Alberto Del Rio: Ranking His 7 Best Matches in WWE
Alberto Del Rio's WWE career trajectory has been like that of a rocket. He has already won the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank and WWE Championship. Along the way, he's composed a number of near-classics.
At his best, Del Rio has kicked heads and wrenched arms in the context of dramas that holds fans' attention.
Judging by how many ladder, multiple-person and gimmick matches appear on this list, it seems that Del Rio is at his best when given weapons and when facing more than a single opponent.
His unvaried in-ring repertoire is bolstered by the use of ladders and by having other participants around.
The listed matches are ranked based on the answers to the following questions. How effectively did the match tell a story? How captivating was the action? Was it realistic, novel and overall enjoyable?
With two championship matches at TLC pay-per-views and a Last Man Standing match with John Cena, Del Rio has already been a part of several notable and entertaining battles.
As his career progresses he's sure to add and rearrange this list with future works of wrestling art.
7. Money in the Bank 2011: Raw Money in the Bank Ladder Match
What began with eight men fighting in a mess of metal ended with Alberto Del Rio victorious, briefcase in hand. Rob McNichol of The Sun called the match "an entertaining encounter."
As true as that is, this Money in the Bank clash may not get the props it deserves because of a certain five-star match on the same card.
Del Rio was more of a component than the crux of this match, even with the win.
He didn't need to be the star, though. The action fed off the versatility of the wrestlers involved. Jack Swagger's power, R-Truth's speed and the high-flying spectacle of Evan Bourne and Rey Mysterio made for a consistently fun match.
Much of the match felt like a circus act with each Superstar taking turns diving outside the ring. One of the most daring spots was Bourne performing his Air Bourne off a ladder.
Kofi springboarded off a ladder onto R-Truth for a Boom Drop that further excited the crowd.
Among the vivid images of the night was the red briefcase flapping above the ladder while a multitude of hands flailed at it.
The Miz stole the limelight momentarily with a Willis Reed-like return from a kayfabe knee injury. In the end, though, it was Del Rio who survived the chaos and stood tall among the human debris.
6. Vengeance 2011: Del Rio vs. John Cena (Last Man Standing Match)
John Cena and Alberto Del Rio stood face to face in the ring with the ropes dangling around them, a unique environment that added to the mystique of the match.
They can thank Mark Henry and Big Show for collapsing the ring during their match.
Del Rio was dominant at first, stalking Cena and kicking him mercilessly. He and Cena built towards the climax slowly. Critics may say that the in-ring plot moved too slowly, with seemingly every other move leading to the ref counting to six or seven.
In spite of that, the match's greatest strength was its suspense, built partially with patient booking.
It seemed several times that Del Rio had dealt enough brutality to keep Cena down. Again and again, though, Cena rose.
Del Rio shoved Cena under a fallen ring post and stomped the steel onto the torso. Backstage, he piled metal plates onto Cena. He tossed him into a giant V.
Cena got to his feet each time.
Cena had his own moments of seemingly certain victory. The last one served as the match's climax.
After delivering an Attitude Adjustment through a table on Del Rio, it took a distraction from Miz and R-Truth for Del Rio to remain the last man standing.
5. TLC 2011: Del Rio vs. CM Punk vs. the Miz (TLC Match)
Opening with a rapid aggressive pace, the main event for TLC 2011 had a number of memorable moments and an unpredictable feel.
Del Rio, Miz and Punk all had their moments of brilliance, but Punk was the star for the most part.
It was one of his Houdini-like escapes that created the match's lasting image, Punk unscrewing his way free from being handcuffed in the corner, the ropes falling limply on the mat.
Del Rio's role for the most part was the villain who puts the hero in an impossible position. It seemed at times that he had outsmarted and outplayed his opponents.
He first introduced the handcuffs to the match, locking Punk to the ladder. He landed some thunderous kicks on both Punk and Miz.
Punk's eventual survival would not have felt as dramatic without Del Rio's dastardliness, without him serving as the foil.
4. TLC 2010: Del Rio vs. Edge vs. Kane vs. Rey Mysterio (TLC Match)
Intertwined rivalries and violent ladder shots turned this Fatal 4-Way TLC match into a highly rewatchable tour de force. It gets a lower ranking than Del Rio's absolute best so far because it featured less of a story and was more of a spotfest.
Albert Del Rio faced off against his first WWE enemy in Rey Mysterio, his adversary at the time in Edge and the powerful, uncaring monster, Kane.
Del Rio's contribution to this action-packed match was his speed and his kicks.
The action flowed extremely well, getting every man involved. Rey Mysterio climbed on prop tables hanging from the ceiling. Edge blocked a 619 with a chair and later sent Rey flying face first off a ladder.
In hindsight, now that Edge is retired and this remains one of his last major matches, it is even more meaningful.
3. Hell in a Cell 2011: Del Rio vs. John Cena vs. CM Punk (Hell in a Cell)
Never has Alberto Del Rio looked more like a mastermind then when he outsmarted his Hell in a Cell opponents in 2011. For one night, he became Lex Luthor to John Cena's Superman.
Del Rio's debut in the cell earned an eight out of 10 rating from Dave Hillhouse at Slam! Sports.
The fight began with CM Punk and Cena angrily pounding on Del Rio in the corner. They took turns clobbering him until they began to attack each other.
The match's rhythm felt natural and never seemed to let up. The alpha position shifted like tectonic plates.
From Del Rio suplexing Cena into a chair and bending it, to him pushing Punk through a table, to Punk and Cena trading attempting finishers, fans had little time to breath. The action pulsated. The drama entertained.
Punk's lacerated back spoke to the violent nature of the environment even in the PG Era. Booker T spoke of how the cell would take chunks out of the participants and the superstars made those words feel true.
Del Rio delivered a delightfully vicious performance. At one point, Michael Cole called him the cell's maestro.
That title became more fitting when Del Rio locked Cena out of the cell and assaulted Punk with a steel pipe for the win.
This night's main event earns high honors for a throbbing pace, for its unexpectedness and the intensity it emanated.
2. Extreme Rules 2011: Del Rio vs. Christian (Ladder Match)
Edge's sudden retirement left a vacancy at the top of the WWE. It offered a shot for both Alberto Del Rio and Edge's longtime friend, Christian, to challenge for the World Heavyweight Championship.
The match could have simply been a means to reach the touching moment of giving Christian the World title in memory of his friend, but it went far beyond that.
Intensity and hunger radiated throughout the match. Kudos to both men for delivering an experience where fans genuinely cared who won.
The action was often brutal.
Del Rio viciously yanked Christian off the ladder. Later he missed a splash on Christian and crashed on a propped-up ladder, creating a horrific impact.
Brodus Clay, who was Del Rio's bodyguard at the time, removed a ladder and left Christian dangling helplessly above the ring. Later Clay would suffer a legitimate injury, turning his face into a bloody mess.
Though Christian had the clear edge in ladder-match experience, both men used their surroundings craftily. Del Rio's best sadistic act was using a ladder to make his cross armbreaker even more painful.
The two speedy men kept up an exciting pace until Edge drove up in a Jeep, distracting Del Rio just enough to allow Christian to complete his championship journey
1. Survivor Series 2011: Del Rio vs .CM Punk
The majority of the attention at Survivor Series 2011 went to The Rock's return to the ring, but there was a classic on that card that is Alberto Del Rio's best match to date.
Tension between Del Rio and CM Punk rose after Del Rio cashed his Money in the Bank contract on a laid-out Punk at SummerSlam of that year. This match would end up being the starting point for Punk's year-plus WWE title reign.
A blistering crowd at Madison Square Garden chanted Punk's name with fervor and set up a rumbling energy that both wrestlers appeared to feed on.
The match began with a surprise appearance from Howard Finkel.
From then on, Punk and Del Rio matched each other’s energy and pace. Headlocks and armdrags soon morphed into more violent moves.
For much of the match, Del Rio played the predator with Punk's arm being the prey.
When Punk had the upper hand, Del Rio kicked out relentlessly, hanging onto his title with sheer will. The overwhelming number of near-falls teased the fans and built suspense.
Punk and Del Rio delivered a gorgeous sequence where Del Rio escaped the GTS and they both escaped and countered each other's moves before Del Rio clamped on the armbreaker.
Eventually, though, Punk would win the gold from Del Rio and hold it well past the next year's Survivor Series. Before Punk gave fans the iconic image of him leaping into the crowd in celebration, Del Rio displayed one of his own.
Trapped in Punk's Anaconda Vise, Del Rio squirmed frantically, clawing at Punk's face with utmost desperation.