The Big Story: AAA should’ve been screwed.
The big idea, Kawaghi vs Cibernetico, was doomed. By now, the media has decided the initial fight was a work. (Whether it was or wasn’t was beside the point.) The fans might, and still may, go with it, but the bigger problem was Cibernetico’s blown out knee. He appeared before the crowd on crutches at TripleMania, on crutches and obviously needed to stay out of the ring.
If they couldn’t set up Kawaghi/Cibernetico, the default is always to go back to Cibernetico/La Parka but again, no Cibernetico. Konnan would be around during the summer, and compete in matches despite being in obvious bad physical condition, but it was unreasonable to plan a main event in-ring feud around him with his own health problems. Muerte Cibernetico versus La Parka Jr. had run it’s course – the same course of every foreign masked rudo since the beginning of lucha libre – and there weren’t any other good alternatives. The fans were still reacting to the product, and the Sect rudo group seemed to be still strong, but they didn’t have an obvious next step.
Back tracking thru the stories told later, Antonio Pena was certainly in bad health by this time. He book and plan AAA till his dying day (and laid out the lineups for shows much later), but the odds seemed against Pena finding a way out of the booking knot.
And once again, Antonio Pena and AAA figured out a solution.
After a foreign rudo loses his mask, he’ll often wrestle just a few more times – enough for the fans to see him without the mask and for the tecnicos to get their last measure of revenge – and then disappear to some other territory. That wasn’t going to be the plan with Muerte Cibernetica all along. AAA brought him in because Konnan and others liked his work elsewhere, and when he lived up that level in AAA, they assured him he’d have a continuing role with the promotion after his mask loss. Muerte’s role was still to be an associate of Cibernetico, but with no Cibernetico, something else had to be done with him…
On 07/30, Cibernetico tried to help the rudos win the main event, but accidently threw powder in Konnan’s face. After the match, Konnan, Muerte Cibernetico, and Cibernetico had a conversation in the ring. Muerte decided, with Cibernetico hurt and responible for all their failures, Cibernetico shouldn’t be leader anymore – Muerte should. Konnan and Muerte destroyed the already crippled Cibernetico, setting up the big match for his return. Meanwhile, the one present member of the Sect that showed loyalty to Cibernetico, Chessman, was prevented by the other members from interfering. That set up an in-between program, focused on Chessman’s slow turn on the Sect and joining Cibernetico on his return. Just like they, AAA had set up six months of main event angles.
Cibernetico had almost always been an rudo in AAA. The only times he wasn’t, was when he was a rudo in LLL, the nWo-like splinter faction he lead against AAA, trying to take over the company (and even succeeding for a while.) As a main event rudo, he’d fought all the top tecnicos and managed wins. As leader of the Sect, he’d gotten a (appropriately) cult following as a cool bad guy, and the fans had started cheering for him already. The turn gave him great motivation, a vendetta against all those who had turned their backs on him, and a really easy storyline for people to get behind upon his return. By the end of the year, Cibernetico was a huge tecnico star – competing with Mistico for sheer fan noise reaction, and outdistancing old rival La Parka Jr. by such a extent, he may end up rudo a result.
I think this was chaos induced genius. Maybe I’m seeing this all wrong, and this was the plan from the start, but if it was, they could’ve have booked it better than Cibernetico’s own legit knee injury. The time away from the ring allowed the anticipation for his return to build and added to the importance of the feud.
This could not have worked out better for AAA. If they manage to keep Cibernetico at this level of popularity or near it the rest of the year, he’s surely the 2007 Mexico Wrestler of the Year.
12 Man In A Cage: With no Park/Wagner feud, no seeming confidence in Rey/Ultimo, and no Lizmarks/Averno/Mephisto mask match, CMLL was kinda without a plan for a planned big July show. Warrior/Mistico was clearly the Anniversary main event, and there’s no way they could replace that either. In recent years, they’d run a summer major show with a cage main event
2004/06/18: Negro Casas L Vampiro, Pierroth, Tarzan Boy, Perro Aguayo Jr., Shocker [cage, hair] *
2005/06/17: MÃ¡scara MÃ¡gica L DamiÃ¡n 666, Mistico, HÃ©ctor Garza, Heavy Metal, Negro Casas, Halloween, Universo 2000, el Hijo del Perro Aguayo [cage, hair]
Logically, and there were leaks to back this up, the plan probably was to do the Guerreros/Perros stuff this month, with a hair match – this is the one Rey balked at losing, which changed everything. The default plan was to do a cage match, they just didn’t have a feud to put into it.
CMLL announced the 12 way cage match on July 2nd, with Sangre Azteca, Nitro, Mascara Purpura, Pantera, Volador Jr., Averno, Mephisto, La Mascara, Sagrado, Felino, Misterioso II and Neutron, to take place on July 14th. All wrestlers included were masked, so much of the promotion surrounded someone’s identity being revealed.
This had been built to with various combinations of these tecnicos and rudos wrestling in the undercard previous weeks:
06/23 Arena Mexico
2) Hombre Sin Nombre, Nitro, Sangre Azteca b Mascara Purpura, Pantera, Sagrado *
3) Felino, La Mascara, Volador Jr. b Averno, Mephisto, Misterioso II *
06/30 Arena Mexico
2) Hombre Sin Nombre, Loco Max, Sangre Azteca DQ Neutron, Pantera, Sagrado *
3) Mascara Purpura b Stuka Jr. [lightning] *
4) Averno, Mephisto, Misterioso II b Felino, La Mascara, Volador Jr. *
Looking back, you can see the 06/23 show was the one where they had decided on the direction; the week prior, Averno & Mephsito were still feuding with the Lizmarks, and that’s suddenly dropped on this show. Those involved had been ripping masks and such, to the point where it seemed like some sort of stakes match should be coming out of it, but the announced match was still a surprise.
The real attraction of this match was it’s balance. Typically, when a promotion does a multiman match with someone losing his hair or mask, there’s one or two wrestlers who are at a much lower level than the others, and stick out as the only true candidates to lose. The build will be push the idea of a masked legend risking his mask, and in the end, it’ll be the guy who just put on his mask two weeks ago (and will get a new one in two months later.) This match was different, because there were no ringers, no newcomers who’d just shown up to lose. This match had twelve midcarders, of various lengths under the mask but at least a couple years, and no giveaway of the finish. A guy like Felino still was more important than a guy like Nitro, but the overall difference was a lot less.
CMLL pushed the match based on that aspect, using uncertiantly and misdirection and putting in peril those who otherwise seemed a little safer. The week before the cage match, 07/07, they ran a cibernetico featuring all 12 in the match. Volador won, and he received a plaque – which was pretty unlucky for him. When Ultimo Guerrero appeared to congratulate Volador on his win and strangely insist all the rudos shake his hand as well, Mephisto got a hold of the plaque, and cracked it over Volador’s head. Volador was stretchered out, but recovered enough vow immediate revenge on Mephisto, and now you started to wonder if he was going to quickly attain it.
Ovaciones and other publications got quotes from the participants during the week leadup. I had some fun discussing everyone’s chances. For something that was obviously just thrown together, it was a pretty fun build.
The match itself was well laid out, as CMLL cage matches go. The stipulations and setup turn the match into a slow beatdown one way or another until people start leaving, so the aesthetics are always going to be lacking. They made up with by having two lowest wrestlers, Nitro and Neutron, be the first to escape the cage, so the fans could realize immediately that they were getting something that had lived up to the hype. Misterioso, Felino, Pantera, and Mephisto were the final four left in. Pantera was the first of those to attempt to escape, but returned to save his old enemy/sometimes partner Felino from being beat. Felino and Mephisto escaped before Pantera could try to leave again, and Misterioso eventually beat him with a La Rosa off the top rope. Pantera was revealed to be Francisco Javier Fosas, 40 or 42 years old.
In 2005, Pantera, driving with his kids in the car, had gotten into an accident driving home, and one of his sons had died in the accident. It’s believed that legal issues surrounding the accident caused Pantera him to be in the need of some money, and losing the mask helped out.
Misterioso and Pantera would somewhat continue their feud in CMLL, but mostly take it over to IWRG, which was Pantera’s home base at the time. This was Misterioso’s second big win of the summer, and it gave him some recognition.
Rey vs Ultimo for the LH Title: Also on 07/14 show, Rey Bucanero beat Ultimo Guerrero to end his 4 year CMLL Light Heavyweight reign. The match was good, but not great, and so a little disappointing. It was an after thought on the cage match show, and that’s the way they built it.
Mr. Niebla Rey vs Atlantis for the LH Title It was an odd weekend for Rey. After winning the CMLL title on Friday, he ended up challenging for the NWA Light Heavyweight Championship on Sunday.
The scheduled challenger had been Mr. Niebla, who was listed as missing due to a shoulder tear that’d keep him out two months. In reality, Niebla was MIA for two weeks, worked some indy shows, took more time off, and came back to only work indy shows. CMLL was very high on Mr. Niebla earlier in this decade, but his quality of wrestling had noticeably dipped in recent years, and he’d had long abcsenes from the ring due to injuries. Whatever caused him to miss this show was the last straw for CMLL, because he was never brought back to Coliseo or Mexico.
Rey facing Atlantis and getting a chance to unify the belts (only the NWA was on the line) should’ve been a big deal, but the last minute nature of the match diminished any build for that sort of thing. As it turns out, it only lasted for about 6 minutes when it aired on television. Ultimo Guerrero got a measure of revenge, helping Atlantis beat Rey and retain his title.
A new Gronda: AAA debuted a new Gronda – actually, in the space of one paragraph, they declared him a new one and the only authenic one, so it’s the La Parka deal – to replace the original, who’s now an independent. As expected, it was Ghefar/Lucifer/Magnate/the other big muscled guy AAA has around and uses sporatically.
The new Gronda was quickly shown to be far more vulnerable than the previous version, getting laid out by Abismo Negro in an injury angle and selling it for a few weeks of tapings. The original Gronda has a reputation for an unwillingness (and inability) to sell for his opponents, and it was as if AAA was making a statement that things would be different for the new Gronda. The new Gronda is somewhat of a better wrestler and there haven’t been complaints about his attitude, but he’s not as popular as the previous one. He only appears spordically.
The original Gronda, now Groon XXX, has appeared very occasionally for CMLL and more often for indy shows. Still, he doesn’t have much of a work schedule, due to his high per show fee.
A new middleweight Champion: Ocatagon, who’d held the Mexican National Middleweight Championship belt three times in the 90s, won it from Zumbido on July 15. There was a one taping build to the match, with Octagon beating Zumbido in a trios match before beating him for the title.
The tournament to set up Zumbido as champion seemed successful, but nothing was done with the title between the time Zumbido won it January and lost in July. (Octagon’s done no more after winning it himself.) Zumbido would be rumored to be jumping from AAA to CMLL or rehab for the rest of the year, but was still in AAA at year end.
Other AAA: there were 5 tapings this month
07/07: Chessman and the Black Family, still getting along, confirmed their hold on the Atomicos titles by turning back the Air Force
07/15: discussed it to death already
07/23: Tiffany, Estrellita (revealed to be Cibernetico’s actual girlfriend, since they’re both tecnicos now), and Shocker all kinda feuded in the opener. El Dandy was originally listed as appearing in the fourth match, but was replaced by Alliens – who led an alien invasion! Two more normal sized outer space creates and a mini assaulted Alebrije and Cuije.
07/28: not much
07/30: the turn
– Hector Garza suffered a scary neck injury after being clotheslined in the back of the head on 07/21. Everyone was worried that day, but Garza only was out for a short time.
– after a couple weeks of hype, Eclipse debuted. Though promoted as someone with 10 years of experience, it was actually rookie Rey Tigre under a new identity, as a giant man endorsed by Ultimo Guerrero and Atlantis and wearing a combination of their masks. Whatever idea for pushing him there was disappeared early, as Eclipse was clearly not ready for the position they wanted him at, and was taken off shows for a time. He’s back wrestling now, but as just another guy. Eclipse is a rare Mexican heavyweight, so he’s got many more chances in his future.