It’s over. Finally.
After months upon months of seemingly never-ending drama between World Heavyweight Champions Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio, it appears as if the WWE actually ended this feud once and for all at tonight’s Night of Champions pay-per-view.
Sheamus picked up the clean victory over Del Rio via Brogue Kick, and unless the creative team decides to torture us by extending this rivalry another month, the Mexican Aristocrat and the Celtic Warrior should go their separate ways.
As the World Heavyweight Champion, Sheamus should have no shortage of challengers, and I think a title feud with either Wade Barrett or Dolph Ziggler (following a cash-in, perhaps?) seems likely.
But the future is a little less clear for Del Rio.
He’s been in the World Heavyweight Championship picture for essentially five months. Yet, during all the time that he’s spent there, he never managed to actually win the title or even seem like a credible threat to do so.
ADR’s time as a top title contender appears to be over for now, however, and with John Cena and CM Punk battling it out in the WWE Championship picture, he’s not going to just jump ship to the WWE’s other World title scene.
Unfortunately for Del Rio, it looks like he is going to have to do something that he’s rarely done since debuting in the 2010: work in the mid-card.
A WWE superstar can only stay at the top for so long, and ADR has spent most of his career there. It’s safe to say, though, that his ride in the main event scene has been a rather bumpy one.
Neither of his WWE Championship reigns in 2011 went particularly well, and for the most part, he’s been pretty boring and stale as the No. 1 contender for the World Heavyweight title. I think he could benefit a great deal from some sort of gimmick change (even if it’s just a minor one), but I seriously doubt that will happen anytime soon.
Instead, Del Rio should take a slight drop down the card to the upper mid-card, which would be rather unfamiliar territory for him, but is actually more along the lines of where I think he belongs.
Yes, ADR is a very good overall talent. But he’s gotten to be pretty monotonous over the last year or so, and he seems to have “something” missing, although we can’t really be sure what that is.
A drop to the upper mid-card seems not only warranted, but necessary to see if Del Rio can do something different and/or exciting, which he hasn’t managed to do very much recently.
The problem for Del Rio, though, is that there doesn’t appear to be a whole lot of options lined up for him at the moment.
I’m not sure that Randy Orton is done with Dolph Ziggler just yet, and like I mentioned earlier, ADR is not going to feud with Cena or Punk again. Beyond that, it’s slim pickens on the baby face side of the WWE, which means it’s slim pickens for Del Rio.
Therefore, the WWE is going to have to be, well, creative when deciding what to do next with ADR.
Does he go without a feud for a while to regain some momentum and redefine his character? Does he feud with a veteran mid-carder or an up-and-coming baby face? Or—and this is a worst-case scenario for ADR—does he get completely lost in the shuffle?
While I don’t see the latter happening because ADR is a top Hispanic star that the WWE so desperately wants and needs, I actually think the first option is the most likely.
Sure, ADR could feud with someone like Rey Mysterio, but we’ve already seen that in the past. Similarly, he could have a rivalry with a young mid-card baby face like Ryback, but do you honestly see ADR putting Ryback over?
I sure don’t, and that’s part of what puts ADR in such a tricky situation. He’s booked just weakly enough to miss out on being a World champion, but just strongly enough to rarely lose to any mid-card baby faces.
So, if I’m the WWE, I don’t put him in a feud for a while. Chances are that all he’s going to do is bury a mid-card baby face and bore us to death.
Instead, I give ADR a chance for some much needed character development and refreshment, both of which are long overdue and would perhaps help him regain the momentum that he had built up immediately after his WWE debut.
That would probably be the best for Del Rio in the long term and for us fans, who need an ADR break, in the short term.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!