've worked I can really implement those now in a much different environment. I am finally hitting my stride with Lucha Underground. Every Wednesday night you'll see the growth of me as an announcer, and more importantly the growth of some of the greatest athletes on the planet.

Wrestling INC: Do you see yourself getting in the ring for Lucha Underground?

Striker: My grandma used to have a saying "If you wanna hear God laugh, tell him your plans." I'm always prepared, and I wrestle other places but my mouth and brains are going to be my best assets. I don't think I've ever said that and not regretted it, but you never know. I think the focus is on the stars they have– the Prince Puma, Johnny Mundo, two of my favorites Phoenix and Drago.

Wrestling INC: Do you prefer one over the other – wrestling or commentary?

Striker: I'm happy to do anything I can do. I started off as a referee, I've done ring announcing, I've done timekeeping, things of that nature. My passion is linear. I enjoy doing commentary for Lucha Underground. I enjoy sitting next to one of the most controversial, insane and entertaining people, and that's Vampiro.

Wrestling INC: How different was it to do commentary for Lucha Underground as opposed to other places you've worked?

Striker: The biggest difference is the even playing field of Lucha Underground. Any given Wednesday there's going to be a match on and you're not going to be able to tell who's going to win. I love the other companies I've worked for, but after a while you know who's going to win and it takes you out of being invested. The thing I love about Lucha Underground is the unpredictability, the new faces, the new moves, new everything. Where else do you have a chance to see a guy like Blue Demon Jr on American television? You don't until now. The "newness", if that's even a word is what I like. The vignettes, the stories – it's like you're watching a movie, it's so different than the stuff people are used to seeing with wrestling.

Wrestling INC: The Luchadores were an underrated part of the wrestling boom in the 90's, why do you think it's taken so long to come back to American television?

Striker: I think because we haven't had the right avenue to present the style to the new viewer. The thing about the El Rey Network, while it's a Latino station it's an all-English speaking station with great English language programming. I think it was the right place at the right time with the right fit for the lucha style to be presented and has a spotlight placed on it and given it's proper due. The heritage of lucha is a wave that's running under the surface of wrestling so to speak. Lucha Underground is going to tell that story in a way that no one has, or has been able to.

Wrestling INC: What do you think about the timing of the debut? You get the sense that American fans are getting tired of the current wrestling scene.

Striker: I agree with you and timing is everything, especially in the wrestling business. I just don't think that Lucha Underground is competing with any of the traditional wrestling companies. I think they're going to stand alone in their own genre in market. I have a family filled with women, and one or two years into my wrestling career they stopped watching television. They said they didn't like the way women were depicted. A thing I noticed here when I'm watching (our women) it's finally something my family can watch because of the way that women are depicted. It's not just muscle on muscle, 6'6", tattoos everywhere, screaming into a microphone. The time is right and it's something I'm excited to be a part of.

Wrestling INC: We had reported a while back that the company was introducing an inter-gender division, what can you tell us about it?

Striker: The way that the (women) present themselves, you almost forget that it's inter-gender. The fact that someone like Sexy Star can do things that most of the men can't, it creates this weird dynamic. Inter-gender is something you're definitely going to see. It's going to be done differently, the girls are wrestling and fighting and they wanna be treated the same. If they want to be treated the same, the guys are going to make sure they're treated the same. You'll see inter-gender, you'll see the minis, you'll see the exoticos. It's colors, sights, sounds, all of the things that make good television.

Wrestling INC: How would you describe how different what fans will see on Wednesday nights compared to what they've been seeing.

Striker: You're going to see a lot more wrestling. That's one word that draws people in. It's not "the talking show," and it's not "the vignette show," it's not personal issues between two twin sisters. While I'm not giving that any discredit, you're actually going to get wrestling and see matches in their entirety. If we break from commercial, we come back and give you more wrestling. For my tastes, the stuff I fell in love with– the wrestling and the in-ring story– I never fell in love with the t-shirts and the backstage talking segments, I fell in love with the wrestling. You're going to get a lot of wrestling, and a lot of companies are afraid to give you wrestling.

Wrestling INC: Thank again, Matt. We certainly invite everyone to check it out the series every Wednesday.

Striker: 8 o'clock ET on the El Rey Network. You can go to elreynetwork.com and type in your zip code (to find local times). One thing I wanna say before I go – you all provide a great service to the wrestling industry and I try to read your stuff as much as I can – I think the term "Underground" that speaks to the wrestling fan. All of our lives we've felt almost outcast. The fact that this is Lucha Underground, it's cool to be a wrestling fan again.

Lucha Underground airs tonight at 8pm ET on the El Rey Network, and Wrestling Inc will be hosting a live viewing party for the program. If you have DirecTV, you can find the show on channel 341, or check your local listings.AdvertisementAdvertisement

Comments