academic, Cultural Studies, lucha libre, masculinity, Mexican wrestling, Professional Wrestling

The Big Comeback (Post)

I can’t stay away.

There, I said it.

No apologies, no profound reasons: there was no magical moment wherein I realized that I wanted to continue writing about pro wrestling.

Well, maybe. There was one particular interaction with a fellow luchador which reminded me that my work is not done.

In the wake of Richard Spencer’s well-deserved punching, I came across a shirt that read “Punch More Nazis.” I had one printed for myself to wear during and upcoming show, and attempted to rally the rest of my colleagues at Lucha Libre Volcánica to follow suit. Sónico, the other half of Los Sexi Mexis, responded by stating that “we’re luchadors; not activists.”

Sónico’s argument is perhaps not inaccurate. However it presupposes that professional wrestling is completely devoid of political significance. Assuming that wrestling was somehow completely isolated from the realm of politics, I may have conceded. However, knowing that professional wrestling is thoroughly steeped in ideology, I continued with my original plan to wear the shirt. Our exchange did remind me that I still have work to complete in this realm.

Accordingly, I am compelled to again write about pro wrestling. Within the next week I intend share a proposed outline and itinerary for completing this project. It is admittedly an ambitious one, and incredibly multifaceted. As is customary for my approach, I will address professional wrestling in a critical academic fashion. However, in order to make the topic accessible as well as to offer a thorough exploration, I will utilize a multimedia approach that will include images, video, and audio, in addition to writing. The aforementioned approach ensures that each post will be unique, but also that completing each one will be no small task. Consequently, I may not be able to provide weekly updates, save for the occasional unrelated musings.

As previously stated, this will only be a pure “wrestling blog” in that it will be demonstrably using examples from wrestling for argumentative purposes. That is to say I will be writing about wrestling in an academic sense, but I will not be “chronicling” the history of wrestling, writing about my own wrestling adventures, nor providing fan insights like a damned mark.

It has been a while, but I’m stoked to be back. 🙌🏽

academic, arena mexico, art, Cultural Studies, culture, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Lucha Volcánica, masculinity, Mexican wrestling, mexico, performance, Performance Art, Professional Wrestling, school, strength, training, travel, Washington, wrestling school

The Final Post Edition, or Goodbye For Now

Friends,

It is with some sadness, albeit zero trepidation, that this will serve as my final blog post. My reasons are few: mostly I have just become too busy to dedicate the time required to write at the level that I demand of myself. Although I have not talked about it here, I recently began picking up stunt work for commercials and film, which—in addition to regular lucha gigs, full time employment, and my 7-day training regimen—not only occupies more of my time, but also has forced me to broaden my focus from just lucha libre. Given this personal shift, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to dedicate the same rigor to thinking and writing about lucha libre that I was once capable of maintaining.

I started training as a luchador in 2011 during my senior year of college. During that same year I applied for the Watson Fellowship, which would have funded an entire year of studying lucha libre abroad in South America, Spain, and Japan. Unfortunately I was selected as an alternate awardee, Although disheartened, I was undeterred, and redirected my existential flightiness: I moved to Mexico City to immerse myself in lucha libre. The exodus was relatively brief: I quickly ran out of money and my lack of Spanish made employment opportunities scarce. Despite emptying my savings account, my experiences were invaluable, and the relationships I forged with locals and other luchadors during my tenure continue to this day.

Another byproduct of the trip was this blog, which I had originally intended to use as a diary to chronicle and share my experiences from the road. But now that I was no longer pursuing lofty goals within lucha libre’s mecca, what would be the scope of this blog? After returning to the States, the blog unintentionally became a smattering of cultural theory approaches to lucha libre—to mixed reactions from many readers who just wanted a “wrestling blog”—as well as observations about interpersonal relationships within the sport. Although the theoretical lens seems a bit far afield from professional wrestling, I am by no means the first person to give pro wrestling an academic treatment.

Despite the breadth of topics, my quarterly workouts (which were initially just filler posts) proved to be my most popular posts. I feel it’s safe to say that post-Mexico, I had no coherent vision for the blog and thus it never found a voice.

To that end it should be noted that I am not abandoning the blog on account of it not gaining monumental popularity: I knew quite well that the blog of a non-famous luchador would garner only a specialized, rather small audience (nevermind the fact that the blog was simultaneously academic in tone). Rather, this blog represents a particular chapter in my life that was rife with uncertainty, fear, and passion: uncertainty in the wake of moving to Mexico City to pursue the impossible; fear of said uncertainty; the unbridled passion for a sport. I was in an intense, naive, love affair with lucha libre, for which I flung myself into a personal exodus, into Mexico City, into the birthplace of lucha libre.

While I still love lucha libre, our relationship is now an established one; the maddening, lusty, honeymoon phrase has passed. And although my visions of performing in CMLL during my time in Mexico City did not come to be, I have not abandoned my passion for lucha libre nor the pursuit of excellence, and opportunities within the sport. In fact, I will achieve one of many lucha goals this August when I perform in Arena Naucalpan alongside three of my colleagues from Lucha Volcánica.

I am leaving behind this blog because of it’s significance from a specific period within my relationship with lucha libre, and by extension, a period within my life. I am instead shifting my focus to my future with lucha libre.

Put differently, I am moving on.

No, I am not moving on from lucha libre: when I started this blog I was pursuing, thinking, and dreaming about doing lucha libre. Now? Now I am simply too busy with the doing to be dreaming, a luxury that I was dreaming about back when I first started here.

And I like it that way.

With love,

Ave Rex

PS: You can still find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

 

academic, Cultural Studies, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Lucha Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, observations, performance, podcast, Professional Wrestling, school of lucha libre, strength, training

Why I Haven’t Been Writing: A Explanation for Both You and Me

For those of you who follow my adventures, you’ve probably noticed a distinct descrease in posts over the past few months, something that I would like now to address.

For me there seems to be a inverse causal relationship between doing and thought: the more I’m doing something, the less time I have to think about it abstractly. Conversely the less I’m doing a thing (e.g., when I first started Rex N Effect), the more time I may spend exploring it intellectually. Beginning back in January, Lucha Volcánica has had monthly shows in Seattle. We have scaled back our training regimen from daily, to 3-hour sessions on Saturday & Sunday. This schedule affords me more time to focus on weight training and conditioning, as well as to train for stunt work. However the increased frequency of shows also means that I’ve been spending more time preparing for shows than I have previously, which in turn, seemingly leaves me less time to ponder the sport in which I am participating.

While I never set a particular scope for Rex N Effect, I did pride myself on writing a non-wrestling wrestling blog of sorts. Further, I never wanted this blog to merely a newsletter of my activities, but now that my activity level within the sport has increased, it may mean that I will need to take a different approach to how I share on Rex N Effect. Although I still intend to explore lucha libre through writing, I will likely be diversifying how the exploration occurs, including more photos, videos, and perhaps (maybe) the resurrection of the mythical podcast.

Exciting things have been happening: I recently won my first mask vs. mask match, and Lucha Volcánica hosted a training seminar featuring the legendary Negro Navarro, both of which I intend to talk about at a later date. Today however, is another training day

Image Source: Wikipedia
lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, Professional Wrestling, Washington, wrestling school

All Politics is Local III: Back at the Capital

As some of you may remember from last year, myself and other local performers took to the capital in attempt to change Washington’s strict regulations on pro wrestling. Because many of you asked about the legislation, and it’s a consistent inquiry from colleagues and fans, I thought I’d share a recent statement I gave to Seattlish.

Lucha Libre Volcánica was established in 2011 as the premier lucha libre company and training school in the Pacific Northwest. Since our inception, we’ve had a successful training school, and have performed for regional festivals such as Seattle’s Taco Truck Rodeo, to our own annual show scholarship fundraising show at the University of Puget Sound.

Theatrical pro wrestling has innate hazards like any other athletic endeavor. Accordingly we’ve always emphasized proper technique, safety, and protection amongst our students and performers. Unlike athletic competition, the competition in lucha libre is more akin to theatre—it’s an intellectual and performative competition. Our acrobatics almost always require cooperation between two or more individuals, an essential characteristic that both pro wrestling and lucha libre share. Because of this important distinction between combative sports and pro wrestling, the regulations that have hitherto hindered any development of a pro wrestling scene in Washington are superfluous, and horribly misguided—they demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of pro wrestling.

Fortunately a handful of active supporters managed to gain attention of the Washington State Reps and the DOL, both of whom agreed that the regulations are constrictive, not constructive. Through a series of meetings with the DOL, 3-2-1 Battle’s Josh Black, local performer Jake Stratton, and Lucha Libre Volcánica’s Michael Leveton and owner José Gómez have been able to shape a series of regulations that will hopefully cultivate an active pro wrestling scene in Washington State. While we have been actively petitioning our State Reps, the DOL’s cooperation has been integral to any victories pro wrestling has won in Washington.

Hitherto the regulations have been cost-prohibitive, particularly for small family-owned companies like LLV. Paying for performers, a venue, and promotional materials is already an assumed cost. However the previous regulations would hold that a promoter would also have pay for the following: ringside security; an ambulance and an EMT on site; a promoter’s license; $1 from each ticket sale to the DOL; 10% of the overall door to the DOL. While some companies like the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) may be able to afford these costs, the average promoter cannot. Furthermore these costs deter any would-be trainers from operating a training facility school, as the performance opportunities are scarce.

HB 2388, in conjunction with the changes made with the DOL, will create and incentive for wrestling companies to operate in Washington by removing some of the restrictive and costly regulations imposed upon promoters, owners, and performers. By doing so, we hope not only to create a opportunities for touring companies such as Lucha Libre USA and WWE to visit Washington, but also for small business entrepreneurs such as LLV’s José Gómez.

Further, because of the current restrictions many companies end up hosting guerilla shows and operating underground training facilities. The removal of the regulations will attract professional companies, sincere entrepreneurs, and higher-quality performers, thereby increasing the legitimacy of the professional wrestling scene in Washington. Such competition will increase the accountability of self-described (read: hack) “trainers,” and therefore both the safety of performers and the quality of performances.

With the (hopeful) passing of HB 2388 and the less restrictive DOL regulations, we’re hoping to build a better and more robust pro wrestling scene in Washington State.

Image courtesy of Erich Von Tagen
Documentary, lucha, lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, mexico, observations, performance, podcast, training

On “Lucha Doc”: A Chat with Director and Producer Erich Von Tagen

As mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been the subject of an upcoming lucha libre documentary which is being produced under the working title “Lucha Doc.” During a recent visit to Portland, Oregon, I had a drink and a chat with my friend Erich Von Tagen, the Director and Producer of Lucha Doc. We discussed (of course) Lucha Doc, La Avispa’s most recent blog post, Erich’s experiences watching wrestling in Mexico and Japan, and our upcoming trip to Mexico City together.

Follow Lucha Doc at:

On a side note, there are two obviously censored moments within the interview wherein Erich accidentally mentioned luchador’s real names. Also, moving forward I’ll be publishing podcasts here, but I will eventually archive them on the iTunes store for all of you iPhiles.

 

lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, mexico, travel

Roadmap for 2015: Back to Mexico, Lucha de Sound, & Beyond.

Happy New Year! 2015 is already shaping up to be a busy year for lucha, starting off with another trip to Mexico! This trip will undoubtedly be not much different from previous trips, in that it will include several viewings of lucha libre and lots of training. However an entire team will accompany me this time around, including a pair of luchadores and three film professionals.

Catchphrase: "Arrrrgghhllle."
Above: Loco. Not pictured: body hair.

In tow I will have my friends Greengo Loco and Cazador del Alma. Greengo Loco is still a fairly new, albeit promising, luchador who has been training with Lucha Volcánica for around 8 months. He made his (somewhat premature, although successful) debut against Trueno Verde at the Radio Variedades’ 17th Anniversary show this past August. Cazador del Alma started his career with a yearlong tenure in American Pro before switching to train under Vaquero Fantasma, with whom he has now been training as a luchador for over four years. I have been acquainted with Cazador since before I started training at Lucha Volcánica; he was one of two other students at my premier lucha training session. Although Cazador and I have performed on the same card (hell, even in the same match!) we’ve never had the occasion to face each other in the ring, something that we’re hoping to reconcile soon—perhaps even while in Mexico. My profe José is attempting to get us booked at Arena Naucalpan; I’ll share info when I know more.

Woot.
With Cazador del Alma in late 2014.

In addition to my luchador homies, I’ll be dragging along the trio of lucha-documentarians who have been following me around and collecting footage over the past year. You can check out some of the things they’ve captured in the recent Lucha Volcánica promo video. Unfortunately there is not a lot of information to share on the documentary right now, but they’ve captured a (figurative) ton of footage so it has to be good, right?

In late 2014 I neglected to share details regarding a trip to perform in (a rather disastrous match in) Sacramento for Lucha Azteca. While my partner (who happened to be Cazador del Alma) and I both agreed that the match was garbage, I did learn one thing: there are always opportunities to perform. One of my biggest complaints about living in Washington as a luchador is that there are scant few opportunities to perform. Spending time in California made me realize that I must continue to strive to find opportunities to perform and train everywhere, not unlike like my pursuit when I began this blog. That being said—following Lucha de Sound, of course—I intend to not only return to Mexico a second time, but to also spend more time training with Vaquero Fantasma in San Jose, in addition to other trainers in California.

In accordance with a trip to Mexico, wherein I will be doing lots of training (and hopefully at least one show), I am spending the next month intensively conditioning to prepare. Because I regularly share my training regimens here, I’ll post a more in-depth workout update soon. In short I added more, heavier sets, and 4 days of interval cardio.

Finally, moving forward I have decided to diversify the content of this blog. Historically I have shared my thoughts and analyses surrounding various aspects of lucha libre, mostly dwelling in the realm of theory. While I intend to continue to do so, I will also be sharing more videos, sound recordings, and increase my focus on photoblogging. In part this decision is to refocus on the original intent of this blog, which was to chronicle my adventures in the ring. Additionally I hope the decision will make blog-writing less daunting: while I love writing, it is exhausting to regularly research and write such dense posts in addition to a full-time job and several hours of training per week. Fans of my analyses, don’t fret: I will continue to write such posts, but the void in between such posts will be filled by perhaps less intellectually challenging posts.

 

But I promise no cat videos.

Image source: Wikipedia.
exercise, lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, strength, training

A luchador’s Workout IV: Pushing For Gains

We’re in the last quarter of 2014, meaning that it’s once again time to change the exercise regimen!

As I have mentioned in previous installments, changes to my routine are usually more of an ongoing, gradual, organic process instead of drastically changing my workout. If you’ve been following my workout updates you’ll notice that changes are often as subtle as increases or decreases in the amount of weight, a change in the number of reps or sets, to swapping flat bench press for dumbbell press. Ideally this would help me continually make gains in both size and strength whilst simultaneously changing enough to avoid plateaus.  As always I avoid working until complete exhaustion, as I still train lucha libre in between my lifting days.

Noteworthy changes in this installment: moving into the holidays, us luchadores at Lucha Volcánica tend to miss more practice days. Accordingly I’m using this time to work on heavier gains, which is noticeable in the increase in the number of overall sets, and low-repetition, heavy-weight sets. Because of the increased number of sets, I’ve also shaved off a few isolations in the interest of time conservation—after all not everyone can or wants to spend several hours at the gym. That being said, the entire program is a circuit, ergo employing active rest in between sets.

I’ve outlined the workout below, but have also included an Excel spreadsheet which gives a little more coherence to the circuit.

Overview:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Lucha training X Yes Yes X Yes X Yes
Weight training Legs X X Push X Pull X
Cardio/plyometrics/agility HS walkovers Swimming X Sprints X Sprints X
Core exercises Balance X X Low rep/high weight X High rep/no weight X
Neck 3×3, 10-15 reps X X X X X

Circuit Guide:

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Cardio/plyometrics/agility Handstand walkovers (2 sets, 15 feet), tuckup into handstands (2×10) Mixed swim workout, ~ 20-30 minutes + Lucha training 4 varied sets, 80-120 contacts 2 sets plyometrics, 2 sets box jumps (5x max height)
Core exercises Balance: 3 exercises (abs), 2 exercises (obliques) 2 sets of each exercise Lucha training Weights: 3 exercises (abs), 2 exercises (obliques) 2 sets of each exercise Lucha training High-rep: 3 exercises (abs), 2 exercses (obliques) 2 sets of each exercise Lucha training
Neck 3×3, 6-8 reps X X

Routine:

Deadlifts (2×15, 3×6, 1×10)
Squats (2×15, 3×6, 1×10)
Thigh adductors (3×6, 1×10, 2×15)
Hamstring curls (4×6, 1×10, 1×15)
Calf raises (4×6, 2×15)
DB Press (2×15, 3×6, 1×10)
Weighted dips (2×15, 3×6, 1×10)
Overhead DB press (2×15, 2×8 HS pushups, 1×10)
Jammer press (4×8)
Front deltoid raises (4×6)
Tricep pulldown (4×6, 2 sets burnouts)
Chest flies (4×6, 1×10, 1×15)
Wide-grip pullups (2×15, 3×6, 1×10)
Seated rows (2×15, 3×6, 1×10)
TRX Bodyweight Reverse flies (4×10)
Bicep curls (4×6, 2 sets burnouts)
Shrugs (3×6, 1×12, 1×15)

Downloadable spreadsheet (.xlsx)