Film Review by Fiore
Anyone who enjoys pro wrestling will relish LUCHA MEXICO, a documentary concerning the pro wrestling circuit in Mexico, known as Lucha Libre. Specifically, Directors Ian Markiewicz and Alex Hammond follow the career paths of “1000 % Guapo” Shocker, the Blue Demon, Jon “Strongman” Andersen and El Hijo Del Perro Aguayo, who lost his life in the ring at the hands of Rey Mysterio.
Pro wrestling is always about good vs evil; a collection of stereotyped personas who reflect current cultural or societal mores and concepts, and test those elements in the ring with a series of pre-determined maneuvers and gymnastic exercises. It’s a form of physical Kabuki Theatre.
Here in America, pro wrestling is looked upon with scorn, and its fans regarded by the cultural elite as subhuman; they are soap operas for the unwashed masses. In Mexico, pro wrestling is an integral part of the culture and spans all socioeconomic strata. The wrestlers are larger than life heroes and villains who bring a sense of justice to an oppressed people. Most of the wrestlers wear masks. The masks reflect the wrestler’s character, and provide privacy for the performers, enabling them to return to a normal lifestyle once they leave the ring.
The Blue Demon was a major wrestling star in Mexico. Like Mils Mascaras, he not only wrestled in the ring, but his popularity carried over to movies and television. His son did everything to avoid following in his father’s footsteps, but there was no escaping his destiny. He now wrestles as Blue Demon, Jr. and continues his father’s legacy in the squared circle and on celluloid.
The Lucha Libre style of wrestling is broken into two camps, Technicos and Rudos. The former are technical wrestlers, utilizing complicated aerial maneuvers and submission holds. The latter group, generally the villains, are brutes and rely on overpowering strength. A third faction, Pardos Del Mar, occasionally appears at shows. These wrestlers are the epitome of extreme wrestling and often fight with broken light bulbs, barbed wire, chairs, tables, hammers, tacks and other foreign objects. Their matches are always bloody, and take a tremendous toll on the performers.
One of these performers was Perro Aguayo. He was involved in an extreme match with Rey Mysterio. Both are crowd favorites. One of Mysterio’s signature moves went wrong and Aguayo’s spine broke. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. LUCHA MEXICO shows the aftermath of the accident and the reactions of those who worked with Aguayo. It also details the training, injuries and rehabilitation of some of the sport’s biggest stars.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. The death of Aguayo
2. Shocker’s medical rehabilitation
3. Jon Andersen’s gym workout.
Several of Mexico’s stars are displaced Americans. Bodybuilder and strongman Jon Andersen, who is familiar to many from the “World’s Strongest Man” competitions, wrestles as a good guy in Lucha Libre (which makes his daughters very happy) and as a heavy in New Japan Wrestling. LUCHA MEXICO details his dual life and the toll it takes on his body and his family.
Also featured is Giant Bernard. For a time, he appeared in the WWE as Lord Tensai, but promoters did not know what do to with him and had him playing more comic relief than serious wrestler, so he quickly left WWE and returned to Mexico and Japan. Currently, Giant Bernard, who is actually Matt Bloom, is retired and serves as head trainer at the WWE’s training center in Orlando, Fl.
LUCHA MEXICO is a fascinating look, outside of the ring, into the gyms and hospitals that keep wrestling alive. Several Lucha Libre stars have successfully transitioned to WWE wrestling, including Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio, and the Lucha Dragons. They retain their Mexican personas and bring a bit of the Lucha Libre flavor to American audiences.
LUCHA MEXICO realistically demonstrates the trenches of Mexican wrestling in a dramatic and entertaining manner. This documentary is well assembled. It is enjoyable viewing for anyone interested in pro wrestling, or anyone fascinated by the cultural differences in the sport’s presentation.
THE GRADE FOR LUCHA MEXICO = A