Two top Mexican luchadors will meet at a crossroads Sunday. One is going to leave with a huge win and a spot in the biggest match of the summer. The other walks away wondering if they might not be a top star after all.
AAA’s second major show of the year, Rey de Reyes, takes place on this Sunday night from Puebla. As with all of their TV tapings, AAA will stream the show live on their Twitch page. The show is scheduled to start at 6pm CT on Sunday night. The live airing will be free, the VOD is subscriber only. The show contains an annual tournament, a four versus four match, and a major mask versus hair main event.
The bulk of the eight matches announced for the show are the annual Rey de Reyes (King of Kings) tournament. The competition returns to it’s original format this year: four four-way matches, with the winners advancing to a four-way final on the same night. AAA’s moved away from this format in recent years, usually trying to move the semifinal matches to earlier shows to free up space for midcard feuds. There really aren’t many urgent midcard feuds right now, so the show goes back to being heavy on the tournament.
The problem is the Rey de Reyes tournament itself does not seem that urgent either.
Each semifinal match has a spot for one mystery luchador, with no hint about what to expect. Both El Mesias and Pagano have turned up back in off-TV action after missing months with injuries and are announced as returning to TV soon. It’s just not clear if it’ll be this soon, and it could just as easy be people with lesser names.
The announced participants are heavy with newer wrestlers (Hijo del Vikingo, Angelikal, Ángel Mortal Jr.) and veterans who have been treated as unimportant (Venum, Mascara de Bronce, even Pimpinela). Five-time Rey de Reyes winner La Parka sticks out as the favorite. It wouldn’t mean much for Parka to win for a sixth time, but it’s hard to believe it would mean much for anyone to win. Argenis won last year and did little more than carry around a novelty sword for twelve months. He’s not even on this year’s show, so far. Pentagon Jr. won in 2015, definitely isn’t on this show, and the follow up to him winning was losing repeatedly to Johnny Mundo. AAA would need to rebuild the importance of this tournament if they’re expecting it to be meaningful, and the weak announced field suggest they’re not too concerned about it.
The Rey de Reyes tournament matches may suffer from not enough rudos, because AAA’s two midcard rudo trios are wrapped up in their own feud.
OGT (Averno, Chessman and Super Fly) take on champions Poder del Norte (Mocho Cota Jr., Carta Brava, not that Tito Santana) in a TLC match. The two heel units have been feuding on and off since last June, usually with tecnico teams getting involved. They had a brawl back on February 9th, leading authority figure Vampiro to make this match and declare it’ll be the last match between the two teams for the trios titles.
An all rudo match doesn’t usually set up well for a ladder match, but the people specifically involved set this up for success. Chessman is notorious for taking dramatic falls in these sort of matches. (Occasionally, the AAA cameras even are able to catch them.) The Poder del Norte guys are in the middle of the biggest push of their year and will be doing anything to prove they’re worthy of it. Super Fly can revert back to his flying tecnico days to provide the flashier spots. Averno’s smart about picking his spots and putting matches together. They can make this work.
AAA doesn’t have a great track record in these matches—cheap ladders and indestructible tables usually cause spots to fall apart—but they do have the right mix of people to make it work. Poder del Norte is more at risk of dropping down the card with a loss, and should be the team taking this win to cement them at this level.
The one standalone match on the card is also about cementing someone at a higher level. The four on four had AAA heavyweight champion Dr. Wagner Jr. teaming with the newly united Alvarado family, Psycho Clown, La Mascara, Maximo, as an all-star tecnico team against a less impressive group of rudos: Monster Clown, Murder Clown, Hernandez & Hijo del Dr. Wagner Jr., and without the star power of the other side. The big story here is the younger Wagner, Hijo de Wagner, was convinced off screen to betray his father by the returning Blue Demon Jr., and now the son want to prove he’s better than his father. Hernandez, still in AAA but with nothing to do after Johnny Mundo finally escaped, is the third man of the Wagner/Demon group. Blue Demon Jr. should be here to help stir the pot, but isn’t – he hasn’t been in any show since his arrival, and isn’t listed as being on one for a couple weeks. It’s possible he’s a mystery man in the tournament. It’s also possible the plan for Demon to return came after he was already busy on this date.
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Demon being missing isn’t a huge issue only because the real issue is Wagner versus Wagner. Hijo del Wagner is getting a rocket push. He’s a decent enough wrestler who’s shown improvement, and yet was never more than a midcard guy based on his family’s name in other promotions. Hijo del Wagner’s push in AAA started from the moment his father Wagner Jr. lost his mask, and those two events feel very related. Wagner Jr.’s attempt to rebrand himself as “Rey Wagner” makes sense if there was already an understanding his son would get a big shot and they were trying to make the feud less confusing to follow. The younger Hijo del Wagner is better as a rudo, so betraying his father at least puts him on his best side. Still, no one yet sees Hijo del Wagner near the level as his father, so matches like this one exist just to surround him with bigger names to raise his level. There’s so many pin eaters on the rudo side that it’s unlikely they’ll actually win. This should be a simple match where the son Wagner does something to get noticed, even if the other team gets the win.
The main should also be about making someone a bigger star. It’s just not clear it’ll go that way.
Hijo del Fantasma puts his mask on the line again Texano JR.’s hair. It’s a simple story, based a little bit in reality. Texano and Fantasma were real life friends in CMLL, Texano jumped to AAA and succeeded, Fantasma started to struggle in CMLL, and Texano eventually convinced his friend to make the same jump. Fantasma did and turned his career around, and they were best friends as long as Texano was going after the heavyweight championship and Fantasma was going after the cruiserweight championship. AAA made a unification match with those two titles and a third, Fantasma cost Texano his chance to remain heavyweight champion by injuring him during the match, and Texano violently attacked Fantasma outside of a match, ending their friendship. It’s been a year since we’ve since this part of the story started, and they’ve been cutting angry promos long enough that everyone knows the issue.
Nothing can be simple in lucha libre.
AAA decided that what this personal issue needed was some extraneous people. Hijo del Tirantes spontaneously decided it was his mission in life to be Texano’s evil referee, and somehow AAA is always unable to do anything much about it. Texano’s brother, now playing the role of Bengala, has suddenly declared their deceased father would’ve been appalled by his son cheating to win matches and that he’s got to be stopped to save the family name. (Texano Sr. was a rudo for his entire run in AAA and it’s hard to see how he would have a problem.) Heel referees do get easy reactions from Mexican crowd, and the telenovela bit of two brothers fighting over their father’s legacy would seem to play well with this fanbase. Those reactions come at a huge cost of making Fantasma & Texano bit players in their own drama. Every match this year has involved Tirantes and/or Bengala causing the outcome, and there’s no reason to believe this Sunday’s match will any different. Main event guys need to protagonists in their own stories, and it seems like AAA’s picking trying to get a crowd reaction on that night over trying to give Fantasma & Texano the big night they need to make themselves main eventers.
Those two guys could use that sort of big night. Texano’s career has been trending downwards since the end of 2014, when Alberto el Patron steamrolled over him to end his first title reign. Texano’s never been the same since AAA brought in the ex-WWE guys and declared they were the real top stars. Texano’s Lucha Underground run, directionless until they gave him the direction of being boring, did him no favors. Fantasma isn’t carrying around that baggage, but he hasn’t looked as motivated as when he first came to AAA – even his most recent non-AAA matches in Impact and WrestleCircus haven’t been impressive. Texano & Fantasma’s setup match for this, their cage match back at January’s Guerra de Titanes, was thoroughly disappointing. Both men can still go, and there’s nothing better than an emotional apuesta match. They really need to deliver a high level match here. Maybe Texano needs it the most.
AAA has already announced the winner of this match will be betting their hair or mask again this summer. TripleMania will have a four way mask/hair match with Psycho Clown, the winner of Texano/Fantasma, and two more people to be revealed. Fantasma’s never won a big apuesta match. Taking Texano’s hair would give him a big victory to establish himself going into that second match. The guy betting his mask almost always beats the guy betting his hair in this sorts of matches and that’s probably the outcome here. Texano has had a big apuesta match in AAA before, a loss to Psycho Clown years ago. It’s the only other time Texano has lost his hair. Two times is enough to get a reputation as a guy who might win title matches but can’t win the big ones. Texano’s father had the same career path. Perhaps the night will end with Bengala being happy about Texano following his family’s legacy after all.