Lucha libre (Spanish for "free wrestling" or free fighting) is a term used in Mexico, and other Spanish-speaking countries referring to a form of professional wrestling involving varied techniques and moves.
Mexican wrestling is characterized by rapid sequences of holds and moves, as well as 'high-flying moves', some of which have been adopted in the United States, and colorful masks. Lucha libre performers are known as luchadores (singular luchador).
Luchadores are traditionally more agile and perform more aerial maneuvers than professional wrestlers in the U.S. who, more often, rely on power moves and strikes to subdue their opponents. The difference in styles is due to the independent evolution of the sport in Mexico beginning in the 1930s and the fact that luchadores in the cruiserweight division (peso semicompleto) are often the most popular wrestlers in Mexican lucha libre. Luchadores execute high flying moves characteristic of lucha libre by utilizing the wrestling ring's ropes to catapult themselves towards their opponents, using intricate combinations in rapid-fire succession, and applying complex submission holds.
Masks (mascaras) have been used dating back to the beginnings of lucha libre in the early part of the 20th century and have a historical significance to Mexico in general dating to the days of the Aztecs. Early masks were very simple with basic colors to distinguish the wrestler. In modern lucha libre, masks are colorfully designed to evoke the images of animals, gods, ancient heroes, and other archetypes, whose identity the luchador takes on during a performance. Virtually all wrestlers in Mexico will start their careers wearing masks, but over the span of their careers a large number of them will be unmasked. Sometimes, a wrestler slated for retirement will be unmasked in his final bout or at the beginning of a final tour, signifying loss of identity as that character. Sometimes, losing the mask signifies the end of a gimmick with the wrestler moving on to a new gimmick and mask. The mask is considered "sacred" to a degree, so much so that fully removing an opponent's mask during a match is grounds for disqualification.
More recently, the masks that luchadores wear have become iconic symbols of Mexican culture. Contemporary artists like Francisco Delgado and Xavier Garza incorporate wrestler masks in their paintings.
|Nicknames||El Profe (The Professor), El Manotas (The man with the big hands), El Profe Manotas, El Demonio Azul (The Blue Demon)|
|Signature Moves||El Pulpo|
Luchadores, like their foreign counterparts, seek to obtain a campeonato ("championship") through winning key wrestling matches. Since many feuds and shows are built around luchas de apuestas ("matches with wagers"), title matches play a less prominent role in Mexico than in the U.S. Titles can be defended as few as one time per year and wrestlers usually only wear their belts during big events and title defenses.
Lucha libre is currently experiencing a boom in popularity due to the emergence of a new generation of stars, most notably, a masked wrestler named Místico, whose high-flying style and technique is attracting record crowds in Mexico.
Lucha Libre Inspired Palettes from the CL Library
Sources: Wikipedia & luchawiki.org