Alberto Del Rio is the supervillain whose creators know is going the rule the world but can't seem to find the right costume for him.
Del Rio is a supremely talented wrestler who has continually been a few tweaks away from reaching his full potential.
While WWE has told some compelling stories with Del Rio at the center, his time with the company has been speckled with missed opportunities and odd choices. His heel turn centered around trying to kick Dolph Ziggler's concussed brain in like a rotted pumpkin was unnerving and brilliant.
His face run had some bright moments and WWE's use of Ricardo Rodriguez as a means to humanize Del Rio has been excellent as well.
Still, one can’t help but notice missteps from the past and the present surrounding Del Rio's character.
Del Rio scaled WWE's mountain so quickly that fans hardly knew him when he stood up there, pounding his chest and celebrating victory.
There was too little chance to have his character seep into our minds, for Del Rio to break in his new role.
In June 2010, several vignettes aired introducing the Mexican aristocrat on SmackDown.
Just seven months later, Del Rio won the 2011 Royal Rumble. He then won the Money in the Bank ladder match that year and took advantage of a fallen CM Punk to become the WWE champ at that year's SummerSlam.
All those moments failed to have the impact they would have were Del Rio to have accomplished them later on.
Fans had little opportunity to have Del Rio wear on them, for him to become the top heel that WWE envisioned for him. Regardless if he was ready in terms of talent to be in that position, his rapid ascent robbed the drama from those big moments. It was difficult to have a reaction to a man most fans had only known for a year.
Had Bray Wyatt been the one to end Daniel Bryan's WWE title reign, it wouldn't have been as moving.
If Big E. Langston becomes WWE champ at the end of 2013, it will likely feel a bit surreal. We've yet to establish a true bond with either Wyatt or Langston. That's the position Del Rio found himself in.
His character had little sticking power as WWE pushed the speed of the narrative to a pace that was hard to follow.
The Prolonged Battle
Sheamus and Del Rio's feud seemed to go on for all of 2012.
It stretched from April to October, something fans wouldn’t have complained about had the rivalry intensified and entertained along the way. Instead, Del Rio too rarely played the aggressor.
After Sheamus stole his car, Del Rio hired men to pose as police officers and had the Irishman beat down in the ring.
There weren't enough of these memorable moments for a feud of this length. Del Rio missed out on a chance to increase our hate for him.
Think back to all the vile things Randy Orton did to Triple H during their feud, including him kissing Stephanie McMahon while she was unconscious. That move forced our attention on Orton and made him seem like a heartless scavenger.
That's the kind of despicable action that not only keeps a feud interesting but provides a stage for a villain's character to deepen.
With Del Rio, a chance for character growth and for added wickedness flew by. Now, very little sticks out from that rivalry aside from David Otunga's slippery lawyer antics.
Del Rio's journey from snobby aristocrat to hero of the people followed up with a turn into the fog.
The world champ has rid himself of the towel he once wore around his neck, the flashy cars he one drove into the arenas in and even the bucket that Rodriguez once carried around for him. He has also seemingly stripped away some of his character in the process.
It's unclear what direction WWE is going with him at the moment.
He talks to the crowd about being the only hero that Latinos have like he did after wrestling Sin Cara on a recent WWE Raw.
This is an intriguing character direction, but the company seems to holding back with it. The smattering of cheers when he gave this speech before Rodriguez's return show that some fans bought into the hero talk at face value.
Del Rio needs to be more over the top and to be theatrically condescending with these promos.
It feels, instead, that this latest character depends too much on subtlety. He's clearly mocking the crowd by calling them peasants, but his demeanor isn't cold or heartless enough to match the tone of his words.
There was little uncertainty about how evil "The Million Dollar Man" was or how unyielding Triple H is now. Del Rio needs to crank up his villain dial, to be nastier, more dastardly, to the point where we are forced to pay attention.
What if WWE let Del Rio slip into a darker, more disturbing character? What if the focus were to tighten on what the company was trying to do with him?
Like so much of Del Rio's run so far, a lot of what if scenarios have dominated the conversation about an underappreciated wrestler.
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