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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

TripleMania: Mexico's answer to WrestleMania
By JOHN F. MOLINARO -- SLAM! Wrestling

As the warm, tepid breezes of June turn into the hot and muggy haze that is July, the attention of wrestling fans are turned towards a slew of summer pay-per-views. Bash at the Beach, Summer Slam, ECW's Heat Wave 2000... these are the events that mark the passage of time for wrestling fans in Canada and the U.S during the summer months.

  Simultaneously, in another part of the wrestling world that is all too often forgotten, an annual event of a different sort is about to take place. Fans and followers of international wrestling are preparing for what is the most highly anticipated event on the Mexican wrestling calendar, as the Asistencia Asesoria y Administracion promotion (AAA) is gearing up for its annual TripleMania summer series.

  TripleMania is to AAA what WrestleMania is to the WWF; what Starrcade is to WCW; what November to Remember is to ECW. TripleMania will make history today, kicking off a five-day tour starting in Tokyo, the very first time this event will take place in Japan.

  For eight years, TripleMania has been the marquee wrestling event in Mexico. Providing the ultimate showcase for the Lucha Libre style, TripleMania has progressed from a single show to a series of three events spread out over the summer. It has set major attendance records in Mexico while at the same time providing some of the best wrestling action on this continent.

  The legacy of TripleMania can be directly traced back to one man: AAA President and promoter Antonio Pena.

  For many years, Pena was the booker of Empresa Mexicana de Lucha Libre (EMLL), the world's oldest wrestling promotion. Formed in 1933, EMLL stressed traditional Lucha Libre in its purest form, free of the glitz and glamour that predicates American wrestling. EMLL was based on a stringent hierarchy of the veteran wrestlers on top and the youngsters on the bottom. Because of this infrastructure, a young wrestler had to compete for many years before moving up the roster and higher on the card.

  Pena wanted to change all that. He had a vision of a more modern form of Lucha Libre. He wanted to change the rules, bringing some of the soap opera aspect of American wrestling to his product and push young wrestlers immediately instead of having them wither away in the opening matches.
Konnan main-evented the first TripleMania in 1993, drawing over 48,000 fans to Mexico City's Plaza del Toros bullring.


  His idea was met with gross resistance. EMLL owner Paco Alonso, the nephew of Salvador Lutteroth, the man responsible for bringing wrestling to Mexico in the 1920 and '30s, would have none of it. He tied Pena's hands at every turn, making it impossible for him to bring his dream of a new form of Lucha to fruition.

  Destiny was on Pena's side, however, and he would not be denied. In May of 1992, Pena left EMLL, taking the majority of its top stars with him to form a new company, AAA. The move was not unlike the recent actions of Mitsuharu Misawa leaving All Japan and taking its best workers with him.

  Backed by Mexican network TV giants Televisa, Pena formed AAA and a wrestling war in Mexico was born.

  "Pena was a part of the EMLL brain trust and he was able to lure a lot of the top draws from around Mexican wrestling," recalled WCW commentator Mike Tenay, a noted expert on Mexican wrestling. "(He took) guys like Konnan, Blue Panther, Perro Aguayo, El Hijo del Santo, Cien Caras and he decided to combine that talent roster with all these great, young workers that he had seen were not being pushed in Mexican wrestling: Rey Misterio Jr, Psicosis, La Parka, Heavy Metal and that whole group."

  AAA went ahead, presenting a more modern style of Mexican wrestling with cage matches, long, elaborate ring introductions with fire works, ring girls, and a more pronounced emphasis on angles and storylines than ever before. Mexico became the battleground for one of the most bitter promotional wars in wrestling history as AAA took on EMLL for bragging rights as the top company. It was a battle with two clearly, contrasting and defined sides: the old guard of purists at EMLL vs Pena's upstart AAA office that sought to change the landscape of Mexican wrestling.

  Pena's style clearly won out as AAA became the hottest promotion not only in Mexico, but in North America, doing far greater business than both the WWF and WCW. And the reason why Pena was so successful was the array and diversity of talent he had available to him.

  "From that standpoint Pena had a talent roster that was unprecedented for Lucha Libre," said Tenay. "Realistically when you look at the depth of talent he had there from '93 to '95, you can make an argument about for that being the greatest array of talent for any non-Japanese promotion."

  Riding high with confidence, Pena wanted to take AAA's success to the next level. Having seen the mainstream media attention that the WWF's WrestleMania show garnered each year, Pena started to build toward his own annual spectacular. He had a vision for a similar show in Mexico that would act as the blow off for all the company's major feuds that had been raging all year long. And with that idea, TripleMania was born.

  In an ambitious move, Pena reserved the Plaza Del Toros, an outdoor bullring in Mexico City with a capacity of 50,000 people, to stage the inaugural TripleMania show. It was a huge gamble and Pena knew everything he had worked for was riding on this show.
TRIPLEMANIA FACT SHEET
  • MOST APPEARANCES: Octagon (14)
  • MOST APPEARANCES BY A FOREIGN WRESTLER: 'Love Machine' Art Barr & Jake 'The Snake' Roberts (4)
  • MOST APPEARANCES IN MAIN EVENT: Perro Aguayo (5)
  • LARGEST CROWD: 48,000 (TripleMania 1, 1993)
  • # OF UNMASKINGS: 7 (Mascara ANO 2000, Payasito Rojo, Marabunta, Black Cat, Winners, Halcon Dorado Jr and La Calaca)
  • # OF HEAD SHAVINGS: 4 (Jerry Estrada, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts, My Flowers, Tirantes)
  • # OF RETIREMENT MATCHES: 1 (Cien Caras beat Konnan at TripleMania 1; the retirement didn't last)
  • COUNTRIES THAT HAVE HELD A TRIPLEMANIA: 2 (Mexico and the U.S.)
  • CITY THAT HAS HELD THE MOST TRIPLEMANIAS: Madero (3 - TripleMania III - C in '95, TripleMania IV - C in '96 and TripleMania VII in '99)
  • NOTABLE FOREIGN COMPETITORS: 'Love Machine' Art Barr, Koji Kanemoto, Black Cat, Eddie Guerrero, Gran Hamada, Jushin 'Thunder' Liger, Miguel Perez Jr., Ultimo Dragon, Gorgeous George III, Jake 'The Snake' Roberts


  •   Fortunately for Pena, he had the top technico (babyface) in Konnan and rudo (heel) in Cien Caras on his roster. The two had a long-standing feud stemming from their EMLL days, so Pena pitted them in the main event in a loser-must-retire match. Questions quickly arose: Could Pena put on a compelling show with the eyes of the wrestling media on him? Could AAA make a statement with this event and distance itself from EMLL in the war? And could AAA fill the bullring and prove all the doubters wrong?

      The answer on all three counts was a resounding YES. On April 30th, 1993, 48,000 fans jammed into the bullring, setting the all-time attendance record in Mexico. AAA made a statement: They had arrived and they weren't going anywhere.

      "The most amazing thing about (it) was that they were able to draw that 48,000 people for a promotion that was less then one year old," stated Tenay. "To be able to take the lion's share of the market like that so immediately sort of put AAA as a promotion on the map. Pena's own marketing plan for Mexican wrestling was so revolutionary he was on top for that era. With a promotion that was less than a year old he did a tremendous job of creating stars."

      At the time, TripleMania set the standard for match quality on big shows in North America. From top to bottom, it was a stellar card with one great match after another. It provided the first major stage for Rey Misterio Jr to compete on as he teamed with Volador, Misterioso, to defeat Tony Arce, Vulcano, & Rocco Valente. Lizmark retained his Mexican Heavyweight title defeating La Parka in a memorable match. The best match on the show saw Mexican legend Perro Aguayo beat Mascara ANO 2000 in a hair vs mask match. The epic battle saw the two veterans engage in a bloodbath of a match with perfect psychology that saw Aguayo unmask the hated rudo.

      And then there was the main event -- the retirement match between Cien Caras and Konnan. With Jake "The Snake" Roberts sitting in the front row, Konnan and Caras did battle as the Plaza del Toros crowd hung on their every move. After splitting the first two falls, the action spilled to the floor where Jake interfered causing Konnan to lose the third and decisive fall by countout, forcing him to retire. The audience was in shock and openly wept as their hero had been cheated. Little did they know the retirement would not last and that the angle with Roberts was merely a precursor for the following year's TripleMania.

      When all was said and done, TripleMania was both a financial and critical success. AAA had shown that they were a major force in wrestling and had established themselves as industry leaders. While the WWF and WCW were struggling at the box office in the U.S. and Canada, AAA, after only one year, had become the hottest and most profitable wrestling promotion in North America.

      Despite their success, and despite the fact that they could have looked at AAA's model of success for an answer to turn their own business around, TripleMania went largely unnoticed by the WWF and WCW. They failed to follow AAA's example and learn from them.

      Later that year, AAA invaded U.S. markets such as Los Angeles Chicago and New York, outdrawing both the WWF and WCW. In August of 1993, AAA drew 18,000 fans to the L.A. Sports Arena, turning away another 8,000 fans at the door and taking in a live gate of $250,000, the most profitable show in the history of L.A. AAA was not only the hottest promotion in Mexico, but also now the U.S.

      "The people in the business (here in the U.S.) had no clue," stated Tenay, who attended every AAA house show in Los Angeles between 1993-95. "TripleMania, realistically, lead to all the shows in Los Angeles. Everything started with that TripleMania. The first show they did in L.A. where they had 18,000 and turned away 8,000 fans at the door... the heat they had that night was incredible."

      "I was just telling the story the other day, as a matter of fact, last week to the announcing crew here (at WCW)," continued Tenay. "Now that we've had some stuff thrown into the ring by fans ... (but) I've never seen as many odd things thrown into the ring at Jake Roberts and Art Barr (like at that first show in L.A.) ... beer, recycled beer, the nachos, and the one that really got everyone was they threw the loaded diaper."

      It is a longstanding tradition in Mexico for fans to throw soiled diapers at the rudos. It's an act saved for special occasions and reserved for the heels that really aggravate the crowd. Even though it sounds disgusting, it is the ultimate sign of respect, and wrestlers know they have arrived as a top heel when a mother peels of the dirty diaper of their infant and flings it at them.

      "I remember sitting second row for that L.A. show and thinking 'Holy s***, we got a riot on out hands here'," admitted Tenay. "That was on the verge of being a real riot. That was the start of AAA's run in L.A."
    Eddie Guerrero from his days in AAA.


      The following year, AAA was so hot that Pena knew that one TripleMania show would not be enough. Instead, he came up with the idea of a TripleMania series; three major cards spread out over the summer where he could build on angles and storylines developed in the first two shows that would lead to the blow off on the final one.

      TripleMania II-A was held on April 26, 1994 at an outdoor baseball Stadium in Aguscalientes, Mexico drawing 9,500 fans. On the undercard, Rey Misterio Jr teamed with his uncle Rey Misterio and Winners to defeat Tony Arce, Vulcano and Rocco Valente. Juventud Guerrera teamed with his father Fuerza Guerrera and Misterioso to beat Latin Lover, Volador and El Mexicano. Los Payasos beat Cien Caras, Mascara Ano 2000 and Universo 2000 to win the Mexican Trios Titles. El Hijo del Santo, Octagon and Perro Aguayo beat 'Love Machine' Art Barr, Eddie Guerrero and Black Cat via DQ in he semi-main event. In a memorable main event, Heavy Metal beat Jerry Estrada in a "hair vs. hair" match that was considered the best match on the show.

      Fans and critics were blown away by the show, thinking that there was no way the remaining two shows could possibly match its quality.

      They were wrong. TripleMania II-B on May 15, 1994 in Zapopan, Mexico stands as possibly the best TripleMania show ever. Pena brought in Koji Kanemoto and Jushin "Thunder" Liger in from New Japan Pro Wrestling to round out his roster of Lucha stars in putting on what was from top to bottom a sensational show.

      Jushin Liger teamed with Kanemoto, competing under a mask as Tiger Mask, El Hijo del Santo and Octagon to beat La Parka, Psicosis, Blue Panther and Eddie Guerrero in the best match of the night. Mascara Sagrada beat Black Cat in a phenomenal mask vs mask match and in the main event, Konnan, Perro Aguayo and Cien Caras beat Jake Roberts, Art Barr and Miguel Perez Jr.

      "That show was awesome. It was among the greatest shows I probably ever saw," said Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter who was in attendance that evening in Zapopan. "(That day) was so hot, it must have been way over 100 degrees and to get tickets, because nobody in Mexico ever buys tickets in advance, people were standing in line for hours upon hours to get in by the 6 p.m. start time."

      "The crowd was just going crazy," recalled Meltzer. "Rey Misterio Jr. teamed with his uncle in a six-man and I remember that it was that match where I really noticed Rey Jr. for the first time. That six-man tag match was so unbelievably good that the crowd just rocked and it was a super show."

      The stage was now set for the final show, TripleMania II-C from the El Toreo in Tijuana. Over 18,000 fans packed the outdoor bullring that evening. The crowd was electric as they sat through the opening matches and the mid-card. The crowd was so wired that following a Volador, Tinieblas Jr. and Lizmark Jr. vs Love Machine, Miguel Perez Jr. and Misterioso, they started doing the wave. Perro Aguayo, Lizmark, El Hijo del Santo and Mascara Sagrada beat La Parka, Psicosis, Black Cat and El Satanico and Cien Caras, Mascara Ano 2000 and Universo 2000 beat Los Payasos in a wild "steel cage" match.

      All of this merely set the table for the main event, Jake Roberts vs Konnan in a hair vs hair match. A year after Jake cost him the main event win at the first TripleMania, Konnan would have his shot at revenge. They had battled each other in a series of six-man tag matches, and Pena had brilliantly built the feud to this crescendo where Konnan would avenge his loss and beat Jake in two straight falls.

      "I remember the show in Tijuana in 1994 and the one thing that I remember was the great heat for that main event match," recalled Tenay who sat in attendance that evening. "It was that big show atmosphere and you had the great work underneath. You had this tremendous heat for an angle that had been built up for a year and they gave the people what they wanted. It was a double blood bath match with Jake getting shaved bald."

     TripleMania '94 was a booking masterpiece by Pena. He had built on a hot angle from the previous year's show, spiked the Konnan vs Jake program with hot angles through out the year while never having them go at it one on one, and had Konnan go over in the main event in a match that had incredible heat.

     The success of the series had put AAA on centre stage for the entire wrestling world to see, and it established Antonio Pena as the best booker in the business. His booking style had more twist and turns and told compelling stories with more chapters than anybody else. Pena had the unique ability to intertwine several storylines in one match and come out with something fresh and new.

      "When his head was clear, he was amazing booker," stated Meltzer. "He was good at coming up with characters. He was the best booker in the business in those early years, his stuff was just dynamite. Looking back his stuff blew away anything going on in the States."

      "Pena was really good when he was focused on building to a big show. He would have a lot of angles. He would do something with everyone on the card and everybody would have their own angle. It all had meaning top to bottom."
    "Love Machine" Art Barr is one of the major stars that helped make TripleMania into Mexico's marquee wrestling event.


     As AAA continued its reign as the hottest promotion in the world, two events occurred that hurt the promotion badly. 'Love Machine' Art Barr died on November 23rd, 1994 at the age of 28. Art's death was devastating to AAA, as he had established himself as the best drawing heel in the world.

     At around the same time, the bottom fell out of the Mexican economy, as the Mexican peso became devalued against the American dollar. This more than anything, hurt the wrestling business in Mexico. It's a problem that still plagues Mexican wrestling six years later.

      "The whole company went down because the peso became devalued," stated Meltzer. "That was it. Because the economy was down in the country, the whole business went down."

      AAA now faced the cruellest of realities: They had to operate in a harsh economy minus the services of Art Barr, their top gate attraction. AAA had talked about having Art Barr and Eddie Guerrero work a program against their tag partner Konnan in late '94. They had made plans to have Art and Eddie turn on Konnan, building to a TripleMania main event of Barr vs Konnan in 1995. AAA wanted to run Mexico City's Azteca Stadium, a building that holds 130,000 fans, to try and break the attendance record for North America set by the WWF at WrestleMania III. With Art gone, they had to make a new game plan.

     Could a Konnan vs Art Barr main event at TripleMania in 1995 have possibly sold out the gargantuan Azteca Stadium?

      "Art died at the same time that the peso went down so I think it would have fallen apart before it ever got there," believes Meltzer. "If the peso never went down and they had done it ... that's awfully ambitious. As far as Eddie and Art turning on Konnan, that would have been a hot program, but hot enough to (fill Azteca Stadium)? That's really hard to say. You just don't know. It would have done well. But I think Art would have left Mexico when the peso became devalued because they wouldn't have been able to pay him. He would have gone to ECW with Eddie."

     Despite the Mexican economy, AAA forged ahead in 1995 and presented an outstanding TripleMania series. The series received a shot in the arm on April 30th at the "Guadalajara Espectacular". Over 18,000 fans jammed into the Rio Nilo Coliseum for an event that was originally billed as the second event in the TripleMania series. Because the cancellation of what was scheduled to be the first show in the series earlier that day in Mexico City, AAA changed game plans and used this event as a warm up instead. Even when the promoters decided to change plans, posters and banners on the walls inside the arena proclaimed it a TripleMania event. Fans felt cheated and robbed.

      Their disgust quickly subsided as AAA put on one their best shows in company history. Fuerza Guerrera teamed with son Juventud and Psicosis to defeat El Hijo del Santo, Octagon and Rey Misterio Jr. in a 33-minute, five-star classic encounter. In the main event, Cien Cara won the Rio Nilo Cup defeating Perro Aguayo and Konnan in a triangular match. The match was a blood bath and was noteworthy for one of the most historic and memorable angles in Mexican wrestling history.

      Midway through the match, Mascara Ano 2000 came down to ringside to interfere on behalf of his brother Cien Caras. Seeking revenge for losing his mask at the first TripleMania two years earlier, he broke a beer bottle over Aguayo's head, causing the veteran to bleed profusely and be carried out a stretcher. The angle nearly caused a riot and was the catalyst for an explosion in business for AAA.

      "That angle was huge," recalled Meltzer who was in attendance that evening. "It totally turned business around for a short period of time. The crowds just took off for the Mascara Ano 2000-Perro feud. That got great heat. They sold it really well. Every match on that show was great."

      "They decided to use that as the angle to springboard TripleMania that year," stated Tenay.
    TRIPLEMANIA MAIN EVENTS
  • TripleMania: Cien Casas beat Konnan in a "retirement" match.
  • TripleMania II - A: Heavy Metal beat Jerry Estrada in a "hair vs. hair" match.
  • TripleMania II - B: Konnan, Perro Aguayo, & Cien Caras beat Jake Roberts, Love Machine, & Miguel Perez Jr.
  • TripleMania II - C: Konnan beat Jake Roberts in a "hair vs. hair" match.
  • TripleMania III - A: A 13-mini "loser unmasks, steel cage battle royal".
  • TripleMania III - B: Winners beat Marabunta in a "mask vs. mask" match.
  • TripleMania III - C: Super Calo pinned Winners in a "mask vs. mask" match.
  • TripleMania IV - A: Konnan & Perro Aguayo beat Pierroth Jr. & Cien Caras in a "lumberjack" match.
  • TripleMania IV - B: La Parka, Octagon, & Mascara Sagrada beat Killer, Cien Caras, & Heavy Metal in a "lumberjack" match.
  • TripleMania IV - C: Los Payasos & Karis la Momia beat Mascara Sagrada Jr., Blue Demon Jr., Tinieblas Jr., & Halcon Dorado Jr. in a "loser unmasks steel cage" match.
  • TripleMania V-A: Perro Aguayo, Tinieblas Jr., & El Canek beat Jake Roberts, Killer, & Gorgeous George III
  • TripleMania V-B: Perro Aguayo, Octagon, Cibernetico, & El Canek beat Jake Roberts, Gorgeous George III, Cobarde Jr., & Fuerza Guerrera.
  • TripleMania VI-A: Kickboxer beat Heavy Metal.
  • TripleMania VII: Perro Aguayo, Octagon, & Cobarde beat El Texano, Perro Aguayo Jr., & Sangre Chicana.


  •  With momentum on their side, AAA staged TripleMania III-A on June 10, 1995 in Orizaba, Mexico before 14,000 fans. Super Calo beat Angel Mortal in a mask vs mask match and Konnan teamed with Perro Aguayo, La Parka and Octagon to defeat Cien Caras, Mascara Ano 2000, Pentagon and Jerry Estrada.

     Making up for the mix-up in April in Guadalajara, AAA staged TripleMania III-B at the Rio Nilo Coliseum on June 18, this time drawing an even bigger crowd of 19,500 fans. El Hijo del Santo, Octagon, Rey Misterio Jr. and La Parka beat Pentagon, Blue Panther, Psicosis and Fuerza Guerrera in an amazing three-fall affair. Cien Caras and Mascara Ano 2000 beat Perro Aguayo & Konnan in a wild brawl and in the main event, Winners beat Marabunta in a mask vs mask match.

     TripleMania III-C followed on June 30 in Madero, drawing over 16,000 fans to the outdoor stadium. AAA managed to put on another spectacular show with a fantastic undercard, topping it off with a great main event as Super Calo pinned tag team partner Winners in a mask vs mask match.

      As AAA entered 1996, they wanted to strengthen their presence in the U.S. For the first time, the event ventured outside of Mexico as TripleMania IIII-A took place in Chicago on May 11. A strong showing in such a big market would have solidified AAA's presence in the U.S. and the pressure was on to deliver a solid show.

     What AAA delivered was the worst show in TripleMania history. The company did little advertising of the show and as a result, only 2,600 fans showed up to the International Amphitheatre, the smallest crowd ever for a TripleMania. The event was plagued by several key no shows as Rey Misterio Jr. was married that day and Psicosis was his best man. Eddie Guerrero, billed as coming in for the event, was never formally asked to work the show and was in Japan at the time. AAA had to revamp the line up, forcing them to book the show on the fly. As it turned out, the show was a disaster.

      "Chicago was a joke, a real disaster," said Tenay. "The promoters barely advertised the show, combined with the lack of talent they had on that show. There were a million no shows."

      The company never seemed to recover from the debacle in Chicago as the two remaining TripleMania shows that year failed to live up to the standard of previous shows drawing disappointing crowds.

      "(By this) point Pena's poor promotional background and track record finally haunted him," stated Tenay. "In the past because they had such great storylines and great stars even if his promotion of some event wasn't up to speed, somehow the word got around and people would still find a way to know about the events."

      The booking of TripleMania that year was uninspired and repetitive. Pena recycled old angles that no longer registered with his audience. The man who was once the best booker in the business seemed to have lost his touch.

      "When Pena was focused I thought he was about as good a booker I've ever seen," said Tenay. "The times that he really lost his concentration he would do some stuff that was really atrocious. He fell into some lazy patterns of bad finishes where you just shook your head and said to yourself, 'was this the same guy who came up with that great stuff for TripleMania?'"
    TRIPLEMANIA IN JAPAN SCHEDULE

      July 5th at Korakuen Hall, Tokyo: Octagon, Jushin Liger, Latin Lover, Albrije vs. Cibernetico, Shiima Nobunaga, Abismo Negro, & Electro Shock, Heavy Metal & Tiger Mask IV vs. Kickboxer & Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Psicosis II, Maniaco, & Histeria vs. Perro Aguayo Jr., Hector Garza, & Pathfinder vs. Picudo, Charly Manson, & Espitru vs. Masamichi Marufuji, Minoru Fujita, & Genki Horiguchi, Oriental & Esther Moreno vs. Pentagon & Xochitl Hamada, Apache vs. Oscar Sevilla, Octagoncito vs. Mini Abismo Negro

      July 6th at Yokohama Arena-Centennial Hall, Kanagawa: Octagon & The Great Sasuke vs. Pentagon & Sasuke the Great, Latin Lover vs. Cibernetico, Oriental & Tiger Mask IV vs. Kickboxer & Sumo D. Fuji 2000

      July 7th at Diamond Hall, Nagoya Aiichi: Latin Lover, Hector Garza, & Heavy Metal vs. Cibernetico, Abismo Negro, & Electro Shock, Octagon, Tiger Mask IV, & Dragon Kid vs. Kickboxer, Sumo D. Fuji 2000, & Judo Suwa, Octagoncito vs. Mini Abismo Negro (AAA Midget Title)

      July 8th at Kobe Sambo Hall, Hyogo: Dragon Kid, Tiger Mask IV, Perro Aguayo Jr., & Latin Lover vs. Cibernetico, Electro Shock, Judo Suwa, & Yoshikazu Taru, Octagon & Octagoncito vs. Abismo Negro & Mini Abismo Negro, Esther Moreno vs. Xochitl Hamada (AAA Women's title)

      July 9th at IMP Hall, Osaka: Octagon, Latin Lover, Albrije & Tiger Mask IV vs. Cibernetico, Psisocis II, Histeria, & Maniaco, Shiima Nobunaga, Judo Suwa, & Sumo D. Fuji 2000 vs. Picudo, Charly Manson, Espitru, Abismo Negro & Electro Shock vs. Perry Aguayo Jr. & Hector Garza (AAA Tag Title Match)


     Tenay also feels that making TripleMania a three show series was a big mistake.

      "I think the other thing that hurt TripleMania was with the multiple shows. I think Pena diluted things by going to the two and three shows a year and not having that one big show, with that one big blow off that you could hang your hat on every year and make TripleMania a tradition."

      "(By '96) it became just a name for a bigger than average house show rather than the first year where it was like a WrestleMania," stated Meltzer. "Doing the three shows was good the second and third year because the company was hot. They were all selling out. They were all good shows."

     In late 1996, AAA was devastated again as Konnan split with Pena and left AAA to form his own promotion, Promo Azteca, taking the bulk of AAA's young roster with him. Konnan, who was Pena's right hand man and helped out with the booking, wanted to take AAA toward a more ECW-influenced style. Pena didn't agree with that approach. Wanting to run things his own way, Konnan left AAA, realizing that Pena would handicap, his every move had he stayed.

     How ironic that four years after leaving EMLL over a dispute on the direction of the company with owner Paco Alonso, Pena now found himself in a similar position with Konnan.

      With his roster depleted, Pena's TripleMania series of 1997 was an embarrassment, drawing record low crowds. Pena was reduced to bringing back an out of shape Jake Roberts for one more heel run. The following year, TripleMania went back to a single night format, as Kickboxer beat Heavy Metal on June 7 in Chihuahua. Last year, 13,000 fans attended the show in Madero to watch Perro Aguayo, Octagon and Cobarde beat El Texano, Perro Aguayo Jr. and Sangre Chicana in the main event.

     This year TripleMania makes history once again as Pena brings TripleMania to Japan for a five show series. With New Japan's Jushin "Thunder" Liger, Michinoku Pro Wrestling's The Great Sasuke and Tiger Mask IV, Toryumon's Shiima Nobunaga and Sumo Fuji, this year's TripleMania has the potential to be the best one in years, capable of recapturing the old glory it was once known for. Can AAA start the new millennium by re-establishing the TripleMania name?

     Knowing Pena's ability to rebound when faced with adversity, I wouldn't bet against him.


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