Vibes & Vices: Lucha Libre at Arena Demonio Blanco

If you’re a resident of Puerto Vallarta, the vaunted name of Demonio Blanco may ring a bell even if you’ve never seen a second of the sport.

As you may have noticed, “Demonio Blanco” appears on bus routes and maps of the area…indeed, an entire section of the city bears the name of this legendary luchador.

After a fruitful career spanning three decades of competition across the country and around the world, Jalisco’s own Demonio Blanco returned to the state of his birth in the hopes of improving the quality of life for the thousands of underpriveleged residents of this world renowned resort town.

He used the riches he had gained over his illustrious career in the ring to help build roads, supply local schools, and update critical infrastructure. Reflecting his experience as a technico, a fighter who relies on his skill and execution to win matches instead of ‘bending the rules’ like a rudo, Demonio Blanco is here to do things the right way.

His latest contribution to the community was in the form of “Lucha Libre con Causo,” an exciting card of matches put together for the benefit of the city’s animal shelter as well as the many former luchadores who struggle with making a living after their in-ring careers. It was also the best way I could think of to spend a Sunday afternoon, which is saying something here in PV.

The Vibes: When’s the last time you heard a small child, his father, and his grandmother serenade a cheating competitor with chants of “culero?” (Don’t think I can say that here in English, but the technical term is “rectum.”)

A lucha libre event is the definition of a spirited affair, with children of all ages cheering on their favorite fighters in matches that typically take the form of best-of-three series. The cheap beer flows through the aisles of the arena, soaked up by elotes, decked-out hot dogs, and the palpable sense of communion that permeates the assembled audience.

This is more than a sporting event…it’s damn near a spiritual release. If I had to pick a religion, it would probably be Lucha Libre.

The Vices: There are two kinds of people in this wide and wonderful world we share: those who look at a chair and see a seat, and those who look at it and see a melee weapon.

Naturally, I am the latter.

Professional wrestling has held a special place in my heart since the days of Ric Flair, and although it’s sadly seen in the States as a lowbrow affair, the athletic exhibition/art form is woven into the tapestry of culture in places like the Japan and the United Kingdom as well as Mexico.

The things that hooked me here are the same that transfixed my 8-year-old self to Macho Man Randy Savage. The colorful gear, magnificent entrances, and spectacular moves of these athletes mesmerized me from an early age, and as I grew older I also came to appreciate that special quality of active engagement only granted to the most popular of public figures.

High profile politicians, musicians, and wrestling champions have one thing in common: IT.

Nearly every element of a competitor’s ring attire serves a defined purpose. Wrist guards help stabilize delicate bones on the powerful strikes that echo around the stadium. Arm sleeves provide compression, and keep muscles warm and loose while absorbing moisture for better grip in grappling. Tassels and flowing fringe make action photos look much cooler.

It’s all very scientific and completely necessary, shut up.

Of course, the most well-known accessory worn by many luchadores is the mascara, representing a concept that is so ingrained in Lucha Libre I don’t even really have to explain it to you. Masks and mantles are often passed down from father to son in the tradition of the sport, giving them a surprising amount of gravitas for what some would call a costume.

Demonio Blanco was forced to unmask after a lucha de apuestas, a mask vs. mask match resolving a long blood fued between the Demon and the nefarious Mano Negra. After this crushing defeat, he was revealed to the world as “Don Manuel López Coronado”…which sounds exactly like the secret identity of a masked Mexican superhero, doesn’t it?

It turns out unmasking was not the end for Demonio Blanco, but the beginning.

Indeed, I met the man before I met the myth…having not yet given up on my boyhood dream of becoming Intercontinental Champion, I had gotten some training here and there. On this day, during the event, inquired with a friendly cinder block of a man in a STAFF t-shirt about where I could get more in the area…guy looked like he knew what he was talking about.

The silver-haired statesman smiled with a mix of benevolence and intrigue as he spoke the words: “Welcome home.”

I had no idea just how much he knew until later…everything clicked as he made a special appearance at the event in his silver-and-red regalia, his instantly identifiable shape giving him away at a glance. This man, once known nationwide as Demonio Blanco, was using his considerable influence to make the world a slightly better place, all while doing something he truly loved.

If there’s a more admirable pursuit, you’ll have to write me an article about it.

The Verdict: Even if you don’t care for The Rock’s cooking, Lucha Libre can be an unexpectedly enjoyable way to spend an afternoon or evening in the area. With a special–and free–televised event emanating from the arena on Thursday the 7th at 8pm (wait, that’s today isn’t it?), I’ll be back for sure. Maybe you’ll catch me there.

Info:

Arena Demonio Blanco

Calle Miramar 677, Coapinole

AJ Freeman on Email
AJ Freeman
AJ Freeman is an adventurous spirit, serial friendmaker, and general enthusiast. He lives his everyday life hoping to demonstrate the nearly infinite potential for discovery and wonder on this small wet rock orbiting a dim yellow star in the backwoods of the Milky Way.