AAA has banked heavily on the name of TripleMania being strong enough to generate interest, no matter how often they run it or what they put on it. Sunday’s show in Monterrey is going to test that strength.

TripleMania will again have some good matches. Once again, the build has either been all over the place or nonexistent. Sunday’s show will reveal how much AAA can draw when nothing is going as planned.

TripleMania Monterrey airs live on FITE on Sunday at 7 pm EDT. The show costs 23 USD as a standalone purchase. You can also buy all three of this year’s TripleManias in a 60 USD bundle. Shows are available in Spanish and English. At least part of this show will air live on Space in Mexico and eventually turn up on AAA’s YouTube channel. 

Every preview I write for AAA seems to end: “This promotion is a mess, some matches should be good, but you can’t believe what a mess this promotion is.” You may be tired of reading them. I am tired of writing them. It’s the basic story with slightly different features every time. It is no better this time, and I’m increasingly struggling with what to say about these shows. Vikingo is wrestling, which means this show is probably worth watching to see what he does before it goes viral. One more match has a chance to be great, but no guarantee that it’ll work out. The rest of the show is easy to dismiss.

The matches are irrelevant, exist to build another TripleMania, or it will take a lot of explaining to get you to understand what’s no longer happening. Nothing on the show is “These two have been beefing on TV, and now they’re going to have a match.” Nothing is “this person asked for a title match, and now they’re going to have that title match.” There’s not a scratch of regular professional wrestling on this TripleMania.

AAA is not exactly coming in hot on PPV. The last two have been attendance disappointments. The Lucha Libre World Cup show was alright as an event, but the lowest attendance AAA has drawn for one of those shows. The previous Noche de Campeones event was a big disappointment. Maybe Monterrey will reverse the trend, but it won’t be because AAA has put together a sterling lineup.

Laredo Kid, Antifaz del Norte, Octagón Jr., Villano III Jr., Argenis, Myzteziz Jr., Aerostar, Parka Negra, Abismo Negro Jr., Taurus in a cage match, final two advance to a mask match later that night

The only match with build-up on TV is the opener, though the build has been mostly running in motion. Aerostar & Parka Negra and Octagon & Villano III Jr. started feuding two years ago. Myzteziz & Argenis go back even further. Nothing much happens in the feuds; they don’t even have singles matches, but they occasionally rip each other’s masks. Laredo Kid & Antifaz del Norte is the newer feud and the one where the outcome is most apparent. Anitfaz was out of AAA and basically lucha libre before coming back last year, doing a classic Mexican wrestling bit of a masked wrestler coming back for one last payday. Anyone else losing their mask is a long shot. 

(Dralistico was initially booked in the cage match for no apparent reason other than keeping LFI happy. Dralistico then decided he’d instead take a NOAH booking. Abismo Negro Jr. replaces him. Taurus, one of AAA’s best wrestlers, is also in the cage match for no reason.) 

AAA ran something similar with the luchadoras last year in Tijuana, and Flammer took Chik Tormenta’s mask in the final. Those two weren’t feuding before; a problem with this stipulation. The rules of the match mean they don’t have to deliver on any of the feuds as the final four. Laredo Kid probably can pull an outstanding performance out of Antifaz del Norte if both their masks are on the line, and that’s the most likely outcome. Trusting AAA to do the simple, easy, good thing is hard.

Regios (Baby Extreme, Flammer, Hijo de LA Park, Toscano, Zorro) vs Chilangos (Arez, Dave The Clown, Lady Shani, Látigo, Negro Casas)

The latest idea for a Copa TripleMania is a Mexico City (Chilangos) versus Monterrey (Regios) match. Like all Copa Triplemanias, it’s whatever. Maybe this format will be quicker. AAA is playing a bit of a shell game. Cartel del Santa rapper Babo (Perros del Mal theme) will be with the Monterrey team and is listed in the graphic as if he will wrestle. It’s Hijo de LA Park in his spot, but maybe he’ll get involved somehow.

Guerra de Rivalidades
Alberto el Patrón & Pentagón Jr. vs Psycho Clown & Sam Adonis
Blue Demon Jr. & DMT Azul vs LA Park & Rush

Last year’s ruleta de la muerte mask tournament was a big success, so AAA is trying to reproduce it for 2023. This year’s spin is starting as a tag team tournament, where the team that keeps losing faces off in an apuesta match in Mexico City. Again, the losers advance, which sets up some perverse incentives. Anyone who wants to face their hated rival ought to tank their matches so they can finally get their mask matches. No one in AAA thinks that deeply about their matches, so it’s OK.

The idea is these are teams of rivals. Alberto & Penta are not, at least on screen. Sam Adonis feuding with Psycho Clown outside of AAA got him into the promotion, so that’s a real one. DMT Azul, as CMLL’s Diamante Azul, was a blatant Blue Demon clone, and those two have turned into an indie feud since Azul has gone independent. Rush was paired initially with Pagano, though that now seems like a red herring. Pagano got ‘injured’ by mystery men, AAA asked for suggestions about who should be his replacement, and no one was shocked when Rush’s decade-long rival was the overwhelming pick.

Figuring out the endpoint of the tournament is fun. LA Park versus Rush is the apuesta match most people want to see. Sam Adonis versus Psycho Clown is the one most people figure we’ll see (and the only one happening on AAA TV.) I’ve got a hunch it will be DMT Azul versus Blue Demon. Demon puts over almost no one on indie shows and is putting over Azul a lot this year, and it only makes sense if he’s got a big win coming. I just don’t know if it’ll be on a TripleMania or elsewhere. These setup tag matches just aren’t interesting on their own; like last year, the stakes of these matches only kick in when it gets closer to the final The results will narrow down the possibilities, but there’s no excitement about seeing Penta & Alberto wrestle Adonis & Psycho, or about LA Park & Rush working together against DMT Azul & Blue Demon. They probably won’t work together. They’re intended to be messy partnerships that fall apart. The 30 seconds around the finish will be entertaining, but I’m not sure how much the rest will be worth caring about.

Chessman versus I’ll get back to you on that

Grab a sandwich. This explanation may take a while.

AAA ran a show with the NWA at Billy Corgan’s The World is a Vampire music festival in Mexico City. That brought in many people who don’t attend lucha libre shows, including TV host/podcast/influencer Adrian Marcelo. He recorded video in and around the wrestling show and intended to talk to Mr. Iguana near the dressing area between matches. Marcelo crossed paths with Chessman; instead, they had words, and Chessman slapped Marcelo in the face very hard. Marcelo grabbed a beer, threw it at Chessman, and the two had to be separated. Marcelo took to social media to demand AAA take action on Chessman, or he’d sue. AAA announced a two-week suspension, which Marcelo complained wasn’t enough. He demanded a full apology. Chessman traveled to Monterrey, went on TV, and gave some half-hearted under duress apologies. Marcelo wasn’t content, confronted Chessman at a press conference, and slapped him back. AAA agreed to book a wrestling match to settle it, as long as everyone in Monterrey was OK with it.

This Marcelo/Chessman slap was an angle from the start and a well-done one. (It’s the John Stossel slap to a Logan Paul figure, with some of the LT/Bigelow issue thrown in.) The initial video of Chessman’s slap went viral in Mexico, with people trying to figure out whether it was real. Marcelo is also a well-known but not universally beloved figure; there were people plenty happy just to see him get slapped very hard. The rest of the angle played out for a while when people – not just AAA fans, but people in Mexico who wouldn’t pay attention to lucha libre normally – still doubted if this was a wrestling thing or a celebrity scandal. Most figured there’d be a match at the end, even if it were real, but there was intrigue in the story.

One viral video raised the angle. Another started the decline. Chessman’s trip to Monterrey wasn’t just to apologize. It was also to train with Adrian Marcelo secretly. The secret got out; a Tik Tok user posted a video looking into the gym and showing Marcelo & Chessman working in the ring. That video getting out didn’t kill the angle, but it made it clear it was an angle after all. Chessman tried to explain it away as another wrestler (Toscano) invited Chessman to his gym without telling him Marcelo would be there, in a failed attempt to repair the situation. Marcelo slapped Chessman at that press conference to give the media something else to discuss. The video took the edge off, but there was still interest in seeing the eventual match.

One small problem: Monterrey has the strictest lucha libre commission in Mexico. Perhaps the world. Monterrey put new people in charge of their lucha libre commission about eighteen months ago, people who insisted on cleaning it up so much that they’ve also washed away the local lucha libre. The commission wants every local wrestler to take a three-hour proficiency exam before they’re allowed to wrestle in the Monterrey. These sorts of tests are common in Mexico for people getting licensed for the first time, the idea of retesting veterans is abnormal, and the veterans have decided to work elsewhere rather than go through the tests. AAA and Adrian Marcelo found themselves in the middle of this. Another time or another place, the commission would just quietly ignore Marcelo’s match. TripleManis is too high profile, and it’d kill the commission’s credibility if Marcelo got a free pass, so he had to go through the process. Marcelo would have to pass the three-hour exam if he wanted to wrestle.

AAA still thought they were fine. Their local partners claimed to be friendly enough with the commission to get them to let Adrian Marcelo glide through the test. That was the first strike; AAA underestimated how much the commission would want to prove wrestling (and their tests) was serious. Strike two was informing the press about the wrestling licensing test. Marcelo taking this test meant views, cameras showed up to film it, and the commission no longer couldn’t go easy on Marcelo – everyone would’ve seen it. AAA also apparently got Marcelo ready for a match but not physically or mentally for a three-hour exam. It was a surprise when Marcelo quit the test an hour in, but maybe strike three should’ve been foreseen. Marcelo failed the test for real; the story was suddenly out of AAA’s hands.

Adrian Marcelo went on his TV show and pleaded with the commission to let him wrestle anyway. That didn’t seem likely at the time. Marcelo interfering to keep the feud going seemed more likely. Maybe even that’s not happening. Soon after his test failure, a woman came forward on social media to accuse Marcelo of sexual assault. She provided evidence she and Marcelo knew each other, and there’s now an investigation into her claims. Marcelo vaguely referenced the accusations on Twitter, then toned down his usual active social media presence. 

I don’t think Adrian Marcelo is appearing at TripleMania now. AAA’s sent out word to Dave Meltzer that they won’t use Marcelo while the legal situation is ongoing. Marcelo’s side says it was his choice to be off the show. Whoever made the call, neither side is publicizing that Marcelo is off the show. Chessman’s opponent is unnamed, and Marcelo’s silhouette is a ghostly presence on the official poster. Seeing this story as something played off as genuine but ended up as wrestling, the average fan now believes everything is part of a story, and Marcelo will be a surprise. Neither AAA nor Marcelo may have the credibility to say it won’t happen at this point. Marcelo was the big novelty to push tickets on top of TripleMania this year, so it’s not really in AAA’s interest to clarify he won’t be there, but I wonder how those fans will react if he genuinely doesn’t appear.

Hijo Del Vikingo © versus Rich Swann versus Swerve Strickland versus Komander for the AAA Mega Championship

This four-way will be a good match, probably a great one, and I could just leave it there.

In a recent Konnan podcast – it’s impossible to know which one, he does so many – he mentioned having a conversation with Vikingo to tell him not to destroy himself by going so hard all the time and getting Rey Mysterio Jr. to say the same things to Vikingo. Vikingo doesn’t appear to have listened on the surface, no young wrestler in his position ever seems to listen to those speeches, but it’s still worth a try. He’s pushing himself very hard. It’d be great if someone tried a similar conversation with Konnan over these big matches: if AAA weren’t trying so hard, maybe things would be going smoothly.

This show is the third straight TripleMania Monterrey where AAA’s tried to assemble a Kenny Omega/Hijo del Vikingo match. It’s not happening this time; it may never happen. The AAA story this time is Omega was too busy in current contract negotiations to wrestle on TripleMania; Wrestling Observer later mentioned Omega’s contract is up in November or December. Maybe Kenny likes having lots of time to figure these things out, or maybe he’s just not that into AAA. It’s not just Omega – AAA loves to talk about the big names they’re hoping for, consigning the wrestlers who show up as also-rans. Swerve Strickland is a good wrestler. Rich Swann is a good wrestler. Komander is a good wrestler. They also deserve to be presented as that one, not last-minute names when everything else hasn’t worked out.

AAA doesn’t need to stress over Omega anymore. Having him would be great, but the work is done. Vikingo is the international star AAA’s wanted him to be for the last two years. The loud reaction he (and Komander) got before their ROH Supercard of Honor match even started showed me that the subgroup of fans willing to pay for niche wrestling PPVs is all in Vikingo on his own. Having an international name is a plus, but people will buy Vikingo versus anyone now. AAA sees it as too simple to book Vikingo versus [average person on AAA’s roster], but nothing more is required. I’d love to see AAA build up a title match instead of just announcing one, yet I wonder if that’s necessary. Everyone’s in on Vikingo now. You just need to give them Vikingo.

AAA has yet to reach that understanding of Vikingo, so this four-way is what we’ve got for Monterrey. AAA is stuck on ‘more is better,’ so both Strickland and Swann and. (Both have appeared in AAA in the distant past, but neither means a lot to AAA fans.) This match will be good, but any regular watching AAA wishes AAA would just take it easier – book Vikingo versus Taurus, or Vikingo versus Arez, or Vikingo versus Negro Casas, or even just run back the Vikingo versus Komander match once more time – rather than waiting to the last minute to set on a plan and add more people for the sake of it. 

There’s also a looming reason to focus on Vikingo versus guys on the AAA roster. I don’t know what’s in Viknigo’s contract, maybe no one but AAA does, but it is reasonably apparent Tony Khan will be using Vikingo as much as possible from now on. AAA may be willing to run in place for years to run the one perfect match they have in mind, but the rest of the world moves at a faster pace. It’s time to use Vikingo’s buzz to get over others while you’re still sure you have that option.

This TripleMania is a mix of failed and incomplete plans. The big title match isn’t the big title match AAA wanted, but something thrown together at the last minute. The big celebrity gimmick match isn’t happening. The two marquee tag matches mainly exist for the service of other shows. The important mask match might be pretty good, but no one will know it’s happening until the show is going on. The one thing AAA’s got going for this show is it’s called TripleMania, and it’s got a Vikingo match on it. That’s enough for me but it doesn’t seem like enough for most.