Carlito has been the talk of the town for the past few months.
The former United States Champion had his appearance on RAW: Legends Night fall through, but he did make his WWE return in men’s Royal Rumble match.
Carlito joined Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman on The Wrestling Inc. Daily to discuss his career in WWE. According to Carlito, he first got on WWE’s radar when he was competing at his father’s Puerto Rican promotion, World Wrestling Council.
“Probably when I was wrestling for my dad’s promotion in Puerto Rico,” Carlito said. “I had been there for about four or five years. Someone came down there and saw our tapes or something, and recommended me. I believe it was Bruce Prichard. They brought me up to do some dark matches. I had my first one against Tommy Dreamer on RAW, and the second one with Jamie Noble. Then after that, they said they were going to hire me. They called me a few months later, I flew off to OVW.”
After getting signed by WWE, Carlito reported to Ohio Valley Wrestling, the company’s developmental territory at the time.
“I had a good time down there [in OVW],” Carlito said. “For me, it wasn’t that I didn’t take it seriously, but that OVW wasn’t the end all. The goal was to be in the WWE. My goal was to be in WWE, no disrespect to OVW. That’s what I was focused on, not other things at that time.”
Despite being known as a career heel, Carlito began as a face within WWE. When the good guy persona wasn’t clicking, Carlito said he was advised to switch it up, and he never looked back.
“I remember I used to always be a babyface, and it was Rip Rogers who said, ‘Why don’t you try being a heel?’” Carlito said. “I felt like I could express myself more as a heel. I always thought I sucked as a babyface. I always preferred being a heel. That’s just the Carlito character anyways, he’s a heel. He’s a likable heel, but he’s a heelish character. I just kinda started being me, and that’s when they [started to] like me. I was this laid back guy that just liked to be smooth, be cool, and lay low.”
The Carribean Cool superstar had many things going for him, most notably his apple. Carlito would walk to the ring with an apple in hand, and regularly spit it in the faces of people who don’t want to be cool. Speaking on that layer to his gimmick, Carlito says the gesture was supposed to be no more than a one-off, until Vince McMahon proclaimed how much he loved it.
“I was doing one of the, I realize now, the Razor Ramon rip-off vignettes, and in one of them I was in a vendor’s set-up,” Carlito said. “The first time I remember the guy comes up to me and I spit in his face at the end of it. Vince saw it and he loved it, and we just kept doing it. Shows you his genius. It’s one of the things that made me, and I’m glad to walk around with the apple.”
Carlito’s WWE run lasted for about six years, and got off to a white-hot start. He defeated John Cena for the United States title in his debut main roster match and would feud with the Doctor of Thuganomics for a few months. According to Carlito, he had no idea that his debut would be that big.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” Carlito said. “I felt a lot of responsibility, like a ‘don’t screw this up.’ It felt like such a long time ago, but it’s great. Of course you got one of the biggest stars, one of the biggest rising stars at the time, and to give me a push like that was great for me.”
Carlito gave props to Cena for willingly dropping the title to him, calling the future 16-time World Champ one of his biggest supporters.
“He’s always been a giving guy,” Carlito said. “He’s always been one of my biggest cheerleaders. Of course, if he doesn’t agree with it then it doesn’t go down. So it was very gracious to him to allow a young kid to come in and do the honors for me.”
You can following Calito on Twitter @aliidayii1. Full audio and video from Carlito’s interview can be found via the embedded players below.