TripleMania, AAA’s annual manic offering to the universe, takes place this Saturday.
The bigger matches lack suspense but make up for with star power. A former UFC Heavyweight Champion is working third to the top, logically right underneath the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Wrestler of the Year. Both are secondary to one of the most important masks in the history of Mexican wrestling being on the line in the main event. This is a top-heavy card in importance for a pretty deep AAA. The card doesn’t completely reflect those strength of those depths, but it does showcase the wide variety of action you won’t see with another group.
TripleMania airs live from Mexico City on Saturday night. The main show is scheduled to start streaming at 8:00pm CST, with a pre-show an hour earlier. Starting times are relative concepts in AAA, but they should be close to on time for TV purposes. You should probably have some snacks ready, as this show will last into the early hours of Sunday. TripleMania be offered for free with commercial interruptions live on Twitch, in both Spanish and English. (Watching it on VOD will require $5/month subscription, an Amazon Prime membership, or waiting about six weeks for it to turn up in the edited form on AAA’s YouTube channel.) South American viewers will get the entire show on Space TV network live and Mexico viewers will see most of it on TV Azteca live as well.
Last year, in this same space, I advised you to stick with the Spanish feed no matter what language you speak. Matt Striker & Vampiro were handling the English broadcast and I said they would be bad at it. This was a correct call! Vampiro & Striker may be back, but the whole thing is a mess. Vampiro has said he and Striker are announcing the show. AAA has said nothing. People have told me there are other plans. AAA has said nothing about the situation other than the usual English announcers saying they aren’t doing the show. I just throw my hands up at this point. Maybe it’ll be fine. Hugo Savinovich & Jose Manuel Guillen’s excitement will carry you through the show on the Spanish side even if you don’t understand a word they’re saying, so please just go with them. If Striker & Vampiro are indeed the announcers, they’ll provide their usual bloopers and comedy – if you’re a person who likes to see car crases, they’ll be providing one for you.
AAA always has a bit of the car crash in them. It’s just inescapable part of what they are as a wrestling promotion. You could easily illustrate the two big Mexican promotions with that Alignment chart meme. CMLL’s way over on the lawful side, AAA is completely and inherently chaotic. (Good or Evil depends more on the moment.) That’s never been truer than this year. CMLL cards have felt like watching factory workers dispassionately clocking in for the second shift. AAA undercards are places where anything may happen, though it may not always make sense. There’s joy in this chaos. The bottom half of the roster has greatly improved in the last year, full of wrestlers giving maximum effort to create something memorable. It’s not always perfect, but it feels like you’re experiencing something.
The strength of AAA having those young undercard luchadors also makes the TripleMania card a bit disappointing. This show pushes a lot of them to the side. The modern TripleMania is not about that bottom half of the roster or even the bottom 90%. It is not intended to be a WrestleMania-like show with twelve different feuds concluded. TripleMania is some weird hybrid of a giant boxing PPV and a Mexican variety show. All the attention is narrowed on the top match or top few matches, in hopes of grabbing casual attention and the good TV ratings numbers to go with it. Everyone else fits in where there’s space, no matter what might have been going on with them earlier. TripleMania is like WrestleMania to include as many people as possible, but it also leaves little room for meaningful action for most of those luchadors. I would’ve liked to see the climatic mask match between Aerostar & Monster Clown, but there was no chance it would ever get a spot on a TripleMania of the current design. The could be said with Pagano/Chessman, Taya/Tessa and likely even Fenix/Laredo Kid. Dedicated AAA viewers are kind of left wanting by the missing feuds, but the bet is they’d be watching anyway.
Early indications are strong for TripleMania, with both the Cain Velasquez appearance and the main event garnering a lot of attention. Tickets seem to be moving OK so far. AAA seems like they’ve got trouble ahead, two US shows which have been barely promoted and have glacially slow ticket sales. AAA is certain they’re going to crack the code in the US to unlock those tickets sales in the same way they have in Mexico, expecting gigantic last-minute ticket sales. It still seems a stretch, but it suggests a positive reaction to this TripleMania is more necessary than usual. They’ve got to convince people that AAA is something worth paying to see, and this is their best case of doing it.
If you have some recollection of 2018’s TripleMania, you may recall Konnan and Vampiro had agreed to a loser leaves Mexico match and LA Park and Dr. Wagner had likewise agreed to a mask versus hair match. Neither match is on the card this year. LA Park walked out of AAA about a month after that agreement. (He still may have won the feud, baiting Wagner into vowing to retire should he lose the main event, something that’ll look foolish before long.) Vampiro was eliminated as a TV character around the same time for unrelated reasons. He left Mexico and any day to day role with AAA this past spring, claiming brain damage issues which could only be fixed if he relocated to the renown center of mental health that is Las Vegas. Vampiro declared he’s medically unable to wrestle, while also hitting up your favorite indie promotions about getting booked. None of this matters, except now Vampiro’s back and liable to repeat the same challenge over again despite the near disaster any match between he and Konnan would be.
There may be a bonus trios match before the official card starts. AAA hasn’t announced it, but Dragon Bane, Arkangel Divino, and Astrolux have all said they’ll have matches, they’d fit more in the opening trios mentioned by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter than elsewhere on the card. AAA has said nothing about this, but a match involving those guys is worth watching the feed a half-hour early just to see if it happens. The openers have been great this year in AAA and this would be no exception.
The matches that are known to be happening:
Big Mami & Niño Hamburguesa © vs Sammy Guevara & Scarlett Bordeaux vs Lady Maravilla & Villano III Jr. vs Australian Suicide & Vanilla for the AAA Mixed Tag Team Championship
The weird love triangle between Big Mami, Nino Hamburguesa and Lady Maravilla should finally reach a turning point on TripleMania. AAA has stalled on Nino Hamburguesa picking between his tag team partner Mami and his crush Maravilla. This match should close the chapter on this part of the story. The final lead-up match saw Hamburguesa side with Mami over Maravilla for the first time in months. Usual booking patterns suggest that as a fake-out and Hamburguesa ending up with Maravilla. It is still hard to imagine the hamburger boy turning rotten though.
The other two teams are just part of the plan to get more people involved. Sammy Guevara defeated Australian Suicide to win the Cruiserweight Championship last year on this show. Now they’re afterthoughts in a mixed tag match. (To be fair, that title match was a bit of an afterthought too.) Australian Suicide & Vanilla are a real-life couple who haven’t been presented that way on screen as of yet. Vanilla has not been presented on-screen much at all this year but was last a tecnica while Suicida is a rudo. Guevara & Scarlett have never been allied before. I’m not exactly sure why they are now, except perhaps for the social media numbers. Maravilla’s partner is Villano III Jr., the luchador most emblematic of AAA’s 2019 enthusiastic and out of control undercard. We’re supposed to be rooting for Hamburgeusa & Mami to conquer all, but the hard-working Villano ending up with a belt would be satisfying to regular AAA watchers.
Last year’s mixed tag four-way match was a show-stealer, laid out to give Mami & Hamburguesa big moments. This year’s match is full of people who can similarly be effective in the right spots, so there’s a good shot of a repeat outcome. The recent Mami/Hamburguesa/Maravilla matches have had their ceiling caps because of unsatisfying endings to keep the telenovela drama going. Nino Hamburguesa making a choice should give this the finish those have lacked. My guess is Maravilla & Villano are finally taking the win.
Los Jinetes del Aire (Golden Magic, Hijo Del Vikingo, Myzteziz Jr.) vs Poder del Norte (Carta Brava Jr., Mocho Cota Jr., Tito Santana) vs Los Exoticos (Mamba, Máximo, Pimpinela Escarlata) for the AAA Trios Championship (maybe)
This was originally announced as a non-title three-way trios. That was when Laredo Kid, Hijo del Vikingo, and Myzteziz Jr. were the trios champions. AAA recently posted a segment where benevolent mentor La Parka convinced Laredo Kid he needed to break out on his own, with Golden Magic replacing him in the trio. Everyone agreed to the plan, and Parka believed he could convince AAA management to give Laredo Kid’s share of the championship to Golden Magic. Most promotions would follow this up with something confirming this title change and stating that the trios titles on the line. AAA is not good on following up, so this concept has just been left hanging resolved.
Golden Magic is having a strong year, putting together some much-needed consistency. He’s still a significant dropoff from Laredo Kid having his best year. The appeal of the Jinetes del Aire as champions was paring one world-traveled veteran with two promising flyers. It’s now three promising flyers with varying levels of performance. The Poder del Norte team of Carta Brava Jr., Mocho Cota Jr. and (still not that) Tito Santana will be helpful to reel them in and occasionally destroy him. Maximo, Mamba, and Pimpinela also try a lot harder in front of bigger crowds, so they should be helping the cause here. The problem won’t be the luchadors, but the number of them. This is the moment for a Hijo del Vikingo showcase. It’ll instead be a process of trying to keep nine guys happy in maybe that nine minutes to work with.
The team switch points towards a title switch; why go thru the bother of taking Laredo Kid out of the team unless they needed this to be a championship change? Vikingo, Myzteziz & Magic standing tall as the future of AAA is a positive idea, but they didn’t need to move the belts around to make that happen. Poder del Norte would be the most deserving champions and set up more interesting matches to comes. The Exoticos seem more likely to win, just as a favored act and a feel-good moment of 50-year-old Pimpinela winning big on AAA’s biggest show. They’re always the act that gets over the easiest, even if their matches are usually limited.
AAA runs a Copa TripleMania fairly annually. Those always turn into a laughable disaster, with dozens of people and no apparent rules. AAA often runs Pagano matches on TripleMania. Those turn into madness, of crazy spots with limited success. AAA is combining Copa TripleMania and Pagano this year. This match could be amazing in all sense of the word.
We don’t even really know what Copa TripleMania is this year. AAA messes with the format every time they roll it out, and haven’t bothered to make it clear what the plan is this time. They’ve tended towards Royal Rumble style matches with pinfalls and submission eliminations, though one of those could make for a long buffer match in an already long card. (That would also be a no-DQ match, allowing Pagano to do his usual deathmatch spot.) We also don’t know who’s in the match. Pagano, along with La Parka, Chessman, Súper Fly, Averno, Aerostar, Drago, and Puma King were revealed at the TripleMania press conference. Eclipse Vengador Jr. (previously Lanzelot) and Daga have trickled out additional names. If opener level guys like Eclipse are in this match, AAA might fit 40 people in here.
La Parka is the default AAA pick in meaningless trophy matches, though he’s won a lot less of them than he used. I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Chessman to steal a win to keep his issue with Pagano going. I’m probably ascribing meaning to a typically meaningless match.
Keyra ©, Taya, Tessa Blanchard, Faby Apache, Lady Shani, Chik Tormenta, and La Hiedra in a TLC match for the Reina de Reinas Championship
The battle for the AAA women’s championship finishes out the “get everyone booked” segment of the TripleMania card. There’s no grand reason for everyone to be here, nor is there a special reason for it to be a TLC match. There are minor ongoing issues. Tessa & Taya have a rivalry ported over from Impact and already announced as continuing on the AAA US shows. Faby has had on and off issues with Keyra, who just won this belt from Lady Shani. La Hiedra’s stock has risen after joining Los Mercenarios but doesn’t have any strong issues against the other women. Chik Tormenta has equally risen as a utility player, adjacent to a few different stories without being a major figure in any of them.
The positive is this is the deepest AAA’s women roster in memory. There have been times where the division has had people moreover, but the wrestling matches have been as high quality as they’ve ever been. A weapon match will only help things for this crew. Taya has been at her best in theses sorts of matches, and others performed well in a similar title match earlier this year. Champion Keyra could be the weak point of the match, coming into this match after being out for weeks with a leg injury. She might be kept away from most of the action. Tessa is a little bit of a question mark too since she’s flying back and forth from Impact shows for this single match. I think AAA would probably give Tessa the title if they were sure they could get her to lose it later without political issue because they seem as high on her as everyone else. The safer bet is to just leave the title on Keyra for the moment.
Cain Velasquez, Cody Rhodes, Psycho Clown vs Taurus, Texano Jr., and a mystery person
A trio too wild for WAR: loveable hero Psycho Clown teaming with AEW Vice President Cody Rhodes and 2-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez. What possible chance do a cowboy and his friend the bull have in such a fight?
Velasquez can’t be coming cheap, and yet he already seems like a good bargain. Velasquez has become the story of choice going into TripleMania. UFC itself has never found the great heights of popularity in Mexico long predicated, but the idea of a Mexican-American MMA champion crossing over into lucha libre has definitely captured the imagination of the media. The idea of wrestling seems to have captured his imagination just the same. Plenty of celebrities have cruised into wrestling over the years with minimal competency and effort. Velasquez could probably get away with just showing up and throwing a few punches. He’s instead been working hard to learn the sport, looking to make an impression and talking about this not being a one-off.
Cody Rhodes in-ring debut in Aguascalientes a couple of weeks ago didn’t make that strong impression. The one sure thing we’ve learned about this AAA/AEW alliance is the fanbases of the two are very separate and very unaware of each other’s product. It took weeks of introducing the Young Bucks on TV to get them a reaction in their second match. Cody wasn’t much over in his first match without a similar level of attention. The presentation of that match was flawed, with Cody paired with a heel MJF when he desperately needed the endorsement of a AAA tecnico. Cody gets that this time. Psycho Clown usually gets a little bit more boos than usual in front of the tough Mexico City crowd, but the reaction he gets and Velasquez probably gets makes it a lot less important how those fans they react to Cody.
AAA has not revealed Texano & Taurus’ mystery partner. At this point, it seems most likely they’ll be keeping that information for the day of the show. Regular AAA rudos Rey Escorion & Daga are both noticeably missing from this lineup. AAA’s only hint is Velasquez will have to deal with someone who also has MMA experience. Killer Kross, the other missing rudo from this card, fits that requirement. He’s also known to have trained with Velasquez in Las Vegas. Kross would make the most sense for the spot, except Kross and getting a match on TripleMania doesn’t seem to fit together:
- pre-TripleMania 2017: Kross introduced as champion Johnny Mundo’s bodyguard, teases betraying him to take the title
- TripleMania 2017: Kross left off the card, limited to a run-in, bodyguard angle later dropped
- pre-TripleMania 2018: Kross returns to the company as a key part of uber-rudo MAD group
- TripleMania 2018: Kross left off the card (only MAD member to be left off), the MAD group soon dropped
- pre-TripleMania 2019: undefeated rudo feuding with Puma King by beating him in every match, repeatedly challenging Pentagon
- TripleMania 2019: Kross left off the card while Puma and Pentagon are booked
Kross got to AAA through his work in Lucha Underground, which was equally full of him waiting for a big match and only getting it went the matches starting meaning a lot less. Kross’ character is of a man a bit driven insane by the world around him, which also sums up his experience in AAA as well. If he doesn’t make it this year, I hope Kross gets a job that prevents him from coming back to AAA in 2020.
Texano & Taurus’ role in AAA is to have just enough credibility so it matters when they put over the tecnicos frequently. They’ll be up for whatever weirdness this match requires and will make the best of it, but they mostly exist to be vanquished. Cody’s due some revenge on Taurus for the knee injury at Rey de Reyes. That seems like how this one ends.
Fénix, Laredo Kid, Pentagón Jr. vs Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson
A rematch from Fyter Fest and part of the continued build to the All Out ladder match with a couple of people added on. You know the drill with these matches. You know the drill with people saying you know the drill with these matches; this is the most well-trodden ground.
Kenny Omega would be in the home stretch of the G1 tournament this time most years. He’s instead in Mexico, the least important person in a match. AAA has so far done nothing but said Omega’s name and run some clips, which means Omega will also probably be the least over he’s been in a wrestling ring in a long time. The reaction of this match isn’t dependent on Omega being overcoming into it, so it may be weird but it’ll turn out fine.
Omega pinned Laredo Kid back at Fyter Fest because Omega needed to get a win as part of a redemption arc and an eventual title chase. Laredo Kid was the guy who the least important in that AEW moment, one who might never wrestle again in AEW, so it made sense for him to take the pin. Everything about that is flipped in this match. Laredo Kid is the guy needing the big win to start a title chase. Kenny Omega is the least important guy in the match, one who may never return to AAA. A Laredo Kid over Kenny Omega would be a huge deal for Laredo and set up the eventual title match with Fenix in a huge way. Not a single person believes Laredo Kid & AAA is going to get that same favor handed back to him. So is the power relationship between these two companies.
This is probably just going to be something with the Lucha Brothers winning over a Jackson, with Laredo out of the ring after a dive.
Blue Demon Jr. vs Dr. Wagner Jr., mask versus hair
Blue Demon has something like a 99.999% chance of winning this match. It’s that 0.001% being one of the biggest Mexican sports stories of the year that keeps this interesting. There’s been a Blue Demon in lucha libre since 1948, they’ve been iconic names in lucha libre for most of that time, and neither man who’s worn the mask has lost it. Dr. Wagner probably has a better chance at winning at the slots than this match, but the jackpot is so huge that everyone’s going to take a look to see if the 7s all stop on the line.
Blue Demon is a huge deal in Mexico. This is parodically the biggest match of Blue Demon Jr.’s career. Nothing else is even close. Demon has middling at best mask wins, he’s lacked the major feuds victories in the bigger promotions, and he’s never headlined a show of this magnitude for AAA or CMLL prior. Demon Jr. is a former NWA Heavyweight Champion, one of several titles he’s held, but his 500+ day reign is just like the rest of his career. It happened, it was fine, no one’s going to write a song about it. The Blue Demon Jr. career is full of people trying him with awe and reverence for his wrestling despite never himself having done all that much meaningful wrestling to earn it.
Blue Demon’s biggest successes have instead come out of the ring. His counterpart El Hijo del Santo has a rich career of wins and feuds. Demon has gotten rich off a smart career of marketing the Blue Demon image. Blue Demon Jr. figured out branding before that became a noxious buzzword and made the deals to put his family’s image on products that Santo would’ve declined. Energy drinks aren’t glamours, but Demon’s found ways to be ubiquitous as an image even when he hasn’t been with his wrestling.
Blue Demon Jr. is a businessman above all. He took the business opportunity to come back into AAA for this feud, even though it meant he’d have to be a rudo opposing Dr. Wagner. He’s committed sincerely to the role, showing the needed extra aggression for this feud. Both he and Wagner have been more than willing to bleed to get this feud over, and will again. This match figures to be full of blood and shortcuts, like their best matches, so far have been. It’ll be something technically unsound, something that won’t get strong star ratings, but will get a crowd to care about each of the nearfalls even as they know in their heart who’s going to triumph. Demon may get help on his way to a win – family members tend to betray Dr. Wagner at TripleManias, and there is a long-forgotten angle of Demon turning Wagner’s older son against him – but he will get that win.
The intrigue is what else Demon is getting out of this win. AAA crowd want to cheer for Dr. Wagner, but he can still be a rudo if need be. Demon being the rudo seems like a setup for something. AAA needs to continue setting up big matches: their current TripleMania plans rely on them coming up with a battle of the giants apuesta match each year, and they’re low on big names to dramatically unmask. Unless this itself is a part one of a longer story. This match was originally LA Park versus Dr. Wagner, amidst rumors that AAA was going to give Park two straight years of TripleMania wins in exchange for a loss in year three. LA Park is long gone but perhaps the plan is not. The man who was expected to unmask LA Park was Psycho Clown. There have been absolutely no hints of Demon & Psycho being set up, but it would provide a reason for Demon to get this big win as a rudo and an explanation of why AAA hasn’t set up anything for their biggest star. A Psycho Clown/Blue Demon mask match would be one of the biggest matches ever in Mexico, just for the genuine threat a Blue Demon might unmask, and all they need is for Psycho to stroll out to the ring after the main event. Blue Demon is just enough of a businessman that he might even be willing to lose to Psycho Clown if the numbers are right. There’s no guarantee it’ll happen (especially after last year), but plenty of people are going to be watching that post-match to see if AAA sets it up.
TripleMania is always a lengthy show, full of some ups and downs. There are a lot more ups than downs this year, and this year’s show should be a good sampling of what AAA has to offer. It’s not the best possible AAA show or the most faithful to what the promotion has been this year. It is both a wide variety of ideas thrown together and an easy show to jump in to even without following the product. The main event may not make anyone’s Match of the Year list but it’ll probably be amongst the most heated. There are always fun moments along the way. If you find yourself in front of a screen on Saturday night, this is an easy show to dip into for a while or for all four-plus hours.