While Khali mostly makes me laugh, Carlito’s career mostly just makes me angry.
I went back and forth numerous times between putting Carlito, Khali, and Masters at the top of this list. Ultimately, I settled on calling Carlito the biggest bust of the 21st century for one main reason: the guy had major talent, and ultimately did nothing with it.
Carlito had outstanding in-ring talent and was a great promo guy, and it was clear that WWE was high on him from the jump. For those who don’t remember, his debut in 2004 made quite the splash:his very first match in WWE saw him defeat John Cena for the U.S. Title and hold onto it for over a month before dropping it back to Cena (Carlito was legitimately injured at the time). A year later, he switched to Raw and, also in his first match there, won the Intercontinental Title from Shelton Benjamin.
When you look at it, it’s not like Carlito wasn’t given opportunities: he won titles; he got placed in a Piper’s Pit segment with Piper and Stone Cold Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XXI (and got his own show, Carlito’s Cabana, soon after); he was placed into feud after feud with big names, and by early 2006 was competing for the world title. With all of these opportunities, and with his natural abilities, it seemed like the sky would be the limit for Carlito.
One problem, though: Carlito didn’t want it. He was lazy. He coasted by on his natural ability and never made an effort to capitalize on his talents. His great in-ring work started becoming sloppy, and his promos started suffering as well. WWE saw this and, infamously, had Ric Flair put Carlito on blast on Raw in February of 2007 (in an admittedly awesome promo that seemed an awful lot like a shoot) to try and light a fire under him.
The ploy worked…to some extent. Instead of using this opportunity to learn from Flair and achieve his potential, Carlito started complaining. And I mean a lot. He complained about not being booked at Wrestlemania and about backstage politics. He complained about his character’s stagnation (which, let’s not forget, was mostly his fault due to laziness). He asked Vince McMahon to release him, but was convinced to stay.
If for nothing else, this last piece should have been a wake-up call for Carlito to realize what an opportunity he had; an unmotivated underachiever asked the boss to fire him, but McMahon thought he was still too valuable to let go. So, Carlito stuck around…and did very little until 2008, when he and his brother Primo formed The Colons.
The Colons were a successful tag team, that’s for sure, even becoming the first ever unified tag team champions by defeated Miz & Morrison in the dark match at Wrestlemania XXV. In a moment that really captured the essence of Carlito’s career, the night after Wrestlemania he and Primo came out to the ring, newly won championships in tow…to absolutely no reaction at all from the fans.
Carlito, essentially, had run out of chances to be special, and now no one cared about him anymore. He and Primo would lose the titles before Carlito turned heel on him, and would sputter around until being released (for good this time) in 2010 due to a wellness violation.
In the end, Carlito is the ultimate example of wasted talent. He had it all, and was given the opportunity to prove it, and did nothing with it. While a guy like Masters was given the opportunity to become a main eventer but didn’t have the skills to back it up, Carlito never reached his considerable ceiling due to his lack of motivation. All the pieces were there, but Carlito refused to put them together.
And that, my friends, is not cool.