Getting notice in the international wrestling scene is hard. You must travel hundreds of miles for low money and sometimes minimum opportunities, your chances of working in other territories are slim, especially if you’re from Puerto Rico. Imagine being on a 100 x 35 island with only a handful of good promotions that put regular shows every month and that those promotions ask you for exclusivity. Even more, that a category 4 Hurricane devastate the whole island and you’re left with nothing to work with.
That’s the reality that most Puerto Rican wrestler are facing in the island. Since the passing of Hurricane Maria, wrestling promotions like World Wrestling League, World Wrestling Council and Championship Wrestling School – the latter one has officially folded till 2018 – have yet to re-open.
Is because of those reasons that Cleveland Knights Championship Wrestling (CKCW) comes in the best of times. The company owned by Luis Martinez and Melissa Martinez was started to open doors for Puerto Rican talent in the American indie scene. “I was tired of seeing the same wrestlers being recycle by 10 different promotions, I thought that we could use a good injection of fresh talent”, said Mellissa Martinez when asked about the increasing presence of Puerto Rican talent in the state of Ohio.
The company is unknown for indie wrestling purists, but that seemed to be changing as of this week, as the company is coming out of their best show in history of their short run, the CKCW 1 Year Anniversary. In that show – on November 11 – CKCW announced their new co-owner, non-other that WCW and WWE legend Eric Bischoff. This sparked a lot of buzz in social media, with many acclaiming that announcement with a tweet that Bischoff posted soon after saying, “Game just changed”. Many started to link this tweet to a similar tweet by Hulk Hogan where it was presented as if Bischoff and Hogan were linking to create an alternative WCW with CKCW.
In later days, those rumors were debunked by Bischoff himself and the owner of CKCW, but the promotion was exposed to great numbers of people. Even tough Bischoff is booked as an authority figure, the promotion now has a buzz around them and their talents will benefit from it. Talking about talents, that list includes Puerto Ricans standouts Mike Mendoza, Angel Fashion, OT Fernandez, BJ, Vanilla Vargas (she’s their Women’s Champion), Hiram Tua, Ring of Honor wrestler Shane Taylor, Ohio veteran J-Rocc, among others.
When asked about him preferring some Puerto Rican wrestlers in their shows, Melissa Martinez told me, “When you see guys like BJ, Fashion, Star Roger, Mendoza on TV, you can see the charismas just coming out of the TV. Plus, they are willing to work hard to help us grow, as of right now the guy who has impressed the area the most is Angel Fashion for some reason he has everyone eating out of their hands.”
It seems that CKCW has become a gateway for many Puerto Rican wrestlers that don’t have the chance to be booked outside of the island. The promotion has gone from having just 12 people on a show in June to have a sold out in their past weekend.
Guys like Starr Roger, who rides one of the best championship reigns in a long time in Puerto Rico has been able to show his skills in front of a different atmosphere and other great indie workers like DJZ and Robbie E. Angel Fashion, who doesn’t present himself as a wrestler with an athletic move set as Mike Mendoza or natural skill set like Vanilla Vargas, can show his great charisma and way to get heat.
Even veterans like Hiram Tua, who has over 10 years of experience and is a former IWA (Puerto Rico) World Heavyweight Champion and WWL Champion, is getting a second chance to show his skills. “Hiram Tua and Fashion are really connecting with the crowds here in Cleveland, I expect big things from these guys”, said CKCW owner Melissa Martinez.
It really feels that that the Ohio base promotion is a second home for Puerto Rican wrestlers, especially in these tough times, were resources in the island are short, electrical power just hit 50% after 60 days of Hurricane Maria and people are fleeing from this chaos. We can only hope that we keep seeing growth in the promotion for 2018.
If you’re interested on going to a show for CKCW, their next show– the one with Eric Bischoff – is on February 9th in Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.