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The 25 Greatest Matches in the History of Triplemania (5-1)
Here we are sports fans. We have reached the final section of the 25 Greatest Matches in Triplemania history countdown, with only five matches left to break down. It’s been a lot of fun getting here, what with all the great matches along the way and all. But as great as many of the matches on this countdown have been, this right here is what Randy Savage would call the CREAM OF DA CROP, YEAH! These next five matches represent the very best of Triplemania, the most unforgettable, spine tingling matches AAA has ever produced at their biggest show; matches so good that they stand the test of time even if in some cases the matches can no longer be seen. And with that there’s only one thing left to do; find out what five matches I’m talking about. So crack open a Pepsi and sit back; it’s time to talk about the five greatest matches in Triplemania history. Let’s go.
5. Faby Apache vs. Mary Apache (Triplemania XVI)
For all the great (and lousy) things AAA has done over their twenty five years, there may never be a storyline quite as great as the saga of the Apache Family and Billy Boy. It wasn’t a story reinvented the wheel or anything, with its “boy (Billy) meets girl (Faby Apache), boy and girl fall in love, family members (Gran and Mary Apache) disapprove, family is torn apart” arc that serves as a cornerstone of many Hollywood films. But its uniqueness to wrestling and lucha libre (how many captivating love stories have there been in wrestling?) immediately made it different, and once it started adding in elements like Faby and Billy Boy’s son and Billy Boy’s never ending quest to earn Gran Apache’s respect (and always failing), it was an angle you couldn’t take your eyes off of. But even though the angle lasted until 2009 and went onto include well known luchador(a)s like Aerostar and Sexy Star, it peaked a year earlier when sisters Faby and Mary faced off in a hair match, with Billy Boy and Gran Apache on the outside.
Now truthfully, this match probably could’ve gotten by just on emotion alone considering how big the angle was. And while there was plenty of that, there was also some absolutely amazing wrestling, with the story being Faby working underneath against her more dominant sister Mary. It basically turned into a modern day New Japan match with AAA story beats; both women bled profusely, interference between Billy Boy and Gran Apache was prominent and some of the shots Faby and Mary gave to each other (both are notorious for working stiff) really made you wonder if the bad blood was real. In the end, Faby prevailed with a Dragon Suplex and, in a heartwarming twist, reconciled with her father and sister when Gran Apache offered to have his head shaved in Mary’s place. In retrospect, that probably should’ve been the conclusion of the angle and not the starting point for what would ultimately become Billy Boy’s rudo turn. But that’s a minor quibble. In terms of workrate, storytelling and emotion, you’re not doing much better than what Faby and Mary did in this eleven minute classic.
4. Perro Aguayo vs. Máscara Año 2000 (Triplemania I)
Konnan vs. Cien Caras was the main selling point of the first Triplemania and rightfully so. But in terms of match quality, it was overshadowed by its costar, a hair vs. mask match between a lucha legend still going strong and one of lucha libre’s most popular stars of the 90’s. Watching this match, I was reminded of the excellent Trauma I-Canis Lupus mask match from IWRG I saw last year. That bout, which may have been the best to come out of Mexico in 2016, wasn’t about big moves or awe inspiring dives; it was built around simplistic violence and heat, all of which fused together to create high drama as Trauma and Lupus chugged towards the finish line. I have little to no doubt they were heavily inspired by this bout. That isn’t to say there is no dives in this one; both Año 2000 and Aguayo show off their chops when it’s called for. But this is all about storytelling and drama, with Aguayo being put in the hole following a controversial disqualification call to end fall one, only to work his way back before (ironically enough) stealing the match (and Año’s mask) with the same move he was falsely accused of using to get DQ’d; a low blow. That’s brilliant right there. Other matches in Triplemania history may have had more heat and more “OH MY GRODD!” moments. But in terms of pure wrestling and pure in match storytelling, few if any come close to topping Aguayo vs. Año 2000.
3. Máscara Sagrada vs. Black Cat (Triplemania II-B)
This match is arguably three different things; Antonio Peña’s masterpiece, the greatest one on one mask vs. mask match in the history of AAA and the greatest lucha libre match not named El Santo vs. Black Shadow to never be seen. You know, despite my never ending quest to get someone, nigh, anyone to show the footage (which makes it doubly frustrating that AAA and Twitch decided not to show the match on their Triplemania marathon this weekend). But having spoken to one of the people involved in shaping this match and the show it was on (not to mention viewing highlights of the match via Rob Viper’s Triplemania II-B video, the only place where footage of Sagrada-Black Cat seems to exist), I can safely say this match deserves to be in the spot it’s in. And while a lot of credit goes to Sagrada and Black Cat, two of the most unheralded and underappreciated star in lucha libre history (has there ever been a dude who was as big a draw as Sagrada that largely goes forgotten today?), the match’s enduring legacy is its ending, which saw Sagrada get DQ’d in fall two for using a Martinete, only to then win the match quickly in fall three because the Martinete knocked Black Cat out cold. I told you this was Antonio Peña’s masterpiece. It’s that finish, coupled with Black Cat’s unique talent and Sagrada’s “doesn’t excel at anything but does everything well” skill set that makes this match legendary to those who saw it live and makes me desperately want to see this match. COME ON AAA! Stop holding a grudge against Sagrada (which is the only explanation I have for them not showing this match) and, on the weekend of your new biggest Apuesta match ever, let us get a glimpse of your previous greatest Apuesta match ever.
2. LA Park vs. La Parka (Triplemania XVIII)
There’s not supposed to be anything more important in lucha libre than the mask. In many ways, it’s considered to be the identity of the luchador; if one were to lose the mask, they may never be the same again and ultimately see their career go up in flames. In reality though, the most important thing you have in lucha, or anywhere, is your name. Masks come and go and masks can be forgotten, but no one forgets a name. Through a name you forge your true identity, your reputation and your legacy. Through your name you can live forever, long after the mask you may or may not have worn has left the minds of the people. Why do I bring this up? Because in 2001, fresh off his return to Mexico after a run in WCW, the budding lucha libre legend La Parka lost his name to AAA after Antonio Peña argued he was the rightful owner of the name. Just like that, the name Adolfo Tapia Ibarra had built up for nearly a decade was taken to him and given to, and I’m being kind when I say this, a talentless imposter who to this day continues to get credit for the things Tapia did under the La Parka mask. With only the option to move on, the original La Parka became LA Park, had a successful run with CMLL and continued to fight AAA in court on and off for the name he lost. But the thing about life, and lucha, is that somehow, someway, you’re going to get a second chance. And that’s exactly what happened when Park and AAA somehow buried the hatchet and Park returned in 2010 with only one goal in mind; defeat La Parka at Triplemania and reclaim his name.
Let’s get the flaws out of the way first. The result of this match being overturned does loom large, rendering all the stakes meaningless the same way Psicosis and Psicosis II wrestling to a draw in their own name match did years earlier. And because it’s AAA, they cannot resist getting Dorian and Joaquin Roldan involved in the finish for reasons I still don’t understand. But take away those two factoids and this match is the closest thing you will ever get to see Kill Bill play out in a wrestling ring. For a half an hour, LA Park righteously and gloriously pummels Imposter La Parka into a sticky paste as Arena Ciudad de Mexico loses its mind. To sum it up any other way would be a flat out lie. I’m pretty sure that’s not what the plan was supposed to be and if you were to ask the Roldan’s and Imposter Parka about this match they’d probably tell you it was a massive failure where Park went into business for himself. Whether or not that’s true is irrelevant; all that matters is Park’s brutal evisceration of the man who stole his name, all while the crowd sided with him over the promotion that helped take it away, is a sight to behold, a legitimate tale of an unworthy performer and a promotion getting the comeuppance they long deserved but never expected to get. It was so righteous that I’ve even heard from people who dislike LA Park say they sat back and savored every minute of this match. In a way it’s quite ironic that this match wound up one of the greatest things in AAA and Triplemania history as its basically a mockery of the promotion and a guy they, to this day, still hold in high regard (it’s even funnier that AAA has now embraced the match in recent years). Whatever you want to call this match, the one thing we can all agree on is that it’s timeless and something lucha fans will never forget. LA Park may not have gotten his name back in the proper sense, but as he so eloquently put it afterwards, he proved once and for all that there was only one true La Parka. In the words of Daniel Osborne, that pretty much sums it up.
1. Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. El Mesias (Triplemania XVII)
Not in a million years would I have guessed that this series would conclude with the number one match being a battle over the AAA Mega Championship. While AAA has done their best to make this title mean something over the past few years, much like every other lucha promotion, the titles mean far less than the big hair and mask matches. The fact that this bout for the AAA Mega Championship rates so highly thus reflects on how fucking awesome his match is. So what makes it the best match in Triplemania history over all these other great matches? It could be the awesome crowd heat. It could be the fact that this is two of the best luchadors of the last decade bringing their A game. But for my money, it’s because this match combines the best of every great Triplemania match and rolls them into one, with one crucial exception. There are big moves. There’s bloody. There’s hardcore violence, including Mesias driving Wagner through a table in the seats with an awesome chokeslam. There’s drama. There’s tension. There are a few dives, with Mesias showing off some ultra athleticism. All of this and more just builds in builds during a thirty five minute match that gets better as it goes along. But you know what separates this match from the pack? It’s the one thing it doesn’t have that many other big AAA matches did; overbooking. You will not see interference spot after interference spot, swerves, Dusty Finishes or anything that you’d come to expect from most AAA’s biggest bouts. Instead what you’ll see is two awesome luchadors going one on one telling the story of who the best man is on this night, with a few hardcore spots thrown in. Never has there been a match where AAA has had their cake and eaten it quite like this. I’m just one man with an opinion, but this match here is the peak of Triplemania and the match AAA should be striving to have at this show. It feels big, it feels important, it features great wrestling and it doesn’t feature any shortcuts to try and make it great. What else can I say; it’s the best.
And with that, we’re done sports fans. Thanks to all who have checked out this series; I truly hope you’ve enjoyed looking back and discovering some of these great matches with me. I’ll be back in a couple of hours to preview tomorrow’s Triplemania XXV, which hopefully will feature at least one match that we can add to this list in a few years for the Triplemania 30 list. Until then, THIS!