Lucha libre, which translates as “free fighting”, is a Mexican style of wrestling in which fighters enter the ring in flamboyant capes and outlandish suits, wear colourful masks, perform acrobatic moves and fly from spectacular heights.
Later this month, the Albert Hall plays host to Mexican wrestling show – The Greatest Spectacle of Lucha Libre.
The event will showcase some of the most recognizable names in Mexican wrestling as well as serving a range of Mexican food, cocktails and music.
“Mexican wrestling is famous for its diversity,” one of the wrestlers, Cassandro, told us. He wrestles as an exotico – a flamboyantly camp and effeminate form of luchador.
“Men, women and mini luchadors (wrestlers under five feet tall) regularly compete with each other in the ring. Exoticos like myself bring the bathing suits, pantyhose, makeup, feathers and rhinestones. We add some glamour to the ring.”
Cassandro insists that, despite their unorthodox attire and mannerisms, they are not to be taken lightly.
“Exoticos used to be the clowns of lucha libre but my generation of exoticos wanted to be taken seriously. We worked three times harder than any other wrestlers, and my blood, sweat and tears have paid off through my success.”
Along with the mini-luchadors and the exoticos, the masks of the luchadors are perhaps the most intriguing element of the sport to those more familiar with the American version of the sport. The use of masks stems from the Aztec tradition of symbolic mask-making.
“The masks are symbolic of the ancient traditions of lucha libre and any luchador will defend it to the end,” says Cassandra. “A luchador’s mask is sacred. My mask, of course, is my make-up.”
This UK tour is celebrating the life of legendary silver masked wrestler El Santo, who would have been 100 this year. Cassandro describes him as a hero in Mexico. His career spanned five decades and during that time he starred in movies and was even the subject of a comic book series. His son, El Hijo del Santo, will be wrestling at the Albert Hall.
The show is a rare opportunity to see this high-flying style of wrestling in the UK in its traditional form.
Cassandro insists that the show is not just for wrestling fans.
“You will see human beings fly and being tossed around the ring. It can be quite therapeutic.”
The death and often gravity-defying feats of the luchadors, as well as the outlandish characters and costumes, mean that The Greatest Spectacle of Lucha Libre is guaranteed, for one night only, to bring an authentic taste of this outlandish Mexican pastime to Manchester.
The Greatest Spectacle of Lucha Libre
Albert Hall 22nd June 2017