Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Lucha libre, a Spanish phrase loosely translated into English as "free-style fighting," is a genre of professional wrestling developed in Mexico. The creation of Lucha Libre is often credited to Salvador Lutteroth Gonzales when he founded Empressa Mejicana de la Lucha Libre. A lucha libre wrestler is known as a luchador, the plural of which being luchadores.
It is most clearly marked by the use of masks. Masks are colorfully designed to evoke the images of animals, gods, ancient heroes, and other archetypes, whose identity the Luchador takes on during a performance. Virtually all wrestlers in Mexico will start their careers wearing masks, but almost all will eventually be unmasked before the end of their careers. Sometimes, a wrestler slated for retirement will be unmasked in his final bout, signifying loss of identity as that character. El Santo is perhaps the most famous practitioner of the form who built a solid career in cinema in the lucha libre genre. Some famous battles are based on the premise of máscara contra cabellera (English: mask versus hair), where a masked luchador and an unmasked one would bet their mask or hair respectively if they lose. Another well-known type of battle is máscara contra máscara (English: mask versus mask), in which two masked wrestlers compete and the loser is unmasked. A traditional division of luchadores is rudos (bad guys, or heels) and técnicos (the good guys, or faces) who always play by the rules, in theory at least.
Masks, however, are not the only distinguishing characteristic of lucha libre. Because most wrestlers in Mexico are smaller than their counterparts elsewhere in North America, there is less emphasis on power moves than in the United States or Canada. Mexican wrestling is marked by rapid sequences of holds and moves, as well as spectacular high-flying moves, many of which have been adopted north of the border. Also, lucha libre traditionally has been more oriented toward tag team wrestling than has United States or Canadian wrestling. The quintessential lucha libre match is a trios match called Relevos Australianos in Mexico, featuring two three-man teams performing under a slightly modified version of North American tag team rules consisting of a team captain and usually two out of three falls.
Luchadores, like their foreign counterparts, seek to obtain a "Championship Belt" through winning key wrestling matches; these belts are awards signifying that their holder has achieved the height of luchador skills, and are highly coveted.
In recent years, several luchadores have found success in the United States. Notable former luchadores who are thriving in the USA today are Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio. A fanciful take on the lucha libre concept can be seen in the animated cartoon ˇMucha Lucha!.
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