Throughout the history of pro wrestling bookers and promoters have always tried to come up with new, creative and innovative ideas to generate interest in their product. Some ideas have not only succeeded…but flourished. Others were DOA from the get go. Then there are those ideas which initially were innovative…but for various reasons…faded away. Those are the focus of this latest series of posts titled ‘Great Ideas That Didn’t Last’.
In 1997, WCW was flourishing…not only because of the nWo angle…but because of their newly created Cruiserweight division. A division of high flyers consisting of wrestlers from all over the world. Many of the cruiserweight talent were luchadors like Rey Mysterio Jr, Juventud Guerrera, Psicosis and Super Calo among several others.
The WWF/E wanted to counter that success from WCW by obtaining luchadors themselves. The idea and decision was to strike a working arrangement with one of Mexico’s most successful promotions…Triple A. (Asistencia Asesoría y Administración) Triple A’s founder, Antonio Pena and Vince McMahon struck an agreement to use many of AAA’s top luchadors including Cibernetico, Pierroth Jr, Latin Lover and Abismo Negro.
The two promotions held a joint press conference that was covered by a large contingent of Mexico’s top news agencies..as this became a huge deal south of the border. The Triple A stars would make their WWF debuts at one of the company’s biggest shows…The Royal Rumble. One of the apparent beliefs as to why the Royal Rumble was chosen as the place to incorporate the luchadors was because it was taking place at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio, Texas. An area with a large Hispanic community.
The event was having a hard time selling out despite the hometown favorite Shawn Michaels challenging Sycho Sid for the WWF title. Even the announcement of Triple A wrestlers involved still didn’t pack the Alamo Dome. It was heavily rumored that many seats were “papered” or tickets were given away before the event. That wasn’t the only issues with this new agreement.
Many of the luchadors were solely featured against one another..which would make some sense in the beginning of the relationship to establish what these men could do in and out of the ring. The problem was, it seemed like a separate show from everything else. It wasn’t meshed well and it appeared at least on the surface..that Vince McMahon wanted to separate Triple A guys from WWF guys.
For example, in WCW…the luchadors were incorporated with WCW wrestlers. Fans never felt that these were just guys on loan…but were a part of the WCW roster. They competed against one another…but also competed against everybody in the company. That was the direct opposite in the WWF….as the luchadors were mainly only used against one another.
Secondly, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler called the action..which was fine…but during their matches on Raw or any other show…it was emphasized that these luchadors weren’t just high flyers….they were mat tacticians. Really?!? The success of WCW’s luchadors were they were doing things that were new to fans eyes. The WWF for whatever reason either didn’t allow the lucha libre style in a WWF ring or featured too many ground and pound wrestlers instead of the high flyers. In many cases, their “featured” matches came off as stale.
It seemed as with his experiment with an ECW invasion on Monday Night Raw…Vince McMahon didn’t play well with others and the relationship with Triple A seemed like a big waste of time. It seemed that for the WWF/E…it is the most important promotion and everything else is bush league compared to it. I guess that makes sense business wise to make your own company outshine everything else..but it also robbed fans of truly great matches and possibilities.
In a bit of irony, a few years later…after AAA’s owner Antonio Pena died…Vince McMahon attempted to purchase the company along with its video library. The family of Pena refused to sell to the WWE for various reasons…including Mexican star Konnan talking the family out of it.