Friday 8 August 2014

Adiós, Alberto

Late yesterday evening WWE announced the release of Alberto Del Rio. He had apparently applied the cross arm breaker to a Make-A-Wish kid. It's like the Rene Dupree incident all over again...

I'm joking, of course, although ADR was apparently released for unprofessional behaviour. There are rumours that a member of the social media team (of course WWE has a social media team) felt Del Rio’s fiery wrath. There are other rumours that say it was the mighty Kevin Dunn himself. The specifics of the release don't really matter. The important thing to note is that WWE lost one of its most reliable second tier names. Not long, for the record, after Triple H had stated in an interview that no one man is bigger than the company. It’s like he knew.

Bye bye, Bertie.
The departure of Del Rio is hard to take as a complete surprise. Use of him had been noticeably sporadic for a number of years. He'd spent most of this year and 2012 in a TV time filler role but had been among the ranks of the pushed and protected in 2013. On top of that he'd never seemed to fully get behind the WWE ethos, coming across as disgruntled and condescending in every interview I saw, listened to or read featuring him. That could have been an example of him being exceptionally good at getting into character. But I doubt it.

Although WWE hadn't doing anything specific with him since his feud with Batista in January and February, about which the less said the better, he still had uses. Most obviously he could, used correctly, have increased WWE's fortunes in the various Hispanic live event and TV markets. He tended to get more fervent reactions in towns with notable Hispanic communities on TV and was treated as an out and out babyface on the Mexico City RAW in 2011. He could also be depended on to have a good match and give a decent promo, and was capable of working anywhere from the opening match to the main event. They weren't pushing him but WWE’s creative team relied on ADR to perform a vital, if unglamorous, role.

Perhaps he'll fare better elsewhere. I think the likeliest thing for him to do is revert back to his Dos Caras name and return to CMLL. He'd worked there for years prior to signing with WWE and could saunter back into his old spot no trouble. While he could also get such a position in EVOLVE, Ring of Honor, TNA or a smattering of other US indies I can't imagine he'd want to take the drop in pay and status that would entail when he could just as easily move back to his home country for better treatment. A gig in New Japan wouldn't be the most surprising thing in the world, but I think that would come about through a return to CMLL rather than as a separate deal, considering New Japan’s working agreement with them. Who knows? Perhaps he’ll wind up in CHIKARA as pastry fanatic Albert Del Brioche or under a mask in the X Division as El Hijo del Del Rio.

As much as I enjoyed his work last year and felt he could still be of benefit I can't really bring myself to argue that it was a mistake on WWE's part to release ADR. They can sign other Hispanic wrestlers who could, in time, became as or more popular than 'The Essence of Excellence'. They have more than enough guys to promote someone up the ranks into the freshly created upper mid-card vacancy. Most importantly if his behaviour has been deemed unprofessional, whatever the specifics, then he's not someone WWE needs around.

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