Lucha Libre – Trade secrets and revelations

Lucha libre is thus constructed around the public secret of the fixed ending. Yet the secret of the fixed ending is only one of a number of back secrets, of stories told and stories hidden, of secrets revealed to conceal still others. The secrecy of the fix stands for a series of dissimulations, for the mystery that animates the genre.

Heather Levi – The World of Lucha Libre – Trade secrets and revelations

One thought on “Lucha Libre – Trade secrets and revelations

  1. Heather Levi’s boook „The World of Lucha Libre“ is a fine study of Mexican professional wrestling of interest to both academics and to wrestling hardcores. Her best chapters are on the significance of the mask in Lucha Libre(even wrestling fans with a nodding acquaintance with Lucha Libre know that being unmasked is a form of symbolic castration) and the impact of television on Lucha Libre. She approaches pro wrestling as a form of sign-signifying activity(semioticizing, as it were), but she mercifully doesn’t bog down in the jargon/metalanguage of semiotics. (Even a no-frills, no-showmanship wrestler such as the great Lou Thesz was engaged in semioticizing – his very body language saying, in effect, „I’m not a clown, I’m the real thing, take me seriously!“) In this book she demonstrates a considerable grasp of the history of Lucha Libre, the psychological inner workings of Lucha Libre performers, and the psychology of the performance itself. She even laced on the boots herself! I have some quibbles about the book. She persists in calling Vince McMahon’s operation the WWF, even though it changed its name to the WWE years ago for legal reasons. There is relatively little mention of the legendary Mil Mascaras here(a controversial figure within the business) and no mention of his brother Dos Caras. I did not see any mention of the legendary Guerrero family, of great significance both in Mexico and the United States. I see no reference made to El Solitario here. There is no discussion of the impact of Lucha Libre on the styles of Canadian or American performers such as Chris Jericho and the late Chris Benoit. Perhaps she did not feel the matter was within the bounds of her book, but she could have mentioned the influence of Lucha Libre on Japanese professional wrestling in the form of Satoru ‚Tiger Mask‘ Sayama, who would surely not have become ‚Tiger Mask‘ without his unique blend of Lucha Libre, his own martial arts background, and the high-level technical wrestling of Karl Gotch. Lucha Libre even had significant influence on the insane risk-taking of Paul Heyman-era ECW. She might even have pursued his topic into the legendary technician/flier feuds in professional wrestling which were real resentments turned into wrestling angles. The feuds of Lou Thesz/Antonino Rocca(Rocca was not Mexican, but he did bring elements of Lucha Libre to American professional wrestling well before it was generally thought of), and Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels(who was trained by the Mexican wrestler Jose Lothario, a wrestler who enjoyed good runs in Texas, California, and other points south)come to mind here. Lest one thinks this was all show, Lou Thesz’s autobiography expresses very real contempt for Rocca, both as a performer and as a person. And Bret Hart’s contempt for Shawn Michaels seems very real to me, Hart sometimes mentioning Michaels’s ‚Mexican‘ style with some disapproval. An interesting topic that Ms. Levi passed over. The book is well-written and has good ‚flow.‘ I thoroughly recommend this book to both academics and wrestling hardcores. Greg Cameron, Surrey, B.C., Canada

Leave a comment