Wrestling has changed a lot since the 1980s. The same pranks, traditions and actions that wrestlers did in those years are mostly intolerable in this day and age. Wrestlers are held accountable and a no-tolerance policy has seen wrestlers like former WWE trainer Bill DeMott getting fired for his alleged bullying ways, Michael Elgin getting blacklisted in the United States for covering up a sexual assault accusation of one of his trainees and most recently, CMLL wrestler (and brother of WWE commentator Corey Graves) Sam Adonis was blacklisted in the UK wrestling scene for yelling homophobic slurs in a Revolution Pro Wrestling (RevPro) show in London.
Jose Gonzalez: Still loved in Puerto Rico
Things simply don’t fly like they used too. Not fitting into the standards and ethics of today’s wrestling will likely hurt your wrestling career, unless of course, you’re in Puerto Rico. One of the oldest wrestling territories in the wrestling world is frozen in time, with it’s unapologetic ways and unruly fans. At it’s core, a cruel and ignorant tradition continues, in the praise and love for Jose Gonzalez (aka Invader I), a man notorious in wrestling history as Bruiser Brody‘s murderer.
The latest chapter of Praising a Murderer involves the most respected media outlets in Puerto Rico wrestling revering Invader I and a comedy group from Puerto Rico, who thought it was a good idea for their comedy shows in Florida to bring Invader I to their play. Yes, you heard it right – the person responsible for the most notorious and senseless murders in pro wrestling history is still idolized and beloved in his home country.
Puerto Ricans get upset when foreigners talk smack about the island, but in this instance, the crazy gringo is right. Not only did Invader I get away with a shaky self-defence argument of the events – in part thanks to their bosses at the time – but he is one of the main causes of the Puerto Rican territory being in the state that it is now.
A Two-Face Narrative
Many wrestlers and promoters in Puerto Rico have spoken badly about Invader I. This isn’t the first time, but, have they kept those attitudes towards him intact?
For example, former WWE/F Superstar Savio Vega, on a recent Kayfabe Commentaries: Back to the Territories with Jim Cornette, talked specific details of how the Bruiser Brody murder occurred (as he was present). Savio talked about the short-tempered Gonzalez, and how he didn’t know how Jose lived with himself. Savio was praised by American fans and was seen as brave for talking about his fellow colleague and opponent in such a manner.
When we look at how Savio Vega has behaved around Invader I, thoguh, you would get another impression. In IWA PR, Savio, although annoyed by the notion, still worked with Invader I, as a partner and opponent, without issue – and he was a minority owner of the company! Last year, Invader I was added to a short-lived promotion in Florida and Savio, who was booked on the show, showed no sign of pulling out nor had any statement denouncing the inclusion of Jose Gonzalez. At a recent comedy show in Florida, Invader I and Savio Vega were photographed together backstage in camaraderie.
Legendary heel Chicky Starr suffers from the same syndrome. Last year, he appeared on a famous podcast on the island and said that he despised Jose Gonzalez, even though he had to work with him in World Wrestling Council. But, again, two faces emerged. Chicky started a campaign to have one more match with Invader I, a stunt that was sure to make him some big money. Who was behind this campaign? None other than former WWE Spanish announcer Hugo Savinovich and Lucha Libre Online – a famous Spanish wrestling site.
Even the late Victor Quiñones, who was key to the detriment of WWC in Puerto Rico in the wake of the Bruiser Brody murder (he was one of the main financiers), a man who was referred to as Brody’s friend, had the guts to bring back Invader I to his company, IWA PR, for one more run. WWE Hall of Famer Carlos Colon had the same attitude, bringing Invader I for one more feud four years ago.
There has been a lot of talk about condemning Invader I, but too little action taken over it. From the press, to the celebrities, and to the wrestlers, the hypocrisy runs deep. Just a few years back, the Puerto Rican Senate even honoured him with an award!
The Blind Fan
Do fans have the same issue? Yes. Let me relate the typical responses that one gets for pointing out the constant praise for a murderer like Invader I.
“Why don’t you tell that to Invader’s face?”
“Nobody was there that night, we shouldn’t talk about it.”
“Leave that man alone already, that was 30 years ago.”
“This guy only knows how to talk about the Bruiser Brody murder, give it a rest already!”
“Invader I is one of my favorites and will always be, no matter what he did.”
“Forget it already….”
That is typical of wrestling fans in Puerto Rico. I’m not saying that everybody is like that, but I am suggesting that there are a troublingly high number of fans that think like that. The Bruiser Brody murder and his murderer are simply ignored by fans, either because of the “great talent” that is Invader I or because he was one of the main faces in the booming times in wrestling on the island.
For fans, attacking Invader is like attacking their identity. What they don’t seem to understand is that their love for Jose Gonzalez is the most disgusting feature of the current state of Puerto Rican wrestling.
The Never-Ending Sin
There is no denying the talent that Invader I possessed. He is arguably one of the best talkers, bookers and wrestlers in Puerto Rican wrestling history, but does that outweigh his violent crime? Many fans still think that Brody asked for it. Some still go full throttle in agreement with the judge’s decision. But the reality is, Invader I is a murderer that should have been banned from wrestling the moment that he committed the crime. But, as Dave Meltzer has noted, the money was too good to let it pass.
Every fan in Puerto Rico that wonders why they don’t have a good wrestling scene like the United Kingdom, Mexico or even Australia, needs to look into this case and get to the obvious conclusion. We are stuck in the past and refuse to admit what is in front of us. Everybody in the world, except for Puerto Rico, knows what and who Jose Gonzalez is. Instead, the island prefers to be blind to the reality and continues to exercise the absurdity of idolizing and revering one of the biggest criminals that the wrestling business has ever known.
If the island wants to get with the times, one of the changes that they have to do is to separate the wrestler from the person and admit that their biggest hero is a true criminal who has tarnished the wrestling industry on the island.
Invader I, in his interview with Contralona PR, noted how old school wrestlers can draw better than wrestlers nowadays. Isn’t that ironic? A killer can draw better than hardworking talent free of the same sins in Puerto Rico. He’s not wrong and that’s why the scene it is where it is.