Like just about any traditional Mexican event we’ve attended we had no idea what to expect when we headed to the Lucha Libre match last night (despite the fact I've seen (and groaned through) Nacho Libre.)
We knew the sport was popular, we’ve seen the masks for sale everywhere. But when we arrived at the dusty soccer field at sunset (paid $2.50 for tickets) and saw the ring surrounded by overflowing bleachers, rows of filled plastic chairs and crowds of kids, we started to get an inkling about the deep devotion locals feel for it.
It’s billed as Mexican wrestling, but what it really is, is comic book heroes come to life. It is filled with such high-flying crazy action that you almost expect word bubbles to appear above the fighter’s heads with “Kappooowwww!” or “Zammmmmmm!” accompanying the spectacular moves.
It’s hard to even call the luchadores fighters. Many of the hitting moves are faked, and the sequences of leaps, spins and flips are perfectly choreographed.
This doesn’t take the fun out of it though--these guys are skilled (and for us it really added to the fun—not sure I could stomach real wrestling) The entire crowd supports the good guys, cheering on the técnicos while they try to fight a fair and elegant match against the brawling bad guys, the rudos. But for each technically executed leap or spectacular flip by a técnico, the rudos counter with a rule-bending dirty trick.
The match is spent on the edge of your seat with lots of leaping up to cheer on the winning technicos. It's noisy and chaotic as the crowd chants the name of their heroes and the skilled moves are greeted with rockus music and excited commentary. Then the mood shifts when the rudos’ tricks and nasty moves begin to topple the técnicos. It looks as though evil may prevail over good. The heroes are nearly beaten down by the bad guys, and they end up cowering, injured in the dust, surrounded by concerned children.
The crowd boos and scolds the rudos and cheers on their heroes, who slowly recover (and then sign a few autographs before returning to the ring). The result is pure theatre: Crazy, audience interaction theatre.
The good guys always win.