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Lucha libre
Posted by: HoboSylvain | 2013-12-11 19:42:33 | Cuauhtemoc, The Federal District, Mexico
Keywords: sports
In each country I'll visit, I'll try to attend a few sports events, especially about sports typical to the country. In Mexico, of course there's soccer but I will not see a soccer game in Mexico, keeping it for other countries where there are less alternatives. In the North of Mexico, the baseball is very popular but I since I had just see a game of American baseball in San Diego, I decided to skip. In the Central part of Mexico where I am now, it's mostly about wrestling and corridas. Last Friday, I went to a wrestling event. Here, the wrestling is called 'Lucha Libre' (free wrestling), in opposition to the greco-roman (Olympic) wrestling and all its rules.

In Mexico, Lucha Libre is very popular and it's a mix of sports and entertainment. Of course, it's mostly scripted and the hits are fake... but after watching an event live, I must admit the men are athletes. They perform a mix of theatre, gymnastics competition and stand up comic. The crowd is totally part of the action. When they are resting in their corners, waiting for their turn in tag-team matches, the wrestlers often wave at the crowds, especially those showing up their mask.

Most of the participants wear masks. These are to protect their identity and surround them with a mystery halo. Many fans buy the mask of their favourite performers. Outside the arena before and after the event it's full of vendors offering masks of various qualities... ranging in prices from 20 pesos to over 100 pesos (US$1.50 to US$7.75).

The ultimate insult you can do to a wrestler in the ring (or around it) is to remove his mask. He then hides his face in his hands waiting to get it covered properly again... either with a towel or by a mask thrown in by the crowd. The 'fighters' are very acrobatic and they show their agility as often as they can... often mocking their opponent of course, and getting the crowd's approval, who loves spectacular moves. When the action is low in the ring, the crowd scants 'Beso!, Beso!, Beso!”, meaning “kiss”... as in “If you're not going to fight, kiss you at least!”.

When they have tag-team events... with either 2 or 3 men in each corner... a team has to pin the shoulders of the opposing team two times to win. Each 'fall' is treated like a boxing round. There's a sexy lady who's short outfit is sponsored coming around holding a large sign announcing the next part of the confrontation. At the beginning, the contenders are introduced with music and video... passing through a bunch of sexy lightly dressed ladies.

Although it's a popular 'sport' and has been part of the Mexican life for more than 150 years now, the night I was there it was pretty empty. I'd say the arena was only 25% full. The event is usually recorded for TV (or presented live)... but I guess it's mostly true for the final hour when the stars appear. Because then the staff gathered all the people from the upper ranks down to the rows close to the ring... probably to give the impression it was packed.

The crowd was very diversified! On my side, there were men in suits, coming from the office. There were families with kids, and many couples. The prices are low. I bought the most expensive categories of tickets... and with all the taxes and service fees, I paid 320 pesos (US$25). The walking vendors were also part of the show. Yes, you can find walking vendors for anything from popcorn to tortas, from sweets to pizza, from souvenirs to toys. I bought a pizza... the vendor didn't have the 10 pesos he owned me for change... so he gave me the pizza and returned about 20 minutes later to get paid and give my change! The beer and soft drink vendors also have a special way of operating. Each section of seats has a dedicated vendor. He's basically your friendly bar tender... serving you drinks without you bothering to pay on the spot... as he opens you a tab. Of course you have to pay at the end of the night... and I suspect at the end there are more beers charged than empty bottles, but that's part of Mexico :-)

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