On the heels of WrestleMania 30, essentially the Super Bowl of WWE, it feels like just the right time to take a peak into the colorful world of Mexican professional wrestling. Spoofed in the Jack Black comedy Nacho Libre, Lucha Libre, which means “free wrestling” in Spanish, is one of the most popular sports in Mexico.
Now, before anyone starts getting all huffy about it, recognizing wrestling as a sport and appreciating it for its spectacle does not mean anyone is saying it’s “real.” Wrestling fans have to deal with a constant echo of strangely angry people parroting the same thing at them on a regular basis—“It’s all fake!”
Why should enjoying, or even simply respecting, the sport hinge on whether or not the action is scripted. The story lines in professional wrestling may be scripted, but the athleticism of the athletes and the dramatic atmosphere is very real.
In Mexico there are two very different worlds of Lucha Libre. There are the elaborate shows that take place in massive arenas in the country’s largest urban areas. Although they don’t look that much like a WWE show, they are of the same scale.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Mexican street wrestling. There is a high demand for wrestling events in the country, but a large percentage of the impoverished population is unable to afford the cost of a ticket to a professional show. That’s created a secondary market for traveling backyard events, where wrestlers on Mexico City's underground circuit for the crowds.
So let’s take a look inside the world of Lucha Libre and Mexican street wrestling.