The antiquated Arena Mexico hums as it fills with the young men and women of Mexico City, many wearing the latex masks of their heroes.
Vendors ply the aisles with beer, popcorn and pizzas. They are all here for Lucha Libre, the hugely popular wrestling franchise in which the stars dress like super heroes or super villains-lite and adopt names to suit – Fuego, Mephisto, Maximo.
The arena fills with several thousand people two or three times a week and the bouts are televised. Outside street vendors hawk T-shirts, key rings, action figures; anything that can take a mask pattern.
Initially, the villains take the upper hand, cheating and abusing the ineffective referee and ganging up on the hapless heroes. Just as the injustice grows too much, the good guys find their form and sling the villains acrobatically through the air. It’s pure comedy theatre, but what marks Lucha Libre out is the athleticism of the luchadores.
It isn’t PC – the stars enter the ring through a phalanx of bikini-clad women. But it’s fun. Fans are up and down in their seats, chanting their heroes’ names or calling on gay Maximo to kiss his opponent. There is even a section for the villains’ supporters. One of their favourites is dressed in the Union Flag, with the Beatles logo on his chest. His name is Hooligan.
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