Lucha, to use that word simply means masked pro wrestling from Mexico, while in Mexico that means lifestyle because that’s what Lucha Libre is in Mexico. Sure, we have luchadors in everyday wrestling from El Ligero wrestling practically all over the UK to Excalibur commentating every month in Reseda, USA, but there is one specific place that a lot of eyes fall on that shows Lucha in a wonderful light every day….Japan.
Japan shows off Lucha everywhere, and the timing of this article is exact as right now two of the world’s largest companies are battling in Japan in the Lucha Libre spree known as Fantasticamania. Fantasticamania has been co-promoted by the oldest company in Japan, New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and the oldest in the world, Consejo Mundial De Lucha Libre (CMLL) and has been around since 2011. Even though, this is an actual Lucha Libre tour it didn’t start there.
Who remembers the tournament that is mainly referred to as the world’s greatest pro-wrestling tournament, The Super J Cup 1994? Well four of the competitors (and one of the finalists) were Japanese Luchadors and primarily responsible for the Junior division in Puroresu today, Super Delpin, Jushin “Thunder” Liger, El Samurai and The Great Sasuke.
The early 1990s in Japan was full of Lucha Libre and many members of the Puroresu community who donned a mask were quickly known as high priority for promotions in all sorts of situations whether it was Jushin Liger’s absolutely incredible 628 day reign as IWGP. Jr. Heavyweight Champion to Hayabusa almost dying in a Exploding Cage Deathmatches, Japanese Lucha Libre was everywhere.
You may ask, “You’ve talked about Jushin Liger for like paragraphs now! What has this got to do with Puroresu right now?”…well, I’ll tell you. The biggest thing in (dare I say?) Wrestling today could be The Bullet Club, on January 18th 2015 they were wreaking havoc as usual in Japan when Yujiro Takahashi unveiled a new member of the Bullet Club (well in October 2011, a sub-group called The Bullet Club Latinoamerica started, so that’s the Lucha version of obviously The Bullet Club) named Mephisto who defended the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship against Stuka Jr. in Japan under the Fantasticamania name.
Lucha is a integral part of New Japan and Puroresu as a whole, if you enjoy the masks and the fun lucha style that we see mainstreaming from Lucha Underground, then Fantasticamania is the best place for you to watch right now. It ended yesterday (19th) with a great La Sombra/Mascara Dorada match but for those with NJPW World (what you don’t!? Why!) Go back and check out the entire tour of shows.
And if you can’t get the NJPW World or are to lazy to find a free version (they’re very easy to find), here’s a awesome Jushin Liger match: