Alberto Del Rio returned to the WWE with a bang but will once again walk away from the company with a whimper. History has a way of repeating itself, and there might be no better recent example of that in sports entertainment than Del Rio. He made his original debut with WWE in the summer of 2010, eventually becoming World Champion, capturing a Money in the Bank briefcase and winning the largest Royal Rumble in history.
Four short years later, Del Rio was fired for unprofessional conduct after slapping a WWE employee who allegedly made a racial joke, but the shine had certainly faded in the meantime as well. At the time of his firing, he was instructed to let things play out, and he would be welcomed back once everything died down. WWE also tried to prevent him from competing anywhere else for an entire year, but Del Rio fought that clause and threatened to sue the company.
As it turns out, the door opened back up for Del Rio to return, and he did just that in late 2015, a little less than a year and a half after his initial departure. Del Rio negotiated exclusively with Vince McMahon, signing him to a sweetheart deal (very financially favorable to Del Rio) that had a multi-year duration. The two often flew together even on Vince’s private planes and had developed quite a bond. However, as has been reported over the last several weeks, there was a one-year out clause that Del Rio recently exercised.
Del Rio was making main-event money but never competed in an actual pay-per-view main event. That was not the intention initially, however. As we know, Alberto made his triumphant return at last year’s Hell in a Cell event, defeating John Cena for the United States Championship. Cena then left to undergo surgery and film the debut season of American Grit, but the plan was to have him feud with Del Rio upon his return.
Unfortunately, the creative became extremely lackluster for Del Rio, and his stock had severely declined by the time Cena would come back. According to Cageside Seats, Vince had initially promised Del Rio that he would pair him with Paul Heyman to help push him as a top Mexican babyface, a role the company has had a difficult time filling since Rey Mysterio left. However, Vince changed his mind and paired Del Rio with Zeb Colter instead.
While the win over Cena was significant, the pairing was odd from moment one and ultimately failed before it could get off the ground. Programs with Jack Swagger and Kalisto certainly didn’t help, and by the time Cena came back, an angle with Del Rio simply wouldn’t have made any sense.
There was a last-ditch effort at relevance when Del Rio helped form the League of Nations, but they were nothing more than fodder for Roman Reigns, and they didn’t quite materialize into a top heel stable some were hoping for. They were disjointed, and when the Wyatt Family went out with injuries, the company decided to disband them, especially with Wade Barrett leaving the company shortly after WrestleMania.
Vince was always in Del Rio’s corner, but Triple H did not feel the same way. McMahon wanted to push the Mexican Aristocrat again after the brand split, but Hunter put on the brakes, and nothing ever came of it. It was thought that his recent Wellness Policy violation was the final straw, but he had apparently given his notice prior to the suspension.
As noted, the WWE has needed a top Latino babyface to carry the torch for that audience, and many believed bringing him back as a heel in 2015 was a mistake. The original plan was for him to start as a heel, eventually turn on Colter, and fill that role. But the partnership with Zeb flat out did not work, and everything thereafter failed to click. On a personal level, things seemed to click between Del Rio and Paige, unless you asked Triple H, who felt he was a bad influence on the women’s superstar. Her status will certainly be one to keep an eye on in the months to come.
[Image via WWE]