The Bizarre and Honorable World of Wild Mexican Wrestling
Author: Dan Madigan
Synopsis: A coffee table-style look at Lucha Libre and its impact on Mexican culture and the wrestling community.
In no particular order, here is a small roll call of some of the more intriguing monikers and what they mean.
Both En Sanguinario and his son El Sanguinario Jr. bear the title Bloodthirsty; I couldn't think of a better name to have in Lucha Libre (or the corporate world). Cien Caras's name means "One Hundred Faces." El Cobarde means the "Cowardly One" and it was such a good name that both brothers became El Cobarde I and II.
And if you think Lucha is for the birds, you're right. Here are a few avian aliases that have been popular over the years: Gallo Tapado is the "Covered Rooster," and more than a few eagles have swooped down from the rafters to entertain fans, including Aguila Solitaria (Lone Eagle) and Aguila de Plata (Silver Eagle).
Hawks have gotten their fair share of publicity, like El Halcon (The Hawk) and his son Super Halcon Jr. Then there's Halcon Negro (Black Falcon, no relation).
I'm certainly not the most knowledgeable lucha libre fan; the style often comes across as over-the-top to me. In fact, I think that may also be a reason why only a handful of luchadors are able to enjoy success in the U.S.
At the same time, I really don't know a ton about lucha's rich and storied history, and felt this would be a good place to start. Hey, the book was only $5 at a used bookstore; how could I go wrong?
Author Dan Madigan, who also wrote the novelization of Kane's See No Evil, gives a comprehensive history of everyone from Mil Mascaras to Rey Mysterio, why they became popular south of the border and how their careers benefited as a result.
There are also a ton of other luchadors that I'd personally never heard of, from El Mucielago to Medico Aseino, although they sound like they're over there as Randy Orton and John Cena would be today in the U.S. In addition, there's background on wrestlers including Konnan, Eddie Guerrero and El Santo, who each enjoyed some degree of success in mainstream wrestling.
The real value of this book, however, is the photography. In addition to in-ring photos of everyone from Dr. Wagner to La Parka, there are also movie posters, replica masks, programs and pics of other wrestling merchandise.
That said, the book isn't really a page-turner (nor was it designed to be one). Because it's so photo-intensive, it's hardly a good read... just a collection of information that one can use as a reference tool.
As well, I was puzzled by the choice of Kurt Angle to write the book's foreword. Besides the fact that he's not, technically, a luchador, the only times I recall him wrestling one of any prominence were Guerrero and Mysterio in WWE. This comes across loud and clear in the foreword, as Angle seems like a fish out of water.
Overall Rating: Transitional Champion. If you're a big lucha fan, this may very well be up your alley. But otherwise, I can't say this is a must-read.