Livin la Vida Lucha


If you find yourself passing through Mexico (we hope you do!), you can learn a lot about the last 50 years of Mexican culture and have a damn good time by stopping in for the phenomenal spectacle of Lucha Libre.

Lucha Libre refers to Mexican professional freestyle wrestling and sits at the highly entertaining intersection of sport and theatre. Lucha Libre is defined by larger-than-life characters, over-the-top narratives and jaw-dropping macho moves between its colorfully masked wrestlers.

They call it an incredible spectacle to behold, but it’s not just about spectating – you and the crowd make the experience what it is. For not too many pesos, you can get in on the action most nights a week at the place where it all began, Mexico City’s Arena Mexico (although Lucha Libre is a common underground sport throughout Mexico and even in the US).

Nacho Libre (Jack Black) reminds you to limber up before your match; Brian remembers.
Nacho Libre (Jack Black) reminds you to limber up before your match; Brian remembers.

The Global Goulets picked up some cheap 9th row tickets and stopped in for a Friday night spectacular. On the way in, we took on our true luchador identities by plucking out our favorite mascaras (masks) from the countless booths outside: Alex, the fear-inducing blue La Tortuga en Fuego, Brian, the indomitable green El Burro Grande, and Eric, the loco red Jugador Comico.

We took our seats and prepared for 4 physics-defying matches. Most matches consist of 4-10 luchadores pitted against each other in teams. One match we saw was 1-on-1 (Titán vs. Polvora, El Titán won), and another consisted of all tightly dressed luchadoras (macho women).

Just like American wrestling, Lucha Libre consists of an endless struggle between técnicos (good guys) and rudos (bad guys). Sometimes it’s hard to know who’s who – but the crowd will help you figure it out. The Mexican father and son team in front of us were out of their seats relentlessly cheering and ruthlessly booing their favorite and favorite-to-hate characters for all 4 matches. We Goulets joined the little hijo in shouting for his favorite female luchadora, Marcela, until she turned and pointed in our direction. You could see that kid’s heart melt.

Father and son go wild for their favorite stars.
Father and son go wild for their favorite stars.

Perhaps one of the most telling signs of Lucha Libre’s importance to modern Mexican culture is its integration of and influence on Mexican social perspectives (check out this 19 page scholarly paper we found called The Role of Lucha Libre in the Construction of Mexican Male Identity). For example, we were amazed that one crowd favorite, Máximo, was a flamboyantly gay character whose coveted weapon was a well-placed kiss on his enemies’ lips. The crowd also went wild each time his teammate, Marco Corleone, a towering nearly 7-foot tall Greek god, gyrated his hips tauntingly at his opponents.

Maximo wins the match (and fans' hearts) with a smooch on his opponent's lips
Maximo wins the match (and fans’ hearts) with a smooch on his opponent’s lips

The role of superhero as protector was also on display with great theatrics – in the final match, each team of luchadores featured a little person dressed in a bird costume (no joke). It became the role of each team to protect its little person – a twisted sort of capture the flag. When the good guys’ little person faced a body slam from the evil Último Guerrero, it was up to the hero Místico to save him.

The evil Ultimo Guerrero attempts to bodyslam his vulnerable target!

Back out on the streets of DF (Mexico City), we donned our new luchador identities (and t-shirts) for a night on the town. We weren’t surprised that many Mexicans we met smiled and told us about their favorite luchador stars. Lucha Libre is a special pride of Mexico – so next time you’re passing through, make sure to catch a match – you might just see LOS GLOBAL GOULETS!!

Next up in the ring... LOS GLOBAL GOULETS!
Next up in the ring… LOS GLOBAL GOULETS!

Check out Lucha Libre’s site here and meet some of the characters we got to see in battle.

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