The WWE has an odd (if understandable) fetish for second generation wrestlers, and while it certainly counts for something to be a DiBiase or a Rhodes or, heaven help you, a Hart, the poor Colon family—which has been visible on WWE television since the debut of Carlito Caribbean Cool—despite the moderate success of Carlito and the current championship team of Primo and Epico, may as well be anomalous beings from Parts Unknown. Being Rikishi’s son, it seems, carries more weight. But family patriarch Carlos was mentioned almost arbitrarily this past Monday on Raw, perhaps to ameliorate some of the damage done to the credibility of the current tag team champions via a quick loss-and-chokeslam segment, the function of which was to build the Big Show up before his match at Wrestlemania. If one’s only experience of the Colon family is the apple spitting, perpetually frustrating Carlito or the WWE’s quizzical handling of its tag team division, it’s time to fire up YouTube.
Granted, I can’t blame you if you’ve yet to see a Carlos Colon match. Colon may be most familiar to modern fans as the owner of the WWC, a sort of watered-down sports entertainment entity in Puerto Rico that brings in guys like Scott Steiner and Scott Hall in an effort to pop a once-rabid crowd. At one time, however, the WWC was as good, as hot as any other territory, and while their American counterparts were folding-up shop or consolidating, WWC remained a fairly strong territory until becoming part of the WWE machine, having a roster of home-grown talent buoyed by gringos who didn’t fit the Rock ‘n Wrestling mold/didn’t feel like laying down roots in the NWA. Guys like Bruiser Brody and Abdullah the Butcher were frequent visitors and, when thinking of men who don’t fit the WWF or WCW of the time, it’s little surprise that Stan “the Lariat” Hansen wound up embroiled in a feud against Carlos, the godfather of Puerto Rican wrestling. He wasn’t a Rock ‘n Wrestler, and he wasn’t to become part of JCP/NWA/WCW until 1990, when he engaged in a brief feud with Lex Luger (of all people!) for the NWA United States Championship. He was, however, a recent AWA champion, but was close to the point in his career where Japan became his near-exclusive focus. Since I last wrote about him, Hansen’s become one of my all-time favorite wrestlers. This has a lot to do with his wrestling, which was as simple as it was brutal, but also because Hansen may just be the most realistic professional wrestler of all time. Listen to this man talk:
The way he tells it, Hansen’s got a personal issue with everybody walking the face of the planet, and that’s exactly the kind of nastiness he brought to Puerto Rico. So while I can’t blame you if you haven’t seen a Carlos Colon match before (this one is my first, too), if you’ve never seen a match from Puerto Rico before, there are few better introductions than a cage match featuring the bad man from Borger, Texas. This, simply, is a violent match: Two people brawling and bleeding before a near-riotous crowd. The only commentary you’ll hear throughout is the sound of an airhorn bleating nearly every time Colon lands a punch. Towards the end of the match, what looks like (but isn’t, obviously) a real riot breaks out among the wrestlers supporting Colon and Hansen in that giant, empty area surrounding the ring.
It’s tough not to love this match. You’ve got Colon, who is almost cartoonish in his enthusiasm when he gets on a roll, as the superman face. Hansen, for a change, plays the cowardly heel, trying his damnedest to create space between him and his adversary. The cage itself looks ugly and brutal, an odd combination of the NWA’s cage, which allowed for no interference, and the WWF’s cage, the object of which was to escape. That the cage is on the floor means that one has to incapacitate his opponent before leaving the cage. Hansen’s objective is never quite clear, though one suspects it involves the lariat, but Colon’s insistence upon the figure four leglock is tremendous, as is Hansen’s resolve to fight his way out of it. When Colon locks that sucker on, the response from the crowd is as loud and passionate as anything you’ll hear in the United States. I would say that the match is worth watching, but hopefully by this point you already have.