“Lu-cha! Lu-cha! Lu-cha! Lu-cha!”
The chant reverberated off the walls at a raucous Sgt. Joshua W. Soto Physical Fitness Center at Fort Bliss, Texas, July 23, 2021.
With help from sponsors, Bliss Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation welcomed Lucha Frontera, a regional wrestling television production, for a four-match card for Soldiers, families, and guests, free of charge.
The Lucha Libre style of wrestling, a UNESCO-recognized Intangible Cultural Heritage, is celebrated in El Paso and the Borderland as its roots stem from 19th century Mexico. Bliss is located less than eight miles from the international border between the United States and Mexico.
Loosely translated as “freestyle struggle,” Lucha Libre looks similar to television-based professional wrestling, but it has a few different rules that allow for a more free-for-all approach, although there are strict rules against things like the use of weapons and certain holds.
According to experts, the major story of Lucha Libre is the battle between the heroic, masked luchadore, who represents the will of the people, and the dastardly villain, who many times represents a heavy-handed authority.
Lucha Frontera was filming at Soto PFC, July 23. In addition to the luchadores, with menacing characters such as “Mr. Happy” and “The Monster 9,” the production also offered a nod to American television wrestling with menacing, eye-poking theatrics. The night’s grapplers were affable with fans and made a point to mix in with the audience, which included lots of military kids, to share their brand of entertainment.
From escorting talent to selling wallet-friendly arena food like cheesy nachos and hot dogs, FMWR Special Events staff took care of guests, who made for a good showing with standing room only at the front end of Soto PFC’s main floor on a wet, summer Friday evening.
Pfc. Lancelot Crisostomo, a 1st Armored Division Sustainment Brigade Soldier and their Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers representative, said getting the chance to come out for events like Lucha Libre, free of charge, matters when it comes to Army life.
“When it comes to quality of life, I’ve seen Soldiers change from ‘hey, this place sucks,’ to ‘this place is pretty cool,” he said. “As a BOSS rep, I’ve seen that type of change–I’ve seen it happen.”
BOSS is an Army-wide, Soldier-run FMWR program endorsed by the Sergeant Major of the Army that helps connect single Soldiers and those serving away from their home stations with events and opportunities on-and-off post that promote service and quality of life.
After an energetic high five from his favorite luchadore at the end of the evening, elementary schooler and Army kid Jonah Orozco, who was at the match with his dad, Sgt. Jaime Orozco, was wide-eyed and at a loss for words to sum up the night.
“The best part was ‘the Dragon’ versus the chosen one,” Jonah said with enthusiasm as he took off for autographs at Soto PFC, “I had fun.”
For details on events, programs and services, and a lot more at Bliss, visit FMWR online at https://bliss.armymwr.com/.