Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Wrestlers

We've fallen a little behind on our media consumption, so we're only just now seeing this weekend's lucha libre story in the New York Times. We were slightly apprehensive because the appearance of a cultural phenomenon in the pages of the Gray Lady usually means the phenomenon has officially jumped the shark*, but the piece was actually quite interesting as it centered on a distinctly American (or, more accurately, Mexican-immigrants-in-America) version of the lucha:

But in the heart of the fight card, a deeper conflict played on the racial tensions and stereotypes of a downtrodden immigrant audience. Among the wrestlers, the vilest of the vile were the members of La Legíon Extranjera, the Foreign Legion, gringos who openly disparaged the spectators, their language and their country. The invasion, in this sense, referred to the chance for the Mexican heroes to drive out the Foreign Legion.

Just as American wrestling leagues enjoyed broad popularity in the waning days of the cold war with villainous Soviet characters like Nikolai Volkoff and Krusher Khrushchev, the lucha libre promoters have tailored their story line to the times.

All we can add here is that most of the lucha north of the border, including what's covered in this story, is AAA league, which the cognoscenti (by which we of course mean ourselves and our immediate circle of friends) tend to dismiss as Hollywood-style flash, preferring instead the old school grappling of the CMLL. We'll concede that this started out as an affectation, but now we kinda mean it. Still, to each his own.

    * (In case you were wondering, the phrase "jump the shark" officially jumped the shark on December 12, 1999.)

1 comment:

Lazlo Lozla said...

I didn't know what "AAA" stands for, and now I would think of a mild-mannered accounting/consulting type, instead of, say, La Parka.