Konnan vs. Cien Caras
Career vs. Career
Knowing what we know about both Konnan the wrestler and AAA the promotion, it is extremely easy to write off the headlining match from TripleMania I. We know that Konnan was not a particularly good worker who had a penchant – as both a wrestler and booker – to overbook the crap out of matches. We know that AAA had those same tendencies and often try to make matches like this into epics which results in little more than an overblown mess. AAA also tends to get particularly cute (read: frustrating) when attempting to avoid paying off major stipulation matches. Cien Caras and Konnan both put their careers online in this match and we know they both continued to wrestle for years afterwards, so you can forgive me if I t cringed at the very real chance this match was going to have a wholly unsatisfying finish. Knowing all of that, it is easy to imagine this being a messy match.
The match had so much working against it, but fate intervened. Or rather, AAA’s poor timing of the show had an unexpectedly positive impact on this match. I’ll let Dr. Lucha explain, “By the time the match started, it was almost 12:30, and the Metro (subway), which is how the huge majority of the fans got to the arena, stops running at 1:30. So, they rushed through the match.”
Bell to bell, the match lasted a mere 12 minutes and 14 seconds. Even in their formative years, AAA was still AAA which meant they allowed Caras and Konnan to make full fledged entrances that ate up close to ten more minutes before the match began. In this case all of that poor planning was ultimately a good thing. Caras and Konnan were far more suited to work a compact 12-minute match than they were a 25-minute blow out.
Even better was that they filled their reduced time in a relatively positive manner. They essentially worked a sprint. That might seem like an odd way to work something as momentous as a career versus career match. There was palpable anticipation for this match that you can feel while watching the recording of the match. After all, AAA built towards this match almost from the moment the promotion opened a year prior. Cien and Caras going full tilt for twelve minutes was fitting of the anticipatory and nervous feeling surrounding the match. A retirement match this long in the making is not the time for feeling out sections or plodding brawls. They got right to it and that was befitting of the story.
The work itself was only okay. It is probably safe to state that this is one of the better singles performance of Konnan’s career. He hits most of his high spots cleanly, whether it is a cartwheel, drop kick, or most pinning combinations. A few pinning combos or holds look a little sloppy, although Caras shares equal blame for most of those. If anything, Konnan might be going too fast for Caras at points which created a lag at times.
The match is so go-go that when I watched it recently on AAA’s YouTube channel, I was convinced that they had clipped the match. There would be a move that would end with both wrestlers on the mat, the camera would switch to a 1-2 second crowd shot, and when it went back to the ring the wrestlers were running the ropes again. The match time syncs up with what was reported, however, so clearly it was simply a case of them trying to get all their spots in during the allotted time.
The urgency to get their stuff in was amplified by the fact that the final fall was reserved for the match-ending angle. Jake Roberts spent the match watching from his seat and occasionally watching while standing at ringside. My lasting image of Jake Roberts in AAA is him watching matches from the crowd (he seemed to do that a lot during this angle). By the third fall, he is now standing at ringside the entire time and shouting towards Konnan. Konnan eventually has enough of Roberts’ disrespect and a brawl is set off at ringside. The referee initially provides some leeway but eventually starts a count out. Cien Caras – cagey veteran rudo that he was – got himself back in the ring sensing an opportunity to save his career. Konnan is counted out and is forced to retire.
That reads like a cop out finish – the kind I was worried about – but in execution it worked rather well. Cien Caras gleefully jumps around post-match, so happy that he saved his career that he doesn’t care how he did it. Konnan for his part is in shock that he allowed his career to slip away because he carelessly let himself get distracted. The post-match is really great and adds a lot to the overall match. Konnan goes from anger to acceptance as he gathers himself in the ring. The crowd is beside themselves. Obviously the safe pre-match bet would have been that that the 40+ year old Caras would “retire” (or at least leave AAA) and the guy who was the biggest draw in Mexico would stick around. The shock of the result and the way it all went down left the crowd is absolute shock. They would have been upset at any finish that involved Konnan losing I would imagine, but the unsatisfying way it went down added to the emotion. In this case, a “cheap loss” was the more effective loss.