By Drew Ortman.
After a very successful first year, the Victoria Lucha Libre World Cup Tournament is back for a second year. This is a tournament that brings some of the best promotions in the world (and TNA) together for a two-night onslaught of trios matches in the setting of Mexico’s AAA.The four-team women’s tournament and the eight-team men’s tournament is more than just a bunch of six-man tag team matches, but more a showcase of some of the best pro wrestling talent the world has to offer. This kind of event reminds me of a Crockett Cup-esque type tournament, but much more exciting with the popularity of the indie and international wrestling promotions coming together. I decided to watch the event with the Spanish broadcast instead of with the English commentary of Josh Matthews. I assumed from the beginning that the excitement in a language I don’t understand will be much more climactic than my native tongue with Matthews at the helm.
The rules for this tournament are relatively simple and the same for both genders. Each trios match has the same rules as a standard six man tag with a time limit of fifteen minutes. If a pinfall occurs during that fifteen minutes, the match is over, and the team secures the victory. If the time limit expires, the match will go into sudden death rounds. Each team will pick a member to go in and face off with a five-minute time limit. If either competitor scores a victory, they win it for their team. If time expires, they go into a second sudden death with two other team members. Sudden death rounds will keep going until a team gets the victory. The tournament itself is single elimination, but there is a match at the end to determine a third place winner. Simple enough rules that keep things intriguing throughout the tournament.
After some technical difficulties, the show began with a relatively long opening ceremonies and singing of the national anthem. Each team was introduced by respective country like you would see in the Olympic games. A couple of the highlights were seeing Pentagon Jr. coming out in fill mask and paint, but wearing a tracksuit and Johnny Mundo dressed like the love child of Bruce Springsteen and Evil Kenevil. Overall even though it was a little too long, the opening gave a legit feel to the whole thing.
Women’s First Round Match
Team U.S.A. (Santana Garrett, Sienna & Cheerleader Melissa) vs. Team Mexico (Faby Apache, Mari Apache & Lady Apache)
Team Mexico (or AAA) came out swinging early getting the upper hand, but Team U.S.A. was able to take control and work as methodical heels. Team U.S.A. used a lot a triple team moves keeping the action somewhat intriguing. After some more offense out of both teams, the match broke down with Cheerleader Melissa and Lady Apache left in the ring. Both women ended up on the top turnbuckle, but Lady Apache was able to take the final upper hand pulling Melissa off the ropes to the mat for the pinfall. A quick match with some good heel teamwork on Team U.S.As part. Nothing too spectacular but they used the short amount of time well.
Final Rating: **
Women’s First Round Match
Team Japan (Aja Kong, Yuki Miyazaki & Sumire Natsu) vs. Team Canada (Taya, Allie & KC Spinelli)
My first thought here was wow, I’ve not caught an Aja Kong match since her short run in WWE in the 90s. Team Canada took the upper hand early getting everyone tagged in and keep the match slow paced. I like the spot where Allie has her opponent in the front face lock, and Taya come in, kicks the woman and leaves the ring, front face lock still intact. The referee just watched it all happen with no real care in the world. As you watch the match building, you knew what it was coming down to. Aja Kong finally gets the hot tag and goes into beast mode. Spinelli and Allie try to double team Kong, but she turns it into a double suplex with ease. The match like the last turns into an all out brawl ending with Kong hitting a brainbuster on Spinelli for the win. Good to see a vicious women’s heel run wild on everyone.
Final Rating: **3/4
Men’s First Round
Team Ōdō and Zero1 (Masato Tanaka, Akebono & Ikuto Hidaka) vs. Team AAA (Pentagón Jr., El Texano Jr. & Psycho Clown)
It was before this match that I noticed every team getting a big epic video package prior to them being introduced. This gave a great element to the show making it feel like “yes, this is a big deal.” Team AAA got a huge pop as you would expect from the crowd. The match starts faced paced with Psycho Clown seeing much of the action. It stayed this way until Akebono entered the ring. Holy hell, he is huge. He immediately plays the big man in this match with poor coordination, but overpowering one shot moves. Team AAA spends some time trying to knock the big man over as the match begins to break down into a brawl. Team Japan gets the upper hand with Team AAA looking battered and beaten on the mat. After some triple team work, Team AAA is able to mount a comeback and take out Akebono. Tanaka tries to keep his team’s momentum going with a big dive onto Texano Jr. on the outside as Akebono is taking back over in the ring. After some near falls, the time limit expires, and we move on to sudden death.
Tanaka and Pentagon Jr. are picked as the two sudden death competitors, and I could not be happier about that. These two are great! They begin slow paced with both men looking beaten and tired from the tag match. Pentagon at one point hits a sling blade three-times on Tanaka but only gets a two count. With time running out Pentagon hits a package piledriver for a near fall. He then looked out of place as time ran out on the clock. I think they may have hit the “finish” too soon and then didn’t know what to do when there was still fifteen seconds left on the clock. Looked just a bit awkward.
For the double overtime period, we see Texano Jr. vs. Hidaka. There is not much to this period except for some quick back and forth with Texano Jr. hitting a tilt a whirl slam for the victory. Both teams shook hands afterward. Best match of the show so far and seeing the overtime period in action makes for some added drama to what would normally be an average six-man tag match.
Final Rating: ***
Men’s First Round
Team Resto del Mundo (Mil Muertes, Rockstar Spud & Apolo) vs. Team NOAH (Taiji Ishimori, Naomichi Marufuji & Maybach Taniguchi)
Seeing Mil Muertes and Rockstar Spud walk out side by side is pure comedy gold on its own. Their partner Apolo is huge in his right. Was it Bobby Heenan who said, “he’s got muscles on his muscles!”. So Resto del Mundo can just be called “Team Monster…..with Spud.” Spud starts off working over Ishimori but as you can expect the tide changed quickly and Ishimori gets the upper hand. As Ishimori goes to the ropes to show off for the crowd, Spud can crawl over and make a tag. When Ishimori turns around, Mil Muertes is standing there waiting for him. I still love little moments like these in wrestling. Muertes and Apolo now tag in and out using their size to destroy Ishimori. Spud keeps trying to act like their teammate now, but Muertes and Apolo don’t look impressed, to say the least. Taniguchi and Marufuji finally see some ring time before the match, as they seem to do in this tournament, breaks down. In the end, I bet anyone would only need one guess at who took the pinfall. Left in the ring, Marufuji hits a springboard bulldog on Spud to pick up the win. There was no way Apolo or Muertes were taking the pinfall in this match. I would have liked to see them both move on in the tournament….damn it Spud!
Final Rating: **1/4
Men’s First Round
Team Lucha Underground (Chavo Guerrero Jr., Johnny Mundo & Brian Cage) vs. Team Mexico Leyendas (Canek, La Parka & Blue Demon Jr.)
Again I must say that Johnny Mundo looks…well let’s just say he can now be referred to as ‘Merica. La Parka is still just a badass if you ask me. Miss the chairman from the WCW days. Chavo and La Parka start and it is a little sloppy as they are trying to get their footing. From here we see a solidly paced match with everyone tagging in and out, getting their time. I think I’ve seen this say match layout fifty times before as a SmackDown main event. I did like seeing the Lucha Underground team take the upper hand and cut of the ring in classic tag team style. So all was good and well….and then Canek entered the ring. Any other time you tell me a 63-year-old man is getting in the ring in Mexico, I’ll still watch because they usually can still put on a show. Not this guy! He looked to miss every spot, would stand still thinking before every move and sold nothing. I’ve seen some bad in ring work but wow. He did get one nice spin kick in…yes, one kick, that is it. To bring the crowd back in, Blue Demon Jr hit a hurricanrana on Guerrero for a near fall with a big pop. Guerrero is able to comeback and with everyone else disposed of, hit a frog splash for the win. Decent match except for Canek. On their way to the back La Parka signed autographs, Blue Demon Jr. gave high fives and Canek pulled random terrified children out of the crowd and held them above his head. This was a sight to see.
Final Rating: **1/2
Men’s First Round
Team TNA (EC3, Eli Drake & Tyrus) vs. Team Mexico International (Rey Mysterio Jr, Dr. Wagner Jr. & Dragon Azteca Jr)
During their entrance, Tyrus stood atop the steps looking like an angry, confident badass waiting for his name to be announced in all his glory. He then proceeded to tip toe carefully down each step one at a time hold a strong grip on the railing looking like a scared three-year-old. It was great. Mysterio Jr.’s photo on the screen during the intro go the biggest pop of the night so far. With the pop for both teams, you get the feeling of a main event for sure with this. Dr. Wagner said something into the mic before the match. I’m not sure what it was, but it got a huge pop from the crowd. With the voice and the crowd reaction, this guy is like Mexico’s Enzo. This match starts fast paced and high flying with the crowd going nuts within seconds. Once order is restored, Team TNA takes over and slows the match back down. Whenever Team Mexico International get on offense, the match picks up, and when TNA takes back over, it slows back down. It is a pacing that worked well for both teams. It continues this way until the time limit expires heading into overtime. As his team discusses the plan of action, you can hear Dr. Wagner talking off camera sounding exactly like cookie monster.
Dr. Wagner and Eli Drake are in for sudden death. Drake with the early upper hand, but it is all back and forth for the rest of the round with a few near falls and Drake getting Wagner in an ankle lock submission as time expires.
For sudden death round two, we get to see the match I was hoping for; EC3 facing off with Rey Mysterio Jr.! During this round we see a lot of cheap shots and outside interference keeping EC3 on the upper hand. At one point the four men on the outside go face to face about to brawl, and Tyrus picks up a pin off the announce table and holds it up looking at these guys like “I am going to stab you.” Rey comes back and hits all his signature spots and almost picks up the win after a big splash, but Tyrus pulls him out of the ring as time runs out.
As you would expect from the main event of the night, we are getting a sudden death round three with Dragon Azteca Jr. vs. Tyrus. With the major size difference, Tyrus uses his power to keep Azteca down with a slow pace. Tyrus picked up Azteca and swings him around with Azteca’s feet knocking over the referee. Tyrus goes for a chair, but Wagner grabs it and hits him followed by Rey hitting the 619. Azteca hits a big splash from the top just as the referee is getting up for the pinfall and the win.
I have to say I like this match a lot. Good, exciting action and three sudden death overtimes to decide it. Should be a good setup heading into the next rounds of the tournament.
Final Rating: ***1/2
I was not able to catch the first annual tournament last year, but so glad I did this time. Even with the often low point you will always find in a series of trios matches, the rules to this tournament lend so well to the audience. With the time limits, there is not much chance to let a match drag. As you can tell, there were a couple of points in the night that competition was not at it’s best, but you will have that. Every match tonight saw a decent reaction from the crowd and kept them in it for every move. I will say again that I think this is a fantastic way to showcase talent from around the world and even more importantly, bring more eyes to AAA that maybe had not watched before. This is a win/win for all parties involved, and I can only hope this tournament will carry on as a tradition for pro wrestling fans to count on for years to come.