Mexico City remains orange, Mas Lucha to launch premium channel, Anibal/Azul

Mexico City’s mayor announced the city would remain in the Orange health code this week. No empty arena shows are legally allowed until they reach Yellow, and they have to reach Yellow for four weeks before fans can be allowed back in. That means Mexico City has to move to Yellow a week from today for TripleMania to have fans on 08/22. Dorian Roldan’s previously suggested they’d move the date of the show rather than run with no fans. I don’t think anyone believes TripleMania is happening as scheduled, but next week would confirm it. AAA hasn’t said anything about TripleMania in months, possibly because they’re hoping to announce a new date when they move it from the old one and have little idea of when it’ll be safe to run as the rest of us. They may have to say something on their podcast.

Wednesday night has been a busy wrestling night for about the last year. The biggest news to come out of last Wednesday might have been a quiet blog post. Mas Lucha announced they would be launching a streaming platform. This channel is a premium, monthly payment streaming platform. Mas Lucha is charging 99 pesos a month plus taxes; it comes out to around USD 5 at the moment.

The announcement says the premium streaming platform will have “complete shows,” alongside documentaries and other work. Interviews, summaries, reactions will continue to be on the YouTube channel. That breakdown suggests you’ll need to subscribe to the channel to see full matches going forward, though there’s space for that not to be true. Mas Lucha hasn’t started promoting it, so the particulars may still be subject to change. Nevertheless, if big Mexican indie matches going forward are behind a paywall, it’s a huge change.

The first show to be broadcast will be the Torneo Suprema Mas Lucha women’s tournament starting on July 18th. It’s unclear Mas Lucha will put up a match a day, as the last tournament, or if it’ll go up at once. Pretty much everything is vague at the moment. Mas Lucha hasn’t even promoted their announcement post all that much. All the rest of the details are probably coming later, but it leaves a lot of room for speculation. Mas Lucha’s post insists this channel was in the plans before the pandemic, though starting with a tournament which probably wouldn’t have existed if things had been healthy and with a barebones site suggests they’ve pushed up the timeline quite a bit.

Fans of Mexico wrestling over the last decade expect lucha libre to be free on the internet. Maybe it’s supported, they’re just not used to handing over money to see it. Every major CMLL or AAA event over the last two years has been freely available. Mas Lucha themselves have made “free” the default expectation price for lucha libre, posting thousands of hours of full matches on YouTube since leaving TVC Deportes. Individual promotions have tried to add a pay model, but Mas Lucha making that move would be a titanic shift and attempt to swim uphill against a current they created. In a way, if anyone can pull off this shift, it’s Mas Lucha: they have access to a variety of essential content people might want to pay for, and they need to make it work. AAA & CMLL have compelling content, but internet revenue is going to be a small part of their income even with a lot of work, so they’re not inclined to stick with it. MasLucha is just internet revenue, ad revenue that’s likely been slipping through no fault of their own. YouTube ad rates have declined over the last few years and considerably during the pandemic. There’s no doubt Mas Lucha was planning on doing going to a paid model at some point, but it’s still shocking the day it happens. Maybe the timing is just a necessity, maybe that DTU PPV doing surprisingly well convinced Mas Lucha there’s more readiness for this concept than previously believed.

That Mas Lucha post is like someone who gave me the first fifty pages of a mystery and ripped out the rest. I have so many questions, some they know, and some only time are only going to answer.

  • Which content will be placed on the premium channel? The statement stays highlights on YouTube, full shows on premium, where does that leave individual matches? Will premium stuff be posted on the free side after a time, as seen with the DTU PPV?
  • Are fans really in Mexico willing to pay for 99 pesos for lucha libre video in high numbers regularly? Is 99 the right price? It’s a little cheaper than Netflix in Mexico, and the same as WWE Network. Everyone’s got a guess, but no one knows if the market is there until someone dives in.
  • The Mas Lucha statement says one of their goals is getting more prominent exposure and more display for Mexican promotions. It’s a beautiful concept, but anything put behind a paywall is going to have less exposure and less display. What are the promotions going to get out of this? The common belief is Mas Lucha has been shouldering all the costs for video production in exchange for all the video revenue. (However, I don’t think anyone’s ever publicly confirmed that.) Promotions love being on Mas Lucha, love getting that exposure it brings, and it’s hard to figure out how much each development is responsible for the ad revenue anyway. Will they still be ok with that tradeoff if their full shows are getting less exposure behind a paywall? Will the money start to be a more significant issue when the promotions can see MasLucha getting a specific amount per month?
    • And if the promoters get a cut, do wrestlers also get a cut? I’m for more money getting down to the people taking the bumps. Noted philosopher Christopher Wallace once pointed out that more money often brought more problems, and that’s the biggest challenge in this whole idea.
    • Will we see Mas Lucha increasingly act as their content provider to make sure they have control of it in Netflix like fashion? Torneo Supremo originally just appeared to be something to do during the pandemic while luchadors were available, but those projects might become staples. (How does that affect their relationship with other promotions should it happen?) Will it end being a tier/alliance of trusted MasLucha partners and not everyone?
  • Just backing up a step, how much content is going to be on the channel? The one tournament isn’t going to do it for a monthly fee unless you’re just a giant fan of the women involved. The pandemic is an issue but, even when/if things get back going to normal, there probably needs to be a rolling month calendar of exciting shows. That’d require some more organization and earlier announcements from indie promotions than we’re used to seeing.
    • Do older shows get pulled off Mas Lucha current YouTube and go behind the paywall? Mas Lucha has continued to add old content to YouTube during this period, which wouldn’t fit if they were going to pull it all off soon. My best guess is new stuff will be on premium live, and old shows won’t be touched, but it’s unresolved.
  • Does Mas Lucha have the tech ability to run streams successfully on a premium service without YouTube? It’s gone great on that service, but a paid service requires something more locked down and without the Google reliability. We’ve seen seemingly every single way that can go wrong when AAA and CMLL have tried to go that route. The options to do that gets better but are by no means is foolproof; will people stick around when the typical problems happen as they get this rolling?
  • Does Mas Lucha’s decision to go premium affect fan and privately run YouTube channels? It’s going to be tougher to charge to see IWRG – to pick a group – if there are five YouTube channels where it’s free. Do they lean on promoters on stopping bootlegging? Can they stop it? (They couldn’t stop other people out for a charity no fans show where there was no commission, so.) Is the difference in production quality enough to get people to pay anyway?
  • Alternatively, do promoters and other video channels attempt to do their take on a premium channel? Competition in this space is one thing I keep wondering if it’ll happen. It never actually has, so it seems unlikely this time too – but Mexico City wrestling seems to copy each other a lot, especially if money starts to get involved.
  • Maybe the thing I should’ve started with: is any of this still a going concern three months from now? Big ideas tend to get thrown out in Mexican wrestling and quietly fade away when there’s no immediate success. This plan is going to be a complicated and occasionally drama-filled process, even if things go well. It’ll be easier to turn back, even if turning back isn’t a sound financial strategy. The common thought is to ask people where they expect to be five years from now; I don’t know what to expect out of this one year from now.

I’m sure I’ll subscribe to this service and keep it going as long as I’m doing whatever it is I’m doing here if it what it seems to be; it seems necessary for this. If I were approaching this as a person with a healthy amount of interest in this subject, I’d probably wait and see.

The Mas Lucha Torneo Suprema will launch its premium service. There’s some spoiler-ish news on part of it – I’m not convinced it’s correct or even more than a guess, but you should skip a paragraph to avoid finding out in advance. Revealing the outcomes of matches rarely has news value, but a Facebook page called Quitate el Candado frames it as part of a long negative post on Dulce Garcia. You’re familiar with many of the negative Sexy Star stories; this also adds her having problems at the recent KAOZ iPPV tapings. She’s said to be such a problem to the promotion that they were trying to get out of a deal with her (based on the number of dates) by offering her to other promotions. Mas Lucha took them up on her for their tournament. Garcia then came to the tournament and may have forced Mas Lucha to change the planned final of the tournament. (That final is listed in the post, but even the poster is unsure what the end up being.) You’d have to believe Mas Lucha was caught off guard by Dulce Garcia demanding victories, which seems impossible – everyone that deep into lucha libre knows the story on her by now. Once she’s booked, everyone understands she’s only there to win and will lose only with some sort of excuse then complain about it after. I’d safely guess she’s not the only person in that tournament who would be very unhappy to take any losses to anyone, and the booking of that tournament was always going to be incredibly tricky.

Lucha Noticias has an interview with Anibal Jr., who explains he saw Princesa Azul as a “daughter of his soul.” He says she’s the same age as a daughter of his who passed away, so it felt right to give her the mask and the name. He’s upset with Princesa Azul changing the gear to something more daring and “giving people in the locker room too much to talk about.” Anibal Jr. pushes back against the hinted sexual harassment, saying he was always respectful towards her and even insisted on a promoter booking them in separate rooms when they were given just one on a trip to Guatemala.

Anibal Jr. is looking for Princesa Azul to drop the “Hija de Anibal” monicker and change the mask. It doesn’t seem like he’s going for the “Princesa Azul” name. Which could mean this will probably end with a slight modification to her gear and not much other resolution.

Anibal Jr. subsequently posted a video statement on Facebook, apologizing to the fans for misleading them with Anibal’s memory (by giving it to a non-family member.)

two points to keep in mind

  • much of this drama could’ve avoided if Anibal Jr. handled the split like a professional. Even if he’s entirely in the right in every other way, announcing you’ve fired someone as your daughter as a response to an anodyne video is not it. It also makes it harder to believe everything he’s said since – he’s lied about Azul being his daughter, and he’s changed his story about the circumstances of their break up. He hasn’t credibly conducted himself.
  • Anibal Jr. is correct in Princesa Azul changing her design. That design also downplays the Anibal-related imagery in the process, which makes it she might have known this split was coming.

KeMonito’s participated in CMLL’s virtual media day WednesdayThe big news coming out of it was KeMonito says he’s going to retire in a year or two, except he has also said the same thing an interview earlier this year, and he’s not definite about sticking to that timeline.

Flyer says coronavirus stopped his ascension to the top of the CMLL cards, proving even coronavirus has its good points. Flyer, who was memorably not right in the last CMLL show before shut down, feels he would’ve been a regular semifinal/main event guy had things continued. That final match was Flyer & Atlantis Jr. winning the restored Mexican National Tag Team Championship, once held by Misterioso and Flyer’s grandfather Volador. Flyer revealed he’s not talked to his grandfather in the four months since he won the titles to talk about it; they’re a distant family.

AAA has to issue a press release to discredit a lousy piece of information on TV. ImagenTV talked to Fantasma about the rash of luchador deaths. The TV station put up a message saying, “50 AAA wrestlers had died,” when Fantasma likely didn’t mention a promotion. It was a mistake, but people started asking AAA about it on social media Thursday, so AAA issued a statement saying they had no cases of coronavirus at the moment. No AAA luchador has passed away during this period.

Dark Angel appeared on Taylor Wilde’s podcast, talking about her career and their team. There’s no Scoops, but it’s a pleasant conversation with some talk about her time in Mexico. Dark Angel very slightly teased a return to the ring on Twitter recently. She goes with “never say never” here – it doesn’t seem like she’s planning on having another match, just refusing to rule out the possibility forever. Dark Angel is on furlough from WWE, and the impression I got from listening is she’s not expecting to return soon (she’s recently got an RV to do some traveling) while also assuming that relationship isn’t over.

Daga’s status with Impact Wrestling is murky. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter reports Daga has been willing to try to get to Impact from Mexico, and Impact says they still want to use him, but Impact hasn’t brought Daga back in, and there’s no indication when that might happen. Daga & Tessa were a package deal in Impact, and wrestling promoters often have trouble dealing with one half of a couple when the other one walks out.

An advantage of taping ahead of time is the ability to do preview trailers; there’s a trailer for the “Arena Olivares” show airing on +LuchaTV Saturday night.

KAOZ posted a photo of an empty lot, saying they’re going to build their performance center. No timeline is mentioned. KAOZ ran shows about once a month in 2019. A training building could help wrestlers in the region considerably, but it’s an unusual use of resources given the current scale of promotion. Maybe they’re planning on that scale changing?

SoloWrestling has an interview with Ciclope about Lucha Libre Vanguardia.

Tuxtleca luchador Furia Guerrera passed away on July 6th.

Xalapa luchador Gabriel o Gabriela has been in a ICU since Monday due to COVID-19.

Lucharte is looking to crowdfund a documentary about lucha libre during COVID.

Torreon’s Arena Colon says they’ve followed local health recommendations to set up for reduced capacity, but still can’t get approval to run. They’re not getting turned down; they’re just not getting any response.

There’s a fundraiser for fundraiser Tabasco luchador Canalla and other older luchadors in the area.

Vanguardia teased Pagano as appearing on their next show to go up on IWTV, so my guess is the next show to go up there is the one with Ciclope & Miedo Extremo vs. Aeroboy & Pagano from October 2019RIOT’s most recent shows have also been added to IWTV.

An interview with Tampico’s Super Lobo.