Tijuana's Lucha Libre Is Like Watching a Live-Action Comic Book

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Imagine a wrestling match crossed with a glitzy Broadway show, hopped up on amphetamines and staged in Mexico. This is the scene 15 minutes south of the border from San Diego, in the Auditorio Municipal de Tijuana. There lucha libre, or "free fighting," is the entertainment of choice on a given Friday.

At a match you may see: a fighter getting his head shaved, cage fighting, real blood (lots of it), and HP printers being used as weapons -- plus an assortment of fighters dressed as psychotic clowns, Freddy Krueger, or an Xbox controller (yes... the controller).

Getting to a Friday night lucha from San Diego is easy with the help of Derrik Chinn, an expat living in Tijuana who organizes tours for Americans. After hitting a lucha libre fan shop, where you can stock up on masks, Chinn guides you to your ringside seat -- but not before you get your hands on a Tijuana taco.

"You'll taste some of the most authentic Mexican food from the street vendors outside the ring," says Chinn. Pair that up with a michelada, a local beer mixed with Clamato juice with Mexican spices around the rim, and you'll be more than amped for the fight.

Fans come from the States and Mexico alike for the spectacle. "Here on the border, we live floating between two worlds," Chinn says. "Technically we're not in the US, and we're barely in Mexico. We live in a mix of the two."

That's part of the brilliance of lucha libre. Like San Diego and Tijuana, it's a cultural mash-up that emerges new and original. As Chinn says: "It's literally a comic book that's happening right before your very eyes." -- Tanner Saunders

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