If everything goes well for RJ Brewer on Friday night, an HP Pavilion crowd
will boo him senseless. His job is to antagonize the mostly Latino audience
during the pro wrestling tour known as Lucha Libre USA.
Among his hobbies, Brewer lists volunteering for the U.S. Border Patrol with a pit bull named Visa. During a recent stop in San Jose, he vowed again to unmask the tour's traditional Mexican heroes taking away American jobs.
"I've asked countless times for these guys to take their masks off, show me their passports, show me their IDs, show me that they're legal to work here in the United States," Brewer thundered during a promotional news conference.
Brewer's political rhetoric is good for business:
Promoters expect to sell out all 8,000 seats this week.
It also tests the bounds of satire. Lucha Libre USA organizers, as well as the tour's fans, say that an over-the-top villain is as old as pro wrestling itself. But immigration activists wonder if this particular punch line goes too far.
"It is absolutely detestable that they would condone repeating such vile hate just to improve ratings and 'get a reaction' from the audience," said Laura Rivas, a spokeswoman for the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights based in Oakland.
By design, Lucha Libre USA is a culture clash, combining the colorful acrobatics of lucha libre, Spanish for "freestyle wrestling," with the English-speaking bravado of American pro wrestling.
Heather Levi, an assistant professor at Temple University in Philadelphia who wrote a book on the sport, noted that matches are essentially a showdown between good and evil -- the tecnicos vs. the rudos.
By that count, Brewer, 32, is a memorable rudo. His character is the purported son of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who signed legislation requiring immigrants to carry documentation or face arrest. RJ Brewer has been known to wear a copy of that bill, SB 1070, attached to his costume.
Brewer is credited with luring another non-Latino to the tour, Petey Williams, whose biography claims Brewer "convinced him that the Luchastars were taking away American jobs."
While in San Jose last month, Brewer cut off an emcee talking in Spanish to Latino media. "I have it in my contract that this has to start in English or I don't participate," Brewer snapped.
He also looked across the dais at his foe, the Blue Demon Jr., and wondered what would happen if the Mexican wrestlers dared to take off their masks. "Maybe we'll notice them from a kidnapping or a murder," he said.
Gustavo Arellano, a native of Mexico who has written extensively about lucha libre, laughed when told of Brewer's shtick, saying that the character fits the tradition of "a grotesque carnival where stereotypes are played to the hilt."
"Taking off the mask and deporting them? That's awesome. I think it's great," said Arellano, the editor for Orange County Weekly and author of the column "Ask a Mexican." "Yeah, it's offensive, but that's the whole point. (Wrestling) is supposed to be a place where the fan can let go of their inhibitions or let go of their nerves and just root for the good against the bad."
Lucha Libre USA, now in its fourth year, is making its first visit to the Bay Area. This Masked Warriors Live Tour is a 10-stop trek through Western
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