chapter  7
14 Pages

Who is the “baddest bitch in the building?”

Genre convergence and the inversion of gender roles in Lucha Underground
WithChristopher J. Olson, Rogelia Lily Ibarra

Lucha Underground remixes several genre tropes, most notably those found in Mexican telenovelas and American exploitation cinema. This convergence of genres provides producers with an opportunity to slyly subvert traditional gender norms, such as those regarding women’s role in society. In the process, the show produces empowering images of women that challenge traditional notions of female wrestlers, specifically those advanced by mainstream professional wrestling institutions like World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Yet a tension still surrounds these characters as ring announcers advance an empowerment narrative while simultaneously sexualizing the performers. This chapter considers how Lucha Underground draws on the conventions of telenovelas and female revenge narratives to deconstruct gender norms and thereby demonstrate professional wrestling’s potential to empower women.