We weren’t sure what to expect when we entered the auditorium at the El Paso Shriner’s Temple for a night of wrestling. Lucha Libre, a Mexican form of wrestling, is known for bright masks, gymnastic-like maneuvers and tumbles, and dramatics in the form of both rivalries and wrestling holds.
We arrived early last Friday night, paid our $12 for front row seats, and watched as the room filled up. We noticed large families with young children, soldiers from nearby Fort Bliss, and self-proclaimed wrestling nerds.
Next to us was a Dad with his young daughter, D. He explained that not only did he have 40 different wrestling masks, but his daughter had quite the collection as well. Several years ago, back when the local El Paso Lucha Libre scene was starting to pick up, he dragged his unenthusiastic daughter to a match. By the time they left, she was in love with the drama and athleticism of Lucha Libre. (That love was clear from both the giant grin and the purple sequined mask D wore.)
Before the first match even began, the energy in the room was contagious. Fans chanted the name’s of their favorite wrestlers and jeered at the villains. An older woman held up a homemade sign reading “YOU SUCK.” Shriners moved through the crowd, selling raffle tickets for a “life-sized” wresting action figure. Even knowing nothing, we soon found ourselves hooting and hollering.
El Paso, located with one foot in the American Southwest and the other in Mexico, is home to a unique brand of Lucha Libre. Here you’ll find strands of American wrestling mixed with the traditions of Mexican wrestling. Wrestlers jump out of the ring and bring the activity into the audience - throwing each other into tables and high fiving spectators. In one particularly heated match, one wrestler grabbed a trashcan and threw it at his opponent, sending old nachos and trash into the crowd.
If you find your self in El Paso, check out New Era Wrestling ent. Their slogan - the best of the very best in the Southwest - checks out.
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