Historical Perspective: WWC Universal Title 1993-1999
In our last article, Carlos Colon had defeated Dick Murdoch for his 15th Universal Title. He continued as the champion during most of 1993. On August 1 1993, Colon made the surprise announcement on TV that he was going to retire. The Universal Title was vacated and a tournament was scheduled to crown a new champion.
In the first round of said tournament, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine cheated to defeat the returning Hercules Ayala, Miguelito Perez wrestled Mr. Hughes to a double count out, which effectively gave Valentine a bye in the semis. Invader #1 defeated The Warlord and Dan Kroffat(Phil LaPhon) defeated Johnny Ace. The semi-final match had Invader #1 defeating Dan Kroffat with his heart punch. The tournament finals where hyped up as “Heart Punch vs Hammer” and many expected Invader to win the title and continue onwards as the new top face in the company(Savio Vega/TNT had already left). But this was not the case. Greg Valentine won the title fairly clean and became the new Universal Champion on August 8 1993.
Valentine and Invader feuded for the belt for much of Valentine’s long stay in Puerto Rico, with Invader always coming short. By this time it was no secret that Invader was pushing for Rey Gonzales to take over as the new top face in the company, a young man with great skill and charisma, fearing that he might turn into the next TNT(which Invader was also fond off) and never get a fair shot at the top. Invader was part of the booking staff back then and a good friend of Colon(how times change, don’t they?) and finally convinced Carlos of letting his plan come into fruition.
On April 24 1994 in Caguas, Rey Gonzales defeated Greg “The Hammer” Valentine for the Universal Title. It came out of nowhere. Invader was supposed to meet Hammer that night, but an “injury” prevented him from wrestling the match and he chose Rey as his replacement. But Rey’s win was made to look like a fluke. Hammer was distracted by arguing with the ref and this allowed Rey to surprise him with a crucifix pin for the win and the title.
That match would mark the rest of Rey’s run. The opponents he was given where not usually over and those who where (Hammer, Warlord) lost on “fluke” situations. The fans reaction to him was mild, they liked the guy and wanted to cheer him on, but his opponents quality clearly made it hard for him to overshadow Colon’s legacy. The trigger on his run was pulled soon after and on June 22 1994, Dutch Mantell defeated Rey with the use of his lasso, Chew Baby, to win the Universal Title.
Did they go back to Invader as the man to move the company forward? No, it had to be Colon all over again. They had Mantell show up at WWC’s central offices and provoke Colon at work. They had him interrupt an interview and throw Tobacco Spit on his face. They did everything they could until Colon’s anger towards Mantell was justified for him to come out of retirement and put him on his place. On August 17 1994, Colon made Mantell tap out to the figure four and became a 16 time Universal Champion. The retirement period had ended and he was back on top.
As it turned out, that was not such a bad thing. Rey got more time in the upper midcard, becoming even better than he already was, while Colon engaged in two memorable feuds before his time was over. Colon held that belt up high for all of 1995(I did not tune in much, but let’s just say that heels where not credible enough) until 1996 rolled around and a big 400 pound love machine came to the island.
Mabel was fresh of a serious push in the WWF and came to the island as that “interesting” heel that could make fans care about Colon yet again. They battled to one of those famous draws that end with the belt held up, on the date of December 15 1995. The rematch was set for January 6 1996, in the main event of the always memorable Three Kings Day Tour and Colon surprised Mabel for his 17th Universal Title. But they where not done yet.
The very next day, January 7, with the helped of the recently turned heel Bronco #1, who had been a popular babyface for five years, Mabel won his only Universal Title over Carlos Colon. This began the Colon/Bronco feud, perhaps the last great feud in Colon’s storied career.
As Colon and Bronco engaged in battle after battle, Colon decided that he needed someone as big as Mabel to stop him. So he went to the United States and made peace with his arch enemy Abdullah the Butcher. On February 10 1996, Abdullah the Butcher defeated Mabel for his 3rd Universal Title. It was not a pretty match, but there is something about two huge behemoths kicking and stabbing each other, that draws a decent crowd.
But this was all about the Bronco/Colon feud remember? Bronco was the most hated man in the island, because of him, the fans had gone back to their almost rioting ways of the 80’s and WWC enjoyed a huge success at the time. He was also wearing some sort of bandage on his hand that was clearly loaded. It was with the help of this bandage that he managed to knock Abdullah out cold and win the Universal Title from him on March 23 1996.
It was time to blow off the feud and with what better way than a retirement vs deportation match? Colon would retire from wrestling if he lost to Bronco, but if Bronco lost, he would be deported to the Dominican Republic, his native country, and never be allowed on the island again. The match led to WWC’s best drawing card of the last six years and Colon won his 18th Title on April 20 of 1996 in Caguas, PR.
But without Bronco, the main event lacked credible heels and they resorted to the old formula of importing a couple of guys to keep business going until they could build someone up. In came Mr. Hughes, who battled with Colon to a draw(and thus the title was held up) on May 25 1996, with Colon winning the title for the 19th time on June 25. Then it was Huracan Castillo Jr(Jesus Castillo of Los Boricuas in WWF) who had been enjoying some success in the states after leaving WWC and came in just to work a tour and feud with Colon. Castillo won his only Universal Title on October 19 1996 and lost it right back to Colon on October 23 in the final night of the tour.
The only local heel who was quite over was one of the left overs of the Bronco era. El Nene was a big, strong bodyguard that Bronco had during his run and he had continued to work for WWC after Bronco had left. Using association heat, the fans hated him for being Bronco’s supporter for so long and thus, Carlos had somebody else to feud with. Nene was far stronger than Carlos and gave him a thunderous Jackknife Powerbomb and won the Universal Title on February 22 1997. It was one of those short things to spark fans interest as Colon won the belt right back on March 9. Then on March 22 the title was held up after a match with Jungle Jim Steele and Colon won the decisive rematch on April 5 of 1997.
By this point fan interest in Colon was going down. After Bronco there was no one good enough for an extended program and Colon was not willing to “risk” his status by jobbing to a relative unknown. Thus, Colon’s second retirement came and the torch was going to be passed to Rey Gonzales. By this time Rey was way more over than before, had proven his loyalty to the promotion and had many supporters in the back. Colon himself came to the conclusion that it was now or never.
So the belt was vacated when Colon retired, claiming that he would continue to wrestle, but not for the Universal Title since that was too much for an old man. A fake tournament was held, by putting Rey against several people and claiming they where tournament matches, while “tournaments where held around the world to determine #1 contenders”. The idea was to bring in one representative from several countries and have a tournament between them. This was not the case, however. The “finals” where between Puerto Rico’s Rey Gonzales and the United States Tom Brandi claiming that they where the final two. Vignettes aired of Carlos Colon training Rey for his big match and teaching him the figure four and eventually Rey defeated Brandi for the title on August 13 1997.
This time Rey was taken seriously and everyone did what they could to put him over. On February 1 1998 the belt was held up in a match with Fidel Sierra, who was very over in the island, having worked as a heel here since the early 90’s. Rey would go on and win back the belt for the 3rd time on February 14.
However, Carlos Colon saw another chance to make money and put himself over and executed a great storyline that would be his last hurrah. On March 29 1998 El Nene would make his return to WWC out of the blue, interrupting Rey Gonzales who was doing a live promo, and making a challenge for the belt right there. Rey, a fighting champion and listening to the fans, accepted the challenge, even when Carlos Colon told him not to, since he was not prepared for the match. It ended with a Jackknife Powerbomb and Nene was a two time Universal Champion. This began the friction between Carlos and Rey, with Carlos telling Rey that he should have listened to him, which pissed off Rey and created a distance between the mentor and his pupil. On May 9 1998, Rey defeated El Nene to get the title back and then delivered a cursed filled promo towards Carlos Colon.
Rey ran the gauntlet of midcard and upper midcard faces, none being able to stop him. This led to everyone pushing for Colon to step up and he finally agreed, setting the stage for the Anniversary Show main event. On August 1 1998, Colon won his 23rd Universal Title by making Rey tap to the Figure Four. Celebration did not last long as Rey would use a foreign object to win the belt back the very next day on August 2.
Rey ran the gauntlet again, making sure to stay as far from Carlos Colon as he could. He wound up losing the title on November 26 1998 to Shane the Glammour Boy, who would become one of the greatest stars in the island several years later, but won it right back two days later on November 28. However, he could not run away from Colon forever and a rematch between them was set for January 6 at the Three Kings Day Tour. Enter Carlos Colon’s 24th Universal Title after he reversed the figure four into a roll-up and used the tights to out-cheat the cheater.
Again, Rey won the belt right back on January 9 by using the tights. He claimed to have outsmarted Colon with his own trick, which added fuel to the fire. But another challenger stepped to the plate. Pierroth Jr, a mexican wrestler who had been on the island as part of the AAA invasion angle was tired of Rey Gonzales. Gonzales kept bossing him around and this did not fit well with the temperamental mexican heel. Thus, he turned face and challenged Rey for the title on March 27. The brutal battle saw both men get disqualified for cheating and the title was held up. Rey would win the title on April 3 1999 in a No DQ match in which not only the Universal Title was at stake, but also Rey’s hair and Pierroth’s mask. Yes people, Pierroth lost the mask here in Puerto Rico. But what happens when a mexican luchadore losses his mask? He becomes enraged and this is what Rey met the very next day, a very pissed off man who could not be stopped and gave Rey a huge beating on his way to winning the Universal Title. The final battle happened on April 17th in a “loser leaves WWC” match and Rey sent Pierroth back to Mexico and won his 9th Universal Title in the process.
Soon after the storyline that brought Carlito Caribbean Cool to wrestling began. Carly was a young cameraman for WWC and son of Carlos. Rey started to harass him until one day the kid decided to punch Rey and received a huge beatdown for his troubles. This made daddy angry and Carlos and Rey would met again for the Universal Title in the main event of the Anniversary Show of 1999. With Carly coming out and giving Rey a huge shot with shovel, Carlos managed to pin Rey down for his 25th Universal Title.
The feud would continue and due to multiple interference, the belt was held up on November 13, with Carlos winning it back for the 26th and last time on November 27, once again thanks to young Carly. And this is how 1999 ended, with Carlos Colon still on top for the Universe.
Part 3 takes a look at the new millennium, the rise of Carlito and Eddie Colon, the times when WWC almost went down and their current agreement with the NWS!