Lucha Libre: Mexican Wrestlers
Literally translated from the Spanish, “lucha libre,” means free wrestling. This is a sort of freestyle wrestling which allows competitors to develop his own moves with nothing being out-of-bounds. Thus the high risk and high-flying style has formed because the competitor is not confined to simply mat techniques. Speed and innovation are the key to survive in this world.
As WCW fans may notice, many of the Mexican wrestlers, or “luchadores” (Spanish for wrestlers), wear masks which are an important part of the Lucha Libre tradition. Anyone familiar with Mexican culture knows that spectacle is important to any event. This means that costume is very important to the luchador. The mask becomes his identity. The loss of the mask often leads to the retirement of a competitor because his identity is gone. Thus the importance of matches in which the winner unmasks the loser. The “Mask Match” is a very traditional match but very rare because many luchadores do not want to risk losing their identity. “Hair Matches” are viewed in the same manner. Losing one’s hair to an opponent is a devastating loss and is viewed as a humiliation and a loss of honor. However, once challenged to either one of these matches it is dishonoorable not to accept. Pride is very important to the luchador. The luchadores primarily wrestle in the Cruiserweight division of WCW. Now let’s take a look at the top Cruiserweights….
Rey Mysterio, Jr.:
Rey Mysterio, Jr., whose name translated from the Spanish means “mysterious king,” is just that. He has been Cruiserweight champion many times over and his matches have been of epic proportions. From defeating big men like Kevin Nash, The Giant, and Bam Bam Bigelow, little Rey has been dubbed the “Giant Killer” by fans and commentators alike. After losing his mask in a match to Scott Steiner, Rey has continued in his winning ways and to many seems even more focused. He is a fan favorite and with Rey on the card at least one good match is guaranteed.
Konnan has come on as of late as one of the leading luchadores. He gets the crowd hyped up with his chants of “Arriba la rasa” (which means “up with the people/race) and “Odale” (a chant used at a Mexican bullfight instead of “Ole”) and his electrifying ring presence. K-Dogg combines both mat techniques with high flying lucha libre manuevers. His finishing hold is the Tequila Sunrise, a submission hold. Konnan has wide appeal with Latino population because of his similar background in the ghettos of their communities. Konnan has held the US Title, TV Title, and Cruiserweight Title.
Eddie Guerrero is one of the foremost Cruiserweights despite his long absence due to an almost fatal car accident. His return to WCW has been marked by a winning streak as well as a vendetta mission of sorts against former members of his Latino World Order(lWo). Eddie Guerrero is a multi-time Cruiserweight Champion and always considered a top contender in that category. His finishing manuever, the FrogSplash, is one of the most known high flying manuever.
His name means “youth warrior” in Spanish and that is just what he is. Many thought that Juvi was done after he lost his mask to Chris Jericho, but this wrestler battled back to win the Cruiserwight title. He has taken on Kidman and Rey in title battles that reach epic proportions and are always a fan favorite. Juvi finishes off opponents with the Juvi Driver, a move which puts the opponent face first into the mat. Juventud was an lWo member until Guerrero’s absence last year. He found himself the victim of Eddie’s anger the first week Eddie returned.
These are some of the most talented and innovative wrestlers. For these reasons fans love to watch the luchadores. The risk factor, however, sometimes gives these athletes short shelf-lives. Despite this, fans have grown an attachment to these wrestlers and their distinct style.