Wrestler of the Day – August 14: Rico

Today we’re going with someone that I’ve been a fan of for years: Rico.

After just a handful of matches on the independent circuit, Rico was signed to WWF and went to OVW. We’ll start at Christmas Chaos 2001, held in January of that year due to the original show being postponed due to snow. Keep in mind that this is different from the Rico you’re familiar with. Here he’s an athletic freak that can wrestle with anyone and totally serious.

Flash/Trailer Park Trash vs. Rico Constantino/Mr. Black

This is hardcore. Flash Flanagan is a guy that was supposed to be one of the breakout stars of OVW but a bad injury kept him off the WWF roster just after he was going to be called up. Rico made it of course but is freshly heel here. Black is a big security guard and Trailer Park Trash is a guy I have no idea about. Constantino and Black are part of Bolin Services, the top heel stable in OVW. Oh and Black is Hardcore Champion.

Apparently Rico isn’t in Bolin Services yet but if Bolin can get him the OVW Title he’ll join the team. Cornette: “Bolin is the kind of a guy that if he tells you the sun is coming up tomorrow you better go buy a flashlight. He’s the second most dishonest person I know after that promoter in Philadelphia.” There is some real bad blood there which is 100% legit.

Flash and Trash (just a big guy in jeans and a shirt) bring the weapons. Rico and Black bust out garbage can lids which means they take them to the head. Flash accidentally hurt Rico about a year ago to start their feud. This is Trash’s return after about a four month absence. I think you have to be in the ring to get a fall but I’m not sure.

It’s really hard to tell who is who here. Rico has long hair here so you can’t really tell which guy he is. Trash pulls out a bowling ball and it collides with Black’s balls. Flash sets up a table on the floor and Rico goes onto it. Springboard spinning legdrop half kills Rico but Flash is down too. Trash doesn’t look like much of a technician to put it mildly.

Trash gets a door from somewhere (Perry Saturn’s factory maybe?) and lays it between the ring and the railing like a bridge. He wants to suplex Black through it but of course gets shoved through it himself. Flash and Rico are back up and Flash misses a big moonsault. We clip it a bit to see Trash getting hanged by Black. Rico has a broom and everyone is down for the most part.

Black gets a suplex to Flash and we bring in frying pans and tires. Rico puts the tire around Trash’s neck and superkicks the tire. That was different. We throw in a toilet seat and a mailbox to really make this out there. More clipping as Flash takes a Bossman Slam from Black.

The beating has been going on for a good while now. I guess morale hasn’t improved enough yet. Black goes for a top rope splash but Trash makes the stop and slams him down. We hit ten minutes and Flash hits what looks like a middle rope neckbreaker/Blockbuster on Black onto a chair to end this, again very abruptly.

Rating: C-. This was a long match, running over ten minutes. I’m not sure if a hardcore tag match was the best choice to do that with but apparently Trash is a big fan favorite here so they’re giving them what they want in that sense. Pretty dull match and like I said another abrupt ending which came out of nowhere.

Here’s a match from late March/early April 2001 with Rico as OVW Champion.

Rico Constantino vs. Flash Flanagan

Rico is OVW Champion and Flash is Hardcore Champion but this is non-title. A clothesline puts Rico on the floor and Flash rams his head into Rico’s manager Kenny Bolin. Back in and Rico kicks him in the face to take over but Flash superkicks Rico down. A spinning springboard legdrop gets two as Cornette is freaking out on commentary. Rico comes back with a side slam and more kicks in the corner. They clothesline each other down and Bolin gets on the apron for a distraction. Rico gets Bolin’s briefcase but Flash kicks it into his face for the big upset.

Rating: C-. The match didn’t have time to be anything special but it wasn’t supposed to be. The win kept Flash in an upcoming triple threat (where he won the title) so it actually had some storyline stuff behind it. Rico was a solid heel at this point and Bolin was still the top heel manager of the promotion.

We’re going to look at a series of dark matches now, starting on April 15, 2001.

Rico Constantino vs. Randy Orton

Orton doesn’t mean anything at this point either. They trade shots in the corner to start and Orton beals him across the ring. A backflip dropkick gets two on Rico but he avoids a charge in the corner for two of his own. More stomping ensues in the corner and Rico suplexes him down for another near fall. Rico stomps even more and hits a nice spinning kick to the face. He takes too long going up but knocks Orton off the top. Orton avoids a moonsault and hammers away before nailing a wheelbarrow suplex for the pin.

Rating: D. Orton looked far more polished here than Rico, which isn’t what I was expecting at this point. Rico didn’t look horrible but he didn’t have anything left to do after the first minute or two of the match. Orton carried most of the match here and did a better job at playing to the crowd on top of that. Nothing to see here but Orton was clearly going to be a big star.

Another dark match from December 4, 2001.

Rico Constantino vs. Brock Lesnar

Brock drives him into the corner to start and puts Rico on the turnbuckle because he can. Rico avoids a charge and kicks away but Brock misses him up into a gorilla press. An elbow to the jaw drops Rico again and Brock busts out a dropkick just because he can. Rico nails a spinwheel kick but Brock shrugs it off and plants him with a powerslam for the pin.

Rating: C-. Oh come on you knew Lesnar wasn’t going to lose here. Rico looked better out there, though the match was significantly shorter. Brock continues to be awesome though and there’s no way you can top a genetic freak like him. The match looked far tighter than the Orton match though and that’s a good sign.

One more dark match from January 22, 2002.

AJ Styles vs. Rico Constantino

AJ spins out of a wristlock to start before backflipping out of a German suplex. A knee to the back puts Rico in control and a kick to the head gets two. We hit the chinlock on Styles before a spinwheel kick gets two more on AJ. Rico misses a great looking moonsault and walks into a brainbuster for two. A spinning cross body off the top mostly hits Rico’s legs but AJ backdrops him to the floor. AJ follows him out with a shooting star dive to really wake the crowd up. Back in and AJ gets knocked throat first onto the top rope, setting up a kind of northern lights suplex for the pin.

Rating: C. This was actually really entertaining stuff and was enough to get AJ a developmental deal with the company. He didn’t want to move to Louisville though so it was off to TNA instead. Good match though and that springboard shooting star looked awesome. Rico was a great talent but the stylist gimmick killed him.

Rico would debut as Billy and Chuck’s stylist because that’s what you do with an atheltic guy like him. Here’s one of his first matches from Judgment Day 2002.

Tag Titles: Rikishi/??? vs. Billy/Chuck

The partner for Rikishi will be announced in a bit. To the shock of no one, the partner is Billy and Chuck’s manager/stylist Rico. Billy vs. Rikishi to start us off here. DDT does nothing of course and Rikishi takes over. This is when there was only one set of titles at the time. Chuck comes in and hammers away which gets him nowhere for the most part. Suplex gets two.

The idea here is that Rico will lay down for his buddies so they can keep the titles so Rikishi is more or less in a handicap match. Belly to belly by Rikishi gets two. Billy comes in and gets beaten up by Rikishi too. Rico is just chilling on the apron at the moment. Dropkick by Chuck puts Rikishi down. Rico tries to help Chuck and accidentally drops Chuck, giving him and Rikishi the titles.

Rating: D. Was there any point to this other than to give the crowd a breather? No? I didn’t think so. Moving on here as there’s nothing to say here. The title reign meant nothing if you didn’t guess. As usual this would be the idea of the wacky tag team partners who of course are able to win the titles with relative ease.

Here’s a slightly better opponent. From Raw on September 16, 2002.

Ric Flair vs. Rico

Flair quickly takes him down with ease and drops a knee to the head. A few headlock takeovers keep Rico in trouble but he comes back with some fast kicks. Rico kicks him in the head for a Flair Flop but Ric stops him with an elbow to the jaw. Flair doesn’t let Rico bring a chair in and takes him over with a vertical suplex for two. Ric goes over and kicks the chair out of the corner, allowing Rico to kick him in the face for the (mostly) clean pin. Flair’s hand seemed to be touching the ropes but it wasn’t mentioned.

Rating: C-. That’s quite the rub for Rico as the pin was as clean as it was going to be for something like this. Flair was destroying him for the most part here with basic stuff which is something I enjoy seeing. Yeah a lot of the time it’s better to see something flashy or intricate, but it’s nice to see basic leverage moves every now and then.

Here’s another fairly big name opponent, from Raw on October 14, 2002.

Jeff Hardy vs. Rico

Rico throws a shirt at him in the corner and hammers away but Jeff scores with a Cactus Clothesline to put both of them on the floor. Jeff runs the barricade for another clothesline to drop Rico and they head back inside. Back in and Rico fires off kicks in the corner before putting on a bodyscissors. Jeff comes right back with a Whisper in the Wind for two, followed by the Twist and Swanton for the pin.

Rating: D+. This didn’t have time to go anywhere and Jeff didn’t do much besides high spots. To be fair that’s the case with almost any match like this as you have to get your stuff in and then do the finish. What else can you do in a match that only lasts a few minutes? Jeff would be gone a few months later.

Rico would be in a six man tag at Survivor Series 2002.

Dudley Boys/Jeff Hardy vs. 3 Minute Warning/Rico

This is an elimination tables match. Oh and that’s Bubba and Spike, not D-Von. Spike and Bubba got put through the same table on Raw Monday to set this up. The Dudleys and Jeff clear the ring to start and Spike is thrown into the arms of the Samoans. It’s Bubba vs. Rico in the ring at the moment, because putting Spike and Jeff against Umaga and Rosey is a great idea right? Bubba chops Rico HARD in the corner before things settle down.

What’s Up hits Jamal and we get to the tagging section of the match before everything breaks down again. Bubba tells Jeff to get the tables but Rosey runs over Bubba after Bubba sets up a table in the corner. A BIG backdrop puts Jeff on the floor and Rosey rams Spike’s head into a table. Rosey misses a charge and drives himself through a table in the corner but that doesn’t count because it wasn’t someone else putting him through.

Jeff tries a top rope dive at Rosey but literally bounces off. Rico brings in another table and gets caught in a Dudley Dog, but 3 Minute Warning catches him in a double powerbomb to put Spike through the table instead. Jeff and Bubba get slammed down but Bubba knocks Rosey off the top and Jeff sends Rico flying into a cameraman. Bubba pounds away but Rico hits a spinwheel kick to take his head off. Rico could go in the ring make no mistake.

Rosey and Jeff go out into the crowd and there’s a table out there with them. Jeff is put on said table as Bubba gets kicked in the face by Rico. Jamal misses a splash and crushes Rico, allowing Bubba to Bubba Bomb Jamal and go to save Jeff. With Bubba’s help, Jeff goes up to the top of an entrance and hits a BIG Swanton through Rosey through the table to make it 2-2.

Back in the ring Jamal has Bubba on a table ready for a Rico moonsault, but he looks hesitant to launch. He looks over his shoulder, shouts “C’MON JEFF!” before staggering. THEN Jeff shakes the ropes and Rico crotches himself. Not the best response but that’s on Jeff more than Rico. Bubba tries a belly to back superplex through the table but Jamal moves it away. Jeff hits Whisper in the Wind to Jamal and follows it with a dropkick.

Hardy goes to the floor to get another table which he throws at Jamal. Jeff tries to run the railing but Jamal throws the table at Jeff, who goes flying through it. That doesn’t count which I can kind of agree with. Jamal puts Jeff on another table and hits a HUGE splash off the top to eliminate Jeff. That looks awesome. Bubba beats on Rico in the ring but Jamal saves his sideburned buddy. Jamal goes up to try a top rope rana (I guess) on Bubba, only to get caught in a HUGE powerbomb through the table to get us down to one on one.

It’s Rico vs. Bubba with the former pounding away and pulling in another table. Rosey comes back in but Bubba pounds away on him too. Now Jamal is in there too and it’s D-VON to the rescue! He’s on Smackdown at this point so this is a big deal. 3D puts Rico through the table to end this.

Rating: B-. That’s likely high but this was what you want to open a show. It helps a lot that this was a fifteen minute match instead of like six minutes like they are on Raw. This was fun and the pop for the reunion of the Dudleys (which would be permanent) was a feel good moment. Good stuff here and a good choice to open things up, especially in New York City.

Time for another handicap match! From Raw on January 6, 2003.

3 Minute Warning/Rico/Batista vs. Dudley Boys

Flair is with Batista too so it’s basically 5-2. Jamal gets backdropped to the floor as Batista hangs out on the floor. I wonder if D-Von and Batista’s past will be mentioned. There’s a fast 3D to Rico but the stupid Dudleys don’t cover him, allowing Batista to come in and clean house. Bubba gets sent to the floor and Chief Morely gets in some shots of his own. Everyone not named Batista beats on Bubba on the floor and there’s a spinebuster to D-Von.

Bischoff and Morely come into the ring and demand that the referee counts D-Von, but Batista pulls him up at two. Bubba gets back in but walks into a suplex from Rosey. Now Flair gets in and puts Bubba in the Figure Four as Jamal hits a top rope splash for good measure. D-Von takes a Samoan Drop and the Batista Bomb finally ends this.

Rating: D+. This was an angle which is fine, but it doesn’t really exactly make for an interesting segment. Batista was just midcard muscle with Flair as a manager at this point, but Evolution was coming soon. The Bischoff regime got old in a hurry and here he came off as just another corrupt boss. Not much here but it was a good beating.

One more singles match from Heat on February 9, 2003.

Bryan Danielson vs. Rico

Danielson quickly takes him down and puts on a kind of dragon sleeper. Rico blocks an O’Connor Roll but gets caught by a dropkick. Some kicks drop Bryan for two and Rico puts on a weak Gory Stretch. Bryan flips out for two but gets kicked in the face for the same. After an arm hold goes nowhere, Danielson enziguris him down but can’t follow up. Some European uppercuts put Rico down and a snap suplex gets two for Danielson. Back up and Bryan hits the ropes but charges into the spinning kick to the face for the pin.

Rating: C-. I love seeing guys like Bryan when he means nothing. He got to showcase some talents here though and it was clear that he was going to be a big deal somewhere down the road. Much to my surprise this wasn’t a glorified squash with Danielson actually controlling about half of the match.

Back to the handicaps on Raw, February 17, 2003.

Spike Dudley vs. 3 Minute Warning/Rico

There’s nothing to say here. The three dominate Spike for about three and a half minutes and Rico pins Spike after a top rope splash from Jamal. There was nothing to talk about in between.

Rico did have some singles matches, including this one at Insurrextion 2003.

Goldust vs. Rico

And on Pay Per View too! Hebner is in there, you know the chant. Rico keeps hiding from Goldust as we have to stall in this match of all things. Rico really was underrated in the ring as his gimmick always gets looked down on which isn’t fair to him. He definitely wasn’t that bad in the ring and was clearly always working hard out there which is all I can ask for.

Naturally this is a rather boring match but it’s not entirely fair to blame that on the wrestlers here. These two had no business being out there as long as they’re being given so they can only do so much in there. We talk about Sean Connery and James Bond to fill in time. Picture perfect moonsault by Rico misses. That was freaking pretty looking. Bulldog gets two for Goldust.

Shattered Dreams is blocked and Goldust goes insane, hitting all kinds of stuff on Rico. Ok so mainly nothing more than punches which apparently are the results of his mental issue. I never liked that angle. Not due to what it was about but because it never really made sense. And there’s a powerslam out of nowhere (Ross’ description) to end it. Oh Goldust won.

Rating: D+. That’s higher than this deserves, but the problem here is that there was FAR too much time given to this match. This got eleven minutes and to their credit it never really got boring. Like I said, Rico was a guy that would always work in the ring which is something you have to give him points for. They were trying out there but this just had no business going this long.

From Raw, September 8, 2003.

Lance Storm vs. Rico

If nothing else we get to look at Jackie Gayda in a barely there outfit. The idea here is that Storm is boring and trying to find a personality. Rico starts the boring chant before the match so Lance punches him down. Goldust in turn starts a Rico Sucks chant and we’re ready to go. A quick suplex gets two for Lance but Rico comes back with a kick to the face and a clothesline before ripping at Storm’s face. Off to a chinlock for a bit until Storm fights up and starts firing off clotheslines. Jackie tries to get involved and gets kissed by Storm who quickly finishes Rico with a springboard missile dropkick. Short and not terrible here.

Rico would hook up with Charlie Haas to form another oddball tag team. Since this is the Ruthless Aggression Era, they would win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles soon after forming. Here’s a title defense from Judgment Day 2004.

Smackdown Tag Titles: Charlie Haas/Rico vs. Billy Gunn/Hardcore Holly

Charlie/Rico are the champions here and it’s another oddball team. Rico is fully embracing his gay side here and the only good thing is Jackie Gayda looking incredible. However, Billy Gunn and Hardcore Holly? Bart Gunn wasn’t available to reform the New Midnight Express? The challengers argue over who starts first so Rico slaps/grabs their rumps. Wouldn’t Billy be used to that?

Ok officially we start with Haas vs. Holly. After a brief feeling out process Holly grabs a headlock and it’s technician vs. power brawler to start us off. Off to Rico who slaps Haas’ chest to come in. Rico touches the redneck Holly and it’s off to the former groom as Rico does a cancan. Rico kisses his hand and puts it on Billy’s face to really mess with Gunn. We have butt slapping and some rodeo before Rico kicks Billy who falls onto his knees in front of Rico. Yep we’re in a comedy match.

Gunn finally gets ticked off and drills Rico, and by that I mean he punches him you sick freaks. Holly vs. Haas now with Holly getting a suplex for two. We hit the chinlock before Gunn comes in and hammers away. Rico: “Don’t you hurt my Charlie!” Holly’s kick between the legs (to the stomach) gets two. I missed a Rico likes hardcore joke in there somewhere.

Holly goes to the middle rope and does the jump into the boot of a guy in a move where the only reason I went to the top was to jump into the boot because a double clothesline is beyond my intelligence spot. Haas gets the tag (moderate temperature) and Rico cleans house (no French Maid outfit?) but gets caught in a Fameasser. There was a blind tag to Haas though so no cover. Alabama Slam is caught by a superkick from Rico lets Haas get a sunset flip on Holly to retain.

Rating: C-. Just a tag match based in comedy here. Nothing worth seeing at all as Jackie looking good was a regular occurrence. Not a bad match or anything mind you, but when the biggest star is Billy Gunn and he’s a glorified jobber who would be gone in six months, the same week as Rico actually. Nothing terrible, but just there for the most part.

We’ll wrap it up with one more six person tag from No Mercy 2004.

Dudley Boys/Dawn Marie vs. Rico/Charlie Hass/Miss Jackie

I miss Dawn. She was gorgeous. Jackie is no slouch either. Bubba and Haas start us off but D-Von jumps him to give them the early advantage. D-Von beats on Charlie but Dawn tags herself in to hit on Charlie. Jackie comes in and there goes Dawn’s top. Bubba pulls Jackie’s hair to give Dawn the advantage then comes in to kiss her. Bubba makes the mistake of closing his eyes though and gets a kiss from Rico instead.

Out to the floor and Bubba is about to be sick. It’s such a shame that Rico got this gimmick as he was AWESOME in OVW, regularly outworking guys like Orton and Cena. Bubba walks out and Rico gets a bunch of (fruit) rollups on D-Von. Bubba comes back to crotch Rico and then officially comes in to give Rico a heterosexual beating. Rico grabs a DDT out of nowhere and double tags bring in the other guys.

Haas cleans house and causes some heel miscommunication. A German takes down Bubba but Dawn distracts him, allowing D-Von to get in some offense. Rico makes a blind tag and hits a cross body for two as everything breaks down. The Dudleys load up What’s Up but Rico is WAY too excited for it, rubbing his crotch and begging D-Von to jump. D-Von won’t do it so we get a catfight instead. Charlie takes down D-Von and Rico finishes him with a moonsault.

Rating: C+. It was a comedy tag match, but every time I watch Rico I love him more and more. This guy was doing everything he could to get this dead end gimmick over and it worked. Rico cracked me up which was the whole point of the character. It’s a shame he wasn’t allowed to just be himself and awesome. Fun match.

Rico is a guy where the gimmick crippled him. There’s nowhere to go but comedy with something like he had and it’s a shame given how awesome he is. Yeah I like him more than is probably healthy, but the guy had a ton of talent and then got wasted for the kind of gimmick that he got stuck with. Still though, he was entertaining and that’s all he needed to be.

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