Introduction to lucha libre
Lucha libre, or free fights, started in Mexico in the mid 1800s, derived from Greco-Roman wrestling. The first masked luchador stepped into the ring in 1942 (El Santo), and his mystique captivated the public interest so much that the masked form we know today became the standard.
The fights are characterized by flamboyant masks and capes, acrobatic and gymnastic maneuvers, and the high energy acted performances by both wrestlers and referees.
The masks are almost considered sacred, and removing a mask during a fight is immediate grounds for disqualification. During especially heated rivalries, sometime the wrestlers bet either their masks or hair on the line, with the winner removing the hair or mask from the loser upon a loss (this is called lucha apuesta, or betting match).
Contrary to public perception, not all wrestlers wear masks. Wrestlers are referred to as luchadors or luchadoras in the case of women. Tag team wrestling is common, and most matches consist of teams of three fighting each other.
The fights are choreographed and performed similar to wrestling in the United States, not “real” fights like boxing or MMA. The characters are generally divided by rudos, or bad guys/tough guys, and tecnicos, literally “technicians” (the good guys).
The main wrestling league is CMLL, or Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre. The sport is incredibly popular, and is the 4th most popular sport in the country after football.
Recommended Venue: Arena Mexico
Arena Mexico in Mexico City runs shows every Tuesday Friday, and Sunday. The Friday shows are the big ones, and I definitely recommend seeing one of those if this is your first time.
How to get tickets
You can buy tickets for Arena Mexico shows at various ticket stands around the city, or at the Arena itself a few hours (or a few minutes) before. Look for the stand that says taquillas, or tickets.
You can also buy tickets on Ticketmaster, or at Ticketmaster booths around the city.
Tickets shouldn’t run you more than $20 USD for great seats unless there is some kind of special event, and considerably less if you sit further back. You won’t get front row seats unless you book at least a week in advance.
Avoid scalpers, as they usually overcharge and there are usually still tickets for sale at the main arena window.
How to get there
Arena Mexico is located near the Cuauhtemoc metro stop in the Colonia Doctores neighborhood.
After you have your tickets, head into the stadium.
If you want to see the whole show, make sure to show up about 20 minutes early, but it’s okay to show up a little later as the skill level of the wrestlers generally progresses as the night goes on. The headliners always go last, so no need to rush to be there right at the start of the event.
Good to know
Cameras larger than a smartphone have to be checked in upfront, make sure to keep your ticket so you can get your camera back after the match! Better yet, just leave it wherever you are staying until you get back.
If you’re in the market for a glittery mask, cape, or t-shirt, there are plenty of street stalls that magically appear after the match. The masks, or mascaras make great gifts for children!
Post contains affiliate links.