He had been saved from the sack in the company by Stephanie McMahon and was primarily working on SmackDown, under the Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick.
In 2004, he was United States Champion, his first real title reign in the company.
And the company trusted him to elevate the newly debuting Carlito, by booking the new superstar to beat Cena for the title on his very first night in WWE.
That first night came after weeks of vignettes in which Carlito berated people who weren’t “cool”, and did so by spitting an apple in their face. It was a good heel gimmick, and he had plenty of heat going into his debut, so it was little surprise that he won by cheating.
He did so with the help of a padlock, wrapping the chain around his hand and knocking Cena out before getting the three-count.
Carlito, at the time, was working alongside a bodyguard called Jesus.
And that match, and that result, led to one of the strangest booking decisions in a feud, as WWE decided to have Jesus allegedly “stab” Cena in a nightclub.
In real life, the worked injury was designed to give Cena time off to go and film The Marine.
Now, the actual incident wasn’t shown on television, with Jim Ross revealing on Raw, that he was at a medical facility as a result of an incident in a nightclub.
Teddy Long, then SmackDown general manager, then opened that week’s SmackDown by addressing the roster, telling them he was involved in a melee at a club, and received a puncture injury to his kidney.
Carlito later admitted that he was in the nightclub when Cena was stabbed, but said that he decided to leave before the stabbing happened.
Cena eventually returned at Survivor Series, beating the hell out of Jesus, and he won back the US Championship on SmackDown later that week, after a pre-match beatdown as Carlito was forced to wrestle with a kayfabe shoulder injury.
The feud came to an end when Cena wrestled Jesus in a street fight for the belt at Armageddon, winning handily.
Cena went on to feud with WWE Champion John Bradshaw Layfield, eventually winning that belt from him at WrestleMania, having dropped the US title to Orlando Jordan. Remember him?
Carlito went on to hold the WWE Intercontinental Championship, as well as both the WWE and the World Tag Team Championships, both with Primo Colon.
He left WWE in 2010, although he has wrestled in the company since, competing in the Royal Rumble earlier this year, and teaming with Jeff Hardy on Raw in February to defeat Elias and Jaxson Ryker.