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The Greatest Show of Lucha Libre at the Roundhouse, Camden

19 May 2019 | Kate Plummer

There’s something to be said for a show that can take you from the rainy streets of busy Camden on a Saturday afternoon, and transport you into the heart of Mexico.

If, like us, you weren’t previously familiar with the fierce and flamboyant world of Mexican wrestling known as Lucha Libre, then you’d have definitely recognised the colourful masks worn by the Lucharores (that’s wrestlers to the uninitiated) and by many of the excited queue snaking around the side of the Roundhouse ahead of the matinee performance.

As the wrestling arena began to fill as the high energy performance of London-based female mariachi band Mariachi las adelitas set the tone, it was clear that this is a sport that brings a whole range of people together in their passion. From three generations of families, couples posing for selfies in their masks, groups of guys enjoying a drink, it’s clear that Lucha Libre appeals to all ages as they cheer on their favourites, even getting the chance to meet their wrestling idols during the interval, with small children hanging off the tree trunk-esque arms of the Luchadores. 

Lucha Libre literally translates to ‘free fight’, and although there are a few rules for fighters to follow, it certainly seemed that the fights themselves were well choreographed free-for-alls. There was something incredibly pantomime about the whole event, albeit in a positive way, as the various heroic Tecnicos fought the dastardly Rudos and their cheating ways in a series of Good vs Evil battles, both one-on-one showdowns and tag team tussles, where characters define themselves with fantastic costumes ranging from demonic swans, destructive cyborgs and Liberace-channelling fabulousness, not to mention the iconic masks. 

The fighting style itself is incredibly entertaining to watch, even when the Spanish commentary is hard to keep up with. Fast paced and dynamic, with choreographed flips, tricks and impressive aerial manoeuvres galore which resulted in frequent eruptions of cheers and boos from the crowd.  

Sadly, the event took a tragic turn during the evening performance when the legendary Mexican Luchador, Silver King, collapsed during a match. At first theaudience and his opponent believed it to be all part of the act, but it quickly became clear everything was not as it should be, and sadly Silver King, real name Cesar Barron, died of a heart attack on the ring. Barron, 51, was known for his long Luchador and WCW career, as well as playing the villain Ramses in the 2005 Jack Black film Nacho Libre, a character he continued to frequently bring to the stage. Son of famous Luchador, Dr Wagner, his peers have commented that he died doing what he loved, and from the cheers of the crowds during the matinee performance, it was abundantly clear that he was loved for his performance in the sport. 

If we had to sum up Lucha Libre to anyone who has yet to experience it in just three words, they would be passion, theatricality and pride. Mexican Wrestling has a huge following across the globe, and London certainly proved that at the Roundhouse. The sport may have lost one of its greats, but thanks to the huge support and loyalty Lucha Libre has earned, it will do doubt continue to grow into the future, whilst remembering those who played a part in its history. 
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