If you are a lucha libre fan, or even just a fan of wrestling in general, then there is nothing like going to a lucha libre show in Mexico. Luckily Mexico is right next door, and even better Tijuana is a hotbed for lucha libre.
If you aren’t familiar with going to lucha shows in Tijuana, it can seem like a daunting task. It really isn’t that difficult, even if you do not speak any Spanish. We’ve had a guide up to making the trip down there for a show in our lucha libre forum but as it is 12 years old, it is time for an update. This guide will focus mainly on shows in Tijuana at Auditorio Fausto Gutierrez Moreno, which is the main location for the big shows. Occasionally there are really big matches that are at bigger venues such as bull rings, but there is really no difference in getting there versus the Auditorio unless you are driving yourself. The same goes for smaller shows that would be equivalent to American independents that are usually held in nightclubs or gyms. I have also included some information on going to Mexicali for shows.
The first thing you will need, and this is very important, is a passport. You will not be checked when entering Mexico, but you will need it to get back into the United States. This applies whether you walk across the border or drive.
For the purpose of this guide I will assume that you are crossing the border at San Ysidro. There is also the option of crossing at Otay Mesa which is a little farther east, and Tecate which is much much farther east. I would recommend San Ysidro as it is closer to the arenas, and the area around the Otay crossing on the Mexico side of the border can be pretty scary. Tecate is a decent option if you are driving in, and are coming from east of San Diego to get to Tijuana. If you are coming from San Diego or Los Angeles it is way too far out of the way.
You have two options crossing the border, walking across or driving across. I will cover both in the guide, but I highly recommend walking across as the easier and faster option.
Parking on the U.S. side of the border and walking across the border
Like I said, this is by far the easiest way to go. As you approach the border take the last U.S. exit, which is Camino de la Plaza, and you will have no trouble finding a lot to park in. Park, then follow the signs to get to the border crossing. You should have no issues getting into Mexico at all. If you plan on staying more than 24 hours you may need to pay a processing fee for a form.
Once you have crossed into Mexico, you will see a ton of taxis lined up. Most taxi drivers speak some English but all you need to tell them is “Auditorio de Tijuana” and you should have no trouble. You will also have no problems paying in U.S. dollars either. The cab ride shouldn’t cost more than $5-$10. It should take about 10 minutes to get to the arena.
Another, newer option is using Uber. I have not tried using Uber in Tijuana personally, but I have been told that drivers are held to the same standards they are in the United States. One note, your phone service provider may charge you a small fortune for data while in Mexico.
After the show you will have no trouble getting a taxi back to the border crossing. Once you get to the border you will wait in line to go through immigration. This can take a long long time. Expect to stand in line for at least an hour and a half. Once you get through immigration you just walk back to your car and you are on your way.
Driving across the border
If you decide to drive across the border rather than walk the first thing you will want to do is make sure you stop and purchase insurance before crossing the border. It is highly unlikely whatever insurance carrier you have will cover you in Mexico. It isn’t that expensive and could save you a ton of trouble. You don’t really want to gamble on this. You will see a bunch of places that sell Mexican insurance before you cross over. There is even some where you can drive through like you are at a fast food restaurant.
Crossing the border itself is no issue. You may be asked a few questions but overall you’ll get across fairly fast. After crossing just head straight to get on Av. Via Rapida Pte. If you accidently get on Paseo de los Heroes it isn’t a big deal, just stay on it continuing to head south east. It’s just going to take you a little longer. If you took Av. Via Rapida Pte. you will want to exit at Blvd. de las Americas Ote. heading south. Make a right on Paseo de los Heroes then a left a 10th of a mile later onto Margarita. Follow Margarita and you will end up at a T intersection with the Auditorio directly in front of you. Find street parking or park at the hotel across the street. The Auditorio itself has no parking.
If you are driving try to follow all traffic signs. Drive extra careful because with your United States plates you will be a target for police. If you do get pulled over the police officer will most likely ask you to pay the fine right there. If they ask for more than $40 tell them you will follow him to the station to pay the fine. They will more than likely let you go with a warning and “reduced” fine.
On the way home is where you will run into issues. The line to get back across the border for vehicles can take a long time, however it has gotten faster over the last few years. Just head back the way you came, you will see signs for the U.S. border, and wait in line.
At the Auditorio
Once you arrive you will see a ton of street vendors selling all sorts of goods from masks, pictures, figures, magazines, etc.All of the vendors will take U.S. dollars. You will also hear speakers blaring the night’s card for all within blocks to hear.
There are two ticket windows, the window on the right is general admission only, and the window on the left is where you can buy reserved, ringside seating, or general admission. If you don’t speak Spanish you should have no trouble buying tickets and you can pay in U.S. dollars. Ticket prices are pretty cheap compared to the United States, and depending on the show you may pay less than $30.00 for ringside. As of this writing, there is a show coming up advertising pre-sale general admission tickets for about $4.00 in dollars.
General admission is first come first served, but there really aren’t any bad seats. If you get there early enough you will have no problems with general admission. It doesn’t normally fill up till after the show has started. The reserved seats are usually pretty good because they are elevated but still close to the action. With ringside you may have to be on the look out for flying objects if the crowd starts throwing stuff at the ring.
The luchadors enter the arena through the same front entrance, so if you are early enough you may have autograph opportunities. Except Santo. Apparently he is able to sneak in through the back.
The shows normally start at about 8:30pm. Expect to be out before midnight. There will be vendors selling food inside the building as well. If you are in the mood for a pork rind the size of a human, you are in luck.
Getting Information on Shows
In Tijuana the shows are normally on Friday nights at the Auditorio. Occasionally there will be shows on other days, with Christmas being a major day for lucha.
You definitely want to make sure there is actually a show taking place before crossing the border, as they don’t have them every week, though sometimes it seems like it. Luckily there are several good English language resources to find out about the shows.
First I have to mention the SoCalUNCENSORED lucha libre forum. Often the lineups will get posted in the forums and if you have any questions normally someone will be able to assist you.
Next you will want to check LuchaWorld.com. In my opinion this is the best English language lucha website hands down. They have an almost daily lucha report that lists upcoming lucha shows throughout Mexico and the United States. Additionally they have a section with the upcoming week’s flyers as well. This site is a great resource.
Other Locations in Baja California
Mexicali doesn’t get the publicity Tijuana does, but there are often lucha shows there as well. I have not personally been to a show there, but I have been to Mexicali for baseball. It is harder to get by there without Spanish as Mexicali does not have the same type of interaction with the United States that Tijuana does. You are more likely going to have to resort to pointing at things there to try to make yourself understood when buying tickets.
Getting in is the same. Drive or park and walk across. Finding parking on the United States side is a little more difficult in Calexico I’ve found, and driving in Mexicali is easier than Tijuana with much less people crossing the border. Also crossing back into the United States doesn’t take as much time as it does coming from Tijuana. Once again, you will want to buy insurance before crossing into Mexico.
Most of the big shows take place at Arena Coliseo. For whatever reason the arena does not show up when you search for it on Google maps, so getting there is a little tricky. It is located on Av. Queretaro in between Calle H. Collegio Militar and Cuyutlan. Once you cross into Mexico continue on the same road until you get to Calz. James W. Stone. Head west, and eventually you will get to an intersection with Calzada de los Presidentes. If you continue straight across the intersection you will be on Oaxaca. Keep heading west until you get to Cuyutlan. Make a left to head south and then a right on Av. Queretaro and you should see the venue.
Having not been to a show there, I’m not sure on details for buying tickets or parking. Tickets should be fairly easy. In Mexicali they may not accept U.S. dollars. I have found it to be 50/50 there if a place does or not.
When in Mexicali be sure to get some Chinese food.
Occasionally you will see shows advertised in Tecate. Shows there are held at Gimnasio Muncipal de Tecate. Unless you are in the area for something else, you may want to just head to a show in Tijuana as the lineups in Tecate are usually not as good as Tijuana. If you absolutely have to go, just buy insurance and drive across. Be warned, the border crossing at Tecate is not open 24 hours. If you are there past 11:00 pm you may find yourself driving to Tijuana or Mexicali to get back to the United States through the Mexican desert.
Once you cross, head west on the 2 until you get to Prof. Jose Gutierrez Duran, make a left and head a couple blocks south and you are at the venue. The parking lot is very small so you may need to find street parking. Like Mexicali they may not take U.S. dollars.
Do not bring any weapons into Mexico. Even carrying a knife is illegal. You can get into big trouble, and if you run into any gangs that you feel you need to protect yourself from, they are better armed anyway.
If you are just going straight to the Auditorio and back, you shouldn’t have to worry about much in the way of crime. Just remain aware at all times. Don’t get too drunk and make yourself a target.
For more information on visiting Tijuana I recommend WikiTravel.