The wrestling world is in for a rare December gift Saturday night, as Lucha Libre AAA Worldwide presents TripleMania XXVIII.
Originally scheduled to take place in August, this marks the 28th year of AAA’s signature show. And the 2020 version certainly will be unlike any other.
Returning to the vaunted four walls of the famed Mexico City Arena, or Arena Ciudad de Mexico, (a free broadcast is available in Spanish on AAA’s YouTube and Facebook pages), the show promises to deliver some of the most electrifying, emotional and violent wrestling of 2020.
Konnan, who is quite familiar with the American audience for his successful run in WCW, is the head of creative for AAA. (He also headlined the first-ever Triplemania in 1993.) He enters this Saturday's show eager to show off AAA's brand of wrestling.
“Lucha libre is not American wrestling. It is a whole different style,” said Konnan. “It is a style that has heavily influenced American wrestling, but don’t expect American wrestling. This is lucha libre, the style that has always flourished in Mexico. To me, lucha is the most creative and entertaining style.”
Triplemania XXVIII is a card overflowing with stars, and none with a bigger global presence than Kenny Omega. The newly crowned AEW Champion is also the reigning Mega Champion, AAA’s heavyweight title, and he is set to defend the belt in the semi-main event against Laredo Kid.
Laredo Kid, who is also AAA’s Cruiserweight Champion, plans to take full advantage of an opportunity to share the ring with Omega.
“I am going to show my entire air arsenal and everything I can do in the ring,” said Laredo Kid, whose interview was conducted in Spanish. “This match, wrestling Kenny Omega, it means a lot. I have wrestled him in tag matches before. He is one of the greatest wrestlers in the world. This is our first singles match, and it is my opportunity to show I am at his level.”
While Laredo Kid has made appearances in the United States, with AEW in the summer of 2019 at Fyter Fest and more recently in MLW as part of their Opera Cup tournament, this setting will provide a much more in-depth presentation of why he is one of the world’s most prominent luchadores.
“This match is very important, and even more important with no fans in the crowd,” said Laredo Kid. “I will put my whole heart into putting on a great match for the people.”
Similar to superheroes, luchadores do not reveal their true identities. Yet they remain human underneath their masks, and there is an air of sadness entering this title match for Laredo Kid, who lost his father in November.
“I dedicate this match to my father,” said Laredo Kid. “This has been a struggle. He is no longer beside me, but I know he will always be with me.”
Unlike traditional wrestling pay per views in America, the main event of Triplemania XXVIII is not the world title match. Instead, it is a Lucha de Apuestas hair vs. hair match pitting Pagano against Chessman.
This stands for more than a match. It is symbolic of the proud tradition and rich culture of lucha libre in Mexico, where an apuestas match remains of far bigger consequence than a title. In stark contrast to American wrestling, matches with stipulations like mask vs. mask, hair vs. mask or hair vs. hair always take precedent.
Chessman is a 24-year wrestling veteran, and he said there is genuine shame in store for this loser of his bout against Pagano.
“To lose this match, and lose your hair, that means you have to start over,” said Chessman, whose interview was also conducted in Spanish. He is one of the best rudos, or heels, in Mexico, which makes sense when learning that the 45-year-old was trained by two legends: Pepe Casas, a former wrestler/referee and father of lucha legends Negro Casas, Felino and Heavy Metal; and El Canek, one of the biggest stars in lucha libre. “If you lose your hair, all the preparation you did was insufficient. You will have to reinvent yourself and rise from the ashes.”
The non-lucha fan may have a hard time grasping the shame of losing a hair vs. hair match—there isn’t a true equivalent in mainstream American wrestling, but this is the heart of lucha libre. The storytelling of this match will be dramatic, and that will be visible through pure, unadulterated violence.
“This is going to be an extreme match, and we will demonstrate who is the best,” said Chessman. “Whoever has the best physical, mental and spiritual preparation is going to be the winner. The one with the most stamina will win, and that person is going to be me.”
Adding to the chaos of the main event is Pagano, who's become a hardcore icon over the past five years in AAA. He is the technico, or babyface, entering this bout, as well as the polar opposite of Chessman. His style will ensure this is a plunder-filled, bloody match.
“I have a great commitment to the people who have followed me throughout my career,” said Pagano, who also conducted his interview in Spanish. “This is my time to give back a little of all that they have given me. My commitment is to thank them with a complete payment that is delivered at 1,000%, at an event that means so much to me.”
A 12-year pro out of Ciudad Juárez, the 34-year-old Pagano joined AAA in 2016 after working the lucha indies. He built notoriety through his work as a certifiably crazy deathmatch wrestler. Pagano has been lit on fire and powerbombed into a shopping cart, and he seems perfectly content with landing on his head—frighteningly, sometimes multiple times during a match. While the knock on him is that he is limited athletically, this style adds an entirely different dimension to his work. He has charisma and a unique look as a punk-rock clown. It is impossible to look away knowing he is willing to try anything in the ring.
“You won’t find anyone like Pagano anywhere else,” said Pagano. “I am a true fighter. I enjoy the pain and I also grant it. People that love this sport understand it is a dance of pain. You have to be prepared to enjoy being hurt. That’s what I will do at Triplemania. I will not waste this opportunity.”
Pagano was in the main event at Triplemania XXIV in 2016. That was a Lucha de Apuestas hair vs. mask match against AAA’s top star, Psycho Clown, feuding because they are both clowns. (Hey, it is pro wrestling after all!) This match marks Pagano’s second Triplemania main event and his 11th Apuesta match, seeking to improve upon his 5-6 record. He lost his mask in 2011 to a luchador named Luzbel in Panama.
“I have given myself no other choice other to deliver,” said Pagano. “It’s my time to make history in a Triplemania realized in the face of all this adversity in the world.”
This match will not be known for its technical brilliance. It will be a deathmatch spectacle, or Lucha Extrema as it is called in lucha, and putting it on last allows Chessman and Pagano to destroy the ring. While storyline ramifications are not always as big in Mexico as they are in the United States, Chessman did note that he plans to use this match as a way to get himself a shot against the winner of Omega-Laredo Kid.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s Omega or Laredo who wins,” said Chessman. “After I win, I’m going for the Mega Championship.”
More eyes will also be on Triplemania because of AAA’s crossover with Marvel.
That partnership deal is responsible for a tag team match on this show, featuring Marvel characters. It’s going to be Aracno (Spider-Man) and Leyenda Americana (Captain America) vs. Terror Purpura (Thanos) and Venenoide (Venom). No one knows who is playing these roles and they will not be revealed until the show, though it is expected at least one or two will be foreign talent from the United States.
The Marvel characters will be part of AAA going forward, and it would make sense if at least one of the Marvel surprises was a talent from AEW. Terror Purpura is supposed to be Thanos, a larger-than-life, imposing figure, so the mind immediately wanders to AEW’s Brian Cage, who has worked with AAA fairly consistently for the last few years.
“That Marvel match will be special, and they are going to go out there and rock it,” said Konnan. “Plus there are the Lucha Brothers in the second match of the night. We are going to have a couple surprises, and we are going to put on a great show.”
Lucha stars are prevalent in WWE, NXT, AEW, Impact and MLW, but instead of only being featured selectively throughout the card, this distinguished style of pro wrestling will define the show at Triplemania.
“This is our WrestleMania,” said Konnan. “This is the one show everybody checks out, our biggest show of the year. This isn’t the same as bringing a luchador to the United States and watching him doing Mexican moves in an American match. This is luchadores having a lucha libre match. This isn’t diluted by any other prism. This is raw, uncut lucha.
“There is so much to enjoy. We have a new generation of women that is very impressive. We have legends, the superstars of today, the superstars of tomorrow and the best high-flyers. We have storyline and emotion, too, and you’ll see all that and more at Triplemania.”