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WWE WrestleMania 30: Carlos Colon and Wrestling’s Caribbean Invasion

While many of us are still waiting to hear the names of other professional wrestling stars called to the WWE Hall of Fame, I am a little giddy at the idea of Carlos Colon finally being honored for the accomplishments he achieved in and out of the squared circle.

I had a chance when I was much younger (maybe 10) to hear Gordon Solie talk about Colon of Championship Wrestling from Florida. While at the time I was not aware of the accomplishments of the man who basically defined Puerto Rican wrestling, I now understand just how important he is to the business and the cross culture of an industry that relies so heavily on foreign soil to promote its message.

It really wasn’t until I saw Ric Flair and Carlito, Colon’s son, walk down a wrestling isle together that I knew Colon’s message still rung true and clear.

Colon is to the islands what Flair is to the NWA and other defunct wrestling promotions. A throw back, a stallion of sorts and a man who spent over five decades making what mattered most to him in life, besides family – professional wrestling – work in a small subsection of the world.

Colon’s first bout occurred in Boston, Massachusetts, on February 16, 1966, when he wrestled Bobo Brazil. Colon was paid $15.00 for his participation in his first match. He eventually became an itinerant wrestler in the eastern states of the United States and in Canada, including 1 match in WWF in December 1967, and several in 1968.

While he had nominal success in the states, the true wrestling fans knew about his character and his ability and the fact he was a major player in the then “Kayfabe” way of wrestling. Matches with Flair, Bob Brazil, Abdullah the Butcher and The Sheik made for legend, where wrestlers came to him to perform in and out of the mat.

According to lore and the wonders of Wikipedia, “feeling homesick and noticing a void in the Puerto Rican wrestling scene, Colón returned to Puerto Rico in 1973.[2] Colón and Croatian-born wrestler Victor Jovica founded a promotional company, Capitol Sports Promotions, which aired wrestling television shows each Saturday and Sunday on WAPA-TV. He wrestled during a time where local stars such as Barrabas, Black Georgie and Miguel Pérez Sr. shared the spotlight with international wrestlers such as Argentine-born Rocca, Cuban-born Huracán Castillo and others.

He set the stage for local stars such as Los Super Médicos, Los Invaders and Chicky Starr to develop. His wrestling company was also responsible for inviting Major American wrestling stars such as Randy Savage, Ric Flair, Bruiser Brody, Stan Hansen and others to wrestle in Puerto Rico. The nemesis of Colón’s character was Abdullah the Butcher, with whom he staged a long-standing feud which lasted almost two decades. [2] Colón is quoted as saying: “Eighty percent of the blood I’ve shed in the ring I’ve shed because of Abdullah.”

He was the WWC Universal Heavyweight Champion in Puerto Rico 26 times between 1982 and 1999. In 1983, after losing a match to Bruiser Brody, he required hospitalization due to injury at Brody’s hands. News of his hospitalization made the covers of El Vocero and El Nuevo Día newspaper.

Two weeks later, his character defeated Brody in a rematch.

Often times, we worry only about the wrestler’s message left in the ring, mainly because the wrestlers we follow are a cross section of all that we know in front of us. Colon was that and more, a man who worked hard behind the scenes – every but a Verne Gagne and Dusty Rhodes or Fritz Von Erich of his time. He was innovative, he was electric, he was every man in the ring and Puerto Ricans identified with him at every turn buckle. Maybe the best way to describe him is how Memphis embraces Jerry Lawler, the islands embrace Carlos Colon.

On January 6, 1983, he defeated NWA World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair in a “unification” match to win the title and also create the WWC Universal Heavyweight Title, but the match never made it to NWA television. He supposedly lost the title back to Flair on January 23, 1983. The title change is not considered official and the NWA does not consider Colón a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion.

Footage of the match shows the referee giving Carlos his WWC Title after the victory, but he is never given the NWA Title. In subsequent interviews, Ric Flair has stated that the NWA Title was not on line for this match; Flair stated that the “unification” was proposed, but he vetoed it. This was most likely turned into a storyline on WWC television to get the WWC Universal Heavyweight Title instant credibility.

For those reasons alone, he deserves his place in the Hall of Fame. And if all of that seems to get past you, then understand if it weren’t for Colon and others like him, Caribbean wrestling would not be such an important part of the past and present of this business.

Disclaimer: For the next 30 days, this will be an ongoing series of stories as we move down the Road to WrestleMania. Follow Camel Clutch Blog writer/blogger David M. Levin as he talks about the history, the pageantry and the success and failures of the past when it comes to wrestling’s biggest events. The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of Camel Clutch Blog, and this series is intended to ramp up the excitement that is associated with WrestleMania XXX and the Crescent City of New Orleans. Please enjoy this new feature and any comments are most welcome.

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