The WWE has apparently fired former WWE Champion Alberto Del Rio. Mystery surrounds the firing, but multiple unconfirmed reports hint that he slapped a WWE.com reporter.
Well that should save the WWE about $1 million a year.
Del Rio’s firing is odd, but not in the context of the WWE’s overall financial problems. The company recently cut 7 percent of its staff while attempting to save money from the projected loss stemming from the launch of the WWE Network.
Del Rio simply wasn’t much of a draw for the WWE, and despite multiple pushes, never really took off as a WWE character. It may have been time for the Del Rio to go anyway; his contract was scheduled to expire at the end of 2014 and Del Rio reportedly wanted to wrestle again in Mexico.
The loss will hurt the WWE in terms of depth of great workers, but if the company can survive the loss of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, its two most popular stars not named John Cena, it certainly will live on post-Rio.
The WWE unfortunately was never able to figure out how to use Del Rio. He arrived as a Mexican Aristocrat. He was disliked, but not really hated, which is what you want when you are a strong wrestling heel. He eventually was turned into a good guy, but he stumbled in that role too. The fans never really got behind him.
Del Rio was a great worker. He was athletic, had a good timing and good body. The WWE, however, micromanaged his character and never just let Del Rio be himself. He would have worked great as a bad-ass shoot fighter, instead of a Mexican comedy act.
Even though Del Rio, 37, won the WWE championship twice and the World Heavyweight championship twice, he never reached his full potential. The WWE hired him with the goal of reaching the Mexican audience, but Del Rio lacked the charisma to win over the fans.
Del Rio was a legitimate tough guy. He was an MMA fighter before going the WWE. He had a 9-5 record and even once fought Mirko Cro Cop, who knocked him out in the first round. In the WWE he frequently used submission holds to pin his opponents.
Perhaps the WWE will welcome Del Rio back again one day, but for now the WWE is out of one of its best workers since 2009, and it’s a shame that he wasn’t allowed to show his MMA character in the wrestling ring.