Men and women clad in colorful Lycra masks adorned with fur, feathers and makeshift horns will be invading Aurora on Sunday.
Their destination: the squared circle inside the Cool Event Center in Aurora.
This isn’t a cosplay event. This is lucha libre.
Prepárate para Heridas Mortales!
Hugo’s Lucha Libre will be celebrating its ninth anniversary at the event, called Deadly Wounds. Hugo’s luchadors will face off against high-level competition from Texas and Mexico. The main event will feature a rivalry tag-team match that will have fans clutching their máscaras: Villano 3 Jr. and Psycho Clown faces Aéreo and Dr. Wagner Jr.
For the incredibly confused, lucha libre is a form of professional wrestling with a deep history in Mexican culture. The origins date back to the 1800s, and the sport was popularized in the 1950s and ’60s with legends like Gory Guerrero, Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras, who took their acrobatic skills to Japan and the U.S.
The storylines are novella-esque, with a big focus on rudos (bad guys) versus técnicos (good guys). In America, they’re called heels and faces, respectively. Luchadors are all about the action. They typically perform more high-flying moves and are more agile than their American counterparts.
Think Rey Mysterio’s infamous 619 finisher, where he runs across the ring and back to swing himself between the ropes and connect with his opponent’s head, dangling their defenselessly. Or the late Eddie Guerrero, who would climb to the top of the ropes and jump like a frog, landing flat on his opponent.
Some luchadors also don a mask to hide their identity.
“In the time of the Aztecs, warriors wore masks,” said Hector Soto, co-owner of Hugo’s. “When wrestlers put on their masks, it changes everything. They get an adrenaline rush….If you lose your mask, sometimes you lose everything.”
Soto grew up watching lucha libre in Mexico. When he moved to Colorado, in 1994, he said there were no lucha events to be found.
“There was no website or YouTube to watch,” Soto said. “In 2010, we went to an event here and it reminded me of when I was little. We wanted to bring lucha libre to Colorado like in Mexico with the lights and smoke and big presentation.”
So he created a school and a promotion to put on lucha events in Colorado. (By the way, Soto also owns Neveria Bule Bule on Morrison Road in Westwood.)
“We have an event every month and we try to bring big names. Plus we put our kids in the events so people can see how Hugo’s Lucha Libre is doing,” Soto said.
With lucha libre, whole families often go into the business, and those “big names” have long family histories.
Some of the “Hugo kids” are Ciber Tiger and Rayo Plateado. They’ll team up to fight El Dragon and El Cobarde, two well-known luchadores from El Paso by way of Ciudad Juárez, in Mexico.
Rayo said both Dragon and Cobarde come from a long line of luchadors, and the match will be one of the toughest he and Ciber have faced.
“We’re wrestling two of the greatest right now,” Ciber Tiger said. “They’re doing good right now and it’s one of those matches that you look forward to in your career because not only are you going against good wrestlers but it’s an opportunity to get to the next level. It’s going to be a really great match.”
Two other of Hugo’s students are Puma and Athena Estrada. Puma will face Black Widow and Athena will go up against Sakura.
“This is an important match between me and Black Widow,” Puma said. “She’s an important figure in El Paso. It’s going to be a hard match for me to wrestle someone like her, and it’ll be a challenge, but I’m ready.”
Athena echoed the sentiment. Sakura is the Women’s Champion of Furia De Titanes. But ultimately Athena said she hopes word spreads for the event and the lucha libre community continues to grow in Denver.
Soto is hoping for the same. He said the final match of the night — between Villano 3 Jr., Psycho Clown, Aéreo and Dr. Wagner Jr. — is pretty historical. About three years ago, Psycho and Wagner fought in a máscara contra máscara match, mask versus mask, where the loser has to take off his mask, revealing his identity. After 30 years behind the mask, Wagner lost and revealed his face. A similar match occurred between Villano and Aéreo, where Aéreo lost and also unmasked.
Soto said it’s a rivalry for the ages. There’s six matches in total. Doors open at 5 p.m. There will be a dance performance to celebrate Hugo’s anniversary, and then the action will begin. Tickets are $40.
“It’s our anniversary, and when it’s our anniversary we put all the meat on the grill,” Soto said. “We’re bringing a lot of good luchadores from Mexico to compete with the Hugo’s. It’s going to be hard for the students, so they have to show what they learn here…The actions going to start right away. We’re going to have six matches and all six matches are going to be exciting. People will be on the edge of their seats.”