I wasn’t sure what to expect – a slightly low budget WWE perhaps – but i’m sure we were in for a good time. The time spent in traffic allowed us to get a history lesson on the sports most famous luchadores as well as the importance of wrestling in Mexican culture.
Lucha libre is generally a faster paced and more acrobatic form of wrestling than it’s North American cousin. The sport was previously just a regional attraction but became a national phenomenon in the early 1900s with the formation of Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (Mexican Wrestling Enterprise) and secured its place in the nations heart with the advent of television. The masks have been part of the sport since the beginning, having a historical connection to masks worn by the Aztecs. All wrestlers start their careers wearing masks but occasionally they are unmasked by opponents, which is seen as the ultimate insult.
We climbed out of the bus on to the pavement beside the Arena where the street was filled with stalls selling beers, food and luchador masks. We didn’t have too long to hang around before we were ushered inside for the main event. The crowd ranged from children, teenagers, families to groups of clearly very drunk women, all pumped and ready for some wrestling action.
Our guide had spent some time trying to convince us that the matches were real and in no way staged but it was clear from the start that this was all about the spectacle. Music blared, the room filled with dry ice and ring girls walked around the crowd. Each wrestler entered to their own music, WWE style, to the either rapturous applause or condemning boos and jeers from the audience. Their elaborate costumes signify if they are a hero or a villian – bright costumes for the good guys and dark outfits for the baddies – and they walked to the stage theatrically beckoning the crowd to cheer.
The fights were a mixed bag of one on one, tag team competitions or all out brawls. It was athletic, spectacular and above all, hilarious. The wrestlers threw themselves around the ring, performing super human feats like back flips, top rope dives and limb-endangering falls to the cheers of the increasingly pumped up crowd who shouted various ‘your mother’ related insults towards the referees. Most matches ended with either the usual pin or some kind of theatrical cheating by one of the contenders when the ref wasn’t looking before the victor would circle the ring high-fiving the audience and posing for photographs.
Then the time came for the main event, Ladies favourite Marco Corleone. The group of drunk ladies in front of us on what can only be a Mexican hen night let out screams that are so high pitched they almost shatter my beer glass. Luckily for us (but not for my ear drums) he’s victorious and the night ends on a high. We wander out of the Arena filled with adrenaline and cheering on Marco along with the Mexico City Locals.
HOW TO SEE LUCHA LIBRE
The simplest way to get to a bout is to book a tour through your hostel (most mexico city hostels will provide this service) or from a tour operator. We took the tour with Hostel Mundo Joven Cathedral and were very pleased with the service. Most tours cost around 250 pesos (£10) which is a lot more than you pay at the arena but ours included transport to and from the Arena, a souvenir mask and as much tequila as we could stomach. If you don’t want to worry about finding your way there, are lazy or don’t want to risk wandering around the neighbourhood by the Arena (some people say it is unsafe) then this is the way to go.
Do it yourself
If you want to do it yourself you will save money. Tickets from the ticket booth at the Arena will set you back 85 Mexican Pesos (£4.25) – do not buy on the street or from the ticket tours as they will be more expensive.
The Mexico city metro is the easiest way to get there and at 3 pesos each way it’s a bargain. Take the blue line from the Zocalo to Pino Suarez on the blue line (or walk it – it’s only a five minute walk) and then take the pink line for 4 stops to Cuauhtemoc.
From Cuauhtemoc it takes about 10 or 15 minutes to walk to the Arena. Check the maps in the metro station to find out where to go.
If you don’t fancy taking the metro back at night time, there are plenty of taxis around, costing up to 50 pesos to get back to the Zocalo.
We thought This one one of our highlights of Mexico City – What do you think? If you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.