There’s been no bigger show in Mexico than TripleMania for the last few years. That’s true again in 2020, but it’s a smaller show for a shorter year. This year’s edition of AAA’s most prominent show lacks the dream match from recent years. It still is a bright light in what continues to be a dismal period in Mexican wrestling. A trimmed down TripleMania might even end up being more endurable than some of the bloated offerings of years past. 

AAA’s TripleMania XXVIII airs Saturday night, December 12, from an empty Arena Ciudad de Mexico. The show starts at 7 pm CT, and AAA is typically on time when they’re live on TV. It’ll air for free on AAA’s YouTube and Facebook channels and probably will be available to watch in those places later. The full show will air live in Mexico on cable station Space, and a condensed version will air for free on Azteca. (It’ll also air the next day in Cinemark Mexico movie theatres, which suggests there are open movie theatres somewhere.) AAA has left its Twitch platform home for the last few years; the logo doesn’t even appear on the poster. This TripleMania will also not have English commentary for the first time in many years. 

I haven’t written much about AAA here because there’s not been much to write about AAA, but I can give you the whole thing in bullet points:

  • January – March: a standard wrestling promotion (for AAA) doing pretty well!
  • April: the world stops, AAA decides to run a stand-alone tournament to fill time and expects to get back to it quick
  • May – September: It turns out AAA can’t get back quick.
  • October: AAA runs a drive-in shows because they have to do something at all
  • November: AAA crosses their fingers that Mexico City will allow them an AAA show with fans in December
  • December: Mexico City gets much worse

It has been nine months since AAA has been able to run a regular TV taping. Mexican wrestling has been a frigid CMLL joined by indie promotions running just for the sake of running. (When it’s a flawed idea to hold wrestling events, the people who do run them are generally not going to be the best or brightest; pandemic lucha libre has been heavily towards the desperate and the delusional.) This TripleMania looks little past years. It’s more like a CMLL big show in the recent past, with a couple of big matches on the top and a thrown undercard together with good workers. That’s OK. Anything AAA can safely run at all is a welcome change. TripleMania is an oasis for a thirsty 2020.

Some of TripleMania’s changes are due to the lack of budget. (Dorian Roldan previously said an empty arena TripleMania was impossible, implied to be because of lack of ticket revenue, and it’s not especially clear what changed.) Some may be health limitations. AAA limited matches to four people max for the drive-in shows and are only going as far as six people for this show. The “get everyone booked” battle royal is taking a year off. AAA’s proclivity to book outsiders just for the sake of doing so similarly got chopped; see you next year, Colons. The lack of English commentary for this show may equally be a cutback.

There are silver linings to be found.

A seven-match card should fly by compared to the bloated cards of the past. Most everyone on the show has a definite reason to be there. Every match has a chance to be right; the ceiling will be the atmosphere more than wrestlers for many of them. (AAA’s talked about video boards and virtual fans; we have no idea how that’ll look, but they did an exceptional job with the drive-in show set.) Any AAA show would be welcome, and this is a reliable and varied lineup.  

Beyond the matches, AAA will add their La Parka (Jesus Escobedo) to their Hall of Fame. It’s a bit depressing to have one of the more beloved wrestlers in promotion history honored in front of zero fans. La Parka’s son, current luchador Karis La Momia Jr., is expected to get the Parka character at some point. That handoff was announced a few times earlier this year, only for AAA to pull it back as unofficially yet. This seems an obvious time for that yet to take place. 

AAA also promises other general surprises for this show. Every lucha libre show promises surprises, making it hard to know how serious to take this. It could mean “an additional match” or “an unlikely appearance” but could be “Dave the Clown shows up with balloons.” Dancing skeleton man (unrelated to previously mentioned skeleton man) Charro Gonzalez will appear to befuddle all.

Máximo, Mr. Iguana, Niño Hamburguesa versus Carta Brava Jr., Mocho Cota Jr., (still not that) Tito Santana

A lite match to ease everyone into the show. The tecnico trio, in holiday tradition, is the figures of comedy past (Maximo), present (Nino Hamburguesa), and future (Mr. Iguana.) Iguana’s connected with the crowd a lot in a short time and seems a safe bet for a breakout 2021 if AAA can run. AAA has wrestlers more deserving of a spot on TripleMania than Maximo, but he’s the comedy guy who fits in with the rest of this trio. Poder del Norte remains a great team, though their role is mostly foiling to the tecnicos antics. 

AAA World Tag Team Championship
Fénix & Pentagón Jr. © versus Myzteziz Jr. & Octagón Jr. versus Rey Escorpión & Texano Jr. 

Los Jinetes del Aire (Myzteziz & Octagon) and Los Mercenarios (Escorpion & Texano) were rivals in 2019 for trios titles. The Lucha Brothers are available, so now it is a tag team feud. Texano publicly pushed himself to get in better shape during the hiatus and has been one of the better performers on the AutoLuchas shows. Rey Escorpion’s been virtually unseen during the recess. Myzteziz & Octagon remain exciting if inconsistent; putting them in the ring with Fenix might serve as an example of what they can become if they can put it together. 

The Lucha Brothers work hard when they come back to AAA, and this is a luxury match to have so low in the card. (AAA moves the match order around on the show of the show again and could do it again here.) These are two teams set up to be good opponents for them and each other; this should be very good at the minimum. A title switch to Los Mercenarios is possible, especially since this set up allows for a change without Fenix or Penta taking a pin.

Copa TripleMania Femenil
Faby Apache vs Lady Maravilla vs Chik Tormenta vs Lady Shani vs La Hiedra vs Hades

Two birds with one stone. Copa TripleMania is the annual multi-man match to get regular roster members and special guests a spot. It’s also annually the hardest to endure match outside of a Joey Janela show. Taya is the AAA Reina de Reinas champion, yet also an Impact roster member, so she’ll be part of their Impact+ show instead of Mexico City. AAA is repurposing the Copa TripleMania branding to give the luchadoras something to do on a show where they had nothing, but this is otherwise unconnected to the usual match.

AAA’s never going to take this title away from Taya – they did it once, it didn’t go well – but the women’s division is running in place until she’s available. La Hiedra & Lady Maravilla were moving towards a partnership earlier this year. It picked up the drive-in show concept, though this show will be the first time most people see it. The bit has definite potential. So does Hades, who looked impressive as a flyer on those shows, though mostly with male opponents. Chik Tormenta is returning from maternity leave, Lady Shani is waiting for her title match for a while longer, and Faby Apache is here forever.

The AAA women are frequently thrown in these multi-person matches on big shows and tend to do well in them. This six-way should be that situation again. La Hiedra is featured a lot but hardly wins. Giving her this win gives Hiedra something to bank on for a while. 

Monsther Clown, Murder Clown, Psycho Clown vs. Blue Demon Jr., Hijo de LA Park, LA Park

Monster Clown lost his mask last December, though he reunited with old partners Murder & Psycho in the aftermath. 2020 was supposed to be Psycho Circus coming back together for another run, which barely got jogging. AAA scheduled Psycho Circus and Los Ingobernables for Rey de Reyes, and this encounter attempts to pick it back up. Rush is off taping ROH’s Final Battle, leaving him and his father Bestia del Ring unavailable. Remaining members LA Park & Konnan each picked a replacement partner. LA Park logically picked his son, while Konnan mysteriously has picked Blue Demon. Los Ingobernables had been going after rudo Demon as much as the tecnicos. Konnan’s probably not booked himself to look like a dummy, yet this remains an unexplained mystery.

LA Park matches are always chaotic brawls, and this will be no different. Psycho Circus works just as well in that structure. There’s probably an angle coming of this. You only hope they leave the ring in one piece for the next match.

Arcano & Leyenda Americana vs. Terror Purpura & Venenoide 

Let’s get weird. Marvel has partnered with AAA to establish Latin American versions of their existing characters. It’s a transparent attempt to sell a lot of merchandise. TripleMania and AAA exist as a marketing opportunity, a place to get these new characters in front of a new audience. There’s a lot of AAA talk about ongoing characters and a spinoff Marvel wrestling league, but there is always talk about a big AAA idea, occasionally they actually happen, but almost never as originally planned. 

I’m not entirely sure if TripleMania would be happening without this Marvel tie-up; there’s money there, and an urgency to get rolling while Christmas sales can be made. Omega & Laredo will get the most foreign interest, Chessman & Pagano will be the biggest match to Mexican indie fans, yet this Marvel match seems like the most important to AAA internally. When you’re struggling running shows at all, keeping a promising new partner happy does feel like the top priority. It doesn’t matter how skeptical I may be of this idea going anywhere long term because AAA’s going to do whatever they can at making this work at this moment.

There’s a lot of unknowns in this match. I can’t get past the “why would you make a latinx Capitan America instead of literally any other superhero” mystery, but that unknown is the intrigue. We don’t know much about who is going to be playing Arcano (Spider-Man), Leyenda America (Capitan America), Terror Purpura (Thanos), and Venenoide (Venom.)  AAA’s shown character teasers, not enough to give away their identities. Assuming the people in the trailers are even those wrestling in the outfits.

The Wrestling Observer reports two will be AAA wrestlers, one from MLW and one for AEW and that it’ll be quickly obvious who is who. It’ll make for a good guessing game if nothing else. Hijo del Vikingo would normally be the obvious pick for one of those spots – who better Spider-Man than the kid who already seems to have superpowers. It doesn’t look like it’ll work out that way; Vikingo’s paternity leave was transparently covering up for some contractual tension. (The US laws prevent Vikingo from making his state-side debut, but AAA could help work to fix it and so far have chosen to not do so.) The issues between AAA & Vikingo seem to be put aside for the moment, but too late to get him on this show.

AAA really wants this to work, and they’re going to throw the best (of the rest) at it.

AAA Mega Championship
Kenny Omega vs. Laredo Kid

There’s a version of this story around this match about Laredo Kid making it to the mountain peak. A luchador first wrestling on AAA TV when he was a 19-year-old Kid, struggling to live up to potential, leaving AAA to figure it out, returning as no more than extra body but instead finally fulfilling that potential by becoming one of the brightest stars in Mexican wrestling, and then getting the biggest match of his life – only to see a pandemic put it on indefinite hold, and to see his father pass away before the match can be rescheduled. It’s the kind of tale you’d see in a video feature for a US Olympic athlete with everything leading up to the final round. It’s also not the true story of this match.

Laredo Kid faces Kenny Omega this Saturday for no stronger reason than AAA looking for someone who could have a great match with Omega they haven’t done yet. Laredo Kid is the pick because Laredo Kid is always that pick. I wrote about Laredo Kid’s role as the extra luchador brought in to have action matches a year and a half ago. Nothing’s changed. He performed the same duties just a couple of weeks in MLW’s Opera Cup: show up, wrestle ACH, let the announcers say whatever they gleaned from a five-minute perusal of Wikipedia, and go back on his way. Laredo Kid gets those spots because he delivers in those spots. He’s been the clear best AAA regular in 2020 – Laredo had the three best matches on the AutoLuchas shows, his match with LA Park in the Lucha Fighter was ludicrously entertaining – and he would’ve been the runaway MVP in 2019 too had he not disappeared to a reality show. The Marvel match is about Latin American versions of characters elsewhere; Laredo Kid is in this spot because he’s been Best Bout Machine Mexicano for a while now. Yet, it hasn’t helped Laredo Kid’s profile in the slightest; AAA appreciates Laredo Kid enough to give him this match, just not enough to make him a protagonist in much of anything they do. And, as anyone who follows wrestling for a length of time knows, having great matches only helps you elsewhere if you’re doing it in the right places. AAA’s image has improved quite a bit in the last few years, but it’s still not one of those places. An outstanding match with Kenny Omega seems like one thing possible to break Laredo Kid out. The flipside is even if Omega can’t make people take another look at Laredo, then we’ve got to accept nothing will.

The talk about this match since it was re-announced has almost entirely been on the outcome. There’s not much talk about the match itself, because everyone immediately understood it was going to be very good and would be shocked if it was anything less. Every Omega defense is met with people explaining why Omega really has to give AAA their title back this time, despite AAA never being a title-centric promotion. (Four of their champions, including secondary champion Daga, are either under a Marvel mask or left off entirely.) It’s entirely unclear when AAA might run their next show. The promotion isn’t talking about it and the situation in Mexico is not great; it’s possible the next AAA event isn’t for months and it hardly matters who’s champion when you can run shows.

There’s a bigger logical fallacy in Laredo as the easier person for AAA to book going forward. Laredo Kid has publicly stated he’s still a freelancer. Freelancer Ricky Starks had a high profile match with an AEW wrestler, got a call from WWE the next day. Freelancer Eddie Kingston had a high profile match with an AEW wrestler, got a call from WWE the next day. I normally wouldn’t give a Mexican wrestler the same odds, but WWE’s had Laredo Kid in for tryouts more times than people realize and they just signed a bunch of people of a similar size and style to Laredo Kid. If this match goes the way AAA wants it to go and they made him a champ, they risk sweating out a phone call Sunday morning. Omega is going to be available to AAA as long as their relationship with AEW lasts. 

The Laredo side of this is a low priority, as always. This is a Kenny Omega story, and Kenny Omega’s story, as of Tuesday night, is going promotion to promotion to win all the championships. AAA’s consistently been willing to use their shows and championships to tell AEW’s stories, and there’s no sign of a change there. Few believed Laredo Kid would win when this was a match scheduled for March and I’m not sure anyone will believe there’s a title change coming on Saturday night. Laredo Kid still has something to fight for: if Laredo Kid can put up an amazing enough performance to convince people he should’ve gotten this win, maybe someone might let him have it one day. Or maybe someone will book him in another match somewhere in Florida.

Hair vs. Hair
Pagano vs. Chessman

The sole surviving announced TripleMania match likely was not supposed to be the main event. No one’s been in the top mix longer than Chessman. Pagano is popular. They’re just not the mainstream stars like Dr. Wagner, Blue Demon, or even Psycho Clown. Pagano and Chessman would be a marquee match for one of the other AAA shows, but it’s in the shadow of recent TripleMania main events.

I’d say they’d try to make up for that by doing crazy stuff, but these two guys are going to do crazy stuff regardless. Pagano loves blood, intricate object spots requiring a match to grind to a halt for an agonizingly long period, and various forms of self-harm. Chessman once fell off a cage in the dark in a bit no one remembers because it is hard to keep track of his ill-advised stunts. There will be multiple chair shots that make English speaking audience uncomfortable and perhaps provoke a podcast lecture. Last year’s TripleMania main event prominently featured a cement brick; this one will likely have fire and thumbtacks. They’re both going to be trying so hard because, no matter the situation, it’s still a TripleMania main event, and both take that honor seriously. 

This outcome seems easy to guess at first glance, the aging veteran losing the big match to the rising star. I’m less convinced the more I think about it. Chessman only lost his hair once, to Latin Lover when he was a much bigger star. Pagano lost his hair many times in his career, including this show’s main event in 2016. Pagano wrestled a lot with no or little hair. His appeal is more his personality than his success, and ‘TripleMania main eventer in a year with no great main event’ is likely the ceiling for his career. I don’t feel definite either way. There’s just a little more value in saving Chessman’s loss for another day than Pagano’s.

TripleMania is going to run from comedy in the opener to extreme violence in the main event. A lot depends on how the empty arena atmosphere feels, the same struggle every other promotion has this year. AAA does have the talent arranged ideally for a strong show, which is not perennially true for TripleMania. Omega/Laredo and the three-way tag matches are safe to be great; plenty of other matches should be good. Both the Marvel match and the main event will enthrall as spectacles. You can either watch this show Saturday night or hear everyone talking about it the next day.