Alberto Del Rio is going to have to go at it alone for 30 days as Ricardo Rodriguez has violated WWE's Talent Wellness Program.
WWE.com announced the suspension on Tuesday for Rodriguez's first violation of the policy.
Del Rio now has to go to battle minus his trusted subordinate. The suspension takes away one of the most appealing elements of Del Rio's character.
No word yet on what banned substance led to this, but the one certainty is that Del Rio will suffer for Rodriguez’s mistake.
When the World Heavyweight champion entered the ring for his match on Monday's WWE Raw against John Cena alone, it felt strange. Fans didn't yet know why Rodriguez was missing, but his absence was unmistakable.
WWE is now forced to discover how much of Del Rio's heat is generated by his personal ring announcer.
Take away Rodriguez dragging out Del Rio's name when announcing him. Take away the energy and enthusiasm that Rodriguez brought to their duo. Take away Del Rio's advantage born from Rodriguez’s interference.
Del Rio now goes a month solo without the man that helped him connect to the audience as either a heel or a face.
Rodriguez's goofy charm and consistent status as a victim made for an easy way to get a reaction from the crowd.
Like Bobby Heenan, he is a man fans want to see get creamed. How many matches have featured one of Del Rio's foes throwing Rodriguez through a table to the delight of the crowd?
Imagine the Fiesta Del Rio segment on Friday's WWE SmackDown without the cringe-worthy moment when Dolph Ziggler smashed a guitar over Rodriguez's head.
Rodriguez has been the underling Del Rio has abused, making the world champ look more vicious and heartless. He's also been Del Rio's best friend—a bond which has opened the door for enemies to take advantage.
As cheesy and tongue-in-cheek as this fan-made video is, it highlights their relationship and how important it is in terms of storylines.
Del Rio now heads into his Money in the Bank match against Ziggler with no minion to use as a shield or a decoy, and with no stretched-out versions of his name to announce his arrival. Rodriguez's suspension strips him of a big chunk of his appeal.
The next month is going to be a revealing one.
Fans and WWE will now see what connection Del Rio makes by himself. Can he drum up hate without Rodriguez? Can he be as compelling without his pathetic hanger-on?
He has a month to disprove people who think that Rodriguez is more important than him; or if he stumbles, a chance to prove Rodriguez's true value.
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