Alberto Del Rio shocked the pro wrestling community when he returned to the WWE at Hell in a Cell less than a week ago. How did the current AAA Mega heavyweight champion wind up back in the company that fired him a year ago? A new report has all of the details.
Del Rio returned to the company after being fired in August 2014 for slapping a WWE employee after the employee made a racist joke. Del Rio reportedly told Triple H that he would never be back, yet here he is. A detailed report in the new Wrestling Observer Newsletter by Dave Meltzer outlines all of the circumstances that brought back the former WWE champion.
- Del Rio’s new contract gives him a downside guarantee of $1,450,000 per year according to Meltzer’s sources. That is a ridiculous amount of money in my opinion, given Del Rio’s perceived value. I don’t like to talk to finances but that stuck out as that puts him up there probably with Randy Orton behind John Cena and Brock Lesnar in downside guarantees. That tells me we are going to see a lot of Del Rio main-events for a while. I would also think it locks him in for at least one title reign if not more. The company isn’t going to invest that much money into him without pushing him hard. I think Alberto is solid in the ring but he burnt out to me by the time he left the company. Alberto was most over when he had Ricardo and the cars leading up to WrestleMania 27. Without that gimmick, I just don’t see people caring that much about seeing him on top. This also probably guarantees that he gets slotted ahead of Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, and maybe even Seth Rollins after Rollins drops the title. I don’t like to talk to money because at the end of the day, it’s not mine and I’m not a shareholder, but this salary says a lot about the future of Del Rio in the WWE. He will also have a reduced schedule.
- Triple H reportedly reached out to Del Rio approximately six weeks ago and Del Rio’s salary demands were too high. Hunter later came back and worked out an agreement. Those very close to the situation insist that the deal had been consummated around five weeks ago. The creative plan was put in place several weeks ago as the company really wanted him to make a splash in Los Angeles. This would put the agreement in place before Night of Champions. John Cena defeated Seth Rollins to regain the U.S. title on that night after Rollins won the title at SummerSlam. I think it is fair to speculate on what would have happened if Del Rio didn’t sign to come back. Would Rollins have dropped the belt so fast? Was it always the plan? Maybe it was but it just seemed so ridiculous to have the world champion jobbed out so fast to the U.S. champion. Was there a different plan for Rollins as U.S. champion? Maybe there was and maybe there wasn’t, but with Cena leaving indefinitely, logic would dictate that the plan was to keep that belt on Seth until Cena returned at the end of the year.
- Del Rio gave his notice to AAA last week, giving them the impression the deal was just worked out. There were plenty of rumors in recent weeks that Del Rio had been in talks with the WWE. AAA booker Dorian Roldan denied a story in Super Luchas reporting the negotiations. Roldan was reportedly tipped off around October 12 that Del Rio could be jumping and that he should take the Mega heavyweight title off of Del Rio, yet never took the rumors seriously. Del Rio had told friends privately recently that he was going back, but gave the impression it wouldn’t be until next year to set up a big angle for WrestleMania 32.
- Meltzer speculates that the pairing of Zeb Coulter with Del Rio is short-term. Alberto cut much better promos since leaving the WWE and really doesn’t need a mouthpiece at this point. Meltzer speculates, just as I did when I originally blogged about this, that Ricardo Rodriguez may have too much heat for the things he said about the company and Triple H since leaving to bring him back. Yet at the end of the day Del Rio was most over with Ricardo and the cars and Ricardo could wind up back with Del Rio when he makes his eventual babyface turn. Again I go back to the money. With that kind of financial investment in Del Rio, I could see the company sucking it up and bringing Ricardo back if they think he’s needed. There is too much at stake to let Dei Rio flounder over a petty disagreement with Rodriguez. Meltzer doesn’t report any plans to bring Ricardo back, but speculates it could be a possibility when Del Rio turns.
- Del Rio was recently in talks with all of the major MMA promotions about fighting. Meltzer reports that Del Rio recently shot a “secret angle” with Phil Baroni to set up some kind of a fight, although it could have been a pro wrestling match. Campbell McLaren’s plan for Combate Americas was to feature Del Rio as a fighter and promote the company around him. That is interesting in that while Del Rio has flirted with MMA fighting since leaving the WWE, he never actually signed, although Bill Goldberg said just a few months ago that he was offered a fight in Glory against Alberto, even given a May 8 date. Meltzer never writes about UFC specifically, but by saying “all” that would indicate UFC was in talks with Del Rio which is really interesting on lots of levels if true.
- Del Rio had a contract with Lucha Underground. Meltzer reports that Del Rio’s money arriving late from the promotion gave him grounds to void the contract. Meltzer reports that those associated with Lucha Underground aren’t concerned he’s gone, seeing it as an “upgrade” since they’ll be promoting around Rey Mysterio next season. It’s very interesting, almost funny that Lucha Underground was more concerned with Hernandez signing with TNA while under contract yet had no problem with letting its top star go who at some point did have a contract.
- Here is one that makes very little sense to me. Del Rio had recently informed AAA that he was going to TNA Wrestling after severing ties with Lucha Underground. Why does that make little sense? How was TNA going to pay him with no television deal signed in the country past January? Why would Alberto even consider TNA who again has no television deal and a reputation for money issues, especially after just going through financial issues with Lucha Underground? Meltzer speculates that TNA was never under any serious consideration for the same reasons I just outlined. TNA reportedly promised to make Alberto its top guy if he signed with the company. TNA did make a big play for Del Rio last year when he left the WWE at a time when they did have a television deal, but making a run at Del Rio now doesn’t seem logical to me nor does Del Rio’s interest in going there. My hunch is that it was a ploy by Del Rio to get word back to WWE to strengthen his position in negotiations and nothing more.
- Alberto is booked for several dates with AAA. AAA were given all indications by Del Rio that he would make the dates, although it seems unlikely he’d make all of them. AAA’s next big show is on December 5 with Del Rio booked against Jeff Jarrett in a hair vs. hair match, although that match was never announced and probably will be changed. Two AAA dates conflict with the Survivor Series weekend, although Meltzer reports that Del Rio may still wind up in AAA that night if it was agreed upon when he signed. Meltzer reports that Del Rio pushed to fulfill all of his remaining dates with AAA as part of the agreement with WWE. He is also booked this Monday in Nuevo Laredo which would take him off of RAW. Meltzer speculates that he could lose the Mega heavyweight title as soon as Monday.
Update: In an update posted on Meltzer’s site less than 24 hours later, he reported that there are now doubts about Del Rio making his AAA commitments. Meltzer goes as far as to say that AAA would be lucky to get at least one date on Del Rio.
So what have we learned here? We learned that Alberto Del Rio is a savvy negotiator. The WWE have made a substantial commitment in Del Rio so get ready for more ADR than you are probably looking for, especially in 2016.