There’s so much to explore in Mexico City, it’s hard to know where to begin. From countless museums, restaurants, parks, and monuments, the city is loaded with unique and diverse culture in every direction that you look.
One memorable cultural experience that we’re still smiling about is spending a Friday night attending a Lucha Libre show at Arena Mexico. If you’re unfamiliar with Lucha Libre, we strongly encourage you to fix that because it is truly entertainment in its purest sense!
Nervous about attending a Lucha Libre event on your own? Don’t sweat it! We’ll give you the scoop on how to have the best possible experience at this must-see event in the heart of Mexico City.
Here’s what you need to know…
What is it?
Lucha Libre is basically Mexican wrestling…
Google dictionary clearly doesn’t do it justice! There are so many things about the Lucha Libre spectacle to appreciate, none more important than the wrestlers themselves. While some look like they were dragged from the local cantina minutes before their match, many of the wrestlers demonstrate a shocking amount of athleticism. Occasionally impressive and always entertaining!
Not exactly WWE quality, but these guys can move!
Tickets can be purchased at the arena the day of the show or in advance through Ticketmaster. We purchased them on Ticketmaster the morning of the show from the comfort of our AirBnb. Because we were purchasing tickets the day of the show, there were no front row / ringside seats available, so we “settled” for tickets in the 4th row at a whopping price tag of $25 per ticket.
With the tickets ordered, the next task was picking them up from the box office at the arena – an adventure in its own right! We opted to pick them up earlier in the day to avoid what we assumed would be pure chaos outside of the arena immediately prior to the show (an assumption that was later proven to be very true!).
Arriving at Arena Mexico around 1pm, we were greeted by 2 or 3 scalpers who initiated the hard sell before realizing that we had already purchased tickets. The scalpers told us what window to go to for pick-up (thanks amigos!). The window was completely blacked out, so we couldn’t see anything on the other side. We waited patiently for 3-4 minutes before a voice emerged from the darkness, saying something in Spanish.
I said something like “Ticketmaster pick-up, por favor”. The voice asked for a confirmation number. I stared in horror at my phone, realizing that the confirmation number was a 15-character alphanumeric code that I was not prepared to translate into Spanish. My high school Spanish teacher would not be proud.
Sensing my discomfort, the mystery voice implored me to just slide my phone under the blacked out window so he could read the confirmation number himself. Sure, why not.
He then asked for me to slide my drivers license under the door for verification purposes. Sure, why not.
Next the credit card to charge a 10 peso pickup charge (50 cents USD). Sure, why not.
Before I knew it, I had provided the complete identify theft starter pack to a person who we couldn’t even see! We waited impatiently for about 30 seconds, which felt more like an eternity, until the phone, license, and credit card were finally slid back into my possession, along with 2 glossy, magnificent Lucha Libre tickets. We were officially in business!
Arriving for the Show
We were planning to arrive about 20 minutes before the show to get settled, but ran a bit late at a nearby restaurant (La Docena – highly recommended!) and ended up arriving at the scheduled start time of 8:30. There was a massive crowd outside of the box office when we arrived, which we promptly walked past since we already had our tickets.
Having read a handful of reviews prior to attending, we knew that the smart move would be to seek out an Arena Mexico usher wearing a blue vest to help us find our seats. I assumed we would be able to find them on our own, but figured it was worth the 25 peso tip ($1.30 USD) to avoid the confusion. It was a bit harder to flag someone down than we expected, but we finally did and followed the usher to our seats.
Little did we know, our 25 pesos was VERY well spent. There were 2 children sitting in our seats when we arrived. The usher asked them to move and was approached from behind by a very aggressive mama bear who didn’t appreciate our usher talking to her cubs! Several other people got involved, all screaming at each other in Spanish, as our usher tried to navigate this difficult situation on our behalf. The show had already begun, which only added to the chaos.
Christina and I stood in silence, trying to blend in while all of this was happening (yeah right…). Eventually, several groups ended up swapping seats and we somehow ended up in 2nd row seats, two rows closer to the ring than what we had originally purchased.
Moral of the story: find an usher in a blue vest and let him or her take you to your seat. You won’t regret it!
Once our seats were secured, we were immediately offered beers by a vendor. They came in at ~50 pesos per beer ($2.50 USD). You buy two beers at a time, per person, and they pour them into very large Styrofoam cups for your enjoyment. $10 well spent!
The actual wrestling is hilarious and spectacular. The wrestler intros involve a long lineup of scantily clad women with each wrestler getting aggressively cheered or booed as they entered the ring. We obviously didn’t understand what anyone was saying, but it was easy to tell who was a hero and who was a villain based on the crowd’s reaction. Lucha Libre crowds don’t mess around.
The wrestling itself is generally more acrobatic than you might initially expect, with a healthy dose of very cheesy maneuvers weaved in throughout the match.
The wrestlers represent all genders, ages, shapes, and sizes. One of our favorite matches was an absolute melee that involved several female wrestlers going at it in the ring at once. Pure pandemonium.
The best matches with the most athletic and skilled wrestlers are generally reserved for the end. Some of these matches get pretty intense and result in unexpected (and unwelcome) crowd interaction. During one fight, we saw the wrestlers make their way into the audience, break a table, and rudely slap a fan’s beer out of his hands. That same wrestler also spit at someone sitting in the first row directly in front of us. It was pretty gross. Keep your head on a swivel, kiddos.
Another word of caution: beware of flying change at the end of the more competitive and entertainment matches. The Lucha Libre crowd tends to reward a great performance by throwing pesos into the ring (with questionable aim). It was literally raining loose change after a few of the better fights. Cover your head and your beer!
A typical Lucha Libre show on Friday night lasts about 2-3 hours and includes anywhere from 6-8 matches.
The arena clears out pretty quickly after the show ends. We recommend walking a few blocks away from the arena and grabbing an Uber from there. Arena Mexico is not in a great part of town, and while you’re totally safe after the show given the number of people walking around, there are better parts of town to explore for your post Lucha Libre cocktail.
Have you been to a Lucha Libre show in Mexico City? How did your experience compare to ours?