Imagine for a moment that you're Dos Caras Jr., a pretty solid wrestler from Mexico who has worn a mask for your whole career.
Being that you're much taller than your peers, you're fluent in English, you work a style much more compatible with American wrestling than most wrestlers in Mexico, have a good physique, and was near Olympic caliber as an amateur to boot. And WWE signs you when looking for Latino stars.
They immediately take your mask away and make you Alberto Banderas, a generic, shiny, happy and babyfaced good guy in Florida Championship Wrestling, their developmental territory. It doesn't come close to clicking.
Meanwhile, the older wrestlers who work as trainers in FCW notice that you remind them a lot of your uncle, Mil Mascaras. Not as a wrestler, but backstage being yourself. Mind you, this isn't necessarily a good thing.
Everyone hated Mil Mascaras for being a know-it-all who bragged about how rich he was and how much he knew about history while making a habit of belittling people. Still, someone sees potential into channeling an exaggerated version of you into a new gimmick: Alberto Del Rio.
You show a million times more personality than you ever did before, with or without the mask. You've been given a "personal ring announcer" who is doing an amazing job getting your gimmick over and garnering more heat for you from the fans.
You're nailing promos all of a sudden and catching on as fast as anyone has in recent years. WWE is behind you with strong booking, and you're set to win the World Heavyweight Championship at the Royal Rumble, less than six months after you debuted on the main roster.
And so began the path of Alberto Del Rio in 2011.
Everything went to hell from there, only he didn't know it yet. He would be scheduled to win one of the two main titles in WWE on multiple occasions, only for plans to be changed at the last minute.
Cashing in his Money in the Bank contract after the CM Punk vs John Cena main event tonight at Summerslam 2011 for the undisputed WWE Championship certainly makes sense, but an idea for Del Rio making sense has stopped his title wins before...
The details are more vague about this plan than the others, but yes, Alberto Del Rio was originally scheduled to win the World Heavyweight Championship at WWE Royal Rumble 2011 in Boston.
For whatever reason, this idea was scrapped. Not too bad for Alberto so far, though, as he won the Royal Rumble match itself and thus a title shot at Wrestlemania 27 in Atlanta.
His Rumble win was a pretty memorable scene, as he won, the forgotten about but never officially eliminated Santino Marella crawled into the ring, hit him with The Cobra, Santino celebrated too long, and Alberto reversed his elimination attempt to actually win. Then, Alberto Del Rio's personal ring announcer, Ricardo Rodriguez, went totally nuts announcing him as the winner.
It was pretty awesome.
As expected, Del Rio picked Smackdown World Heavyweight Champion Edge as his Wrestlemania opponent. Edge was stale and not clicking as a babyface. Del Rio was fresh and on fire as a heel—of course.
Alberto Del Rio was going to win the title...right?
Everyone was expecting Alberto Del Rio to win the World Heavyweight Championship from Edge at WWE Wrestlemania 27 in Atlanta, Georgia.
And therein lies the problem, at least to WWE.
This was the most predictable finish on the show, so, forgetting that wrestling often has to be predictable, WWE creative decided to have Edge win instead in a surprise and then kill Del Rio's car.
Well, the element of surprise was a big part of it, but there was more that we learned a week later. Edge's surgically fused spine had finally given out on him, causing numbness in his hands, and he decided to work through Wrestlemania before getting an MRI.
The MRI showed spinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal column) where the discs hadn't been fused; he was told to retire, and he listened.
Edge got to retire as World Heavyweight Champion with his last match being a successful title defense at Wrestlemania, so it all seemed like reasonable enough delay of Del Rio's title win.
With Edge being the biggest star on Smackdown and retiring, the 2011 WWE Draft was moved up to the last Raw of April from one of the scheduled three hour shows in June. In the draft, Del Rio was moved to Raw, while Randy Orton was moved to Smackdown to replace the newly retired Edge.
Del Rio had been slated to be drafted to Raw anyway, maybe even taking the World Heavyweight Championship with him, but with everything in disarray, that changed.
Edge vs Del Rio in a ladder match was the original plan for the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules 2011 in Tampa, Florida. With Edge retired, a battle royal was held on Smackdown to determine Del Rio's opponent in ladder match, with the winner of the ladder match being the new champion.
Edge's best friend/former tag team partner/presumably former storyline brother Christian won the battle royal, won the World Heavyweight Championship at Extreme Rules, and then lost it to Randy Orton on the first episode of Smackdown after the PPV.
This started the Christian-Orton feud that has been headlining the Smackdown side the last few months, while Del Rio was sent to Raw, where he got lost in the shuffle.
It got worse for Del Rio when he started feuding with the Big Show. No, not necessarily because he was feuding with the Big Show, but because Big Show attacked and injured Alberto Del Rio's personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez. Without Rodriguez, Del Rio came off a lot less important, and he had seemingly lost all of the steam he had built up.
Thankfully, Money In The Bank was coming up.
Alberto Del Rio was considered the favorite to win the Raw Money In The Bank match and contract a month ago, and for once, he got his promised win. What happened from there, though...
You know the score on much of this by now: CM Punk, planning to leave the company both in storyline and real life, cut an explosive promo. He caught fire, and there was much anticipation for his shot at WWE Champion John Cena at WWE Money In The Bank 2011 in his home town of Chicago. Fans and reporters were fantasy booking all sorts of wild scenarios for what would happen of Punk won.
Meanwhile, WWE laid out a very specific stipulation for the CM Punk vs John Cena match. John Cena would be fired by Vince McMahon "if Punk left Chicago as WWE Champion." I thought that was odd wording since Punk would be heading home...in Chicago. They should've said "if he left the arena as WWE Champion" instead.
Anyway, the wording suggested that Del Rio would cash in his Money In The Bank contract to win the title from Punk, which would happen to save Cena's job in the process.
While watching the show on PPV I realized that couldn't happen. On top of how predictable WWE had made the outcome with the overly specific (and completely unnecessary) Cena firing stipulation, the fans in attendance were so passionately into Punk, chanting his name at every dull moment and giving him an amazing reaction for his entrance, that he couldn't be screwed out of the title that night.
As it turned out, I was right.
Punk won the title in a classic match, Vince McMahon sent Del Rio out to cash in his contract, Punk immediately laid out Del Rio with a high kick before the referee could start the match.
That Punk used the high kick was especially amusing, as Del Rio (as Dos Caras Jr. in a mask!) had memorably lost a mixed martial arts fight in Pride to Mirko Cro Cop the same way. Punk fled the arena and then...well, you know what's happened on Raw since.
You may not know what almost happened, though...
Vince McMahon sets up a tournament for the WWE Championship the night after Money In The Bank, Del Rio is eliminated, tries to cash in on Rey Mysterio after the finals a week later but grabs the briefcase back after Rey thwarts him with a dive before the bell rings, Cena beats Mysterio to regain the Championship in his official rematch, Punk returns with the belt and his awesome new entrance music and stares Cena down.
That's how it all happened on the second Raw after Money In The Bank, but not how the creative team planned the show at first.
Four different revisions of that episode of Raw ended with Punk returning, only to be pedigreed by Triple H, who would then send for Del Rio to cash in and win Punk's lineal WWE Championship. Punk balked at the idea and thus we got what ended up happening on Raw.
Yes, Del Rio had a title win cancelled yet again, and his long-planned Summerslam main event against John Cena had been usurped by CM Punk.
"Callate. If anyone says that I will cash in my title shot tonight, they'll cancel it. Again."
Only five matches have been announced for tonight's Summerslam 2011 card. Alberto Del Rio is in none of them, and he's a pretty big name to be completely missing from the show, especially since he was originally scheduled to be in the main event.
There's no clear finish for the CM Punk vs John Cena main event for the undisputed WWE Championship, which will be refereed by WWE COO Triple H.
With Del Rio out of sight and out of mind, tonight certainly makes sense as the time where he cashes in his Money in the Bank contract. Both Punk and Cena are close enough to the babyface side of the continuum to be sympathetic in losing.
It makes sense, but if it is or was planned, has it become too predictable, causing WWE to delay Del Rio's title win...say it with me...AGAIN?