Larger than life: Brownsville’s Lucha Fest 2 is right around the corner

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Buckle up, sports fans; Lucha Fest 2 is almost here.

A production of Brownsville-based EvilMasters Lucha Libre, which bills itself as the only masked wrestling promotion in the Rio Grande Valley, the event promises an over-the-top experience bursting with surreal, chest-beating mayhem — hallmarks of the unique cultural phenomenon that is Mexican-style lucha libre.

Lucha Fest 2 happens May 25 at 1848 BBQ & Beer Garden, 5 Avalon Dr., just off Palm Boulevard. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the first match is at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person for general admission and $20 per person for ringside. Kids 5 and under get in free, and it’s $5 per head ages 5-12. The event will also feature a vendors market, meet-and-greets with the performers, plenty of beer and barbecue courtesy of 1848, according to Jose Martinez, official spokesman for EvilMasters.

“It’s affordable for the whole family,” he said. “It’s a family friendly event.”

Martinez drove the family-friendly aspect home: Despite lucha’s checkered dodgy reputation in some circles, there’s nothing to be scared of, and anyone who’s never experienced it before ends up having a blast, he said. Martinez recalled a recent match at Broken Sprocket, where in the audience were two little girls, both celebrating birthdays.

“We decided to sing them happy birthday inside the ring,” he said. “They were super delighted. I felt like we were kind of granting wishes. That’s the magic of lucha libre, that you can do so much with the little things that you have. Our promotion is so small, but to everyone else it seems like a huge production.”

EvilMasters also does kids’ birthday parties.

Martinez said the original Lucha Fest, held a few years ago, was more like a convention than the spectacle set for May 25.

“We would have different wrestlers from across the (Rio Grande) Valley where people would come and meet them, but we didn’t have any actual wrestling going on at that time, because we were just barely beginning with making shows and having enough money to pay the wrestlers,” he said. “It is very expensive. That’s one thing.”

When Michael Limas, co-owner of 1848, suggested a wrestling event at his restaurant/watering hole, Martinez said he and his fellow organizers decided to resurrect Lucha Fest.

“It’s a perfect place for a small lucha event,” he said. “Now, I don’t think it’s going to be small. From what I’m seeing we’re going to pack the house with more people that we expected.”

Martinez said the event will probably run until 9:30 or 10 p.m., and that something very big is planned for the end of the night.

“The ending of the last match is going to be huge,” he said. “It’s going to be really, really in-your-face. It’s going to be very exciting. Even some of the wrestlers don’t know what’s going to happen.”

On Oct. 26, EvilMasters plans to hold an event featuring mainly women wrestlers, with a portion of proceeds going to benefit breast cancer patients and/or survivors. It will be called “Fight Like a Girl.”

EvilMasters has a roster of 20-30 wrestlers, whose names are as whacked out as their costumes — Panic Clown, Murder Clown, Insano and Nitemare to name just few. Martinez, a wrestler in training, said he was blessed with the name “Monster Whopper,” though to avoid any issues with Burger King he modified the moniker to “Monster Guaper,” a play on guapo — Spanish for “handsome.”

The costumes turn ordinary people into larger-than-life characters who seem impervious to pain, he said, adding that one opponent he’s in hurry to do do battle with is Nitemare.

“He is this giant monster of a man,” Martinez said. “Scary as hell. Even sometimes when I’m in the back, in the locker room just minding my own business, he’ll come up and be like, ‘What are you doing here?’ And I’ll be like, ‘Yo, calm down.’ Because he gets into character. Once he puts on that mask he’s not so-and-so person anymore. He’s Nitemare. He’s the terror of all the giants. He’s something else.”

Lucha Fest 2

>> May 25, 1848 BBQ & Beer Garden, 5 Avalon Drive

>> Tickets: $10 general admission, $20 ringside, $5 ages 5-12, free 5 and under.

>> Tickets available at the gate, or in advance by calling or texting (956) 545-8589.