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WNS Column: The Elbow Drop #03 - Del Rio Edition

Posted By: Richard Hughes on Aug 09, 2014

WNS Column: The Elbow Drop #03 - Del Rio Edition

Welcome to The Elbow Drop, squared-circle-goings-on from a passionate wrestling observer.  

The WWE at the moment looks a bit like a bank robber who spent all their money on the getaway car. 
 
Whilst driving away at speed with their swag, he informs his crew that, once he's been reimbursed for the vehicle, the fancy pistols and the slap-up dinner the night before, they should all receive a cut of about fifty quid. For all the months of meticulous planning, casing the joint, cleaning the toilets and making the sandwiches, one of them decides enough is enough and takes matters into his own hands. He angrily lashes out at a surly tourist in a backwater bar in southern Spain and suddenly the heat is on. The rest of the crew leave him rotting with la policia and continue on their way to Gibraltar. 
 
Now that is an incredibly laboured intro to a piece about Alberto Del Rio's sacking but I'm struggling to come up with anything more fitting so soon after the disappointing news that he'd been given his marching orders.
 
As I said in my previous piece about the run up to Summerslam, the WWE is struggling to come to terms with a whole bucketload of poor financial results and, as a result, is cutting back and cutting deep. No one is safe, as Mark Yeaton - WWE's timekeeper since the 1980's- will testify. A guy who would probably have admitted to a fair bit of job security was made to walk the plank this week much to the sadness of Steve Austin who proclaimed him the "best beer thrower in the business". 
This alongside a bunch of jobbers and magazine staff getting fired, does not a good atmosphere make.
 
Now, I'll get to my point: Alberto Del Rio's sacking. 
As I said to some friends this week, I had intended for this to be a piece about how far Alberto Del Rio's stock had fallen. 
This was a guy that was given the star treatment upon his arrival in WWE. In fact he was given the gimmick that every wrestler dreams of: the  rich millionaire aristocrat. Ted diBiase in the 1980's was handed the rich asshole gimmick and he was expected to live it inside and outside of the ring. Fancy cars, designer suits, first class travel. This was, of course in a time when kayfabe extended far further than it does now, but Del Rio was still handed the perks that The Million Dollar Man received, just their 2012 equivalents. For Virgil, read Ricardo Rodriguez. 
 
In the ring, he was solid as a rock and rarely blew his moves. This writer was on hand when he lost his first PPV match in the WWE at WrestleMania 27 with Edge. Many wondered if he was ready for a title match on the biggest card of the year, after only being in the company for a short while. Turns out he was. A top rope enziguri being a brave highlight of an otherwise solid encounter.
People shouldn't have worried: This was a second generation wrestler, nephew of the legendary Mil Mascaras, son of Mexican luchador Dos Caras. The grap-game was in his blood. 
His pedigree was clear in his mannerisms and moves in the ring. Strictly old school, reminiscent of the great heels of the past, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Randy Savage. Deliberately drawing heat from the crowd with his armbar through the ropes, his vicious use of the turnbuckle and ring posts, not to mention those violent kicks. 
          
Now: Compare his first 18 months in WWE with his last 18 months and we start to see why Del Rio became disillusioned with life in the WWE: His first feud was a well thought out run with (then) crowd favourite Rey Mysterio, which focussed on class and money. An almost guaranteed tactic to get him heat with audiences. He was booked to win the 2011 Royal Rumble and went on to challenge Edge for the Big Gold at the aforementioned WrestleMania 27. He won Money In the Bank later that year and finally won the WWE title at Summerslam becoming the first Mexican wrestler to do so. He had notable scraps with the Big Show, Christian and Sheamus in this time. His promos were usually a double-pronged attack on the fans using his "aristocratic" background and his Mexican nationality as a heat magnet. His valet Ricardo Rodriguez got himself and Del Rio over with his bespoke intro and crazy bumps he would take on special occasions. He was given the monster Brodus Clay as his hired muscle. 
 
The last 18 months, he has been used mostly as enhancement talent. The cars are gone. Ricardo Rodriguez is gone. The centre-parted wimp turned on Del Rio, then went to Spanish commentary, then was made to walk in the last round of WWE firings. He lost to Sin Cara at the turn of the year. Sin Cara. Just think about that for a second. He was then given to Batista to destroy upon his big return to WWE and to keep him warm for WrestleMania. Then pretty much forgotten about. 
 
Del Rio was reportedly fired this week for manhandling a WWE Social Media employee. In the current financial climate, Vince barely needs reason to sack anybody. Perhaps he figured he could get a better deal back in Mexico, where he would be treated as a bona fide star. Less hours, less grief, more money. Rey Mysterio used the same reasons to cut a bumper deal with WWE a couple of years ago, after flirting with the idea of signing with AAA in Mexico. However Rey was seen as a walking merchandise machine at the time (second only to John Cena) and the company was in far ruder health. Its unlikely this tactic would've worked for Del Rio. 
Slapping a backroom employee was a quick and easy way out. 
 
I had wanted to work out a way that Del Rio could re-ignite his career in the States. His matches were never poor and gimmick could be refreshed at anytime. Perhaps a feud with Chris Jericho or Rusev. Maybe an intriguing class war with Bray Wyatt.
The WWE has various ex-champions on the back burner at the moment. There's a good chance he felt that in the current climate, that push he needed was not forthcoming any time soon and decided to take matters into his own hands. 
For a man so obsessed with his 'Destiny', that last move was not surprising.  
 
For more wrestling comment you can follow me on Twitter @johnpaulboi
 
Thanks for reading.   

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