Alberto Del Rio returns to WWE!
Taking everyone by surprise, a feat not too common in the age of fast-moving information, Alberto Del Rio graced the WWE stage for the first time since August 5th, 2014.
Not only that, but he did so in grand fashion, capturing his first United States Championship from John Cena at the Hell In A Cell pay-per-view special.
Del Rio is an extensively decorated superstar who boasts an impressive legacy in both Mexico and the US. In fact, in addition to his new US Title he is still AAA’s Mega Champion, a title he won from El Texano Jr on December 7th of last year.
Despite his accomplishments and competence between the ropes, his resurgence comes as quite the surprise considering the controversy that swirled around his departure from WWE.
Officially, Del Rio was fired due to “unprofessional conduct” after an altercation with a member of WWE staff. The ugly incident was followed by litigation, as the superstar was confined by a 90-day “no compete” clause and, as he reported to the media days after being let go, he was prevented from competing in the United States for one year.
Del Rio and his father, revered luchadore Dos Caras, openly spoke bitterly about the affair and called WWE “racist”.
By September 17th, it was announced that Del Rio’s legal team had settled with WWE and the US ban as well as the “no-compete” was lifted. This allowed him to return to competition in Mexico’s AAA promotion, as well as a brief stint in Ring of Honor, before joining the roster on El Rey Network‘s Lucha Underground.
The brave and bold new television venture from Mark Burnett and Robert Rodriguez has faced budget issues going into its second season, and there was growing uncertainty as to certain talent returning with the show.
In September it was announced that LU would go back into production in the fourth quarter of 2015 and the anticipated second season would air in early 2016.
Co-Executive Producer Chris DeJoseph stated that Alberto “El Patron” was confirmed to return to the series on WrestleZone Radio on September 22nd. However, that same day Del Rio posted on Twitter simply, “Exclusive: not confirmed.”
According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer, “There was a big falling out, cash and creative is the best way to put it.”
Lucha Underground was reportedly only renewed after negotiating a reduced per-episode budget and fewer episodes.
Meltzer also comments on Del Rio’s new contract with WWE: “Triple H was the one who made the deal, he got a great deal, this deal was clearly done weeks ago, it is an easier schedule than most of the other roster have.”
It is not yet clear as to whether Triple H approached Del Rio or the other way round. What is clear is that like many wrestling alumni such as Sting, Brock Lesnar and Undertaker, Del Rio will be working at a limited capacity.
This type of schedule is desirable for a man in Del Rio’s position, considering not only his age (38 years old) and his family life, but also his current active status with AAA as Mega Champion.
Having apparently settled old issues with the company that brought him such exposure on a global scale, both WWE and Alberto Del Rio can now reap the benefits of a working relationship. The addition of a pro worker like El Patron to today’s talent roster is a major boon for the Fed, and keeps the United States Championship elevated in stature.