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First time for lucha libre in Mexico City

Seeing a lucha libre event was high on my to-do list for this trip to Mexico City. I’m not entirely sure why. Maybe it was because I was fascinated by American-style professional wrestling when I was boy, leading to a desire to see how it’s done in Mexico. Maybe it was because I’d enjoyed the movie Nacho Libre more than I care to admit.

Whatever the reason, by the end of my second week in Mexico City, I still hadn’t dragged myself over to the arena yet, even though the events are three times a week and less than a half-hour walk from where I’m staying. So when two housemates told me last Monday they had signed up for a guided lucha libre tour the following evening, I immediately signed up too.

The tour guide got the tickets for us ahead of time, picked us up and the school and drove us to the arena, answered any questions we had during the event, and drove us home after it was over. Any of us probably could have done this on our own, but the guide was super nice. For a little extra cash, it was like we got to have our older Mexican uncle spend an evening with us.

Frankly, I struggle to find words to describe what happened once we got inside. Of course, in our heads, we knew the competition was completely choreographed. However, watching some of the moves these guys made was just simply mesmerizing. Also, there was an utter lack of subtlety. When the wrestlers were announced, it was obvious which ones were the “good” guys and which ones were the “bad” guys, so we all knew whom to cheer and whom to boo. There were six events over the two-and-a-half hours we were there, which were progressively more entertaining. Most had multiple luchadors on each side, but the final event was one-on-one.

Cameras were not permitted inside the lucha libre arena, but smartphones were allowed. My modest phone does not zoom or do well in low light, so most of my photos suck. I’ll share a few anyway and let the pictures do most of the talking.

Each event supposedly had three rounds. Between each round, a young lady would dance toward the ring with a placard. It was clearly part of the choreography. The fighting seldom really stopped between the supposed rounds. Predictably, every event was “tied” going into the third round.

Each event supposedly had three rounds. Between each round, a young lady would dance toward the ring with a placard. It was clearly part of the choreography. The fighting seldom really stopped between the supposed rounds. Predictably, every event was “tied” going into the third round.

One of the earlier events featured, well, little people. Personally, I’ve never heard anyone refer to “little people” wrestling, although my politically correct fellow Americans insisted on calling it that. The referee was also a little person. The dancing girls were not.

One of the earlier events featured, well, little people. Personally, I’ve never heard anyone refer to “little people” wrestling, although my politically correct fellow Americans insisted on calling it that. The referee was also a little person. The dancing girls were not.

For some additional lack of subtlety, one lucha libre team was introduced as being from Hell, with its leader being some sort of Satanic priest. Yes, they were “bad” guys. All the lights in the arena went red when they were introduced.

For some additional lack of subtlety, one lucha libre team was introduced as being from Hell, with its leader being some sort of Satanic priest. Yes, they were “bad” guys. All the lights in the arena went red when they were introduced.

The “bad” guys would often come out and taunt the crowd before, during, or after the match, just to make sure the audience was completely engaged.

The “bad” guys would often come out and taunt the crowd before, during, or after the match, just to make sure the audience was completely engaged.

The old timer on the left seemed to be one of the most popular luchadors of the early events. He goes by the name of Blue Panther. I had a hunch he’d been doing this for a while. He had some moves that were pretty amazing for his age.

The old timer on the left seemed to be one of the most popular luchadors of the early events. He goes by the name of Blue Panther. I had a hunch he’d been doing this for a while. He had some moves that were pretty amazing for his age.

While we mostly cheered for the “good” guys, our almost entirely American tour group made a notable exception. The only black luchador the entire evening was introduced as “from the United States” and was clearly supposed to be a “bad” guy in his military fatigues. Naturally, we cheered for him and his teammates. These colors don’t run, man.

While we mostly cheered for the “good” guys, our almost entirely American tour group made a notable exception. The only black luchador the entire evening was introduced as “from the United States” and was clearly supposed to be a “bad” guy in his military fatigues. Naturally, we cheered for him and his teammates. These colors don’t run, man.