Every now and then an experience really grabs you by the shoulders and shakes the shit out of you. It leaves you questioning everything you know and leads to the reshaping of your conception of the world.
This happened to me recently at the intersection of grace, entertainment, pageantry, athleticism, brute strength and face masks.
There is no other way to say this…I am a HUGE fan of Mexican wrestling.
Now before you think I have gone and lost the plot let me tell you about my experience…
A group of us went to the classic Lucha Libre Show on a Friday night at Arena Mexico in Mexico City. I didn’t think too much about this event before the night and felt it would be a fun cultural experience.
What I got was WAY MORE than that!
We entered the reasonably large arena with a capacity of about 15,000 people and sat in what could only be called, prime seats. The elevated wrestling ring was about 10 metres in front of us and people were still filing in. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary or particularly noteworthy…then the lights went down.
A spotlight shone on the arena and announcers appeared in the ring. They began talking to the crowd making note of the matches that we were about to see. Names like Mistico, Último Guerrero, Characteristico, Drágon and Títan were spoken into the microphone and answered with a cheer from their supporters. Seeing the excitement on everyone’s faces from the youngest of the young, to the oldest of the old, I knew we were about to see something special.
Cue laser lights, smoke, music and the crowd goes wild! A figure appeared on a platform at the top of some stairs leading down to the ring with a huge screen displaying a montage of his best wrestling moves behind him. He walks down the stairs, through the “cheerleaders” on the ramp down to the ring and climbs into the arena. He is then followed by his opponent who also displays a perfect amount of peacocking prowess.
Things start off slow, with some slaps of the chest and over acting but very quickly, shit gets real!
People are being lifted into the air and slammed onto the floor. Wrestlers are flying out of the ring and into the crowd. Beer is snatched out of people’s hands by wrestlers and thrown at their opponents. Masks are attempted to be ripped off and Little people in unusual costumes are standing as wrestler mascots. The crowd is cheering for their favourite wrestler and scathing of his opponents.
But you would be a fool to think that things remained one-on-one. No, no. As the night progressed we would see teams of two and three battle it out to evidently very loose rules. At times the referee would allow three people to beat one person into the floor while his teammates were not able to do a thing and had to watch on from outside the ring!?!?
The crowd really was the extra person doing battle throughout the show. Hanging on with bated breath to see who would be flipped, rolled, stomped on, thrown out of the ring or body slammed. Then shouting disapproval or approval of the pain inflicted. It really did not matter that everything was fake and set up…this was awesome!
Needless to say, after yelling “this is the best night of my life” within 5 min of the show beginning I knew I would be back. I went three times in about 6 weeks…and I WOULD DO IT AGAIN!!
Here are some of the highlights for me during my three adventures out to Arena Mexico:
- Seeing 140kg kegs of men flying out of a ring to take down wrestlers standing on the ground outside the arena
- Watching people going absolutely nuts while chanting for their favorite “Luchador”. They would also chant:
- Cuuleerrrroooo (Culero) – coward or f*cking arsehole
- Putooooohhooo (Puto) – literally, male prostitute
- Chinga tu madre – F*ck your mother
- Seeing a streaker run into the ring only to later find out he was a friend-of-a-friend
- Seeing a “little person” get knocked out by a wayward kick to the head. I know that sounds very controversial and politically incorrect but the pure outrageousness of it is impossible to ignore. Seeing him slung over a security guard’s shoulder and carted out of the arena with his head and arms flopping down on this man’s back made me 100% certain that I was in an alternate universe
- Último Guerrero (Last Warrior), my second favourite wrestler, the man with possibly the worst hairstyle of all time but also one of the greatest people living, turning to the crowd while pumping his arms above his head, hopping up and down getting everyone to chant “HOU, HOU, HOU, HOU” along with him. I did it in the arena with the crowd and outside of the arena on the street…this has continued weeks after the event, in random places…I might have just done it now while writing this
- Winning $1USD in a bet on Último Guerrero’s team taking out a 3-on-3 match
- Watching my favourite wrestler, who I don’t know the name of, completing some huge moves, then see him turn to the crowd, shimmy, and then shoot a victorious arm in the air making a “peace” sign pointed to the sky. Inspirational stuff from an absolute legend, and another move that I have added to my repertoire (see the video through until the end to see this guy in action!)
So as you can tell I am a big fan of the Lucha Libre show. If you get a chance to get out to one of the events at Arena Mexico in Mexico City, DO NOT THINK TWICE! It was outrageous, hilarious, nonsensical, and pretty much the most entertaining thing I have ever seen. I even managed to change some of the biggest sceptics of the sport into supporters, not only of the wrestling but also of me replicating their moves.
As always, take what you will from this post and see you next time.