Good battles evil in Santiago’s underground wrestling cult

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Published On : Sun, Feb 23rd, 2014

Photo essay: Masks, hidden identities and tight pants set the tone of the wrestling matches in which both women and men take to the ring.

Good battles evil in Santiago’s underground wrestling cult

Part wrestling, part martial arts and part theatrics, Santiago’s underworld reveals a particular brand of public spectacle, where good and evil battle to the tap-out amid screams from a fanatic crowd.

While some come for the athletics or just to drink beer and cheer on the competitors, others come go to watch an ongoing storyline of good guys and bad, as characters dressed in flamboyant costumes reenact scenes of a cult TV show, “Titanes el el Ring.”

The show began screening in Argentina in the 1970s but as its popularity exploded across the region a spin-off soon came to Chile which followed the trials and tribulations of heroes like Mr. Chile and their nemeses such as La Momia as they battled for good or evil in the wrestlers’ ring.

The show came to an end in 1973, and although producers attempted another go-around in the 1980s, Titans 2.0 ultimately flopped.

However, the die-hard fans would not be so easily deterred, and as children who grew up watching Titans entered adulthood, their enthusiasm for the show developed into a subculture of its own.

In 2010 that enthusiasm culminated in Xplosion Nacional de Lucha Libre, a league of 20 wrestlers who put on shows around Santiago. Earlier this month, The Santiago Times visited one of these underground battles.

Good battles evil in Santiago’s underground wrestling cult

The event spotlighted aimed to raise the profile of the league’s six female wrestlers.

Good battles evil in Santiago’s underground wrestling cult

The three hour show was not all about the girls though. Female competitors went up against each other as well as men, eventually allowing for three championship winners to step in the ring.

Good battles evil in Santiago’s underground wrestling cult

Theatrics are just as important as the competitors gymnastic and wrestling skills. The euphoric crowd followed their heroes with shouts of support and condemned their villains with groans of disappointment.

Good battles evil in Santiago’s underground wrestling cult

Each fighter fulfills his own archetype, appealing to the audience’s sympathy or eliciting disgust. February’s show had sad-sensitive types up against arrogant fools, and a corrupt referee had the audience screaming for justice.

Good battles evil in Santiago’s underground wrestling cult

Despite the rather R-rated content of the show’s final act, in which women were tied to each other by long, thick chains, families with young children did not seem perturbed as they continued to cheer on their favorites.

Good battles evil in Santiago’s underground wrestling cult

More information about the league’s next event, scheduled for March 2, can be found at its website.

Good battles evil in Santiago’s underground wrestling cult

Photos & article by Emily McHugh & Consuelo Fernanda Laclaustra
Copyright 2014 – The Santiago Times

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Emily McHugh & Consuelo Fernanda Laclaustra