If you’ve seen Jack Black’s silly but hilarious movie Nacho Libre, then I don’t need to explain to you what Lucha Libre is. And also, you’ve got great taste in ridiculous comedies.
If you haven’t seen it, let me explain. Lucha Libre is kind of like professional wrestling in America, but 100 times better. It’s not really a sporting event, and it is mostly faked, but that doesn’t mean there is no skill involved. It’s more of a show, like a circus or a cult sport, with match after match featuring brightly dressed luchadors wearing their trademark masks, fighting and flipping each other in every way imaginable, flinging themselves off of the ropes to clothesline their opponents, and leaping off of the corners of the ring at each other in fantastic fashion.
A decent activity for a Monday night in Puebla, don’t you think?
We arrived right as the first match was starting, around 9pm. The atmosphere in the arena was already chaotic. The names of the first wrestlers were being announced by a small man standing in the middle of the ring with a deep and rolling voice. There were spectators of every age, many already yelling out curses and waving signs for their favorite luchador. Wandering vendors sold beer, masks, and mini-stuffed luchadors to eager kids no older than 5.
Our leader Carlos pointed out the section of the crowd that always cheers for the winning wrestler, complete with a drumline and matching t-shirts. Most everyone else, he told us, cheers for the underdog.
We watched a total of 5 matches, each one more spectacular than the last. I was amazed at the acrobatic moves these huge guys were able to pull off. Take a look at this move I manage to capture!
It was this kind of stuff, all. night. But the best was the second-to-last match between four sets of duos. One duo included a little guy wrestling alongside a dude in a massive afro.
They were fun, but they were nothing compared to my absolute favorite: a luchador named Máximo who sported pink hair, a mini-skirt and a black shirt with words KISS ME written in pink on the front. Neither he nor his partner Marco, a hulking, ripped pretty boy, bothered to wear masks, and they whipped the crowd into a frenzy as soon as they walked out.
Who says Mexican’s aren’t progressive? And guess what – they won!
It’s hard to put into words the sight of the luchadors flying through the air in all their glory and slamming down onto their opponents, or their endless machismo as they climb the ropes and bang their chests to the roar of the crowd. All I can tell you is it is absolutely hilarious, and is by far the best thing I’ve seen in Mexico.
And even better – it was an educational experience as well! Early on in the evening, I heard someone in the crowd yell at the band-wagoners (as I decided to call them) “Chinga tu madre!” I leaned over and asked Carlos what it meant.
And that, kids, was how I learned how to say “Fuck your Mother” in Spanish.
Adventure: Attending a Lucha Libre event!
Where: Matches happen all over the country (and increasingly all over the world) so if you’re heading to Mexico, a quick google search will help you find one in your area.
I went to a show in Puebla, a gorgeous colonial city around 2.5 hours from Mexico City. The venue was called the Arena Pueblo at 13 East No. 402, Centro. More information on tickets can be found here.
Cost: The most expensive tickets on the floor, where we sat, were only 180 pesos, or about $11. Cheaper seats in the balcony are as low as 70 pesos, or less than $5. But bring extra cash for the vendors – you have to try the spicy sandwiches they sell. They are fantastic!
When to Go: In Puebla, there are shows every Monday night and they sometimes hold special events on other days as well.
– I mentioned this already, but you HAVE to try the sandwiches the vendors sell in the arena. They had meat, onion, chiles, and avocado, as far as I could tell, and they were delicious. Very spicy though, so skip it if you aren’t into that. And they were only 45 pesos each – less than $3. You’ll spot them as giant hunks wrapped in aluminum foil
– Don’t be afraid to yell and get into it. And bring your sense of humor! It’s much more fun if you do.
– Don’t get drunk, buy a mask, rip off your shirt and try to run into the ring to join in. Security will stop you and throw you out, as my friend Eddy the Australian learned.
Have you ever been to a Lucha Libra event? What did you think?