Lucha Libre translates directly from Spanish as “free fighting”, and in the Spanish speaking world, the phrase has become synonymous with a form of professional wrestling that originated in Mexico, but has become well known all over the world. The City Lane was invited to attend the premiere night of London’s annual 3 day Lucha Libre “extravaganza” and we were curious to see what Mexican wrestling, known for its colourful masks and high-flying moves, was all about.
The event was held at York Hall in Bethnal Green. York Hall opened in 1929 as public baths, but today is better known as one of the UK’s most popular boxing venues. For 3 nights, the venue was transformed into a retro-style Mexican arena showcasing some of the most famous Mexican fighters, Bolivia’s famous Cholitas, and the UK’s own Lucha Britannia.
Prior to the start of the event we enjoyed some street tacos which were fabulous. They were as authentic as any we’ve tried and included varieties such as pork carnitas, chicken, and veggie chorizo made with tofu. We joked that if the spectacle was half as good as the carnitas we would be in for a great. We grabbed a few drinks and waited for the main event to get underway.
The event started with a blockbuster fight. One by one various fighters were introduced by the MC, smartly dressed in a tux. In the end there were about 10 people in the ring. The action was everywhere-in the ring, outside the ring, and on the ropes. The Glamazon ring girls added more than just a bit of sex appeal to the event. At one point, a luchador grabbed a handbag from a lady in the front row and proceeded to use it to whack his opponent a few times. Nothing was safe as a prop!
The event was headlined by Mexico’s greatest luchador, El Higo Del Santo. A crowd favourite however was British hero Freddie Mercurio. The production value of the event was excellent. In fact we overheard someone next to us exclaim it was “the best night of his life”. Quite the statement! The theatrics of the event gave us an appreciation of why Mexican wrestling has managed to capture the imaginations of so many – it’s the stuff of movies and comic books.
We never thought that we would add Mexican wrestling to our life’s experiences, but we are sure glad that we did. The fact that some of the world’s best wrestlers from Mexico and Bolivia came to London to put on a show is testament to the sport’s popularity in London. The event was a terrific combination of excitement, atmosphere, and culture. Lucha Libre might be done and dusted until next year however if you’re keen to check out a future showcase of Mexican wrestling, visit Lucha Brittania’s website. Their mission is to bring Mexican wrestling to the UK and they regularly run shows and events in London.