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The San Diego Union-Tribune

 
Lords of the ring

Lucha Libre is wildly popular in Mexico; some of the pro wrestlers even become national heroes

STAFF WRITER

May 5, 2007

Body slams, leg drops and drop kicks.

This scene might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Mexican culture today on Cinco de Mayo. But Lucha Libre has a special place in the hearts of Mexicans.


CHARLIE NEUMAN / Union-Tribune
Wrestler Dos Caras Jr. (Two Faces Jr.) signs autographs before a match at the Tijuana Auditorium.
Masked wrestlers such as El Santo and Blue Demon were national heroes and cinema icons in the '50s and '60s, battling evil characters, from mad scientists and vampires to ugly monsters and extraterrestrial beings.

The eternal battle of good versus evil continues to thrive in today's cuadriláteros, or wrestling rings, where every imaginable character fights for a small space of the nation's consciousness.

Mexico, after all, is probably the only country in Latin America where Lucha Libre is regularly, and sometimes prominently, covered in the sports sections of newspapers and television programs.

Latinos have imported the passion of Lucha Libre to the United States, inspiring cartoon shows such as “¡Mucha Lucha!” and movies such as “Nacho Libre.” Several wrestlers, including local sensation Rey Mysterio Jr., enjoy plenty of success in the United States.

You don't have to go far to experience some of the best Lucha Libre anywhere.

The Tijuana Auditorium features fights most Fridays, at which entire families enjoy a two-hour show while snacking on Mexican candies and appetizers.

Sometimes you'll see grandparents treating their grandchildren to a fight, or at least that's what they say. Often the older folks are the ones who scream the most at the wrestlers, demanding body presses, power bombs and back-breakers, perhaps reliving their own childhoods when their heroes ruled the land.

WHO'S WHO


CHARLIE NEUMAN / Union-Tribune
Chaos reigns in the ring (above) during a bout.
Wrestlers are divided between rudos, bad guys who break all the rules to win, and técnicos, who represent everything that's good in human nature. There is no middle ground.

The five top técnicos

El Hijo del Santo

Místico

Rey Mysterio Jr.

Volador Jr.

LA Park

The five top rudos

Dr. Wagner Jr.

El Hijo del Perro Aguayo

Ultimo Guerrero

Cibernético

Blue Demon Jr.

Local wrestlers

Súper Astro (Tijuana)

Rey Misterio (Tijuana)

Rey Mysterio Jr. (Chula Vista)

Psicosis (Tijuana)

Konnan (Chula Vista)

El Médico Asesino (San Diego)

Legendary wrestlers

El Santo

Blue Demon

Perro Aguayo

Mil Máscaras

Canek

Rayo de Jalisco

Huracán Ramírez

Where to see the fights live

Most Fridays at the Auditorio Municipal Fausto Gutierrez (Tijuana's municipal auditorium), Blvd. Diaz Ordaz #12421. (It's about a seven-minute drive from the border). Tickets usually start at about $5 but can go up, depending on the fight. The phone number is 011-52-664-681-6174.

Where to see the fights on television

Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Galavisión

Sundays at 9 p.m. on Fox Sports en Español

Online: To see Mexican wrestlers fight it out at the Tijuana Auditorium, go to uniontrib.com/more/luchas

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