Anyone who has been reading my stuff or following me on Twitter knows that I’m fond of Mexican wrestling. It hits the sweet spot between kitsch and real, folkloric, theatrical performance. I mean, I even loved Nacho Libre.*
The gods of travel scheduling were smiling upon Peter and me, because we happened to be in the city of Puebla on a Monday night, when the weekly lucha action goes down. And it was easy walking distance from our hotel.
Still, we almost didn’t go. We had eaten a very large dinner (surprise, surprise) and were feeling vaguely sunburnt and jet-lagged. Plus, Puebla is 7,217 feet above sea level. I tweeted this pitiful thing:
Fortunately, Rebecca of All About Puebla saw my public near-wimp-out and urged me to go. “It’s so bad, it’s good,” she advised. She didn’t need to explain the appeal to me.
Start time is 9pm, and we rolled up to the Puebla Arena about 9.30–there was a big mob of people, because we were in line for the cheap seats. It was a huge all-ages crowd: families with tiny kids (one baby freaked when her dad put on a wrestling mask; hadn’t learned object permanence yet, obviously), old folks, couples on dates.
Inside, the arena was medium-size, and slanted very steeply–even four rows from the back, we still had a great view, without the risk of a wrestler actually landing on us. Food and beer vendors threaded through the crowd. One was carrying a huge basket of steamed shrimp, which seems like the most unlikely coliseum snack ever. But people were buying.
I briefly tried to see where we were in the program, and deduce which luchadores we were dealing with.
That was silly. It didn’t matter. Every match was pure mayhem. There was an old-fashioned bad guy, a man with a huge belly and skinny legs and the old-style skinny-strap unitard, and some new-fangled baddies, all with gnarly-looking black-and-red costumes. Several wrestlers’ masks had mohawks on top. The biggest crowd-pleaser was campy-sweet Maximo, who didn’t wear a mask but did wear pink spangly pants and a blond fauxhawk. He disarmed one opponent by kissing him. Maximo even signed autographs for kids in between matches, which the bad guys didn’t.
Here’s a typical move:
(My first animated GIF! I’m so proud.)
After about an hour or so, the show was over, rather suddenly. We were caught a little off guard. We all filed out, past the detritus of the evening.
Peter said he liked the one we saw in Queens better. Which was, admittedly, more dramatic, and had midget wrestlers and child wrestlers, and a bad guy called La Migra. It lasted for hours.
But here in Puebla, this goes down every week. I realized we’d walked in to one episode of an ongoing soap opera–a tag-team telenovela, I suppose. We left on a cliffhanger. Maximo was up…for now.
Tune in next Monday at the Puebla Arena for more thrilling adventures…
*In Mexico, Nacho Libre totally “counts” as a real Mexican wrestler. You can buy Nacho Libre masks!