What Primo Colón's Predetermined Path Reveals About WWE | Smark Out Moment

What Primo Colón's Predetermined Path Reveals About WWE

Posted by Abdullah Al-Ghamdi Tuesday, January 29, 2019
When was the last time a superstar climbed up the ranks in WWE? Let's narrow it down to the last five years. When was the last time a performer started out as a low-carder, then made his way into a tag team, then broke free and ascended to main event status? When was the last time a new superstar reached the main event and stayed there? There's Daniel Bryan in 2014, famously, thanks to unprecedented support from the fans and also possibly the fact that CM Punk quit. Then there's–

Cesaro? In spite of getting his very own WrestleMania Moment, in spite of taking John Cena to the limit twice in a row, and despite Cena's hearty endorsement, the Swiss Cyborg is still primarily a tag team guy. This is a space he has occupied, more or less, since his debut. Zack Ryder? He's still a jobber to the stars, in spite of his sustained popularity and in spite of the fact that he was over enough at one point that fans interrupted a promo by The Rock to chant his name. After a brief run with the WWE title, Bray Wyatt went right back to cutting vague promos and taking part in filler feuds. Heath Slater, after appearing to turn a new leaf and even sharing a segment with Brock Lesnar in the weeks following the brand split, is now lucky to show up on TV at all.

It can be hard to maintain success in Vince McMahon's company. A few are handpicked to carry a brand early on. For the vast majority of performers on the roster, however, they settle into their roles as upper-midcarders, as midcarders and as jobbers, and they stay there. Regardless of the work they put in and regardless of whether or not fans want to see someone new reach the last proverbial rung on the ladder.

This is mostly accepted as truth. To say that there is no brass ring, to assert that certain performers deserve more than they get, is a common refrain. Only certain performers though. Others, like Primo Colón, are met with revisionist history which requires correcting.


Primo Colón made his first WWE appearance more than a decade ago. He stood by backstage, on the August 18th, 2008 edition of Monday Night Raw, waiting to be interviewed. Showing the slightest hint of a smirk, sounding excited and confident, Primo could barely get a word in before Mike Adamle – then the GM of the brand – brushed him aside to go chasing after John Cena. I don't think there's ever been a debut which more accurately, and hilariously, foreshadowed the trajectory of someone's career.

When he's mentioned, if he is at all these days, it's usually due to the surprise at his continued employment. On one level, this is understandable. Primo, along with his tag partner and cousin Epico, is rarely utilized. Since moving to SmackDown as part of the 2017 Superstar Shake-up, the Colóns have made very few appearances and they haven't been a part of any storyline. It's perfectly reasonable to wonder why they're still on the roster when they only wrestled two televised matches in 2018. The trouble, and the revisionist history, starts with the fact that that the Colóns aren't viewed simply as another example of the status quo asserting itself; of jobbers remaining as jobbers. They're viewed widely and, bafflingly, even by notable wrestling reporters, as performers who have squandered numerous opportunities. They haven't. They've never received much of an opportunity at all.

Primo and Epico made their first appearance together as a team in 2011. On the November 11th episode of SmackDown, Epico tagged with Hunico and they defeated The Usos. Primo was at ringside. After the match, the Usos were attacked and left gazing up at the lights after a combination of a codebreaker into a backstabber and then a Swanton Bomb. The sequence, just by itself, was uploaded to YouTube and it is serves as perhaps the most easily accessible bit of proof that the trio existed at all. It was dropped after only one episode.

If it seems strange to you that WWE would change its mind after merely one appearance, if it seems weird how a promising new direction would be abandoned in its infancy, it's actually a recurring theme in Primo's career. The alliance with Hunico isn't the first time one of Primo's angles faced an abrupt ending. It won't be the last.

The Colóns would move on to tag team title reign, managed by Rosa Mendes. It's easy to cite that they were tag team champions for a time. It's easy to point out that they successfully defended the gold in the preshow of WrestleMania 28, but that doesn't tell the full story. Primo and Epico won the titles at a live event on January 16th, 2012. The reason that the title changed occurred at an untelevised event, abruptly and unexpectedly, is a result of Evan Bourne's suspension. The cousins were feuding with Kofi Kingston & Evan Bourne, the champions at the time and it was simply a matter of getting the title off a suspended superstar.

Looking at the information available at the ProWrestling Wikia, as well as consulting the archives of various news sites, it would be fair to conclude that the booking team were never amiable to the idea of Primo and Epico as tag team champions. They never had a promo, either in the ring or in the form of a backstage segment, aired on either of the two main brands during the entirety of their reign. They never spoke. Their reign lasted for 15 weeks. During this period, they were absent from 9 episodes of Raw and 10 episodes of SmackDown. When they did appear, they were just as likely to lose a match as they were to win. Counting both their matches on Raw and Smackdown, the cousins had a total of 6 wins and 6 losses. Worst of all, most tellingly of all, is the fact that their wins were immediately undercut.


On the February 27th edition of Raw, Primo and Epico retained their titles after an eight-minute triple threat match. Then Kane walked out squashed them and everyone else in the ring. After winning in the preshow of WrestleMania, the only PPV appearance in their reign, WWE built on that momentum by keeping them off TV for weeks, jobbing them out to makeshift teams, before their reign was ended by Kofi & R-Truth on April 30th.

Kofi & R-Truth, by comparison, had a much more successful reign. They were champions for 20 weeks. While they did miss a fair amount of SmackDown episodes, just short of ten in total, they only missed five episodes of Raw. They had several title defenses and were a consistent feature of PPVs, whether defending the gold or waiting on number one contenders. In total, the reign of Kofi & R-Truth consisted of 13 wins and just 7 losses.

At best, the Colóns had a bad run with the tag team titles during a period when the division wasn't seen as important. At worst, their run at the top was the opposite of a chance. It was proof that the creative team were never invested in a pair of cousins from Puerto Rico. At the time, this was understood. At the time, before revisionist history could set in, wrestling fans placed the blame squarely on the people in charge rather than the performers.


I want Primo and Epico to earn their tag titles run in reverse, make us care at least a little about what's happening with them by letting us see them do things (anything) on the reg.  Brandon Stroud, editor at UPROXX  
These sentiments were shared.

I hope we get a legit challenge for Primo and Epico soon, as they are rather crisp in the ring and have the capability to put on a great showing. - Tony Acero, writing for 411Mania

If there was a problem, viewers agreed, it wasn't that Primo and Epico failed their push. It was that they weren't getting one even as champions.

It might be useful, in this context, to think of WWE as the setting for a horror movie. Or at least some sort of weird sci-fi flick. All of the people who work in WWE, from management, to the wrestlers, make up the cast for this movie and the menace which terrorizes the cast is an invisible, all powerful force that schemes to keep things exactly as they are. From the presentation, which has looked the same for well over a decade, to the way storylines play out, to where the wrestlers are placed on the card. This strange and all powerful affliction would explain the repetitiveness of Dolph Ziggler's career: in 2009, roughly a year after being repackaged as the blonde showoff, Ziggler faced Rey Mysterio in the opening match of SummerSlam and it was widely-regarded as one of the best matches on the card. In 2018, after a decade of being the blonde showoff, Ziggler opened SummerSlam against Seth Rollins in what was considered one of the best matches on the card. Both times, Ziggler was vying for the Intercontinental title.

It would also explain why The Miz has dropped any interest in pursuing the WWE title. After delivering a promo to AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan where he indicated that he was next in line for a shot at the blue brand's top prize, to cheers and anticipation from the crowd, he quickly forgot about that in favor of a partnership with Shane McMahon which would keep him in the same upper-midcard spot he's occupied for the duration of his run. It would illuminate the curious case of Rusev; at one point demanding to be a contender for the WWE title, only to settle for the same US title he's been associated with since his debut.

And then there's Primo. The invisible force enforcing monotony came for him too in the next chapter of his career – Los Matadores.


Contrary to popular belief, the characters of Diego and Fernando were not created by the creative team in an effort to help The Colóns. The Colóns came up with the idea themselves and what they had in mind bared no resemblance to what eventually ended up on-screen.

"We wanted to do something different." Epico explained during an appearance on Talk Is Jericho. As he tells it, the idea was for the cousins to slyly mock Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara by wearing masks. The commentators would acknowledge that it was Primo and Epico under the masks during this suggested three-month program. They'd be arrogant. They'd play to the crowd. However, crucially, they'd lose in their second bout. This would be the impetus for them to snap; gradually becoming more aggressive and showing their true heelish intentions. Vince McMahon and Triple H loved the idea, according to Epico, except for wanting to add a little person in a bull costume.

"Aw, crap." Primo recalls thinking upon hearing about the change of direction. "Well, forget about that storyline with Rey-Rey. That's not gonna happen."

It never did happen. In one of their first opportunities to speak as Diego and Fernando, after weeks of vignettes and months away from WWE TV, the focus shifted to the little person in the bull costume before either matador could get a word in. An idea that was brought to management by performers, not uncommonly, ended up being distorted and given to someone else.


Los Matadores was, by and large, a vehicle for El Torito. For better, as with the case with the legendary WeeLC match, or for worse, like whatever the fuck this was, the team's most memorable moments revolved around a mascot who was alternatively referred to as a man playing dress-up and an actual bull. This striking shift from the pitch that Primo and Epico presented to management can only be understood by looking at the placement of the cousins prior to the emergence of their new gimmick.

They were lowercard heels, occasionally making up the numbers in multi-man matches. After their title reign was ended by Kofi & R-Truth, and after a face turn which was quickly scrapped, the Colóns spent weeks losing matches to Brodus Clay, to the Great Khali, to Hornswoggle, among others. So when they approached the creative team with an angle which involved them mixing it up with Rey Mysterio, which was based on being presented as serious and viable competitors, it didn't fit. It clashed with their position as jobbers. So, the angle was changed until it could reconciled with the spot they already occupied.

For two years, Los Matadores were lowercard faces, with the same function of making up the numbers in multi-man matches. When El Torito was released in 2016, the bullfighting characters were benched altogether. Rather than revisit the angle that Primo and Epico brought to them, the creative team decided to disregard it. The force was at work; padlocking the role of Primo and Epico in the lowercard and preventing any alteration.


The force, the deceptive dread that mandates monotony, not only works to keep everyone in their place, it attempts to recapture anyone who might have been able to escape the confines of sameness. Jinder Mahal experienced this last year. After shocking everyone by defeating Randy Orton and winning the WWE title, he's returned to the post of a comedic jobber as if he never left it. It's the same role he filled as a member of 3MB. It's the same role he filled during his initial return to the company. Kofi Kingston, more of a fan favorite, is in the most successful partnership of his career with Big E and Xavier Woods. But it's still a partnership for a performer that's had plenty of them; still a tag team limitation on a performer who has been unable to recapture the brief highs he experienced in 2009.

The force isn't always successful. Depending on who you ask, Daniel Bryan and, more recently, Becky Lynch were special enough to break barriers thanks to an enduring connection with crowds. They're namedropped, constantly, as two performers that diverged from the paths set for them.

Fans had to make it clear, for months and months, that they weren't going to give up on Bryan. Plans had to change drastically in the wake of CM Punk's tumultuous exit from the company.  Most performers aren't so fortunate to have all those different elements fall into place. In the next two stages of his career, Primo certainly wasn't.


On May 16th, 2016 episode of Raw, after eight months away from television, Primo and Epico returned as The Shining Stars. Their first week back, which featured the now proudly Puerto Rican cousins squashing local wrestlers, was not well-received by the live crowd. It is frequently cited as an example of Primo and Epico fumbling their chance for success, as if all new gimmicks should be given exactly one appearance to get over and nothing else. What is cited far less frequently is what happened when the Shining Stars interrupted Enzo & Cass on June 25th. The heels were booed during their entrance, they were booed especially during their short promo, and they kept the heat going for the quick bout.

The Shining Stars officially began a feud with Enzo & Cass in September. Crowds would respond favorably to the storyline brewing between the two teams, the veteran Puerto Ricans would pick up a few surprise wins, and they'd even get interviewed on WWE.com. For a few weeks, it appeared as if Primo and Epico were entering a substantive storyline: they were smarmy jerks, trying to scam a popular babyface team out of their money and stealing victories in the process.

It didn't last. After defeating Enzo & Cass in a tag team match, and after Epico cheated to pin Enzo, the storyline was abruptly dropped. The Shining Stars would make infrequent appearances from that point on, often losing and, more often still, not getting any mic time.

In other words, the invisible force reasserted itself. Just as it would once the cousins moved to SmackDown Live in 2017.


Despite a promising start, in spite of making their return to the blue brand by attacking former champions American Alpha, in spite of debuting a new look and defeating American Alpha, the momentum was remarkably short-lived. Within three weeks, American Alpha had gotten their win back. Within a month, the Colóns were right back to losing whenever they did appear. Besides one segment on Talking Smack, Primo and Epico never got any mic time to elaborate on why they were no longer The Shining Stars. They've now been on SmackDown for close to two years and they've barely spoken at all. Admittedly, the current incarnation of SmackDown is notoriously bad at utilizing its roster. The Colóns are hardly the ones who have gone months without an appearance. There's Gallows & Anderson. There's Shelton Benjamin. There's basically the entirety of the undercard.

But the difference is that, unlike others on the blue brand, management has never invested in the cousins. During their one and only title reign, they were regularly kept off of TV. When they did appear, they were just as likely to lose as they were to win. They never spoke, not in a backstage segment and definitely not in the ring. Upon dropping the titles, they pitched an idea to creative which was altered to focus more on a performer no longer employed by WWE. In their next two iterations, their momentum was halted after literally only a week or two. During all of this, during a partnership that has lasted seven years, you could count the number of times promos they've cut, on Raw or SmackDown, using two hands. You wouldn't need all ten fingers either.

They've never been pushed. Anyone who cared to go back into the archives and actually look at what they're were given to work with, as I've done in the process of writing this article, would agree that they've always been placed as a lower-tier tag team by design. The fact that this is arguable; the fact that everyone, from random fans on Twitter to prominent wrestling journalists, either halfheartedly or indignantly, appears to believe that the Colóns are responsible for their own lack of success, is a distraction from a painful reality: their level of success was dictated and regulated by WWE from the very beginning.

Primo shares that in common with the rest of the roster, though. There was a stretch of time, back when he was teaming with his brother, that his prospects were relatively bright. Tagging along with Carlito, Primo wrestled one of his only lengthy singles matches to air on a main brand. On March 10th, 2009, on ECW, Primo faced The Miz. While the bout was merely an opener ranging from 10 to 12 minutes, Dave Meltzer awarded the match three stars and a half. 411Mania, as well as a roundtable of writers on PWTorch, offered similarly effusive praise. The match happened during the rivalry of Carlito & Primo vs Miz & Morrison, which was regularly praised for the consistent quality of the in-ring work as well as the angle's more comedic aspects.


Primo has managed to surprise people since then. Following an appearance on Talking Smack, 411Mania was one of several websites to express their support for the new direction of the Colóns which never materialized. After he delivered remarks inducting his father into the Hall of Fame in 2014, James Caldwell of PWTorch marveled at why Primo wasn't given more mic time in his career. He concluded by saying that Primo was an underutilized talent.

The Revival have reportedly requested their release from WWE. Unhappy with their treatment, and the treatment of the tag team division more broadly, Dash and Dawson apparently wish to ply their craft elsewhere. It's interesting, to me, thinking about what would happen if they stayed. Purely in terms of the narrative around them, in terms of their support from fans, what would be said about them in five years? It's hard to imagine now, when we're still relatively close to their series of four star matches in NXT, and when they're still highly-regarded by industry experts, but what if in five years the consensus was that they were never that good and they were responsible for their own failures due to a combination of being weak on the mic and frequent injuries? It's a consensus that is already forming in the margins, liable to strengthen depending on what happens next.

It's a consensus that conveniently absolves WWE of blame, shifting the burden entirely to the performers. It's a consensus that, incidentally, makes it much easier to watch WWE.

Because it's not fun to watch WWE when you know and begrudgingly accept that nothing really changes. It's not fun to watch knowing that those who have spent the majority of their career as jobbers will likely be remain as jobbers. It's not fun to watch knowing that the same is true for the midcard and the upper-midcard. It's not fun to watch knowing that main event status can always be lost but rarely gained through compelling work and sheer, consistent overness. It's not fun to watch WWE with 'the force' in mind – scheming to make sure everything, from the presentation to the scripts, to the placement of performers, remains almost exactly as is.

It applies to The Revival. It applies to Primo. It's a problem with WWE as a whole.

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