Category Archives: AAA

Sangre Chicana vs. Cibernetico (AAA – 04/16/1999)

Sangre Chicana vs. Cibernetico
April 16, 1999
Campeon De Campeons
* 1/2

What we have here is a heavyweight title match that makes me long for those halcyon days of 1993 and 1994 when Konnan and Cien Caras were involved in AAA’s heavyweight championship feud.

To be fair, that is way too harsh on Sangre Chicana who wrestled about as good of a match as could be hoped for given the circumstances. This might be 1999 AAA but it is still a title match and you can rest easy knowing that Chicana was going do his damnedest to wrestle the match like one. Chicana works basic holds at the beginning – and feeds basic holds to Cibernetico – so there was some semblance of a slow burn. The nature of the holds and the feeling out process were more like what you might get in a Diamond Dallas Page match from around the same time rather than a classic lucha one. Still, I appreciate that we got a couple of minutes of straight up work before the shenanigans even if it was relatively basic. The forty-eight year old also busted out an excellent tope and generally worked hard whenever he was afforded the opportunity to do so. If nothing else, the match demonstrates that a post-prime Chicana still had some utility and was able to work some entertaining sequences under less than ideal circumstances.

Honestly, this match wasn’t even totally Cibernetico’s fault either. I mean, it was and it wasn’t. It was because Cibernetico just wasn’t good in the match. He might have only been twenty four years old but he was a seven year veteran at this point. There is no excuse for him to look as bad as he did here when doing anything other than holding onto basic holds. It isn’t his fault because he generally followed Chicana’s lead, worked hard, and was generally in the right places at the right time. It is not Cibernetico’s fault that he got pushed well beyond his talent because he was a bigger guy and someone WWE at least briefly showed an interest in so he was never a complete dud. He worked hard here even if the results weren’t anything special.

The blame for this one – as it often does with AAA – goes to the booking, presentation, and officiating.

Psicosis served as Cibernetico’s second and from what I can tell, didn’t wrestle on this card. Maybe there were political reasons for that but I am inclined to state it is merely an example of 1999 AAA using the same luchadores almost as poorly as 1999 WCW did. That’s quite the indictment but true in this case. In his WCW TV matches right before and right after this show, Psicosis had a seven minute Nitro match with Billy Kidman and a well-regarded twenty minute four corners match with Blitzkrieg, Juvi, and Kidman on Nitro where Psicosis won his first Cruiserweight championship. Meanwhile the best AAA could do with him is have him second Cibernetico. In this match, Psicosis role is to interfere liberally. It is a job he clearly takes seriously judging on the twenty or so times he sticks his nose into the match.

In general, well done interference doesn’t bother me even in a title match. This was far from well done and drew no heat at all. Psicosis got involved in plain sight of referee Pepe Casas so many times, sometimes to the point of hoping into the ring right in front of Casas. Charly Manson seconded Sangre Chicana and did the same. I know lucha referees often appear incompetent but this was too much. Not to pile on poor Pepe (who probably should have been retired by this point) but he was also out of position and late in counting a number of pin falls which certainly didn’t help.

Of course it would not be a post-1995 AAA match without a ton of run-ins for little good reason. Cibernetico had enough of Manson getting involved and gorilla pressed him into the crowd (which besides for Chicana’s tope might have been the most impressive move of the match). This drew out the other members of Los Vatos Locos to save Charly. They started brawling in the ring and were quickly joined by Cibernetico’s compadres in Los Vipers. A big brawl ensued, Cibernetico got his mask ripped at one point, and Casas arbitrarily awarded the match to Cibernetico. The whole thing was just a mess.

This entire match – like many matches post-AAA’s early golden period – is a microcosm for everything they did wrong. This match might have never been more than average but based on what we saw when Cibernetico and Chicana were left alone to their own devices, I am positive it would have gotten there had the booking not been an overbooked, confusing mess. If you want to see a near fifty year old Chicana carry a wrestler half his age before the match descends into madness then check it out. Otherwise, the match is same old self-destructive AAA nonsense.

Sangre Chicana vs. Shocker (AAA – 12/10/2005)

Sangre Chicana vs. Shocker
December 10, 2005
Hair vs. Hair
** 3/4 

For two falls at least, this was an above average mid-2000’s AAA singles match that didn’t rely on a lot of bells and whistles to get there, which is a rare sight indeed.

Even at the ripe old age of 55, Sangre Chicana still looked like he could work a quality hair match in his sleep. Chicana is the tecnico and spends most of the initial fall selling after Shocker jumps him the way to the ring. Chicana was always a great seller. His long hair flips all over the place as he stumbles and takes well positioned back bumps for Shocker’s offense. Chicana wastes no time in blading and has a thick coat of blood on his forehead before they even get through the first fall. When on offense, Chicana throws the same old mean punch that made him one of the all-time great hair match workers. He doesn’t do a whole lot on offense in this match but Chicana often did not do a lot on offense. He didn’t nead to. His offense wasn’t all that different from the offense he used a dozen years earlier against La Fiera, save for the crowd interaction. The combo of punches and abdominal stretch related submissions are more than enough to get him through this match.

For his part, Shocker works hard and holds his own. He throws a good punch as well. More importantly, he bumps big for Chicana when Chicana is fighting back. He takes a huge bump into the seats in the second fall that sets up a prolonged run of offense for the veteran. Shocker bleeds as well. The double dose of blood made the match – or at least the first couple of falls – have the feel of a throwback hair match.

Falls one and two ended with some wonkiness but logical wonkiness at least. Shocker controls the first fall and locks his bloody opponent in an STF. Chicana gives and Tirantes awards the fall to Shocker . . . only Shocker does not want to let go of the hold. Tirantes warns him but Shocker is out to do some bodily harm and ignores the warnings. Tirantes eventually pulls him off and awards the fall to Chicana. The finish to the second fall is a repeat with the roles reversed. Chicana does a half crab variation with Shocker’s leg pulled over his head. Shocker gives right away and Tirates emphatically waives the fall off. Chicana doesn’t let go. Enough time elapses where Tirantes should call for the DQ but he doesn’t, so Chicana drops the hold thinking that will prompt Tirantes to raise Shocker’s hand. He doesn’t, so Chicana locks the hold back on and only then does Tirantes break it up and award the fall to Shocker. It was a little mess up but nothing major. The finishes went a long way in establishing that both guys were out to damage and if they won in the process, so be it.

With a solid third fall, this would have been a solidly above average if not an outright good hair match. First Tirantes slow counts a Chicana pin attempt, which is odd because until that point he called the match right down the middle as the finishes of the first two falls demonstrated. A few minutes into the decisive fall, Tirantes is bumped. Chicana stays on offense but without an official he can’ do anything with the advantage. Zumbido and Alan Stone run in with Shocker locked in a stretch. They beat up Chicana, Shocker covers, and Tirantes recovers in time to count Chicana down. I am not a stickler on interference but this match didn’t need it. The finishes to the first couple of falls were creative and worked. The match ends in the exact opposite manner with a completely uncreative and tired finish that simply wasn’t needed. Chicana lost his hair a whole lot later in his career and wasn’t a guy you needed to protect at this point. You could come up with a hundred finishes better than the one they presented. Something as simple as Chicana taping out in a submission, Shocker holding on for a second or two, and then letting go just before getting in trouble for it would have worked far better. Or if they wanted to protect Chicana, he could have refused to release another hold and lose the third fall that way. The actual finish was about the least creative finish they could have come up with in this situation.

The third fall drags things down a bit but overall this is still an average hair match give or take. The brawling is there, the blood is there, and the hatred is there. That is enough to cover for the fact that there is nothing superlative about match and the third fall is rather weak.

Winners vs. Marabunta (AAA – 06/18/1995)

Winners vs. Marabunta
July 18, 1995

Mask vs. Mask
*** 1/4

Along with Heavy Metal, Winners is one of two early AAA wrestlers who got a lot of hype in the newsletters at the time but has never resonated quite so strongly with me personally. Dave Meltzer and Steve Sims spoke highly of him in their respective newsletters. I see Winners as a competent – sometimes exciting – tecnico trios worker with good high spots. I don’t think I ever watched a trios with Winners where he was the best guy in the match, however. That is maybe a bit unfair because he was usually in the ring with Rey Mysterio Jr. Nonetheless, he could be noticeably sloppy at times and doesn’t blow me away in those matches. He rarely had a singles match – this one and his match with Super Calo twelve days later are the only two under that gimmick. The newsletters at the time, however, loved the guy. Sims for example, wrote in these glowing terms about Winners in the March 24, 1993 edition of Lucha Libre Weekly.

I may have said it 100 times but I’ll say it again; of all the AAA’s (if not Mexico’s) young tecnicos in their “novato” years, only “Oro” of the EMIL’s “Metals” trio would be ahead of Winners as to whom I think will be a long-term superstar. I just see “total package” written all over this guy and I think he is going to draw this promotion big money – and more than once, too.”

Watching Winners early AAA work after the fact, I have had trouble seeing the vast potential in Winners that Sims saw. I can see the positives – he had some major high spots – but in hindsight he pales in comparison to the best of the AAA youngsters (Rey Mysterio Jr., La Parka, Psicosis) and I haven’t found him to be appreciably better in those days than his tag team partner, Super Calo.

To briefly recap, this is the second mask vs. mask match in the four match (“seeding” tag match and three singles mask matches) series that spanned all three 1995 TripleMania tour stops. Winners and Marabunta won the falls in the tag to set up this match and the winner of this goes onto face Super Calo in the third and final mask match.

I was hoping for a Winners showcase match but that’s not what we got at all. The match is above average – good even – but a showcase for Winners it is not. Marabunta’s performance stuck out more to me. He controlled the pace and tempo of the match, while also adding in some high level offense of his own. His bumping was on point and he took the few high risk moves Winners tried perfectly.

The match was structured like your run of the mill apuesta match which wasn’t a bad thing. Marabunta is a good rudo and Winners was undoubtedly a popular tecnico so the heat was decent, but not anything mind blowing. This match main evented the second night of TripleMania but it has the feel and presentation of a mid-card mask match. I don’t necessarily intend for that to be a negative, it just is what it is. The fans were invested in the outcome, however, the match and the heat never reached that dramatic peak that the really great mask matches reach.

Despite an overall quality match, Winners still underwhelms me relative to the lofty praise he received at the time. The match, however, is the best of three although it too is far from a classic.

Super Calo vs. Angel Mortal (AAA – 06/10/1995)

Super Calo vs. Angel Mortal
June 10, 1995
Mask vs. Mask
** 1/4 

Antonio Peña could be brilliantly clever when he needed to be.

For the third TripleMania, AAA ran three separate shows over a period of twenty days. Not just three shows but three big shows in major venues. Of course, Peña needed matches that could draw enough to fill those venues and that usually means running an apuesta match or in this case, three apuesta matches. Rather than simply build up three separate mask matches, Peña got creative in the way he set up the three major apuesta matches for the 1995 TripleMania shows.

The first step was a Relevos Increibles Suicidas on the first show between members of two feuding tag teams – Los Diabolicos (Angel Mortal & Marabunta) and the dancing duo of Super Calo and Winners. Marabunta teamed with Winners to take on Super Calo and Angel Mortal with the losing team facing each other in a mask vs. mask match that night. Only instead of stopping there, the winning team faced off the following week at the TripleMania III-B event in a mask match with the winner of the first two matches wrestling on the third show in a final mask match. By the end of the TripleMania “tour”, only one of the four would remain masked. The entire series was dubbed a Cuadrangular de la Muerte. It was a neat concept to tie all three events together.

As an aside, there was some confusion in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter about how the tag match played out. Dave Meltzer reported in the June 19, 1995 edition of the Observer that the match was Winners & Calo versus Los Diabolicos and that there was a double pin with Calo and Marabunta both being pinned. In actuality, the teams were as mentioned above and the match was a regular lucha libre tag where a fall ends only after both members of a team lose. Marabunta submitted Calo, Mortal pinned his normal partner Marabunta, and Winners submitted Mortal to send the Calo/Mortal team into the apuesta match. Something was obviously lost in translation or in the relay but in watching the tag match it is pretty clear there was no funny business going on with the finish.

Because the Calo versus Angel Mortal mask match took place right after the tag match, it is one fall instead of a traditional three fall match. The tag match – by the way – is pretty fun, particularly late when Calo and Winners both nail a pair of dangerous dives (I’d go ***-ish).

The mask match itself is more of the third fall of a match than a full match itself. Calo is already bleeding from the tag by the time the mask match starts. He opens the bout by hitting a great big plancha from the top turnbuckle of the floor which has the feel of a mid-match (or third fall opening) high spot. After the plancha, the match is essentially four minutes of near falls. Nothing is blown. Angel Mortal was a good mid-level rudo and it shows in this match with the way he bumps and the variety of offense he brings to his near falls. There is nothing that standouts about the match, however, and it is so abbreviated that it never truly gets going. I am not even suggesting they should have done anything different – the tag match got them into a position where four minutes of near falls before the finish made sense as the best course of action – but if you look at the singles match as being separate from the tag then there is not much there.

Calo wins the match and Mortal’s mask. Calo and Winners celebrate post-match, while Mortal teases leaving without removing his mask. He comes back and beats up Calo in a poor show of sportsmanship. For some reason, Fuerza Guerrera comes back to the ring with Motral (I don’t know where Marabunta went off to). After a minute or so of this, either Calo or Winners manages to rip the mask off of Mortal’s head. Angel Mortal looked a lot like circa-2000 Virus without the mask.

Not much of a match, although I am not sure it should have or could have been anything different.

Winners vs. Super Calo (AAA – 06/30/1995)

Winners vs. Super Calo
June 30, 1995
Mask vs. Mask
* 3/4

The inevitability of TripleMania 1995’s Cuadrangular de la Muerte was that AAA was going to have to run an all rudo or all tecnico mask match at some point. I understand why AAA booked the mini-tournament the way they did to have Winners and Calo meet in the final match. In theory at least, an all tecnico mask match should have generated more crowd interest than an all rudo one. Winners and Calo – although especially Winners – were further up the AAA food chain in 1995 than Los Diabolicos were. I get why they booked this match rather than the alternative, but the tecnico-tecnico mask match still ended up leaving much to be desired.

One of the major issues with the match is that the crowd reacts reactions are subdued at best. Obviously there is no way of knowing for sure why that is, but not having a rudo to root against (and therefore one wrestler to root for) is as logical of an explanation as any for the distinct lack of heat. Maybe they didn’t know who to root for and so they rooted for nobody. Maybe they didn’t want either wrestler to lose. Or maybe they found the idea of friendly tag team partners facing each other in a stipulation match usually reserved to end personal, violent feuds to be underwhelming. It is impossible to say but I got the definite impression that the crowd was not into the match the way they were the prior two and the face/face dynamic is the major differentiator between the first two matches and this one.

To be clear, I don’t think it’s a case of all-tecnico apuesta matches being doomed to fail. There have been mask matches that were essentially wrestled without a true rudo that have succeeded. Atlantis vs. Ultimo Guerrero from 2014 was basically just that. Of course, Atlantis and Guerrero had a decade of build behind the match and the crowd saw both wrestles as true legends. Winners and Super Calo was essentially a mid-card all-tecnico match slapped together with no history behind it. It is not hard to see why that sort of match might struggle to garner a reaction.

The wrestling itself in no way improved the chances of the match getting over. Winners was solid – if unremarkable – in the match with Marabunta. In the ring with Calo, Winners was downright bad. His execution was sloppy and awkward, as it often was based on my viewing experiences. Winners was tall – he is listed as 5’11 on Wikipedia which seems about right – and gangly at this stage in his career. His height often made his more agile moves look awkward, as was the case in this match. To be fair, Calo was also prone to bouts of sloppiness throughout his career including this match. The execution wasn’t there, the fans did not seem interested, and the two wrestlers did nothing special to overcome that pair of deficiencies.

The match plods along without much in the way of rhythm before Calo pulls out the slight upset when he rolls up Winners to take his mask. The most interesting portion of the entire segment might be the unmasking.  When Winners unmasks, he instantaneously shows a level of charisma that he didn’t show in this match and from what I have seen, rarely showed ever while working masked. He’s a good looking guy but even beyond that he is able to fire up the crowd with simple gestures in a way he failed to do while the match was happening. Granted, I have not seen much of Winners unmasked run (which lasted about a year and a half) but based on the post-match I don’t quite get why Peña chose to put him back under the mask and give him the rudo Abismo Negro character. The mask and the rudo affiliation seems like they worked against his strengths.

Although the Cuadrangular de la Muerte ended with a whimper, I still think highly of the concept. Promotions don’t do multiple shows tied together by a singular theme nearly enough and when they do it is almost always a standard tournament. This was different and helped make a trio of otherwise mundane mask matches seem “bigger” because of the concept. The match quality range from above average/good (Winners/Marabunta) to bad (Winners/Calo), unfortunately, but the concept is a neat one.