WWE has long had global ambitions for its product, as any major corporation would. In some global markets it has had success, and in some it has struggled. But, one of the WWE's greatest and most unexpected successes is relevant here. We'll get into that in a second, but first let's have a little history.
Back the mid 2000s, SmackDown was really running on all cylinders. The matches were great, the storylines were solid, and some new stars were emerging. Perhaps the most unexpected of these stars was the late Eddie Guerrero, who saw his stock soar throughout 2003 into 2004, ultimately culminating in a WWE Championship victory and the main event spot he so richly deserved.
But rewarding one of the greatest performers in wrestling history was just one benefit of this decision, as Hispanic viewers began tuning into SmackDown in stunning numbers to watch Eddie Guerrero as champion. Along with his friend Rey Mysterio, and his cousin Chavo Guerrero, they represented some of the biggest Mexican stars ever presented on WWE television and the audience responded.
Buoyed by its placement on UPN, a network that catered heavily to Hispanic and African American communities, WWE found a home in the heart of Hispanic families both here in America and abroad. By the time 2006 rolled around, SmackDown was consistently the fourth-highest rated English speaking show among the Hispanic audience, trailing only American Idol and Grey's Anatomy.
When Eddie Guerrero died in 2005, those numbers only grew stronger, and that responsibility fell on the shoulders of Rey Mysterio, who wore that mantle proudly for a number of years, even as the show changed networks and lost some accessibility to the fanbase. The influx of support from Mexico not only allowed WWE to tour extensively there, but was also the foundation for the WWE's massive international push for talent and expansion, which has led to huge business and a distinctly international flavor for the shows.
Those Hispanic viewership numbers remain strong to this day, but they are in decline as Mysterio dials down his career and, until recently, no obvious replacement is anywhere to be found.
Enter Alberto Del Rio.
Son of one of the most famous luchadors of all time, a man who would have been a Mexican Olympian in 2000 had Mexico sent a team that year, and a man who has "Made in Mexico" tattooed on his back.
If ever there was a man who could recapture the imagination of that audience, here's your guy. It may take a little while to get the ball rolling back in the other direction, but the potential in this man to capture that audience is limitless.