Washington wrestlers feel bureaucracy chokehold

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The standard suits and ties seen in the state Capitol's hearings and hallways were outshined Monday by a colorful crowd wearing shimmery Mexican Lucha Libra wrestling masks.

Theatrical wrestlers claim over-regulation of their events has them in a strangle hold.

"It's too expensive for us to put on shows because of all the regulations and the state's not getting money cause we can't put on shows. We're not making money as performers because we never get to perform," wrestler El Fenix said in his testimony supporting House Bill 2573.

The Department of Licensing applies the same regulations to the acrobatic wrestling performances as it does to boxing, kick boxing, and martial arts. Wrestlers must be licensed, have blood tests, physicals, pay to have two paramedics and an ambulance at shows, and pay for a guard rail on the ring. Those expenses don't include renting a space.

El Fenix and other Lucha Libre wrestlers consider the medical precautions overkill.

"One of the first things we learn as performers is how to not hurt the person you're working with and not hurt yourself," he said.

Lawmakers have until November to decide if theatrical wrestling regulations deserve a review and revision.