Before Friday, the closest I'd ever got to a Lucha Libre fight was when I stayed opposite a luchador's gym in Tijuana. However, the only thing I ended up wrestling was a dodgy burrito that made me sick for three days. And that was after sitting on a bus for 24 hours next to a fat old Mexican who spent the duration of the journey yelping in his sleep. Luckily my journey to the Roundhouse to watch the first ever British Lucha Libre fight was less disturbing.
As I walked into the venue, dozens of fans wearing the masks of their favourite wrestlers milled around the bar swigging back margaritas, beers and tequila shots. Already more surreal than a typical Friday night, it got even weirder when I saw Tim Burton standing in the middle of the throng with his pal Deep Roy, the miniscule actor who played the Oompa Loompa in his 2005 remake of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory. To the casual passerby, it must have seemed like Burton had hired a team of drunken superheroes, glamorous gimps, and Mexican wrestlers to be his personal security guards for the night. Awesome.
Entering the main arena, the Roundhouse certainly looked different to how I remembered it when Argentinean acrobats Fuerza Bruta invaded it last year. Instead of trapezes and ropes, the only props I could make out were a huge boxing ring and a couple of suspicious metal chairs. As the audience downed their beers and inhaled the heady smell of deep heat, Burton's little mate decided to seize the opportunity and jumped into the empty ring for a little jig. He was promptly turfed out by security, only to be replaced with two even more miniscule luchadors, Mascarita Sagrada and Octagoncito. For those who didn't get the memo, lucha libre has a long tradition of dwarf wrestlers, and this first fight was much more than a freak show, with Mascarita Sagrada dazzling everyone with his white catsuit and death defying acrobatic slam downs.
Next up was a tag team bout between El Hijo del Solitario, Magno, Black Fish and "Queen of the Ring" Cassandro, a cross-dressing luchador. Hilarious in every way possible, every time Mr Black Fish did something good, he climbed the corner post, flexed his 30-inch biceps and fired off an imaginary arrow into the crowd. Maybe the steroids told him to do it. However, the undisputed star of the show was Cassandro, who minced around the ring in a rhinestone-splattered leotard, destroying everyone in her/his way. Something tells me he/she quite liked getting pinned down by a line of oiled up adversaries. Especially when his head landed between their sweaty thighs.
After a third, slightly boring fight between old timers Solar and Negro Navarro – who the crowd pelted with pints of beer – six of the most famous living luchadors took to the ring for a battle royal. Headed up by El Hijo del Santo (the greatest living luchador and son of the all time great El Santo), Blue Demon Jnr (the man in the blue mask) and Ramses (star of Jack Black's Nacho Libre), the stakes could not have been higher – it was "for the soul of Mexico" apparently. The action flitted between the ring and ringside, with the "rudos" (the bad guys) bringing out a chair and giving Santo a serious steel beat down. Then, just as Ramses was about to unmask the legendary beefcake, he was saved by his homies (do you think it was scripted?). As the ringmaster confirmed their win, I swear I heard the whole of Mexico sigh with relief. But that could have been my stomach.
Leaving the venue I was so ready to rumble I paid £15 for a Captain America luchador mask and proceeded to prance around Stables Market with my masked mate, with absolutely no style or grace whatsoever. Our friends walk about 20 metres behind us for some reason. Still, we got a taste of the stardom that these luchadors experience back in their homeland, with a few people coming up to me. Although for some reason they mistook the "A" on my forehead for Captain Asshole instead of Captain America. Camden, eh? If you haven't got a Mohawk they can be soooo rude. I wonder if they'd be so fresh with Santo?
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