Welcome to the most ridiculous, silly and fun evening of entertainment you can find in Mexico City: Lucha Libre. This is the Mexican Wrestling league and three or four times each week you can settle in to the arena with a few hundred other fans (bigger crowds on the weekends; our visit on a Tuesday was rather quiet) and watch the show. And have no doubts: it is a spectacle.
The performance lasts a couple hours, with several matches occurring through the evening. The earlier bouts are less coordinated and practiced than the later ones, so much so that I believe my cousins and I put on comparable or better performances 25 years ago during our WWF (now WWE) wannabe days. But as the night wore on and the beer soaked in the quality of the performers increased. The last couple matches were nicely staged, even if still completely a joke.
Yes, it is entirely staged. There is nothing real about the “fight” part of the matches. Each fighter’s entry to the ring was a performance set to music with a highlight reel running in the background. That’s normal enough, I suppose, though still a spectacle. During the actual matches we could see them coordinating their moves and planning the next combinations while in the ring. Slightly less impressive there.
But the athleticism these guys demonstrate is tremendous. Leaping, bouncing, throwing and acting are all critical aspects to success for a Lucha Libre competitor. Truly, it was the style and panache some of the more developed fighters demonstrated which made the night special.
The “East v West” match between the three Japanese and three Mexican wrestlers, for example, was a tribute to stereotypes but also one of the better choreographed sets of the night. One of the wrestlers showed up with a sidekick, a kid maybe 8-10 years old who got in on the action every now and then.
And the featured bout, the “Duelo Super Estelar de Colosos” was a three on three scene featuring a former WWE wrestler, the stereotypical gay man (his shtick involves kissing the loser on the lips if he wins the match) and others in a bizarre ballet of moves that is hard to describe, though I did capture the final minute of one of the rounds on video in hopes of sharing the feeling.
Getting your Lucha Libre tickets
As for the event itself, we went the DIY approach rather than via a tour and it was completely easy and what I would recommend for others. The stadium is a couple blocks from the Cuauhtémoc Metro station in Mexico City. We purchased our tickets at the window of the arena which led to some minor communication challenges as my Spanish is pretty awful but we eventually got the seats we wanted. You can also buy from Ticketmaster though I do not fully understand the pickup process for the tickets. My limited research suggests that there are Ticketmaster outlets around town where you can go to collect them on the day prior to the event. We paid the convenience fee buying at the window so no savings by going that route. Also worth noting that the ticket prices can vary by as much as 3x for peak night performances versus mid-week. If you are truly having trouble figuring out buying the tickets or you’ve got a weekend match where they are more expensive then the package deal might be worthwhile.
When picking seats – assuming you’re buying in advance and have a choice – there are other considerations beyond just the price. We chose first row on the corner of the ring which gave us unobstructed views for the most part. But we were also on the back side of the action in the ring. Still plenty to see but there’s more on the other side. There are also seats alongside the entry platform which offer the ability to get close to the wrestlers as they enter the arena. The bad news is that those seats seem to always be sold out on the Ticketmaster maps so I’m not sure you can really get them, but the corner seats we got were pretty good.
Inside the arena there are snacks available including popcorn, mini Dominos pizzas and tortas. None of it was very good the night we were there so I’d recommend a snack before and taco stands after to make sure you’re well nourished. There are also beer vendors and plenty of souvenir options available to take home from the show. You will be frisked when entering and they are strict about not allowing cameras into the arena, though a mobile phone is acceptable and is what I used to grab the scenes here.
Bring small bills or coins (5/10/20 pesos) to tip the ushers and a hundred or two for beers and snacks along the way. Our all-in price for two (including tacos in the neighborhood after) was around 500-600 MXN (~$30 USD) including the most expensive tickets we could get that night. A tremendous value for the entertainment enjoyed.
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Ole Lucha Libre, really?
Ole is used in Spain
Lucha Libre is from Mexico
No connection whatsoever, never used in the same sentence…
While the term “olé” originated in southern Spain as a shout of approval for excellent performance (kind of like “bravo, bravo”), its use has spread outside the Spain and bullfight contexts.
In my opinion, the use here is simply saying “Great show, lucha libre.” It isn’t an authentic Mexican way of putting it, but simply Seth’s personal reaction, and as such seems fine to me.
Interesting piece. Maybe I’ll need to check out the show next time I’m in Mexico City.
It is absolutely not an authentic Mexican Spanish statement (which I now know) but I barely speak Spanish at all so I’m willing to accept that criticism and defer it as appropriate. I’ve been rather public about the fact that languages are hard for me and have skewed my travel experiences. I can get by on a menu in a few languages and in Spanish I have the benefit of a few years’ worth of Sesame Street and a semester of middle school Spanish 1 class. And what I’ve picked up on the streets of NYC and in my travels, most of which have been to Europe, not Latin America when it comes to Spanish.
Did I use the words wrong? It seems so. I’m not all that worried about it, though. It made the point I was aiming for and I’m cool with that.
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