Alberto Del Rio is a heel Superstar who is headed for a major change as a babyface in WWE. Or, at least, he was.
That’s right, folks. It seems WWE creative has thrown us yet another curveball, as Del Rio now appears to be moving right back to where he was before. Confused? Well, you shouldn’t be.
I say “shouldn‘t be” because this is Vince McMahon’s company we’re talking about here after all, where plans seem to change at a moment’s notice. Just when you think you have it figured out, WWE throws something else at you, making you doubt everything you thought you knew about the business.
Case in point, Alberto Del Rio. Del Rio has been a heel the entire time he has been in the company and has feuded with many of WWE’s top babyfaces, from John Cena to Randy Orton. There has been no reason whatsoever to think of Alberto as anything other than a career rule-breaker.
Then, without warning, Del Rio inexplicably appeared to be turning face at WWE TLC when he saved Ricardo Rodriguez from the Three Man Band.
Now to be fair, the 3MB are not exactly CM Punk or Dolph Ziggler, heels who are at the top of their games. Ziggler and Punk could arguably turn anyone who gets within six feet of them into a babyface at this point. Heath Slater and company, on the other hand, are not what you would call top-level heels.
But there was Alberto all the same, getting a positive reaction from a WWE crowd who likely never thought they would be cheering the Mexican Aristocrat on that night, or any other.
Later that same evening, Del Rio faced off against the 3MB along with another man who has suddenly begun to play nice in the ring, The Miz.
Miz has been presented as a face since joining up with Mick Foley’s team back at WWE Survivor Series. The reason for Miz’s turn was basically that Dolph Ziggler had disrespected him backstage and now he wanted a measure of revenge against the Showoff for it.
Now, Miz is doing what faces do. He is playing to the crowd, not breaking the rules and doing everything he can to curry favor with the fans. Though he is still fresh in the transition, Miz is now, for all intents and purposes, a full-fledged face.
Alberto Del Rio? Well, let’s just say that this one is getting more bizarre by the moment. Mostly because the guy nearly killed Santa Claus.
For those of you who may have missed the “car accident” that occurred on this past Monday Night Raw, Del Rio took out the jolly old fat man while attempting to park his ride in the arena. Judging from the Mandible Claw that we all saw at the end of the night, Saint Mick—as in Mick Foley—was the man behind the beard. Apparently it was all for the sake of a few laughs to brighten everyone’s holiday season.
Only, many of us were not laughing.
Not because of the content, let’s get that straight. Some fans undoubtedly are a little sick of the silly jokes and ridiculous situations that WWE insists on televising, but I, for one, was not affected in the slightest.
I have been a pro wrestling writer for a long time, and a pro wrestling fan for even longer. I have seen a lot of strange stuff.
What bothered me about it was the fact that, once again, Del Rio was being played as the villain.
When it first became obvious that WWE was toying with the notion of turning Del Rio, I thought it was a good idea. He seemed to be growing stale, hitting a ceiling in the company, and had done as much as he could up to that point. I was very interested to see what he could do with a change of pace and a new opportunity.
But once again, Alberto was set against John Cena, who is the one guy that will not be shown up no matter who WWE wants to turn babyface.
Maybe it was WWE’s way of attempting to reverse the path that Del Rio had begun to take. Maybe it was all just a “do-over” to erase the face turn that we thought we were witnessing.
Whatever the reason for all of this was, it’s a safe bet that Del Rio will not be shaking hands and kissing babies anytime soon.
For me, it all goes back to the fact that Del Rio’s character change began alongside The Miz, who was not yet fully established, not yet fully over, as a face himself. If the idea was for Miz to give Alberto the rub, it was obviously not the right way to go, or we would not have seen Del Rio nearly ruin everyone’s Christmas on Raw.
The blame, however, does not lie with Miz. He’s still working to get his feet fully under him and be a credible protagonist in the company. The blame lies with WWE, who seems to be just planning all of this as they go along.
The truth is, to be successful—as a heel or a babyface—takes time. When a guy jumps from one side to the other, the investment must be made by the company to put him in the right spots at the right times, then let him take the reins to make it work.
This was not done for Alberto Del Rio, and now it seems that we are to forget about TLC and any possibility of the former WWE Champion walking the straight and narrow from this point on.
Or, maybe not. Remember, this is WWE. It could all change tomorrow.