Music blasts as colorful strobe lights fill the air.
The crowd cheers loudly as they anxiously wait for the next masked figure to emerge from behind the black curtain.
With famous wrestlers such as John Cena, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio and many other WWE, Mexican lucha libre and Japanese wrestlers, World Power Wrestling is the organization many aspiring wrestlers turn to for their training.
World Power Wrestling (WPW) was established in 1996.
It is the premiere lucha libre organization and lucha libre school in Southern California and the western United States, said Martin Marin, the founder of the organization and an active participant in the sport.
“What we do is bring Mexican-style lucha libre professional wrestling to the public,” said Sean Thompson, 35, also known as “Stryker” or “Sgt. Sean Stryker.”
“The sport is a little different from the American style of pro wrestling, it’s more acrobatic; usually people have masks and it also has a faster pace to it,” he added.
Marin said he was fascinated with lucha libre as a child.
“I’ve always liked lucha libre, I was always a fan growing up as a kid,” said Marin. “I was in love with the masks and the outfits.”
Marin said he trained as a child to get involved in lucha libre, but he did not have the money to continue.
“I had 11 siblings and it was really hard to make ends meet,” Marin said. “My mom had no money, she was a single mom and money was really scarce.
“In the back of my head, it was always bothering me to become a wrestler.”
Marin said he recalls the day he went back to Mexico City, his birthplace, and met up with a friend he had not seen in a while.
His friend invited him to accompany him to his job and Marin was taken by surprise.
He kept questioning his friend if it was allowed for him to be present at his job.
“We’re driving around and all of a sudden he stops and puts his mask on, and I go what the… what are you doing?” Marin said. “He says do you know who this wrestler is, I go ‘Yeah,’ and then he says, ‘Well I became a professional wrestler like we wanted to when we were kids.’”
Marin’s friend gave him confidence by telling him he was well built.
At the time, Marin was working out and in great shape to be a wrestler, so he took his friends advice and pursued it once more.
“This is my life,” Marin said. “This is what I do for a living, since 1996… I started training before of course, it’s been 20 years.”
Marin’s Lucha Libre Academy puts on shows once a week, Sundays in Santa Ana, Calif.
“We’re planning on doing a different type of show where we put on a spoof of lucha libre, something with all different kinds of characters on Friday night, but it’ll all be done in English,” Marin said. “So we can introduce more lucha libre to other people.”
Marin said that many WPW wrestlers, including Chris Jericho and John Cena, have had successful careers in professional wrestling.
“Twenty years ago I trained with Chris Jericho, he’s a really good friend of mine,” Marin said.
Marin said that not only does he help train aspiring wrestlers, but he helps them find their gimmick and develop their characters.
Thompson has been wrestling for 12 years, and has been with World Power Wrestling since 2005.
“Back in the late ‘90s there were only three promotions that were running wrestling as far as training schools and different styles and I had seen lucha libre on TV through Galavision,” Thompson said.
Thompson said he was persuaded to wrestle in Mexico but out of the three promotions in southern California, WPW was the only one that offered lucha libre for its training.
“I’ve wrestled in Mexico all the way up to Utah,” Thompson said.
Frankie “Top Notch” Segura Jr., 27, also joined World Power Wrestling in 2005 after he discovered an advertisement in a paper.
“It’s my lifestyle,” said Segura. “It keeps me in shape, keeps me focused, keeps me off drugs and alcohol.”
Segura said his goal is to go to WrestleMania.
“What got me into wrestling was Bill Goldberg,” said Segura. “When I was 12 years old I saw him wrestle ‘Big Show’ and the first words that came out of my mouth when I saw him do the jackhammer was ‘I want to be a pro wrestler.’”
Marin’s lucha libre academy is open to the public. It is located at 1325 E. St. Andrews Place Suite B Santa Ana, CA 92705.
It offers classes Monday through Thursday at noon, as well as from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
For more information on classes or shows call (949) 929-5310 or visit their Facebook page at Facebook.com/luchalibrewpw