In Searching for a New Face, WWE Must Rely More on Story, Less on Ancestry
With the Alberto Del Rio babyface experiment now behind them, WWE finds itself in a conundrum over who could fit the role of a top Hispanic face.
Apparently, the pickings in that department are rather slim.
In a recent edition of the subscription-only Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer reports that the thinking behind bringing Del Rio on board a few years ago was to eventually turn him face and fill that role. The face turn came late last year, along with a World Heavyweight Championship victory, but Meltzer reports that despite those efforts, Del Rio’s crowd pop resembled more of a high midcard face.
Now with his return to heel status after last weekend’s Payback, WWE appears to be back to Square One, according to the report:
His turn leaves the company with nobody in that position. They’ve given up on Sin Cara. Even though Rey Mysterio is scheduled to return at this point for SummerSlam in Los Angeles, nobody counts on him long-term because of his frequent injuries. And there’s nobody in developmental that looks to be able to fit into that role.
My question about this whole issue is: Why does the company feel like they have to segment a wrestler into a certain role just because of his heritage?
Del Rio did not win two World Heavyweight Championships because of his bloodline. He won both of them based on storyline.
Mysterio’s injuries have nothing to do with his Hispanic background and everything to do with the fact that his high-flying ring style leads to a greater risk of getting hurt.
Sin Cara came into WWE amid much hoopla as the heir apparent to Mysterio and the luchador style of wrestling. He has not lived up to those expectations for two reasons—injuries because of his ring approach and running afoul of WWE’s wellness policy.
There is also the booking factor.
Del Rio failed because he was much easier to book as a heel than as a face. Yes, he was a face for only eight months. But during that time, he only had one solid booking run, and that was the program with The Big Show. The run against Jack Swagger deep-sixed real quick, and don’t even get me started about running over Santa Claus.
Del Rio also was turned in order to sell former heel Dolph Ziggler as a face.
Sin Cara’s bookings were not the best, either. His best booking came as Mysterio’s tag partner, and unfortunately, that ebbed and flowed with Mysterio’s health issues. Of course, being part of a division where 90 percent of the push came for the dysfunctional Team Hell No did not help his cause.
Nowhere in any of those issues did ethnicity play a role. Nor should it have.
If WWE wants to appease the Hispanic market, then do what you normally would do to appease all demographics within the WWE Universe. Find a good prospect, and don’t try to slot him.
As long as the prospect puts on a good show, that is all that matters.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.
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