Guerrero Gym Lucha Libre
arena mexico, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Mexican wrestling, mexico, performance, Professional Wrestling, training, wrestling school

Passion, Fear, and Life (In Mexico)

I have a fear. 

It’s not a fear of failure, nor success. Not spiders (okay, kind of) nor death—not irrationally, at least. 

I don’t lose sleep over finances, bad performances, or soured relationships. Injury? Maybe. I mean, lucha libre is innately a dangerous sport, and many careers and lives have been ended as a result of injuries sustained in and around the ring. 

Such fear is, of course, attached to an auxiliary fear: The fear that I’ll lose skills that I do not use. As the old adage states, “practice makes perfect.” Therefore it stands to follow that an unpracticed practice makes imperfection, and imperfection can lead to injury, and injury can lead to the end of a career. 

But mostly this self-flagellation isn’t even about injury, training, or practice: I train my ass off, all of my teachers have regarded me as a good student, and I generally practice a policy of consent—meaning I’m not willing to spontaneously experiment a potentially dangerous move without knowing that both my partner and I are capable of pulling it off safely. 

So no, it’s not the potential for injury that worries me. 

Occasionally these fears are induced by the thought that what I do, that which I pursue, that which compels me “to do,” could ultimately be tantamount to nothing. The fear that outside of itself, the work, the training, the traveling, the countless hours of sweat and practice and exertion and pain and body dysmorphia and late nights covered in grime and glitter and sweat will all be swept into the dustbin of history, essentially amounting my career in lucha libre to a masturbatory act. This is especially true when considering the possibility of failure, of not succeeding in the business. 

But I enjoy lucha libre in and of itself: my level of commercial success doesn’t necessarily directly impact my happiness. So no, it is not failure that I fear. 

It’s more difficult to triangulate what scares me: it’s much more abstract. 

I have a fear of the will-and-can-never-be-known, of being forced to consider those alternative timelines. 

A fear of “what if?”

That in my old age a fit of nostalgia will incite that often painful stroke of hindsight: what if I had trained harder? More often? Where would lucha libre have taken me if had I truly pushed myself to my limits? 

What if I had made different choices? What if I had taken different  performance opportunities? What if I had come to Mexico sooner? What if I had started lucha libre sooner? Chosen a different name? A different mask? No mask? 

I fear those moments of steeping in deep reflection and the unforeseen— yet inevitable and obnoxious— sting of regretful hindsight, to which I can merely retort “that time has come and gone” and hope that I’ve soothed the self-induced guilt. In moments of clarity I realize this is all, of course, trivial: these are decisions I made at another time and in another place. Many decisions were also made out of ignorance (how could I possibly have known that I’d want to go to Mexico to wrestle?). 

Negro Navarro lucha libre
Sometimes you get to train with legends.

But something is different now: I’ve noticed that as of late, such moments of regret are infrequent and fleeting. Perhaps it is because several years of preparation, work, training, traveling, countless hours of sweat and practice and exertion and pain and body dysmorphia and late nights covered in grime and glitter and sweat, have all lead me to what I’m doing right now: living in Mexico City and training with Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre. This is not to say that I’ll be debuting in a CMLL ring in the next month or so. But for now that’s not the point: this is the most accomplished and happy I’ve felt in lucha libre in a long time. 

Years ago I tried to move to Mexico City and eventually ran out of money. Nearly 7 years later, I’ve made it back here with purpose and focus. And I couldn’t be any fucking happier. 

Well, maybe I will be once I get a puppy. 

Arena Mexico

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.

 

 

 

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.

interview, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, mexico, performance, school of lucha libre, Seattle, Shows, training, travel, wrestling school

The “End of the Year” Post: Onward Towards 2014

In the spirit of expected tradition, I spent some time over the past few days reflecting on 2013. However because I am not one to dwell on retrospective, I almost immediately shifted my thoughts to the coming year, as in the future lies only potentiality.

Continue reading “The “End of the Year” Post: Onward Towards 2014″

We ordered 6 beers 1 hour before the show. Yep.
arena mexico, exercise, lucha, lucha libre, Lucha Libre Volcánica, Mexican wrestling, mexico, performance, Photograhy, school of lucha libre, Seattle, Shows

Back in the States: Photos and a Lucha Volcánica Anniversary Show

I’ve officially been back in the states for a week now, and despite traveling for a little over two weeks, it was actually a pretty quiet trip. I previously talked about the AAA tryouts in San Jose, and I spent the subsequent week in Austin before going to Mexico City for a little over a week. Continue reading “Back in the States: Photos and a Lucha Volcánica Anniversary Show”

mexico, travel, Zócalo

Saludos a (mis amigos de) Mexico

Mis amigos de Mexico (especialmente la familia de Piña y la familia de Ruiz),

Es dificil para mi a explicar mi gratitud en español, pero yo quiero que ustedes saben que ustedes son como mi familia, y sin ustedes mi tiempo en Mexico no era posible. Ustedes son muy simpático y agredable, y me he sentido bienvenido en Mexico. Espero que nos vemos muy pronto…

Con afecto,

El Fénix

PS: Cuando yo regreso a Mexico, poderé hablar más español…espero…