In Oaxaca, Mexico, I discovered Lucha Libre, the “Mexican wrestling”, which isn’t to be missed.
If in Oaxaca, there are 2 or 3 Lucha Libre evenings per month with a few hundred spectators, it is very different in Mexico City.
Here there are several performances a week and the temple of the Lucha Libre is called the Arena Mexico. Luckily, this Arena is only a 5 minute walk from our Airbnb.
Arena Mexico City
The Arena Mexico is simply the largest hall of Lucha Libre, it can accommodate up to 17,500 spectators!
It hosts fights 3 days a week :
- Tuesday from 7:30 pm
- Friday from 8:30 pm
- Sundays from 5 pm
Fighting takes place 52 weeks a year, no interruption during the vacations.
The most popular evening is the Friday when the fights are even televised. If you want to make the most of the atmosphere, try to go on that day.
How much does it cost?
There really is something for all prices: tickets can be bought between 55 and 450 pesos.
Seats in the ring are sold between 200 and 450 pesos depending on the row (450 pesos for the first 3 rows, 200 pesos between the 19th and 29th).
Grandstand seats are exchanged for 120 or 130 pesos.
The seats in the stands, very high, can be bought for 55 pesos.
To get good visibility and make the most of the show, I strongly advise you to spend at least 200 pesos. Visibility will be less good for cheaper tickets. Don’t take a seat in a tier, you will be very far from the ring and may not see much.
How to buy tickets
You have several options:
- Online on the Ticketmaster site which manages the marketing. However, while trying to buy soccer tickets on Ticketmaster, I had difficulties paying with a non-Mexican credit card. So I’m not 100% sure that this is possible.
- On the spot directly. The arena being huge, there will always be places available. However, please come early because there will be a line up, especially if you want one of the best seats. You can pay by credit card if you need to (by presenting an ID, French ID OK).
- By taking an organized tour as proposed by Viator(link) for example. You will pay more than if you go by yourself but you will be fully taken care of, especially for transportation. It can be interesting
CAUTION: Do not buy your tickets from a retailer on the sidewalk in front of the arena. That’s what I did and I got ripped off like a beginner. Explanations below.
The big fail
After more than 2 months in Mexico, this Friday evening of Lucha Libre will be my last activity before leaving the country 2 days later. So I had the pleasure to offer myself a place in the very first row at 450 pesos, I’m going to take a lot of it!
Arriving 15 minutes before the fighting starts, the area around the Arena is in full swing: the ticket office is in full swing, it smells like tacos from the many mobile stands, fans are buying the famous masks and the numerous security guards are controlling access. The evening promises to be excellent.
However, my early evening is going to be a string of failures.
Already, I had my bottle of water confiscated at the entrance that I had just bought at the Oxxo next door. It is forbidden to bring a drink, surely to better consume inside.
Then I am gently lectured to have a camera on me (a modest Sony) and I understand that it will be confiscated if I am caught using it.
And it’s going to spoil again.
Once the security is over, I hand my ticket to a person in charge of placing the spectators and handing out the evening’s program (expect a few pesos of tip). It’s when I arrive at my seat that I understand in amazement that I’ve been completely fooled. The ticket I have is absolutely not the price I paid. After a few minutes of disbelief, I realize that the ticket has been altered to hide the price displayed. I have a ticket worth 130 pesos instead of the 450 I paid
So I find myself high up with a visibility that would be correct without this big grid. In short, the lose.
Back to the past: not being able to buy tickets on the internet, I decided to buy my ticket the day before on the spot. As this is my first experience, I prefer to avoid the frenzy of the ticket office the same evening
First attempt on Thursday morning: failure, everything is closed.
Second attempt in the afternoon, I’m quite happy to be approached by a salesman (how naive!). He has dozens of tickets in hand as well as a map of the hall. I explain to him that I want a place at the front at 450 pesos. He rummages through his tickets and finds a seat that says “File A, seat 19”, he shows me precisely where the seat is located on his map. “File A, first row”, it seems logical.
I am intrigued by the price displayed on the ticket (30 pesos) which does not correspond to any tariff. I make the remark to him and he answers me something that I don’t understand. I look at his other tickets which all show 30 pesos, so I think it’s a printing problem. It’s only too late that I understood that they were 130 pesos tickets and that the “1” was conscientiously scratched on all the tickets to be invisible
I sinned out of naivety because of 3 points :
- The guard (policeman?) right next door, witness of the scene without saying anything. Even though I know that in Mexico that doesn’t mean anything.
- I have no doubt that this is a real ticket because it is identical to the one I bought for soccer (also sold by Ticketmaster)
- After coming that morning and finding the door closed, I was very happy to be able to buy my ticket.
My biggest mistake was not to go 10 meters further, I think I would have found the official ticket office open and would have been able to buy my ticket safely.
In short, I find myself sitting in a much worse seat than the one I was supposed to have, upset that I was fooled like a beginner. The fight starts on time and I feel like I’m not going to enjoy it. I plan to leave and come back the next day but there are no fights on Saturday and we leave the country on Sunday morning. I’m thinking about buying another ticket but I only have a few pesos to buy food and drink
After a few minutes of reflection I decide to go back and forth to the apartment to get my wallet and go to the ticket office (official this time!) to buy a new ticket. I would lose 450 pesos in the story, it’s very vexing, but the evening won’t be completely missed.
When you leave the arena 20 minutes after the fighting has started, there are still a lot of lines at the ticket office. When I am back 20 minutes later, there is almost no more waiting.
All the front rows are obviously full but I can still buy an excellent seat at 320 pesos, just behind the TV commentators. I would have missed about an hour of fighting. Nothing very serious because the evening is long and the intensity is going to crescendo
At the entrance fighters are available to pose with the spectators. When he sees me taking a picture, he makes me admire his impressive biceps.
It is possible to buy the famous masks of Lucha Libre. The prices go up to 6 000 pesos or about 300 euros! If you just want to buy one for fun during the evening, those sold by the street vendors outside the arena will surely be much cheaper.
I find the Lucha Libre that I discovered a few weeks earlier in Oaxaca but everything is 100x more intense:
- The fighters aren’t amateurs but professionals, real stars for some who have their Wikipedia page about their childhood, their career, their exploits.
- If the arena isn’t full, it is well stocked with several thousand passionate spectators who will cheer, whistle, and insult the fighters copiously.
- The fighters (about fifteen in all on this evening) are all presented with a whole ceremony: light and sound effects that have nothing to envy the American wrestling that you may have already seen on Canal+.
- The technique of the fighters is much better, the holds much more varied and the show very aerial.
In short, a real show!
On the other hand, despite the “violence”, the show seems more policed to me than in Oaxaca where the fighters came to fight in the middle of the crowd and don’t hesitate to grab a can of beer from a spectator and throw it at his opponent! Nothing like that at the Arena Mexico.
The atmosphere is overwhelming, the sports performance very impressive. However, I am still quite perplexed by the public’s ability to get excited about this false suspense since everything is scripted.
The evening ends with a final frenzied fight around 11pm. There will have been 2h30 of uninterrupted fighting. I would have thus taken advantage of about 1h30 which seems to me amply sufficient. The evening would have been much better without the bad surprise described above but I’m happy with my decision to leave to buy a better place.
La Lucha Libre is a part of Mexican culture, an experience not to be missed if you are passing through the capital.
Mexico City and surroundings :
- Attend a soccer game at the mythical Estadio Azteca in Mexico City
- Evening of Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling) at the Arena Mexico City
- Mexico City or Ciudad de México
- We visited a Monarch Butterfly Reserve in Mexico – Sierra Chincua
- Visit of two old mining towns: Tlalpujahua and El Oro
- Pyramids of the Sun and Moon in Teotihuacán