Ric Caurdiea's Rise to the MWO Championship

If you were to look back at a poll of potential future heavyweight champions and main event players taken in 2012, you likely wouldn’t have found Ric Caurdiea’s name at the top, if mentioned at all. But, through hard work and dedication, the man dubbed “Old School” is sitting atop the Michigan Wrestling Organization as its champion. And like his moniker suggests, Ric did it the old school way of working up the ranks to achieve the ultimate prize in this promotion.
              Ric began his MWO journey in the summer of 2012, when he debuted as a third of the Caurdiea Brothers trio, joining alongside former superstar Vinnie and current Hoss Fight member Fat Tony. Shortly after his debut, and in the aftermath of Vinnie’s  sudden departure from the organization, Ric and Tony harnessed their talents to form of the MWO’s great tag teams of the era. The Caurdieas rose to the top of the tag team division and at the 2013 Christmas Clash supercard—just over a year after their arrival—Ric and Fat Tony had become the MWO Tag Team champions. The Caurdiea tag team worked so well together, that insiders had them pegged as tag team specialists by being able to adapt to virtually any situation during the course of their title reign. Heading into WrestleRama 20 as the champions, the Caurdieas were confident that they would retain against the Furious Gentlemen—the popular pairing of Pure Fury Jeff Clouse & John Campbell. However, the brothers lost the titles and may have began the splinter in the foundation of the tandem.
              “During that time, there wasn’t any team better than the Caurdieas, regardless of who had the belts,” said columnist Wildman Williams, “Ricky and Tony were a classic combination and I’m still convinced they could’ve been the greatest tag team in MWO history with more time together.”
              Following the loss of the MWO Tag Team championship, Ric began to experience some success in the singles ranks. And by the time 2015 rolled around, Caurdiea had set his sights on the MWO Great Lakes championship. His rise to title contention in the division made people stand up and take notice that there could be a new breakout star in the making. After standout performances against some of the best athletes in the MWO, “Old School” found himself in a title match with the incomparable Jack Price at SummerSmash 2015.
              “We all had a feeling that something big was going to happen in that match,” the Wildman recalled, “You could just feel that Ric Caurdiea was going to become a major player. And defeating a talent like Jack Price is just what Ric needed to stamp his name as main event star.”
              Caurdiea’s Great Lakes championship win over Price at SummerSmash 2015 put his name alongside some of the legends that had captured a singles title and co-held the MWO Tag Team championship. But more importantly, Ric achieved a goal he had set for himself by truly earning it. That’s not to say that the once-hated Caurdiea didn’t break rules along the way, because in this day and age, that seems to be the difference between great success and a mediocre stint. But whether the fans cheered or jeered Caurdiea, he always maintained his integrity between the ropes.
              “Ric Caurdiea is one of the true success stories in the Michigan Wrestling Organization,” said Jason “the Basher” Clouse, who competed against Ric in the tag title match at the 2013 Christmas Clash, “He was a great talent coming in here with a lot of potential. But I don’t think the majority of us knew just how good Ric would end up being.”
              For the remainder of 2015, Ric Caurdiea ruled the MWO Great Lakes title division. With momentum clearly on his side, Ric was poised to have a lengthy reign as champion. But as the calendar turned to 2016, he ran into a roadblock in the form of a debuting Superstar Alex Crow, who upset Caurdiea in his first match in the MWO and won the Great Lakes title at the Rumble for Ruby event in Mt. Clemens.
              “Losing the (Great Lakes) title to Alex Crow was a huge blow to Caurdiea,” said MWO News writer Leonard Broecker, “There was a deal of self doubt that Ric questioned if he was really ready to make a serious run at the MWO heavyweight title. That was his ultimate goal.”
              Following his stunning title loss, Ric rebounded and refocused on regaining the title from the Superstar. The two had a hard-fought rematch at WrestleRama 22, which ended with Caurdiea being declared the new champion but it was under controversial circumstances. So much in fact that officials decided to vacate the title and have it held up in the Slam-a-Thon tournament, where the finals would be a fatal four-way match that would see the last two titleholders—Ric and Crow—already in the match awaiting the semi-finalists. Caurdiea would once again win the MWO Great Lakes championship. And just as his previous reigns, “Old School” was flourishing on his own and providing incredible matches along the way. And just as it happened with his first reign as champ, Ric’s momentum came to a screeching halt. This time, however, it was a debuting superstar or dominating challenger that curbed Caurdiea, but rather an ill-timed injury. Relinquishing the Great Lakes championship was the only option for Ric, as he watched from the sidelines to see Scotty Fraytown pick up the title with a win over Fat Tony Caurdiea to fill the vacancy.
              Caurdiea’s inability to regain the MWO Great Lakes championship may have sped up his intent on achieving the biggest prize in the Michigan Wrestling Organization. “Old School’s” path to the top was a long and winding one and saw Caurdiea in a heated confrontation with Uprising member Brother Will Vendetta, who had won a guaranteed shot at the MWO Championship title in a Secret Santa Match at Christmas Clash 2017, a match that Ric had been scheduled to compete in but another injury prevented Caurdiea from taking a leap to make a splash in the highly competitive heavyweight title division. Finally, at WrestleRama 24 this past April, Caurdiea defeated Vendetta and gained possession of the contract that he could use at his discretion to secure a title match with the reigning MWO champion. He wasted little time when he attempted to crash the scheduled main event of Jacob Brawn defending the title against the Superstar Alex Crow. However, much to the shock of Crow, the fans, and Ric himself, Brawn was able to retain the championship at WrestleRama 24. But Ric’s cash-in attempt reignited the rivalry with Crow, who blamed Caurdiea for costing him his chance at winning the championship.
              “By not winning the MWO Title at WrestleRama, I think Caurdiea really started to question whether he could be ‘the guy’ in the MWO,” Williams speculated, “It took a little bit for Ric to regain his footing, but to his credit, he stuck to his plan and just would not be denied.”
              When a triple threat match was announced as the main event for SummerSmash on August 11, very few predicted that Caurdiea would win the MWO Championship. Instead, insiders and fans were strongly focused on Alex Crow as the one who would end Jacob Brawn’s impressive title reign. For nearly a year, Brawn and the Superstar had been embroiled in one of the most heated feuds in recent years and it was perceived that “Old School” was there based simply on a technicality. But, for Ric Caurdiea that was the chance he had been waiting for. He adjusted his approach and arrived to SummerSmash with a plan that would not settle for anything other than winning the MWO heavyweight title. And when the final bell rang, Caurdiea’s long journey to the top of the Michigan Wrestling Organization had been culminated with championship gold.
              “It was one of those rare genuine ‘feel-good’ moments when Ric held that belt up above his head at SummerSmash,” said the Basher, “That’s the epitome of what hard work can do if you’re willing to work for it. And Ric Caurdiea busted his ass to get to where he is today.”
              Old School Ric Caurdiea knew upon winning the Michigan Wrestling Organization Championship that he would have little time to celebrate his accomplishments. Not only is Caurdiea targeted by a line of championship hopefuls all looking to climb up the MWO ladder for the same opportunity that netted Caurdiea his current prize, but apparently also by critics outside the borders of the organization. Yet, to the fans of the MWO, Caurdiea’s newly-won title reign is a catalyst of a new beginning for the organization. And like he has done in the MWO, as well as other promotions in and around the Great Lakes State, Ric Caurdiea—whether cheered or jeered—will lead with his work ethic and dedication.
               But the question now is, who will be the first challenger to step up to “Old School”? Obviously, former champ Brawn will have to be thought of as an immediate challenger to Caurdiea assuming he immediately invokes his rematch clause. Plus, while Caurdiea has spent the last several weeks in the spotlight of some and the target of others, the Superstar Alex Crow has been watching from the sidelines as he has watched another chance at the MWO Championship end without a title win. And other contenders such as JJ Hughes, Roberto Cruz, and the Fabulous Scotty Fraytown would also have to be in consideration as legitimate threats to the MWO champion’s reign.

Winning the MWO Title at SummerSmash

MWO Great Lakes champion 

Starting the war with Alex Crow

Caurdiea holding court on ONTV

MWO newcomer in 2012

Tag Team champions with Fat Tony

The Caurdieas in 2013

Ricky & Fat Tony Caurdiea
backstage at ONTV