A shift of power has left Catrina at the helm of the Lucha Underground Temple. She addresses us from a black leather chair—her legs crossed; her voice cold as an ice shelf.
“If you thought Dario brought violence before, you just wait,” Catrina says. “We haven’t even started yet.”
Every wrestler promises violence. But usually, it doesn’t bear the weight of such foreboding. Usually, the speaker doesn’t make their threat so calmly, so measured.
Catrina leans on the power of quiet fury in her speech ahead of Lucha Underground’s second season. She lays out her vision of the fight pit that is the Temple. She issues warnings to those who oppose her. Her savage intentions drip from her lips.
The result is a wrestling TV teaser becoming a work of art.
Before this role with the groundbreaking Lucha Underground promotion, Karlee Perez was a WWE trainee. She spent four years wrestling as Maxine when NXT was still in its reality-show competition phase. Amid the dance-offs and beauty pageant-style Q&As, we never saw the kind of star she could be.
Perez left WWE developmental in 2012. She knew she hadn’t reached her ceiling in that system.
“I wasn’t feeling like I was being challenged enough,” Perez explained in an interview with Aaron Oster of Rolling Stone. “There was more I could do. There’s a lot that I can bring to the table when I’m allowed.”
The folks behind Lucha Underground agreed. They cast her as Mil Muertes’ manager and let her spread her creative wings. Soon, she was burning up the screen with a powerful blend of sadism and sultriness. In what became her trademark move, Catrina would crawl over a fallen foe and lick the length of their face as a ritualistic marking of their demise.
The innovative episodic wrestling program, complete with high-end production and supernatural elements, was clearly a fitting home for Perez and this character in her grasp.
By the second season, Catrina was a central figure of the show. She pushed out the Lucha Underground’s sleazy boss man Dario Cueto, and now sat in his throne, an overseer, a boss, a visionary in violence. Her speech to set the stage for season two is a revelation.
Contemplative and confident in her newly acquired office, she explains her predecessor’s faults.
“Dario Cueto stood for violence, but he didn’t know what to do with it,” Catrina says. “It needed to breathe new life.”
Her message is succinct. Her tone is unsettling.
There’s a poetry to the story she tells, too. When discussing her brawny, brooding disciple Mil Muertes’ broken arm, she uses anaphora, turning her retelling into something rhythmic, memorable.
“I saw him out of the rubble. I saw him out of the casket. I saw him crowned champion.”
Everything about this promo is menacing—her delivery, her words, her ominous witchcraft-inspired office setup. Even the rosary dangling from her hand feels like a threat somehow. Catrina seems just as likely to count the black beads on that string as she would wrap them all around someone’s throat like a garrote wire.
The showpiece line comes when Catrina aims her ire at Pentagon Dark. It was he who snapped Muertes’ arm, he who will be the top target of her vengeance.
“I wouldn’t mess with darkness, Pentagon,” she tells him. “You might be lost forever.”
By the time the red candles flicker out around her, Catrina has built anticipation for Mil Muertes’ narrative, for the happenings at the Temple overall, for where this take-no-prisoners jefe’s story is heading. All of this happens in a promo that doesn’t hit the one-and-a-half-minute mark.
Credit the Lucha Underground production team for helping set the spooky atmosphere with its choice of music, the cadence of cuts, and the shadowy images of masked men. Perez, though, was the heart of this mini-movie. Wrestling doesn’t often feature actors on her level, and this was her finest showing.
The level at which the performer and character intertwined elevated what Catrina ended up being. In an interview with Scott Fishman for Channel Guide Magazine, Perez said: “Catrina herself is a part of me. It’s an alter ego I’m able to pull out naturally.”
Thank the wrestling gods for putting Catrina in her hands to mold and manipulate as she did. The result was a darkly charismatic, original villain that was one of the top highlights of Lucha Underground’s too-brief run. It was a role that Perez sunk her claws deep into.
Nothing exemplifies that like her sinister state of the union and the chills it produces.