A big weekend is approaching; the rain is finally disappearing from Rhode Island (maybe?), Blue Beetle is hitting theaters, Bottoms is only one week away from hitting theaters, and oh yeah, THE GORRAM CMLL INTERNATIONAL GRAN PRIX IS BACK BABAY! And much like the groundhog every February, the Luchabag is popping out of its cave, ready to see its shadow, answer some questions that are totally from real people, and declare six more weeks of summer. Or something like that. The point is, the Luchabag is here, it’s unrestrained and ready to answer all of your questions about AAA, TripleMania, CMLL, and possibly other stuff. Oh, and there’s a CMLL Gran Prix preview at the end of it. I guess all that’s missing is that Moses meme…AND HERE IT IS!
Remember when AAA was good? I remember!
I see we are starting off with the “TripleMania sucked, and I’ve had it up to here with AAA” portion of the questions. Let’s see how long it’ll last for.
Do you think Konnan will accept the trophy when he wins Worst Booker of the Year 2023, or will he have Dorian get it for him instead?
When The Rise and Fall of AAA Blu-Ray is released in 2026, do you think there will be a section on how doing Keepin it 100 with the poor man’s Alex Wright rotted Konnan’s brain so badly that he turned into 2017 Vampiro? Or do they just leave that for the bonus features? I’m thinking bonus features.
Oh…boy. We’re approaching collar-tugging territory here!
Seriously…how far away are we from the Konnan 2020’s era of AAA toppling the Vampiro 2017 era of AAA for being the worst era in company history? We’re in range, right? We’ve got to be in range.
In the words of Dr. Dre during the last part of “Guilty Conscious,” alright, calm down. Relax, start breathing. It ain’t quite that bad guys…I mean, it is horrible, but Vampiro Era horrible? Have we forgotten the last three shows with Vamp at the book in 2018, shows that were so awful that it ended up leading to Dorian Roldan and Konnan burying the hatchet and Konnan back in to take the book? Things could be better right now, no doubt, but to suggest we’re staring into the abyss, Ed Harris in the final 30 minutes of The Abyss style, Daddy Magic’s only got one thing to say about that.
Now that I’ve defended AAA, let me also take the time to point out that I’m not thrilled with them right now either. Is it as bad as it could get? No. Is it also a far cry from the summer of 2018 and all of 2019, when AAA really felt like the most entertaining, well booked promotion in the world? 100%, and we’ve gone from that to this with the same guy in charge. I get Konnan has been doing this a long time, at a high level, I get that he’s trying to serve masters in both the front office, Mexico, and the United States; I get it. But this shit ain’t it! I shouldn’t be walking away from all three TripleMania’s, the biggest shows of AAA’s calendar year, wondering why the only enjoyable matches on the show involve El Hijo del Vikingo, why there’s so many run ins, why so many stories on TV aren’t followed up on, why so many things just happen randomly on TripleMania and go nowhere, why so many talented luchadores are stuck working Copas while QT Marshall, who I like, is winning the Latin American Championship, and, oh yeah, why a women’s trios match is being used TO FURTHER A FEUD BETWEEN TWO GORRAM REFEREES! Hold on, I need to hit something.
And look, I don’t enjoy saying this; I like AAA! I know great people who work with AAA. I was at the AAA Invading NY show in September 2019, still the best live experience I’ve ever had. I want it to be great. Nothing in the world would make me happier than to watch a great CMLL show every Friday, and a great AAA show on Saturday; nothing is better when lucha libre is great, and nothing is better when both AAA and CMLL are great. And nothing sucks more than when one of them is like the season four of Arrow. I have no illusions of anyone important reading this, but if they are, particularly the main guy in charge, allow me to say this; instead of spending so much time with your gasbag partner running down promotions doing a better job than you, perhaps you should focus on making a show for the promotion you book that everyone enjoys. And just to be clear, I don’t say that to be a dick; I say that because I love this, and I want it to be great. And I would hope you do too. Alright, rant over.
Is it impossible for AAA and CMLL to be good at the same time or something? When AAA was awesome/good in 2019, 2020, and 2021, CMLL sucked. Now CMLL is awesome and AAA sucks? Is there some rule that one must be shittier than a Jimmy Uso heel turn while the other is as great as William Friedkin’s Sorcerer?
I will freely admit that it does seem weird how the roles between the two sides have reversed, especially over the past few years. Having said that…for the most part, AAA being good while CMLL is bad, or vice versa, is actually a myth. When AAA got hot upon their arrival in the early 90s, CMLL wasn’t knocking them dead, but it’s also not like they were drowning like Hulk Hogan’s reputation post-sex tape. It’s also not like AAA was in dire straights when CMLL got hot in the mid-2000s when Mistico took off; if anything, AAA was in a pretty decent place at that time. But the best example is in 2018, when LA Park, Fenix, and Pentagon were all working AAA and CMLL at the same time, it briefly looked like Park could headline both the Aniversario and TripleMania, and both shows were just an absolute delight during that summer. So yeah; not only is it largely not true that one is great while the other sucks, but there’s been times when both have been good at the same time. The only time this myth has actually been true is now, in 2019 when AAA took off, and in the mid-90s, when CMLL got hot with the Santo-Casas feud, and AAA lost all their talent to WCW and Promo Azteca, while also deciding “working with WWE? Great idea. What could go wrong?!”
Call me crazy, but does Rocky Romero have an argument for being wrestler of the year?
Not only does he have an argument, I think he’s a legit contender. Let’s be real sports fans; if you take the total package of being Wrestler of the Year into the equation (work rate, drawing ability, charisma, best feuds, yada yada yada), it’s really not a deep race here. Candidates from New Japan and AEW may have the work rate and charisma stuff down, but they’re not drawing huge. Ditto wrestlers in places like AAA, Impact, RevPro, the other Japanese promotions, and most wrestlers in WWE. There are only two wrestlers that have really been strong in all departments; Roman Reigns and, yes, Rocky (with maybe Mistico being an outside candidate).
Now you make think this is nuts; how can Rocky Romero, a dude who makes midcard appearances in AEW, Impact, and New Japan, measure up to the Tribal Chief, the guy responsible for the best business in WWE in years? Simple; because in CMLL, Rocky is the mother-effing Tribal Chief. Attendance has shot up since he returned to CMLL last year for the Gran Prix, and has gotten bigger and bigger this year thanks to his feud with Volador Jr. Speaking of that feud, not only has it drawn, but the matches have been excellent, as good as the most well-received Reigns matches. And that’s not counting bouts like last week’s Rocky/TJP vs. Volador/Virus tag match, or the MOTYC Rocky had with Mascara Dorada 2.0 a few weeks ago. Elsewhere, Rocky may be a guy, but in Arena Mexico, to quote his rival competitor in the race, he’s THE guy. And given the numbers he has drawn in an arena where CMLL runs every week (as opposed to going from town to town) and the matches he’s having at such a strong clip, whereas Roman works only once every month or so…he’s got a case. Believe me, if you had told me that before the year, I would’ve looked at you like you had tentacles poking out of your head like a Final Fantasy X. But the numbers don’t lie, and given how tomorrow may go, Rocky’s case will probably get better, not worse, as time goes on.
What is the greatest lucha libre entrance theme of all time?
I know some people will say this is a two-horse race between Dr. Wagner Jr. coming out to “Bad Medicine” or LA Park coming out to “Bad to the Bone,” two songs that fit those guys to a T. Alas, those people would be wrong because the best theme in lucha libre history is Perros del Mal’s theme song. I’m not even a rap guy, but that is a tune that is not only iconic, but it fit that group the way my Alex Burrows Vancouver Canucks jersey fits me! Plus, it’s great music too. So all due respect to the classic rock themes, but that takes the cake. As for honorable mentions, there’s Pentagon Jr.’s Lucha Underground theme, which sounds like out of the movie Drive, Los Mercenarios’ theme, done by the same group that did Perros del Mals, Cartel de Santa, and of course, Laredo Kid coming out to “Rock You Like a Hurricane, Heavy Metal entering to “Rainbow in the Dark” (WHEN THERE’S LIGHTING!!!!), and the Aero Star theme. If you claim to not scream “AERO STAR!!!!” in over-the-top fashion while listening to that, you have no soul.
What happens first; a Lucha Underground revival, or the unearthing of Mascara Sagrada vs. Black Cat from TripleMania II-B?
-The Man From Another Place, Another Place
Lucha Underground revival. Mark my words, someday someone with some money is going to come along, buy the rights to that show, and run a revival where Dario Cueto returns to the Temple and takes it back from Bad News Barrett, or whoever they recast in Barrett’s role. And it will happen before the full version of Sagrada-Black Cat. Frankly, I’m beginning to think we’ll never see it, and yes, this is all leading to me having a freak out of Charton Heston at the end of Planet of the Apes proportions. YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW UP THE TAPE OF BLACK CAT-SAGRADA! DAMN YOU…DAMN YOU ALL TO alright you know the rest.
On a scale from one to “Psycho Clown, La Mascara, Maximo, the fictional Bobby Z, and others are destroying Ultimo Guerrero’s sports car!”, how gloriously dumb is this “who made the call for Preston Vance and Jose the Assistant to accompany Rush at TripleMania?” story?
-Dario, Parts Unknown
Nothing will ever quite top the sheer, comical lunacy of the Brazos family, angered that the UG was like “Eh, I don’t know if La Mascara should be CMLL union head,” deciding to destroy his car in the Arena Mexico parking lot. There’s comedy, there’s transcendent comedy, and then there’s that, especially since it basically led to Mascara eating himself out of wrestling, Maximo turning into an asshole, and nothing to Bobby Z because, say it with me again, he doesn’t actually exist! That said, this story is wonderfully dumb, if only because who really cares that Preston Vance and Jose the Assistant were at TripleMania? I saw them come out, I shrugged my shoulders, and I moved on with my ridiculously long evening. I’m pretty sure most people did as well. I don’t know why Rush’s side and AAA are having a pissing contest over who was responsible for this, but let me inform them that a) it’s not worth it and b) keep doing it, because it’s pretty funny!
Who creates a Blue Beetle knockoff gimmick first; AAA or CMLL?
-Kevin, San Diego
As it turns out, neither! I’ve been informed that Lucha VaVoom already has something in the works with Blue Beetle and thus will have someone in a similar gimmick before either AAA and CMLL. Frankly, the only thing surprising about this is that it wasn’t IWRG that beat them to the punch. For one, CMLL may not even be aware that Blue Beetle is coming out in theaters this weekend, and two, AAA working with a DC property would be kind of weird given that they’re in bed with Marvel. Although, now that I think of it, are they in bed with Marvel? It feels like it’s been a bit since we’ve heard anything about that situation, almost as much as much time as it’s been since Marvel made a good film. The truth hurts peeps; learn to love it. Also, am I the only one hoping Blue Beetle really takes off? What can I say; the film looks good. And I’m someone who thinks the next time George Lopez is funny will be the first time!
Can you imagine if the crusaders for women’s wrestling in America got a glimpse at women’s wrestling in Mexico? They’d run bawling to Tony Khan or Triple H, thanking them for the job they do!
I mean…yes, you have a point. I don’t think that excuses the fact that both AEW and WWE should be doing more with their women’s divisions, including, you know, actually putting them in the hands of women who know what they’re doing instead of two dudes with too much on their plate, but at the same time, they at least aren’t, I’ll say it again, USING A WOMEN’S MATCH TO SET UP EL TIRANTES VS. EL HIJO DEL TIRANTES! And now I’m sad again.
This is the sad reality for luchadoras in Mexico, however. In AAA, they’re either used to set up stuff for the men/referees, and when they do get an opportunity for a big match like Taya vs. Flammer (a match where I thought both did quite well), they’re not trusted to go on their own, leading to copious amounts of interference. CMLL is a bit better; they are trusted to have good matches, and they get more opportunities to have big matches (think Reyna Isis vs. La Jarochita at the Aniversario last year), but in some ways the division is very much like AEW, in that it’s one match per show. Again, it’s no excuse for how AEW and WWE operate, but for people thinking that’s the bottom…you have no idea. And the worst part is that I don’t see CMLL putting in more time, or AAA trusting their women more (despite having some awesome talent there) any time soon, meaning we’re just stuck in the same spiral of disappointment. Boy this is depressing. Let’s end this on a happy note, huh?
Why can’t Volador Jr. be more like Rocky?
-Alan, The Player Hater’s Ball
Or we can just descend further. Look pal, just because Rocky is a Wrestler of the Year candidate, doesn’t mean he’s a hero. There is only one hero…and it’s this guy!
Onto the Gran Prix predictions!
Rey Fenix vs. Komander: Wait a minute…this isn’t on the Gran Prix. So why is it here? Oh right; it’s because it’s a super cool match that’s airing tomorrow, so why not preview it? It’s also a first time match; Fenix and Komander have never faced each other one on one, so it’s fresh, it’s ready to go, and it’s between one of the best luchadores in the world and one of the best rising luchadores in the world. I don’t think it’ll have the emotion of the Gran Prix, or even Soberano vs. Stuka, but the moves may be even more impressive, and it has a chance to be special, especially since both Komander and Fenix are secretly better at basing for big moves than you think. The result isn’t much in doubt (and no, I haven’t read the spoilers), but this should still be a hell of a time on Rampage before the Arena Mexico action stars. Winner: Rey Fenix.
Alright, now onto the CMLL!
Audaz, Guerrero Maya Jr., Hombre Bala Jr. vs. Difunto, Felino Jr., Sangre Imperial: It’s five guys who top out from good to great…and Sangre Imperial. Even as CMLL gets hot, you can always count on ole Sangre Imperial to be as middling as a CBS prime time show. Never-the-less, Difunto and Felino Jr. are solid enough rudos that they should play off well with the technicos, and it will just come down to whether Audaz and Bala can have strong nights. If they do, this is a great opener. If they don’t, this will be a lot of hit and miss. Also, can you believe that this is where Audaz is right now? It wasn’t too long ago he looked like a potential superstar in the making with Templario; now Templario is an Aniversario headliner, and Audaz is here. I guess it could be worse; he could be Flyer. Winners: Audaz, Guerero Maya Jr., Hombre Bala Jr.
La Jarochita, Lluvia, Skadi vs. La Catalina, Reyna Isis, Stephanie Vaquer: The hardest of hardcore wrestling fans may recognize two women on the rudas side; Catalina had a two year run in WWE, making appearances in NXT and RAW under the names Catalina Garcia, Carolina, and Kartina Cortez, while Vaquer is only a few months removed from having a whale of a match with Mercedes Mone at New Japan Resurgence back in May. Her skills haven’t diminished remotely since then, and Catalina has shown flashes of great potential since joining CMLL earlier this year, so both should be dependable here, as should Jarochita, Lluvia, and Reyna. The biggest question mark is Skadi; the main powerhouse in the CMLL Luchadoras division, Skadi is capable of great things, and also capable of going off the rails. Her performance here will be the key to deciding where this bout ends up on the quality scale. The result is trickier, as Jarochita and Lluvia are facing Vaquer and her partner, Zeuxis, to become the first ever CMLL Women’s World Tag Team Champions at the Aniversario in September, and both could use the win hear. Let’s flip the old Canadian coin! Heads technicos, Moose rudos…and it’s MOOSE! Winners: Catalina, Reyna Isis, Stephanie Vaquer
Magnus & Rugido (c) vs. Akuma & Espanto Jr. for the Mexican National Tag Team Championships: There are few things in life I thought were impossible, but one of them was that, years after I started writing about CMLL, Magnus would still be around for me to do the old Zoolander joke. And yet, here we are, and here is Hansel, Mugatu’s assistant, Jon Voight before he lost his mind, and of course, Mugatu himself.
Even more unbelievable, Magnus has actually found himself in a decent position on the card, and is a champion! Somewhere, Flyer is shaking his head at this, and somehow botching that too! This is Magnus and Los Depredadores teammate Rugido’s first title defense since winning the Mexican National Tag Titles from Esfinge and Fugaz a month ago, their opponents are mixed bag. On the one hand, Akuma has graduated from a promising undercard luchador into a legitimate stud who is as sound as he is exciting. On the other hand, Espanto Jr. is still, well, Espanto Jr.; much like Sangre Imperial, time has only shown him to be more of what he is. And mind you, this is before getting into that Magnus and Rugido, while not terrible, are also more good than great I would say. The good news is both teams are stablemate that work together often, so they’ll have chemistry, and the title match, and big show feel, should motivate them to work hard. Alas, with Magnus and Rugido having just won the belts and CMLL known for long title reigns, the result feels very predictable. Winners: Magnus & Rugido
Soberano Jr. vs. Stuka Jr.: This match all came together in the last week, with Soberano challenging Stuka following their main event trios match, leading to Stuka accepting and whipping Soberano with his boot (you don’t see that one every day). Frankly, that should be all this match needs; Soberano Jr. remains one of the most exciting luchadors in CMLL, and Stuka has only gotten better since his heel turn last year and subsequent alliance with Los Guerreros Laguneros. This should be a very exciting time and very well-paced, especially with the match only being one fall as opposed to the usual two. The only downside is that it’s likely a one-off, and not something leading to a big match down the line, as Soberano seemed to be angling for in his promo last Friday. Winner: Soberano Jr.
Team Mexico (Angel de Oro, Averno, Dragon Rojo Jr., Mascara Dorada, Mistico, Templario, Ultimo Guerrero, Volador Jr.) vs. Team World (Adrian Quest, Baliyan Akki, Francesco Akira, Hiromu Takahashi, KUSHIDA, Rocky Romero, Samuray Del Sol, TJP) in the International Gran Prix: For those who need a quick catch up on the rules here, the CMLL International Gran Prix is a cibernetico match, this year featuring eight luchadors from Mexico (made up of CMLL stars) taking on eight wrestlers from around the world. The two teams will stand for the Mexican national anthem, then duke it out until one side is completely eliminated, giving either the World or Mexico the victory, a giant ass trophy, and international bragging rights for the year. And that, friends, is the International Gran Prix.
Having become a yearly event for CMLL since 2016, the Gran Prix has always been a hot match, even when the lineups have been more Sam’s Town than Hot Fuss. That won’t be an issue this year as both Team World and Team Mexico are loaded. On the World Side, Akira, Takahashi, making a triumphant return to the promotion that made him, are all world-class, TJP remains as reliable as ever, we’ve already discussed Rocky’s career year, Baliyan Akki, as most ChocoPro fans know, is a sneaky great talent just needing the right platform to break out, Adrian Quest is very exciting, and yes, even Samuray Del Sol, the Artist Formerly Known as Kalisto, has shown some great flares in his brief CMLL run. Combine that with the Mexico side, where only Dragon Rojo could constitute as a weak link, and the question regarding this match isn’t whether it’ll be great or not, it’s how great will it be. Oh, and if CMLL Women’s Gran Prix vet Mei Surgua will somehow show up to help her Best Bro!
As for the result, that will depend on if Team Mexico can hold together. There was some dissension in Team World on CMLL Informa this past Wednesday, with Romero claiming Samuray Del Sol was a spy for Team Mexico, but that pales in comparison to the fact that Team Mexico is made up of numerous rivalries, including three (UG/Averno, Volador/Angel, and Rojo/Templario) that will factor heavily into the Aniversario next month. As much as fans are loathe to this trope, the question is whether Team Mexico can co-exist long enough to win, or if they will combust. Another good question is whether it’ll matter, as the two members of the team without a rivalry, Mistico and the red host Mascara Dorada, are capable enough of winning this on its own. And ultimately, that’s the angle I’m going to take. The easy prediction here is that Mexico does fall apart, Rocky picks up the bones and continues his hot run by pinning Volador after Oro screws him. But CMLL has proven they are ready to go all in on the newest Dorada, arguably the most electrifying luchador not named Vikingo right now, and most importantly, the Arena Mexico crowd has gotten behind that push. As such, I think CMLL rides the wave again, and the Gran Prix ends with Dorada standing alone, defeating Romero for a second straight time to walk away with the W. Winner: Team Mexico (Mascara Dorada sole survivor).
And that’ll wrap things up! I shall return tomorrow to review this Gran Prix show for you, before likely disappearing in a puff of smoke until the Aniversario next month. TILL TOMORROW!