Former WWE Intercontinental Champion Carlito will appear with upstate New York promotion 2CW at its Drunk With Power show Saturday, Feb. 25 at Suzy's Tavern in Auburn.
For a preview of the show, check out the Thursday, Feb. 23 edition of the Go entertainment guide in The Citizen.
After we talked about Saturday's event, I had the chance to ask Carlito about his career, how WWE compares to independent wrestling, concussions and more. Here's what the grappler had to say:
Q. Where'd your patented apple spit come from?
A. It came from a vignette before I debuted (for WWE). At a food stand I spit in an old man's face and I kind of liked it, the WWE people liked it and Vince (McMahon, chairman of WWE) decided it was a good idea for me to continue doing that.
Q. Do you have a dream opponent you haven't wrestled yet, or someone from the past whom you can't wrestle now?
A. I wish I could have wrestled "Macho Man" (Randy Savage).
Q. What, so far, has been the highlight of your wrestling career?
A. So many different things - one thing would be becoming tag champs with my brother (Primo, who still wrestles for WWE). It was kind of cool being with family on the biggest stage of all. Other times: Working with some of the greatest wrestlers who've walked the earth.
Q. What can WWE learn from indy wrestling groups like 2CW?
A. It's kind of become more corporate, more business, not as intimate as at an indie show. At an indie show you can get up and close with fans, interact with them, have a close experience - WWE has kind of lost that and become so corporate that you can't be that intimate with the fans.
Q. What can indy wrestling learn from WWE?
A. WWE is very organized, and they also have a lot of the best minds in the business working backstage. Indies aren't afforded that talent, those minds - they don't have access to that knowledge that guys in WWE have.
Q. What advice do you most commonly give to young wrestlers in places like 2CW?
A. I try to tell them to always have a backup plan, save your money, and just enjoy the ride. Once you're up there - once you get to the height that your goal is, like Japan or WWE - things will be a little different, but try to find the positive in everything.
Q. Do you change your wrestling style at all between an indy and WWE? If so, how?
A. I was always able to do what I wanted (in WWE) because they trusted me enough. With the indie scene it's a lot more intimate - there's a lot more liberties, a lot more I can do, interacting with a crowd.
Q. You expressed frustration with WWE after leaving, saying your matches were too short and you didn't like the roles you were forced into. Do you find indy wrestling more fulfilling?
A. Yeah, I think so - I can do basically what I want. It's up to me; I don't have any limitation as to what I can do and what I cannot do. I don't have any handcuffs on me.
Q. Has the growing awareness of the risks of concussions changed how you wrestle? If so, how?
A. Not really - my belief is you can't live like that. Stuff's gonna happen - that's the risk we take. Most guys never really got hurt doing the crazy stuff, like a moonsault from a cage or jumping off onto four tables - it's just doing a hip toss or running the ropes. You can get injured at any time, it's the luck of the draw. The way I figure, stuff's going to happn. If it happens it happens; it's out of my control. You can stay away from crazy stuff, I never see a limit as to what I can do. I think how I can entertain this crowd, and whatever I can do, I'll do it.