If you’re a wrestling fan, like a true wrestling fan, then you should be interested in Lucha Mexico. The film is a documentary about wrestling in Mexico, known Lucha Libre, which has become a familiar term these days. But what is the life like? How do the wrestlers live when they’re not in the ring? The film kind of answers those questions. To be quite honest it doesn’t dig into the behind the scenes as deeply as you’d probably like. No one takes off their masks to be open and honest in front of the camera and no one seems pressed to reveal anything that’s not just out there to find on the internet.
This is my only gripe with the film is that there doesn’t seem to be any pressure on the wrestlers to share. Some of them obviously can’t share that much with their masks on, but others seem to be very guarded about revealing too much. I imagine it’s a cultural thing or just not wanting the audience to see the real person outside of the ring since that ruins the magic. Whereas wrestling promotions in the States have all but ruined the allure of wrestling by humanizing their workers outside of the ring, Lucha keeps the magic by shielding their workers from the audience. It keeps it believable, but obviously posed an interesting problem for the filmmakers. Though I wish it got deeper, they did a lot with what they could get.
Even still, it’s interesting to watch. There’s a little bit of wrestling shown, but it’s the culture that’s captured that makes it interesting. To see how different and involved the fanbase is with the wrestlers.
There is also a lot to learn about Lucha. For instance, different locations hold more prestige than other locations. You want to be wrestling in certain locations, but as we see the wrestlers will go anywhere. One wrestler that the film follows is Shocker. He really provides a lot of substance for the film. We see him at the top of his game until an injury sidelines him. From there we witness his decline. It’s never said, but by the end of the film he’s wrestling a small venue in a field. I don’t believe this is the end of the road for him, but it was definitely a visual journey that we followed him on, rather than again anyone saying it out loud.
If you watch any kind of wrestling, then you know that there’s good guys and bad guys. Call this what you will, but there is a term for it in Lucha. If you’re a good guy, then you’re on the Tecnicos side and if you’re a bad guy you’re on the Rudos side. Now from what I understood from the film this is actually decided by the person that trains you (more on that in a minute). They determine it by how you wrestling in the ring and it doesn’t seem like you get to switch. In other wrestling around the world, wrestlers switch back and forth all the time (unless you’re John Cena). I found that particularly interesting considering how hated the Rudos are, but that they were seemingly stuck in that position their entire career.
As for the training, much like wrestling in the States and Japan, to make it on the big stage is a big pay-day. A lot of people want to do it, but not many make it. They talk to some of the trainers and they break down how few people make it through the training and how intense and long the training is. It sounds like you need someone else to support you financially if you’re even going to try for this. I do wish there was more time spent on this, but it was an interesting inclusion.
The film also dove into three wrestling companies and the different wrestlers at each company and their subtle differences between them. One of the biggest is CMLL, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, which is where Shocker and others worked. They also followed Triple A aka AAA which has grown in popularity in the States. The last company they spent time with was Perros del Mal, which will bring me into my next segment of the film.
In a strange turn of events there are two wrestlers that the film was following that died during filming. This offered a rare insight into their lives before their deaths a little insight afterwards. One wrestler, Fabian el Gitano, committed suicide which is only hinted about during the interviews, to get the full facts I had to go to the internet. The other is a fairly recent and famous death of Perro Aguayo Jr. in his match against Rey Myesterio Jr. Not that one death is sadder than the other, but Perro Aguayo Jr. actually had a company that was on the rise. Growing in popularity and looking to overtake a lot of the competition. The company continues today, but it was a tragic loss to the business side of the industry for sure.
There was a lot of interesting little facts picked up in the film. The masks are talked about and there’s a lot of insight provided there. Overall it was interesting because of these cultural unknowns. I don’t think the film needed to be quite as long as it was, but it was well-edited to keep your interest through and through.
The film isn’t just for wrestling fans. I know I lead with that, but it really is an interesting film for anyone that’s been curious about wrestling and in particular Mexico’s Lucha. It really is a style and culture of its own and so I can see people having an interest in it for that reason as well.
Lucha Mexico Director/Filmed/Edited: Alex Hammond & Ian Markiewicz Run Time: 98 Min Website