What’s Next For Carlito?

Among the slew of returns at last Sunday’s Royal Rumble match, Carlito, a former United States, IC, and tag champion from over a decade ago, made an appearance to enter the Rumble match. A member of a wrestling family, Carlito was last seen on-screen for the WWE in 2014 when he was a part of the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. Just a few weeks ago, he was rumored to be involved in Raw Legends Night, but reportedly declined the offer to appear because he wasn’t scheduled for anything beyond a cameo. The online chatter speculated that he was backstage to be involved in the Rumble, but to be honest, I took it with a grain of salt because he was originally penciled in for Raw just a few weeks earlier, but didn’t make it on camera.

Not only was Carlito officially involved in the event, but looked to be in the best shape of his career, prompting many to ask, does he have another run in the WWE?

As mentioned, he is a member of a Puerto Rican wrestling family and aside from his father’s work as the owner of WWC, one of the most well-known organizations in Puerto Rico, his brother, Primo and cousin, Epico worked for the WWE in the past as well. As far as I know, part of the deal for his father’s WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2014, was also the purchase of the majority of the classic footage of the WWC video library, but to my knowledge, very little of that footage has actually been officially released under the WWE umbrella or used for anything beyond the HOF video packages. A side note, there was also a similar deal in 2006 for the AWA content when Verne Gagne was inducted, despite not working for the WWE, but was paid the standard fee for the inductees, as well as a six-figure sum for the AWA library.

Management saw his talent with his Smackdown debut, he was paired in a feud with John Cena, who was still a star on the rise in his own right at that point, and won the US title. The following year, he had a run as IC champion and continued a rise in popularity with entertaining mic work and a series of athletic matches on Raw. At so point along the way, his progress and momentum completely plateaued, and he floundered for a period of time with the company.

In truth, Carlito had all the tools to be a much bigger star than he was, despite the fact he had six years of television exposure and at times, he been given chances to take a leap to the next level. From those that were involved at the time and the general consensus from many was that Carlito simply didn’t want to put in the effort to make a bigger impact on the WWE landscape. Unfortunately, that might’ve been an accurate assessment, as there were times within his WWE tenure, specifically around 2006 and beyond that it looked as though he was just going through the motions of the performance.

It’s unclear if he mailed it in because he didn’t have the skill to perform at the higher level or probably that he had such a level of natural talent that he didn’t think he had to push himself further. Either way, there always seemed to be somewhat of a let down around Carlito’s WWE career because he had the mic skills, the charisma, and the talent to be a major star, but for whatever reason, it just didn’t happen.

Reportedly, Carlito failed a drug test and didn’t want to enter treatment so he was released from the company. Thankfully, it seems like he’s in a much healthier place today, which is great to see because nobody wants to see talent wasted or more importantly, another cautionary tale in the wrestling industry.

Post-WWE, Carlito returned to his family’s World Wrestling Council promotion and within the past ten years worked a variety of independent groups, but nothing major within the sport outside of Puerto Rico. Again, this seemed puzzling because his skills in the ring and on the mic would’ve made him an asset to other groups, but he never worked for TNA or Ring Of Honor during his time away from WWE.

Considering that he’s in great shape, I think it would be a great opportunity for Carltio to get a fresh run in the WWE and see how he progresses during this stint. At 41, perhaps he’s in a better space mentally as well and has matured as a person. An older, wiser, and more focused Carlito Colon could be a tremendous asset for WWE, especially when the company must look for ways to add some sizzle to the product during the pandemic era. Nothing is confirmed yet, but his match this past week on Raw looks to be an indication that management might at least consider the possibility of offering him another full-time deal. As much as the pandemic is a completely miserable time for so many in the world, within the vacuum of sports entertainment, this would actually be a scenario that would suit a returning competitor rather well because the demands of a tedious WWE road schedule aren’t a factor when the company isn’t touring for live events. This might allow Carlito to settle into the WWE system and flourish if he’s eventually given a feud for television.

The comparison has been drawn to MVP, who returned to the company a few years ago and is arguably doing the best work of his career. While Raw set a low bar in the past year in terms of quality television, The Hurt Business has been one of the highlights of the show. In the same way, Carlito might be able to rejuvenate his career for a fresh run in the WWE.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta