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Mexico’s Lucha Libre comes back with unprecedented drive-in show

Lucha Libre is an international referent of Mexican culture

Mexico’s Lucha Libre comes back with unprecedented drive-in show
The sport, with its theatrical stunts and tradition of heels vs faces is struggling to survive COVID-19
English 30/09/2020 16:31 Newsroom & Agencies Mexico City Luis Rodríguez/EL UNIVERSAL & Mark Stevenson & Marco Ugarte/AP Actualizada 17:36
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Lucha Libre is an international referent of Mexican culture. The cultural performance is a sophisticated and dynamic show that combines sports, theater, rituals, and TV show’s characteristics which have made it the most popular sport-show in Mexico.

Many would define Lucha Libre with the Mexican saying of “Circo, maroma, y teatro” (circus, stunts, and theater): Circus refers to the origins of the sport in circus tents, “maroma” is the Mexican way to refer to body skills, and theater involves the masks, characters, and disguises. As to its objective, most would say they attend Lucha Libre events looking for relief.

The reactivation of Mexican Lucha Libre has arrived by the hand of the “Caravana Estelar” (Stellar Caravan” and its new project, Autoluchas Triple A, an event that will take place on October 3, 4, 10, and 11 at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the suspension of Lucha Libre activities of the AAA, that is why this new show will allow fans to enjoy this popular sport in a safe way from their own vehicles.

Recommended: A struggle for survival: Mexico’s Lucha Libre is hard hit by COVID-19

The dynamic of the show will include a 360° stage. Fans will not be able to turn on their cars and they will be able to enjoy for the first time the Triple A radio, where the fights will be narrated in a private frequency so that fans can hear them from their cars. Four people will be allowed per vehicle.

As of health measures, it will be mandatory to wear face masks; moreover, there will be a medical checkpoint where each attendee will have their temperature checked and will be given hand sanitizer.

There will be three shows per day: at 13:00, at 16:30, and at 20:00. Each show will feature five fights.

Ticket sales will be through the Ticketmaster platform and will cost from MXN $800 to $1,800.

Lucha Libre and COVID-19
Few of Mexico’s cultural traditions have been hit as hard by the coronavirus pandemic as Lucha Libre wrestling. The death toll among wrestlers has risen dramatically and wrestling arenas are closed, throwing almost everyone out of work.

One enterprising band of aspiring young wrestlers, the three Olivares brothers in Mexico City’s Xochimilco borough, have put up an impromptu ring on one of the district’s famous “floating gardens.”

They plan to offer live-streamed online exhibitions for now — and when restrictions on live sports are lifted, to perform for tourists enjoying the newly reopened canals that run through the floating fields.

“We said: ‘Why not? We have the ring, we have the chinampa, we have everything,’” said the oldest brother, 25, who wrestles under the name “Ciclónico.” “So we decided to bring this beautiful sport to this gorgeous landscape.”

Other wrestlers have already taken the sport online. Victor Gongora, who wrestles under the name “Herodes Jr.,” has been wrestling in matches live-streamed online for about $12, though people can pay as little as $3 to get tapes of the match after it’s over.
 

But he acknowledges that it’s not the same without the roaring, swearing crowds that are a key part of the rowdy events.

“It’s part of the culture of Mexico. Lucha Libre has always been something done in arenas full of people,” said Gongora. “It’s the preferable way.”

But until arenas reopen bouts that are transmitted online by video streaming are a temporary fix. “It is a way to help out with the expenses, just enough to get by on,” he said.

But it is not just the economic woes that are ravaging Lucha Libre.

Recommended: Mexico’s Lucha Libre wrestlers set up ring in Xochimilco to fight COVID-19

There appears to have been a sharp upturn in deaths among wrestlers since the pandemic began in Mexico in March, though how many of those were due to COVID-19 is not certain.

Fantasma says 60 wrestlers, out of a universe of perhaps 2,000 or 3,000, have died so far this year, far more than in a normal year. Asked how many of this year’s deaths were due to COVID-19, he says he’s not sure, adding: “We don’t want to say, out of respect” for the wrestlers’ families. There is a stigma attached to dying of the disease for many in Mexico.

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