IWA Puerto Rico Returning: Hoax or Reality?

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Photo: IWA

In recent weeks, rumbling about a possible return of the infamous International Wrestling Association (IWA) began to surface on social media. This all started when Dennis Rivera, the real-life minority owner of the World Wrestling League (WWL) and brother of Savio Vega, posted a picture with a promo poster of the Golpe de Estado show that is schedule to take place on May 26 in Guaynabo. Instead of the WWL letters, the promo had the IWA letters in them. Many fans wonder if this isn’t a fake-out and WWL is staying or is WWL really going to change to IWA Puerto Rico.

What was the IWA Puerto Rico?

The IWA was started by promoter Victor Quiñones as a host promotion for WWE (then WWF) house shows in Puerto Rico. Quiñones, who in the 1970s and 1980s worked with Capitol Sports Promotions (WWC), started the first IWA in Japan, which was part of the indie deathmatch revolution that took Japan by storm in the 1990s, this included the W*NG promotion and FMW.

Quiñones at first was hosting WWF events in Puerto Rico, but then started with Miguel Perez Jr. and Savio Vega what we came to know as the IWA Puerto Rico. The promotion worked as a developmental territory for WWE, with guys like Chris Jericho, Kane, Chris Benoit, Taka Michinoku, among others, working in the island with great local talent.

By 2002 towards 2006, IWA Puerto Rico caught fire, giving World Wrestling Council and the Colons (Carlos Colon, Carlito and Primo) a run for their money. In their hot run, IWA saw the rise of wrestlers like Ricky Banderas (Mesias/Mil Muertes), Apolo, Shane the Glamour Boy and Chicano. Plus, wrestlers like former WWE Champion Dean Ambrose, former WWE United States Champion Bobby Roode, and former NWA/TNA World Champion Abyss, among others, mastered their craft there, which would propel them for bigger things. As MVP once said on an interview, “In Puerto Rico (IWA) is were I was first paid for my services as a wrestler”.

IWA PR continued their hot streak until the death of Victor Quiñones in 2006, but  from then on, everything went south. Their attendance started to fall, big stars like Ricky Banderas, Apolo and Ray Gonzalez were no longer in the promotion. and their new talents failed to have any consistent runs. Even bringing indie standouts like Daniel Bryan, LAX, NOAH & Ring of Honor’s Bison Smith, among others, failed to give a boost to IWA. By 2012, they had close their doors for good.

Is there really a comeback?

This is a tricky situation. Many sources have confirmed that IWA as a corporation can’t return. Not because they don’t want to, but because supposedly there’s a debt with the Puerto Rican Government. Miguel Perez is the one who can revive it, since after the death of Quiñones he’s the one who has the rights. Basically, like the WWC situation, if they were ever to use the more successful predecessor – in WWL’s case is IWA – as a corporation they would have to pay a debt that it’s still running. Now, there’s a loop hole that they can use. As a corporation they can’t run as IWA Inc., but as a trademark, is very open for them to use that letters. IWA as a trademark, is not own by anybody related to wrestling, specially in Puerto Rico. WWL can easily erase their letters and use IWA, while as a corporation work with their registered name.

Why now?

Is not like Savio Vega hasn’t teasd with reopening IWA in the past. In the first years of WWL, a similar story was running. Later in 2016, when they revamped WWL, stories that were very common in IWA resurface on WWL TV, thanks again by Savio’s involvement with the wrestling promotion.  Now, with Miguel Perez involve in the promotion and a story that fits the narrative of a return of the notorious promotion, it seems as if we are a step close of an IWA return.

The letter represents a nostalgic moment in Puerto Rican wrestling. There was variety in the mid 2000s, you had the traditional territory of WWC and an Attitude Era feel by IWA Puerto Rico. For me specifically, it was the Star Corporation of Victor the Bodyguard & Chicky Starr vs. Hermanos del Dolor (Ricky Banderas and Shane Sewell) feud that got me hooked into wrestling. Still to this day, the IWA has a mythical feel to them that many fans in the island scream for a return.

Will they pull the trigger?

As for now, the WWL feud is design to have Puro Macho as the dominant heel stable with them wanting the promotion stay as it is and Savio Vega leading the face stable that wants a return of the IWA. WWL could tease to a point that they will bring the mark “IWA”, but that’s it. It’s very difficult to bring elements of a dead wrestling promotion. They could bring the old titles, the attitude era stories and event the letters, but they can never replicate that success. Furthermore, in a time were more emphasis on wrestling quality and less complicated stories are the norm, bringing a company who has Vince Russo-style booking seems like a kiss of death to the WWL.

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