Dammit it all; here I am for the second straight day having to explain, at the beginning of a Triplemania column no less, why there’s no review for a lucha show that happened last night. You know why sports fans; because Verizon FIOS hates me and wouldn’t let me watch my DVR recording of last night’s Lucha Underground. Or maybe they really like me as (from what I’ve heard) everything but Pentagon vs. Prince Puma was mediocre. In any event that’s why there was no review, but don’t you fear; I’m back right now to kick off the top ten of the 25 Greatest Matches in Triplemania History countdown. I think this goes without saying, but this stuff is good. Like really good; like Emperor Palpetine saying “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDDDDD!” like he had just received a happy ending. Alright that was a little too much. The point is, this bad boy is ready to go and hopefully so are you. Let’s begin! Moses, let there be Triplemania talk!
10. Angelico vs. Australian Suicide vs. Bengala vs. Daga vs. Drago vs. El Hijo del Fantasma vs. Fenix vs. Jack Evans vs. Joe Lider vs. Pentagon Jr. (Triplemania XXII)
It’s easy to forget that just three years ago, AAA was so overflowing with talent that they had no choice but to cram nine of their most talented guys (and Joe Lider) into this match to crown the first official AAA World Cruiserweight Champion. Well that’s not true; they could’ve taken the time to build something for these guys and given them a big match instead of giving us whatever that six way steel cage match was. But their cramming turned out to be our gain as these nine (and Joe Lider) were as crazy as you’d expect if you put them in the ring together. We’re talking dives galore, nonstop action, about five different powerbombs to the knee by Pentagon, Bengala before he got fat, Angelico going the distance and a star making performance by El Hijo del Fantasma capped off by him winning the title he would hold for almost three years. The match’s greatest accomplishment however was that it served as a fitting call back to when multi-man matches in AAA stole the show thanks to the brisk pace and awe inspiring athleticism. It serves as a reminder to what once was and these days, with four of the ten participants having been run off by AAA’s stupidity, what might’ve been.
9. Winners vs. Marabunta (Triplemania III-B)
Antonio Peña has been brought up a lot in this series and he will be again here. He was the creative genius after all. More than that, he’s a guy who would give chances and big matches to people you wouldn’t expect. It’s why Heavy Metal vs. Jerry Estrada and Máscara Sagrada vs. Black Cat got prime spots on Triplemania’s II-A and II-B, and it’s why Peña inexplicably built his three Triplemania III shows around a series of matches between four men; rudos Ángel Mortal and Marabunta and technicos Super Calo and Winners. I shouldn’t say it was a complete shot in the dark; Super Calo and Winners had been budding stars for a few years (see their five star match with Rey Mysterio, Psicosis and Heavy Metal among others back in 1993), while Moral and Marabunta were part of the semi-popular Los Diabolicos stable. But to go from Konnan-Cien Caras and Konnan-Jake Roberts to these guys? It seemed to be a stretch.
It wasn’t. In a brilliant stroke, Peña decided to pit all four men in a mini tournament of mask vs. mask matches until only two were left, culminating in a final, mask vs. mask match. Super Calo started things off on Triplemania III-B by beating Ángel de Moral (in a good, albeit short, match), followed by this match at Triplemania III-B. And like Sagrada-Black cat did on the second of three Triplemania shows the year before, this match stole the show. It’s not necessarily a complex match; the story (aside from both guys desperately trying to protect their mask) is one of the young luchador looking to prove himself in the eyes of the fans and the disrespectful veteran rudo, a beat the rivalry was largely built upon. But these two essay it so well, with Winners every bit the exciting young technico he had been the years prior while Marabunta had, in no uncertain terms, the performance of his career. Frankly, the only major flaw of this match is that it set up an even better conclusion for the story at Triplemania III-C. But besides that, this match is a tour de force and, along with said III-C match, probably the most underrated Triplemania match of all time. Wait that’s not true; the next match we talk about is. It’s certainly a testament to Peña’s belief in these two men. He gave them a chance most wouldn’t have, and they knocked it over the scoreboard. Are you taking notes Niebla Roja and Gran Guerrero?
8. Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Myzteziz (Triplemania XXIII)
Get out of here Cult; you mean to tell me this match, the main event from arguably the worst show in the history of time, not only made the list but is in the top ten?! You must be on drugs. First off, no I’m not on drugs. Secondly, I’m willing to bet my Batman bobblehead doll that the people who hate on this match have either a) never seen it, b) are lumping it unfairly with the debacle that was the rest of the show (save Alberto El Patron-Brian Cage) and c) are confusing the clusterfuck that happened after the match for the match itself. If one was actually to watch what Mysterio and the now Carístico did bell to bell, they’d see that this match is absolutely AWESOME. That’s no small feat considering the pressure and expectations on this match. Mysterio needed to prove he could still go after years of injuries. Myzteziz needed to prove he could still do anything after his WWE proved more disastrous than this show ever could. More importantly, this match needed to live up to the expectations that come when two of the biggest stars in lucha libre (and two men who were often compared to each other) collide, especially after Vince McMahon failed to put the bout together in WWE. That’s exactly what happened. Mysterio turned back the clock; Myzteziz looked crisp, cool and confident for the first time in eons, especially once he started acting more as a rudo. Even better, the match developed the organic story of Myzteziz getting rattled (and infuriated) by the crowd siding with Mysterio, leading to him trying to beat Rey at his own game…only for the opposite to happen. It’s a beautiful match, by far the most underrated match in Triplemania history and probably the most misunderstood match in wrestling history. What a shame it has been marred by a terrible show and terrible post match shenanigans.
7. El Hijo del Santo, Jushin Thunder Liger, Octagón, Tiger Mask III vs. Blue Panther, Eddy Guerrero, La Parka, Psicosis (Triplemania II-B)
If someone begins a conversation about great multi-man matches at Triplemania and doesn’t mention this one, you will not be blamed for escorting that person off the premises. Taking place at the greatest Triplemania show of all time, the only thing separating this bout from being the best of the night is that Máscara Sagrada vs. Black Cat happened not too long after. Otherwise this is five of the greatest luchadors to walk planet earth (and Octagón) and two of the greatest Japanese Juniors to ever walk planet earth strutting their stuff at the highest level. In particular the Hijo del Santo and Psicosis sequences stand out to me; I think I said this previously, but those two had an unreal chemistry no one talks about and it’s even more on display here than the match they’d have a year later. But to signal them out as the best would be unfair as everyone here looks awesome (except Octagón. He’s just okay). Eddy Guerrero is exactly what you’d imagine young Eddy Guerrero to be; fast, furious and diabolical in his Gringos Locos persona. La Parka and Tiger Mask are magic together. Jushin Thunder Liger is in peak form, and he’s not even going as crazy as he could. And to top it all off there’s Blue Panther, the steady calm of this match who brings everything back to order when the chaos threatens to go off the rails. There are many multi-man matches from this era of AAA you could argue was the best. But, with the exception of Calo, Mysterio, Winners vs. Heavy Metal, Picudo, Psicosis, this one takes the cake for me thanks to the great pace, great talent, fantastic structure, and the most awesome first fall in history. You need to see it to believe it.
6. Super Calo vs. Winners (Triplemania III-C)
I can’t speak for lucha libre fans back in 1995, but I think most would say when they saw that Super Calo/Winners vs. Ángel de Mortal/Marabunta was the Triplemania III direction that it could only end one way; the final match would be built around the technico trying to avenge the unmasking of his friend (and vice versa) before prevailing. Instead, Antonio Peña presented us with the ultimate curveball; both Super Calo and Winners won their respective mask matches to meet in a winner take all contest in the Triplemania III-C main event. Now fans would be forced to ask themselves two questions; who do we root for and what will happen when two best friends are forced to defend their masks, their identity, against each other?
What happened was a classic, perhaps the most respectful classic in the history of mask vs. mask matches. There is no underhanded tactics by Calo or Winners, no hints at a rudo turn, no back stabbings in a match you’d expect to be full of them, especially in a promotion known for overbooking big matches to death. Instead it’s the tale of two friends, put in an impossible situation, fighting all out to protect only thing more important than their friendship. There’s such a beauty in that story for me, highlighted even more by awesome display of athleticism these two put on. Many other big Triplemania main event matches you’ve read about were exciting, but they didn’t showcase what many view lucha libre as; high flying epicness. This is the Triplemania main event that gets the closest, with Calo and Winners trading dive after dive to go along with the big moves, the storytelling and the near falls. And in the end it was Calo who emerged victorious, taking his best buddy’s mask while not ruining their friendship in the process. In many ways this night was the beginning of the end of both guys as we knew them. Calo went off to WCW and didn’t recover the old mojo until his great match with Super Fly twelve years later. Winners road the pretty boy technico gimmick for a year before Peña repackaged him as Abismo Negro, the persona that would make him a legend until his untimely death in 2009. But if this was indeed the swan song for Calo and Winners, they couldn’t have picked a better closing track.
Exit stage left gang. I’m off to…I don’t know what I’m going to do. Maybe preview Triplemania? Maybe preview tomorrow’s CMLL? Maybe both?! We’ll see. Till whenever, THIS!