¡Luchadores y más luchadores!
February 21, 2008 1:03 PM   Subscribe

Perhaps most famous luchador of all time is El Santo (aka Samson), who starred in, amongst many other things, the MST'd Samson Vs. The Vampire Women (Google Video). He even had his own photo comic and bag figure. However, even El Santo himself would gasp at the phenomenal athleticism of today's luchadores. Skeptical? Well check out some highlights here, here and here (YT + Warning: obnoxiously rawkin' music) and then decide.
posted by cog_nate (26 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
re: highlights

wow, i definitely wasnt expecting to be this impressed! its like watching live action dragon ball z or something....

is that level of acrobatic skill common to the sport?
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 1:16 PM on February 21, 2008

Santo was and is a GOD in Mexico. Mexico City basically shut down for his funeral, and he was buried in his mask, although he did remove it once (and only once in his life) on a nationally televised show shortly before his death. The mask is like a symbol of your machismo, tracing back to ancient Aztec traditions, and losing it is the ultimate dishonor for a Luchador. Thus, mask vs. mask matches, where one Luchador is guranteed to be unmasked, sell out 120,000 seat futbol arenas in Mexico. If one or both Luchadors have already been unmasked, they can do a hair vs. hair or hair vs. mask match where the Luchador putting up his hair is shaved, which is almost as great a dishonor.

Lucha Libre is awesome, but not for everyone. It's far more theatrical than American pro wrestling, and closer to a form of traditional theatre like Kabuki than a sport. If you get the Spanish-language Galavision network, you can watch a weekly anthology show of matches from CMLL and AAA (the two main promotions) that I believe is just listed as "Lucha Libre". CMLL has been operating continuously since the 1930s and is the oldest and most continuously successful wrestling promotion in the world. Lucha Libre isn't looked at like American pro wrestling, i.e. a fake sport for rednecks, in Mexico it's an honorable tradition that everyone likes to some degree.

The matches, unlike American pro wrestling, are usually 3-man tag team "trios" matches where the winner must win 2 of 3 falls (this is done so no one is an unbeatable superman and will at least lose a fall now and then, if not the match). One team are the good guys or technicos, and the other are the bad guys or rudos. There will be one-on-one matches promoted as big main events, and maybe once a year there will be a huge match like a mask vs. mask. If you get Galavision, you should at least check it out once, if for no other reason than to see the awesome spectacle.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:20 PM on February 21, 2008 [4 favorites]

QUAALUDE: Yes, it's more or less common. Sure, there are slow fat guys, but amazing dives and flips and acrobatics are an integral part of the show.

One other thing I forgot to mention: midgets are common in Lucha Libre. They're usually like a real life Mini-Me of a popular full-size star, i.e. Mascara Sagrada has Mascarita Sagrada, Octagon has Octagoncito, etc. They're very popular, and aren't looked at as a comedy sideshow, although some midgets like Super Porky do a comedic gimmick. They wear a full, tiny version of the full-size Luchador's mask and costume. Their matches are often even more incredible than their larger counterparts', due to their small size and low weight enabling even more fantastic flips and dives. Luchadors and their midget counterparts are usually very close friends in real life, again like a real Mini-Me. Midgets used to be popular in the US as a sideshow working comedy for the kids, but in Mexico they're legitimate stars.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:30 PM on February 21, 2008 [3 favorites]

posted by sleepy pete at 1:45 PM on February 21, 2008

This saved my day from suck. Thank you SO MUCH!
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:53 PM on February 21, 2008

This is the best post that has ever been on MetaFilter. This is the best post that will ever BE on MetaFilter! RECOGNIZE
posted by kittens for breakfast at 1:56 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

man, I was so totally working on a lucha libre FPP

DecemberBoy: Currently, Galavision (at least Gala in Chicago) is only showing AAA. Canal 52MX shows one of the CMLL shows, though - Guerreros del Ring. I much prefer CMLL, but AAA has really stepped it up in the last year or so.

Here's a video of Tzuki, one of the best of the "minis."

"RobViper13" makes a TON of other great lucha music videos; his YouTube page is the first place I go when I need a fix of tiny Mexican men flipping about.

If you want to lose a few hours reading luchador bios and looking at awesome pictures, check out LuchaWiki.

If you want a lucha mask of your own, check out the mask selection at highspots.com. They're also a good place to go for publications related to lucha, such as the Encyclopedia of Masks.

Don't get any good Spanish channels? Plenty of DVDs are available from Bob Barnett, SlamBamJam, and IVP Video.
posted by jtron at 2:13 PM on February 21, 2008

The lucha style of puroresu (pro wrestling) is quite influential in Japan -- the Dragon Gate promotion, in particular, has some amazing high-flyers. It also shows up a lot in independent American promotions (partly because it's well-suited to smaller athletes, as opposed to the Big 'n' Slow steroid junkies Vince McMahon prefers to hire); CHIKARA, for example, is essentially a lucha promotion operating out of Pennsylvania. Who can resist the (Canadian) generic luchador, El Generico?
posted by nicepersonality at 2:17 PM on February 21, 2008 [2 favorites]

posted by Smedleyman at 2:33 PM on February 21, 2008

Viva del Santo!
posted by schoolgirl report at 2:40 PM on February 21, 2008

Of course, do not forget the great newspaper funnies of El Santo by Jis y Trino, some examples are here, and here (spanish).
posted by dov3 at 2:40 PM on February 21, 2008

Oh, I was able to successfully resist him for quite a while. He didn't do much lucha (more of a standard comedic indy highflyer), he wore what appeared to be a modified Octagon mask, thus making him a specific luchador rather than a generic one, and his schtick was the equivalent of blackface cooning. Then he totally blew me away at the 2006 TPI, and I'm totally on his bandwagon now. The new mask doesn't hurt, either.

CHIKARA is pretty much my favorite promotion around. It's good to see that they're finally running in bigger cities; it was frustrating seeing them on DVD in front of tiny tiny crowds. It is pretty awesome to be able to see legit stars from Japan and Mexico in wood-paneled social clubs in the Lehigh Valley, though. They have a super fun podcast, which I highly recommend if you are reading this post.

Oh, and if you're curious about the Japanese take on lucha, check out the Dragon Gate USA site, which has results and profiles for the stars of the promotions inspired by famed Japanese luchador Ultimo Dragon.
posted by jtron at 2:43 PM on February 21, 2008

I've only watched the first spotfest and I think I've already reached dangerous levels of awesome... think I'll have to save the others until later.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:46 PM on February 21, 2008

Ha! I was planning to do an AskMe before I move to Los Angeles, but now I can ask it here: is there a good luchadore scene in LA?
posted by Bookhouse at 2:46 PM on February 21, 2008

You should see Santo in Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter. He is mucho strong and funny.
posted by doctorschlock at 2:51 PM on February 21, 2008

Wow, that's totally not the real Santo. Check el original here if you really want to see him in action.
posted by jtron at 3:05 PM on February 21, 2008

Playing on Bookhouse's question -- anyone know how to see good luchadores (or, hell, bad ones) in New York City?
posted by chinese_fashion at 3:41 PM on February 21, 2008

posted by ninazer0 at 5:23 PM on February 21, 2008

And remind me never to sit in the front row.
posted by ninazer0 at 5:25 PM on February 21, 2008

They're like clowns! Beefy, wrestling clowns! And yet, they're not scary at all!
posted by SPrintF at 6:09 PM on February 21, 2008

The "minis" tossing around full sized men was very impressive, and is clearly payback for years of oppressive dwarf tossing.
posted by Tube at 6:57 PM on February 21, 2008

Another equation for action:

J-culture + monsters + wrestling = Kaiju Big Battel.
posted by asusu at 8:25 PM on February 21, 2008

This brings back fond memories of Tiger Mask.
posted by needled at 4:38 AM on February 22, 2008

Thanks to AskMetafilter, I got an awesome El Santo mask a few years ago. I combined with with a turtleneck, a too-tight sportsjacket, and a big gold medallion, and went out on Halloween as a retired El Santo. Nobody had a clue, unfortunately, but I had fun.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:53 AM on February 22, 2008 [1 favorite]

This is so much more awesome than the bleached likes of the WWE, it is not funny.

It's worth noting that the recent Wii game No More Heroes, created by Japanese people of all things, has more than a few Mexican wrestling references.
posted by JHarris at 3:01 AM on February 23, 2008

Unfortunately there has never been (to the best of my knowledge) a strict, licensed Lucha Libre video game. However, the recent Fire Pro Wrestling Returns for the PS2 includes el Hijo del Santo, Mil Mascaras, and several other luchadors among its roster of a million billion wrestlers.
posted by jtron at 12:26 PM on February 23, 2008

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