Alberto Del Rio Makes First Post-WWE U.S. Indy Appearance

Alberto Del Rio El PatronIt didn’t take long for the superstar formerly known as Alberto Del Rio to exercise his right to appear on pro wrestling events in the United States. El Patron made a surprise appearance Saturday night and blew the roof off of the House of Hardcore.

Patron (Del Rio’s new working name) made an unannounced appearance Saturday night at Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore show. The show took place in Philadelphia at the old ECW Arena and in ECW-fashion, was full of surprises. Dreamer and company promised surprises to make up for a slew of injuries that marred the event. Yet Patron was arguably the biggest of the show.

A fan-filmed video captured the moment as you can see below. The segment played out with Patron’s ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez coming out after the former Curt Hawkins lost to Christian York. Ricardo cut a promo and then introduced Patron in clever fashion by rolling out the Alberto and letting the fans complete the intro. Del Rio then appeared to one of the biggest reactions you will ever hear on a pro wrestling event in 2014.

My old friend Rob Feinstein who works with the event commented that Patron was super jacked up about the appearance. Patron told Feinstein that it was the most fun he had in a locker room in a long time and was blown away by the reception he received from the crowd in Philadelphia. I would assume that the appearance will lead to something in-ring down the line for Dreamer’s company.

The appearance comes a week after it was announced that Patron and the WWE had come to terms on a settlement. Patron was fired from the company in August for slapping an employee who made a racist joke about Del Rio. The WWE believed that their contract with Patron prohibited him from appearing on any pro wrestling shows in the United States for a year. That contract was settled last week allowing Patron to appear and wrestle wherever he wants. His first U.S. stop was appropriately in Philadelphia at that old Bingo Hall.

I have a couple of takeaways after talking to people who were there and watching the video. My first thought is that this crowd that loved Patron were probably the same ones who criticized him on social media during his WWE tenure. It’s funny how quickly he becomes beloved by his same critics. That said, no matter what you thought of him as a WWE star, the reasons behind his departure make him one of the most sympathetic figures in the business right now. I could have guessed that the fans would welcome him but I never imagined that the fans would react as loud as they did.

The other is how nice it is to see a pro wrestling event with passion. Take WrestleMania out of the equation and I can’t tell you the last time I saw a WWE crowd exhibit that kind of passion. I guess you could say that Daniel Bryan inspired that kind of passion last winter-Mania at live events, but that seems so long ago. What this video tells me is that there is still a market out there for a “cool” wrestling product and there are still fans willing to pay to see it.

TNA is the first company that comes to mind as a company that really blew it and could have promoted differently to take advantage of this. Ring of Honor has the in-ring but they don’t have enough recognizable faces to attract these fans. I would love to see what Dreamer’s House of Hardcore could do with a television deal. The base is hungry, someone just needs to serve them the right meal.

Regardless, I think this video is a lot of fun and it is great to see Patron *(and Rodriguez together) back in a U.S. wrestling ring.

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