(This had been sitting on my Work In Progress pile for a while. Thought I might get it done now.)
Who are the Havana Pitbulls/Brothers? Why should I care?
I’m assuming you’re talking about the ’00s version. There’s a much earlier tag team based in the South California that used the same name. The new version was likely inspired by the old one.
The Quick Version:
Rocky Romero aka “Ricky Romero” aka “Havana Brother I”
Puma aka “Havana Brother II” in CMLL from 07/01/03 to 09/19/03
Ricky Reyes aka “Havana Brother II” in CMLL from 10/10/03 to 12/05/03
Bobby Quance aka Rocko aka “Havana Brother III”
Outside of Mexico, Romero/Reyes is the normal Pitbull team. Puma works as an alternate partner.
Alan Stone was an short term associate and partner of the Havana Brothers, but not a member.
The Long Version:
Ricky Reyes and Rocky Romero were the original incarnation of the Havana Pitbulls, a tag team of two long time Cuban friends. They wrestled in California, and in Mexico in AAA (though I don’t know which dates). They ended up hooking up with the LA branch of New Japan Pro Wrestling (also known as Inoki Dojo), and eventually worked up a NJPW tour in ’02. At this point, they were pretty unknown.
In summer ’03, through some connections with NJPW, Rocky Romero, Ricky Reyes, and fellow long-time Inoki Dojo member Puma (aka Pinoy Boy aka Cobra 2 aka a couple other names) were given an opportunity to wrestle for CMLL in Arena Mexico. However, before their debut, Reyes broke his arm and was unable to participate. He was replaced by even less known Inoki Dojo member/south California wrestler Bobby Quance.
It got confusing. CMLL chose to change the team name to the Havana Brothers, and refer to them as I (Rocky), II (Quance filling in for Ricky) and III (Pinoy), though they’d often do promos using their own names. In the promos, Bobby Quance changed his name to Rocko, and in the matches, perhaps because of confusion of who was coming in, Rocky was usually called “Ricky Romero”.
The Havanas cut their promos as tecnicos (or more accurately US Indy Workers) while they were obviously being positioned as rudos. And then there’s the hilarity of a Cuban, a person of indeterminate but likely South East Asian decent, and an obvious white guy calling themselves the Havana Brothers. Somehow, they ended up in Dudleyville.
This had all the makings of an amusing footnote but little more, as they were initally and predictably fed to the top guys as Evil Foreginers for them to overcome. The two promos the Pitbulls did before their first match aired were also hilariously bad, but it didn’t seem to amount to much.
Wisely, Rocky, Bobby and Pinoi Boy seemed to take advantage of the situation. Besides the matches, the admittance to CMLL gave the Havana Brothers an opportunity to work and train with CMLL wrestlers at their Cibernetico Gym, and they’ve since credited trainers Negro Casas, Shocker and Satanico in helping them improve their skills. Their training from the Inoki Dojo – which appears to focus as much readying it’s fighters for MMA competitions as it does traditional wrestling matches – also gave them a different style than what was being done in the ring in Mexico at the time. And of course, as US Indy Wrestlers, they had an unhealthy fascination with eye catching spots.
Someone – either a wise person, or perhaps just a master of the obvious – realized the kids had some potential, and paired the three outside flashy wrestlers against three of it’s own young flashy tecnicos; Virus, Volador Jr. and Ricky Marvin.
This was a very good move. They mixed perfectly, the Mexico doing a fine job selling the submissions and flashy kicks from the Havana Brothers, and both sides breaking out more frequent high spots than often seen in high profile Mexico City matches. They had some really excellent matches, a few that actually got to make TV without being cut to bad.
The crowd loved the matches, so they did rematches, they did matches pitting the Havana Brothers versus other flashy workers on the rudo side, and they even (re)created a new singles title to give the matches a focus: the CMLL Super Lightweight Title, crowning Rocky (the singles standout of the three, though Quance’s Shooting Star Press was the big finish) the new champion after beating Volador as the final two survivors of a Cibernetico.
The Pitbulls first tour of CMLL ended the week after Rocky won the CMLL SL Title, with Rocky being pinned by Virus in a rematch of the initial match. The Pitbulls second run, apparently only planned after the initial success and now with Reyes replacing Puma focused on building to a Virus/Rocky title match, with Virus teaming with a wide array of partners and getting a lot of deciding pins on Rocky.
During this time, Quance suffered a head injury on a botched dive and was replaced by Alan Stone. Stone was announced as a partner but not part of the group. Quance was able to return to action with no obvious lingering effects.
As expected given potential availability problems, Virus won the title match versus Rocky, taking back the CMLL Super Lightweight title for CMLL. This set of matches seemed to do well with the crowd, but was pretty cut down by the time it made it to US TV, usually leaving only the last couple minutes of the match.
After losing the title, Rocky and partners worked a couple more matches but faded into the background. Their last match was against the Infernales, and it served more as a stage for the breakup of Infernales than their own departure.
The Havana Brothers were a lot of fun in CMLL, but didn’t seem to gain much notoriety from it, as they still were only booked on California indy shows, and not used in NJPW despite their affiliation. It was more their work in the PWG promotion that got them national names, through higher volume tape buying/trading.
Their CMLL work might have not made them US stars, but it did show they could work some good matches in Mexico.
Havana Brothers on CMLL US TV
- 09/14/03 – Historic First Promo
- 10/18/03 – Second Promo, vs Virus, Volador, Ricky Marvin (8:05, 90)
- 11/01/03 – Rematch vs Virus, Volador, Ricky Marvin (12:22, 92)
- 11/29/03 – CMLL SL Cibernetico (3:38, 72)
- 12/06/03 – Rocky vs Volador for the SL Title (9:08, 87)
- 12/13/03 – vs Virus, Volador, Ricky Marvin (10:25, 93)
- Reyes replaces Quance
- 10/11/03 (MEX only) – Rocky/Ricky/Alan vs Crazy/Masada/Nosawa (finish only)
- 01/17/04 – vs Zumbido, Alan Stone, Virus (1:25, 64)
- 01/24/04 – vs Averno, Mephisto, Virus (2:41, 68)
- 01/31/04 – Rocky (c) vs Virus for the SL Title (2:41, 70)
- 02/28/04 – vs Satanico, Averno, Mephisto (2:55, 63)
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