It’s not often that Duke City denizens get to see a TV show being filmed. Sure, “Breaking Bad,” “In Plain Sight,” “Wildfire” and “Scoundrels” all made their mark on Albuquerque, lensing (and in the case of the first two, continuing to lens) lots of local landmarks. But aside from the random sighting of a film crew camped out Downtown, our opportunity to really see a show being shot is slim.
Starting this Sunday, though, that all changes. MTV’s Mexican wrestling series “Masked Warriors” has relocated to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, just south of Albuquerque, to shoot its second season. The show’s first live event will be held on Dec. 12. The show will continue to shoot monthly episodes through June. “We are thrilled to bring some of Mexican wrestling’s most infamous characters to our venue,” said Cassie Rakoczy, marketing director of Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Albuquerque, at a press conference announcing the move in late October. “The outlandish plots and spectacular physicality appeals to a huge fan base, and we are excited to bring this type of sport to New Mexico.” Press conference lip service aside, this is kick-ass news.
“Masked Warriors” premiered in July on MTV2 and obviously got good enough ratings to merit a second season. While there’s no shortage of wrestling shows on TV, “Masked Warriors” is the only one (on English-speaking networks, anyway) to concentrate on the historical, high-flying Mexican style known as lucha libre (“free fighting”). In Mexico, professional wrestling is a national obsession, with legendary figures like El Santo, Mil Máscaras and Blue Demon worshipped like demigods.
In addition to the masks, Mexican wrestling is far more acrobatic than its American counterpart. Wrestlers frequently climb the ropes and turnbuckles (the “high spots”) to leap onto their opponents. Even more so than American matches, fighters find themselves in clearly defined camps of good guys (téchnicos) and bad guys (rudos). Matches are two falls out of three, allowing for more dramatic buildup. In fact, since our South of the Border pals actually seem to like watching wrestlers wrestle, lucha libre consists mostly of, well, wrestling. (As opposed to the interviews, arguments, posturing, boasting and silly backstage “storylines” that define modern American wrestling.)
The Dec. 12 event that kicks off the second season of “Masked Warriors” will feature several well-known grapplers. In the second-generation category, there’s Lizmark Jr. (who is, in fact, the son of the recently retired Lizmark), Tinieblas Jr. (another nepotistic son of a legend) and Blue Demon Jr. (who’s only the “adopted” son of Blue Demon). In the transplant category, we get Marco Corleone (American wrestler Mark Robert Jindrak, who trained under “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff). In the pint-sized category, we get Octagóncito and Mini Park (little-person or “mini-estrella” versions of popular wrestlers Octagón and La Parka).
Show your enthusiasm with signs, masks and general shouting, and you may just see yourself on camera.