Wandering the streets of the Chilean capital it is common to stumble across unexpected pockets of culture, hidden theaters and events or throwbacks to the past. However, even for the seasoned inquisitive tourist finding all three in one place is a jackpot.
The curiosity in question is an underground wrestling league. While the sport may take elements from the flashy version seen on television in United States or elsewhere, what these Chileans have created is a more interactive, in your face spectacle sure to get your heart racing.
In events that move across Santiago, a small, die-hard group of wrestling aficionados are propelling the growth of a unique subculture and one that has caught the eye of the international press. Fans come together to watch a battle between good and evil played out by costumed fighters.
The event’s origins lie in a cult television show dating back to the 1970s. “Titanes en el ring” was popular in several Latin American countries, following the adventures of characters such as “Mr Chile” as he fought his nemesis “The mummy.” While the show has long been cancelled, legions of eager fans’ enthusiasm for the cult program propelled the creation of a wrestling league in its honor decades later.
The result was the formation Xplosion Nacional de Lucha Libre in 2010, a league of 20 wrestlers who began performing shows around Santiago to a rapturous response from cult fans, curious passersby and even the BBC who picked up on this oddity in a recent article on the News from Elsewhere segment.
Both men and women participate in a series of staged battles as performers play up to archetypes, appealing to the enthusiastic audience’s sympathy of eliciting disgust. At last month’s show sensitive types squared up against arrogant fools, while the corrupt referee had the audience screaming for justice.
Ultimately, though, there can be only one winner. The heroes, villains and cheering audience must wait until the next show to see whether good or bad will triumph.
Events are usually bi-monthly. For more information visit the Xplosion Nacional de Lucha Libre website.