A Mega Tournament for a Mega Championship
Tournaments; who doesn’t love them? Seriously, on a scale from one to LUGER WON THE TITLE, tournaments are pretty chill. They produce drama, they give opportunities to a whole lot of people, and they usually prove who the best is, unless Daniel Murphy is making deals with the devil. In short, they’re some pretty fun stuff, which is why us wrestling fans are fortunate to have two right now. By now, everyone is aware that WWE, in the wake of Seth Rollins’ unfortunate injury, is holding a sixteen man tournament to crown their next WWE World Heavyweight Championship. While we can debate WWE’s handling of this tournament thus far (to say the reaction to the whole thing has been mixed is like saying NCIS is a god awful stain on American culture), it cannot be debated that it was the right call. Interest in the WWE certainly went up once the tournament was announced, and if nothing else, it does give a sense of urgency to the matches for the next few weeks. It’s a jolt for a company that has been hit or miss with fans for most of the year; whether it remains such or turns into a Roman Reigns victory parade/fan riot is something that we’ll have to wait on.
Alas, this column isn’t about WWE’s tourney; nope, it’s about the other wrestling tournament for a top title! Yes, there’s another one out there, and despite it being really poorly timed, it too should serve to be somewhat exciting. Yesterday, AAA creative head and overall suave dude Dorian Roldan made an appearance on the Busted Open Radio show, with a big announcement being teased. For once, there actually was a big announcement, a two parter if you will. First, we learned that current AAA Mega Champion and WWE United States Champion Alberto Del Rio will not be returning to AAA to drop his title, a move that totally isn’t stupid and totally couldn’t come back to bite Del Rio and WWE in the ass when they’re trying to draw the Hispanic audience later on (though it’s not as stupid as MexAmerica. Nothing is). Second, and most importantly, AAA will be crowning a new Mega Champion next month with, you guessed it, a tournament at their final big event of the year, Guerra de Titanes. Just like WWE went from an uncertain future to an interesting one with the announcement of their tournament, AAA did the same, only with a little more uncertainty. As of now, we still have no idea how many men (or maybe women?) will be in this tournament, if this will be a traditional tournament or one of those wacky AAA style tourney’s or who will actually be in it. Pretty much, AAA’s Mega Championship tournament is the Cloverfield trailer of tournaments right now.
As a huge lucha libre fan, someone who likes tournaments and someone who has written about this Mega Championship situation one or two times, it should come as no surprise to most that I’m really stoked about this. The problem; I’m also pretty terrified of it, considering that AAA hasn’t exactly had the best year luck or creative wise and now seems to be losing talent left and right (the latest; Cibernetico and possibly Chessman. What will we do without Chessman’s Sting look?!). Because of those two points and because I have a lot of thoughts on this (alright, maybe just a few), I thought I’d give some suggestions to AAA, the Roldan clan and Court Bauer on what they can do to make this tourney worthwhile for them and us lucha fans. I know, far be it for me, a E list internet wrestling writer, to give advice to people who have a lot more experience booking wrestling shows than myself. Alas, I’m going to do so anyway, mainly because I’m bored and because I REALLY WANT THIS TO WORK LUCHA KLIQ! So, AAA head honchos, if you’re reading this right now, here’s a few pointers that could make this AAA Mega Championship a really big hit. Like a Bouncing Souls concert in New Jersey level hit.
1). Make it a bracket tournament. I’m not the lucha historian as some may be, but I have enough knowledge to know that a great deal of the time, AAA (and their competitor CMLL) doesn’t do traditional tournaments. Rather, they do huge multi-man elimination bouts or even gauntlet matches, with the last man standing usually being crowned winner. I say it’s time to go a more traditional route here. Unless AAA plans on having two huge multi-man matches where the winners face each other in a finale (which I’m not opposed to at all), I see no reason why Guerra de Titanes shouldn’t feature an eight man tournament with a quarterfinals, semifinals and finals to determine the next Mega Champion. Sure, you’re likely leaving out some deserving names and all, but doing that also risks things being more cluttered than the paint when the Utah Jazz are on offense. A regular bracket of eight guys however will give you seven total matches (more than enough to fill a PPV style event AND have room for other matches), which will give the performers a better chance to show what they can do while bringing a sense of urgency and stakes to the matches. Plus, it also gives AAA a better chance of drawing in a bigger audience in the States, which is something the company is trying to do.
2). Have all the tournament matches take place on one night. This will probably happen considering AAA usually does fit these matches all into one show usually, but I’ll repeat it anyway. One of the unfortunate things about WWE’s current tournament is the fact that they didn’t hold it all at Survivor Series. I get the whole building up the semifinals/finals strategy, but imagine how much bigger the PPV would’ve been if WWE had spent two weeks using TV to hype the tournament on PPV? Take a cue from that mistake AAA and do the whole thing on Guerra de Titanes. It’s literally the easiest thing of all these suggestions to do; hell, even Tommy Wiseau couldn’t screw this up. No wait, yeah he could.
3). If you can, do the show on North American PPV. Not iPPV or any of that stuff, I’m talking another attempt of what they tried at Triplemania earlier this year. I know, the show bombed from a creative and technical standpoint and AAA is likely cautious about going back into the PPV game so soon (or even if the PPV powers that be would want them too). But the more I think about it, why not try this if you’re AAA? You’re not going to get much more intrigue on your product than you are with this tournament (whatever format you do it in) and if it goes well, you suddenly have that foot in the door you could’ve had if Triplemania hadn’t been the Spectre of wrestling events this year. All they need to do is make sure the technical stuff is taken care of (may I suggest a trial run or two?) and that the show is better creatively. And let’s be honest, whatever they do with this tournament, it’ll be better than Triplemania. The only way it could be worse is if Villano III won it while cutting heroic speeches about Del Rio afterwards; not even Bill Watts during his WCW days would be that dumb.
4) Put the belt on a young, fresh star and go from there. I’m sure you’re all expecting a section here where I give you the eight guys who I think should be in this tourney and who should win. Surprise; I’m not doing that, mainly because I’ve kinda/sorta already done it and because it doesn’t matter. The bottom line here is that AAA, whether it’s an eight man bracket tournament, a huge multi-man match or whatever they decide to do, should see this as an opportunity to build around a new fresh face moving forward. And the best part, unlike WWE, is that they have numerous options. They could give it to Aerostar, a guy I’ve campaigned for to be champ and someone who would bring instant excitement to the Mega Championship scene. Guys like Angelico and Jack Evans could bring just as much excitement, as well as crossover appeal. Texano has been a capable champion and can do so again. El Hijo del Fantasma has proven that he’s not only championship caliber in the ring, but a workhorse who will do whatever he’s asked (even work several matches on one card). Pentagon Jr. may be the most gifted overall performer in wrestling right now. That’s not even the tip of the iceberg; I can (and have) give a case for why guys like Fenix, Drago, Psycho Clown, Taurus (there, you happy world?!) and Brian Cage would be Mega Champions that could do great things for AAA. That’s eleven guys right there, and I’m not even counting the Mundo’s, Mysterio’s or Mesias’ (a lot of M names there) of the world! You could pick any of them, and I don’t think it would be a bad pick in the slightest.
Of course, AAA now has to actually pick one of those guys, and as we’ve seen with other companies, it’s really easy to go with the devil you know (Mysterio, Mundo or Mesias) then the devil you don’t. Certainly, I can understand the thought process of playing it safe, but if we’re being real, AAA doesn’t have that option anymore. Guys are leaving, the year hasn’t worked out as well as they’d hoped it would; much like WWE, AAA needs a jolt, a shot in the arm. This tournament is a good start, but it needs to be more than just a good start. So once again I say to the AAA higher ups, if they’re somehow reading this; make this that shot in the arm. Do this tournament right, make it mean something and use this as an opportunity to create that new star and show the Del Rio’s, the Caristico’s, the Cibernetico’s of the world just what they’re missing. This is a great opportunity; take it. And if I can address the Lucha Kliq for one moment, may I ask that you help them do so. Let your voices be heard; tell AAA who you want to be champion, scream it if you have to. A wrestling fan’s responsibility isn’t just to sit on the sidelines and watch things happen, but to help make things happen. This is that time.
Look at me, getting all riled up over this! This is what tournaments will do to you.
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