Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Piece of my Mind May 23rd 2009 by "The Big Cheese" Sal Corrente

When I first started hanging around the WWF I was the new kid on the circuit. I was very lucky to have Mike Davanzo and Domenic Marcello to bridge relationships for me until I was accepted. One of the guys that I met along the way was Victor Quinones. I wasn’t even sure what he did but they told me he was almost like an adopted son to Gorilla Monsoon. He was always around and was clearly more on the inside than we were. I even saw him wrestle Rocky Johnson at TV once in Hamburg, PA.

One day I remember hearing that Victor was being sent by Gorilla down to Puerto Rico to work with Carlos Colon. It was sometime after that I believe that I became a referee and Victor actually brought me down to work shows in Puerto Rico. I had been told crazy stories by Afa “The Wild Samoan” #1 of how the fans were down there. They would throw rocks at you and spark plugs and how they could get very rowdy. In those days I didn’t care. All I knew was a real office was going to use me on some big shows.

I had been down there the previous year for the big anniversary show. I will talk about that show another time. This show was right on the heels of Hurricane Hugo in Sept 1989. The island, of course,satisfie was a mess. We were met by Carlos Colon in the dressing room and told to go home that the show was cancelled. He paid us all two hundred dollars and said they would purchase us new plane tickets if we could come back when the show could be run which was the beginning of October. I believe everyone was able to come back except for Jeff Jarrett who I saw there when I arrived. It was my first time meeting him.

Well when we got back I got a phone call from Victor telling me that Al Perez wasn’t going to make it and he asked what could I do to help out. They needed an opponent for Kevin Von Erich so I got on the phone and called my old buddy Ron Bass. The bad thing about the island was last minute no shows could really be a problem in getting replacements over there. We were lucky that from Tampa we could get Ron over pretty easily. It turns out Ron had never worked the island so he was willing to come over. They got him a ticket from Tampa. He came over and I used him on other stuff over the years. I believe this was my first exposure to Kevin Von Erich we got along well and to this day has always been a good friend. I used him on shows for Rob Russen’s IWA we never had the first problem out of him or Kerry.

The show was huge. It was outdoors and was to be headlined by Carlos Colon vs. El Sadistico Steve Strong in a barbed wire match. This is not the Steve Strong from California (Jesse Ventura’s old tag team partner) who I did get to meet a few years ago at the World Gym in Marina Del Ray, CA. This Steve Strong was (Steve DiSalvo) a very thick intimidating guy that didn’t have a lot of ring experience but that didn’t matter at all. I was to referee this main event. I was the special trouble shooting referee sent in to control Steve Strong. There had been a major program surrounding this match. In it Chicky Starr, the heel manager on the island who had A LOT of heat, was managing Steve Strong. Also Carlos was to have a second a man who was his mentor. I didn’t know all of what was happening but I knew what I had to do. I had been named referee of the year in Puerto Rico that year and was part of the angle. When Carlos came to me with the finish to be honest I was hesitant. There had already been an incident at the beginning of the show with the fans and myself. I talked to Carlos who told me they would use someone else. I thought "no I got in this business to work" so I did it. I explained the finish to Steve Strong who didn’t know what a crucifix was so I said “just stick out your arm after you shoot Carlos in you will figure it out and he did. It was a screw job finish with a match restart brought on by TNT a major baby face on the island stooging off what had really happened. The fans went crazy celebrating for Carlos. Make no mistake Carlos Colon was over in Puerto Rico and in a big way. You really need to think of some of the larger reactions you could get from a crowd and that’s what it was. Think of Jerry Lawler dropping the strap on his comeback or Hulk Hogan hulking up in their glory days that’s what it was when Carlos made a comeback.

This was a crazy night for me. The new heel team on the island, Jerry Morrow and The Cuban Assassin (not David Sierra), were going to screw the baby faces in the first match and take the tag titles. I was referee of the year but in the first match and I already had to be the classic "don’t see anything" referee. It was all part of it as I was to be the hero later in the night. I will always be thankful to Miguelito since I was still young and naïve but he knew what was happening on his island. After the match I was walking to the ring in front of the baby faces after I just caused them to lose the belts. I heard Miguelito say for me to get behind him so I did. Once I got behind him he was hit right in the balls with a rock that was meant for me. The fans there are really wild but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. If you want to get some idea what the main event was like it is on You Tube in four parts starting with this link .

I realize the Puerto Rico territory will always have a lot of cloud over due to the unfortunate incident with Bruiser Brody. I never met Bruiser so I don’t have that huge pain that so many feel who knew him. What I do know is he should be alive today and be headlining shows and conventions etc and probably still feuding with Abdullah the Butcher. With that being said, Puerto Rico was a great opportunity for me and I am thankful to the late Victor Quinones for the chance he gave me. I have to honestly say as well that I was paid well for what I did for the office. I had my best payoffs in the business working for that office. It could be a whirlwind sometimes but when it was all said and done I was paid and paid very well.

I last saw Carlos at the 6:05 reunion that was held in Orlando at the Hard Rock Café. His son Eddie, who has now gone on to fame as Primo Colon in the WWE, worked the show. I hadn’t seen Carlos in about fifteen years but we got a minute or two to remember that night and El Sadistico. It was probably just one night in the life of a legend but for me it was a night to remember.

This picture is me and Mike Davanzo when he first started bringing me around the business. I think we were at the home of Domenic Marcello in Yonkers NY. It was a big deal to have those masks fans didn't have them at the time. You had to get them from wrestling places which there were very few back in the day. Who ever knew I would actually have matches one day. I sure didn't believe me.