Wrestlenomics of Alberto Del Rio's WWE Career

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Wrestlenomics of Alberto Del Rio's WWE Career
Mel Evans/Associated Press
Alberto Del Rio

The wrestling world was quite surprised on Thursday when Alberto Del Rio (Alberto Rodriguez) was suddenly released from the WWE. The company cited "unprofessional conduct" and "an altercation with an employee" as the reasons for his dismissal.

Per Wrestling Observer's Dave Meltzer, an alleged slap to a social media manager has cost Rodriguez his job and marked the end to his relationship with WWE that went back more than four years.

For years, especially following the death of Eddie Guerrero and recognizing the mounting injuries to Rey Mysterio, WWE had been hungry to find a new Latino superstar. They continued to scout bilingual talent.

This process likely escalated when WWE began touring Mexico (which began in January 2006 with a massive show they held in Mexico City headlined by Undertaker and Randy Orton and featuring an appearance by Hijo del Santo).

Alberto Del Rio began his career in Mexico as Dos Caras Jr. He was born Alberto Rodriguez. He's the son of legendary UWA World Heavyweight Champion Dos Caras. With Rodriguez's strong background in Greco-Roman wrestling and family connections (his uncle is Mil Mascaras), it wasn't surprising when he debuted as a masked professional wrestler in 2000 working for the AAA promotion.

He also gained experience wrestling in Japan for promotions such as All Japan, Zero1 and HUSTLE. Uniquely, he has also moonlighted in MMA (still wearing his mask) where he amassed a respectable 9-5 record. His MMA tenure included a memorable first-round loss to Mirko Flilpovic at Pride Bushido 1.

For years, Rodriguez's primary territory was Mexico. Starting in 2005, he signed with the CMLL promotion and began ascending their ranks. Over the next several years, Dos Caras Jr. won the CMLL World Heavyweight Championship, but his run with the title was rather unremarkable.

In 2008, Dos Caras Jr. signed a four-year deal to stay with CMLL amid a rumor that he had joined the WWE, per Darren Wood of SLAM! Sports. After another year in CMLL, Rodriguez, who spoke fluent English, revealed in June 2009 that he had signed a contract to join Vince McMahon's company.

From the start, Rodriguez surprised many Mexican fans. Despite years of top-level experience, he was sent to WWE's developmental territory, Florida Championship Wrestling (FCW). He shocked lucha fans when he began appearing without his trademark mask. Tall, tan and handsome, WWE preferred that their fans could see his face.

Starting in July 2009, he wrestled in FCW under the name Alberto Banderas. While he didn't remain in Tampa for too long, his nine months in developmental did allow him to work alongside future WWE Superstars.

Among those who Alberto faced in FCW: Heath Slater, Tyler Reks, Trent Beretta, Johnny Curtis (Fandango), Wade Barrett, Curt Hawkins, Bo Rotundo (Bo Dallas), Donny Marlow (Camacho), Kaval (Low Ki) and Alex Riley.

It was right after WrestleMania XXVI when Rodriguez joined the main WWE roster. He wasn't ready for television, so he began working dark matches. His first was April 7, 2010 and Alberto's most frequent opponents for these untelevised encounters were guys like Christian, Goldust, Primo, Chris Masters, William Regal and Evan Bourne.

At this point, he was back to being called Dos Caras. Similar to Rey Mysterio Jr., WWE insisted on dropping the "Jr." tag when they brought Alberto to the main roster.

By the end of June, promotional videos for Alberto Del Rio began airing on television. Alberto Del Rio was portrayed as an arrogant, wealthy Mexican aristocrat. After months of build, Del Rio finally made his WWE television debut on the August 20, 2010. He arrived on SmackDown driving a fancy car and bringing his own personal ring announcer (the recently released Roberto Rodriguez).

The key element for Alberto Del Rio's success was that he could back up his trademark swagger with impressive skills. In his first televised match, Alberto Del Rio beat superstar Rey Mysterio using Del Rio's trademark cross armbreaker submission. With a smirk, a star was born.

During his four-plus years in the WWE, Alberto Del Rio wrestled over 780 matches, primarily in singles matches. He wrestled 638 singles/multi-man singles matches during his WWE career, including 201 TV matches and 30 pay-per-view matches.

Alberto Del Rios WWE Career
Year Matches Singles Avg Singles Length Tag Avg Tag Length Record
2010 132 104 8:22 24 15:40 66-63-3
2011 199 140 10:05 53 12:32 56-141-2
2012 146 122 8:34 20 10:02 48-95-3
2013 191 172 9:25 17 10:06 126-61-4
2014 114 100 9:04 7 11:08 31-82-1
WWE 782 638 9:15 121 11:44 327-442-13

Analysis by Chris Harrington with data from CageMatch.net

The remainder of his matches were mostly filler. In his televised tag team matches (121), Del Rio teamed with a hodgepodge the WWE roster. Everyone from Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Jack Swagger, Chris Jericho, Kane and David Otunga wrestled on Del Rio's team. Still, it was evident that none of these wrestlers were great fits.

Interestingly, Del Rio rarely teamed with his natural partner, ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez. They did wrestle together on more than 25 occasions between 2011 to 2013. However, they only had four matches teaming on television. From the start, it was always clear that Alberto was more motivated and capable when he was positioned as a singles competitor.

OPPONENT MATCHES SINGLES TAG TV/PPV SINGLES TV/PPV TAG
Sheamus 99 83 (5-78-0) 14 (2-11-1) 18 (3-15-0) 11 (2-8-1)
Rey Mysterio 84 30 (9-20-1) 52 (1-50-1) 16 (8-8-0) 12 (0-11-1)
Big Show 77 45 (28-17-0) 30 (5-25-0) 12 (8-4-0) 9 (4-5-0)
Dolph Ziggler 65 58 (28-29-1) 7 (6-1-0) 21 (14-6-1) 5 (4-1-0)
John Cena 72 52 (4-47-1) 17 (1-16-0) 11 (3-8-0) 8 (1-7-0)
Kofi Kingston 46 26 (16-10-0) 19 (2-17-0) 15 (12-3-0) 7 (2-5-0)
Randy Orton 44 26 (2-23-1) 18 (4-13-1) 12 (2-9-1) 11 (4-6-1)
CM Punk 51 44 (9-32-3) 7 (3-4-0) 11 (2-7-2) 6 (3-3-0)
Christian 39 25 (6-19-0) 12 (1-11-0) 11 (5-6-0) 4 (1-3-0)
R-Truth 23 20 (17-3-0) 3 (2-1-0) 11 (11-0-0) 3 (2-1-0)
Edge 39 6 (0-5-1) 30 (1-28-1) 4 (0-3-1) 4 (0-3-1)
Jack Swagger 33 24 (21-3-0) 8 (7-0-1) 7 (5-2-0) 3 (2-0-1)
Big E 21 16 (12-4-0) 5 (4-1-0) 10 (6-4-0) 3 (2-1-0)
Daniel Bryan 21 16 (7-9-0) 5 (2-3-0) 8 (7-1-0) 5 (2-3-0)
Sin Cara (Mistico) 16 11 (8-1-2) 5 (0-5-0) 7 (6-0-1) 3 (0-3-0)
Rob Van Dam 18 17 (3-14-0) 1 (1-0-0) 8 (3-5-0) 1 (1-0-0)
Kane 16 11 (3-8-0) 4 (1-3-0) 5 (3-2-0) 3 (1-2-0)

Analysis by Chris Harrington with data from CageMatch.net

In singles competition, Del Rio faced off most often with Sheamus. They were both new stars in the WWE on the rise. In the end, they had 99 matches, including six PPV bouts. Del Rio also had extended feuds with Rey Mysterio, Dolph Ziggler, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, John Cena, Big Show, CM Punk, Christian, R-Truth and Jack Swagger.

wwe.com
Alberto Del Rio wins the 2011 Royal Rumble

Del Rio's breakout year in the WWE was 2011. He started the year with a bang by winning the first-ever 40-man Royal Rumble. However, the path to the WWE Championship was messy.

At WrestleMania XXVII, Del Rio was unsuccessful in taking the title away from Edge. In a surprise twist, that ended up being Edge's last professional wrestling match, as he retired due to accumulating injuries. So Alberto Del Rio transitioned into a feud with Christian.

However, Christian was given the push. Del Rio was defeated in a ladder match for the vacant title. He began to flounder. After a short feud with Big Show, Del Rio's path to the title finally got back on track when he won the Money in the Bank contract in July. He later cashed it against a weakened CM Punk at August's SummerSlam and became the WWE Champion.

In 2011, it was clear that Del Rio had a huge push. He ended up wrestling nearly 200 matches that year, which was the third-most among WWE wrestlers—just behind John Cena and Randy Orton. His singles matches started to go longer. These are signs of being a top star.

Alberto Del Rio Matches in WWE (2010-2014)
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014
Jan. (Developmental) 18 (injured) 13 20
Feb. (Developmental) 12 (injured) 15 11
March (Developmental) 18 (returns from injury); 3 20 20
April (Developmental) 16 15 19 12
May 12 15 16 17 16
June 20 13 11 14 13
July 9 15 18 17 18
Aug. 13 (TV debut) 17 14 15 4 (released)
Sept. 10 23 18 15 n/a
Oct. 18 24 15 17 n/a
Nov. 22 17 17 18 n/a
Dec. 16 11 19 11 n/a
Total 132 199 146 191 114

Analysis by Chris Harrington with data from CageMatch.net

In fact, throughout his WWE career, Del Rio was always working. He was constantly touring. He was only sidelined once when he tore his groin muscle in late December 2011. However, that injury only kept him out of active competition for a few months.  Del Rio returned in March 2012 and resumed a normal wrestling schedule by April.

He was a dedicated and fierce competitor. Del Rio's 780 matches put him on par for WWF/WWE longevity alongside guys like Scotty 2 Hotty, John Tenta, Jim Powers, Hurricane Helms and D-Lo Brown.

In the end, Del Rio's final WWE match was a quiet, forgettable affair. Del Rio's last WWE match was a 12-minute loss on Main Event to Jack Swagger.

Ultimately, Alberto Del Rio left his mark on WWE history. While his output and energy in recent months seemed to lag, he was a consistent force who could be programmed prominently in the top mix of Superstars. He also enters the record books as the first Mexican-born WWE Champion.

However, with WWE taking aggressive cost-cutting measures, now was not the time to mess up. After his 90-day non-compete runs up, it's unknown whether he'll end up back in Mexico, in TNA or elsewhere in the world. A talented and capable wrestler at 37 years old, his career likely has plenty of years left.

For those fans who want to relive some of Alberto Del Rio's best matches using the WWE Network, I'd recommend:

  • WWE Extreme Rules 2011: World Heavyweight Title Ladder Match (vacant): Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio
  • WWE Hell In A Cell 2011: WWE Heavyweight Title Triple Threat Hell In A Cell: Alberto Del Rio vs. CM Punk vs. John Cena (c)
  • WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2011: WWE Heavyweight Title Triple Threat Tables, Ladders & Chairs: CM Punk (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. The Miz
  • WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2010: World Heavyweight Title Fatal Four Way Tables, Ladders & Chairs: Edge vs. Kane (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Rey Mysterio
  • WWE Over The Limit 2012: World Heavyweight Title Fatal Four Way: Sheamus (c) vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Chris Jericho vs. Randy Orton 

You can always follow me at @mookieghana for more Wrestlenomics.

What are some of your favorite Alberto Del Rio memories? Did you prefer him more as a babyface or as a heel? Will Santa Claus ever forgive him for running him over? Sound off in the comments.

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