Alberto Del Rio is a two-time WWE Champion, a Royal Rumble winner and a Money in the Bank briefcase winner. All of that has happened in just 18 months on the main roster for WWE. Unfortunately, Del Rio suffered an injury a few weeks ago.
The good news is that it is only a groin tear and not anything more serious. The injury puts him on the shelf for only a few weeks, possibly allowing him to return by Royal Rumble on January 29.
So why should we dare expect Del Rio not to latch back onto the world title scene and try to improve on his accolades when he returns? Because he is old and stale.
My best comparison to what Alberto Del Rio's WWE career resembles is Psycho Sid's WWE career. Sid had worked in the wrestling business for a number of years prior to getting his big push in WWE. In 1996, Sid won a match to become No. 1 contender for the then-WWF Championship, which was held by Shawn Michaels at the time. After distractions, Sid won the championship at 1996's Survivor Series.
What followed was pretty embarrassing for Sid. Ratings plummeted, and it became obvious that Sid as the champion of the entire company was not going to work. After a messy title defense over Bret Hart at In Your House 12: It's Time, Sid would lose the championship to Michaels at 1997's Royal Rumble. This would be the reign for Michaels that was stripped from him for an apparent knee injury.
At In Your House: Final Four, Bret Hart would win a Fatal 4-Way match to claim the championship, only to face Sid the following night on RAW. On February 17, 1997, just 29 days after losing the championship the first time, Psycho Sid became a two-time WWF Champion. Sid would become one of The Undertaker's WrestleMania victims just 34 days later, dropping the championship to The Deadman.
Sid now sits as one of just six men in WWE history to have multiple WWE Championship reigns that combine to be short of 100 total days as champion. One of those men is current champion CM Punk, who would reach day 100 as WWE Champion on the RAW after Royal Rumble. Another one of those men is Del Rio, who was WWE Champion twice in 2011 for a combined 84 days.
Del Rio is one of the heels that WWE has spent time developing and generating heat for. In 2011, Del Rio was put against some of the best faces WWE had to offer, such as Edge, John Cena, Rey Mysterio, Christian and CM Punk.
Even when generating all of this heat, Del Rio could not translate the hatred into what a heel wishes to be: despised. Not even acting like he had ended Edge's career was enough to turn Alberto Del Rio into a memorable heel.
Just 12 weeks with the WWE Championship is all that Del Rio has to show for his hard work. Winning a 40-man Royal Rumble gave him a lackluster WrestleMania match, which will only be remembered for being the last one of Edge's career. The bad move may have been Del Rio's move to RAW following the WWE Draft. It threw the still unproven heel to the flagship show, expecting him to be the top heel of the entire company quickly.
In hindsight, Del Rio would likely have been better suited to stay on Smackdown and feud with Randy Orton, the big face of the company to come to Smackdown from the draft. That could have cost Christian his heel turn and rivalry with Orton, but that is all hypothetical.
The point is that Del Rio still was not strong enough to stand upon his own heat, needing to generate it constantly just to get a reaction.
The thing that fans can point to for what has done Del Rio in is his lack of a reaction as a world champion. The best heels are the ones who can still draw the crowds, even when the crowds don't like him. Nobody seemed to care that Del Rio was champion, including the writing staff. Every aspect of Del Rio's gimmick, from his ring announcer to the flashy cars he drives to the ring, was dissected and revealed to be phony.
Age is what also killed Psycho Sid's WWE career. Sid was 37 years old when he became WWE Champion, while Del Rio was already 34 during his two reigns. Del Rio turns 35 at the end of May. Coming off of injury and with nearly all of his heat and momentum gone, Del Rio may not even be close to another world championship opportunity until after his 35th birthday.
Del Rio would need to hold on for another two decades if he wishes to match Mr. McMahon's record of oldest WWE Champion in history, but that isn't the point of this discussion. The point is that Del Rio's career doesn't have much left to it. The longer that it goes on with him hardly being remembered, championships aside, Del Rio will be nothing more than the answer of a trivia question in WWE lore.
I could imagine it now:
Question: Who faced Edge in the last match of his career at WrestleMania XXVII?
Answer: Alberto Del Rio.
Who is Alberto Del Rio? Oh yeah. I saw his "Where Are They Now?" story the other day.
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