It doesn’t take Bill Nye the Science Guy to see that things in AAA have been pretty unstable since the summer of 2015. Luchadore(a)s have left, scandal after scandal has erupted, luchadore(a)s have left, public perception of AAA has gone nose over tail and did I mention a great deal of luchadore(a)s have left? Through it all, one of the few constants in AAA, if you’re not counting the Roldans, Aero Star, Drago and are choosing to ignore that Imposter La Parka (as I do) was Ricky Banderas. The Puerto Rican born luchadore began his career in his home country before joining in AAA in 2006 under the gimmick Muerte Cibernetica. He was pushed immediately, though mostly so he could lose a mask match to Imposter Parka and (get ready for this one) then get thrown INTO A VOLCANO BY CIBERNETICO! Imagine working your whole life to become a pro wrestling, only for it to all pay off via Death by Dante’s Peak. Luckily Banderas emerged from the lava soon after and was rechristened El Mesias. The change worked and it wasn’t long before Banderas would become one of AAA’s most dependable stars for the next decade. We’re talking him being the inaugural AAA Mega Champion en route to a still record setting four reigns, several Triplemania headliners (including a match with Dr. Wagner Jr. that is, in my opinion, the greatest Triplemania match of all time), an ability to effortlessly slide into the role of top technico or top rudo and a spotlight role on AAA’s sister show Lucha Underground as the popular monster Mil Muertes. Whatever AAA needed El Mesias did it and generally did it at a high level.
Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your viewpoint) he won’t be doing anything for AAA any more. I’m sure most of you are aware by now but just in case you’re one of those poor souls living in a bunker without internet to protect yourself from the robbing of precious bodily fluids, Ricky Banderas and AAA are no longer together. A little more than a week ago Banderas announced he was quitting AAA, and this week held a press conference where it became clear that, much like every other AAA separation, it wasn’t amicable. It’s not that shocking a development (this is modern day AAA after all) but in some ways it kind of is. I mean, how does a twelve year relationship between a promotion and a star, one that was as productive as the one between AAA and Banderas, suddenly go from sunshine and roses to the production of a James Cameron movie? Luckily Banderas had a press conference this past week where he spilled every last bean of info we needed to know what’s up. Among the many reasons given for his departure from AAA, these are the three reasons I found most notable.
-You may have noticed that Banderas hasn’t been around that much in the past year and that when he has, he’s been working at a much lower quality than his usual standard. That’s because Banderas has been working with not one but two knee injuries that severely limited him. According to him, not only did AAA have Banderas continue to work through the injuries through October (they needed him for a four of Japan) but they barely compensated him when he was out rehabbing his knees. What does he mean by barely compensated? Try Dorian Roldan (AAA’s owner) giving Banderas less money than he promised while he was out and Banderas, upon approaching AAA’s director of programming, being told any money he took from AAA during his injury would be considered a loan he’d have to repay. If you read that last paragraph closely sports fans, you can see just where Badneras’ resentment towards AAA hit an all time high.
-Of course there had been issues prior to Banderas getting lowballed while being injured. According to Banderas, he had signed a contract extension with AAA four years ago; naturally he had no idea how long it was for because this is a AAA contract we’re talking about. You sign those bad boys at your own risk. Badneras claimed he had since been trying to find out just what it was he signed, only for Roldan and his mother, AAA owner Marisela Peña Roldan, to never get around to showing him. Considering how far this issue dates back, I wouldn’t be shocked if this was the starting point of Banderas’ issues with AAA.
-Despite all of that, the straw that broke the camel’s back was just a few weeks ago at Rey de Reyes. You’ll recall that Banderas returned at that show as a Luchadora Sopresa for the final Rey de Reyes qualifying match. He came in, tossed Dinastia and Venum around for several minutes…and then proceeded to get beat by Imposter La Parka of all people. That sounds dumb to begin with; it’s even dumber when you realize that Banderas (according to what several people were told) was supposed to win that match and go to the finals, something that was changed because Grodd forbid Imposter Parka isn’t given a big time push on a show. Banderas didn’t address whether he was to go over in that match, but he did say the way AAA brought him back was too much to overlook, something that was obvious when he notably expressed his frustration live on the show. At that point it was just a matter of when Banderas would quit, which he chose to do upon returning from Lucha Underground’s season four tapings a few weeks later.
There’s more stuff to it than that, like how Banderas didn’t blame long time friend and AAA head writer Vampiro for anything that happened to him, so on and so forth. In the end though it appears AAA’s lackadaisical treatment of Banderas both health and booking wise, coupled with concerns over his contract are ultimately what led to the 21 year veteran striking out on his own. Whether or not it was the right move remains to be seen; I can say, as someone who watches both LU and AAA that the contrast between the unstoppable locomotive Mil Muertes and the passive, complacent El Mesias was very notable the last few years and proof that Banderas had lost the love for AAA somewhere along the way. Will this end up rejuvenating his career in Mexico? Will this finally be where AAA realizes the error of their ways and tries to be better? We’ll all just have to find out together. Right now all we can do is sit back and watch Banderas and AAA both wander out into uncharted waters. For the first time in over a decade AAA will be without one of their most stable stars. And if Ricky Banderas is to be believed, AAA only has themselves to blame.
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