Lucha Libre Is Truly Free Fighting
Mascara Sagrada flies off the ropes and body slams El Rayo de Jalisco. The crowd goes into a frenzy. Okay. Tell the truth. How often have you visited another culture and gone to a professional wrestling match? Have you ever considered bringing a wrestling mask home as a souvenir or unique gift? For an adrenaline-pumping, raucous good time, join the 16,000 screaming fans at the Arena México or attend the lucha libre fights at the smaller Arena Coliseo where you can get closer to the action. Fans cheer for the técnicos (good guys) and boo against the evil rudos. For between $10 and $30 depending on the venue and your seat, you can drink cheap beer, cheer your brains out, and really get into it.
Lucha Libre (literally “free fight”) in Mexico is as hokey as most professional wrestling. The rudos usually dress in black, the “rules” are ignored, luchadores are thrown from the ring—as may be the referee—fighting may continue outside the ring, and chairs or anything else at hand may come into play. On a good night you might even see several luchadores come out of the audience to mix it up. Fans scream profanities at the luchadores, who scream back at the fans; the fans scream at the referees, the wrestlers scream at the referees, and everyone gets his or her adrenaline revved up. Luchadoras (female wrestlers) make the program complete on specific evenings. The best part is the fans in their costumes (think American football games), who even bring bicycle pumps to use with their air horns.
Supposedly, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE, formerly known as the WWF, World Wrestling Federation) got its inspiration from the lucha libre. Remember the fearsome Masked Marvel? In Mexico many of the luchadores (wrestlers) wear masks that are traced to the Aztecs and Mayans. You can buy a copy to take home for under $15. The mask keeps the identity of the luchadore secret and is never taken off in the ring. Many of the luchadores only go out in public wearing their masks, and many continue to do so even after they’ve retired. It’s been reported that the great luchadore, El Santo, who appeared in movies as well as the ring, was buried in his silver mask. Taking a mask off during a match can result in disqualification and having a mask ripped off by an opponent is the “ultimate” disgrace.
Mexico City is huge and crowded with almost every imaginable activity to keep the visitor occupied. Horse racing and horseback riding are close by, as are cycling, scuba diving, and snorkeling.
Tours: Mexican Fiesta Tours (www.mxfiestatour.com).
When to Go: Tues, Fri, and Sat nights.
Benito Juárez International Airport.
$$ Presidente Intercontinental, Campos Eliseos 218, Col. Polanco; 800/424-6835 in the U.S. or 55/5327-7700; www.ichotelsgroup.com). $$ Condesadf, Av. Veracruz 102, Col. Condesa ( 800/337-4685 in the U.S. or 55/5241-2600; www.condesadf.com).