wrestling / Columns

Puerto Rico Special 7.12.06: Let the Hype Begin!

July 12, 2006 | Posted by Armando Rodriguez

Puerto Rico has become one of the more interesting places from a wrestling standpoint. For those who have been following my work here at 411mania.com since I first began writing back in 2004, you may have witnessed several dozen jumps, multiple alliances between promotions and constant “lead” exchanges in the race to be #1. First it was IWA. Since they came around in 2001, the promotion made the biggest progress since WWC was first established over thirty years ago. In it’s long history, WWC never faced true competition. The incredible overness of Carlos Colon and the many contacts with other promotions across the world guaranteed, that no matter what, WWC would survive.

But IWA was a different breed. It was owned by a man that was one of the shareholders of WWC, Victor Quinones, a man that had worked as an agent all across the world for the WWF and several other promotions. He had long stays in Mexico and Japan among other places and had the biggest book of contacts you can imagine. He was no newbie to the business, no man with a dream and little else, he had the money, he had the contacts and he had the talent. In little over one year, IWA was sitting in the #1 spot. Quinones had managed to secure the right to three of the four Puerto Ricans in the WWF, Savio Vega, Miguel Perez and Huracan Castillo, men who where legends in Puerto Rico, in addition to some of the best young talent, specifically Ricky Banderas and Apolo, who became over in no time. He managed to get a deal with the WWF that allowed for the use of their young, developmental talent. He had contacts in Mexico and Japan, that allowed for the use of talent, more notably Minouru Fujita, who was one of their first junior champions. And he knew which guys to steal from WWC: Starr Corporation, their most over heel team, and Shane the Glammour Boy, a man who was incredibly over and who WWC refused to push because his last name was not Colon.

WWC in my opinion, did their best to help IWA. They kept the same guys on top, even when local fans where weary of the Colon name and of the fact that this fifty something year old man was constantly in the main event, while all that where young and exciting where in the lower midcards. IWA capitalized on this feeling. Shane was their first champion, Banderas and Apolo where in the hunt since day one. The “draws” that where really over like Savio, Perez and Castillo where used in situations to get the new names over. It was a brilliant plan.

But it also led to disaster. At one point, IWA was basically a home for main eventers. When you have 8-10 people who can all be credible world champions, things get hectic at best. That began a rotation period. Two guys would fight over the World Title and the other main eventers where relegated to secondary feuds, the Intercontinental Title, or the Tag Team Divison, until it was their turn to get the big one. This led to a situation similar to WWC, in which the same guys where on top and very little new talent made it past the “ceiling”. This itself led to the decline and late 2004.

Late 2004 was the period where both companies where at the same level. They where drawing equal amounts of fans and the differences between them where minimal. The rumors of interpromotional angles surfaced, but never came out of it. That is how the NWS came into the light. One doctor with a lot of money and the desire to see a new wrestling company succeed. They started to run free shows in the west, until they reached an agreement with IWA for several joint shows. And they gave them a low blow.

The NWS signed Shane the Glammour Boy, from right under IWA’s nose, using the opportunity of meeting at IWA events and the good relationship that had surfaced between Cesar Vargas, owner of NWS and Shane. They did this to the same company that gave them their first shot at publicity and a company who had GIVEN them talent. Stefano, El Profe, Anarchy and some others where given as a gift from IWA to NWS. But the NWS did not appreciate the relationship and jumped at the first opportunity to strike big. This is how the IWA/NWS relationship ended.

Then it came WWC. They decided to work together for an interpromotional angle that was supposed to run only two months or so. But it was so successful, that it turned into a full-fledged working agreement that spanned over 9 months. And this agreement also ended on a sour note.

Two weeks ago, the NWS stole Apolo from the IWA. The biggest jump in the history of pro wrestling in Puerto Rico, as meaningful if not more than Shane’s original jump from WWC to IWA and from IWA to the NWS. The catch is that Apolo is still under IWA contract and they have to wait until they reach a settlement in court. WWC, trying to avoid legal issues, refused to air Apolo’s debut with the NWS during their “NWS Report” section on TV. NWS took this as a sign that WWC feared them or something and earlier this week, the relationships where canceled.

Now the NWS will try to rebound from scratch, without a champion, since Tim Arson is part of the WWC roster, without some of their key talent, Black Pain and Fire Blaze are WWC guys, and without a mainstream TV slot…and no one to help them. Not WWC and not IWA. This leads me to one conclusion:

NWS wont survive! They have a huge payroll, that is going to go even bigger with Apolo’s addition, if that comes to pass. They don’t have a licensed promoter, so unless they find one or manage to get a license, they cant charge for their shows. And they don’t have mainstream exposure, only having a small timeslot in a network that only 35-40% of Puerto Rico can see. Add the rumor that WWC and IWA are TALKING about an interpromotional angle between them(with IWA’s sorry state, they need all the help they can get) and NWS might be crushed by two big promotions even before they get a chance to prove their worth. WWC and IWA joining forces to destroy the NWS is something I can see happening, if only because the NWS managed to piss them both off. IWA is at an all time low and this angle might revive their promotion and momentum. WWC, although #1 at this point, has seen it’s momentum stall drastically over the past six months. It is something that will work and will probably crush an enemy under their feet. To conclude this column, a look at the top 5 reasons why NWS will die and the top 5 reasons why an interpromotional angle between WWC and IWA will work and is possible.

1- No licensed promoter

Which means you cannot charge for your shows and unless Cesar’s pockets are deeper than Jovica and IWA’s combined, there is no way to survive on debt.

2- Depending on what if situations

What if Apolo losses his case against IWA and is forced to remain under their contract? Even if he never steps foot on the ring again, IWA might keep him just to prevent NWS from using him and all this momentum about Apolo coming in will be killed.

3- What of the possible jumps?

With the uncertain environment in the NWS, soon enough, all this veteran workers who have connections in other places will leave. Shane impressed WWC officials enough for them to try and guarantee him a contract and he had been in talks with IWA several times in the past when things in the NWS where dead in the water. Which means that the NWS #1 guy could jump as soon as he feels things are looking bleak. The same thing for people like Noriega, who is very over and even when he left in bad terms with IWA, he has supporters there and people who want to see him in WWC. And what of this young talents that are making $25 a night? Do you think they will pass up the opportunity to make $100-$200 a night if WWC or IWA came calling?

4- Horrible TV deal

With only a one hour TV show in a network that only about 30% of the island can see, at a timeslot where far more popular shows in other networks are on the air, in a weekday when wrestling has been a weekend tradition of over 30 years, there is no way that this will work. Plus, WWC and IWA both have shows two days a week, two hours long, in mainstream networks.

5- Horrible history and prestige

All the things above lead to a horrible prestige among fans. Outside of the tag team titles, where Bandido and Crazy Rudy have done an awesome job of getting them over, the rest of the belts have shaky histories. The World Title, after Diamante won it and it was established as something big, was lost when they managed to piss Diamante off and he jumped to the upstart WWS(a promotion for another column). This says something about them, since Diamante is known as one of the most down to earth and overall nice guys in the business. Then they did a piss poor job of crowning a new champion, in a lame battle royale and with interference to boot, putting the belt on Tim Arson. He was not such a bad choice, he has a star look and is pretty over, but he was a WWC guy and considered midcard there! Now with the relationships ended and Arson in WWC, that belt is once again vacated. Not to mention the fact that Hammet jumped to IWA right after becoming their first ever Junior Heavyweight Champion. This forced them to create a new belt, call it the Cruiserweight Title and once again, do a piss poor job of getting a new champion in a lame battle roayle-esque match. What is so bad about tournaments? Anything to truly get the belts over?

If the NWS is still here by the summer of 2007, I will be very surprised.

Top 5 reasons why a WWC/IWA interpromotional angle can happen and might work out for both companies:

1- They are talking about it!

According to prwrestling.com, Victor Jovica, Carlos Colon, Savio Vega and Miguel Perez have been meeting during this past week and anything can happen! Business has been discussed about several different things, including an interpromotional angle.

2- IWA is at an all time low

With Ricky Banderas having a successful career in Mexico, Apolo taking them to court to try and get free of his contract and jump to the NWS, Rey Gonzales on hiatus and pondering retirement and the use of repeated storylines and angles, IWA is at an all time low in fan interest. They are not hurt so bad as to go out of business, but are clearly on a transition period with many newcomers and unknowns coming into the promotion and this times are always difficult and cause the loss of fan interest, specially from the casual fan who followed one of the big stars. This is the most difficult situation they have faced since that initial year of 2001.

3- WWC needs more talent…and so does IWA!

Both promotions need an influx of new talent and the creation of fresh feuds. WWC was getting them from the NWS. This allowed WWC not only new people to use on their shows, but the opportunity to develop new talent in the NWS events. NWS shows where full of WWC midcarders working the main events, and openers on midcard angles. This is how Abbad and Tim Arson had their first tastes at headlining shows and how Fire Blaze went from unknown masked jobber to solid midcarder and respected wrestler. Talent trading will ensure new feuds and places where to expose their talents. It can also light the fire on old feuds. Imagine if Rey Gonzales decides not to retire and comes back to IWA. He invades WWC and attacks Eddie Colon, setting up a feud between them, with Rey playing heel and claiming that since he put Carlos Colon out of the ring and sent Carlito packing to the states, he came back to finish the last Colon remaining. Or perhaps set up a “dream rematch” with Carlito at the anniversary show? Or how about Thunder and Lightning vs Suave and Arson? Savio vs Bronco? Yes, yes…lots of possibilities here!

4- Complete domination

With WWC running Saturday’s and Sunday’s from 11am to 1pm and IWA running those same days from 1pm to 3pm, they could continue their angles on back to back shows, 4 hours of wrestling total! Imagine WWC showing some stuff and then IWA showing the same stuff, from an IWA point of view and countering whatever statement WWC people said in their shows. They could hype each other back and forth and begin a new golden era of wrestling!

5- Killing the competition

If this came to pass, no doubt NWS and WWS would be out of business before they could counter. 4 hours of wrestling on mainstream networks against an hour of wrestling on a horrible timeslot in a small network. 6-8 shows each week against one. That is too much for any competition to take.

I am really excited about the possibilities and as always, each and every happening will be exposed here, in 411mania.com!

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Armando Rodriguez

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