Work or Shoot? The Ballad of Vampiro, Taya, Johnny Mundo, and AAA
When Vampiro was brought on board as AAA’s new “head of talent/booker” earlier this year, I honest to Grodd thought it was an improvement. For one, I’ve always been a fan of Vampiro and whether you think he’s a silver tongued devil or not, the man has proven to have a creative mind, particularly in helping guys and girls develop their characters on Lucha Underground. More importantly, though, was the fact that it was going to lead to something different for AAA. Prior to Vampiro’s arrival, all the company did was run off talent and put on shows so boring you’d think you were watching Superman’s III and IV. There was nothing remotely interesting about the matches and, save for Psycho Clown vs. Dr. Wagner Jr., nothing remotely interesting about the angles. Vampiro’s arrival at least guaranteed things would be different on that end and that’s exactly what has happened. Sure I’m not sure what the hell is happening half the time I read about AAA but at least stuff is happening; young guys like Argenis, Máscara de Bronce, Carta Brava Jr., Soul Rocker and Mocho Cota Jr. have gotten pushes, Aerostar and Super Fly were allowed to headline a show, Johnny Mundo was (rightfully) given all three major singles titles, Kevin Kross has been built into a huge monster, and most importantly the match quality has gotten a bit better, highlighted by an excellent street fight between Taya and Ayako Hamada this past spring. A more athletic, more violent version of the No Mas match Sexy Star and Mariposa had in Lucha Underground, Taya-Hamada wound up being the best match AAA has had in easily a year. Turns out it may have also been the first chapter in yet another scandal, one that may further doom the flailing company and their new “head of talent.”
For those who have missed it or are just reading brief pieces about the story on Cageside Seats, here’s the full scoop. Towards the end of June, AAA had Mundo (Taya’s fiancé for those living under all the rocks) bring Taya’s Reina de Reinas Championship with him down to Mexico for a photo shoot, then asked him to leave the belt there. Mundo, ever the company guy, obliged. The next day Vampiro announced that the Reina de Reinas Championship was vacant, later explaining that Taya had won it by illegally using a choke to beat Hamada in their match… you know, the same match that was a No DQ street fight. Taya was obviously livid and began openly contemplating leaving AAA on social media. Two weeks later, Vampiro seemingly made the decision for her, kicking off an AAA show in Monterrey by once again changing the reason Taya was stripped (this time it was for no showing this show, one Taya was never scheduled for) and announcing a match to crown a new champion. Who was that new champion; Sexy Star, the same Sexy Star you know from Lucha Underground who appeared to be retired from working in Mexico not too long ago and, most importantly, the same Sexy Star who had a falling out with AAA a year ago, leading to lots of legal threats and public shots on social media. This was the last straw for Taya, who quit AAA on social media that night. It was also apparently the last straw for Mundo, who just last night went off on Vampiro to the amusement of many luchadors in Lucha Underground, AAA and pretty much everywhere else. All of this brings us to today, where the story seems to be that AAA has run off its top rudo (Mundo), its best luchadora (Taya) and has somehow come close to topping the UG car scandal. This is bad for AAA… if it’s true.
Ah, there’s the rub. You see, this could all be true and the people close to the situation will tell you that it is. But if you’ve watched pro wrestling for more than a nanosecond and are clued in to how everything works, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was an off the walls work constructed by a crazed Vince Russo disciple (Vampiro). I know, I know; come on Cult, this is AAA, the same place that ran off Konnan, Fenix, Pentagon Jr., Garza Jr., Daga, Jack Evans, El Zorro, Rey Mysterio Jr. and countless others over the past year. Is it really stunning that it would happen again? That point is absolutely true and really, it’s the only point you need to make if you’re arguing this is a shoot. AAA has truly been so incompetent, so run like the pro wrestling version of the New York Knicks these past few years, that them alienating two of their most popular and respected performers would come as no shock at all. I’m not discounting that at all, and if I were a betting man I would be putting my Batman bobblehead on this being real and AAA being in massive trouble.
And yet… there’s a few things I’ve noticed throughout this whole scandal that lead me to believe in the possibility we’re being duped. For starters;
1. Mundo and Vampiro are connected in AAA storyline currently through Kevin Kross. For those who don’t remember, Kross was brought in as Mundo’s muscle back in the spring, and was frequently paling around with Mundo and Taya before they disappeared from TV (Mundo has since been described as being wary of Kross, which is why Hernandez was reintroduced). And wouldn’t you know it, Kross is right now being set up for a huge match at Triplemania against…Vampiro, in what looks to be AAA’s attempt to do with Kross what Lucha Underground did with Pentagon at the end of season one. You mean to tell me that an ally of Mundo and Taya’s is now feuding with Vampiro right as Taya and Mundo are engaging in a real life feud with Vampiro? Maybe it’s coincidence, but that’s one hell of a coincidence if it is.
2. Chris DeJoseph’s involvement is key here. Many know he’s the head writer for LU; what many don’t know is that he’s been associated with AAA ever since Vamp took over, helping him with storylines. Perhaps something has changed, but last I heard DeJoseph was still part of the creative team down there. Yet what was he doing when Taya went on her outburst Sunday and Mundo went on his last night? Retweeting them, liking tweets that suggested AAA was screwing stuff up (including my own) and seeming pretty friendly with Taya for someone who may still be on the AAA writing team. Again, not a smoking gun as DeJoseph could be off the team. But if he’s not, it’s strange behavior for a guy to be siding with disgruntled talent over the people giving him his paycheck, especially considering how sensitive some considered DeJoseph to be in wake of criticism to some AAA storylines earlier this year.
3. You could make the argument that Taya and Mundo’s nonstop barrage since this past Sunday are an indication there’s more than meets the eye. Granted, I’d be pretty pissed if I was caught in this situation too, especially if I were Taya (who has stuck by AAA through thick and thin, only for this to happen). But every single time Taya could’ve ended the discussion with a big exclamation point, she just continued on and on and on, almost as if she wanted everyone to see how ticked off with AAA. It’s the hallmark of someone trying to get an angle over just as much as it is the realistic depiction of a person scorned. Not a smoking gun, but something to keep in mind.
4. Remember that Vince Russo point I made? It’s very relevant here considering Vampiro takes a lot of his booking practices from his close friend and former boss. Russo favored a lot of car crash TV, tons of angles (most of which made no sense), constant changing of lineups; all the hallmarks of Vampiro’s booking in AAA thus far. In fact, Vampiro has aped so much from the Russo playbook that there’s really only one thing he hasn’t tried yet; a blur the lines, worked shoot angle. You know, the exact same thing that could be happening right now.
5. More than anything else, Johnny Mundo’s tweets are a smoking gun. When I initially saw them, I took this to mean that Mundo, who I was told was likely to be professional until the end, finally couldn’t stand silent as AAA treated his fiancé poorly and raked them over the coals. Then I looked at the tweets again and I noticed something; he never once trashes AAA, he only trashes Vampiro. Go back and look; there isn’t one single, solitary reference to AAA at all in those tweets.
Now you could make the argument that Mundo attacking Vampiro is an attack on AAA, as Vampiro is the booker and the one most public in the face of this scandal. But the reports of Mundo having to bring the Reina de Reinas Championship back make it clear that Vampiro wasn’t the only player involved; that call was an organizational one. And yet Johnny had nothing to say about Dorian Roldan or Marisela Peña Roldan? Nothing to say about AAA as a whole, especially since they’ve ran off several of his Lucha Underground coworkers for similar things, most of which happened before Vampiro’s time? Before Mundo tweeted, I was convinced this was a real situation. But for him to only go after Vampiro here and not even mention the company…that smells fishy to me. If this was real, no one in the AAA office is innocent of this; so why go after just one guy?
That last point is enough to put some reasonable doubt in my mind, never mind the other facts that point towards this being a work too. But then again maybe I’m just grasping at straws; maybe I so want this to be a work and not another unbelievably bone headed mistake on AAA’s part that I’m over analyzing t things. Or maybe not, because at the end of the day I can see every side of this turning out to be true. This could easily be a work. It could easily be a shoot. Hell, it could easily be a case of Vampiro designing a work, not properly communicating with Taya and Mundo about it and this becoming a case of everyone working themselves into a shoot (somewhere, Hulk Hogan evils nods). All these options are plausible, but only one of them is good. I think I speak for almost everyone when I say I hope this is a work. That would mean that Vampiro has actually developed a storyline that is interesting and captivating (seeing as we’re all talking about it and glued to the screen for what happens next), it adds more fuel to a Kross vs. Vampiro match that I was already excited about, it means Taya and Mundo haven’t been fucked over and most importantly it gives AAA a spark they’ve sorely needed in the past few years. Oh yeah, and it would also mean that AAA isn’t completely evil and corrupt, nor that Vampiro has completely fallen into the dark side along with Dorian Roldan and his yes men.
And make no mistake folks; if this has all been true, Vampiro is going to be the biggest casualty in this all. AAA will take a hit, but we already think nothing of them anyway. Vampiro is different; before taking over as AAA booker he had successfully revitalized his career thanks to Lucha Underground and that all time classic of a Cero Miedo match with Pentagon. He mattered again, something I never thought would happen again after WCW failed to use him to his full potential in the 2000’s. Now he’s seen his goodwill turn into him hanging by a thread, held together by a bunch of deleted Facebook posts and explanations that only make sense if this is a work. For his sake, it better be; for all our sakes it better be.