With Backlash headed to Puerto Rico for a weekend of Bad Bunny-approved fun in the sun in the Atlantic Ocean-based American territory, the fine folks over at The Bump wanted to provide the WWE Universe with some history of the territory to help contextualize the significance of the show. But who, you may ask, would they bring on as a guest to discuss the moment? Would it be someone like Dave Meltzer, the wrestling historian, and writer of The Wrestling Observer? Or how about one of the most prolific wrestlers to come out of the territory, someone like Savio Vega, or even Carlito? How about… JBL?
Yeah, I don't get it either, but just because the “Wrestling God” is more known for his money, his love of Texas, and that regrettable segment where he attempted to hunt down immigrants at the southern border doesn't mean he doesn't have a serious appreciation for the history of the sport and the history of that territory in particular. Joining fellow guest Zelina Vega on the show, JBL compared Puerto Rico to ECW before hyping up the crowd's passion.
“If you ever got to see ECW back in the late 90s, you saw how rabid those fans were, supporting their product. That’s how Puerto Rico fans were,” JBL said. “They used to draw 40,000, 50,000 people almost every single week into the baseball stadiums, it was unbelievable. I mean Carlos (Colón) down there, Savio Vega, there’s so many guys who came out of there, legendary stars. Guys used to love going down there, the Briscoe Brothers used to not tell people how great it was cause they were making great money down there being on this island paradise. So when they would say ‘how was Puerto Rico’ they would always give it a bad name, ‘eh, it wasn’t that great’ because it was so good. It’s a great place, it’s one of the great territories in wrestling history filled with great people.”
To JBL's credit, his assertions are pretty much spot on; Puerto Rico is widely considered one of the greatest wrestling territories of all time, with WWE inducting famous promotor Carlos Colón into the Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport despite only appearing in 67 matches for the promotion, most of which came in the late 1960s. With multiple promotions of their own, including Colón's World Wrestling Council, the island has a long and storied tradition of professional wrestling, with Backlash adding another marquee event to that lineage.
"It's one of the great territories in wrestling history and full of great people!@JCLayfield has had his fair share of matches in Puerto Rico and says he can't wait for WWE to return for #WWEBacklash! 🇵🇷#WWETheBump pic.twitter.com/FEINMC5nZV
— WWE (@WWE) April 26, 2023
JBL is rooting for Zelina Vega in her match at Backlash.
Speaking of the legacy of Puerto Rico's wrestling scene, WWE has a chance to make history once more at Backlash, as Zelina Vega could become the first wrestler of Puerto Rican descent to win the SmackDown Women's Championship in the country. Granted, that isn't a particularly high bar to clear, as there have only been 13 champions since the belt was christened in 2016, according to Cagematch, but in JBL's opinion, Vega shouldn't take the moment for granted, as this might just go down as one of the defining moments of her career.
“You get so few moments in life where you get to enjoy things and take pictures mentally,” JBL said. “Just take pictures, enjoy it, the crowd is going to go nuts for you, they should, it’s your home, you’re going for a championship, I hope you win it but whether you do or not, I hope you remember the moment, don’t forget to look around and really put that in your mind. Take memory picture of it because however long you live, you’ll always remember this night, it’s going to be a special night and I could not be more happy for ya, I could not be more round for ya, and I remember when you came in as the ‘Queen Bee,’ which you and I always joke about, and here you’ve become this massive Superstar whose on the verge of winning a championship. So congratulations, Zelina, I’m going to be rooting for ya.”
Will Zega be the performer who unseats Rhea Ripley and ends her reign of terror over the SmackDown brand before it has a chance to sink its talons into the history books? Only time will tell, but when it comes to perfectly setting up a moment and getting fans invested in the outcome of a match, this is about as good as it gets, with even a good old boy like JBL hoping to see Vega hold up the strap and celebrate her big moment on her biggest stage imaginable.
.@JCLayfield sends his best to @ZelinaVegaWWE ahead of her upcoming #SmackDown Women's Championship match at #WWEBacklash in Puerto Rico. #WWETheBump pic.twitter.com/2MzhsXWLzJ
— WWE (@WWE) April 26, 2023