Willie Urbina: Puerto Rico’s International Announcer

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The name Willie Urbina is very obscure for many wrestling fans that are very accustomed to English commentary. In a world where Jim Ross was narrating every Monday Night Raw and Michael Cole on every bit of SmackDown commentary, viewers wouldn’t have interest in the other commentaries that are being broadcast in different languages.

Photo: WWE

The general consent is that a Spanish broadcast are like the ones we see in the beginning of each WWE PPV, when Carlos Cabrera, alongside Marcelo Rodriguez, who talks in very fast paced with little pause in his delivery. Even viewers that have watched CMLL, think that that’s how Spanish speaking people narrate matches –  fast paced with very emotionally invested comments when the “luchador” does a “tope con giro” over the third rope.

What people missed is that there is a whole side of the American continent that talks Spanish in different accents and variations. With some Latino American countries having words that have bad meanings or different tones in other countries. This is where the name Willie Urbina comes into play.

Urbina (left), with Hector Guerrero (Photo: GFW)

From 2006 to 2104, we saw in every Total Non-Stop Action (TNA) show, Hector Guerrero narrating alongside a skinny man with a different accent that him. His name was Willie Urbina, one of the most underrated Spanish announcers in the world and New Japan Pro Wrestling’s newest Spanish announcer.

Urbina is not a surprise or a newbie in commentary. He started in the International Wrestling Association in Puerto Rico, when he was discovered by Hector Moyano (ex-WWC announcer) and Victor Quiñones (Owner of IWA PR). He would dedicate himself in the early 2000s to be the voice of the hottest promotion in Puerto Rico. Every Saturday and Sunday you would hear his voice from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. He would call the likes of Ricky Banderas (Mil Muertes in Lucha Underground), Savio Vega and many others with a neutral voice and exciting at the same time. He was a solid announcer and it wasn’t long before other companies in the island started picking on his great ability.

Photo: WWC

Urbina would later be contacted by a new project called New Wrestling Stars, which was headed by a doctor from the southern part of Puerto Rico. The company was filled with IWA and WWC talent, because of a working agreement that the promotion had with the big promotions in the island. The project was short lived, but saw an impressed Carlos Colon wanting to have Urbina in his weekend shows narrating for WWC. Colon offered Urbina to do commentary on Saturdays, at the same time, he was doing commentary on Sundays for NWS.

For Urbina, it seemed that life never stopped. Right after WWC, the former WWE Intercontinental Champion and owner of TNA, Jeff Jarrett – alongside Dutch Mantell and Jeremy Borash – gave an opportunity for Willie that would change his life forever.

Photo: GFW

TNA offered Urbina at the time an opportunity to do commentary alongside Mexican wrestling legend Hector Guerrero. Urbina previously had done commentary for TNA in the PPV Final Resolution 2005. A year later they contacted him to do Bound for Glory in 2006 with Guerrero. This was a change of scenery for the upper coming announcer, who a year prior was doing commentary locally and didn’t have a set promotion no longer than 5 years.  

TNA offered him a contract, but Urbina had to move out from Puerto Rico and go to live in Nashville for almost 9 years. This move came because Spike was also televised in Spanish language. While there were candidates, Urbina had the ability to talk in a neutral Spanish, in a way that was real but accepting for any Hispanic country or family that watched TNA.  

In his long run as TNA announcer, Urbina watched how promising stars like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Austin Aries and others would rise to the top of TNA and made that place special. As he told me, “I had the opportunity to travel the World, announced great matches and be surrounded by great people”. He credits Mike Tenay for his knowledge of wrestling and the mentorship that he (Tenay) gave him in Impact. Urbina said that Tenay, “knows more about Mexican wrestling, that the Mexicans”.

Urbina saw how the company evolved into great things, but at the same time, would later fall. Even in the down times, Willie kept doing his job with positive attitude, “Dutch Mantell once told me that I have to enjoy my job so I could get pay for having fun” Willie said. Urbina lived every moment in TNA with that mentality, even when there were cuts being made by the promotion. The company that once brought him to grow alongside in the company, now was telling him that his salary was being cut almost by half. Urbina would later be release for the company because of the moving of TNA from Spike TV to Destination America.

Urbina would do what people usually do when they fall from grace… return to his roots. Immediately, Urbina started working with WWC, later in a short period with World Wrestling League (now Savio’s promotion) and then come back to WWC. To this day the voice that Puerto Ricans hear when they put channel 4 (Wapa) while Super Estrella de la Lucha Libre (Wrestling Superstars) on. Most would think that this is the ending, but you would be incorrect.

In a turn of events, Urbina, because of his great work in TNA was contacted to do Spanish commentary for NJPW. As he said, “I cannot give a lot of details, but we have recorded some seasons in Spanish commentary alongside Hector Guerrero”. Urbina praised the good in ring work of the company and notes, that his still learning this new style. “I have to change how I call matches with New Japan, now I’m more focused in weight, combat sport background and the hard shots that are thrown”.

When you detailed Urbina’s career, the first thing that comes to mind is “Underrated”. He has narrated two big international companies and worked alongside great talents, that even WWE have now. From calling his native Puerto Rico Lucha Underground superstar Mil Muertes to calling arguably WWE’s brightest star AJ Style. Urbina has done it all and is fitting to call him one of the best Spanish announcers in the World.

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