Juan Rivera (August 10, 1964) is a Puerto Rican professional wrestler. He began his career in the World Wrestling Council, where he won the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship. During the mid-to-late 1990s, Rivera was an active wrestler in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), initially performing under the ring name "Kwang". He was subsequently rebranded as "Savio Vega", eventually becoming the leader of Puerto Rican stable, Los Boricuas. Rivera is credited with giving Stone Cold Steve Austin and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson their first singles losses in the WWF, shattering both of their undefeated records. As part of his feud with Austin, he became the first recipient of the Stone Cold Stunner maneuver. During his WWF run, he also scored victories over several high-profile wrestlers, including Triple H, Jeff Jarrett, John Layfield and Yokozuna.
Upon concluding his participation in the United States, Rivera returned to Puerto Rico and joined Victor Quiñones' project, the International Wrestling Association, serving as long-time General Manager and occasionally holding some championships, including the IWA Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship. In 2011, he became the forerunner of an interpromotional angle between IWA and WWC, the first of its kind since both had co-existed. Outside of Puerto Rico, he has won major titles in Latin America including Panama's Revolution X-Treme Wrestling, Ecuador's Wrestling Alliance Revolution and the Dominican Republic's Dominican Wrestling Entertainment. Besides being a wrestler, Rivera has worked as a trainer and agent for Total Nonstop Action and Ring Ka King.
- 1 Early career
- 2 Work in the United States
- 2.1 Arrival to WWF, Kwang the Ninja (1994-1995)
- 2.2 Savio Vega and Razor Ramon (1995-1996)
- 2.3 Feud with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and WWA (1996)
- 2.4 Nation of Domination and feud with Rocky Maivia (1997)
- 2.5 Los Boricuas and the Gang Wars (1997-1998)
- 2.6 Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Ring Ka King (2008-2009, 2011-2012)
- 3 Semi-retirement (1999-present)
- 4 Personal life
- 5 In wrestling
- 6 Championships and accomplishments
- 7 External links
WWC, AJPW, NJPW and AWF (1987-1993)
Rivera was born in Vega Alta, Puerto Rico where he received his primary and secondary education. After he graduated from high school, he went to Miami, Florida, where he auditioned for the WWF. He was accepted and sent back to Puerto Rico, where he wrestled for the World Wrestling Council, adopting a character known as "T.N.T." based on his martial arts background and featuring several elements from estereotypical oriental gimmicks. He was managed by "El Profe" Ángel Pantoja Rivera, entering a feud with Chicky Starr. Rivera first championship in the promotion was the WWC North American Heavyweight Championship, which Rivera won on May 2, 1987, by defeating Miguel Pérez. He held on to the title until January 30, 1988, when Abdullah the Butcher earned it. On July 11, 1987, Rivera became a dual champion, earning the WWC World Tag Team Championship along Mr. Pogo, holding them for nineteen days. To close the year, he teamed up with Abdullah the Butcher in a All Japan Pro Wrestling losing to Hiroshi Wajima and Giant Baba. On June 18, 1988, he won the WWC Caribbean Heavyweight Championship dethroning Hercules Ayala. Rivera held the title for two months, before dropping it to Buddy Landel. He regained it less than a month afterwards, holding it for two months before dropping it to Jason The Terrible. On February 4, 1989, Rivera won the vacant WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship, holding it for twenty-one days before losing it to Balls Mahoney. He won his third Caribbean Heavyweight Championship on March 4, 1989, holding it for over two months before dropping it to Rip Rogers. On June 17, 1989, Rivera won the vacant WWC Television Championship.
During the last half of 1989, he was involved in a midcard feud with Leo Burke, who went on to defeat Carlos Colón, Sr. to win the WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship in the middle of this storyline, interrupting its continuity. Rivera was originally expected to be the one to win the belt, given his status as a fan favorite and solid work in the ring. On February 9, 1990, he defeated Burke to win the Universal Heavyweight Championship, in the process vacating the Television Championship. Rivera held on to the belt for a month, dropping it to Abdullah the Butcher. In April 25, 1990, Rivera won his second Television Championship, holding it until January 1991, when it was left vacant. Prior to Aniversario 1990, the WWC's anniversary show, he turned heel and began feuding with Colón, who had won the championship from Abdullah. The storyline between both ended at Aniversario, with Rivera wrestling him to a sixty-minute draw. On September 30, 1990, he participated in New Japan Pro Wrestling's Antonio Inoki 30th Wreatling Anniversary event, losing to Masa Chono. In the first half of 1991, he entered a feud against a wrestler that had originally used the name "T.N.T.", winning the rights to the name on March 2, 1991. The feud concluded later that month, with Rivera defeating the wrestler now known as "Action Jackson" for his third Television Championship. For the following three months, he lost and recovered the championship once. Rivera held it until October 19, 1991, when he lost it to David Sierra. He won the Television Championship for a fifth time by defeating Sierra in a rematch the following week, holding it for a month before finally losing it to Dick Murdoch. This was his final championship in WWC, since once he had gained enough wrestling experience, he was recalled back to the United States. In December 1991, Rivera participated in the telvision tapings of Gordon Socozarri's American Wrestling Federation. He wrestled Tom Burton and Manny Fernandez, winning the AWF Americas Championship. On November 22, 1992, Rivera returned to NJPW, losing to Shinya Hashimoto. The following day he teamed up with Scott Norton to defeat Ron Powers and Tony Halme.
Work in the United States
Arrival to WWF, Kwang the Ninja (1994-1995)
Following a tour in Japan for NJPW, in which Rivera was one of several "Gaijin" (local term for "foreigners") working in the promotion, along Scott Hall, Bam Bam Bigelow and Yokozuna, he arrived to the World Wrestling Federation, where he was given the character of "Kwang". The gimmick exploited the popularity of western Ninja movies during the 1980s and early 1990s, incorporating clichéd elements previously used to portary mysterious Asian wrestlers, such as using his mouth to spray mist in his opponents' faces. Rivera stated in a subsequent interview that he actually enjoyed portraying the character, seeing it as an easy transition, calling it wrestling as "T.N.T. under a mask". WWF created a promotional package to create interest in his arrival, airing "Kwang the Ninja" vignettes in their programming. In January 1994, Rivera made his official debut as a heel by entering fourth at the 1994 Royal Rumble. During the match he teamed with the following entrant, Owen Hart, battling the face wrestlers to a stalemate until Kevin Nash entered seventh and eliminated him along all of the previous entrants. Following this event, Harvey Wippleman was assigned to serve as his manager. Rivera officially debuted as a singles competitor on January 31, 1994 defeating Rich Myers. He won his lone February match over John Crystal. On April 18, 1994, he lost to WWF Champion, Bret Hart. Rivera has expressed pride in the fact that his main event match against Hart on Monday Night Raw drew in the crowd and scored a high viewer rating. In his following participation, he lost a match against Razor Ramon. Throughout the summer, Rivera recorded victories over Ace Darling and Tony Roy. On September 12, 1994, he lost to The Undertaker. Rivera went on to win his final two matches as Kwang, defeating Scott Taylor and Myers in a rematch. On January 9, 1995, he was at ringside when Howard Finkel won a Tuxedo match against Wippleman, who abandoned his role as manager following the outcome. The character of Kwang slowly faded from WWF programming during the following months. By April 1995, Rivera had made his last televised appearance under the gimmick.
Savio Vega and Razor Ramon (1995-1996)
On May 14, 1995, the Kwang gimmick was dropped, as Rivera appeared in street clothes during the WWF's first In Your House pay-per-view. When wrestler Hall, who was involved in a feud with Jeff Jarrett, who attacked him following a match along his "Roadie" Brian Gerard James. Rivera, portraying a common fan and sitting in the public, jumped over the rails and rescued to rescue him. Later on in the PPV, Hall introduced his rescuer as his friend, the fiery Puerto Rican "Savio Vega". The in-ring debut of this character took place on June 5, 1995, when he defeated Kenny Kendall. Rivera entered the 1995 King of the Ring tournament, when Hall selected him to take his place after being injured. He debuted by defeating Mike "IRS" Rotunda in the event's pre-show. The other wrestler to advance in his branch was former world champion Yokozuna, who won his contest over Lex Luger. Both wrestlers exchanged moves until Yokozuna's tag team partner interferred by attacking Hall on the ringside, which promted Rivera to exit the ring and get involved. Yokozuna attempted to use this to his advantage, climbing the ropes to execute a splash, which he missed being unable to recover and losing the contest by countout. His next match was created around the ongoing feud against Jarrett, pitting him against James. Following some outside intervention, Rivera won by scoring a rollup pinfall. The final placed him against Nelson Frazier, Jr., who was wrestling as a monster heel character named "Mabel", advancing with a victory over the Undertaker. Both exchanged moves, until Frazier countered by applying a splash off the ropes to win the tournament. The next night on Monday Night RAW, Rivera came close to defeating Jarrett for the WWE Intercontinental Championship, but ended winning the match by disqualification. On July 31, 1995, Rivera and Hall wrestled Yokozuna and Hart to a no contest, when the timer ran out. They lost a rematch held the following week. A month later he teamed with Bob Holly in a losing effort. On September 24, 1995, Rivera defeated Waylon Mercy in his return to singles competition. The following week he lost to Dustin Rhodes, who was wrestling as "Goldust". Rivera was told to find a way to get him over and make him "do something", because the WWF's creative team was unsure how to work with the character. On January 1, 1996, teamed one last time with Hall, losing to The Smoking Gunns.
Feud with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and WWA (1996)
He entered the 1996 Royal Rumble as the 12th draw eliminating Dory Funk, Jr. before being eliminated himself by Vader. The following night he pusursued revenge, but was unsuccessful. On March 11, 1996, Rivera wrestled Steve Austin for the first time, in a contest that ended in a double countout. He subsequently revealed that this was an impromtu match, which he entered following a request from Pat Patterson. Rivera was unsure what to expect, but after concluding their perfirmance he realized that him and Austin had a "style chemistry". This evolved into an actual feud, which due to the success of their work together evolved into several long and consecutive matches. In the first of these, Austin won a rematch in both men's WrestleMania debut. On April 15, 1996, Rivera challenged Rhodes for the Intercontinental Championship, originally winning and being declared the new champion, the match was subsequently declared a no contest and the title was held up. The following week, he lost a rematch for the title. On April 28, 1996, Rivera entered the ring wearing a mask featuring the Flag of Puerto Rico and was billed as the "Caribbean Kid", he won his sole match under this persona, defeating Austin by pinfall on an episode of Superstars and unmasking immediately. This was Austin's first singles defeat in the WWF, as emphasized by Vince McMahon in the broadcast. A few months later, the two had a rematch at In Your House 8: Beware of Dog. They fought in a Caribbean Strap Match. Unlike WrestleMania, Rivera was victorious this time. According to the stipulations, Austin's manager Ted DiBiase had to leave the WWF. Thus, this was DiBiase's last appearance on WWF programming until 2005. Austin countered by winning a rubber match.
After participating in a 3 on 3 contest, Rivera entered a feud with John Layfield, winning their first contest. July 21, 1996, he lost a rematch at International Incident. On August 12, 1996, Rivera lost his first match by submission to Brian Adams. At SummerSlam 1996, he lost a match to Hart, being subsequently assaulted by Layfield. On August 19, 1996, Rivera participated in a Sudden Death Royal Rumble won by Rhodes. The following on Xperience, he closes the feud with Layfield by winning a final contest. At Mind Games, he defeated Marty Jannetty in a dark match. On September 7, 1996, Rivera defeated Triple H, then wrestling under the full name of "Hunter Hearst Helmsley". This was followed with a victory over Rick Bognar, who was wrestling as the "second Razor Ramon" following Hall's departure to World Championship Wrestling. To close the year, he teamed with James against Austin and Ron Simmons, winning by disqualification. Rivera entered the 1997 Royal Rumble, but was unable to eliminate any opponents before being eliminated by Austin, who went on to win. In his following contest, he won a three-way dance. In the first half of 1996, the World Wrestling Association emerged in Puerto Rico, becoming the direct competition to WWC. The booking for the promotion was done by Félix "Barrabás" López and Rivera, who became the first WWA World Heavyweight Champion by defeating Rhodes on August 31, 1996. Besides him and Rhodes, the promotion featured the participation of other WWF talents including Jake Roberts, as well as other talents from the independent circuits of Puerto Rico and Florida. On April 23, 1997, Rivera went on to defeat Ramón Álvarez to win the WWA Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship. However, the promotion folded in June of that year.
Nation of Domination and feud with Rocky Maivia (1997)
In February 1997, Rivera joined the original incarnation of the Nation of Domination a stable led by Simmons, by turning on his partner at the moment Anthony Norris, then known as "Ahmed Johnson". Norris went on to became the stable's main rival for the following months. The Nation of Domination was based on Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam and early on it was compossed of several multi-cultural wrestlers, with Rivera being the only one of Afro-Caribbean and Hispanic heritage. In his first match as a member, he defeated 2 Cold Scorpio. On March 31, 1997, Rivera teamed with Adams to defeat Adam O'Brien and Rod Bell. At Final Four, The Nation won a 3-on-3 contest. In February, he lost consecutive matches by disqualification to Marc Mero and Rhodes. On March 17, 1997, Rivera and Adams got disqualified in a match against The Legion of Doom. At WrestleMania 13 The Nation lost a street fight rematch in a 3-on-3 that also included Norris. Continuing this rivalry, Rivera lost to Johnson by count out. His next feud was against Intercontinental Champion Dwayne Johnson, who at the moment was wrestling as "the first third generation wrestler in WWF, Rocky Maivia", named after his relatives Rocky Johnson and Peter Maivia. Johnson entered this feud in a similar fashion to Austin a year before, an undefeated prospect undergoing a notable push. On April 14, 1997, Rivera won the first matchup between both, scoring the pinfall by using the traditional heel maneuver of holding its opponent's tights. At Revenge of the Taker, he once again defeated Johnson, this time by countout. Following the contest, Rivera assaulted Johnson's knee. On May 11, 1997, he participated in a gauntlet match against Norris, being the final wrestler eliminated before Simmons won it for The Nation. On May 12, 1997, Rivera challenged The Undertaker for the WWF Championship, but got disqualified. The following month he lost a match against Mick Foley. On June 9, 1997, The Nation lost a rematch against Norris and The Legion of Doom. Following this, the members of The Nation began experiencing an internal struggle and shortly afterwards the original incarnation of the stable dissolved, when Simmons expelled several members including Rivera and Adams.
Los Boricuas and the Gang Wars (1997-1998)
Following his departure from the Nation of Domination, Rivera formed his own stable, Los Boricuas, compossed exclusively of Puerto Rican wrestlers. To organize this faction, several wrestlers were brought in from Puerto Rico, all of them members of prestigious wrestling bloodlines. Miguel Pérez, Jr., a former Extreme Championship Wrestling and World Championship Wrestling performer, was the son of Miguel Pérez, Sr., one half of the first team to ever hold a tag team championship in the WWF, winning the NWA-Capitol World Tag Team Championship along Antonino Rocca when the promotion was still affiliated to the National Wrestling Alliance. Jesús Castillo, Jr. was the son of Pedro "Huracán" Castillo, an established international wrestler. José Estrada, Jr. the son of José Estrada, Sr., otherwise known Super Medico #1, a former WWF Junior Heavyweight Champion and one half of tag team, Los Super Medicos. Simmons organized the Nation into a Black-only group, while Adams created the Disciples of Apocalypse a biker based faction, launching what became known as the "Gang Wars". From the beginning the storyline was controversial due to being based on ethnic stereotypes and due to it mirroring some real gang wars. The format established during the feud paired three four-member teams against one another, with the distinction than none would gain a clear advantage early on. On July 28, 1997, Los Boricuas got disqualified in a contest against The Legion of Doom. At SummerSlam, the team defeated the Disciples of Apocalypse. This was followed by a no contest in a rematch against The Legion. In the first singles encounter between former Nation members, Rivera and Adams ended in a no contest. On September 7, 1997, he defeated both Simmons and Adams. At One Night Only, Rivera teamed with Pérez to unsuccessfully challenge The Headbangers for the WWF World Tag Team Championship. A rematch was won by Los Boricuas via disqualification. At In Your House Bad Blood, the Disciples won the second confrontation between the groups. Between October and November, he interrupted the Stable Wars by participating on singles matches, but lost to Rhodes, Mero and Ken Shamrock.
On October 27, 1997, Los Boricuas unsuccessfully challenged The Legion for the tag team championship. In their next outing, the team lost to The New Age Outlaws. In December 1997, Los Boricuas and the Disciples exchanged victories. In his first singles contest of 1998, Rivera lost to Hart. The following week, Los Boricuas defeated Taka Michinoku and Scott Taylor. He was the 26th draw of the 1998 Royal Rumble, but repeated the performance of the preceding year, being eliminated by Austin. Rivera would headline the No Way Out of Texas: In Your House pay-per-view in February 1998, when he replaced the injured Shawn Michaels in the main event, teaming with Triple H and the New Age Outlaws in a losing effort. On March 9, 1998, he wrestled Triple H to a no contest. At WrestleMania 14, he participated in a battle royal won by Legion of Doom 2000. A week later, Los Boricuas lost to LOD 2000. The Gang Wars continued with confrontations against the Disciples in April. On May 4, 1998, Rivera lost a match against NWA World Champion, Dan Severn. In June, Los Boricuas defeated Dick Togo & Mens Teioh & Sho Funaki in a 3-on-3 contest. The Gang Wars came to an end when the leaders of all three factions faced off in a three-way dance, which Rivera won. After emerging victorious from the long-running angle, Los Boricuas splintered into two tag teams. On July 6, 1998, Rivera defeated Achim "Brakkus" Albrecht in a Brawl for All tournament match. The remnants of Los Boricuas went on to lose against Too Much and The Oddities before fading. August 10, 1998, Rivera lost a contest against Darren Drozdov in the quarterfinals of the Brawl for All, which became his final appearance in WWF programming. Shortly afterwards, he was released from his contract with the WWF. On December 15, 1999, Rivera competed in a WWF-International Wrestling Association house show held in Puerto Rico. The IWA was a new promotion founded by Victor Quiñones that was serving as one of WWF's developmental territories. Rivera defeated Matt Bloom in his contest.
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, Ring Ka King (2008-2009, 2011-2012)
In July 2008, Rivera began working as a road agent for Total Nonstop Action Wrestling. In January 2009, he was assigned as head agent for the promotion's women's division, known as the TNA Knockouts. To accomplish this task, Rivera also served as the unofficial trainer for the division during this tenure, judging that the wrestlers needed to learn some of the most basic fundamentals if they were to appear in television. In the summer of that year, a back stage conflict erupted when Jeff Jarrett became romantically involved with Kurt Angle's former wife, Karen. The situation led to a systematic removal of Jarrett's influence within the administrative structure of TNA despite being its co-founder, eventually resulting in a forced leave of absence imposed by the promotion's president, Dixie Carter. On July 31, 2009, Rivera was released from his contract as a product of this power struggle, along another of Jarrett's supporters, Dutch Mantel. Despite being told by TNA's Director of Talent Relations, Terry Taylor, that they were cutting personnel on a general basis, he revealed in a subsequent interview being fully aware that Mantell and him were released due to their friendship with Jarrett from the onset, expressing frustration due to his uninvolvement in the situation. The situation eventually cooled down with the suspension being lifted, actually being used in a televised angle later that year. In late 2011, Rivera was again contracted, this time to work with Ring Ka King, a promotion affiliated with TNA based in India and with support from local media conglomerate The Colors Network. Once again working along Jarrett and Mantell, he was made responsible for training the Indian talent at Ohio Valley Wrestling, TNA's developmental territory.
IWA General Manager, La Compañia and Los Inhumanos (1999-2006)
Rivera joined the now independent International Wrestling Association upon returning to Puerto Rico. In the early stages of his participation, he would perform in singles as Savio Vega, often ending feuds by placing war paint in the final matches and changing character to "El Hombre Dinamita" alternatively known as "El Hombre que ellos llaman T.N.T.", a reference to his "T.N.T." gimmick, which WWC had refused him permission to use due to copyright. A continuation to Los Boricuas was also staged, with Pérez and Castillo. On July 16, 2001, Rivera defeated Castillo, now a member of a stable known as "Los Intocables" along Pérez that was the result of Los Boricuas turning heel, winning the IWA Hardcore Championship, which he was subsequently forced to vacate after being unable to wrestle. Eventually, his character suffered a transformation, turning on his former allies and adopting the role of General Manager, forming a villanous stable known as "La Compañia", which would had the rotating participation of Germán Figueroa and Ricky Banderas, whom he called his "Dream Team" while teaming them on the occasions that both coincided in the stable. Since then, Rivera has been depicted as co-owner of the IWA, despite the fact that the legitimate shareholders were Quiñones, Pérez and his wife. As General Manager, he performed more often as a manager than an active wrestler. It was under this authoritarian gimmick that he introduced his catchphrase, A mi manera o pa' la calle, a rephrasing of "My Way or the Highway" used to intimidate employees with terminating their contracts, which he did go through with as part of certain storylines. He would also "discipline" his employees by mugging them in a mob while singing a traditional Puerto Rican Bomba, Santa María. Later that year, he received the support of the main heel stable in the promotion, the Starr Corporation, compossed by José Laureano, Víctor Rodríguez and Ricky Banderas. At Christmas in PR 2001, Rivera and the Starr Corporation turned on Banderas and Shane Sewell, who teamed to form "Los Hermanos en Dolor", feuding with the former. The Starr Corporation remained on his side for some time, but eventually a conflict broke between both, leading to Rivera expelling Laureano from the IWA. On March 2, 2002, he used his authority to award the IWA World Heavyweight Championship to himself, entually dropping it to Figueroa. A reunion of Los Boricuas took place later that year, when Pérez joined Rivera to win the IWA World Tag Team Championship. In November 2002, he was absent for a couple of weeks after suffering a storyline injury at the hands of Banderas. Following this Rivera pursued the support of Banderas, granting him a titular match against Figueroa on January 6, 2003, in which he turned heel and joined La Compañia. His stable went on to feud against Figueroa, with Rivera bringing in foreign wrestlers to incapacitate him.
Banderas spearheaded La Compañia for several months, until "Rey Fénix" joined the stable. Soon after this arrival, an internal struggle erupted, with Rivera supporting the former. Both joined forces in tag team matches, defeating Banderas and Rodríguez. Despite winning the initial feud in a memorable match held at Golpe de Estado 2003, Fénix soon revealed his real identity, Ray González, abandoning La Compañia. Now joined by a heel Figueroa and Christopher Kindred, he went on to feud against González and his own stable, La Familia del Milenio. A storyline where Rivera had Sewell deported to Canada was also ran. This new faction held several matches against Figueroa & Kindred and Pérez & Castillo. At Golpe de Estado 2003, Rivera wrestled Huertas González to a no contest due to the amount of blood lost by both. On November 15, 2003, Kindred and Rivera attacked Banderas following a match, who was rescued by Vampiro, giving way to a new feud for La Compañia. At Hardcore Weekend 2003, he returned to his "El Hombre que ellos llaman T.N.T" persona, wrestling against Huertas González. To close the year, Rivera was fired by José Chaparro, who went on to take over the General Manager office acting on behalf of the IWA's CEO, Thomas Wreckler. Víctor "The Bodyguard" Rodríguez emerged as the self-proclaimed leader of La Compañia during his absence. In June 2004, a storyline to bring Rivera back was ran, in which the CEO, Thomas Wreckler, brought him in to stop La Familia and La Compañia. However, this storyline was interrupted by the death of Rodríguez due to a heart attack, and he unsuccessfully attempted to regain control of the General Manager by challenging González at Summer Attitude. On July 25, 2004, Rivera reformed La Compañia. In August 2004, González was involved in an angle in which he won 49% of IWA's stocks. He then entered a feud with the owner of the remaining 51%, Victor Quiñones. On August 28, 2004, at Bad Blood, González announced that from that moment onwards, IWA would be known as "Capitol Sports Promotions", claiming that Quiñones had already received documentation confirming this. González then began recruiting Huertas González to join him, claiming that their origin in "Capitol joins them". In September 2004, somebody assaulted Huertas González backstage, leaving behind Rivera's trademark bat. It was subsequently revealed that the culprit was "Lighting" acting on González behalf, just when Huertas González was about to join the "Capitol" faction.
On October 9, 2004, González announced that "Capitol" had formed an alliance with Total Nonstop Action Wrestling-NWA for Golpe de Estado and that this move would bring in NWA World Geavyweight Champion Jeff Jarret, Robert Roode, Konnan and Shawn Hernandez. Immediately after completing this announcement, Rivera propossed that they bet the stocks at Golpe de Estado with the winner taking full control of both halves of the promotion, which was accepted. On October 14, 2004, with the score tied between "Capitol" and IWA, he defeated González ending the name change angle. At Christmas in PR 2004, González dropped the title to Sewell in a match ordered by him. On the other hand, Rivera himself teamed with Huertas González to challenge for the World Tag Team Championship. However, he turned on Huertas González and joined Sewell, turning La Compañia heel. Following this, Rivera took a random Canadian heel character, replacing his traditional outfit featuring the Flag of Puerto Rico to one sporting the Flag of Canada. He feuded with González troughout 2005. Both formed different tag teams with members of their stable, exchanging victories. On June 18, 2005, Rivera won a singles match over González. He subsequently brought Miguel "Mr. Big" Maldonado to La Compañia to serve as his personal bodyguard. On November 11, 2005, Rivera defeated Carlos Cotto to win his second World Heavyweight Championship. Later that month he retained in a leather strap match. A third match between them that featured José Huertas González as referee was declared a no contest. However, on January 6, 2006, he lost to González in a "loser leaves the company" match, losing a final contest against Huertas González before leaving. This was the second time that Rivera's role as General Manager was overthown and it was followed by an storyline was run where Pérez had fired him and vignettes were aired where he was seen as a homeless man. Orlando Toledo, a nephew of the now defunt Quiñones was introduced as the new General Manager. A fictional election was held between Pérez and him, which Rivera won but was nullified due to him lacking a contract, making way to a new villanous president in Toledo. Upon being "reinstated", Rivera went on to feud with González and Sewell, forming a loose cooperation with Toledo. He went on to form a tag team along Huertas González known as "Los Inhumanos", when the former turned heel. Their union eventually dissolved and evolved into a feud, which saw Huertas González defeating Rivera in a "death match", his retirement contest for the IWA.
Los Autenticos and feud with Chris Angel (2006-2011)
Rivera eventually make amends with Pérez and joined him along Babderas and Sewell in order to feud with González and Toledo's Estrellas. Following a tag team match that went no contest in February 2007, his team won six consecutive matches against the heel factions. Rivera himself defeated Estrellas' members Kafu, Mikael Judas and the "Colossus" Michael Jarvis. He and Cotto formed a regular tag team to feud with Jarvis and Judas, earning a 2-1 advantage. Rivera went on to defeat Jarvis twice and get discualified against Kafu leading to Summer Attitude 2007. Subsequently, Rivera joined Sewell to form a tag team, winning two matches against the Estrellas. He then entered a feud against Figueroa, with both of their matches going inconclusive. He remained in a feud with Toledo's Estrellas stable until early 2007, when the former left the company following an event where Rivera sided with Pérez when a conflict between him and Mario Savoldi. Upon retaking his role as General Manager, he became the leader of a new heel stable known as "Los Auntenticos" along Pérez and Ricky Vega. This faction was quickly involved in an angle dealing with a power struggle against several other stables within the company. In his first match following a forced hiatus, Los Autenticos got disqualified in a match against González and Figueroa. They went on to defeat "Los Rabiosos", compossed by Freddie "Blitz" Lozada and Maldonado. Rivera entered a feud against Lozada, after the former teamed with Ricky Vega to defeat Los Autenticos. On June 14, 2008, he defeated Vega. Rivera went then entered a feud with Bison Smith, losing twice. On October 4, 2008, he wrestled The Sheik to a no contest. The stable eventually grew to include Rivera's younger brother Dennis Rivera and his tag team partner Noel Rodríguez. Los Auntenticos would then create a "terror list" where the names of former WWC employees were written. This list was used in a new angle were the stable would ambush and attack wrestlers that were randomly selected from the list. At Golpe de Estado, Los Autenticos lost in a Boricua Rumble match, before winning their following appearance. As a sidetrack, Rivera ran a mock campaign to become Governor of Puerto Rico for the fictional Partido Luchador Puertorriqueño (PLP) prior to the 2008 general elections. The closure to the Loteria del Terror came when the other members turned on Rivera and Pérez, citing that "they themselves were part of Capitol once", igniting a sibling rivalry against Dennis Rivera who was supported by Noel Rodríguez and Richard Rondón. The feud continued with matches between both, Los Autenticos lost two tag team matches against this team, known as "La Malicia". In matches between brothers, the result was a no contest and a win by Dennis Rivera. Concurrently, he entered a second feud against Joe Bravo and his own stable, "La Compañia Elite". Rivera and Pérez won a match against two lowcard members of La Compañia. At the IWA's 10th Anniversary show, He wrestled Bravo to a no contest, with the Undisputed Heavyweight Championship being held up. Rivera lost the rematch.
In August 2009, he won a handicap match over Rondón and Rodríguez and teamed to defeat La Compañia. He went on to defeat Bravo and Edwin Vázquez Ortega in consecutive matches. Following this, Rivera once again turned heel, teaming with Gilbert, facing a stable known as "La Cruz del Diablo". Dennis Rivera eventually returned to his side citing that "blood is heavier than water". He won consecutive matches over Bravo at the Copa José Miguel Pérez and Summer Attitude. Rivera joined his brother in defeating The Bad Boys from Hell's Kitchen, also winning singles contests over Keith Walker and Sonny Roselli. In June 2010, Rivera was contacted by Hugo Savinovich in order to become involved in an angle with IWA's main rival, WWC. Savinovich serves as the producer of Aniversario, the WWC's main annual event. While still in negotiation, Rivera appeared in a talk show along Carlos Colón. Promotion of the angle began here by staging a spot where he criticized Carly Colón's supposed addiction to painkillers, prompting Colón to leave the stage. This marked the first time that both performed together in over a decade, following the lawsuit filled by WWC over the T.N.T. character. During the following weeks Rivera continued this line by issuing two challenges in IWA events, as well as changing the name of his finisher to "La Painkiller". At Summer Attitude 2010, Rivera defeated World Wrestling Entertainment employee Bryan Danielson, then IWA Puerto Rico Heavyweight Champion and first contender to the WWE United States Championship, by pinfall following his finishing move. Later that night, he sanctioned a contest for the belt between his brother and Danielson, which was won by the younger Rivera. Rivera then entered a feud with Álvarez, who had served as special referee at Summer Attitude 2010 and made his in-ring debut in the IWA, winning the contest between them. Rivera went on to win two more matches over midcard talent before entering a lengthy hiatus. Returning in winter, he confronted "The Academy", a group that had entered the IWA two months earlier that was harassing Pérez. At Christmas in PR 2010, Rivera wrestled and lost to one of The Academy's members, the debuting Chris Angel for the vacant Intercontinental Championship. A rematch was scheluded for Histeria Boricua 2011, which was promoted with a throwback angle in which he emphasized how having defeated other undefeated wrestlers such as Austin and Johnson, claiming that his loss at Christmas in PR was nothing but a fluke. Regardless of this, Angel won the rematch and eventually went on to become an undefeated world champion. Upon exiting the ring following the loss, Pérez confronted Rivera and told him not to return until he had "returned to his roots".
Interpromotional angles; IWA vs. WWC and EWO (2011–2012)
Rivera remained completely absent from any wrestling related activity for several months as a consequence. He reappeared on the final edition of WWC's Superestrellas de la Lucha Libre show before Aniversario 2011, interrupting the progamming by steping into the camera while wearing an IWA shirt. At the actual event, he led a large group of IWA wrestlers, including incumbent Undisputed World Champion Hiram Tua, who promptly invaded the WWC ring, beating down the WWC Tag Team Champions, Wilfredo "Lynx" Rivera and Alejandro "Niche" Marrero. This event became known as "El Bombazo", referencing his original gimmick and the explosive nature of actual TNT. Rivera himself addressed the crowd and issued another challenge to Colón who responded in a subsequent interview issuing a challenge of his own. The WWC responded by entering the IWA's next event, Summer Attitude and vandalizing Quiñones' Hall of Fame induction. Despite this, the negotiations between the promotions were stalled and no further actions were taken for the remainder of 2011. At Halloween Mayhem 2011, Rivera returned to IWA for the first time since Histeria Boricua 2011, turning on a heel Pérez and seizing control by regaining the office of General Manager and joining the still-undefeated Angel and Phillip Davian to form a stable known as "La Academia Gerencial". The group stayed away from action for the remainder of the year due to him working the RKK project for TNA in OVW and India and he named an interim General Manager who performed the role at Histeria Boricua 2012. Prior to the WWC's Euphoria 2012 event, Rivera reappeared in Superestrellas de la Lucha Libre, supporting Ricky Banderas in his contest against Colón. He eventually costed Colón the match, playing a video stating that the "hunting had begun" that lasted for the remainder of the scheduled time. Concurrently, Pérez had launched a second interpromotional angle, this time involving the third largest company in Puerto Rico, the Extreme Wrestling Organization. Rivera himself remained uninvolved with this, holding a reunion with La Academia Gerencial. However, Angel and Davian left the promotion in February while he was working outside of Puerto Rico, disbanding the stable. Consequently, Rivera sided with the IWA upon returning, assaulting EWO employees at Clash of the Titans 2012. During this visit, he also participated in an event of a smaller independent company, New Revolution Wrestling, winning its heavyweight championship.
International promotions (2007-present)
While wrestling in the IWA, he competed in Revolution X-treme Wrestling based in Panama, performing in a battle royal to determine the winner of the vacant RXW World Heavyweight Championship, where he won the event. On January 2008, he began an international tour. This tour began with a presentation in Boston for Power House Wrestling Of New England. And continued with a visit to Ecuador where he would defend the Wrestling Alliance Revolution Tag Team Championship. The tour concluded in Panama where he defended the company's title against Ricky Banderas. In PHW he participated in a tag team match, where he teamed with a wrestler using the name Don Vega. They defeated a team that included the company's heavyweight champion. He would then compete in "WAR Conquest 2008", a special event organized by Wrestling Alliance Revolution. In this event he defended the company's tag team championship along Condor Ortíz, in a match that they lose after Ortíz accidentally kicked Vega. Following the match he turned on Ortíz, and subsequently challenged Kuervo, the company's heavyweight champion to a title match on the event. The encounter happened later in card, and Kuervo retained by disqualification after Vega spat green mist on his face. During the following summer Vega alternated his work between the IWA, Division One Pro Wrestling (D1PW) in Florida and Nu-Wrestling Evolution in Spain. Vega retained the RXW championship twice in June, against Ricky Vega and PJD. On March 21, 2009, Vega defended and lost the RXW World Heavyweight Title in a rematch against Panama Jack Daniels. Vega was released from his TNA contract on July 31, 2009. On October 2, 2009, Vega participated in a Wrestling Alliance Revolution card, defeating AP Dynamite for the WAR World Heavyweight Championship. On November 1, 2009, Vega and Pérez participated in a Dominican Wrestling Entertainment card, being booked to win the DWE World Tag Team Championship. They dropped the title on DWE's final event of the year, Cierre de Temporada, held on December 20, 2009.
On a Ring Ka King episode aired on February 11, 2012, Rivera returned to his T.N.T. character as part of his work as trainer for TNA. His opponent was an Indian wrestler called Jwala. None of the wrestlers were given a definitive heel or face role, but the local crowd supported his compatriot Jwala, who earned the pinfall by avoiding a maneuver by Rivera and applying his own finisher. He returned under the same guise on the March 24, 2012, RKK episode joining Nick Dinsmore in an eight-man tag team contest joining the Sheiks against the teams of Barood & Romeo Rapta and the Bollywood Boys. His team performed as the unambiguous heels, gaining the victory by employing illegal tactics.
Rivera was born in the town of Vega Alta (where the “Vega” in his wrestling name comes from), where he received his primary education. He participated in wrestling events during his high school years. After joining the IWA, Rivera entered another aspect of the business and became a trainer. Among his alumni are several international wrestlers including Germán Figueroa, Amazing Red and El Generico. Despite this, Rivera was hesitant upon learning that his younger brother had began practicing to become a professional wrestler, not allowing him to enter an IWA ring until his graduation from a wrestling school. In November 2009, the Savio Vega Wrestling Academy began operating at Vikingo Power Gym, in Trujillo Alto, Puerto Rico. Of the wrestlers trained there by Rivera, several became titlists in the IWA following their graduation, including Chris Angel, Jonathan Ayala, Carlos Cupules and Salvador "El Vikingo" Sánchez's own grandson, Víctor Ortíz. In 2010, he granted a shoot interview discussing his wrestling career for RF Video, which was released in DVD. Rivera also books himself in events that are unrelated to any promotions, including wrestling in charity cards. His latest participation in such an event took place on April 29, 2012, when he make an appearance in a card that counted with talents from IWA, WWC, EWO and CWA, held in benefit of institutions supporting the treatment of children with Hydrocephalus.
- As Savio Vega
- As Kwang
Championships and accomplishments
- AWF Americas Championship (1 time)
- PWI ranked him #321 of the 500 best singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
- WWA World Heavyweight Championship
- WWA Puerto Rico Championship
- WWC Caribbean Heavyweight Championship (3 times)
- WWC North American Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWC Puerto Rico Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWC Universal Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WWC World Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Mr. Pogo
- WWC World Television Championship (5 times)
- RXW World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- WAR Tag Team Championship (1 time)
- WAR World Heavyweight Championship (1 time)
- DWE World Tag Team Championship (1 time) - with Miguel Pérez, Jr.
- NRW Heavyweight Championship (1 time)