Wednesday 17 December 2014

Ring of Alberto

Last Friday Ring of Honor made the surprise announcement that Alberto El Patron, formerly WWE’s Alberto Del Rio, would be appearing for them in 2015. So far he’s been confirmed for the January 3 television taping, the 13th Anniversary Show on March 1, and a pair of house shows in between. I would assume he’ll make an appearance or two in February too.

With or without further appearances this is a big coup for ROH. El Patron himself stated a few weeks prior to the announcement that he wanted to work for multiple US-based promotions with a television presence, naming Lucha Underground and TNA. It made sense that those companies would go for such a deal. Lucha Underground is based around the lucha style that Patron is familiar with and TNA is a company with a noted predilection for former WWE wrestlers. That ROH were the ones to procure Alberto’s services says a lot about the state of TNA, and ROH’s willingness to open the chequebook for the right name.

I’m interested in the logistics of Alberto’s new deals. While I can imagine Lucha Underground and ROH would be willing to cooperate on their use of El Patron it seems unlikely they’d be comfortable with him appearing for both at the same time. My guess is that Alberto will flit between the two throughout the year, doing a stint of a few months before leaving for the other league.

But for now all that’s confirmed is his deal with Ring of Honor. There’s a good chance he could bring some new fans in with him thanks to years of exposure in WWE (a number of which were spent at the top of the card) and I’m sure that’s a factor in why ROH have signed him. But that’s not all they’ll have signed him for. ROH still prides itself on being a company where wrestling ability comes first. And Alberto has ability.

El Patron pointing. Classic stuff.
That said I can imagine tweaks being made to his repertoire. His signature moves from WWE are taken in ROH. O'Reilly uses the armbreaker, while the super kick and the back cracker are general transition moves used by anyone and everyone. Seeing him upgrade his move set will be part of the experience of seeing him in a fresh setting.

El Patron versus pretty much anyone on the ROH roster could be good but there are a handful of guys I’m particularly interested in seeing him face. I imagine AJ Styles would top most lists, a pairing many would probably label a “dream match.” They could have a cracking match, particularly if they took the cross armbreaker versus Calf Killer route.

He could have a solid match with Roderick Strong too. They’re not entirely dissimilar in terms of character. One may be a Mexican aristocrat and the other a frat boy, but they both have a degree of arrogance to them that could blend nicely.

El Patron versus Michael Elgin could have a great climactic exchange of signature moves. It's a strength of Big Maggle's. The combination of Alberto’s new moves and a few of his WWE ones (which could be deployed in select longer matches) should give him quite an arsenal to draw on. It would be nice to see a babyface Alberto against stocky heel Elgin too. I think it would be an interesting dynamic.

Personally the match I’d most like to see is El Patron versus Kyle O'Reilly. As Del Rio he worked as much of an MMA inspired style as was realistically possible. I expect he'll go further with it now he's working elsewhere. It's something O'Reilly already does, and does well. The two could do a really good strong style submission match.

Then there are guys like ACH, Matt Sydal,  Bobby Fish, Jay Lethal and Adam Cole. All of them could have a good match with Alberto. As could ROH champion Jay Briscoe. In fact I’d go as far as to say that ROH should strongly consider El Patron v Briscoe for the main event of their anniversary show. It’s easy to imagine Briscoe interrupting El Patron’s debut promo to say he wants to be challenged by the best before offering the newcomer  a March 1 title shot.

Whatever Ring of Honor end up going with it’s good to see them get a signing of this level. They put on a good product and deserve someone with that extra bit of star power. In TNA he’d have been ruined within months. In ROH he can help attract new eyes and wrestle matches suited to his style. Works for me.

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