Lucha libre wresting growing out of Mexico

MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- Colorful masks, tight pants and oiled bodies going to battle in a wrestling ring is called lucha libre. The Mexican sport is celebrating its 80th anniversary and it is as popular as ever with growing and lucrative markets outside of Mexico.

It's a show of top rope acrobatics, masked warriors, and a crowd whipped into a frenzy. Shocker, or 1000 per cent handsome as he is also known, is one the sport's biggest stars. He was unmasked a few years ago. He said, "Mexican people are used to the masks because our first wrestlers used to wear masks to come in the ring. They wanted to give the kids that mystic: Who is behind the mask. It started getting very popular because of the high flying we do."

Lucha libre, or free fight, rose to national prominence under promoters CMLL. They say a lot has changed in 80 years. Sandra Granados, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre, said, "CMLL has signed a contract with Warner Brothers to manage all of the marketing of each fighters - it made several TV shows, so now we're broadcasting to countries like England, France, and some places in the Middle East."

Warner Brothers, owned by Time Warner, CNN's parent company, is by no means the only media company looking at expanding the sport. Film director Robert Rodriguez has launched El Rey, a new channel aimed at a growing Latino, English speaking market in the United States.

The channel has struck a deal with another lucha libre promoter to cash in on what they say is a billion dollar U.S. wrestling industry. El Rey co-founder John Fogelman said, "It's got nostalgia for a lot of people who grew up with it from earlier generations. The second thing it has is the makings of great storytelling between good and evil."


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