When we initially booked this trip, I knew that there were one thing on my absolute Mexico City must-do list: watching big guys in spandex fight little people. However, in all of my research preparing for the trip, I did not come across much discussion of this activity, which concerned me that I was signing myself up for disappointment. It didn’t help that Annalisa was on the fence about it, but I convinced her noting that if it made Delta SkyMag’s bucket list, then it couldn’t be all bad, could it?
Delta SkyMag Bucket List Lucha Libre
Having been a fan of The Undertaker, and Bret “The Hitman” Hart as a childhood World Wrestling Federation aficionado (and which boy wasn’t), the opportunity to watch lucha libre in its home was one I couldn’t pass up. I mean, when a description of lucha libre says “Luchadores are traditionally more agile and perform more aerial maneuvers than professional wrestlers in the United States” how amazing was my Friday evening going to be! For readers who think Jack Black when they think of lucha libre, the reality isn’t that far removed from Hollywood.
Nacho Libre Movie Poster
The home of lucha libre in Mexico City (and perhaps the world) is at Arena Mexico, a relic from 1933 that supposedly seats 16,000. I say supposedly because the roof was leaking, and much of the seating area in the upper level was covered in water. However, just like Wrigley Field and Fenway Park are old (and has its secret tricks), both stadiums are charming in their quirks and a part of the wonderful experience is how uncomfortable the seats are or how leaky the roof is.
Exterior of Arena Mexico
33% sport, 33% circus act, 33% soap opera, lucha libre is 100% spectacularly ridiculous. On the night we went, the crowd included everybody from little (and not so little) kids dressed in Luchador masks and costumes, abuelitas cursing at the heels, and men taking their girlfriends out on a Friday night date, dressed to the nines.
Arena Mexico Location
Not to be confused with Arena Ciudad de Mexico, Arena Mexico is conveniently located within a 5 minute walk of multiple Metro stations, easily accessible via Line 1 or 3 from Metro Cuauhtemoc or Metro Balderas stations. We arrived at Metro Cuauhtemoc, and asked the street vendors as soon as we exited the station for directions. The walk to Arena Mexico was in a safe neighborhood. Your first sign that you have arrived in the right area will be the sudden influx of vendors selling Luchador masks. For those interested in purchasing one, the price we were quoted initially was 100 pesos. For what it’s worth, almost every price in Mexico City was negotiable, so your souvenir will set you back about $5 USD. Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs fame) recently did a terrific piece on CNN describing just how much effort goes into the design of each of these beautiful masks.
One of Many Vendors Selling Luchador Masks
We went on a Friday night, with the fights starting at 8:30PM. Alternatively, you can go and watch Tuesday nights, but I was told that there are a fewer lesser known Luchadors that fight that night. Not that it really makes much of a difference for a tourist. There are typically 4-5 fights, each lasting 3 rounds. If you want to stay for the whole event, you will likely get out of the Arena Mexico by 10:30-11:00PM.
Tickets were easy to obtain at the ticket booth adjacent to the entrance of the Arena Mexico. We were cautioned about buying tickets from the scalpers, who may sell you nosebleed seats while telling you that they are ringside. Prices ranged from 35 pesos to over 400 pesos. We chose to get the cheapest tickets, and save our money for beer inside. After climbing what seemed to be a million steps, we entered into the carnival-like atmosphere that was our Friday night. After picking up 2 Coronas for 70 pesos (total), we settled into our seats on the concrete benches and got to watch this for the next 2 hours:
Lucha Libre In All Its Glory
Yes, your eyes aren’t fooling you. There are 2 Luchadors holding a little person while another little person is about to attack them, and there is a slightly overweight Luchador slowly crawling his way back into the ring so he can join the second fight going on.
More Little Person Lucha Libre Madness
This Fight Just Doesn’t Seem Fair
If you were interested in watching Lucha Libre, you do have the option of going through several tour companies. We were told by our hotel that a tour (including tickets and a ride to the Arena) would run about $35 USD per person. Given that our night cost us substantially less (10 pesos round-trip Metro ride + 35 pesos event ticket = 45 pesos or roughly $3 USD), and how easy it was to figure things out, I’m not sure that the expense is worth it. After all, the extra $30 USD goes a long ways in Mexico City (like being able to buy 6 Luchador masks!).
No matter how you choose to attend a Lucha Libre event, I strongly encourage that you consider it if you are able to. It was one of the best times I had in Mexico City, and reminded me of why I enjoy travel so much. While at the event, we noticed that we weren’t around a bunch of tourists (like you would likely be at the Frida Kahlo Museum, for example). Not that there is anything wrong with being with fellow tourists, but it was fun watching Mexican families enjoying their Friday night out. And all of this for $3 USD? An incredible travel value.
For more information about the beginning of our weekend in Mexico City, including our arrival at Aeropuerto Internacional de México (MEX) and discovering the Metro system, take a look at our previous post.
About the author: Eric is a young professional living in Boston, MA with his wife, Annalisa. We try to balance work/life responsibilities with a desire to travel as much as possible. To make this work, we take weekend trips to domestic and international destinations, trying to maximize our $/points while seeing the best tourist attractions and local favorites. How much can you can pack into A Weekend In Mexico City?