Lucha Libre! A girls guide to Mexican Wrestling

18 Aug

Lucha Libre is Mexico’s answer to the popular US commercial wrestling programs WCW or WWF.

I was only vaguely aware that wrestling was big in Mexico before I arrived in the Country. Once you are there the phenomenon is hard to ignore. In Mexico City the masks of the nation’s favourite luchadores are sold from stalls on every popular street corner. Chapultepec Park seems to be an especially popular place to buy your very own Lucha Libre costume.

Though I have never really been a wrestling fan, but I grew up with a little brother who was obsessed with the WCW and the WWF. For years I would have to fight him and argue with my parents for the right to watch something other then the Saturday WWF challenge, which lasted all weekend on Cable TV.

Back then the men in tiny costumes throwing themselves around the tiny boxing ring just didn’t do anything for me. And truth be told they still don’t, but Mexico’s enthusiasm for Lucha Libre proved contagious. I just couldn’t resist the invitation to accompany a group of backpackers to Arena Mexico on a Friday evening to watch Maximo take on his enemies.

We had a great night at the wrestling. For me the highlight was the amazingly ridiculous theatrical entrance that each luchador made into the Arena. Every wrestler enters the stadium dancing to his theme song and music video which serve to highlight his unique stage identity. ‘Felino’ was a hairy man dressed as a garbage collector with a cat tail and cats ears, who featured in his video hit rummaging through garbage cans and then sweeping rubbish from the street. A catty, dirty bastard. Ray Buccanero was dressed uncannily like Johnny Depp’s character in Pirates of the Caribbean and jigged his way into the Arena accompanied by a child or midget dressed in a Parrot’s costume.

Of course some luchadors were too cool to dance. Once guy wearing only tiny (too-small) white budgie smugglers rode a motorbike in his video clip, and sauntered into the ring in a way that said ‘real men don’t boogie’.

The actual matches were also fun to watch, full of false blows and melodramatic displays of pain and discomfort from the loosing luchadors. The aerial twists and turns and attacks were cleverly orchestrated. The audience seemed to be particularly amused by the ‘little fighters’, usually the cute sidekicks of their larger partners, when they threw a few punches or were themselves picked up and spectacularly thrown from the ring into the crowd below. The loud cheering of the crowd, comprised of men hurling insults towards unfavoured competitors (Puta Madre!) and women screaming every time a luchador removed an item of clothing to reveal even more flesh, raised the level to excitement in the room to a palpable level.

Tickets to the wrestling range from 25 to 250 pesos, and can be bought at Arena Mexico on the night. The most expensive seats are those closest to the ring. In the front row you have a very good chance of a luchador or two crashing into you as they struggle to win the championship. Our 100 pesos tickets were a good buy, putting us about 20 metres from the action.

Remember that you can’t bring food or drinks, or cameras, into the stadium, but women selling Coronas and popcorn roam the inside of the Arena.

None of the guidebooks seem to have caught on to Lucha Libre as a worthwhile tourist experience yet. Surely they will do soon.

Arena Mexico is located very close to the Chapultepec metro station at
Doctor Río de la Loza 238, Cuauhtémoc.

The Arena Mexico / Lucha Libre website (Spanish only) publishes details of upcoming events;

Ask your hostal or hotel for more precise instructions on hot to get there and when matches are on.

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