Alberto Del Rio is an old-fashioned heel. In an era where so many ‘heels’ end up getting bigger pops than the top faces, Del Rio receives a stranger reaction. A reaction dreaded by wrestlers all over the world. Apathy. Fans just don’t care about Del Rio. He arguably never fully got over as a heel the first time, even after two world championship reigns and a Royal Rumble win, and while there were brief moments of promise, the fans didn’t really get behind him as a face, which led to him turning heel once again at Payback.
Part of the problem is his gimmick. In his first run as a heel, it was fairly well-defined. He was the arrogant rich man who believed it was his destiny to become champion; he had his own personal ring announcer and drove expensive cars to the ring. When the sudden and arguably unexplained face turn happened in December, he no longer bragged about being rich, he stopped driving cars to the ring and his personal ring announcer began carrying…..a bucket. I don’t know why.
His face turn was explained on camera as Del Rio suddenly becoming a hero of the Latino fanbase. Understandable, considering he had at that point spent his entire WWE run looking down on everyone. Did I say understandable? I meant illogical.
“Alberto Del Rio? What happened to that guy? Where are the cars? Why does Ricardo Rodriguez have a bucket?
“Oh, he’s a good guy now”
“What, why? I thought he was rich, he doesn’t need all the fans’ support. Why is he good now?”
“Um, I don’t know…it just sort of happened.”
“The bucket, man, I just don’t understand the bucket.”
Okay, so that wasn’t a real conversation, but it’s indicative of just how hasty and ill-thought out his face turn was. The obvious answer to a failed face turn is to turn him back heel again, which is what WWE did. But instead of him reverting back to his defined arrogant rich character, WWE decided to have him play a weird mash-up of his two characters. He still has the air of arrogancy about him, but apart from that, not much actually changed. He kept the Rocky-esque remix to his once-epic theme music, he still doesn’t drive cars to the ring and for some reason, Ricardo Rodriguez still carries that god damn bucket.
It could have been explained that Del Rio realised that he didn’t need the fans; he could’ve slipped back into the luxuries his rich heritage affords him. But his heel turn was carried out rather abruptly when he kicked Dolph Ziggler in the hand. It makes sense, really, considering the recent deification of the Zig Man.
It’s not a good sign when a wrestler becomes stale after being in the company for just over three years, but that’s what Alberto Del Rio has done. He’s been relentlessly over-exposed in high profile feuds (who can forget the seemingly interminable feud with Sheamus?) and pushed to the stars without any indication that he was over with fans. His proficiency in the ring is offset by the fact that no one cares about him anymore.
The solution? De-push him. De-push him like the wind. Put the World Heavyweight Championship on Cody Rhodes or Antonio Cesaro, wrestlers who A) deserve it and B) gain some sort of reaction from the fans. Let him garner heat; positive or negative, he should take whatever reaction he can. Some sort of feud with Ricardo Rodriguez might help. Ricardo Rodriguez is, and pretty much always has been, way more over than Del Rio. Beating the crap out of Rodriguez (like he did on RAW) might finally give the fans a chance to feel some sort of reaction towards Del Rio, and that’s just what he needs.
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