Unlike his first WWE run, where a debate can be had about whether a multitude of circumstances, poor booking or his own deficiencies as a performer contributed to Alberto Del Rio not becoming a breakout star, it was pretty clear where the Mexican wrestler’s second stint with the company went wrong.
That was evident right at the start, with a heatless, illogical team-up with former rival Zeb Colter.
Despite a win over John Cena in his first night back at Hell in a Cell, nobody got the weird MexAmerica gimmick Del Rio and Colter were given.
And, in a new interview with SI.com’s Extra Mustard blog, Colter says he doesn’t blame the fans, who were just pointing out the obvious:
WWE failed to take into account that it didn’t make a lot of sense.
And it wasn’t just a failure to explain it in advance. It’s that they never bothered to, even when it was clear crowds didn’t get it, and worse, didn’t care:
Remember, I hated Alberto Del Rio, and he hated me. So, all of a sudden, I disappeared and came back. But it’s not necessarily the first step in wrestling that is the most important, because it’s the second step that identifies and clarifies the first one. That’s what we didn’t do. There was no chemistry, but there was also no logical explanation as to why I would be with Alberto. I said to the guys in the back, “I’m not getting the story,” but people kept saying, “Just wait.” I’ve walked on enough wrestling floors, and I know if a crowd isn’t getting a certain vibe. The chemistry wasn’t there with me and Alberto.
Zeb (real name Wayne Keown, and more famously known in many kayfabe circles as “Dirty” Dutch Mantell) has a great wrestling mind that’s evident throughout his interview with Justin Barrasso. And he had a plan to fix things with an angle that would help him, Alberto and Jack Swagger - a guy of whom Colter thinks a lot:
I suggested that I get back with Jack. What I really wanted to say during my return was, “When I was away, I realized that, instead of building walls, we should be building bridges. Instead of hating on people, I should be loving people.” That was the build-up, but then we’d find out that, while I was away, I was really having a s--- fit about every son of a b---- who f----- me over, and Alberto was one of them. So my plan was to convince Alberto to let Jack join us, and then we’d do the big turn at the end, and that would have helped everybody. They didn’t see it that way, and Del Rio wanted to stay a heel. So I worked six weeks with Alberto, then they went their way and I went mine.
That may end up being something critics use against Del Rio, but the bulk of the critique is of Creative. Colter admits being a wrestling writer is a thankless job. But in discussing his amazement that the company hasn’t done more with Cesaro, another talent he managed and thinks highly of, he pointed out an issue that seems to hold the organization back fairly regularly:
Sometimes in WWE, if it’s not their idea, they don’t see the value of the idea you’re proposing.
Definitely check out the whole piece. It’s a remarkably fair assessment of present day WWE, and includes insights on the entire business of pro wrestling, plus some great road stories from throughout his long career.