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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Carlito's Way

It's been said time and time again that one bad apple can spoil a whole bunch. Initially groomed as a future world champion, second generation superstar Carlito was given the US title in his debut match on Smackdown and the Intercontinental title in his debut match on Raw.

Carlito's unique look and character, accompanied with his incredible push made fans like Carlito. Funny how when McMahon shoves a babyface down your throat you get pissed, but giving a heel the world in a day makes you love him more and more. Examples? How about Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle, and Randy Orton, all heel debuts, all unbelievable pushes, all got huge pops.

However, since Carlito has been turned babyface, he's been a shell of his former self. The WWE has realized this and pulled back on Carlito's meteoric rise to main event status. Well, that's if you consider pairings with Trish Stratus and Torrie Wilson punishments. Poor Carlito. Leading up to Wrestlemania, one interviewer got a hold of Carlito, and the caribbean lost his cool.

WWE had been building a program with Carlito and Ric Flair for a short time. This would be the second program between the two, as their first run in came in August of 2005 and had to do with respect. This time, Carlito and Flair's confrontation had to do with passion for the business, and Flair's promo appeared to be a shoot. Everyone saw the writing in the sky, knowing that a Flair/Carlito showdown was destined to take place at the showcase of the immortals, WrestleMania.

The next week, Flair defeated Carlito with an inside cradle, but the two took a different path. With the WWE writers completely overwhelmed with the total awesomeness of tag team fallout angles, they placed Flair and Carlito together, while at the same time doing similar storylines with Cena and Michaels and Rated RKO.

Fans waited for WWE to pull the trigger before Mania. Flair and Carlito were pitted against one another twice in Money in the Bank qualifying matches, the second having a three way that saw Carlito drill Flair with the backcracker, leading to a Randy Orton victory. They were even the last two in the ring during a last chance battle royal, until Edge returned from faking an injury to reclaim his MITB spot.

Wrestlemania arrived, and the WWE had still not definatively driven Carlito and Flair apart. Neither man had a spot on Wrestlemania, and while 16 time World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair, current Cruiserweight Champion Chavo Guerrero, and WWE Tag Team Champions London and Kendrick took the news with a grain of salt, Carlito was not so "cool."

"I'm out of WrestleMania. Apparently, they had to make space for Kane VS. Khali and Melina VS. Ashley."

Now, I am certainly not going to tell you that Khali has more in ring skill than Carlito, nor will I tell you that I would rather see Khali/Kane than Carlito/Flair. What I will say is that Khali, based on size alone is an attraction, similarly to how Flair based on reputation alone is an attraction. Kane is a fantastic worker for a man his size, he has always been unselfish when it comes to politics, he always works hard, and he is more than deserving of a spot at WrestleMania, despite being paired with such a difficult opponent to work with. Carlito, on the other hand, half-assed all year until Wrestlemania rolled around, and now he just expects a spot to be waiting for him. In my opinion, he isn't entitled to shit.

Also, while I may never go on record to say that Kane is a better worker than Carlito, I will say that being a good worker doesn't mean doing flippies and springboards. Big men have a place in wrestling too, and Kane is one of the best of all time.

During this same interview, Carlito was asked what it would take for him to make it to Wrestlemania.

"How can I be at WrestleMania? If I politic and kiss ass, I should make it." Carlito then went on to say, "I'm not going to cry or be bitter, there's always next year. I don't want to get fired. But they're showing disrespect by not having Ric Flair at WrestleMania and even more disrespect by not having Carlito there."

Yes folks, you read right. He used the words EVEN MORE when describing respect in relation to himself over "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. And Carlito still wasn't finished.

"I absolutely hate being a babyface more than anything else."

Company all-stars for the year 2006 that were left off Mania included Gregory Helms and Mickie James, neither of which publicly had any comments about the booking of Wrestlemania. Why? Because they handled themselves with the class you'd expect from a professional. If anyone had any justification to say anything, it would have been Ric Flair, but the "Nature Boy" has always carried himself a cut above the rest.

What could Carlito have remotely hoped to accomplish with his tirade? Did he believe it would get him on to Wrestlemania? What would letting Carlito on the show after his little tantrum tell other roster memebers who worked hard all year and also been left off? That acting like a four year old is how to get things done in the WWE?

As a second generation superstar who was perhaps given too much too soon, Carlito feels that he is entitled to all the things that fans once saw in his future. However, the truth of the matter is, Carlito has to earn his spot.

I think if you watched this year's Hall of Fame inductions and heard Dusty Rhodes talk about passion, giving fans their money, driving around for shitty paydays, and working 1 hr matches 7 nights a week, you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Still when WrestleMania rolled around, Carlito was given a dark match, teaming with Flair to face the makeshift team of Chavo Guerrero and Gregory Helms. Now, while not the four star classic that Wrestlemania IX's dark match of El Matador vs. Papa Shango was (sarcasm folks), it is likely to be recorded as a part of Wrestlemania history, show up on the DVD of the event, and count towards Carlito's overall win/loss record at the PPV, which now stands at 1 and 1.

His local Puerto Rican wrestling community has condemned him for making the jump to the WWE to begin with. Since his father Carlos Colón is a legendary wrestling promoter, many fans and insiders believed that it was only natural for Carlito to take the family business from his father one day. When Carlito chose to go to the WWE, he was not only criticized by the locals, he was also labeled as someone who had "sold out" Puerto Rican wrestling tradition for the "flash and flair" of the WWE. Why am I mentioning this?

Because Carlito had quite the outspoken response to that too. "I didn't care about what they thought. I've always dreamed of working for the WWE when I was young, and I took that chance when it came."

In the week following Wrestlemania, Carlito seemingly contradicts that statement in the May issue of WWE magazine. In an interview, Carlito speaks of being with his father as a child, and how he was never truly all that passionate about pro-wrestling to begin with.

We all would have figured that Carlito's comments were a one way ticket to the WWE doghouse. This past week on Raw, Carlito walked out on Ric Flair after their team had lost a number one contender match to Cade and Murdoch, which seems to be the next peice of the puzzle in the eventually heel turn of Carlito.

It just goes to show, no matter what he may say, things always go down Carlito's way. The question is, is that cool?

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