Arguably, the two biggest pieces of news surrounding the WWE in 2016 that had nothing to do with a planned storyline or match, were when Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar were found guilty of failed drug tests. Reigns ended up being suspended for violating the company’s Wellness Policy, but because Lesnar’s samples came back positive while being tested by the USADA during his run with the UFC, he was not subject to suspension by the WWE.
We can now add another name to that list, as the WWE announced on Wednesday that Alberto Del Rio has been suspended for 30 days. Here is the official release from the company, as posted on its official website.
“WWE has suspended Jose Rodriguez (Alberto Del Rio) for 30 days effective tomorrow, Thursday, Aug. 18, for his first violation of the company’s talent wellness policy.”
In addition to Reigns, Lesnar, and Del Rio, Randy Orton also recently made news for Wellness Policy violations, but in a good way. Before Orton returned to the WWE, he spent some time in a rehabilitation center in order to get one his two strikes removed from his record. The policy states that a first violation garners a 30-day suspension, a second earns a WWE superstar 60 days, and a third violation results in termination from the company. This is Del Rio’s first offense, but not the first time he’s been in the doghouse.
Alberto Del Rio’s return to the WWE hasn’t nearly been as successful as his first run with the company. His first tenure included multiple World Title reigns, winning Money in the Bank and winning the biggest Royal Rumble in WWE history. Since his return to the company late last year, his run with the United States Championship flopped after John Cena managed to elevate the title to heights that hadn’t been seen in years.
At first glance, his alignment with King Barrett, Rusev, and Sheamus in forming the League of Nations appeared to be a step in the right direction for all four. As it turns out, the group was created to help Roman Reigns get over as Sheamus was viewed as a transitional champion. The group never seemed to click and when Bray Wyatt went down with an injury, a proposed League of Nations-Wyatt Family rivalry never got off the ground and the group was disbanded.
The Inquisitr recently reported that Del Rio had also obtained a lot of heat backstage from Triple H. The Game even managed to cool Vince McMahon on the idea of pushing Del Rio once the dust settled from the WWE Draft and brand extension. Triple H maintains that Del Rio had become a negative influence on his girlfriend, Paige, and as a form of punishment, the two were placed on separate brands. That obviously drew the ire of Del Rio, but Triple H was making an example of the former World Champion to show the locker room who was the boss.
Perhaps the most interesting factor in all of this is that Del Rio’s contract is set to expire this coming October. The suspension, which as noted begins Thursday, will run through the middle of September, likely leaving Del Rio with less than a month to make amends and re-sign. And while Vince has wanted to extend his contract past this fall, Triple H would rather see it run out and not re-sign him. Hunter believes Del Rio has partied too much since his return and has not been respectful to authority.
Even though there were no significant plans, if any, for Del Rio at SummerSlam, he was involved in marquee matches on back-to-back episodes of SmackDown Live. Last week, he faced the aforementioned Randy Orton and followed that up with a match against John Cena. Before his Cena encounter, he had a backstage segment with AJ Styles, and after things got a little testy, Styles told Del Rio how while he’s in a main event at SummerSlam, Del Rio isn’t even on the card. A work, no doubt, but maybe a true indication of how he’s viewed.
It will also be interesting to monitor how other WWE superstars react to this suspension. There were many who weren’t too pleased with a lack of punishment for Brock Lesnar while Reigns got sidelined during a main event program with Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose. Others even were appalled that the WWE allowed Reigns to remain in that match at all. The company let Reigns compete at Money in the Bank and the following night’s RAW despite knowing about the violation. It is unclear at this time if Del Rio failed his test before Tuesday’s Smackdown Live. Reigns has clearly been dropped down a peg, Lesnar’s fate will likely be decided Sunday, but what if a farewell awaits Alberto Del Rio?
[Image via WWE]