Breaking Down Impact of Alberto Del Rio’s Absence from WWE Roster
By Ryan Dilbert , Featured Columnist
Aug 8, 2014
Alberto Del Rio’s abrupt exit from WWE is the latest in the company’s string of roster issues to overcome.
As he begins the next phase of his career, Del Rio leaves behind a hole that needs plugging. WWE will be without a high-quality ring worker who was extremely dependable and was the company’s bridge to the Latino market.
On Thursday, the company let the former world champ go, per WWE.com, citing “unprofessional conduct and an altercation with an employee” as to why the move was made.
Dave Meltzer added on F4WOnline that “The story going around is that he slapped a a Social Media manager, at this week’s television, but there are a variety of different stories going around regarding what led to this.”
The full truth is sure to emerge over time, but regardless of how this came to be, the fact is that the roster is now minus Del Rio.
Fans have often labeled him a “boring” wrestler who lacked charisma, but Mexico’s Greatest Export was a valuable member of the WWE team—an experienced, skilled mat technician.
His absence will be felt with a drop in match quality. WWE loses one of its most consistent performers with Del Rio’s exit.
Steady Hand in the Ring
Del Rio is the type of wrestler WWE could throw into a ring with just about anybody and count on excellence.
He regularly brought out the best in his opponents, sometimes leading them to some of their finest work. That was likely WWE’s mindset when it paired him up with Batista upon the powerhouse’s return.
Batista hadn’t been in the ring since 2010. He was going to have to be eased in.
That meant working with Del Rio early on. The Animal battled him at Elimination Chamber and then on WWE Raw the next night. Batista hadn’t yet returned to where he was as a wrestler four years prior, but Del Rio helped him make the transition while he knocked off ring rust.
Last year, when Big E began to break out as a singles star, Del Rio was one of his early opponents. That helped Big E look like a formidable force right away and compose high-quality bouts as well.
Their battles on WWE Raw from May 27, 2013, and on the SmackDown from May 31 of that year remain some of Big E’s best work.
It’s no coincidence that emerging stars Roman Reigns and Dean Ambrose have met Del Rio recently. WWE clearly wants to elevate them, and Del Rio has aided that process.
As he saw with Reigns’ win on the July 25 edition of SmackDown, Del Rio helped lead him to one of his most impressive solo efforts.
In a lengthy match on Monday’s WWE Raw, Ambrose was made to look like a gutsy warrior and a top-tier star in waiting.
WWE could place those men in the ring with Del Rio and be confident of the results. Del Rio’s resume says as much. He’s shined against a variety of foes including Cody Rhodes, Dolph Ziggler and Big Show.
The company has one less man to be a constant in the ring now.
Del Rio’s departure leaves WWE without a wrestler who could be used to bring up rising talent like Reigns or ease in veterans like Batista. It also means WWE is now without one of its workhorses.
During his tenure, Del Rio has proved that he is a reliable, steady presence on the roster. That has meant he’s been someone WWE can turn to in terms of churning out matches but also someone who can tough out injuries which ups his value.
Bleacher Report’s Chris Harrington, based on data from CageMatch.net, lists Del Rio as having the ninth-most matches of any Superstar this year with 110.
That’s more than John Cena, Randy Orton or Kane have contributed so far. And Del Rio is not pulling an Adam Rose and being a part of blink-of-an-eye matches either. He’s been in a large number of lengthy bouts.
The number of his televised matches this year to go past the 10-minute mark is remarkable, per TheHistoryofWWE.com.
Alberto Del Rio’s TV Matches in 2014 Over 10 Minutes Event/Date Opponent Time
Raw-Jan. 20 Rey Mysterio 14:46
Main Event-Jan. 21 Sin Cara 12:00
Raw-Jan. 27 Kofi Kingston 13:37
Main Event-Jan. 28 R-Truth 15:00
SmackDown-March 7 Sheamus 10:36
SmackDown-March 14 Dolph Ziggler 11:46
Raw-March 24 Christian, Dolph Ziggler and Sheamus 11:56
Raw-March 31 Big E 10:28
Raw-April 14 Rob Van Dam 10:34
SmackDown-April 18 Big E 10:01
Raw-May 5 Daniel Bryan 15:29
SmackDown-June 27 (w/ Cesaro) Dolph Ziggler and Rob Van Dam 10:37
Main Event-July 8 Sheamus 17:01
SmackDown-July 25 Roman Reigns 12:28
Raw-Aug. 4 Dean Ambrose 15:42
WWE now has to find a new way to fill those 10-plus minutes on those shows, and it’s not as if every wrestler can come in and entertain for that long. Men like Fandango, R-Truth or Heath Slater don’t have the kind of in-ring resume that Del Rio has.
The company will need to look elsewhere to round out its shows with a top-level mat worker.
Besides providing a healthy quantity of bouts, Del Rio been unbelievably tough as well. Last July, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t WrestlingInc) reported that Del Rio suffered a broken rib during WWE Raw.
As reported by James Caldewell on PWTorch.com, he was wrestling just days later on the SmackDown taped on July 25 against Ziggler. The clash didn’t even air. That dark match main event was a Street Fight, one where Del Rio wowed the crowd, broken rib and all.
Just a few weeks ago, a gash above his eye required seven stitches, per WWE.com. The next night, he wrestled in two matches, one on Main Event and another taped for SmackDown.
That’s evidence of Del Rio’s dependability and invaluable toughness. WWE has been able to lean on him for quality matches even when he’s banged up in a major way.
WWE has less certain options when looking for someone to plug in now. The company doesn’t yet know how much it can rely on newer talent like Big E, Rusev or Bo Dallas.
One of its go-to stars is now gone. WWE must decide who slides upward to take his spot, unsure if that person can deliver in the same way.
A Way to Reach the Latino Demographic
Del Rio heading elsewhere also means WWE’s top Latino star is gone. The fervent reactions the former world champ received in Mexico point to how popular he was south of the border.
That’s also true in U.S. cities with large Latino populations.
As someone who has attended WWE live events in San Antonio, Houston and El Paso, Texas (all cities that fit that description), I can tell you that he was especially well-received in those areas. The Latino demographic is a powerful one, with 53 million Hispanics living in the U.S. as of 2013, per The Huffington Post.
With Rey Mysterio’s career all but over and Sin Cara not gaining much traction, that left Del Rio as WWE’s most prominent Latino. His absence creates a gap that WWE has to close.
That may mean calling Kalisto up from NXT or focusing more on Sin Cara, but it’s a problem that the company didn’t need to address so urgently until it showed Del Rio the door.
WWE has to hurry along Kalisto’s rise or alter the way it has been presenting Sin Cara. Either way, the Del Rio incident forces the company to make a change.
That is true in terms of WWE’s hierarchy as well. A former world champ and Royal Rumble winner who has produced in the ring as reliably as Michael Cole plugs the WWE Network is gone.
WWE must now survey the roster in search of his replacement.
Adios, Alberto: A Little Tribute To Alberto Del Rio
Posted by Dino Zee on 08.09.2014
Last week, I covered Destination X, focusing more on the X Division matches, the tag team championship match, and Austin Aries vs. Bobby Lashley. Overall, I really enjoyed the show, and judging by the comments, most enjoyed it, too.
Yesterday, news broke out that Alberto Del Rio was released by WWE, with it looking like he’s absolutely done with the company with little hope of returning. So, this week, I thought I’d talk about Del Rio, the run he had in WWE, and where he goes from here.
Oh, what’s that? Something I said would “never happen” actually happened? Well, I’m not above admitting when I’m wrong. See, while others may brush it off when you call them out for saying something wrong, going so far as putting the blame on you, I’ll actually own up to it.
I don’t even remember how long ago it was, but I took TNA to task for building up the Bully Ray promise of putting Dixie Carter through a table. There was no way it was ever going to happen, I said, so sure of myself. A face is not going to assault a woman. There is no way Spike- the company that flipped when Austin Aries put his junk in Hemme’s face- was gonna allow it. No way. No how. Never happening.
And then there was last night (or 4 weeks ago, if you read spoilers). Bully Ray, with assistance from Devon and the entire roster standing around ringside, powerbombed Dixie Carter through a table. I was wrong. Amazingly, the sun still rose, the tide still came in, life still went on.
I didn’t really dig it so much, for reasons that have been said elsewhere. I think the entire roster coming out to guarantee that a woman got put through a table was a tad over the top. I still don’t get why the face is the one that beat up a woman. Yes, I’ve watched television shows and movies before. No, I don’t feel that wrestling can be directly compared to, say, CSI or whatever show you want to call out. If you do, that’s great. Agree to disagree. I don’t think anyone that has a problem with Dixie going through a table is some soft wuss that can’t handle violence. I just think that TNA went a little backwards with this one. Again, we’re all going to be okay, whatever your take on it.
The point remains: I was wrong. Dixie went through a table. And, credit where it’s due, she took a hell of a bump on her head. Yeah, Bully’s ass hit most of the table, but that left the mat as the only place for Dixie’s head to land. Pretty friggin impressive.
Now, let’s talk about Del Rio!
Esencia de Excelencia
When the former Dos Caras first arrived in WWE, many of the people I talked to wondered one thing- how was he going to be treated? Would they try to make him a star like they did with Rey Misterio? Would he flounder almost immediately like The Mexicools? Would he spend time in NXT?
Soon, our questions were answered, as he was given vignettes to hype his arrival, and it was clear that they had a plan for the man. He was going to be a somewhat snobby guy, one that would smile to our face while stabbing our back. At the very least, he had a character, which was a nice change of pace.
He debuted by assaulting Rey Misterio, which was a great place to start. Too often, new heels debut by smashing a face that no one really cares about, or vice versa. Remember when Ryback was squashing two heel jobbers week after week? Yeah, that didn’t really matter. Once he got a feud worth a damn, people took notice. WWE avoided this problem by putting Del Rio in there with one of the more popular faces on the roster, and having him destroy Rey was a great start.
From there, Del Rio found himself winning the 2011 Royal Rumble and getting a World Title shot against Edge, where he would come up short. That’s nothing to be sad about, as Edge was freaking awesome, and Del Rio was just a tad too cocky heading into that match. Some were angry about Del Rio losing, especially since Edge retired due to injury shortly after the match. As a superfan of Edge, I’m glad that he got to retire as champ, and never really cared about the finish of the WrestleMania 27 match.
Del Rio rebounded just fine, anyways, as he won the Money in the Bank briefcase, and after a failed attempt to cash in following the epic MITB title match between John Cena and Punk, he cashed in for real after the two wrestled again at SummerSlam, and took the WWE Title from CM Punk.
From that moment on, Del Rio was firmly entrenched in the upper-midcard/main event scene, moving from one to the other depending on the title picture. It a champion needed a placeholder challenger, Del Rio was usually there. If the title scene was filled, Del Rio would feud with someone else.
What got me about Del Rio was how easily he transitioned to WWE and its style of wrestling. Most wrestlers with lucha experience have trouble adjusting, but Del Rio was ready to go from the second he showed up. You could tell he worked hard on his facial expressions, as he always made sure to have a jerk smile or a scowl on his face at nearly all times. Working under a mask for most of his career, this is an area I really expected him to suffer in, but he was ready to go from the start.
One aspect of Del Rio’s WWE run that I think gets a little too much hate is his ill-fated run as a face from the end of 2012 until Extreme Rules of 2013. I remember both Del Rio and The Miz being turned face for no particular reason at about the same time, and I was way more confused by Miz changing than I ever was with Del Rio.
I still remember the first Raw I watched with the new face Del Rio. His music had been changed up a bit, featuring some more drums, and a more up-tempo beat seemingly added in. Ricardo Rodriguez had a little more pep in his introduction. However, it was when the match began that I really took notice. Suddenly, Del Rio had all sorts of new moves added in. He was throwing second rope ranas. He was hitting moonsaults. He was playing to the fans with all the gusto of someone who really wanted to be a face. Compared to The Miz, who was basically still doing the exact same thing he’d done as a heel, only now with the expectations of “I should be getting cheered, I’m a face now!”, Del Rio was, in my opinion, freaking awesome as a face.
What killed it all, in my opinion, was the feud with Jack Swagger. First off, Swagger should have won the title from Del Rio, and most likely would have if not for an unfortunate incident with the law. Once he was busted, the entire feud was a wash. Secondly, Del Rio didn’t need to be dragged into a racist feud, which is basically what it was. The sad fact is that there are plenty of people out there who don’t like people of another color. Having Swagger and Zeb rally against Del Rio only made those people happy, and you could hear it in crowd reactions. The crowd was not solidly behind Del Rio. Some will blame that solely on the fact that he wasn’t that great as a face. Sure, that’s probably part of the equation, but running a program that has a focus on illegal immigrants in a time where many people want the borders closed and all that other stuff… it’s not going to galvanize the fans behind one person. The feud was just too much for what should have been a simple feud between a returning Jack Swagger that wants his World Title back, and the man who holds it, Alberto Del Rio.
After he beat Swagger, Dolph Ziggler took the belt off him the next night in a great Money in the Bank cash-in, only to lose it to Del Rio after sitting out with a concussion. Del Rio was now back to being a heel, targeting Ziggler’s head throughout the match. Del Rio would hold the belt until Payback where he lost it to another man he feuded with many times, John Cena.
It was around this point, however, that Del Rio started to matter less on television. He was used as Batista’s Welcome Back Bitch. He didn’t appear often, and when he did, it was usually as one of eight men in a match. Rumors started swirling that he was basically waiting for his contract to expire, at which point he would return to Mexico. These rumors persisted for most of this year as well, though it looked like this was another report that didn’t have too much to it. Del Rio still appeared on Raw and Smackdown here and there, and didn’t seem to mind being there too much.
Yesterday, as I mentioned, the news came out that Del Rio was released. The scuttlebutt is that he may or may not have slapped someone who may or may not have made a racist statement.
I know Del Rio wasn’t really up to much lately, and probably wasn’t going to be a prominent figure in the storylines any time soon. However, someone with the talent that he brought to the table being gone is a loss, whether you were a huge fan of his or not.
The big rumors are that he goes to either AAA or CMLL, with some saying that TNA may make a push to sign him. I don’t see him going to TNA just looking at how unhappy he supposedly was in WWE, but I can see him returning to the land where he’s a legend, and will be treated as such.
As I still can’t find any AAA on my TV, I’m selfishly hoping to see him in CMLL. Of course, if I actually do get the El Rey network’s airing of AAA when that starts, then I’ll be happy either way. I think that, with the way CMLL likes its older wrestlers, that Del Rio could basically walk in and do whatever he wanted. He could return as Dos Caras or stay as Del Rio, and I think he’d be treated as the biggest star in the company, and rightfully so.
Really though, what Del Rio proved while in WWE should be the feather in his cap. Many doubted whether a “luchador” could make it in WWE (with Rey of course being the exception, and NOT the rule). He not only made it, but he did it with a brand new character. He mastered aspects of the game he never had to worry about while wearing a mask. He played a great heel, and had a surprisingly decent run as a face. He adapted when he needed to. He could be a chickenshit, but he could also be a vicious heel, unafraid of launching horrific attacks.
Basically, when it comes down to it, the man did it all in WWE. He did everything they asked of him, and more or less succeeded in every facet. No, his face run wasn’t the best of all time, but the things he did to make it work are what helped it, in my opinion.
I know that there are many who were never Del Rio fans. That’s fine. I enjoyed his work, and will miss his presence on WWE TV, even if the machine, like it always does, continues on just fine without him.