Sunday night saw a collective intake of breath from the wrestling world at the shock return of Alberto Del Rio to the WWE. It was a return that had been talked about here on WNW, but many of us believed Del Rio would at least be a part of the second season of Lucha Underground before making his return. Del Rio's return prompted the Queen of WNW Kendra to hit the keyboard and have an article on his return posted before Undertaker and Brock Lesnar had even entered the Hell in a Cell. His return was an explosive way to kick off a strong night of action and got me thinking about what Del Rio's return means for him and for WWE.
It was evident from the moment he walked out to the ring that Del Rio appeared to be a lot happier in himself and in much better shape than on his previous WWE run. Del Rio hasn't been seen on WWE television in around a year and it's no real secret that he wasn't happy with his run toward the end of his time there. It was believe Del Rio was going to be a part of the newly commissioned second season of Lucha Underground but his commitment to the tapings was always somewhat under question, as he had delayed confirming his return while rumours around him returning to WWE after that season began doing the rounds. Obviously whatever differences Del Rio and WWE had in the past have now been patched up and he is happy to be back and it's at a vital time when the company has lost Randy Orton to injury and John Cena taking time off. I don't see Del Rio lingering as just the United States Champion and fully expect him to be a more focal point of the product for the foreseeable future.
I thought his return actually went down well with the crowd. There was a pretty decent pop when Zeb came out, which led me to think maybe this could be a re-launch of Jack Swagger in some way. The last person I honestly expected Zeb Colter to bring out was Del Rio, and I think the majority of the crowd were surprised by his return but the pop he received showed that there are fans out there who want to see him as a part of the company. Despite them seeming like a total odd couple I actually think the combination of Colter and Del Rio will work out for the best, especially for Alberto. Del Rio was never really one of the best on the mic, leaving a lot to be desired with his bland promos. He also only had Ricardo Rodriguez at the time to back him up. Having Zeb as the main mouth piece for Del Rio is a stroke of genius as we all know what Colter is capable of when it comes to cutting a promo.
Del Rio was also one of the only people you could have put over Cena and gotten away with it as Cena would never have been prepared for Del Rio, a fact that the commentary team played up by saying Cena "looked off his game". While WWE could have chosen an up and coming NXT star, or someone established like Cesaro. Del Rio is a former WWE World Champion, so he is fully established enough and his credentials are enough for him to be a worthy winner over Cena. I know there has been outrage from some fans who believe someone like Cesaro deserves the title, and I don't disagree with that but WWE used Cena as someone to bring back some prestige to the title in the first place. Having another former World Champion holding the title is only another way for it to be further elevated and give it even more value.
However, his return will no doubt raise questions against WWE initiatives like Be A Star and the companies own internal policies. After all, Del Rio was terminated from his WWE contract for 'unprofessional conduct' after he punched a colleague backstage who allegedly made a racist remark backstage and refused to apologise for it. It also sets a precedent that no matter what you do, after a few months and things have blown over you will be taken back. Yes everyone can change and deserves a second chance after some time, but is a year really going to be long enough for something as big as this? It certainly sends a message that even Hulk Hogan could be back within the year and that could bring the company some unwanted attention. Yes I believe if someone has had time to reflect on what they did and is now in a better place they deserve another chance, and I'm sure WWE and Del Rio have spoken about the incident, but it will always be in the back of people's minds and Del Rio will have to be very careful what he does given the amount of backstage politics we see in this business. No matter what the company did with Del Rio this would always be something that comes up and will I'm sure be something that some media outlets will be quick to scrutinise, especially should there be a repeat of the issue.
Overall I feel like I'm pretty pleased with the return of Del Rio to WWE. While yes there will be some who feel the company has made a poor error of judgement in bringing him back there can be no denying how much of a talent Alberto Del Rio actually is, and how he could become the next big Latino star for the company. While WWE has spent years trying to replace Rey Mysterio, the companies most popular Latin star, they have always struggled. If pushed right I believe Del Rio has the attributes and the talent to be the one to dethrone Mysterio as the WWE's Latin king. We will have to see what happens over the coming months with Del Rio's return but right now I think things have gotten off to a very bright start.
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