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The Monday Night Fights: Las Luchas in Puebla

A luchador flexes his biceps for the crowd gathered at Arena Puebla.It’s 10 o’clock on a Monday night, and we’re sitting on concrete bleachers inside the Puebla Arena. Through a chain-link barrier that prevents spectators from hurling objects into the ring, we watch in awe as a muscly, shirtless wrestler leaps over the ropes and rushes up an aisle to our left, cursing at someone in the stands. The obscenities, complete with hand gestures, are flying. ¡Chinga tu madre! ¡La tuya en vinagre! ¡Puto! Several rounds of insults later, I stand up to see who’s causing all the commotion. Turns out, the foul-mouthed fan is a petite indigenous woman who looks old enough to be my grandmother.

This scene is typical of what transpires at the weekly matches held in Puebla by the Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL). Based in Mexico City, the organization — perhaps the oldest professional wrestling outfit in existence — holds events in Puebla every Monday featuring virtually the same cadre of athlete-performers. Teams of two to three wrestlers square off in a series of bouts that start around 9 p.m. with lesser-known acts and culminate with superstars like Místico, Máscara Dorada, and Mephisto. The fights typically pit rudos (rule-breaking rude boys) against técnicos (the technically proficient good guys). Many wear masks, a practice that dates to the 1930s and pays homage to Mexican history as old as the Aztecs: Each colorful design evokes an animal, god, or ancient hero that the wrestler assumes during his performance. For more details about the sport in English, including rules and weight classes, click here.

A luchador at the crowd’s feet after being thrown from the ring.The matches sometimes feature women athletes, too, but that’s about the only politically correct aspect of las luchas. (One difference between Puebla and Mexico City is the absence of bikini-clad female escorts here, although you may see dwarfs dressed as furry animals…) Expect moments of utter pandemonium and, if you sit in the front rows, be prepared to become part of the show. Also of note is the somewhat bewildering array of treats and potential projectiles available from vendors — beer and soda, cotton candy, boiled shrimp, slinky toys, Blow-Pops, cemitas, devil horns that light up — which helps explain the chain-link barrier. Outside the arena, vendors sell even more wares, including full-size souvenir masks that run about 300 pesos each ($25).

The Puebla Arena is located in the city’s historic center at 13 Oriente #402. Tickets generally cost 50 to 120 pesos each and are available at Mega supermarkets, Gandhi bookstores, Ticketmaster outlets, and the arena box office. The lineup is often posted on the CMLL Puebla page the Thursday prior to the match, but lately the webmaster seems to be a bit behind. Ticketmaster says that in tonight’s headline fight Máscara Dorada, La Máscara, and La Sombra face off against Mephisto, Volador Jr., and Averno.

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5 Responses to “The Monday Night Fights: Las Luchas in Puebla”

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  1. Mark says:

    Great post Rebecca! I’m still laughing about the “grandma type” hurling insults….too funny! I got a chance to see Lucha Libre in Mexico City once and was really thrilled by the whole experience. I used to watch it on TV when I was just a kid, but there’s nothing like catching it in person. The show in Puebla sounds like a whole lotta fun too!

  2. admin says:

    Thanks, Mark! I’ve been to Las Luchas twice in Puebla — and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The high-flying moves were truly impressive, and the crowd was as entertaining as the wrestlers were. One fan, watching an attractive foreign gal walk across the floor below him, yelled out to get her attention, “SOY BILINGÜE!” Meanwhile, a trio of fans across the arena had sign with an insult on one side and “Te amo” on the other, so they could flash the appropriate message at any given wrestler. The heckling is occasionally offensive, but more often hilarious. Love it.

  3. John says:

    Awesome thanks for the this post. I’m planning on visiting Puebla soon and would love to go to this. Will there be any problems bringing a camera and taking photographs during the event?

  4. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for your comment, John! I’ve never had a problem taking a pocket-sized, point-and-shoot camera into CMLL events in Puebla and taking photos. (Some venues around town object to professional cameras unless you seek special permission.)

  5. John says:

    Ahhh the infamous “professional” camera rule. :) They probably won’t object to my bringing an old film camera.

    Thanks for the reply Rebecca.

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