cities with large Latino populations. Los Angeles and Fresno are next.
As the first English-speaking, lucha-style wrestling show in the U.S., the league's matches have aired on MTV2 and MTV's Tr3s, a network aimed at "bicultural Latino youth."
The masks are just one part of the lucha libre tradition, which dates to 1933, being introduced to U.S. audiences. There are also male wrestlers in drag called exoticos, female wrestlers called "Chica Stars," and "Mini Estrellas," who are often diminutive versions of other wrestlers.
The tour's most successful promotional tool, however, is Brewer, who has inspired stories by the BBC, among other outlets. The Los Angeles Times shadowed him for an upcoming profile.
CEO Steven Ship told The Huffington Post that the Brewer story line is a way to bring humor to a serious issue. "The majority of the media treats it in a very serious manner -- but there's no reason it can't also be sort of highlighted in a satirical manner at the same time," he said.
Lucha Libre USA is hardly the first pro wrestling tour to make use of an exaggerated character. The Iron Sheik, playing off the hostilities of the Iran hostage crisis, would inflame patriotic World Wrestling Federation crowds in the 1980s by spitting at the mere mention of the United States.
But Jazmin Segura, a federal policy advocate for the Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network, or SIREN, in San Jose, was taken aback the way Lucha Libre USA uses Brewer to drum up business.
"Even if this is intended to be a satire about Arizona's 'show me your papers' law, what is happening to our communities is no joke," said the UC Berkeley graduate who emigrated from Mexico. "We cannot overlook the fact that SB 1070 is responsible for tearing thousands of American families apart.
"It is a shame that they would support the use of sentiments that undermine and dehumanize hardworking people who are seeking a better future."
Promoters are cagey about phrasing Brewer's alleged affiliation with Gov. Jan Brewer, describing his character's "mother" not by name but as "one of the highest-ranking officials in the nation and holds great power and influence over the state of Arizona."
A spokesman from the governor's office, responding to an email about the wrestler, said "of course" there is no familial relationship and added: "We haven't commented on it and aren't interested in doing so now."
During a calm moment before his fiery news conference in San Jose, Brewer slid into a corner booth at an HP Pavilion restaurant and discussed his role as provocateur. His real name is John Stagikas, and he is a former real estate agent from Massachusetts.
He is coy about whether he believes what he says onstage. (Lizmark Jr., another rudo, apparently buys it, telling the BBC: "It sounds pretty real. People truly hate him, not just when he's in the ring.")
Brewer said that in San Jose he expects to be able to measure the quality of his work by the decibel level.
"You know you're doing your job properly when people are reacting," he said. "I'd rather that (fans) 100 percent hate me and make noise than not do anything at all. Because that leaves you with questions: Do they understand who I am? Do they know what I'm saying?"
Most Popular Stories
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Georgia GOP Preaches Minority Outreach
- GM Joins Nissan to Supply Small Cargo Vehicle
- Ford's Supplier Diversity Program Turns 35
- Ford Trucks See Boost as Roadshow Reaches Saudi Arabia
- Kerry Concerned Over Blasphemy Laws, Anti-Semitism
- GM to Rejoin S&P 500, Akerson Says
- Ladies in White Group Needs Help From Abroad
- NTSB Wants to Lower Blood Alcohol Limit to 0.05