Four-time WWE champion Alberto Del Rio was the talk of the town in Bengaluru and Kolkata as he made an official visit to India as a part of WWE’s plan to promote and expand the brand all over the world. After involving in fan activities for the first two days, Del Rio spoke exclusively with Sportskeeda.
In a freewheeling chat, he spoke about WWE’s global expansion, the brand split, his future with the company, fellow wrestlers, and even his favourite Football club. Also, in a candid way he gave out his predictions for the Euro 2016 finals.
Question: What according to you will define the new era?
Del Rio: WWE is a PG and a family product. Everybody can watch and enjoy WWE whereas, in the past, the parents were worried about what their kids were watching because of the blood, foul language etc. Now, WWE doesn’t have any of those as it has become a PG product and hence has become a safe product for the kids.
Question: The brand split is set to place in a week’s time. Are there any new opportunities and competitions at stake? What are your views on the brand split?
Del Rio: When I came to WWE, Raw and Smackdown were two separate brands. The brand split gives an opportunity to everybody because, instead of one story line that was doing rounds on both Raw and Smackdown, there will be a separate storyline for each brand, which is good for the wrestlers and also the fans.
Question: What do you think about WWE’s global expansion? There are a couple of Indians in NXT and recently, WWE signed their first Chinese superstar. Can we see more superstars from other countries in the future?
Del Rio: Of course. WWE is a global brand and it’s a global company. So, we want to have superstars from all over the world. There are a lot of WWE/pro-wrestling fans in Mexico and that is the reason why they have Kalisto, Sincara and myself. The same goes to India. There are a couple of Indians in NXT who are trying to make it to the top. I have heard few good things about them and am sure that in the next 2-3 years, they are going to be on the main roster.
Question: You are a four-time WWE champion, United States champion, you won the only 40-man Royal Rumble and the Money in the Bank in the same year. So what do you think is next?
Del Rio: I have been blessed when it comes to winning the titles as I have won it all and I am always in the scheme of things. I want to become champion one more time and there is one more title I would need to win in WWE to say, “I have won all the titles you have to win in this company” which is the Intercontinental title. Once it’s done, I think I am ready to say goodbye to the sport. I think I have 3-5 more years in wrestling and I am hoping I spend all those years in WWE.
Question: No tag team championships then?
Del Rio: If it happens, it will be fantastic. I am not trying to get it, but if it happens, then good. I am not actually looking forward to the tag team titles.
Question: There is an Indy revolution going on as a lot of new faces are coming into the WWE from Ring of Honour and other promotions. Who do you think will be the next breakout star?
Del Rio: I have no idea. I know all the guys in NXT have a lot of talent and that’s the reason why they are there. But in this sport, you can see guys with a lot of talent in the minor leagues when they move into the major leagues, they become irrelevant. We have so many talented wrestlers in NXT, but it will be really difficult to give you a name. To be honest, I don’t know who will be the next guy carrying the company on his shoulders.
Question: The Olympics is coming up. You almost took part in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Who do think you have the best wrestling contingent going into the Olympics?
Del Rio: We all know Russia, Turkey and Cuba have a great team. It is very difficult to pick because the level of wrestling in Europe is amazing, but Russia always has the best wrestlers.
We named few WWE stars and asked him the first thing that comes to his mind about them. Here is what he said:
Shinsuke Nakamura: Amazing talent
Kevin Owens: strong wrestler (laughs and said he wanted to say something else)
Dean Ambrose: One of his favourite opponent
Enzo and Big Cass: The best tag team at the moment
Seth Rollins: No comments
Sasha Banks: Beautiful girl
Bray Wyatt: One of his best friends
Q: Your favourite club Real Madrid are an 11-time European champion. Do you think whether they can win their 12th title in the coming season?
(Del Rio began the interview by pointing out a member of the Sportskeeda team, who was wearing a Real Madrid home jersey and said that he liked the shirt followed by a loud Hala Madrid chant.)
Del Rio: Only time will tell. We know Real Madrid are always a great team, but it is very difficult to say about winning again because Barcelona also have great players and there are some other great teams as well. Having said this, I will say yes because I support Real Madrid and I want them to win titles.
Q: So you mean that the best team will win?
Del Rio: Which is Real Madrid (laughs).
Q: France or Portugal? Who will win the Euro 2016 finals and why?
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Del Rio: Portugal. I am backing Portugal because Cristiano Ronaldo is the player I like the most. Portugal has a better team than France and are playing well in the Euro cup.