Despite the recent losses to the roster, it appears that Impact Wrestling will continue to fire on all cylinders. They just finished taping a few episodes, and one of these episodes will feature a big change to the power structure of the roster. A new champion was crowned, and he is former WWE superstar Alberto Del Rio.
At the tapings for the March 9 episode of Impact Wrestling, Del Rio appeared and challenged World Heavyweight Champion Bobby Lashley to a match. Ethan Carter III also demanded a match, but Lashley denied him, claiming that “EC3” had already lost.
Del Rio beat Lashley in the main event of the episode, though he used underhanded tactics. After two ref bumps and a belt shot, Del Rio beat Lashley, though there was a dispute over who was still champion. Del Rio wound up leaving with the belt, with the matter most likely being settled in another set of tapings.
WWE and Del Rio shocked the world when he returned in October, 2015, at Hell in a Cell to answer John Cena’s open challenge for the United States Championship. Del Rio beat Cena that night and held onto the championship for months, until dropping it to Kalisto in January. Together with Sheamus, King Barrett, and Rusev, the four formed the League of Nations. They feuded with Roman Reigns, most notably attacking him during the 2016 Royal Rumble match where Reigns had to defend his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against 29 other superstars.
After feuding with Reigns, the League of Nations entered a short feud with the New Day before quietly dissolving after WrestleMania 32. Del Rio’s last major role in WWE was a part in the 2016 Money in the Bank ladder match, where he participated alongside Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Chris Jericho. The match was won by Ambrose, who cashed in his contract on Seth Rollins later that night.
During the brand split, Del Rio was drafted to SmackDown, but was suspended for a wellness policy violation shortly after. After his suspension was served, he requested his release from WWE, not even one year after returning to the company. He held a press conference after, keeping it cordial as he commented on his second tenure with WWE.
“The main reason of my decision was seeing my kid hiding my bags to stop me from traveling. I want to enjoy my family and also, I wasn’t comfortable with my second tenure with WWE.
“I spoke with my father, who’s the one that always give me great advice and that same day I decided to talk with the board of directors.
“I don’t regret my second tenure with the company. They gave me everything I asked for, and my decision wasn’t set because of the lack of championships: that’s irrelevant in this stage of my career. I left the company because I couldn’t keep up with their work rhythm. Making an assessment of my second tenure, I’d say it’s a 50/50.
“Talking with Vince about why I was leaving, he told me that with the brand extension, Alberto del Rio would be who he was before.
“I love this sport, it’s been my dream since the day I opened my eyes, but I’m losing the passion. Every time I took a plane I felt angry, and I don’t want to be a sour wrestler… that’s what I said to Vince: I don’t want to lose my passion for pro wrestling.
“We had such a good understanding that I told him: ‘Don’t rule out a call from me someday.'”
Del Rio has returned to using his “El Patron” name and has made appearances for various independent promotions such as WhatCulture Pro Wrestling. Now it seems he is signed with Impact Wrestling and looks to be a major player in the roster.
[Featured Image by Anthem]