Learn to speak lucha: The secret language of the squared circle

<p>Matthew “Matt” Capiccioni is known as Son of Havoc at Lucha Underground.</p>


Don’t you hate when it’s time to “go home,” but the rudo you’re wrestling botches a tope and now you have to plan a new finish?

No? Well, I’m sure there was a time you were working as a technico but kept getting massive heel heat, right?

If you didn’t understand the last two paragraphs, don’t worry. They weren’t necessarily in English, and you don’t need to call up Google Translate.

TODAY’S GREAT READ: Learning to love ‘lucha’ in an L.A. ‘Aztec Temple

The world of lucha libre wrestling has its own shorthand, a language as mysterious and quirky as the luchadores who take flight for Lucha Underground, the Boyle Heights wrestling company that is trying to help bring lucha libre wrestling to national prominence in the U.S.


Don’t worry, though. We’ve compiled a list of some terms you might want to know if you ever plan on visiting Lucha Underground’s Aztec temple.

Technico/rudo - In lucha libre, most matches feature a battle between good and evil. A technico (or “face,” in U.S. wrestling parlance) is a good guy. Rudos (heels) are villainous characters.

Finish - The planned end of the match. Lucha libre fights typically end when one grappler pins another’s shoulders to the mat for three seconds. Fights can also end by submission, if one luchador forces the other to tap out, similar to the way mixed-martial-arts bouts are often decided. Luchadores can also be disqualified for cheating, or they can be “counted out,” meaning they were outside the ring for more than 10 seconds.

Lucha libre - Spanish for “free fighting.” It refers to the acrobatic, fast-paced style of wrestling.

Tope/plancha/suicida - Standing anywhere near the ring when two luchadores are about to fight could be hazardous to your health. Luchadores tend to leap over or through the ring ropes to attack their opponents, and these words refer to the various types of dives they perform.

Finishing move - The slam, flip or submission hold a luchador uses to defeat an opponent. For example, Alberto el Patrón, one of the most popular wrestlers in Lucha Underground, forces opponents to submit to an arm bar.

Botch - When a wrestler fails to execute a move properly. Sometimes it’s minor and laughed off by the crowd, but it can lead to serious injuries.

“Go home” - A phrase uttered by a wrestler, referee or other ringside official to alert the combatants that they need to finish the match soon.

Pop - A massive cheer, usually for a technico after winning or rushing the ring to chase off a bad guy.

Heat - The opposite of a pop, when a villainous character is booed for doing something especially dastardly.

Kayfabe - An American wrestling term that refers to keeping up the pretense that the outcomes of lucha fights aren’t planned ahead of time. Also refers to the tradition of staying in character inside or outside the ring.

Mascara - The mask worn by a luchador. Traditionally, Mexican lucha libre stars do not reveal their identities to the public, choosing to be known only by their ring identities. El Santo, one of the originators of the style, revealed his identity just days before his death. The masks are so important that Santo and Blue Demon, another legendary lucha figure, were buried wearing their masks.

Luchas de apuestas - Spanish for “gambling fights.” A match where the luchadores each wager something. The stakes can range from the mildly embarrassing, such as the losers being forced to shave their heads, to truly humiliating, with the losers being forced to unmask. For luchadores, being unmasked against their will is considered a grave dishonor in Mexico.

TODAY’S GREAT READ: Learning to love ‘lucha’ in an L.A. ‘Aztec Temple

@JamesQueallyLAT is a heel on Twitter, but he’ll turn face if you follow him. He also tweets about breaking news throughout the U.S.