Memorial Day Weekend has always been a big deal if you’re a motorsports fan (Indianapolis 500, Coca-Cola 600, Monaco Grand Prix), but it’s also a pretty important time for some under-the-radar wrestling. The annual JT Lightning Invitational Tournament saw some big names competing in the Midwest, while Chikara’s 13th anniversary show in Pennsylvania was attended by about half of the With Spandex staff, myself not included (unfortunately). However, the most star-studded event of the weekend took place yesterday in Mexico City, as lucha libre organization AAA put on the first-ever Lucha Libre World Cup. Promotions from Japan, the United States, and Mexico sent representatives to the eight-team trios tournament, which aired live on internet pay-per-view. So, how does a world cup of lucha libre even work? Here’s a brief rundown:
- The tournament is conducted in bracket-style, single-elimination format.
- Eight teams of three wrestlers each compete. Matches are standard trios (three-on-three) format with a 15-minute time limit.
- If a winner is not declared at the end of 15 minutes, both teams select one of their wrestlers to compete in a five-minute overtime match. If there’s not a victor after five minutes, new wrestlers are selected, and the process continues until a winner is declared.
- Promotions represented in the 2015 tournament were AAA, Lucha Underground, TNA, Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Noah, and All Japan Pro Wrestling. English commentary was provided by the Lucha Underground team of Matt Striker and Vampiro.
As for the wrestlers lucky enough to represent these global promotions, here’s a look at the teams. Spoilers follow, in case you’ve got this on demand and you want to be surprised.
Eliminated in Quarter-Finals:
- Team Noah (Taiji Ishimori, Yoshihiro Takayama, and Atsushi Kotoge). I think the better team would have been the Wrestle Kingdom showcase of Naomichi Marufuji and TMDK, personally.
- Team AAA (El Hijo del Fantasma, El Texano, Jr., and Psycho Clown). Two out of three pull double duty at Lucha Underground. Remember, Hijo del Fantasma is moonlighting as King Cuerno.
- Team All Japan (Kenzo Suzuki, Tiger Mask III, and Masamune). It’s worth noting that Tiger Mask III is not the same Tiger Mask that is currently on the New Japan Pro Wrestling roster.
- Team “Rest of The World” (Drew Galloway, Angélico, and El Mesías). Yes, that’s the name they went with. I realize they’re working with a Scot, a South African, and a Puerto Rican, but at least call it “Team Global” or something.
Eliminated in Semi-Finals:
- Team MexLeyendas (Dr. Wagner, Jr., Blue Demon, Jr., and El Solar). It was pointed out that between the three of these men, there’s more than 100 years of lucha libre experience. That’s right, leyenda (legend) is not a term used lightly in Mexico.
- Team ROH/Lucha Underground (ACH, Moose, and Brian Cage). Not only did this team defeat a very tough AAA squad, but they beat the MexLeyendas in the consolation round to earn the third-place medals.
- The Dream Team (El Patrón Alberto, Myzteziz, and Rey Mysterio, Jr.) defeated Team TNA/Lucha Underground (Mr. Anderson, Matt Hardy, and Johnny Mundo) in the third overtime match to win the Lucha Libre World Cup. Mysterio scored the decisive pin on Mundo, and then dedicated the win to the late Perro Aguayo, Jr.
Did anyone else notice that all six of the wrestlers in the finals were WWE alumni? In any case, send some good vibes out to Dr. Wagner, Jr., who appears to have been injured during the consolation match. Medics ended up taking him away in a neck brace, so here’s hoping for the best. There’s not enough love for Wagner, if you ask me. Not only is his love like bad medicine, but he’ll also totally beat you up for your ice cream.