Lucha Libre: A Look at the Best International Wrestling Style of All Time

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Lucha Libre: A Look at the Best International Wrestling Style of All Time

Jacob Waring vs Chris Mueller
Black Division
Topic: Best International Pro-Wrestling Style of All Time

When I was asked to pick the best International Wrestling style for the CvC competition, it really came down to two. Japanese Strong Style, known as Puroresu, or Lucha Libre.

I took into account who I liked from both disciplines, and which style translated best across all borders. I realized that Lucha Libre is the superior style for many different reasons.

Lucha Libre style wrestling is what of many of the people who cater to all fans of wrestling use. The fans in the US are familiar with names like Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero and more recently Sin Cara and Alberto Del Rio, but there are so many more who are equally as talented.

Paul Heyman is often credited with bringing Lucha Libre wrestling to the American television audience when he began to feature some of the young high flyers on his ECW broadcasts, but it was the early years of WCW Nitro that put Cruiserweight and Lucha Libre wrestling to the forefront.

At one point WCW employed over 15 Lucha Libre stars from Mexico, not to mention several stars from Japan and the US who had adopted the style as well.

WOW is all I can say

 

Fond memories of the matches between Juventud Guerrera and Rey Mysterio still loom in the back of the minds of fans who grew up during that era.

Ultimo Dragon was a Japanese wrestler who had brought many Lucha Libre style moves into his arsenal, and he is arguably one of the most successful Japanese wrestlers of all time having held, I believe the count was at 9 championships at once, though the picture I used shows 10. Granted several were won at once in a tournament all at one time.

Lucha Libre is characterized by two things, quick holds and transitions that happen on the ground and standing position, as well as high flying moves performed from the top rope, tables or even ladders and cages.

The short lived promotion on MTV called Wrestling Society X featured several wrestlers using the lucha style including Homicide and current WWE star Evan Bourne.

America has had exposure to some great Lucha Libre matches and stars, but Mexico is the place to find the best Lucha Libre style wrestling in the world.

Down there wearing a mask is still highly common, if not expected among today's stars. Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara got to keep their masks in WWE, but Alberto Del Rio was not so lucky.

Many Lucha Libre matches are actually fought over masks, with the loser having to lose theirs and never wear it again.

I have to mention the moment in WCW where all the wrestlers who wore masks were told not to wear them anymore and how insane that was.

Today's top promotions in Mexico are CMLL and AAA. CMLL stands for Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, but some people still call it EMLL after it's original name. AAA stands for Asistencia Asesoría y Administración, which oddly enough translates to Assistance, Consulting and Administration.

AAA is arguably the more well-known brand internationally, having set up working relationships with TNA and New Japan. They also have a reputation for having some more hardcore style matches than other Mexican promotions.

The current AAA champion is Jeff Jarrett, which was done to promote the relationship between the two brands, but he is not the top representative for AAA. El Zorro is one of their top stars, who has been rumored to have had talks with WWE for some time about coming aboard.

Some of the matches from AAA are amazing, and the American audience doesn't have many sources other than YouTube to feature this action.

Rey loses the mask

 

If WWE ever gets their own cable network I think they should license and show AAA shows with new commentary as a choice for the English-speaking viewers, with the Spanish option still being available for the Spanish speaking viewers.

Many of WCW's top Cruiserweights during their height of popularity came from AAA including Mysterio, Psicosis, La Parka and Juventud. Some of them started wrestling in Mexico as young as 14.

A common misconception about Lucha Libre is that it is all huracanranas and moonsault type moves, and that is just not true. Lucha Libre also utilizes holds, submissions, transitions and strikes. Some of the best wrestlers like Eddie Guerrero learned their mat skills from Lucha Style wrestling.

The high flying moves are not without their merit though as they can make for some of the most exciting matches. We probably wouldn't have guys like The Motor City Machine Guns and The Hardy's had smaller wrestlers not excelled in Mexico for their ability to soar from the top turnbuckle and perform a move so amazing it seems impossible.

The essential moves all Lucha Stars need to know are the Moonsault, Huracanrana, head scissor takedown and the springboard splash. These moves can all be varied in ways to make new and original moves.

 

Moonsaults alone have been given so many alterations over the years that a simple moonsault is almost not even a special move anymore. There are guys doing Shooting Star Presses, 450's, Phoenix Splashes and corkscrew moonsaults over the place.

Some guys like AJ Styles have made them look so easy, but these are indeed some of the most dangerous moves for both the person doing them and the person on the ground.

Chavo Guerrero suffered a concussion when Kidman landed a Shooting Star wrong and hit Chavo's head with his knee. This could have ended Chavo's career.

It takes years of training to learn this style, and decades to perfect it. Many of the young stars today have been wrestling in gyms and backyards since their pre-teen years.

 

There was a time in the United States when a moonsault was viewed as crazy because our stars were used to wrestling on the mat and in the ropes, not on top of them.

Now we almost expect the small guys to pull off moves that take our breath away, and unfortunately when someone doesn't do that they are often labeled as useless by some fans.

A tribute to Lucha Libre (I did not make this)

Guys like Jamie Noble and Chavo Guerrero, who didn't need to go to the top rope all the time, were often viewed as inferior than guys like Rey Mysterio, despite having just as good of skills in the ring.

 

AAA is the place to go if you want to see great high flying and mat based wrestling. But CMLL has also produced its fair share of stars.

Recent WWE hires Sin Cara and Alberto Del Rio both came from CMLL. Cara actually had a big press conference with WWE and CMLL when he made his move because he was such a big star there. He basically had to start over with the majority of the US audience because many had not heard of him before.

CMLL shows are broadcast in US on LATV, which is a Spanish station in some markets, but their reach is limited so I recommend anyone interested in their programming just go to YouTube and type in CMLL or AAA Wrestling and see what you find.

There are plenty of wrestlers out there who are amazing who have no Lucha experience, and I am not saying it is essential to everyone's success, but seeing it is one of the most entertaining and fun things you will ever experience.

I encourage you to go to YouTube and look up CMLL matches and AAA matches. I found a lot of cool things while researching for this article.

Please remember to come back and vote for the CvC competition and as always thanks for reading and share your thoughts below.

 Check out my CvC opponent Jacob Waring's article here Puroresu

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