World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio vs. Rob Van Dam

BY Anthony Benigno

August 26, 2013

A good manager clearly goes a long way. Just ask Ricardo Rodriguez, who bounced back from an unceremonious firing by Alberto Del Rio by coaching a new client to challenge for The Essence of Excellence’s World Title at Night of Champions: Rob Van Dam.

A pay-per-view confrontation between Del Rio and Van Dam has been seemingly brewing for some time. One of Mr. Monday Night’s biggest victories came hot off his return at WWE Money in the Bank, when he faced down The Essence of Excellence on SmackDown and won. The two Superstars would clash again over the following weeks, including a momentous contest where Ricardo – then still Del Rio’s manager – cost the champion the bout and was punished with a skull-rattling beatdown by a furious Del Rio.

Though the beating served as Ricardo’s pink slip from the champion, the veteran ring announcer wasted no time in both joining forces with RVD and helping the former WWE Champion become No. 1 contender on the August 19 edition of Raw. And so now comes the moment of truth, where two of WWE’s most accomplished Superstars will collide for a title with a lineage almost as storied as their own.

With Del Rio looking to cling to the title he has coveted for two years, and RVD looking to complete the rarely-seen World Title trifecta (as a former ECW and WWE Champion, he’s one away from the hat trick), the implications for Night of Champions are both personal and historic. For Del Rio, this match marks a crucial phase in his second reign with the World Heavyweight Title. Though he’s proven himself fallible in non-title matches, thus far the champion’s luck has held tough when his prize is up for grabs. RVD, for all the awe his return has inspired, sits firmly on the opposite side of the coin: Though he’s racked up wins since coming back to WWE, he has yet to maneuver his way back into a World Championship picture after he competed for the WWE Title Money in the Bank contract.

And then there’s Ricardo, the third piece who rounds out the puzzle. Looking for redemption of his own, the ring announcer has been belittled and beaten in equal measure by Del Rio. RVD wants the “Big Gold Title.” Ricardo wants his pound of flesh. Could they both get what they want at Night of Champions? Or will “destiny” favor Del Rio once more?