How Carlito’s Career Changed In His Very First Night On SmackDown

It’s October 5, 2004 and WWE SmackDown is on in our box-sized television. We are in Boston, Massachusetts, the home town of the United States Champion, John Cena. He is received by an fury of applause – of course – after a big win over Booker T in the No Mercy Pay-per-view. One of Massachusetts’s children gives a huge opening promo, but, it’s interrupted by an tropical shirt-wearing Puerto Rican with an apple in his hand. The vignettes leading up to this moment had been airing for weeks, promoting the son of the biggest Puerto Rican wrestler to ever rise in the square circle of the island. Carlito “Caribbean Cool” entered that night with one thing on his mind, the United States Championship. In a span of 3 minutes, he insulted Boston, challenged for the title and spat his apple on Cena’s face.

Life Changing Moment for Carlito

Later that night, Carlito would score the biggest win of his career. Cena seemed to have everything under control, but a moment of distraction between the referee and Cena allowed Carlito to grab Cena’s chain and score the pin. Carlito, in his first televised match on the main roster, beat one of the most popular superstars on SmackDown at that time and won the WWE United States Championship.

Photo: WWE

From that point on Carlito was a staple in the mid-card of WWE. Although he had title shots for the WWE Championship, such as at New Year Revolution 2006, he always was better as a guy in the middle, winning later the WWE Intercontinental Championship and WWE  World Tag Team Championship – even unifying the titles.

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Photo: WWE

In Puerto Rico, everybody was high on Carlito. In the late 90s and early 2000s, he really showed that he had his father’s wrestling ability running trough his veins. He feuded with the likes of Bronco I and Ray Gonzalez before leaving for Ohio Valley Wrestling – the WWE developmental territory at the time. Carlito was permitted to return for special shows in Puerto Rico, with a famous feud between Carlito and Eddie Colon (Primo Colon) that headlined in 2004 the 31st WWC Anniversary show.

Carlito was the best wrestler in Puerto Rico since winning that opening match, the only competition that he had came later, in the figure of Mesias in Mexico. Carlito filled stadiums with his mere presence and it didn’t matter what was the perception of the Colon Family in Puerto Rico or his lack of willingness, Carly had a special place for many fans. Because of his status, his match against Ricky Banderas (Mesias) in WWC is regarded as the biggest shows and feud in the island in the new decade of the 2000s.

SmackDown is known as the land of opportunities. Certainly, for Carlito, that was the case and, till this day, he has taken advantage of that single moment in the span of his 19 year wrestling career. His doesn’t have the best skills, the best gimmick or even the best look, but he’s still Carlito “Caribbean Cool”, that same tropical shirt-wearing, apple-eating guy who debuted against one of the biggest name of wrestling and triumphed in his first night on the blue brand.