Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide
AAA Noche de Campeones 2022
December 28, 2022
Arena GNP Seguros
Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico
It’s a pretty well-kept secret that Lucha Libre AAA has a show airing live on FITE this Wednesday. Running a PPV against a major US weekly wrestling TV show is an excellent way to get ignored, though this show has a couple of matches fans would care about if they knew they were happening. AAA hasn’t done much to build up the important stuff; the rest is the usual names thrown together to fill out a lineup. It’ll probably be good if you make time for it, but I can understand why people aren’t thinking about it.
AAA’s Noche de Campeones takes place Wednesday in Acapulco. It’ll air on FITE for $23/USD, which lists the start time as 7 pm CT. (AAA’s show will start at the same time as AEW Dynamite and then go longer into the evening.) The show will include both Spanish and English commentators; the English crew will reportedly be on location for this show after a poor experience doing remote commentary on the previous show. AAA will add the show to their YouTube channel in late January or early February.
Noche de Campeones is going to be a show of good AAA matches. The main event has last-minute MOTYC possibilities. The previous FTR/Hermanos Lee match was good until the finish. Other stuff looks promising. The problem is this feels like it matters little. The only two things that have mattered in AAA this year are:
- Villano IV matches (the secret Mexico MVP of 2022)
- “TripleMania” named shows.
This Noches de Campeones has neither the brand name of TripleMania nor the stakes of the year-long apuesta tournament. It has a brand new venue in Acapulco, whose owners paid for a yearly December ‘big AAA show’ and are seeing that order filled. Major events typically have more intensity or urgency than this one. Even Verano de Escandalo, the only other B-show AAA has run this year, built up Hijo del Tirantes losing his hair as a bigger deal than anything happening on this show.
“Night of Champions” cards work if promotions make the champions feel special. CMLL and AAA don’t book their titles importantly, so the idea of an all-title match show only appeals to the few diehards who know who has the titles. CMLL’s Night of Champions solution is making their challengers meaningful by giving the fans the freedom to choose them, creating an investment in the matches that the championships themselves don’t provide. AAA either couldn’t come up with a solution or delusionally believes offerings like “a Blue Demon championship created out of thin air” is something people will pay to see. Again, since the goal appears to convince the local promoter they’re getting something special, a night of title matches fits perfectly. Ticket sales could be better.
It’s a AAA Night of Champions, but it’s not even all AAA champions. Or all the top champions. AAA Latin American and Cruiserweight Champion Fenix will be in Colorado for AEW, not Acapulco. Lady Flammer has been the #1 contender for the AAA Reina de Reinas championship for six months and still won’t face champion Taya here because Taya isn’t on the show. What’s left is one title that means a fantastic match, two titles that are around without momentum, and whatever else they could come up with to get to seven matches.
The one AAA championship that does matter
Hijo del Vikingo will defend the AAA Mega Championship against Bandido in the main event. Vikingo just completed his first full year as champion, having won the vacant title in a fiveway last December, including Bandido. That match included trivia answers Jay Lethal, Bobby Fish, and Samuray del Sol, and this one will likely be much better for being cut down to a singles match. Vikingo and Bandido had the same singles match this past Sunday in Big Lucha for Bandido’s title. The timing of that is strange, but it at least ensures they’ll be well prepared for the AAA version of their encounter.
I’m not sure the fans are as ready. Vikingo and Bandido have never been in a big AAA show’s main event singles match. There’s been minimal build to this one, just a single “I respect you and can’t wait to face you for this title” promo. Perhaps this was meant to be Hijo del Vikingo defending against Laredo Kid instead, following off Laredo beating Vikingo (but also nearly dying in the process, sidelining him for now.) It also may give 2022 AAA too much credit to suggest they were building to a title match and had bad luck; they sure didn’t build to the rest of this show.
Lucha Libre AAA wants to be known as a place to tune in for stupendous matches. That’s not how people see them; their messiness often overshadows the wrestler’s work. It’s almost certain that something other than this Vikingo/Bandido match will be the AAA talk of the night because something always happens. AAA also struggles at building anticipation for matches: either the match (like most of this card) isn’t a blip on the radar until it’s suddenly announced, or it’s something that’s teased on TV for a year without happening, so you’re tired of it when it finally does happen. There’s also little mythologizing of matches after they take place. The outstanding Vikingo/Laredo match was moved on no different from any other TV match when it aired. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter giving it five stars was far more promotion for it than the AAA did themselves. I can’t wait to see Vikingo/Bandido, and I wish they’d worked harder at wanting more people to see it.
Vikingo is a solid favorite to retain the championship. AAA could do the same series I was hoping to see with Fenix/Vikingo with Bandido instead, but it seems less likely. Vikingo and AAA still want the match with Omega. They may need it if they’re running three TripleManias and have to create main events for that show. I’m skeptical that a Kenny Omega wrestling in NJPW will also wrestle in AAA. Still, I expect AAA will keep waiting for that call until Omega tells them no. It doesn’t appear he’s told them no so far.
Championships that kinda sorta matter
The AAA tag team championships have spent most of the year as the fourth most crucial tag team titles on AEW television. Champions FTR hasn’t defended the belts since April, hasn’t been in AAA since March, and missed all three TripleManias. The AAA tag titles may have helped FTR’s act this year, but hasn’t seemed to help AAA much at all. This AAA show is where a hot foreign act coming back to face the locals would be a big boost, but FTR as champs never clicked in AAA to that degree. All the AAA in AEW is supposed to generate international interest, but I don’t think most FTR fans even know they’re wrestling this match. FTR will probably win most every 2022 tag team of the year award based on their work in the US, the UK, and Japan. Their stuff in Mexico has seemed like a waste of time for them and AAA. FTR got a star they can add to their shirts and got to cosplay as Eddie Guerrero and Art Barr a couple of times, and it didn’t seem like they gave all that much back to AAA in exchange. It is AAA, though, and it may reflect more on them that they got so little of a tag team when everyone else got so much.
This situation is ripe for a title change, except the challengers aren’t any better ideas for champions. Don’t get me wrong, Dragon Lee & Dralistico make sense in the AAA storyline as the next champs.
- FTR fluked a win over them back in March
- Hermanos Lee has been the default #1 contender most of the year.
- Hermanos Lee defeated Matt Hardy & John Hennigan in Tijuana in that main event
- Hermanos Lee won an actual #1 contenders match back at TripleMania Mexico City
- The only other regular tag team is La Rebelion, who declared they’re waiting for the winner of this title match
I’m no more excited about these two being AAA champs than FTR. Dragon Lee’s act feels stale, and the fringe AEW storyline where Rush is teaming with Dralistico against Dragon Lee makes this team a bit of a story mess. Dralistico’s the more significant issue: he’s not good, there are about two dozen wrestlers in AAA who’d be better in a big match, and he’s not even the star his brothers have been. Dralistico’s injuries have worn him down, but he’s more mentally working at a level that wouldn’t get him a look in AAA if he wasn’t part of this family. Dragon Lee and Dralistico are also people unhappy to take a loss, and expecting them to put over another team at the end of their run is foolish. The tag titles might be more visible with Dragon Lee & Dralistico as champions, but it’s unlikely they’ll be more worthwhile.
The trios titles are a bit meaningful: Nueva Generacion Dinamita wins a lot. (Except when AAA makes up bizarre rules for TripleMania.) A new title seems to have helped them; they’re not quite at the level wherever everyone was excited about them for a time in CMLL, but they’ve shown steady improvement. The biggest problem for NGD is the need for more credible rivals. AAA’s been giving them three random tecnicos for title defenses, which isn’t much of a direction. The three names pulled out of the hat on this show are Aramis, Willie Mack, and Myzteziz Jr. in their first time as a trio. It should be alright if not a match anyone was anticipating.
I originally had the AAA Mixed Tag Championships in this category, though who knows what’s going on now. AAA scheduled Sammy Guevara & Tay Melo to defend those titles – and 100% lose them – only now Melo is wrestling on Dynamite that night instead. AEW makes mistakes, but history suggests this is some issue between Guevera, Melo, and AAA. This tag title reign has meant less than FTR, with the champs being ghosts since April. Melo & Guevera’s reign means so little that there hasn’t been an uproar about AAA falsely advertising them; no one cares. It’d be fine if the AEW couple vacated the AAA championship. None of the teams scheduled in the match – Octagon Jr. & Lady Shani and Komander & Sexy Star II – have any reason to be champs. Abismo Negro Jr. & Flammer won a #1 contenders match, so maybe they’ll be thrown in. This title will get talked about because of the no-show, but no one will come out as a bigger deal for winning it. It’s here just as a tool to get a few more women’s wrestlers in a prelim bout.
AAA could use a greater reflection on how they’re using outside talent. I still believe it’s important to sprinkle in names to add interest. One-night appearances can work fine. Putting champions on outsiders in service of a long storyline has proven to be a dismal failure. Kenny Omega is the best of the bunch; he beat everyone and never lost the title. AAA gained nothing long-term from the Purrazzo Reina de Reinas reign and seemed to be walking away empty-handed from this these two tag team title runs. (Fenix and Taya are in play to be added to this dubious list next year.) No one in the US thinks any fonder of AAA because Sammy & Tay defended the tag team title belts as the opener of a five-hour PPV, and AAA lost a year where they could’ve used those titles to get over acts they do control. Stuff happened that caused plans to change, but the two important facts are stuff is always going to happen to change plans, and AAA isn’t ever going to be the top priority for these people. If the goal here is to win favor with outsiders by giving them title belts, then keep doing it. If the goal is to make AAA more successful, maybe stop doing the thing that’s not working.
Championships that don’t matter to anyone
2022 would’ve been Blue Demon’s 100th birthday, and AAA’s created a “Leyenda Azul Blue Demon Championship” to celebrate him. It needs to be clarified if this is an annual title like the similarly named CMLL tournament or if this will be a new regular title. It doesn’t matter at the moment – it’s just a belt pulled from nowhere with nothing leading up to it, and no one’s been reason to care. The match is three-way with Taurus, Villano III Jr., and Arez, which should be good even if the prize has no meaning. Arez trained under Blue Demon Jr. earlier in his career, and AAA’s already mistakenly listed him as champion, so he seems the probable winner.
The Copa TripleMania (here as Copa Mundo Imperial for sponsorship reasons) is never good, everyone knows it’s never good, and they keep putting them on each show. The excuse is that they needed another title match this time, but this appears to be a trophy, not a title. Vampiro and Blue Demon are wrestling, so one of them will likely win. It’s worth no more thought than that.
AAA announced they’d decide their first Marvel Lucha Libre champion on this show. AAA also announced the Marvel Lucha Libre show would debut on Disney+ on December 21st. That day came and went with no debut and no mention of what happened. It seems much more likely to be a Disney issue, not one that AAA had any control over, yet it still fits the ever-present feelings of disorganization and half-thought-off ideas. Finding out what went off the tracks is more interesting than finding out which character wins a belt.
I really think this is going to be a good show. Bandido and Vikingo will be great. FTR versus Hermanos Lee looks like it should be good, despite my disinterest in the outcomes. Other things look promising. The bunch that does buy this show on Wednesday will enjoy it. I expect it to be a relatively small bunch, just the people who buy every AAA show or every ‘name’ PPV. It’s a cold show, there are other options, and AAA’s built this like a show you can afford to miss. The right move for most people is to wait to see if it actually went well and then either check it out during holiday downtime or wait until it turns up on YouTube.