Just two years ago, Alberto Del Rio was the fastest-rising star in the WWE. He won the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank and the WWE championship on two occasions. Unless he alters his character in some way moving forward, however, Del Rio runs the risk of fading into oblivion.
Does Alberto Del Rio need to change his gimmick to succeed?
On the surface, Del Rio would seem to have everything it takes to be a big-time star in the WWE. He has a great look for a heel, he has a fantastic ring entrance and he is very good in the ring, but there is something about him that has grown stale and caused the fans to lose interest.
A long, drawn-out feud with Sheamus didn't do Del Rio any favors. It became repetitive and boring almost immediately, yet it lasted for several months. That finally seems to have come to an end, with Sheamus facing Big Show at Hell in a Cell, but it doesn't mean that the fans are going to embrace Del Rio.
He was over as a heel early in his WWE tenure because we were given a reason to care about him and he scored several big victories.
However, after squandering his Royal Rumble win with a loss at WrestleMania to Edge, lackluster title reigns after cashing in Money in the Bank and injury, Del Rio has lost all of his momentum.
Leading into his match against Sheamus at Night of Champions, Del Rio was given a clean win over Randy Orton. He was also given a victory over John Cena thanks to help from CM Punk in a Falls Count Anywhere match. However, he had already lost to Sheamus so many times that nobody bought him as a legitimate threat to win the world heavyweight championship.
If Del Rio continues on with the same exact gimmick, I'm not sure anyone will consider him a credible contender again. The Mexican Aristocrat thing worked for a while, but it's a gimmick that needs great mic work to back it up. Del Rio is solid in several areas, but cutting a promo isn't one of them. He needs to do something that is less dependent on talking.
Del Rio seemed to show some promise on the mic when he first came to the WWE, based on his debut vignettes, but he hasn't improved in the least.
It almost feels like Del Rio has become complacent in that area, just as he has as an overall superstar. Fans can only hear about his destiny and hear him call somebody a perro or peasant so many times before they grow tired of it.
If I were in charge of a character shift for Del Rio, I would firstly have him ditch Ricardo Rodriguez, who could go off and have his own success. I would then get rid of all the bells and whistles and make Del Rio a ruthless shoot fighter, drawing on his background as an amateur wrestler and mixed martial artist.
I realize that it is something that has been done quite a bit in the past, but many fans enjoy that MMA style and I believe more fans would get behind Del Rio if he evolved.
For comparison's sake, I would model him after Samoa Joe in TNA. Joe isn't great on the mic, but he is made to look like such a tough guy that fans can't help but enjoy him.
Del Rio has long been one of the typical, cowardly heels who tries to squirm his way out of everything. I understand that is the hallmark of a heel, but there are certainly ways to make Del Rio look like more of a threat. He could probably beat the vast majority of the WWE roster in a real fight, so it's silly not to exploit that fact when it comes to his character.
Something needs to be done in order to get Del Rio back on track, and sticking with what isn't working clearly isn't the right way to go about things. Del Rio has a ton of talent and can be a believable top heel like he was over a year ago, but something needs to change in order to make that happen.