Alberto Del Rio is What Happens When the WWE Doesn't Know How to Push a Superstar

To the surprise of no one, Alberto Del Rio has been released from the WWE.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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Earlier today, the WWE announced that they'd come to terms with Alberto Del Rio, a WWE Superstar who'd been suspended about three weeks prior (along with his girlfriend and WWE Superstar Paige) for his first Wellness Policy Violation. Their wording, as per usual, was very sterile, given the situation at hand: "WWE and Jose Rodriguez (Alberto Del Rio) have mutually agreed upon the terms of his release." Even Del Rio tweeted that both parties "came to an end in good terms."

My business relationship with @WWE has come to an end in good terms...thanks for the opportunities they gave me.
Termine mi relación con WWE

— Alberto El Patron (@PrideOfMexico) September 9, 2016

As we stated back in August, it's hard to believe that any official word on what caused Del Rio's violation will ever reach the public, the actual act of Del Rio being released was an inevitable end-game to Del Rio's tumultuous run with the WWE. One only has to look at how Del Rio was booked after his surprise return to the federation back in October of 2015 to see why he'd be less than anxious to put his gear on and continue to languish on the main roster like he's been since that initial "new superstar smell" wore off.

For those who follow the professional wrestling news cycle, this is surely no secret. On August 30th, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer reported that Del Rio wouldn't be returning after his suspension was up, with the fact that Del Rio's name was being removed from all WWE touring dates—even after his suspension—being the initial indicator. While many released superstars have to wait out a non-compete contract before returning to the ring, Del Rio could be seen on the Mexican and international wrestling circuits sooner rather than later, with a return to American rings not long thereafter. While the thought would immediately be that he won't be making nearly as much as he would if he'd stayed in the WWE for the three-to-five years he feels he has left in him, this isn't about money at all. It's about the bloom falling from the rose early and WWE Creative not knowing (or caring) about how Del Rio's character was handled after the (reportedly hefty) check cleared for his return.

Now any pro wrestling fan/smark who is attentive can spend hours fantasy booking the WWE, and more than likely has stanzas on forums and Facebook comments about why they think certain wrestlers are pushed while others are left to wallow, but the fact of the matter is that Del Rio's stubbornness comes from both his perceived worth and the lack of proper booking for his character. Del Rio, the son of Mexican wrestling legend Dos Caras, enjoyed the spotlight as a star in the Mexican wrestling circuit, and imagined that a move to the WWE would only further ascend his name. Hell, the reason he tired of the Lucha Underground organization was because of broken promises of main event matches. You can debate if Del Rio needed or deserved to be pushed in the manner he was after his return (where he took the U.S. Championship from John Cena before he went to film a successful reality TV show), but if the WWE was planning on increasing his bank account by a couple of M's, one would think that they'd have a decent program for the man, right?

Del Rio immediately entered the WWE last fall with Zeb Colter as his mouthpiece. The idea wasn't terrible, but Del Rio and Colter were enemies before Del Rio's previous release, primarily because Colter's gimmick is that of a conservative blowhard who won't think twice about down-talking Mexicans. For Del Rio, who received a babyface reaction when he challenged Cena (part legitimate shock, part "we want to see Cena get his ass kicked"), to immediately be given a heel gimmick? Many pro wrestling reporters and fans felt from the jump it was the wrong look. When you couple that with the WWE casually calling the title the "MexAmerican" belt and plodding through lackluster feuds in the months before Cena's comeback, there was absolutely no shock that their return match ended with a sloppy disqualification finish where the end result was Roman Reigns coming out on top.

​Those guys you saw jumping in to save Del Rio? That was the League of Nations, aka a heel stable where the only requirement was seemingly "born from outside of the U.S." In that faction, Del Rio was regulated to the background, only truly getting the spotlight when it was time for Cena to re-enter the ring. For someone who was said to have been in the WWE's good graces and possibly on track for a solid push just a few months prior, the League of Nations did more harm than good for Del Rio's career.

A few Mondays later, Del Rio lost that United States Championship on Raw to Kalisto, a luchador who was only starting to get a push because his partner was injury prone and on the shelf.

Now, sure, Del Rio ended up gaining the United States title like three days later on Smackdown, but he lost it again a few weeks later at the Royal Rumble. After that, it was a wrap for Del Rio being taken seriously on the main roster. 

I don't claim to know how to do the WWE's job better than they do; they are the ones that brought in $659 million in revenue last year while I'm still trying to figure out what time the dollar store closes. But the fact of the matter is, with two primetime wrestling shows on the USA Network totaling five hours of programming alongside a streaming network that can potentially air whatever they so desire, it's fascinating to see that some WWE Superstars are still not getting a push, be it one they think they deserve or one that was promised to them. There must be a multitude of working parts that go into producing a three-hour Raw, for example, but one would imagine that with the roster being split into two different brands, the Superstars on each could get more time or at the very least more of a program to work with.

None of this is to say that Del Rio should get a pass for violating the WWE's Wellness Policy, especially when there have been questions about the kind of nonsense that Del Rio and Paige might have been engaging in behind the scenes. But, ultimately, this situation should be looked at as a learning experience. If the WWE is going to promise a Superstar the moon, they should at least give them enough push to leave earth's orbit. If you have no plans to turn them into a real name, or things just aren't working out, there has to be some kind of happy medium that can be reached. 

The WWE seems to be turning the corner, and maybe the future they envision doesn't have an Alberto Del Rio in it. Hopefully they can keep the rest of the talent they are nurturing happy, so we don't fall into a similar situation with an equally-bullheaded Superstar.

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