Puerto Rico Report #6 | Controversy In CWA Leads To Mass Exodus

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The season is pretty much over for Puerto Rico as all but one company in the island have held their “season finale” events. While other countries always run full-year, the island has always had the unwritten rule, even in its golden years, of not running events into the Christmas season and not coming back until The Epiphany (January 6). OIL is the only company with an event still scheduled for the upcoming weekend. However, the big highlight, probably by far on this week’s edition, has to be the controversy within CWA that led to a mass exodus of talent just as they were set for their Christmas Showdown PPV.

Let’s break it down step by step.

Puerto Rico News Report – CWA Controversy Causes Exodus

The Setup

Since 2017, CWA has strived to do something no other major company has been able to achieve. A stable Women’s Division. More often than not, companies would have a slight boom of one or two years with 3 or 4 women on their roster, then have to stop as they leave. Not since the early ’90s has a company been able to sustain a full-blown women’s division. Until CWA. Starting theirs in 2017, crowning their first Champion at Christmas Showdown 2018 with Mexican/Puertorican talent Zeuxis as the first Champion. In 2018, La Amazona, a long-standing female wrestler, was tasked as being the booker of the division. Crafting every single detail from producing matches, angles, promos, and even the branding of the division, labeling it “La Revolución Femenina” (The Female Revolution). A label she’s managed to trademark.

As said women’s division grew, so too did CWA following a controversy in the 2018 Christmas Showdown. It also saw an exodus of talent after discontent brewed backstage. However, it was minuscule in comparison to the 2021 edition. CWA in 2020 upped their production game in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic as they focused on producing promo-based tournaments. First, one where fans would choose a winner, and then one that played into storylines with the goal of naming a CWA President, playing into the election year. Joe Colón would win said presidency.

In December 2020, CWA opted to return to wrestling. Using Espiritu Pro Wrestling Dojo‘s facility, they taped a full PPV-length event and broadcasted it on Facebook with live commentary titled “Christmas Lockdown”. It was followed up in January with “New Year’s Brawl”. At that point, it became CWA’s format to run monthly PPV-length cards.

Elsewhere, in July of 2021, WWC’s production staff announced publicly their departure from WWC. A week later, debuting on IWA. However, that didn’t last long as part of the group was dismissed from IWA due to sketchy circumstances. That loss became CWA’s gain as they brought the staff on board. A PPV setup was announced and later a TV deal came to be. So things for CWA seemed to be reaching a whole other level as they now boasted a full-blown production staff, a TV timeslot, and a PPV avenue.

With everything in the company seemingly hitting a stride, CWA announced they would host a “La Tigresa Cup”. A Gauntlet match in the Women’s Division meant to celebrate women’s wrestling legend La Tigresa. Who’s career has spanned 30 years, wrestling for WWC and at times, basically being its only true female wrestler. This was meticulously booked by La Amazona. Who of course, idolized La Tigresa.

We Still Can’t Tell The Difference Between Good & Bad Heat

I’ve said this a lot. Watching wrestling from this island since I was a child and studying it for the past 7 years. Our moral compass was shattered on July 17, 1988, and has yet to ever recover. On the December 4 edition of CWA’s televised program, it’s closing segment, “El Malecón Nightclub” saw host and top heel Rodrigo Garcia push the envelope while throwing heel barbs during the bit. When it was time to talk about the Tigresa Cup, he asked if an interview with Tigreas was possible, an off-camera voice responded “no, prison won’t let her”. This was a reference to the fact that ages ago, she was prosecuted and did time in jail. Here’s the thing though, she was never asked if she’d allow said angle to take place. The show never made it to YouTube. And on December 8, La Amazona announced on social media that the match was off and she was quitting the company. Finding the jab to be disrespectful and the fact that it was not edited off as disrespecting her authority. La Tigresa herself found out, cursing out the company, naming the production staff and Rodrigo Garcia as guilty and so forth. This led to the entire women’s division leaving, including centerpiece talent and then-current Champion Roxxy.

CWA kept quiet. A WWC tradition of when controversy brews, companies will typically tuck their head and simply wait it out. However, talent did not. Joe Colón, the on-air president as well as as backstage producer and since July, the designated booker for the tag team division, announced his departure. This was followed up by several other talents announcing their departures. Aside from Colón and Nexen, no one who was scheduled for the Christmas Showdown event, however.

However during said PPV, many other exits became clear. Joe Colon’s long-time tag team partner lost the Intercontinental title to John Slayer before taking clear final bows and displaying a ‘Revolucion Femenina’ shirt afterward. That small bit was edited off the PPV. And that led to John Slayer quitting as well after winning the title. Then Judas Melendez lost the Tag Team titles and also took final bows to everyone before announcing their departure on social media. Long-standing play-by-play commentator Melvin Morales was absent for the broadcast which makes sense as he’s La Amazona’s husband, father of their young child.

Many others did stay with the company but still did showcase some form of protest about the situation. New Tag Team Champion Hijo del Enigma verbally displayed the ‘Revolucion Femenina’ shirt and dedicated the match to the women, even mentioning why they were absent and distaste for the people involved.

I had written a very detailed article about the situation and how from the outside, it painted a very ugly picture of CWA. It was written purely from the point of view of someone looking from the outside. It was shared all over Facebook. This led to CWA having Rodrigo Garcia seemingly giving an apology about the situation…… before just doubling down on the heel persona. Then indicating how “websites wrote news but never contacted me”. An obvious nod to my article and how it was ‘100% fabrication’. He then exclaimed that “if you don’t like it, leave.” I stayed. Though the same can’t be said about 65% of the roster, or the fans. As the 120 seat 24 Marketplace looked about 70% full. A notable dip for the very easy-to-fill venue. You can say that Bad Bunny’s concert being close by is a reason. However, that doesn’t explain the lack of a dip in WWC and IWA’s own events the same day. Or the fact that there were even fewer fans after the break. Safe to say, the heat did not quite pan out as planned.

The Event Itself

In my Spanish review, I labeled the Christmas Showdown event as a bittersweet experience. Amidst all the controversy, even the talent that was leaving went out to give the best performance they could on their way out. But there was an air to the show that greatly exhausted the small crowd. Marty Scurll and Star Roger had a match that’s been voted as Match of the Year on the previous show and they were following it up here with a 2/3 Falls match that was far more physical than the first. But at the same time, the crowd was just dead. That wasn’t the case with the earlier matches as the crowd would find ways of having fun. Even if by making fun of the wrestlers, but there certainly was a pop. But it died out.

The main event drew tears from my eyes. As Manuel Rodriguez defeated CWA’s now departing ace, Mike Nice, for the World title. Rodriguez’ father, Victor The Bodyguard was a long-standing wrestler of the island since the 80’s but passed away in 2004 from a heart-attack at the town next to mine. Manuel’s eldest brother Noel was a prominent tag team wrestler and even won the CWA title at one point before losing it to Mike Nice. While Manuel had once challenged for it at the seeming curse Christmas Showdown of 2018. By some accounts, he was slated to win that night, but plans were changed and he opted to leave. At times, he would approach me regarding his frustrations. Other times, we’d just share Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure memes. As only the truest of friends do.

Last year, he got to do something very special. Portray his own father for a biopic titled ‘Superestrellas de la Lucha Libre’, a movie set to represent WWC’s 80’s boom period taking it’s name from WWC’s long-running TV show. It’s currently in post-production. Manuel was slotted into the main event match after Mike Nice started targeting him on TV. Seeing the Rodriguez family as a nuisance he thought he ended after winning the title from Noel years earlier.

The match was set and the crowd wanted to support it. However exhaustion, despite how short the event was, had set in. They just wanted their happy ending to go home. And they got it. As a surprise Lariat gave Manuel his first World title. His 5 brothers, their wrestler/manager uncle Angel, and friends came to the ring to hug the new Champion. Two days later, he took charge publicly, by being the first within CWA to offer an apology to fans and workers for the controversy and saying how he hopes to stay to lead anew in the company. I couldn’t be any happier for him.

The Fallout

Everyone has their story about how these 15 seconds of airtime affected 2 years of hard work. The former on-air president Joe Colón offered his side of the story to us in a special interview with Wrestling Empire, straight up asking me to be in it as well due to how my article seemed so accurate from his point of view. Detailing how the arrival of WWC’s former production team seemed to start undermining every decision he and La Amazona made regarding their divisions. Whatever story you want to believe, one thing is certain. A lack of communication has crippled a company. I can be told thousands of times how my report is “100% wrong” but La Amazona’s exit is a fact. The anger of La Tigresa is a fact. The lack of an immediate apology is a fact. The exit of so much talent and the poor attendance are facts. No amount of debating changes that.

Those 15 seconds of airtime managed to disrespect a legend and women in general. All for “heat”. As I was told, Rodrigo Garcia “is a heel and that’s what heels do”. As I was told by a few, they only see Rodrigo Garcia as just the guy that happened to be involved and not directly responsible. Same for CWA’s president, who was caught between losing talent or losing production in the midst of a new TV deal and PPV on the horizon.

It’s a pretty nasty situation all around. It’s led to exits, fans insulting people on social media, friends defending friends but no real responsibility being taken. Bridges are seemingly being burned. When things in the island seem to be finally going for the better, we seem cursed to somehow find a way to make wrestling fall and the fans just promptly scatter.

Quick Notes:

  • IWA’s Christmas In PR event saw the debut of Danny Limelight teaming with Savio Vega. He’ll return for their Histeria Boricua event in January with partner Slice Boogie.
  • Chicano suffered an injury to his hand at the event, being attacked by the IWE faction. It was played up on social media with his daughter’s swearing he will get revenge.
  • WWC has added Jake Hager to their Anniversary event on January 15, though outside of Carlito vs Andrade El Idolo, no matches have been announced. Alberto El Patron & The Good Brothers are also slated for it.
  • OIL has their year-end show this Saturday with Alberto El Patron, Texano Jr, La Mascara and many other Mexican names slated.
  • 7ft+ former basketball player Peter John Ramos is wrestling in the main event of the OIL show with partner, former TNA alumn Apolo. They’ve taken advantage of the main stream press’ general ignorance of wrestling, falsely billing it as Ramos’ wrestling debut. Which has led to a few TV interviews. He had a squash match in 2019 for WWC and was slated to wrestle Chicano in a Street Fight just before the pandemic hit and has wrestled outside the island beforehand.