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Welcome to LuchaPalooza! (Come As You Are)
Some of you have heard what I’m about to say so bare with me (or just turn your headphones up even more). About a year and a half ago I found myself on the verge of being done with professional wrestling, an art form I’ve loved my entire life. It was Randy “The Ram” Robinson situation if I ever saw one; I had been passed by and left behind by the thing I thought made me the happiest in favor of an idea I couldn’t and still don’t understand. It still angers me today. Back then it angered me enough that I gave up on the old and at first didn’t want to find a new. But the old adage with wrestling held true; once you’re taken hold of it you can never just let it go. And so I decided to expand my horizons and look for a piece of professional wrestling that still had room for a diehard like me. And by the grace of that evil overlord Cthulhu himself I found it while getting “lost in Mexico”. I found it in lucha libre.
Again apologies for those of you who already know this story (i.e. most of you) but it needed to be repeated in the wake of this column tonight. I actually had this column planned for later in the week and a super cool other idea in line for today, but I’m so excited about the things to come that I decided to switch them around. Why am I excited sports fans? Because starting this Sunday we will be witnessing what could be the biggest and maybe greatest week in the history of lucha libre. And no it doesn’t fully have to do with Lucha Underground, though it is part of it. This Sunday is LU associate and long time Mexican power AAA’s annual Triplemania event, the 24th official Triplemania and the 31st even to carry the name (let’s just say some of the early Triplemania’s extended beyond just one event). Five days later AAA’s rival CMLL will try to top their enemy with their own version of Wrestlemania, the 83rd Anniversary Show. Not to be outdone, Mexico’s third biggest promotion the International Wrestling Revolution Group (IWRG) will feature a big event of their own Sunday with a main event that may even top the ones from both Triplemania and the Anniversary Show. And yes, Lucha Underground will get involved too a few days later when they premiere their third season on the El Rey Network (cheap plug!). Four lucha events in a few days are enough to get me giddier than Ross Gellar when he bought Ugly Naked Guy’s apartment. And my job now is to get you excited too good wrestling fan. Whether you know it or you don’t, this next week and half is the perfect time for you to branch out. Now is the perfect time for you to give lucha libre a shot.
For the ones in attendance who already watch lucha libre and reading this because a) they like me (hi Matt and Kevin!) and b) they’re going to show this to their friends who aren’t initiated into lucha, welcome! For the ones who aren’t lucha fans checking this out, welcome as well! Oh and stop rolling your eyes at me. I know what you’re thinking; “I’m not into wrestling with all spots and no psychology”, “I don’t have time to watch any wrestling outside of WWE”, “I need to watch the Miz burn Daniel Bryan’s hopes and dreams to the ground for the 100th time” and “My name is T.O. and I hate everything that’s good!” Alright that last one was an inside joke but still. A couple of months ago, hell a couple of weeks ago, I’d have gotten frustrated and called people on some of these things, especially those who claim they have no time but then go back and watch something they’ve seen a million times before. But this kinder, gentler and snazzier dressed Cult is going to refrain from that because I get it. People don’t have that much time, people like the comfort of what they know and unfortunately in this day and age most people only care about wrestling if it’s a) in North America and b) involves a name that begins with W and E. I can’t fight that anymore than anyone else can and I’m not going to. I haven’t come here to tell you to watch something else over your favorite thing; what I have come here to ask is that you give lucha libre a look. Why should you give it a look? I’ve got a few reasons up my sleeve.
Numero Uno: These four shows in the next week and a half are going to be bonkers good. Everyone that I know likes being entertained in one form or another and these four lucha spectacles guarantee to be entertaining. Let’s start with Triplemania, a show that features the legendary Rey Mysterio, former WWE superstar and cult hero Paul London, indie stars Matt Cross and Jack Evans and several up and coming stars you’ve heard of like Ricochet (as Prince Puma), Marty “The Moth” Martinez, Fenix, Jeff Cobb (as Matanza), El Hijo del Fantasma and Angelico to name a few. A few days later CMLL will have 21 year old phenom Dragón Lee headlining their biggest show, while future WWE signee Gran Metalik (or Máscara Dorada) and legends like Atlantis (the lucha John Cena), Negro Casas and Último Guerrero fill out the rest of the card. IWRG may not have those names but they feature a group of talented guys too, such as Trauma I and Black Terry. And Lucha Underground at worse will roll out half of the names from Triplemania on their premiere, which if it’s anything like last year’s critically acclaimed return will be something to behold. With all that talent over four shows, there’s no way there won’t be at least a few classic bouts here or there. If nothing else it’s time to check out lucha libre just to see that AND to see potential guys you may one day see in WWE. Be warned though; if all you talk about later is how “WWE should sign this guy!” I may get sensitive and have words with you that I’ll regret later. It happens.
Numero Dos: Spectacle! Spectacle Everywhere! Even the most diehard American wrestling only fan out there will admit that the spectacle of a Wrestlemania only comes once, maybe twice a year if SummerSlam lives up to the hype. This next week and a half you’ll get to see not one but TWO spectacles that, while maybe not as big as what you’re accustomed to, are huge in their own right. Triplemania, despite a infamously troubled show last year, is a show loaded with history and grandeur, while the 83rd Anniversary Show is just that; the celebration of CMLL’s 83rd Anniversary, which makes that promotion both the oldest and most self sustaining promotion you can find anywhere in the world. If that’s not enough for you consider this; Triplemania will feature a main event where a fellow named Psycho Clown (think a modern day Doink) vs. Pagano (think a modern day Doink after he was replaced by Matt Borne) duking it out in a mask vs. hair ECW style match while CMLL will have the aforementioned Dragón Lee putting his mask on the line against La Máscara (who will also put his mask on the line). That’s huge, career threatening stakes right there. Wrestlemania may be able spectacle and titles; Triplemania, the Anniversary Show and even the IWRG show (which features its own mask vs. mask bout between Trauma I and I Caifan) is about careers shifting forever. Who would want to miss that?
Numero Tres: The chance to get sucked into (Aladdin voice) a whole new world. You’ve seen me make a couple of promises already in this column and I’m betting you’re expecting me to make more. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! The promises end here because the truth is I cannot guarantee you that this next week and a half will be any more magical than you or I could guarantee anything else. I believe it will be; I hope it will be. But the thing about lucha libre is that you never know. Last year’s Triplemania turned a sure thing main event into a disaster of a show that has some diehard lucha libre fans questioning whether they can recover this year. CMLL is consistent more often than not but are prone to mistakes and have opted to go the risky route of having Lee and Máscara headline over a more exciting Rush-L.A. Park (the original La Parka) matchup. Ditto for IWRG (the mistakes part, not the better matchup part). And while many of you know I’ve yet to be disappointed with Lucha Underground there’s always the chance that a newcomer can watch and decide that the wacky world just isn’t for them. Many people would lie to you hear in order to get you to watch this show but I can’t. Lucha libre isn’t perfect guys and gals. In fact it’s what I’d say perfectly imperfect.
But you know what? That imperfection is part of what made me fall in love with lucha libre so much. Where so many promotions, so many countries work to make wrestling as perfect as possible, lucha libre rejects that. It embraces imperfection the same way it embraces reality while also giving it quick swift shot to the nuts. Why; because lucha libre is real, it’s myth, it’s grounded, it’s supernatural, it’s the place where a young man put on a silver mask and became such a hero that he’s now a folk legend with statues all across of Mexico. A man can do many things here in the United States wrestling scene but I’ve yet to see one do that. Part of that is because there’s no one quite like that man who put on the silver mask and part of that is because lucha libre is everything in Mexico. There’s football and then there’s lucha. It’s why titles down there mean little but your name, your mask, your reputation mean so much. It’s why the mystique of lucha runs so deep to this day and why so many lives and careers have been affected. To lose the mask in lucha libre can either be the beginning or the end. You can recover from losing a title; you can sometimes never recover from losing the face that made you famous. That may sound like an imperfect, unfair truth and it is. And it’s that sort of imperfection, along with all the other imperfections, that make lucha libre so gorram perfect.
And I guess that’s my pitch. Why should you check out lucha libre this next week in a half? Because you don’t have to expect perfection at every corner from your or what you’re seeing. Instead what you’ll see is a whole lot of talented guys doing things that you’ve never seen before or haven’t seen enough of; you’ll see one guy lose his hair and two guys lose their mask; you’ll see a wrestling world where every limit you thought could never be stretched will be stretched; you’ll see greatness; you’ll see flaws and maybe just maybe you’ll have a laugh and shed a tear (it’s been known to happen!). And hey, maybe in the end you won’t want to stick around. I won’t fault you if you won’t; lucha libre isn’t for everyone and even today as it has the most eyeballs on it in history it can and (sadly) probably never will compare to the wrestling most of you reading of this have grown up to care for the most. I can’t ask you to change that and I won’t. The only thing I do ask is that maybe, instead of checking out that match you’ve seen many times before, come check out something new with myself and the rest of the lucha crazies. Who knows; you may just end up having a damn good time.
And that’s it. Welcome to LuchaPalooza true believers and non believers alike. Come as you are and enjoy! Or not. I leave that entirely up to you.
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