On the second episode of 2013’s Smackdown, GM Booker T promised to outshine the previous Monday’s Raw, not only by having The Rock return for the first time in ten years, but by having the world title defended in a Last Man Standing Match. Champion The Big Show would face Alberto Del Rio in one of World Wrestling Entertainment’s most gruelling match types, a stipulation not often used, and even less scarcely seen on a TV show. The aim of the match is to beat your opponent so savagely that he cannot answer the referee’s ten count. Weapons are legal, the count can occur anywhere and there is no disqualification, but with the prestigious title on the line, any physical pain is worthwhile.
Alberto Del Rio arrived on WWE screens in the summer of 2010 after a series of vignettes showing his privileged lifestyle and arrogant personality were aired on Smackdown. Although handsome, cultured and rich, Alberto was also gifted, devious and perhaps most surprising of all, extremely vicious. In his first few showings he would intentionally try (and sometimes succeed) to injure his adversaries. He claimed from early in his Smackdown run, that it was his Destiny to become World Champion, and despite winning Money in the Bank (and successfully cashing in to win the WWE Championship), Royal Rumble and various other accolades, the one championship that always eluded him was the coveted World Heavyweight Championship.
Del Rio competed on the Blue Brand from his debut in August 2010 until mid 2011 when he was drafted to Raw in the yearly draft draw. His trusty Ring Announcer Ricardo Rodriguez went to Monday Nights with him and their complex partnership continued. During his time on Friday Night Smackdown he was consistently one of the top Superstars, his rivalry with Rey Mysterio was perhaps his best remembered feud of that time.
He went from strength to strength on Raw but just before he began on that brand he had (unsuccessfully) used his Royal Rumble win to face Edge at Wrestlemania 27 for the World Heavyweight Title, although he was the last man to ever face Edge in the Canadian’s storied career, he did not win at the Grandaddy of them all and it seemed that he may never get his hands on the big gold belt as his move to Mondays meant a new goal for the Mexican Aristocrat.
It was on Raw that his rivalry with The Big Show began (Ricardo ran over the giant in one of Del Rio’s luxury cars), Big Show injured Ricardo and Del Rio showed his caring side by exacting revenge for his fallen comrade So it is perhaps fitting that it should be the big man that Alberto finally overcame to win the belt he desired most of all.
The summer of 2011 he entered and won an exceptional Raw Money in the Bank match at the titular Pay-Per-View and held the belt until the dying moments of August’s Summerslam PPV when Del Rio ran into the ring and cashed in on an exhausted and broken CM Punk. His “Destiny” seemed fulfilled, and a further run as Raw’s champion a few months later seemed to solidify his legacy.
He had a scintillating feud against the current WWE Champion (CM Punk beat Alberto Del Rio at November’s Survivor Series PPV to become champ. His historical title reign has so far lasted a staggering 418 days) but an agonising groin injury sidelined the Mexican Superstar for four long months, from December 2011 to April 2012, in this time he still actively completed WWE Media days, including a trip to China which he has since listed among his favourite places to visit) and most importantly, inducted his Uncle, the legendary Lucha Libre Star, Mil Mascaras into WWE’s Hall of Fame.
His surprise return, the day after Wrestlemania was long awaited, but his time as an exclusive Raw talent wasn’t to last as his story came full-circle and he returned to the blue lights of Friday Nights. There he was once again a dominant threat to Sheamus’ world championship, and although both men enjoyed a rivalry that lasted throughout the summer and autumn of last year, Del Rio never managed to out-fox the Irishman and still his desired championship eluded him.
After finishing up with Sheamus, he then entered a shot but very exciting feud with Randy Orton. He returned to the Del Rio of old by using his charismatic, yet mean personality to taunt the ‘Viper’. The two men had real chemistry and had some truly great bouts. Which I hope will rekindle once Orton sets his sights on the WHC again.
Although Alberto Del Rio has always portrayed a bad guy in WWE, in Mexico for almost a decade he was one of CMLL’s most popular Tecnicos (Babyface) as the third generation star Dos Caras Jr, and was loved by the crowds in his home country. In his MMA career too, he always wore his Luchador mask to pay respect to his first love (Professional Wrestling) and his family’s legacy. His athletic and agile wrestling style has always fit beautifully into WWE but as a new Babyface a lot of his crowd-pleasing manoeuvres from his Lucha moveset may be incorporated into his WWE matches. He is a fully-rounded athlete and phenomenal wrestler and will be able to garner the same adulation in America as he did in Mexico.
It was this change of attitude that sparked his latest run for the gold. The Big Show had attacked Ricardo Rodriguez and ADR had enough, he was at first an accidental hero who now embraces the roar of the crowd. He defended his friend and challenged the Big Show to a match, this was set, and on January 12th 2013 Alberto Del Rio used his aggression and cunning to defeat the giant for the one belt he’d vowed to win since his debut. It was two and a half years in the making, but Destiny has finally been fulfilled.