Lucha Libre Mania: The Thrilling World of Mexican Wrestling

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The fighting game that started in Mexico, in the 19th century, is more than just a mere wrestling. Translated as a “struggle or a fight”, Lucha Libre is a freestyle wrestling that involves a lot of acrobatics and high-flying kicks. What makes this wrestling unique is every participant wears a mask. The Luchadores or wrestlers are highly adored and it has become more like a ritual that a wrestling match is scheduled every week on Sundays.

The Wrestling For Everyone

Lucha Libre is so popular that every age group can easily enjoy it. The reason why it was introduced to children is through the luchador Hebert Alejandro Palafox Montiel. Youngsters and children are his fans for introducing them to the world of Lucha Libre. Titled Súper Muñeco or Super Doll, he would act as a clown with stars painted on his eyes and a face painted golden with a red nose. [1] Though gentle, he won many matches and his contribution to the sport through his unique persona won many hearts, mainly of kids.

History of Lucha Libre

The masks of Lucha Libre wrestling

The game that became popular in Mexico was initiated by Enrique Ugartechea in 1893, though it was not until 1933 that it gained fame as a sport regionally.[2] The Greco-Roman style of Lucha Libre soon became a cultural sport, but the wrestlers’ masks redefined the wrestling. This symbol of fearlessness transforms a simple person into a powerful individual willing to fight. These masks are not for fun, the designs are well adapted from the cultural, religious, and traditional notions of the individual luchador.

Though Lucha Libre was an ancient sport in Mexico, the sport gained fame in the late 1950s because of the invention of television and a wrestler named El Santo who served the sport for full 5 decades.

The Luchadores: Heroes and Villains

The evil grin of the rudo lucha libre

Every sport has a certain cultural significance and hidden meaning attached to it, Lucha Libre is no different. The concept of good and evil in wrestling is always apparent.

One of the two wrestlers has to be either “Ticino”-the good guy or the “Rudo”-the bad guy. The good guy goes by the book, follows all the rules, and mesmerizes the audience with his complex high kicks and moves. In contrast, the bad guy, or Rudo believes in breaking the rules and focusing on winning, irrespective of the means he takes during the fight, he even tries and taunts the Ticino to try and discourage him with words. [3]

Famous Luchadores and Their Colorful Personas

Luchador and their mask identity

Lucha Libre made its mark not just by wrestling but also by the attires and masks most luchadors wore. Their colorful dresses define their personality while their impressive moves during the fight captivate the audience and make them want to watch more of action. Some great luchadors who rule over the hearts of their many fans are listed below

Super Calo

The man who was amazing at whatever he did during his time in the ring. Super Calo enchanted the audience by effortlessly flying in and out of the ring, focused solely on victory. His daring moves would often scare people that he would injure himself in the process but he was always fearless as was boldly written on his ring dress. He bravely fought with Psicosis, Rey Mysterio, and Konnan as a luchador.

La  Parka

The steel chairman of the WCW Cruiserweight division, La Parka became part of the WCW community in 1996. His steel chair, robot-kind walk, and strutting make La Park different from the rest. Despite not winning any championship, he robbed the hearts of many people for having an aura and a rather funny style. 

Ciclope

The luchador known for his wild and wacky attire was Ciclope. His colorful outfits caught everyone’s attention. His popularity in the deathmatch genre earned him international acclaim. His deathmatch innovations are famous worldwide and are even featured in Japan and the USA through Game Changer Wrestling. Mas Lucha supported his Lucha Libre Vanguardia. Ciclope was a highly popular and in-demand star for Destrucción Total Ultraviolento promotion.

Psicosis

He was a prominent figure in WCW’s Cruiserweight Division from 1996 to 2000. While his traditional lucha libre-inspired costumes brought him into the spotlight, it was his intense rivalry with Rey Mysterio during their time in ECW that truly contributed to his fame.

Other renowned names in the world of Lucha Libre who have made history and continue to be respected for their wrestling accomplishments include Los Villanos, Juventud Guerrera, Chavo Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio.

Lucha Libre Techniques and Moves

The game is not just about fun and entertainment but a lot of action in the ring is observed only because the wrestlers hone the skills to gain an audience and to keep everyone on their toes during the matches.

High-flying Acrobatics and Aerial Maneuvers

The game is more than fighting your opponent, now one sees tons of action in the ring from high-flying acrobatics to flying kicks, lucha libre is now more acrobatics than wrestling.

During its early days, flying high was not a norm, in fact, men would fight on the mat, keeping each other grounded in it to win the fight. But once the high-flying moves became famous, Lucha Libre is all about high-flying acrobatics. Now lucha libre is more than wrestling a game involving Mexican acrobats, extreme lucha rivalries, and Japanese cruiserweights.

Signature Moves and their Unique Names.

Every luchador has his own unique moves and persona, the game is more about entertaining the audiences than a fighting sport, the people focus on how each wrestler carries himself and the design, kind of his mask and attire, and his signature moves. Listed below in the table are some unique maneuvers and actions of luchadors that are unique to Lucha Libre. [4]

The Signature Move

How is it performed?

Hurricanrana

A Hurricanrana is a high-flying professional wrestling move in which one wrestler flips their opponent by wrapping their legs around their neck. Named after Hurican Ramirez who started it.

West Coast Pop

Wrestler jumps from the rope onto the opponent, flipping him with the strength of the legs. Commonly used by Rey Mysterio

Tope Suicida

This move requires diving out of the ring on the opponent, with full force

Tope Con Hilo

Flipping while diving out of the ring is named Tope Con Hilo.

Pescado

Flying out of the ring, over the head of the opponent, and making him fall to the ground.

La Magistral Cradle

pinning maneuver where a wrestler rolls up their opponent, hooking one of their legs, and uses leverage to attempt to secure a quick pinfall victory.

Lucha Libre and Pop Culture.

It is no surprise that the popularity of lucha libre inspired many media productions. The fighting game had all the potential to grab attention, therefore, it was a famous action genre for Pop culture. The inspiration was initiated in 1952 by a comic book made by Jose G Cruz. Starring El Santo, the comic book was all about a superhero fighting the world of all the evils and monsters. The comic book ruled the fans for almost 35 years, but that’s not the only example of Lucha Libre in pop culture

Lucha Libre’s Influence on Movies, TV Shows, and Comic Books

Why wouldn’t anyone want to cash in on the popularity of Lucha Libre, its growing popularity with the invention of television made Hollywood realize that they had a potential genre to explore. While the El Santo comic book was earning big, the man started testing the waters for movies. Though his first movie in 1958, El Incognito, did not earn many fans, “Santo vs The Zombies”, made in 1961 earned him all the fame that he deserved. His other hits were Mummies of Guanajuato, the best Lucha Libre movie with a star cast being Mil Mascaras and Blue Demon. Other hits of Hollywood regarding Lucha Libre as the theme are Nacho Libre(inspired by the life of luchador Fray Tormento) and “Mascaras vs Aztec Mummy”. [5]

Crossover Events and Luchadores in Other Forms of Media.  

Man inspired by luchador and their masks.

The wrestling sport with all its drama, vibrant attires, the wacky personas of the wrestlers, and masks makes Lucha Libre a Culture. From artists to wrestlers, performers to musicians, everyone feels connected to it in one way or the other. Its popularity on YouTube and tv has even inspired other forms of media sources to explore Lucha Libre from a business perspective, the reason why Netflix is trying to introduce Mexican wrestling to the mobile and tv screens of its international audience. 

Netflix and Lucha Libre

If you are interested in experiencing the Lucha Libre culture, you would love to watch “Lucha Underground” , a TV series worth a watch. If the series is not your thing, go for Lucha Mexico, a documentary to learn about the most talented luchadors, or “ Tales of Masked Men” to dive deeper into this ancient cultural sport of Mexico. These documentaries are not only about fighting but give an insight into the lives of the luchadors too.

To all the die heart fans of the sport, Lucha Libre Expo is a must event to experience. From there you can interact directly with your favorite luchadors, get your hands on the collectibles and enjoy the matches.[6]

Lucha Libre as a Symbol of Mexican Identity in the Global Context

The poster of Lucha Libre

Wrestling is a popular sport, but for Mexicans, Lucha Libre represents more than just athletics; it embodies a cultural identity. Its roots trace back to 1933 with the founding of Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) by Salvador Lutteroth. While Lutteroth was indeed inspired by wrestling he witnessed in Texas, Lucha Libre itself has deeper historical origins within Mexican wrestling and circus performance traditions. Over time, it gained prominence and became uniquely Mexican. The use of intricately designed masks in matches is one of the distinctive elements that contribute to Lucha Libre’s Mexican identity.

The Future of Lucha Libre

Though the sport is famous to the international audience, in Mexico, it is losing its charm for one thing, most of the luchadors have left for countries like Japan and USA for better career prospects and income. Further games like football, boxing, and baseball are gaining momentum among young audiences, dampening the popularity of this ancient professional racing.

Modern Developments and Innovations in Lucha Libre

The sport has surpassed being a sport only, now it has become a form of entertainment for many. From bringing in cool merchandise to introducing innovative equipment, Lucha Libre has come a long way to make its mark. The sport has introduced many innovative merchandises such as Mexican Wrestling Sacks which are eco-friendly, and Arm-Wrestling Equalizer to avoid cheating. [7]

Conclusion

Lucha Libre might not be as popular as it used to be but the cultural identity that it made for Mexico cannot be ignored. From traditional attires to beautifully designed masks, Lucha Libre let artists, performers, and wrestlers make their own name.

References

[1] Nast, C. (2022, March 15). A Lucha libre wrestler beloved by children. The New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/news/afterword/a-lucha-libre-wrestler-beloved-by-children

[2] The marvel of Mexican wrestling: A brief history. (2021, July 27). The Daily Iowan. https://dailyiowan.com/2021/07/27/the-marvel-of-mexican-wrestling-a-brief-history

[3] Good versus evil in Max’s Lucha libre adventures series (2011–2020) by Xavier Garza. (n.d.). SpringerLink. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-030-76055-7_14

[4] WWE. (2016, May 5). What you need to know about lucha libre moves – What you need to know… YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tXFwocRjWbM

[5] Lucha libre wrestling in movies, music, and beyond. (2015, September 16). Dallas Morning News Interactives. https://interactives.dallasnews.com/2015/lucha-libre-dallas/culture.html

[6] Lucha libre expo brings international stars to San Diego wrestling fans. (2019, August 18). San Diego Union-Tribune. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/story/2019-08-18/lucha-libre-expo-brings-international-stars-to-san-diego-wrestling-fans

[7] Randles, B. G. (2009, October 12). 33 wrestling innovations. TrendHunter.com. https://www.trendhunter.com/slideshow/mexican-wrestling

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