In a move that was surprising only in the amount of time it has actually taken for the proverbial axe to fall, WWE has finally fired Carlos “Carlito” Colon Jr. As far as this issue is concerned, please don’t mistake my tone for one of satisfaction of happiness; on the contrary, I’m actually quite disappointed that one of the more likable and charismatic WWE performers has been despatched into the night. Nevertheless, the moment when Carlito would see his name up in the WWE.com lights – alongside those legendary WWE “Best wishes” in all future endeavours – has been approaching for quite a while. As I stated at the beginning of this piece, it’s quite impressive the one-time “Caribbean Cool” lasted with WWE for as long as he did.
For the benefit of those not in the know, Carlito – son of legendary Puerto Rican bleeder Carlos Colon Sr. – has maintained something of a laissez faire attitude to WWE for the last several years. In other words, he has not been willing to play the political game in order to advance his career, so his push has swung wildly from moderately strong to virtually nonexistent. I suppose it’s a mildly sad irony that Carlito’s termination coincides with his first meaningful role in ages: the reformation of the Colons tag-team alongside his younger brother Primo, who now finds himself cast adrift.
To be fair to WWE, the public disclosure of limited details behind the firing – a Wellness Policy violation – has at least cast the decision in a less arbitrary light. According to WWE.com, Carlito was sacked for his first offence after refusing to attend a rehabilitation clinic. This is very similar to Jeff Hardy’s first dismissal in 2003, which also came about as a result of Jeff being disinclined to break a habit. Without concrete confirmation (in Carlito’s case) one can at least speculate as to the likelihood of Carlito’s offence not being prescription-based. It was most likely indicative of a preference for the always problematic wacky-backy.
This zero-tolerance reaction has been employed by WWE on another occasion, in the case of Edward “Umaga” Fatu, who also refused to enter rehab. The consequences of his decision were unfortunately lethal. Based on surface evidence, I’d be willing to wager the fate that befell Eddie Fatu is less likely to occur with Carlos Colon Jr. Alas, this is by no means certain, and I sincerely hope that Carlito’s predilections extend no further than cannabis. If his recalcitrance was designed to ensure his dismissal, he succeeded handsomely. Let us hope his firing constitutes the beginning and the end of the matter regarding any serious drug issues.
Though more recently a calm and laid-back fella who had accepted his permanently mediocre position, in his earlier days Carlito was outspoken and critical of the company for it’s usage of him and routinely implied his apparent willingness to be sacked. The breakdown of Carlito’s drug-based discharge is whether or not the refusal to enter rehab constituted a genuine attempt on the part of WWE to assist a troubled soul, or a an over-zealous reaction that was actively sought and cultivated by a man who wanted out of the company.
Assuming recreational drugs are the cause of the action, it is difficult to have sympathy for Carlito. The question of where a particular individual stands on Marijuana (or any other substance) is utterly irrelevant. WWE has a strict policy that I, for one, hope never flexes or bends, as it is the only way to ensure WWE is duly aware and ultimately responsible. This is a very good thing that will quite often save the boys from their own worst excesses. WWE policy is clear and if Carlito – by choice or otherwise – broke the policy he was deservedly sacked by WWE. I have criticised WWE in the past for their attitude to this issue (and I will again) but the first step towards getting help is acknowledging a problem exists. Only Carlito can truly know if this is the case.
Setting aside the speculation, what is clear is WWE has lost a capable and well-liked performer who succeeded in becoming popular (when afforded a proper and meaningful role.) Most effective as a slimy and conniving heel, the apple-spewing Carlito enjoyed memorable feuds with John Cena, Shelton Benjamin and Ric Flair. He also enjoyed a genuine Wrestlemania moment (of sorts) at Wrestlemania XXI when he shared the ring with Steve Austin and Roddy Piper in a memorable re-enactment of “Piper’s Pit”. Though he was left lying by the veterans, the quick-witted and smart-mouthed Carlito left a favourable impression on a well-received skit. Likewise, the aforementioned tag-team with his brother showed real promise, until one of the various pencil-toting pillocks decided they’d be better off apart. Needless to say, they weren’t.
Carlito remains a very capable and rewarding character with bags of charisma and dynamism to spare. He could be a carefully managed asset to TNA; winding up the locals in a variety of amusing ways. Unfortunately, all the character in the world does not negate the truth of Carlito’s standing as a very mediocre wrestler. His father was a one-dimensional brawler and he was trained in the dismally predictable WWE House style. All the fireworks generated by Carlito come from his verbal skills and timing and not his wrestling skills, which are decidedly average at best.
The issue of Carlito’s family should not be overlooked. WWE enjoys long-standing relations with Carlos Colon Sr. and his WWC promotion, and Carlos has connections that go way back to the glory years of the National Wrestling Alliance. Any card promoted by WWE in Puerto Rico is arranged and coordinated by old man Carlos, and as such the unjust and questionable sacking of his boy might have been scandalous. Given the closeness of relations (and the need for an underappreciated commodity known as “courtesy” in issues of this type) I’m reasonably convinced WWE will have covered itself completely in the event of Carlos’ ire.
I have no doubt the old man played a major role in ensuring Carlito survived the annual cuts, with the provision that he didn’t rock the proverbial boat. Obviously, the news of the declined rehab invitation renders this arrangement moot. Nevertheless, I imagine the old man will be watching what happens to his other, WWE-contracted son very carefully indeed. Disappointed (but not surprised) is how I elected to describe my feelings at the beginning of this piece, and this is how I remain. I hope there are no serious, drug-related issues to read into this unfortunate chain of events, and equally I hope the cool, charismatic (and hopefully healthy) Carlito rebounds and prospers elsewhere. Time, as always, will tell us all.
Daniel R. Browne.