One of the reasons I stuck around Guadalajara for so long, besides the excellent Tequila Hostel was for Tuesday night Lucha Libre or, free wrestling. Knowing that drinks would be expensive at the event, a few of us from the hostel went out and picked up 8×1.2L bottles of Corona and Victoria beer to help set the mood for the night ahead. Which it did. Between beer pong and the Tequila Tour guide coming back from tour with a bunch of tequila to share around, there was definitely a buzz within the group when it was time to go to the stadium.
The stadium was divided into an upper and ground level with our upper level tickets costing only $6 for the night. The upper level was almost entirely concrete and not a plastic chair in sight with everyone standing and cheering down at the crowd below. Our group managed to sneak into the front row, where instead of the usual concrete or glass barriers to prevent people from falling below, a barb wire fence stood firmly in place to hold everyone back. Having all but a few words in my current Spanish vocabulary, it took until I asked some of the group for me to understand what the back and forth between the ground and upper level crowd was all about.
The crowd, it seemed, were more interested in yelling at each other than they were in watching the matches themselves. It seemed that whichever level of the stadium you were in for the night, that was your team, the crowd above or below you was your enemy. Interestingly, it didn’t feel aggressive at all and the crowd nonchalantly swapped between claiming that their mothers were our bitches and trying to pressure random members of the crowd to kiss. Funnier still, was that any guy who was sneaky/clever enough to signal the crowd to chant for him to kiss a nearby girl often paid off for him. The atmosphere was electric and even if you weren’t into the wrestling you could still have fun joining in the camaraderie of the floor, chanting along with everyone else.
The matches themselves were great to watch. Colourful masked men of all different shapes and sizes (there was even a little man in a chicken costume) took to the ring to wrestle and put on a great show. Some of the stunts were amazing and included synchronized launching and somersaulting off of the ropes and landing on the two fighters below, knocking them to the ground. Even though it’s no MMA, the skill involved to be able to pull maneuvers like that off and not (seriously) hurt each other amazed me. I never could quite understand why people still watched wrestling when there were huge MMA events and organizations like the UFC around. After being apart of the atmosphere of the crowd and seeing the skill involved, it makes a bit more sense to me now.
The crowds chanting and abuse continued on even outside of the stadium with people forming distinct groups and abusing each others with huge smiles on their faces. When I tried to take a photo I instantly faced about 20 hands pointed directly at me as they crowd yelled something at me. I later found out that I was being called Shaggy from Scooby Doo, amongst other, less desirable things. Surrounding the crowd and lining the streets were no less than 20 state police trucks and their occupants, dressed as if they were going to war. So perhaps the Tuesday night wrestling isn’t always taken as light heartedly as it was the night we went if such precautions are warranted. Either way it was a great night and something anyone traveling in Mexico should see.