Introduction to Lucha Libre

Introduction to Lucha Libre

with special thanks to Jose Abraham Alonso

Those of you who've never seen lucha libre on television, or who just discovered it may be very sceptic towards the Mexican wrestling style at first. I know I didn't really care much the first few week I saw it. The rules seemed very strange, very hard to understand, most luchadores wear masks, and they do a lot of moves that are not very common in the United States or even in Japan. Furthermore, I couldn't understand a single word of what the mexican commentators were saying. But now, more than two years later, I'm pretty much at home in Mexican wrestling and once you know certain things, it's more fun to watch.

By far the most matches in Mexico are so-called trios matches, which means three on three, and also most matches are best two out of three falls. In a trios match, or even an atomicos match (four on four) there is a team captain and two (or three) other luchadores on a team. Once a luchador has been pinned of driven into submission, he's out for the rest of the fall. A fall ends when either the team captain or two of his team members have been eliminated. Tags are not necessary. If someone falls out of the ring, a team member can automaticly enter the ring. This increases the speed of the match (people don't have to crawl over to their corner to make a hot tag) and makes it more fun to watch.
There are also regular tag matches (parejas) in Mexico. Basicly the same rules apply here as in trios and atomicos, but there isn't a team captain. In order to win a fall, both members of a team have to be eliminated.
Mexico also knows five on five matches where the goal is to pin the team captain (only one fall in these matches), and they much resemble the Survivor Series of the WWF.
And of course, there are also singles matches in Mexico.

Lucha Libre originates from olympic wrestling. Lucha Libre was brought to Mexico by some American wrestlers. The promotions with Mexican wrestlers started 3 or 4 years after the professional wrestling promotions started in Mexico. Also the mask tradition comes from an American wrestler named "Ciclon McKey". He was not very popular and so he asked the man who made his boots to make him a mask. The man made him a white leather mask, which was horrible and too small for him, but Ciclon started to use it anyway. The leather started to expand and it fitted perfectly on McKey's face. Then a lot of Mexican wrestlers started using masks as well. These masks are sacred in Mexico, and pulling off someones mask during a match causes an instant disqualification (tearing a mask open however is allowed). Also a low-blow will cause an instant dq, and also piledrivers are "banned" from lucha libre and will cause a dq (that's why piledrivers in Mexico are much more effective then they are in Amerika ;). Kicking an opponent with two or three people when he's down can also cause a dq, however triple-teaming somebody is allowed. You can also pin an opponent with three men or put him in a submissionhold.

Mexico also knows heel referees. The first promotion to come up with one was the CMLL with El Gran Davis. For matches involving six or more persons there are two referees, usually one neutral and one heel. Formally there is a nr. 1 referee and an assisting referee, but this hierarchy doesn't always hold. Especially in singles matches a heel referee can be quite influential in a match. Very fast counts for heels, and very slow counts when a face pins someone. A lot of titles have changed hands this way. Because the matches are two of three falls, you can't protect your title by letting yourself get counted out, or get yourself disqualified. You loose two falls, you loose the title.

Well, I hope this text has made some things clear about how things work in Mexico. If you got questions or remarks, or if you think I misinterpreted some things you can always E-mail me at the address shown in the index page. That way I can improved this page and give more information where it's needed.

Return to the index page.