What’s an American to do on his first Friday night in Mexico City, eat tacos and down Mezcal?? Well, of course that too, but I decided to go the quirkier route and go see a Lucha Libre Wrestling Match!
My knowledge and understanding of Lucha Libre go back to the Jack Black film, “Nacho Libre”, which dryly pokes fun at men in colorful masks flying around the ring like trapeze artists. But would the real thing be like what I heard about in movies? It was time to find out.
Thanks to a weekly couchsurfing meetup, I was able to join a group of tourists to experience Lucha Libre first-hand.
Lucha Libre takes place every Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Arena Mexico. It is not far from the City Center. I came from Condesa and it was only a 60 pesos ($3 dollar) uber ride. If you’d like to take the metro get off at the Cuauhtemoc subway station and walk a few blocks. The Friday night show starts at 8:30 PM, but the times vary based on the date.
Purchasing a Ticket:
You can buy tickets online at Ticketmaster in Mexico, but honestly if you don’t have a Mexican Credit Card I am not sure how easy that would be.
The group I was with found street sellers, and got the price down to 40 pesos ($2) per person. This was for general admission upper bowl seating with bleachers. All-in-all a great price for an over two hour experience.
I would recommend not bringing your camera, they will pat you down and make you store it before entering. As a result, my photos inside were only from the Iphone 6s.
Upon bypassing security, I found what looks like something out of Tim Burton’s, “Nightmare Before Christmas” in a boxing ring. No doubt the Dia De Los Muertos (day of the dead) festivities were in full bloom.
I walked up a few flights of stairs and found myself in the upper bowl with a birds-eye view of the action. Many will prefer the higher angle to enjoy both the entertainment in and out of the ring.
What would Lucha Libre be without some Cerveza! There are plenty of vendors waiting with your choice of Victoria or Corona (I prefer Victoria). One beer costs 40 pesos ($2) or they can pour a double into your cup for 80 pesos ($4). They were low on Victoria so I settled on a single beer to start.
I found out this was a special Lucha Libre. It took place on Friday November 3rd, right at the end of the Dia De Los Muertos festivities. As a result, many of the wrestlers, dancers, and the arena itself looked as if it was a colorful graveyard. Think Michael Jackson’s thriller video with a Mexican twist.
Between each wrestling match you would see colorful performances that really highlighted this Mexican Tradition. It seemed like a new spooky dance number after every round.
As you can see in the video, the wrestling is high-flying and acrobatic. The crowd really gets into it with air horns blasting during the match. It had that Latin-American soccer energy that really gets the place going (even if the outcome is already pre-determined).
I think what was both good and bad, was that at times you’d have upwards of 8 wrestlers in the ring. This made for simultaneous fighting, but was also confusing. Is the blue mask guy going against the white? Or have they just formed a sudden alliance? Friendship seems to be a tricky concept to maintain once you’re in the ring!
A cool twist to the fighting were these skeleton-masked men hovering around the ring. If a wrestler was pinned and counted out they were dragged away by these “demonic” characters. The best comparison I could come up with, was in Ghost when the bad guys died and these dark shadowy figures would quickly scoop them up.
For the WWE fans out there, think Battle Royale but instead of being tossed out of the ring you are pinned out. It goes on until there is just one man standing.
After 2.5 hours they finally got to the main event. With just two wrestlers entering to their own
entrance music and raving applause from the crowd. The match in typical WWE fashion, saw one wrestler taking a firm beating then out of nowhere come back to life to stun his opponent with a pin. One man was de-masked, and victory was granted! Of course a belt was given to the winner.
As an at best “casual wrestling fan”, I found a trip to Lucha Libre worth the price of admission (a mere $2 dollars). It was over-the-top and slap-stick at times, but that’s what the crowd and fans want to see. The wrestlers were smaller than WWE ones but just as acrobatic and able to do a lot of the moves fans back in the U.S. enjoy (suplex, close-line, piledriver, etc).
After two hours or so I felt that I had seen enough, but hardcore wrestling fans will enjoy every minute of it. If your in Mexico City even for a couple of days make your way to Arena Mexico and check out what Lucha Libre is all about!
Do you think you would go to Lucha Libre in Mexico City, or have you already? Let me know your thoughts of this unique form of wrestling in the comments below.