The mid-1990s were a time of experimentation for World Wrestling Entertainment.
Business was down, and Vince McMahon's promotion began introducing fans to fresh new faces, some of which went on to have far more success than others. One such Superstar was a native of Puerto Rico, a talented midcard worker who would have a much longer stint with the company than anyone could have imagined.
His name was Savio Vega.
Debuting as the friend of Razor Ramon in the spring of 1995, Vega wasted little time making a big splash in the crowded midcard of WWE. With Ramon cheering him on from ringside, Vega turned in a fine showing at that year's King of the Ring, defeating IRS to earn an entry, knocking off Yokozuna and The Roadie in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, before then dropping the final round to Mabel.
With his sudden and exciting success, it was easy to forget that Vega had appeared on WWE television before. Under a mask and with Harvey Whippleman by his side, he performed under the moniker Kwang and often played punching bag for much bigger stars.
Like so many awful gimmicks of the time, Kwang would fade into irrelevancy and obscurity, never to be seen again.
With his first bit of success behind him, Vega remained a valuable part of WWE's talented midcard. He regularly teamed with Ramon but also had quite a fair amount of success as a singles competitor, with a win over newcomer Waylon Mercy at In Your House in September proving to be quite the upset.
The arrival of 1996 brought with it the first real feud for Vega. Stone Cold Steve Austin had arrived in the company and wasted little time establishing himself as one of the better workers in the company. A veteran of the ring wars and one of the key pieces in WWE's rebuilding effort, he was determined to prove himself capable of grabbing the proverbial brass ring and running with it.
At WrestleMania XII, Vega and Austin wrestled their first high-profile bout. Despite a valiant effort from the popular babyface, a referee bump and a shot to the back of the head by Austin with the Million Dollar title helped secure the bald-headed villain the victory.
Two months and a major power outage later, they clashed in a classic Caribbean Strap match at In Your House: Beware of Dog. Vega finally knocked off Austin and ended their rivalry on a positive note.
Unfortunately for the underrated Superstar, it would be the last truly important match he wrestled for quite some time. He opened up SummerSlam with a competitive match against Owen Hart, but a loss there confirmed what most fans knew: He was getting lost in the shuffle as WWE began laying the groundwork for what would be a history-making comeback in the Monday Night Wars.
In 1997, he turned heel, joining Faarooq and Crush in the Nation of Domination. Together, the threesome regularly made life a living hell for Ahmed Johnson and any other Superstar unlucky enough to cross them.
At WrestleMania 13, Vega and the Nation dropped a wild and chaotic Chicago Street Fight to Johnson and the Legion of Doom. Shortly thereafter, in-fighting and failures to dominate the wrestling landscape led to the split of the Nation and the ignition of gang wars within WWE.
Crush led the Disciples of Apocalypse, Faarooq retooled the Nation, and Vega headed Los Boricuas. The three factions waged war on one another in an attempt by WWE to recreate the gang mentality that had made the New World Order such a success in WCW. It failed miserably because fans had no reason to really care about any of the groups.
Unfortunately for Vega, Los Boricuas was really his last shot at relevancy as the product passed him by. More interesting and entertaining characters began invading WWE television, characters such as Val Venis, Edge, Too Cool and The Rock.
Soon, many of the stars that had helped guide WWE through its darkest days found themselves making infrequent appearances on WWE programming before disappearing altogether.
After competing in the Brawl for All in 1998, Vega left WWE and returned to Puerto Rico, where he is still influential in today's wrestling landscape.