Alberto Del Rio – Crumbling under the pressure to be the next Eddie Guerrero?
Ever since Eddie Guerrero passed away, there has been a huge void in the WWE’s system, to reach out to the Hispanic demography. Eddie Guerrero was a hero to all of them; after he won the WWE title from Brock Lesnar in ’04, he immediately became the face of the WWE, and the company was able to drag in the people from the Latino community, which constitutes a major part of the WWE fan base. After the death of Eddie Guerrero, Vince wanted someone to replace Eddie as the face of the company for the Hispanic community. He didn’t have to search further, as Eddie’s good friend, and one of the more popular WWE superstars, Rey Mysterio was right in the spot to fill in Eddie’s shoes.
Rey was given the World Heavyweight title in the summer of ’06, with a storyline where he took on the responsibilities of Eddie Guerrero, thus making his dream come true. Although, WWE soon realized it was a bad gamble to take, as Rey couldn’t shoulder the responsibilities of Eddie, and thus lost the championship in the process. This meant that after Eddie and Rey, WWE could not bank upon any other Latino superstar to cater to the Hispanic demography of the WWE audience. Rey still remained in the WWE though, and in the main event, thus still shouldering that responsibility in a sense.
But the WWE were searching for someone who could take that role in a much bigger sense, someone who could become the face of the WWE for the Latino population. For example, you always had the Bret Harts for Canada, the Bulldogs for UK, and now, The Great Khali for India. That is how the WWE distributes the responsibilities for the superstars, once they know that these communities provide a bigger part of the revenues for the WWE. Over the years, WWE has tried to focus more on the Hispanic community, and thus, wanted one top star who can represent the company when the WWE goes to places which has a larger Hispanic fan base, like Texas or Mexico, and that has been the problem for WWE.
A few years ago, the WWE had signed one of the biggest names in Mexican wrestling, the son of the biggest legend in Mexican professional wrestling history. Dos Caras was undoubtedly the most famous masked wrestler from Mexico, and his son, Dos Caras Jr. took over the responsibility from his father, and had been very successful. WWE had signed Dos Caras Jr. as a means to fill up the gap that Eddie had left behind. As Dos Caras Jr. was a big star in Mexico and in Japan, WWE thought he would be the perfect replacement for Eddie. And somehow, that expectation turned to be the reason for Alberto Del Rio’s misfiring in the WWE.
They say when you expect too much, you end up being disappointed. Sadly, WWE now faces the same with Del Rio. WWE had previously tried to push Alberto, with him rising to fame within his first year on the main roster. Del Rio won the Royal Rumble in 2011, within just 7 months of his debut! Not just that, but he went on to become a 2 time WWE Champion, and is the current World champion. By looking at those numbers, one would imagine Del Rio to be one of the top draws in the organization. The sad part is, Del Rio as a heel was just another JBL in the making, being an aristocrat. He failed to get over with the crowd as a heel champion, and he didn’t do as well as WWE expected. After getting drafted to RAW, he held the WWE title twice, still being far behind the likes of Cena and Punk.
WWE then tried to see if he’d be over with the fans as a face. This resulted in Alberto Del Rio winning the World Heavyweight title, and starting a face run. The first few weeks saw him receiving tremendous reception, but there was a catch. It was in places with large Hispanic fan base. Whether it was Mexico or parts of Texas, WWE felt they hit the jackpot. But as WWE travelled to places with less Latino fan base, the fans did not care about ADR. So in theory, Del Rio being a champ works only in places where the Latino demographic is more. This resulted in Del Rio receiving mediocre to no reaction as the WWE went to other parts of the country.
In a way, WWE is trying to fill the void that Eddie has left. The best part about Eddie was, everybody loved him. He was an entertainer, a tremendous one at that, and he was an excellent performer, and hence, he’d become the hero of not only the Latino fan base, but the WWE fans in general. Alberto’s face push is going down the same road as his heel run, which is predictable and boring. WWE right now has no other option, but putting Del Rio under pressure to perform, and making him fill Eddie’s shoes is a huge mistake. Not only will it end up as a huge disappointment, but all the expectations will burn Del Rio sooner than later.
When Del Rio first turned face, it was a refreshing change to a character that was fast becoming stale. Del Rio’s character needed to be revamped, and that was what happened with his face turn. His initial run was something new, unlike the pasty faces we see in the WWE, but as his run got longer, he became one of the generic guys on the episode, like Cena or Sheamus. The fans do not want another generic babyface, as it doesn’t make sense. It’d be interesting to see how WWE counters this, as something needs to be done to make Del Rio’s character different, and if WWE wants to bank on him for selling the tickets and gaining revenues in Hispanic-heavy places, they need to revamp his character and should stop expecting ADR to be the next Eddie Guerrero.