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LuchaPalooza! Triplemania XXIV Review
Part one is in the books folks. The first show of LuchaPalooza is now over following tonight’s Triplemania XXIV. And all things considered I’d say we’re off to a good start. Please note that a good start doesn’t mean a perfect start. Tonight’s Triplemania was by no means a perfect show and the flaws of AAA were very much on display. A lack of buildup going into certain matches led to dead crowds, the commentary was a massive disappointment and (in the one truly bad moment of the night) AAA decided to speed right through Art Barr’s Hall of Fame announcement in favor of honoring AAA owner Joaquin Roldan in a five minute segment that felt like one long masturbation segment (and not in a good way). But those flaws weren’t enough to derail what was an otherwise very good show, with no bad matches, no technical difficulties, several surprises and two matches that staked their claim (at least in my book) at being potential Match of the Year contenders. CMLL Anniversary Show, you are now on the clock. But enough about this week; let’s focus on tonight first. Moses it’s review time; you know what that means.
2016 Copa Triplemania
Australian Suicide defeated Daga, Imposter La Parka, El Zorro, Taurus, El Hijo del Pirata Morgan. Pimpinela Escarlata, Mamba, Super Fly, Hernandez and Argenis
There was indeed a surprise in this opener, only it wasn’t from the mystery Luchador Sopresa spot (that turned out to merely be Argenis). No, the surprise was that this wasn’t the La Parka Special after all; the poser Chairman lasted long into the solid if unspectacular Battle Royal (minus a sick Pirata Morgan bump and the interactions between Taurus and Hernandez) but ultimately became the second to last man eliminated thanks to Daga. I KNOW! I don’t know who we have to thank for this (probably L.A. Park; he works in mysterious ways!) but the Imposter being sent out was welcome because a) it meant we’d have an actual fresh winner for this match and b) it was either going to be Australian Suicide or Daga, only one of the best feuds AAA has put out in the past year. They once again showed why and appear to have added an even deeper layer now thanks to the end, which saw Suicide steal the victory despite Daga’s foot being on the ropes. I know; I can’t believe Australian Suicide won something important either! Who cares if it was somewhat fishy; in the end it finally gives the young Aussie something to brag about and hopefully brings us closer to that Daga vs. Suicide hair vs. mask match everyone wants so badly.
Faby and Mari Apache wrestled Averno and Chessman to a no contest
This had the makings of an ultra strong match before we got to the unpredictable climax. The Apaches were on point here, flying around at every opportunity, landing some stiff shots on their opponents and never once looking not believable. If every woman wrestled intergender matches like these two did tonight then the Dave Meltzer’s of the world wouldn’t complain about it. Likewise the rudos played their roles well; I actually thought Chessman wasn’t allowed to do much but he was fine when called upon, while Averno’s heeling was exceptional. Only Pagano topped him in that area tonight. Even the addition of Gran Apache worked in this match, with AAA wisely starting him off from a position of (literally) holding his daughter’s back from the win before finally standing up for them towards the end after Averno and Chessman went too far. It was good storytelling; the problem is that the storytelling took precedent over the match, which is why we saw this match being completed when Averno took a fluorescent light tube to Faby Apache’s skull. I’m not mad about the spot because it was effectively brutal and keeps this feud alive in a way that the Apaches ultimate triumph will now be even bigger. For tonight though, it kept a good match from being a great match. Think of it as the Deathly Hallows Part 1 to the rematch’s Death Hallows Part 2, if it were reversed and Part 2 was actually better than Part 1 (spoiler; it’s not).
Four Way Match for the AAA World Tag Team Championships
Aerostar and Drago defeated Jack Evans and Angelico, Paul London and Matt Cross and Garza Jr. and El Hijo del Fantasma
What do you know; the expected show stealer was indeed the show stealer and, depending on your mileage, the Match of the Evening and Match of the Weekend (it’s definitely up there with Soberano Jr.-Hechicero and…well we’ll get to it). In fact the only disappointing part of this match (aside from not nearly enough London-Evans confrontations!) was that Fenix couldn’t make it for whatever reason, leading to Garza Jr. replacing him. Not that it mattered because everyone else (Garza Jr. included) delivered. Everyone got the opportunity to hit a huge dive and show off their skills and did so greatly; my favorite parts of the match Fantasma shooting an imaginary arrow and Paul London selling the hell out of it, London showing he hasn’t lost a step since his days of high adventure in North America, Matt Cross looking like a blur during his handspring dive to the outside and Angelico leaping over Drago and the turnbuckle to take out everyone. Somewhere Henry Cavill felt a cold shiver run up and down his spine, knowing Angelico was once again coming for his Superman role.
That truthfully would’ve been the best part of the match, except Aerostar was in it and everything he did was just extraordinary. This was the best Aerostar performance ever; that’s right I said ever. Maybe it didn’t feature him jumping from the lights or anything but he was otherwise more honed in than a bull seeing red. He nailed all his big dives (gotta love him and Fantasma trying to out kill the other with their respective suicide dives) and even brought out some new ones, including a spectacular corkscrew towards the end the match that I was certain was going to be that Trust Dive/Cannonball he always pulls out. Simply spectacular and it was even more so considering he and Drago actually won! That’s right folks; we have new AAA Tag Team Champions, and following a great end sequence where London got Drago’s mist and a roll up to close the deal. I’m always sad when Angelico loses and this is no different, but if he had to lose at least it was to Aerostar. That was a great moment for him and Drago and it’ll be interesting to see what they do now. I’m all in on an Evans/Angelico vs. Drago/Aerostar match in the next few days, weeks, hours? Whatever works for them. Just as long as it’s as close to this match as humanly possible.
AAA Latin American Championship Match
Johnny Mundo defeated Pentagon Jr.
Amazingly this is where Triplemania went from looking like an all time great show in the making to a somewhat cautionary tale. By no means do I mean that as a slight to Mundo and Pentagon here. I thought the match was very well done, I thought the finish was well executed and anyone who says otherwise is likely too into Pentagon to see the forest from the trees. I see it as the same deal with the finish to the Matanza match at Ultima Lucha Dos; Pentagon losing here isn’t because AAA is dropping the ball on him, it’s because they’re trying to build up to the moment where he takes down the bad guy. You don’t just hot shot that right away, you build sympathy and then do it. That’s what they did tonight, quite effectively, with Taya turning rudo and taking her rightful place alongside Johnny Mundo as she has in Lucha Underground. Sure I would’ve liked to have seen Perros del Mal stick together and I would’ve liked to have seen Pentagon win. But Taya is a much better ruda anyway and has great chemistry with Mundo, Pentagon’s not hurt by the loss (especially since he had the match won anyway) and now you have him seeking revenge to a betrayal not only inflicted on him but on the memory of what Perro Aguayo Jr. built. I guarantee you that when he gets it it’ll be a far bigger deal than it would’ve been if he’d just won tonight and this was the end of it. Sometimes the thing you want the most isn’t what you need; just ask Joss Whedon.
So what was the problem with this match then? The buildup, a recurring theme for the next couple of bouts going forward. Put this bout in the United States, pretty much anywhere in the US I’m guessing, and this match would’ve worked so much better than it actually did, regardless of the build. That’s how over both Pentagon and Mundo are here. In Mexico City though only Pentagon Jr. is catching on, while Mundo is more or less seen as a lackey to Cage still I’d say. That right there, coupled with a little too much interference at the start of the match, hurt the crowd here and saw them not get as into it as you’d expect. It was by no means enough to derail an otherwise very good match and I think the further along we go the better chance we’ll get a more memorable encounter with a more memorable crowd (especially if they play up Pentagon trying to get revenge and him fighting for Mexico, which was hinted at right before this match started). For tonight though, the lack of buildup hurt the crowd and thus prevented the match from being the classic many expected it to be.
The Lucha Underground Special
Rey Mysterio, Prince Puma and El Dragon Azteca Jr. defeated Mil Muertes, Marty “The Moth” Martinez and Matanza
This is going to sound like a repeat for the last match because the same strengths and weaknesses apply here. Once again this was a pretty solid match and probably much better than most people gave it credit for. All six guys were very good, with Rey (dressed in tribute to Perro Aguayo Jr. in a really touching move), Azteca and Marty working really well in particular, the pace was solid; like the last one, you put this one in the Temple and it’s a barnburner. It’s why it’s so frustrating that once more AAA didn’t do more to hype this match. It was almost as if they expected Rey’s star power and a Vampiro promo to get everyone into this match; instead only Rey was over, all other five guys were just brought out to no fanfare and thus no one cared. As a Lucha Underground fan that part was insulting, especially since everything else worked fine; hell I even thought Vampiro on commentary was fine. Lots of people hated it, but he at least wasn’t stumbling over his words like Hugo, didn’t go too over the top like Striker and tried to call the action for a bit before he went off on a seven year old fan he invited to the booth (which I loved by the way). Maybe I’m a mark but so what? The only major problem here was the fact that AAA put no effort into getting these six talented dudes noticed which like its predecessor kept this from truly being a great experience.
Triple Threat Match for the AAA Mega Championship
Texano (c) defeated Dr. Wagner Jr. and Brian Cage
Evidently two matches being ruined by a lack of solid buildup wasn’t enough for AAA because it once again came into the equation here. There was nothing wrong with this match as a match; all three guys worked hard, cut a good pace, played their roles well, ect. You couldn’t ask for more from them, and I thought there were several really clever spots, including Texano stealing the win with an old school small package. But good Cthulhu, once again the AAA fans didn’t care here, despite this match featuring a) the most over rudo in Mexico, b) one of their most popular young technicos and c) a certified lucha legend still at the top of his game. I don’t get it either, and I think it points to the fact that AAA tried to do too much with this match and likely would’ve been better off doing Texano vs. Cage. That would’ve worked better than shoehorning Wagner in, which was indeed the case considering Wagner played no part in the end of the match or the post match Team Trump beat down. Really that was the most interesting part of anything here, with Team Trump beating down Texano while Garza Jr., Aerostar and Drago (big night for them!) came down to make the save. I’d have no problem seeing those two sides go at it and I have no problem with this feud continuing. Once more though, would it hurt that much to give Cage the AAA Mega Championship? Him with that gimmick and that title is money waiting to happen! Not doing it is like having the chance to do El Hijo del Santo vs. Atlantis in a mask vs. mask match and deciding not to do it. You know, like every dumbass lucha promoter in Mexico right now!
Mask vs. Hair match
Psycho Clown defeated Pagano
In a night full of so many twists, turns and shocks, leave it to the Triplemania main event to give us one more. I expected this match to potentially be the worst of the night; turns out it was the best. Ladies and gentlemen I have seen Pentagon vs. Vampiro, I have viewed my fair share of classic ECW hardcore matches over the years; I’ve even seen a grown man satisfy a camel (just kidding. Or am I?!). But this main event was a new one. This main event was the stuff that dreams are made of, provided your dreams are bloody, horrifying and Tommy Lee Jones award show levels of intense.
And believe me that’s what this match was. As it turns out the one thing this match had over the LU matches (proper buildup) was the secret weapon. The crowd was red hot for this match from beginning to end and Psycho Clown and Pagano brought exactly what they needed to. There was blood. There were crazy moves, most notably a Pagano Spanish Fly off the ringside barricade into the stands. There was the intensity you’d expect from two men who hated each other and would do anything to destroy the other. There were breathtaking moments, ugly moments, inexplicable moments; the only thing missing from this match was the Edward Furlong comeback nobody wants. Maybe this isn’t your type of match but it had the intensity, it had the passion and it had two guys effectively telling a story that had fans on the verge of tears and even a couple fans trying to get into the ring. Best of all is that they were largely allowed to do it themselves; there was interference in the end by Damian 666 and Nicho, as well as a Dr. Wagner Jr. cameo where he tried to screw over Psycho (the best use of Wagner all night) but in the end this was largely Psycho and Pagano and it worked. Like Vampiro vs. Pentagon it may not have been a technical master class, but it was as entertaining a straight up hardcore match I’ve seen in a long time and one I won’t soon forget. My hats off to both men. Psycho Clown reaffirmed just how good he is and Pagano delivered the performance of his life. Even the most anti-Pagano supporter would state that here, and I’m glad that he was able to rise up to a level I didn’t think he had.
That’s it everyone. I hope you enjoyed this just as much (if not more) than the show itself! I’ll be back tomorrow with a review of CMLL’s Puebla show (no preview this week), a preview of CMLL’s Tuesday show and hopefully some more. Just because there’s one show down doesn’t mean there’s still not a ton of LuchaPalooza to go. Till next time, let’s roll out the DUCHOVNY meme for old time’s sake.