IWA (Puerto Rico)
The logo of the relaunched IWA, as of 2018.
|Style||Fusion of several (among them technical, aerial and strong style)|
|Headquarters||Carolina, Puerto Rico|
|Owner(s)||Miguel Pérez, Jr. and Savio Vega|
The IWA (originally an acronym for International Wrestling Association) is a professional wrestling brand that originated in Puerto Rico. Founded in 1999 by promoter Victor Quiñones (who had also created IWA-Japan in 1994) as a novel promotion, it quickly entered an agreement to serve as a development territory for the World Wrestling Federation (now known as WWE) that lasted until 2001. During its first decade, IWA grew to rival the long-standing World Wrestling Council (WWC). Its business model relies on pushing younger talents, using veterans and foreign wrestlers to get them over with the public.
Besides a number of alliances with foreign promotions that included Total Nonstop Action (now known as Impact Wrestling) and Ring of Honor (ROH), the company was also a member of the National Wrestling Alliance between 2007 and 2008. After its original incarnation ceased operations in 2012, the trade name was salvaged and relaunched under the World Wrestling League (WWL) in April 2018, making way for a formal relaunch based in Florida three months later.
NWA membership, Unification (2007–2008)
On January 6, 2008, deposed WWC Universal Heavyweight Champion Biggie Size, WWC Television Champion Ash Rubinsky and heel stable "Los Templarios", all appeared at Histeria Boricua. The main spot of the show had Biggie Size (with WWC's title on hand) challenged IWA's Heavyweight Champion Blitz, in a unification bout. During the event WWC's Director of Merchandising and announced Carlos Muñiz attempted to retrieve the belt, a situation that was used in IWA footage as "sanctioning" of the unification. Two days after, the WWC and Carlos Colón threatened to pursue legal action and Big returned the belt.
Following an administrative dispute between Vega/Pérez and Mario Savoldi, IWA lost part of its roster including Ray González and Los Aéreos (Carlitos & Hiram Tua), and the creation of an offshoot named International Wrestling Entertainment (IWE) was proposed by the latter using the talent that defected.
Foreign use of the brand
Since at least May 19, 2011, independent Mexican wrestler Exorcista had made the claim of being the "IWA Puerto Rico Champion" in social media, being billed as such in appearances throughout the summer, wearing an unlicensed belt (with a sideplate globe design similar to that of the IWA World Tag Team Championship's centerplate) to sell the ruse. On August 5, 2011, Mexico City-based independent promotion Lucha Libre Mexicana del Sureste teased the participation of the purported "IWA World Heavyweight" and CMLL World Middleweight within the promotion. For its first defense that took place two days later, the name of the bootleg title was amended to the fictional "IWA World Lightweight Championship", although it was still promoted as a heavyweight championship afterwards. For another appearance that took place on September 17, 2011, LLMS used the IWA's actual logo to promote the card. On October 12, 2012, former Undisputed World Heavyweight Champion Enrique "Ricky" Cruz denounced that the brand had been appropriated in an message to his followers in Mexico (where he performed for International Wrestling Revolution Group), since a backstory had been created for the "IWA Lightweight Championship" where Exorcista had won it from him.
On November 10, 2011, promoter José E. Mateo launched an independent offshoot named IWA Florida with the approval of Savio Vega, basing it in the city of Orlando in the eponymous American state where a significant portion of the Puerto Rican diaspora is located. Although the company's actual name was Independent Wrestling Association, it used the same logo as IWA Puerto Rico due to their inter-promotional affiliation. During its run (2011–2012), Vega also performed as part of the roster.
Recess, interpromotional events and bankruptcy (2011–2012)
Late 2011 the company took a recess to restructure the company and return a few months later in 2012 and make inter-promotional shows with WWC and EWO, but the administration confronted economic problems and announced that it would enter another recess. IWA main figure Savio Vega then started working for WWC as wrestler and occasional booker.
World Wrestling League (2014–2017)
When the World Wrestling League (WWL) shifted its focus from international tours to more home events in 2014, it acquired several locals including Savio Vega and Dennis Rivera. An invasion by IWA talents began at the 2015 International Cup, where Vega made his intentions of taking over and renaming the promotion clear. However, two days after the event owner Richard Negrín announced that the promotion was shutting down as part of a public diatribe, entering a period of inactivity that lasted until June and aborting the angle. Vega was brought back in March 2016, beginning another angle that hinted at his intentions of taking over WWL and relaunching IWA, which included having an edition of WWL High Voltage replaced with Impacto Total.
In July 2016, with the angle still unfinished, Negrín entered another sabbatical citing health issues and Vega acquired the promotion. WWL retained its acronym and initially served as a spiritual successor to the IWA, first using flashbacks of his work as General Manager to place him in a similar role as president and then resuming and concluding an unfinished storyline from 2006. The year was concluded with the revival of Christmas in PR, in which the downfall of the IWA was used as a plot element. In May 2017, Golpe de Estado was also reintroduced, with the backlash of Vega's long history of authority abuse dating back to the IWA as the main storyline behind a coup d'état by long running booker Héctor "MoodyJack" Meléndez, in which both him and Dennis Rivera were ousted from the company.
Brand relaunch (2018)
The passing of hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico forced WWL into an eight-month hiatus, with Juicio Final being revived to serve as its return show. In the event, Vega and Rivera made their return along Noel Rodríguez and announced themselves as Team Savio/IWA (later completed by Richard Rondón and Roxy Tirado). WWL president Manny Ferno opposed them in representation of WWL, along the stable known as Puros Machos that he led. When the promotion for Golpe de Estado 2018 began, the brand was formally reintroduced with the unveiling of a new logo and the reintroduction of several titles. The event featured the first confrontation between factions, with Team Manny/WWL emerging victorious and preventing the name change in the first attempt. However, the storyline continued with Ferno intending to "destroy" the legacy of the brand after "breaking the man" and grew to include Shane Sewell and Slash Venom, in representation of IWA.
Former Impacto Total/Zona Caliente narrator Axel Cruz was brought in to join WWL's High Voltage team, while the segment El Tocotón also made a comeback led by Stefano. A rematch was pushed, while emphasis was placed on the fact that Team Savio had only one of the wrestlers that headlined the IWA during its peak (himself) and that one of the members (Roxy Tirado) had never been part of the promotion. IWA picked two straight wins over WWL at Summer Blast (later being joined by Jesús Castillo Jr.) and War in the West, with a returning Apolo being approached by Vega and a disappointed Mr. Big by Ferno. The storyline, however, was written off following a skit where the leader of Puro Macho supposedly ordered an "accident" on his counterpart.
On July 20, 2018, a relaunch of IWA Florida was announced, this time with the inclusion of narrator Willie Urbina to the staff. Additionally, a tournament to fill the vacancies for the Undisputed World Heavyweight and World Tag Team Championships was scheduled. This initiative ultimately led to Savio Vega leaving WWL, of which he was a minority owner, to focus on the first card to be held under the brand in more than six years. Unlike the first iteration of IWA Florida, this one made it clear in the pilot episode that it was claiming the history of IWA-JPN and IWA-PR and was intended to serve as a continuation.
- Histeria Boricua (January)
- Noche de Campeones (February)
- Jucio Final (April)
- Jose Miguel Perez Memorial Cup (June)
- Summer Attitude (July)
- Armagedon (August)
- Golpe De Estado (September)
- Halloween Mayhem (October)
- Hardcore Weekend (November)
- IWA Christmas in PR (December)
List of IWA Championships
|IWA Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship||Title established in 2000.|
|IWA World Tag Team Championship||IWA world tag team title. Established in 2000.|
|IWA Hardcore Championship||Unified with the Cruiserweight Championship to the Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship.|
|IWA Intercontinental Championship||Title was established on 2002.|
|IWA World Junior Heavyweight Championship||Title was retired on November 25, 2006 by Orlando Toledo announcing that the Cruiserweight Championship would be replacing the title.|
|IWA World Cruiserweight Championship||Unified with the Hardcore Championship to the Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship respectively on October 4, 2008 and was retired.|
|IWA Extreme Combat Division Championship||The World Cruiserweight title was reactivated and renamed Extreme Combat Division Championship on July 18, 2009. On March 5, 2011 the title was renamed, returning to IWA World Cruiserweight Championship.|
|IWA Women's Championship||Female title of IWA. Established in 2007 and the title was retired on 2010.|
|IWA Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship||Title was established in 2008. Unified with the Caribbean Championship on February 26, 2011 and was retired on August 7, 2011.|
|IWA Caribbean Heavyweight Championship||Title was established on 2009 and was retired on June 16, 2012.|
|IWA World Television Championship||Title established on June 11, 2011 and was retired on June 16, 2012.|
- "IWA: Entrevista a Víctor Quiñónez" (in Spanish). Puerto Rico Wrestling. 2006-04-02. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- "Bochinche en la lucha libre" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. 2008-01-07. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- Armando Rodríguez (2008-03-14). "Puerto Rico Report 4.14.08: IWA vs IWE: Fact or Fiction?". 411mania.com. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- Raúl Álzaga (2015-03-23). "Savio Vega amenaza con convertir a la WWL en la IWA" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- Anthony Piñero (2015-04-28). "Cierra operaciones World Wrestling League" (in Spanish). Súper Luchas. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- Anthony Piñero (2016-03-28). "WWL: Conferencia de Prensa – Savio Vega regresa a la Liga Mundial de Lucha Libre – América Tevé nueva casa de HIGH VOLTAGE" (in Spanish). Súper Luchas. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- Anthony Piñero (2016-05-31). "¿Savio Vega presenta Impacto Total de la IWA en WWL High Voltage?" (in Spanish). Súper Luchas. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- Raúl Álzaga (2016-08-11). "Savio Vega apuesta a la nueva WWL" (in Spanish). Primera Hora. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- AB Morales (2017-01-10). "WWL CHRISTMAS IN PR (PARTE 1) 2016: "UN FANTASTICO SHOW DE LUCHA LIBRE"" (in Spanish). ImpactoEstelar.com. Retrieved 2018-05-09.
- AB Morales (2018-05-07). "WWL TENTANDO CON RENOMBRARSE IWA" (in Spanish). ImpactoEstelar.com. Retrieved 2018-05-09.