Not to be confused with WWE wrestling in the US, lucha libre (free fighting) is an extremely popular spectator sport in Mexico that rivals soccer. It has some similarities to American pro-wrestling, but it's the colorful pastime's unique qualities that make it a must see event.If, while strolling down a street in Mexico City, you notice a stand selling a rainbow of flashy masks and the image of a super hero flashes in your mind, you wouldn't be too far off from understanding the cultural significance behind this children's souvenir.
Since the introduction of lucha libre to the Mexican people about 75 years ago, the mascara (mask) has played an important role in the sport's image and meaning. The luchador (wrestler) thrives on the mysterious air the disguise invokes. In fact, should a mask be torn off an opponent during a match, it would be an action akin to taking away one's super powers. This could result in disqualifying the one responsible for the unthinkable act.
Unlike WWE wrestling, lucha libre's biggest following is of its lightweight (ligero) athletes. Their movements are much quicker and more acrobatic than the higher weight class wrestlers. Crowds go wild over a luchador's high-flying techniques, where the wrestler will launch through the air from the ropes or corner post of the ring and try to take out their opponent.
The theatrical, tough-guy gimmicks that the WWE spews on their fans is, refreshingly, not present at a lucha libre match. It is not to say that there isn't a soap opera-esque theme accompanying the event; each competitor represents a good (tecnico) or evil (rudo) persona. The tecnicos may be portrayed as saints or super heroes, while the rudos could be painted as a drug cartel member or the devil.
At the official count of three, will good triumph over evil? Be sure to catch a lucha libre fight during your travels to Mexico and cheer on your favorite luchador with the crowds. Because the capital is an enormous metropolis, a car rental in Mexico City is the most convenient way to see all the sights and attractions.