The indoor Arena México is primarily used for professional wrestling, or Lucha libre, shows promoted by Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL – Worldwide Wrestling Council). The most iconic venue connected with this sport, the place is also known as “the cathedral of lucha libre”. It has a seating capacity of 16,500 when configured for professional wrestling or boxing events.
Arena México hosts weekly wrestling events promoted by CMLL. On Tuesdays they present “CMLL Martes Arena México” (CMLL Tuesday Arena México) and on Fridays “CMLL Super Viernes” (CMLL Super Friday), which is the promotions primary event, taped for television. Arena México hosts all of CMLL’s feature events and Pay-Per-View shows and has done so since it opened in 1956.
The current building was completed in 1956 by Salvador Lutteroth, owner of CMLL at the time. Interestingly, it is the largest arena ever built specifically for wrestling. The building was used as the venue for the boxing competition at the 1968 Summer Olympics, and throughout the second half of the 20th century hosted several large boxing events.
Originally, the former building of Arena México was an all-purpose venue called “Arena Modelo”. It was built in the 1910s or 1920s, mainly for boxing events. By the early 1930s the arena was abandoned until professional wrestling promoter, Salvador Lutteroth began promoting wrestling, Lucha libre events in Arena Modelo in 1933. For the next ten years it served as the main venue for Lutteroth’s promotion Empressa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL) until he commissioned the construction of “Arena Coliseo” in Mexico City. After Arena Coliseo opened in 1943, Arena Modelo served as the location for EMLL’s wrestling school. By 1953 when Arena Coliseo became too small for the crowds EMLL’s shows were attracting, Lutteroth promised to build “the largest wrestling arena in the world” on the site of Arena Modelo, and construction started not long after. “Arena México”, as it was renamed, stood complete in 1956 and has been to this day still the largest arena built specifically for professional wrestling. Since 1956 Arena México has been the main venue for EMLL and all of their “Anniversary shows”. In 1968 it was selected to be the location of the boxing competition at the 1968 Summer Olympics that was held in Mexico City. Since its construction, Arena México had been hosting boxing shows on a regular basis and following the refurbishment for the Olympic Games. Several major boxing events have been held at Arena México, hosting several world title bouts. In 1990 EMLL was renamed Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), retaining ownership of the arena.
Salvador Lutteroth was a Mexican professional wrestling promoter of the mid 20th century known as the “father of lucha libre”. In his position at the dominant promotion (formerly EMLL and today CMLL), he was the most powerful man in Mexican wrestling, and one of the most powerful wrestling executives in the world.
Lutteroth’s promotion, Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL), had held a dominant position since its founding in 1933, until Lutteroth left the company in the 1950s. Under its current name of “Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre” (CMLL), it is, to date, the longest running active professional wrestling promotion in the world, presenting three weekly matches. Lutteroth was, in large part, responsible for the widespread fame of the most famous Mexican professional wrestlers of the mid 20th century, such as Octavio Gaona (the first Mexican wrestler to win the middle weight championship of the world, defeating Gus Kalio), Carlos Tarzan Lopez, El Santo, Gori Guerrero, Rene Guajardo, Karlof Lagarde, Enrique Yañez; and the international league wrestlers – Medico Asesino, Rito Romero, Dorrel Dickson and Mil Mascaras, who wrestled in the United States, Japan and Europe.
The Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre Anniversary Show is the biggest annual professional wrestling event organised by the Mexican professional wrestling promotion, Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL). It is held in September every year and takes place at Arena México.
The event commemorates the creation of CMLL, then known as Empressa Mexican de Lucha Libre, in September 1933 by Salvador Lutteroth. The first show was held in 1934 and since then 79 shows have been held, making it the longest-running annual wrestling event in history and marking CMLL as the oldest wrestling promotion in existence.
From the 1950s to near the end of the 20th century, Arena México was a major venue for boxing as well. During this time, all of Mexico’s boxing greats, except Julio César Chávez, have fought here. Those that have include Rubén Olivares, Chucho Castillo, Carlos Zárate Serna, Pipino Cuevas, Julio Guerrero, “Famoso” Gómez, Memo Téllez, Miguel Castro and Raúl Rodríguez.
Arena México was the scene of “Púas” Rubén Olivares’s major victories as well as of his last fight, when he was beaten by newcomer Ignacio Madrid. Most of the biggest fights took place here in the 1960s and 1970s. One notable world championship fight occurred here in 1989, when Ghanan Nana Konadu fought Mexican Giberto Román in the super flyweight division. No one anticipated Konadu might win, but he did. From 2000 to 2008, there had not been a world-class championship fight in Arena México. However, the competition returned when Mexican Jorge “Travieso” Arce beat Panamanian Rafael Concepción in the super flyweight division and Mexican Jackie Nava beat Argentinian Betina Garino in the female bantamweight division.