This would normally be the time to start the column with a grand opening paragraph. Well I’m not going to do that…while also pretty much doing exactly that. This is what happens when it’s Triplemania Week sports fans. The big show is a little more than 24 hours away, my look through the history of Triplemania has wrapped up and our token non Triplemania related AAA story has already dropped in the form of a lawsuit filed by what is essentially AAA: American Edition (technically though they go by Lucha Libre Factory Made Ventures). It would seemingly leave nothing else to do except preview the show, but while we’ll do that in a bit there’s something else I would like to talk about first and that would be two of the luchadores in the two headlining matches at Triplemania XXVIII tomorrow. And just to be clear, neither one of them is Kenny Omega.
Tomorrow night’s Triplemania will see Chessman main event the show in a hair vs. hair match against Pagano, while Laredo Kid battles Omega in the semi-main event for the AAA Mega Championship. Spoiler alert; neither Chessman nor Laredo is the focus of this match. They’re the other guys, the supporting players; the Andy Richter to Pagano and Omega’s Conan O’Brien. It’s not altogether shocking that that’s the case; in Mexico Pagano has grown to become one of AAA’s most popular stars due to his charisma, and I don’t think any more needs to be said about Omega, considered by many to be the best wrestler in the world (and currently the hottest he’s ever been after the last two weeks). Many of the new fans watching Triplemania tomorrow will be watching because Omega is on the show; many fans in Mexico are interested in the main event because Pagano is there. Laredo and Chessman just happen to be the guys they’re wrestling for most people and it’s both a pity and an opportunity. It’s a pity because both guys have proven to be worthy of this spot; they just haven’t had the chance to show it to a wide audience. It’s opportunity because now they do.
The phrase “AAA lifer” would be a fitting way to describe the 45 year old Chessman, or as he’ll be called by many people after tomorrow, the guy who looks like a bulky Wolfpac Sting. The son of a Mexican football player, Chessman himself was destined to follow in his father’s footsteps as a highly touted football prospect, at least until he injured a fellow player during a practice match (or so the story goes). So he turned to lucha, where he received training from Pepe Casas, father of lucha legends Felino, Heavy Metal and arguably the greatest of all time Negro Casas, and the legendary UWA top star El Canek (you know, the other guy who slammed Andre the Giant) and debuted in July of 1996, one month after his 21st birthday. Like seemingly all luchadores he bounced around several gimmicks and worked the undercard of AAA spot shows until finally, in 2000, AAA booker Antonio Pena gifted him the gimmick Chessman, based on (apparently) notorious US criminal Caryl Chessman (if you think this is weird, remember that Pena also created the persona Charly Manson around this time). And so began the next twenty years of Chessman’s career.
To be fair, it’s been a pretty strong one. Over those twenty years Chessman would pretty much become a staple of every top rudo stable AAA would produce; first it was the Black Family with Manson, Dark Ozz, Cuervo and Escoria, then it was La Secta, then there was the detour to the technico side with Los Hell Brothers (with Manson and Cibernetico) and of course there were the inevitable runs with La Legion Extranjera and La Sociedad, AAA’s biggest mega stables of the mid 2000’s/early 2010’s (nowadays he’s part of Los OGT’s, a highly underrated trio featuring him, Averno and Super Fly). Along the way he won every single title in AAA available to him save the Mega Championship, inexplicably fought for the GHC Heavyweight Championship (Pro Wrestling NOAH’s top title) at Heroes Inmortales IV against Takashi Sugiura (the same guy who just had a MOTYC for that title with Go Shiozaki), won the 2010 Rey de Reyes and, if you count Triplemania Regia last year, will have appeared in 20 CONSECUTIVE TRIPLEMANIA’S, going back to Triplemania X in 2002, after tomorrow’s show. Hell this isn’t even Chessman’s first Triplemania headliner; counting last year’s Triplemania Regia, Chessman has main evented AAA’s premiere show four times, at Triplemania’s XIII (2005), XV (2007), XVII (2009) and Regia last year, albeit always in multi-man action. That would make tomorrow’s match with Pagano Chessman’s fifth Triplemania headliner for keeping score at home, as well as his first singles headliner; combine it with everything else and that’s a superstar quality resume. So why does feel less like Wayne Gretzky and more like Grant Fuhr?
The answer is that Chessman isn’t just good and reliable; he’s too good and too reliable, sort of the AAA equivalent of CMLL’s unsung hero Euforia. Chessman is the guy AAA goes to when they want someone to make a technico look great, regardless of the situation. Need someone for a brawl; throw Chessman in because he can brawl with the best. Need someone to base for the high flyers or Psycho Clown when he’s trying new things; roll out Chessman to catch that slingshot hurricanrana. Need a physically imposing rudo slotted into a faction where they can add legitimacy but not overshadow the main stars; tell Chessman to get that Wolfpac Sting look on and get on out there. That’s Chessman’s career in a nutshell; for all his accolades and all his tremendous performances, he’s always been more well known for being the guy behind the guy (Cibernetico and now Averno) or the guy catching the technico as he falls. And hey; there are far worse things than doing that for over 20 years, especially at the level Chessman has done it at (the fact that he’s 45 and can still go at a high level relatively consistently, at least when he wants to, is mightily impressive). But it also makes this main event with Pagano tomorrow, a match that quite frankly was probably going to be an upper midcard match on this show if it had run in August as planned, feels long overdue. It stings even more when you consider the likelihood that this match will play out much like Chessman’s career; he’ll be the best guy in the match (pretty much a given if you’ve ever seen Pagano work), he’ll be the one most responsible if the match is good and he will likely be overshadowed by whatever crazy stunt Pagano ends up doing.
Then there’s Laredo Kid, so fascinating a figure in recent lucha libre history that I delved into his story a year ago in a now lost article. Laredo Kid is the polar opposite of Chessman, the guy you watch perform and immediately go “that guy’s a star.” And that was, in fact, the plan when Laredo first arrived into AAA as a 19 year old phenom in 2005, the beginning of a journey that would fluctuate more the scores of Robert Rodriguez films on Rotten Tomatoes. In the last fifteen years Laredo has filled every role; promising young luchador, the next Rey Mysterio, talented but injury prone, missed opportunity, WWE tryout flameout, journeyman, occasional Impact talent and reliable indie worker you could always count on to deliver the goods. Again; there are worse fates, but for someone as talented as Laredo is it felt sad that that he seemed destined to be that guy you saw in an indie match and went “oh Laredo! That guy’s good. Why didn’t he become something bigger?” And then the summer of 2018 came along and changed everything.
Ever since Laredo returned to AAA, on a freelance basis, it’s been one shining example of the now 34 year old luchador putting it altogether and fulfilling the potential everyone saw in him. He won AAA’s first Lucha Capital tournament and was easily the best overall performer in said tournament. He became the leader of an exciting new stable called Los Jinetes del Aire, alongside up and coming stars Myzteziz Jr. and Hijo del Vikingo. In 2019 alone Laredo won the AAA Cruiserweight Championship from AEW star Sammy Guevara, a fitting coda to the time both tried out as a tag team for WWE a few years earlier, and proceeded to have one of the best in ring years ever. The five star lucha trios match PWG had in 2019; Laredo Kid was involved alongside Black Taurus, Puma King, Bandido, Flamita and Rey Horus. The only match in MLW to receive a four star or higher rating from Dave Meltzer in 2020; the Lucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. and Fenix) vs. Taurus and, you guessed it, Laredo Kid. Who was in the craziest non death match GCW put on in 2019; none other than Laredo Kid, teaming Arez and Ophidian against KTB, Gringo Loco and Taurus (boy that Taurus had a good year too huh?). Who replaced Pac as the Lucha Brothers partner and delivered another great performance against The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega at AEW Fyter Fest; do I really need to answer that for you?! And none of that takes into account all of the great matches Laredo had in AAA, including one against Vikingo in June that was, by my estimation, the best match for AAA in 2019, the best match in Mexico in 2019 and the best match, period, in 2019. To top it all off, Laredo even found time to become a reality TV star at the end of the year by joining Exatlon: Mexico, the only thing that honestly prevented him from having an open and shut case for being Luchador of the Year (and in my opinion, he still was).
But despite that great year Laredo, by and large, is still seen more as a “star beneath the stars” if you will in the AAA hierarchy. Some of that is because he took time off to appear on Exatlon; some of it is because the pandemic hit and the opportunities to wrestle weren’t there, even if Laredo continued to deliver top notch performances against LA Park, Drago and Octagon Jr. in the shows AAA was able to get in; a tiny bit is because this match with Omega didn’t happen in March at Rey de Reyes like originally planned; and quite frankly some of it is because it still feels like people aren’t noticing him enough. Take for instance Laredo’s recent appearance in MLW. As astutely pointed out by thecubsfan in his Triplemania preview, Laredo Kid came in, had a really, really good match with ACH, lost and that’s that. This was a guy who had one of the best MLW matches of last year, and a guy who was just weeks away from a major match for Triplemania (a show promoted by one of MLW’s partners) and he was just a really good worker brought in to lose, albeit to a very talented man himself in ACH.
Hell look at the way AEW has promoted this match; oh wait, you can’t because AEW hasn’t promoted this match at all, despite the fact that it features their champion and top star. It’s not entirely nonsensical; MLW has plans for ACH, Laredo Kid has had nothing to do with AEW since Fyter Fest last year (blame the reality show appearance for taking him off the board) and AEW has been pretty friggin busy over the past few weeks, what with a new partnership with Impact and the debut of Sting occurring. You can even understand AAA’s minor reluctance to go all the way with Laredo; he is still a freelancer after all, and the possibility always exists that one great performance could lead to him being gobbled up and becoming the third member of Lucha House Party (the sound you hear right now is me screaming). But even if it makes sense, it doesn’t change the fact that it all seems to slot Laredo Kid into a role beneath him, no matter how many times he steals the show or delivers the best match for any promotion that books him. And with Omega now the AEW World Champion and seemingly poised to go on a run of collecting titles (which would include holding onto the AAA Mega Championship), the prospect of Laredo becoming a duel champion himself (he’s still AAA Cruiserweight Champion after all) seems as likely a Firefly reboot.
If it all seems like a downer that Chessman and Laredo aren’t getting the props they deserve, that’s because it is. For Chessman, the recognition and the opportunity should’ve come a long time ago. For Laredo this should be a moment that elevates him to the place he was always supposed to reach, not the part where he plays second fiddle. But the brilliance of lucha libre is that all of this has to play out in the ring and in the ring, anything is possible. And what’s not only possible but likely is that Chessman and Laredo will go out tomorrow night, in their respective matches, and deliver something special. The motivation will be there for both; for Chessman it’s the main event opportunity he’s long craved and the chance to do what Psycho Clown did four years ago and take a hard working but limited performer and shock everyone with something better than expected. Meanwhile the match with Omega is, no joke, the biggest match of Laredo’s life; an opportunity against one of the few performers in the world on Laredo’s level, in front of an audience watching around the world that will likely be one of the biggest Laredo’s ever performed in front of. It’s the chance to show them all that he is right there with Omega as one of the best wrestlers in the world, the chance to show the AEW’s and WWE’s what they’ve been missing and the chance to show AAA that he can be a top star alongside Psycho, Pentagon and Fenix. And if that’s not enough motivation then consider this; in the past year Laredo has tragically suffered the loss of his brother, Super Laredo, and his father, his biggest supporter and someone known to many in the lucha libre community as someone who dedicated himself to showing the world that his son was one of the best in the world. For sure this match is for a title and perhaps more opportunities; but when you get down to it, Laredo’s performance tomorrow will not be for those things but for his brother, his father and himself.
So if you’re one of the people watching Triplemania tomorrow who is watching because you love Pagano’s craziness or want to see Omega strut his stuff, that’s great; but I’m telling you now, don’t count out Chessman and Laredo Kid. Yes, to some, they may be “the other guys” in tomorrow’s big matches and yeah, maybe it doesn’t get any better than this. But they’re both overdue for this opportunity; they deserve this opportunity. And come the end of Triplemania tomorrow, I expect people will be blown away by what they’re able to do with it.
And with that, let’s preview Triplemania!
Maximo, Mr. Iguana and Nino Hamburguesa vs. Carta Brava Jr., Mocho Cota Jr. and Tito Santana (Poder del Norte): This is the supposed opener, a comedy trio taking on one of the best, and more vicious, trios in AAA. Seems like a clash of styles right? NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! While Hamburguesa, Iguana and Maximo generally play for laughs all three are capable of giving good performances, and Brava, Cota and Santana appear to have some mystical powers that motivate Maximo to try (something he generally doesn’t do against other luchadores). The lack of crowd may hurt this as the technicos generally work best with an audience behind them, but Poder del Norte are so great and Iguana is such a show stealer, in addition to his comedy, that it’s hard to see this being anything worse than entertaining. At least until the technicos fall to one of Poder del Norte’s great triple team moves. Winners: Poder del Norte.
Pentagon Jr. & Fenix (The Lucha Brothers) (c) vs. Mytzeziz Jr. & Octagon Jr. (Los Jinetes del Aire) vs. Rey Escorpion & Texano Jr. (Los Mercenarios) for the AAA World Tag Team Championships: If you’re looking for an undercard show stealer, this is it. There’s some concern about Pentagon being unable to go due to a leg injury, but a recent workout video (not to mention the Lucha Brothers penchant for working through pain) indicates that the old Lucha Underground ace is ready to go. If he is then this should be fire; the Lucha Brothers remain one of the best teams in the world, the ultra underrated Escorpion and a rejuvenated Texano (who was strong on the AutoLucha drive in shows AAA put on) have been one of AAA’s better tag teams since 2018 and Myzteziz and especially Octagon Jr. are two of AAA’s better young stars. There will be dives, there will be one moment where Fenix showcases his death wish and there’s a very good chance this will be one of the top three matches on the show. Winners: Lucha Brothers.
Chik Tormenta vs. Faby Apache vs. Hades vs. La Hiedra vs. Lady Maravilla vs. Lady Shani for the Copa Triplemania: You know how CMLL’s Luchadoras division sucks? Yeah; no such problem exists with AAA’s division, bolstered in this match by the return of Tormenta, who was one of the best performers in AAA during 2019. The match has been restructured as an all luchadora version of Copa Triplemania (usually a bloated but fun battle royal) and the result should be a hard hitting nonstop thrill ride with some mat work from Shani and some crazy dives from Hades thrown in. The only way you could go wrong with a winner in this match is if Hijo del Tirantes is somehow involved in screwing Faby (and yes, I’m dreading that finish as I type this), but the likelihood is AAA will keep the shenanigans to a minimum and give the win to Shani, their top female star and a luchadora who seems destined to collide sooner than later with her mentor, AAA Reina de Reinas Champion Taya. Winner: Lady Shani.
Monster Clown, Murder Clown and Psycho Clown (Los Psychos Circus) vs. Blue Demon Jr., Hijo del LA Park and LA Park: Ah a tradition unlike any other; LA Park getting one of his sons booked on a big show. Good thing Baby Park is a good worker last I checked! This match, like Omega vs. Laredo, was originally supposed to take place at Rey de Reyes, only with Rush and Bestia del Ring in the place of Baby Park and Demon. Alas those two are busy elsewhere and thus here we are. Los Psychos Circus (who reunited just prior to the pandemic) were a whole lot of fun in their heyday and should be even better now considering how Murder Clown has transformed into a really good luchador while Psycho, the ace that runs the place, is consistently one of the best performers for AAA night in and night out. Throw in LA Park because, let’s face it, LA Park only knows two modes (greatness and chaos) and this should be wild, out of control and a ton of fun, if not the most technically sound match on the show. The fact that Konnan picked Demon to be in this match, despite Park not liking Demon at all, is an interesting tidbit that may be important to look after. Winners: Los Psychos Circus.
Aracno & Leyenda Americana vs. Terror Purpura & Venenoide in The Marvel Showcase Match: There’s so much intrigue in this match and not just because the deal that made this match come together is likely the reason AAA is getting sued right now. Who are portraying these roles (reportedly its two AAA guys, an MLW star and an AEW star)? Why did AAA and Marvel go with a luchador named after Captain America for a promotion based in Mexico? Will Brian Cage…I mean whoever is playing Terror Purpura be completely purple or is it just the mask? And most importantly, will this be good? All these questions and more will be answered tomorrow and only tomorrow. Barring AAA getting Dave the Clown and Joe Lider to play two of the roles though, I imagine this will be quite fun. Plus who knows; Howard the Duck may interfere and a Triplemania/Howard the Duck crossover is change I can believe in. Winners: Aracno and Leyenda Americana.
Kenny Omega (c) vs. Laredo Kid for the AAA Mega Championship: I’ve already spent enough time on this so let’s just say this; unless someone gets hurt or the match is a complete and total squash (which I’ll be honest; I wouldn’t entirely be shocked by that) this will be the best thing on the show and quite possibly a Match of the Year contender. Omega is one of the best in the world, Laredo is one of the best in the world, both always go 100% and both have proven they can have great matches (Omega with Sammy Guevera, Laredo with Park) with no fans. Even if the result seems predictable (and disappointing), the ride down promises to be one of the most fun rides of the year. Winner: Kenny Omega.
Pagano vs. Chessman, hair vs. hair: There’s no need to talk about quality here; we all know this will be a spectacle, both men will use all sorts of weapons and if the ring survives this match it’ll be the biggest miracle since Rise of the Planet of the Apes being good. The real intrigue is in the result. On the one hand Pagano is the technico, he’s won his last five Apuesta matches and this being Triplemania (during a pandemic no less) it makes sense to send everyone off with a happy ending. On the other hand (and I held back this stat intentionally, I swear) Chessman is 6-1 lifetime in Apuesta matches (with his only loss coming to AAA legend and star of the Academy Award nominated film Roma, Latin Lover), you don’t need to send a crowd home happy when there’s no crowd and, perhaps most importantly, Pagano barely has any hair as is. In fact by the time of AAA’s next show he’ll have probably grown it back! So it’s kind of a toss up. I’m partial to Chessman, both because I agree with cubsfans’ assessment that you can do more with his hair going forward and because Chessman has earned this victory, but Pagano is the bigger star, he doesn’t have a “major Triplemania victory” unless you count last year’s Copa Triplemania (and I’m not sure people do) and, even with no crowd, it feels like AAA will want a feel good ending with a babyface winning. So Pagano gets it and Chessman becomes the bald, bulky guy who looks like Wolfpac Sting. Winner: Pagano.
There you have it sports fans. I’ll see you tomorrow for one last column prior to Triplemania, and then a review of the big show itself. I haven’t decided yet if it’ll be a straight recap or a running diary, but either way you will be getting Triplemania coverage from me tomorrow night. Till then!
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RELATED NOTE: Triplemania Week: The History of Triplemania Part 4