In the United States, people are either fans of professional wrestling or they make fun of it, calling it fake. In Mexico, things are very different. Professional wrestling in Mexico, or Lucha libre, is almost a national pastime and is very respected by Latinos, many of who consider the characters in Lucha libre to be real-life heroes. In exchange, the Lucha libre wrestlers return the love and respect by working a job that is nowhere near as fake as American critics like to paint it to be.
The new movie Lucha Mexico goes a long way to show how much these Lucha libre wrestlers put on the line when giving the fans not only entertainment but an escape from often hard lives and heroes that they can look up to. Alex Hammond and Ian Markiewicz go a long way in this documentary to praise Lucha libre wrestling, but they are also intent on showing the effects that the job has on their bodies and their lives.
The main star of Lucha Mexico is Shocker, a wrestler that fans of American wrestling might remember from a stint in TNA Impact Wrestling many years back. Shocker is a second generation wrestler who has competed all over the world and remains a legend in Mexico. At the age of 44, he is still competing even though his body is starting to break down.
To really show what the documentary is trying to focus on, Shocker suffers a pretty significant knee injury, one that will take him out of wrestling for a few months. Since Mexican wrestlers rely on their in-ring competition to make money, he goes into rehab to work his way back to the ring while choosing to open a new restaurant based on his nickname “Guapo.”
The biggest problem with Lucha Mexico is that it seems very repetitive, and at a running time of 1:43, could have trimmed off about 20 minutes and not lost any of it’s message. There is a lot of repetitive scenes of wrestlers training with the message that only the most dedicated will survive in the business. There is also a pretty simplified look at the traditions of the mask and identity of Lucha wrestlers as well.
With such a storied history and names like Mil Mascaras, El Santo, Doc Caras, Blue Demon, and more, it seems there was a much bigger chance to delve into the history of Lucha libre wrestling and culture than Lucha Mexico offered. Instead, this film wanted to focus on a few names and show the pain and suffering they went through. The one exception is Blue Demon Jr., who is a legend with a legendary father, and someone who still puts his body on the line despite injuries that make it hard to often even get out of bed.
Jon Anderson, who wrestles in Mexico as Jon Strongman, is shown training and fighting. He is shown with his daughters and his close friend Shocker. He is shown with a very injured arm, explaining how he will wrestle no matter the pain when he is in Mexico. That is what most of the athletes in this film set out to explain.
However, one of the most shocking moments in Lucha Mexico is when the in-ring death of Perro Aguayo. The death happened during a match involving former WWE star Rey Mysterio Jr. While the documentary never spoke to Mysterio, it did speak to those close to Aguayo, including one fellow wrestler who said that Aguayo dying in the ring was the way he would want to go, saying it made him a legend forever. That mentality seems almost horrifying, but that is life in Lucha libre wrestling in Mexico.
Lucha Mexico is extremely brave by making these wrestlers seem more human than anyone could imagine. Shocker talks about his struggles with alcohol and depression. Lucha Underground women’s wrestler Sexy Star talks about how she wanted to commit suicide until she found Lucha wrestling, which saved her life.
Lucha Mexico is a brutally honest documentary about how hard it is to be a Lucha wrestler and how much these men and women do to honor the sport and their fans. I just wish there was a little more depth to it when it comes to honoring Lucha wrestling and its history. At the end of the day, Lucha Mexico presents fans with a nice look at some colorful superstars who love the industry and bare their soul for filmmakers who clearly love the sport.