It's hard not to feel bad for the AAA employees who worked so hard on Triplemanía XXIII before it aired live on pay-per-view Sunday night. With buzz around Lucha Underground at an all-time high following Ultima Lucha last week and so many LU stars appearing on the Triplemanía card, it's likely more English-speaking wrestling fans were planning on tuning into the event than ever before. Unfortunately, the English-language simulcast (which debuted last year), which featured commentary by Matt Striker and Hugo Savinovich, was marred by technical audio issues for the better part of the three-hour broadcast, while some fans reported issues with video as well.
The in-ring performances were mostly on-point, but as Ring of Honor can attest, presentation issues can doom a show with a paying audience. Given that this was the first exposure to true lucha libre for a lot of non-Spanish-speaking fans, the technical issues compounded the learning curve that can come along with the style, pacing and in-ring storytelling of traditional lucha.
Dinastía, Drago, Goya Kong & Pimpinela Escarlata def. Daga, Mamba, Mini Psycho Clown & Sexy Star
First of all, let's acknowledge Drago's amazing AAA entrance mask:
This was a fun little atomicos match, if a little long. I can see how this crash-course in true lucha would put some people off right away, but I enjoyed it. Dinastía in particular was fantastic, Drago was great, Daga hit one of the best and craziest topes I've ever seen and it's always great to see Sexy Star in her natural environment, which is playing the heel. Goya Kong was ... not very good, but everyone else was perfectly game.
Los Villanos (Villano III, Villano IV & Villano V) def. Los Psycho Circus (Monster Clown, Murder Clown & Psycho Clown)
This was a good reminder that not all retirement matches can be Michaels vs. Flair. Villano III's last match was mostly just an exhibition, wrestling in word more than in deed. It was fine and meant a lot to the people in attendance and lifelong fans of lucha, but for the second straight match, it was a potential major turn-off to new viewers.
AAA World Trios Championship Match: Los Hell Brothers (Averno, Chessman & Cibernético) (c) def. Fénix & Los Güeros del Cielo (Angélico, and Jack Evans) and El Hijo del Fantasma, Pentagón Jr. & El Texano Jr.
In a true spectacle, the Trios Championship was defended within the confines of a six-sided steel cage, which incorporated the capture-the-belts wrinkle of a ladder match (or perhaps more accurately, the Ultimate X conceit). This was likely a huge draw for Lucha Underground fans, as six of the nine competitors are LU favorites.
The early portion of this match was Evans bumping like an absolute maniac against six heels, which is never a bad idea. Angélico was wearing a GoPro on his chest, which was weird. There were a bunch of terrifying dives and falls off the cage, which is pretty much all you can ask for in a nine-person cage match. Los Hell Bros. retained when Averno kicked El Hijo del Fantasma in the junk, threw him off the crossbeam and grabbed a belt.
Blue Demon Jr. & La Parka def. Electroshock & El Mesias
This was more or less the AAA equivalent of John Cena and Randy Orton vs. Sheamus and Big Show: four legitimate, established stars getting their issues worked out via tag-teamery. La Parka makes Mesias look pretty small, which is a massive trip after watching all of Lucha Underground's first season. The live crowd was super into this match, as you might expect. This was fun and short and all of these guys can definitely still go, but it wasn't really anything memorable. Luckily, the top two matches brought the thunder.
El Patrón Alberto def. Brian Cage
In a lucha de apuestas hair vs. hair match, Mexican hero Alberto (née Del Rio) overcame a tremendously rudo referee and no small amount of chicanery from Cage and his second, El Hijo del Fantasma, to finally put Cage away with an arm bar. This was a great match that led to Cage getting his head shaved, but Alberto laying out his opponent once again with an enzuigiri and powerbomb after Cage solemnly stood through his head-shaving seemed like a bit much. The storyline leading up to the match probably warranted it, though, so take that critique with a grain of salt.
Cage really got a chance to look like a main-event monster here, at one point tossing Alberto into a table that just exploded from the impact. Cage has been dazzling people in the American indies for a while now, so it's great that he's getting opportunities on a larger stage.
Rey Mysterio Jr. def. Myzteziz
This was billed as one of the last true "dream matches," as Mysterio and the former Místico (and original Sin Cara) finally locked up for the first time in a singles match. This is reportedly a match that Vince McMahon wanted to run at a WrestleMania, but it never panned out. AAA finally got to be the promotion to run this match on Sunday night.
While not a Match of the Year candidate, this one probably exceeded expectations. Myzteziz looked like the performer that WWE hoped they were getting back when they signed him and Rey looked better than he has in years.
Rey also debuted a new look, coming to the ring with wings and a three-dimensional mask that is reminiscent of Drago's.
Myzteziz wrestled the match heelishly and bled through his white mask, which is always a great visual. After the match, he and Mysterio were attacked by Perros Del Mal and fought back, but then Myzteziz went full rudo. He ran down Mysterio before challenging him to a mask vs. mask match, then attacked him one last time.
Audio issues aside, the show picked up steam as it went along and announcing a mascara contra mascara match between two of the biggest luchadores of all time is a hell of a way to wrap things up. Hopefully AAA is able to bounce back from the technical glitches for their next major event, because new fans are not likely to forgive two SNAFUs in a row when their money in concerned.