WWE’s Carlito is a name known to wrestling fans as one of the most popular stars of the mid 2000s. His work in the Ruthless Aggression is fondly remembered and his character was a fresh take on a classic wrestling trope, accentuated by some disgusting fruit spitting which made him uniquely interesting.
However, Carlito in WWE never reached the heights he could have and faded into obscurity until a high profile return in recent years brought him back into the public conscious.
Carlito in WWE
At one point in time, Carlito was WWE’ finest young prospect. During the Johnny Ace years in charge of talent relations, WWE moved onto a different type of wrestling being signed compared to how Jim Ross used to do it.
Carlito seemed to have all the potential in the world when he debuted in WWE. In his first match he struck a famous win over John Cena, winning the coveted United States Championship in the process. He began portraying the character of a cool, metrosexual wrestler who liked the chilled life, lying on the beach in the Caribbean. His name was even changed to Carlito Caribbean Cool to emphasise the change.
He was instantly recognisable to anyone turning over onto Monday Night Raw. WWE’s Carlito had large, curly hair, akin to Sideshow Bob from the Simpsons. His cabana entrance music was prefixed by Carlito himself stating “I spit in the face of people who don’t want to be cool”.
This is a reference to one of his signature moves in WWE. Carlito’s most famous moments involved him taking a bit from the apple he carried to the ring, before spitting in the face of his opponent as means of distracting then. It was a more fruit-based take on the classic “green mist” trope commonly used in Japan.
Carlito was a star of the future in WWE, but due to circumstances both under his control and nothing to do with him, he never reached the heights he could have.
This led him and his colleagues to be known as the WWE lost generation and helped keep the likes of John Cena and Triple H on top of the card long after they outstayed their welcome.
Carlito never managed to reach the main event in WWE, despite many seeing him as one of the top talents in the company. Alongside other prospective talents like Shelton Benjamin, Chris Masters, MVP and Mr Kennedy, he was a star who had all the talent to become WWE Champion but for one reason or another never managed to climb to the top of the mountain.
Carlito was reportedly not allowed to the top of the card due to his attitude backstage. He was laid back, laissez faire and even lazy, according to some. Ric Flair even called him out in a backstage segment, drawing on real life issues of his attitude to try and shock some sense into him to take his job seriously.
Evidently, it did not good. Aside from a single US title run and a tag team championship run alongside his brother Primo, Carlito in WWE never really amounted to much. He was released by the company in 2011 due to drug issues and never really improve himself in the ring during his years away.
He mainly wrestled for his father’s promotion in Puerto Rico during his time away from WWE, but never managed to break through into any of the top independent promotions in the United States. It was a sad waste of talent for a superstar who had everything and turned it into nothing.
it just shows how much work ethic is important to make it to the top. You can have all the talent in the world but without putting in the work, you will get nowhere.
As part of the lost generation in WWE, Carlito was one of the most requested stars of the Ruthless Aggression era to make a surprise return in the Royal Rumble. Over the years, other forgotten stars like Shelton Benjamin and MVP made their WWE returns, with Carlito and Mr Kennedy as the sole holdouts from the lost generation.
However, the duck was broken and Mr Kennedy was abandoned as the final man to never appear in WWE again. Carlito’s WWE return came at the 2021 Royal Rumble as a surprise entrant, to the absolute delight of fans.
He hit all his signature moves including the absolutely devastating looking Backstabber move. However, he was unable to do his classic “spits an apple into an opponent’s face” due to restrictions from the COVID pandemic.
This was honestly the best part of Carlito in WWE and made his return entirely pointless. I’m not saying it was worth giving everyone COVID but it was certainly something to think about for such a huge return.
He had a match the next night on Raw, but that was the last appearance he had on WWE. He was reportedly going to sign on to WWE as a producer, but nothing ever came of it and he “never heard back” from WWE after his initial Rumble appearances.