IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Bad Bunny's love of wrestling showcases its growing Latino fans

A Latina wrestling fan describes reggaeton star Bad Bunny's recent WWE appearance as "priceless," and judging by the viral views, it probably won't be the last.
Billboard Music Awards - Season 2020
Bad Bunny rehearses for the 2020 Billboard Music Awards in Los Angeles on Oct. 13, 2020.Christopher Polk / NBC via Getty Images

Longtime wrestling fan Melanie Armendariz, 37, from El Paso, Texas, had one reaction when she saw the video that has since become a viral moment.

“Seeing Bad Bunny was priceless,” said Armendariz, about the reggaeton star's recent exuberant leap into a WWE ring's top rope, where he landed using beloved Latino wrestler Eddie Guerrero’s classic move, the “frog splash,” taking down two WWE superstars.

For Armendariz, it proved what she already knows.

“We are a part of the wrestling world and more people are learning about it," she said.

Bad Bunny’s appearance created a cultural moment for Latinos and showcased their love of wrestling.

"I am at my peak," Bad Bunny said in an Instagram post in Spanish referencing the catchy hook of one of his newest tracks named after famous WWE wrestler "BOOKER T."

The Puerto Rican Latin urban artist performed the song in the WWE stage on Jan. 31 with Booker T himself standing next to him. According to the WWE, the appearance garnered over 36.7 million total video views across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and WWE.com, and more than 2.5 million total engagements across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that night.

Bad Bunny made his way into 25 percent of WWE's Monday Night Raw’s social conversations following his appearance, the WWE told NBC News.

Before the appearance that went viral, Bad Bunny had made his love of wrestling quite clear in his hit song, "I Like It," with Cardi B and J Balvin.

“Guerrero como Eddie, Que Viva la Raza!” (A warrior like Eddie, long live the People!) sang Bad Bunny, an homage to Guerrero, the popular Mexican American wrestler.

Guerrero, which translates to “Warrior”, would use the phrase to showcase pride in his heritage.

Wrestling's Latino roots

Armendariz, who's Mexican-American, hails from the border town where U.S. wrestling meets lucha libre, a freestyle wrestling form, in Juarez, Mexico.

In 2018, lucha libre was declared an intangible cultural heritage in Mexico.

Armendariz says she often surprises people as a wrestling fan. “Maybe because I am a woman,” she said. “But there are so many strong women and Latinas like Raquel Gonzalez in the WWE.”

But perhaps Armendariz' love of wrestling shouldn't be a surprise. Nielsen reports that Hispanics are 42 percent more likely to have streamed WWE pro wrestling compared to non-Hispanics who are 8 percent less likely to do so.

Eddie Guerrero, top, against Kurt Angle during Wrest Mania XX.Kevin Mazur / WireImage

The WWE told NBC News that they want to continue creating authentic cultural experiences like Bad Bunny's for Latino audiences and wrestlers.

“According to third-party data, we over-index for our Hispanic audiences and it's definitely a focus for us,” said Stephanie McMahon WWE Chief Brand Officer, saying they see an opportunity to expand their brand.

“There really is a real cultural connection and I think Lucha is one aspect of that," said McMahon, "but then there's also just the incredible athleticism, showmanship, the colorful nature of what we do. The larger-than-life feeling of our superstars really transcends culture.”

Latino buying power

According to Nielsen, Latinos were 54 percent more likely to have purchased WWE merchandise in the past year compared to non-Hispanics, who were 10 percent less likely to have bought.

One of these consumers is Juan Martinez, 25, Los Angeles. “The fact that it’s wrestling and Bad Bunny, a Latino, things I love, why am I not going to pick up that merch,” he said.

Latinos' buying power is expected to top $1.9 trillion by 2023, higher than the gross domestic product (GDP) of countries like Australia, Spain and Mexico, according to Nielsen.

Martinez said he wasn’t sure when the next opportunity to see a Latino, his favorite artist and his favorite pastime would converge again, so he swept up the swag.

“I got the hoodie and I got a shirt, if there was more merch I’d buy it all.”

Since his first appearance, Bad Bunny has returned to the ring with speculation of a matchup in this year’s WWE Wrestlemania, welcome news for Latino wrestling fans like Martinez.

“The adrenaline rush that I got from watching it, it was just something you can't really explain," he said. “It's a good pastime for people right now.”

Follow NBC Latino on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Nicole Acevedo contributed.