King Cuerno Suing El Rey Network Over Lucha Underground Contract

Posted By James Walsh on 02/06/19

Lucha Underground star King Cuerno has filed a legal dispute against El Rey Network in regard to his contract. Pro Wrestling Sheet reports that Cuerno, aka El Hijo del Fantasma, filed legal documents in Los Angeles requesting arbitration with El Rey and Baba-G Productions, the promotion’s production company.

The documents were sent to the outlet by a third party who was asked if they wanted to be involved in any possible legal proceedings against the company. They state that Cuero is looking to have allegedly illegal provisions of the contract invalidated, specifically ones that “require Plaintiffs to stop engaging in their lawful trade, while Defendants have no obligation to provide work to Plaintiffs, and only have an obligation to pay Plaintiffs if they are provided work on their show.”

The docs say that the contract violate a statute in the California Business and Professions code because they are preventing Cuerno from working. They note, “Though it is a violation of California law, all of the contracts offered by Defendants contained restrictions that prohibited the professional wrestlers from engaging in their lawful profession.” This appears to be a reference to the fact that Lucha Underground’s contracts are exclusive to the point of preventing talent from working even after filming has completed, holding the talent for potential future seasons.

The complaint goes on to reference the rise in wrestling over the past few years, noting that Ring of Honor is offering better contracts than they did in 2014 and that the founding of AEW, the acquisition of Impact by Anthem and the push by WWE to sign new talent has made independent talent hot commodities, but that Lucha Underground is preventing contracted talent from working elsewhere and has no live events through which talent can earn money. It notes, “Lucha Underground broadcasts between 22 and 40 television episodes per year, with no live events like the other described wrestling promotions. If a wrestler appears on a show, it is usually just a couple. The payment per episode is usually less than $1,000.”

It goes on to say, “The current contract that wrestlers signed with Lucha Underground require that wrestlers not perform services for other wrestling companies anywhere in the world without Defendants permission, but does not require Defendants to use Plaintiffs in their wrestling-theme television show. While Plaintiffs are obligated to restrict their trade under the contract (which is illegal), Defendants are not required to use or pay Plaintiffs. Defendants have the option to use Plaintiffs, and IF Defendants use Plaintiffs, Defendants will pay Plaintiffs. IF Defendants chose not to use Plaintiffs, Plaintiffs are prohibited for working for years, are not paid, but still under the restrictive contract until it expires.”

The documents say that most Lucha Underground talent make less than $4,000 a year, compared to starting wages of $50,000 for wrestlers in other major promotions.

Ivelisse also recently spoke out about her own contract dispute with the company, saying she has asked for her release but that the company has refused to grant it. Joey Ryan issued a statement backing Ivelisse’s claims. Lucha Underground contract details also reportedly delayed Shane Strickland’s hopes to sign with WWE.

Cuerno’s lawyer told Lucha Central that he has filed a class action lawsuit as well, seeking to invalidate “certain portions of [Lucha Underground’s] contracts that we believe are illegal.”

Lucha Underground has yet to issue a statement in regard to the disputes.