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CheapShots: Is There Redemption For Alberto Del Rio?

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Alberto Del Rio
Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!

Alberto Del Rio has been in the headlines for a number of a reasons in the past year. None of them being wrestling related. From his on again off again turbulent relationship with WWE Superstar Paige to his no show acts at Impact wrestling, it seems that drama follows the Mexican superstar wherever he goes.

Del Rio started his wrestling under the respect name that his father, Dos Cara wrestled under. By going under the ring name Dos Cara Jr. Achieving success in both Mexico and Japan. With more exclusive work under the widely popular Mexican promotion AAA in the early 2000s. As well as CMLL .Usually having to save his father from and having feuds with El Texano and Pirata Morgan. He also wrestled for various Japanese promotions such as Battlart, Zero1, and AJPW.

In 2008, Del Rio sparked the interest of the WWE, wrestling dark matches for them, while still being signed to CMLL. It wasn’t until 2010 that Del Rio made his first appearance on the main roster on Friday night Smackdown. Presenting the character of Alberto Del Rio, a rich, arrogant, Mexican aristocrat. Facing off against lucha icon Rey Mysterio. Del Rio defeated him with his signature armbreaker submission.

The character of Del Rios cockiness wasn’t far from the real personality of Del Rio. He would come out in a suit and signature white scarf announcing that “My name is Alberto Del Rio, but you already knew that.” His feud with Rey Mysterio was and is the most memorable in my opinion of all. Having two Mexican superstars of that stature going head to head with Del Rio’s amazing heel work promos was something that can not be denied. His brawler style mixed with his luchador background would shine having memorable matches like the 2010, TLC against Edge, Kane and Rey Mysterio. 2011 MITB Ladder Match ultimately winning that match, his feuds with John Cena and CM Punk and even some chemistry with Christian over the World Heavyweight Championship that catapulted Christians championship journey. Del Rio would go on to achieve many accolades, winning the World Heavyweight Championship twice, the 2011 Royal Rumble and the 2011.

Del Rio was fired from WWE in 2014 after an altercation with a staff member, but there were many rumblings that Del Rio was upset at the way his organically “over” character was being utilized, while other suggested that it was due to a “racist” joke the staff member made directed at Del Rio.

At this stage you’d probably think Del Rio would get lost in the shuffle of the indie’s scene. He wrestled for ROH feuding with Christopher Daniels and Roderick Strong, WWL, and returning to AAA. It wasn’t until Del Rio signed to Lucha Underground that the superstars capacity to bring a new character to life with the same hard hitting attitude, style of wrestler and arrogance is Alberto El Patron was truly born. El Patron came out and had a chip on his shoulder, towards his previous promoters, towards other wrestlers that he thought were getting over when he should be the one, pretty much towards the world and it was noticeable to fans. It was a breath of fresh air to see a little more of the a harden El Patron than the cockier Del Rio. His first feud after being crowd the new AAA champ against the former champ El Texano Jr in a bullrop match was brutal and showed that El Patron had more to offer than what was given to him in WWE. His feud with another former WWE Superstar John Morrison AKA Johnny Mundo showcased to the wrestling universe that the WWE doesnt always know how to fully utilize their  Superstars. Yet, Del Rio again left Lucha Underground stating that he left due to financial and creative reasoning.

2015 and 2016 did not fair any better for Del Rio has he made a surprise return to the WWE at Hell In A Cell and defeated John Cena for the US Championship. He had a strange gimmick with this win alongside Zeb Colter called the “MexAmerica.” Which seemed to have faded away as fast as it started. He then aligned himself with Sheamus, Wade Barrett, and Rusev to form the League of Nations. It was as big a flop as the alliance with Colter. After losing the US title Del Rio never got the air time or a viable storyline that was rumoured to be promised to him if and when he returned to the WWE.

This is where it gets messy, when it was revealed that Del Rio and Paige were dating in real life it seemed like the WWE was doing everything to keep them apart as Del Rio at this point in his career was known for being a “hoy head.” They were drafted to different brands, but it wasn’t until Paiges neck injury and the substance abuse suspensions that Del Rio and the WWE reportedly parted ways. Del Rio would go on to the indie scene once again, but he was different. He began to publicly name Triple H and Vince McMahon during his promos for different promoters. Insulting the company and its high ups in the process. Even going on girlfriend at the time Paige’s instagram and seemingly making drunken threats towards Triple H to “fight him.” This put neither Paige nor Del Rio in a good light.  Yet Impact [at the time being known as Gobal Force Wrestling under Jeff Jarrett] wrestling was going through an overhaul and needed a draw and Del Rio was it for them. Now when this happened I was confused. Yes, Del Rio is talented, but at this point in his career and personally he was a ticking time bomb. He was a no show at many indie promotions. Had numerous altercations between he and Paige, his own brother, where the police became involved and continue to slander a company that made him recognizable.

Impact seemed that they were in such dire straits that they seemed bend to Del Rio [now El Patron again] will. The same night he debut, he defeated Bobby Lashley for the heavyweight championship. He would relinquish the title due to the controversial win and in the coming weeks face EC3 and Eli Drake for the #1 contender spot. Winning the title and eventually unifying the Impact championship with the Impact championship and yes, it is as confusing as it sounds. He would go on to feud against LAX with his father and brother by his side, but in July of 2017, he would be stripped of the titles and suspended due to a domestic dispute with Paige. In November of 2017, Del Rio would return and interrupt a match between Johnny Impact [Mundo] and Eli Drake. He would go on his rants about promotions being out to get him and being “backstabbers” He had a brief feud with Johnny Impact and the return of Austin Aries before April of 2018 where Impact, that now seemed to find their footing as a Wrestling Organization with the addition of Lucha Underground tale, Del Rio was a no show. He was suppose to face Aries at Impacts Redemption PPV for the heavyweight championship, but was replaced by Pentagon Jr. and Fenix.

Wrestling is a pretty forgiving business for the amount of hiccups that wrestlers go through in careers and depending on the talent a superstar carries and fanbase, a short memory too. It was rumoured that Del Rio was in talks with WWE again, but his “no one can touch me” attitude and no shows to events that make money for the promoters and entice the fans. How can anyone put trust in a man like that? Yes, his skilled at what he does, but his antics and age, [being 40 years old] leave a big question mark on his back. Is he really worth putting a championship belt on and in that regard stating that this is the face of said company? If he does draw attention to a promotion it isn’t for his ability in the ring anymore, it is for the drama he displays outside of the squared circle that may leave people intrigued.

While I stating earlier that wrestler is a forgiving industry to a fault. It is also an industry that is very much aware of its fan base and surroundings of the times. Del Rio has been rumoured to say he is retiring, but is also signed to a contract with AAA again and is stated that he will return for Triplemania XXVI, but will age or attitude be a factor in how far Del Rio goes? Yes, and maybe this is a redemption tour of sorts for him as he has had success in AAA the past. As in all the cases of scorned wrestlers looking for redemption. Time will tell if Del Rio is still a main card draw. 


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Cheap Shots: The Town Wasn’t Crying

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My passengers and I had to sleep off Monday’s bad dream before taking a midday trek through the coastal skyway between LaGuardia and Logan. Rental Car agencies love us. We cover overhead for months. Last night’s SmackDown Live threw a dart in the map at Worcester, Massachusetts. The Beantown suburb has been a reliable stronghold for The Evil Empire for generations. Boston and its satellites have fabulous history with the art form. Look no further than John Cena and Sasha Banks. Older than a Millennial? Fine, would you settle for the most respected Shaman left in the industry? Boston proper is home to the heart of the last great Booker in NWA/WCW History. Marks remember him as “The Task Master” Kevin Sullivan.

There was an incredibly low threshold to surpass Monday’s utter junk. The Professional Instigator kicked things off. His segment was centered around a shockingly relevant question given the original source. Last week, The New Day won a tag team match with a unique stipulation. The winning team would send one member to Money in The Bank. Though, nobody new which member would get the honor. The Unicorns have verbal chemistry with a tree stump. Mike is near the top of the roster when cutting a promo. As a result, the question everybody was curious about led to a segment that would make Abbott & Costello smile! After the baseball routine, Mike didn’t get an answer. Would anyone be shocked if Mike’s mouth got him into a fight? He told us that he could beat any member of The New Day. Big E steps up to disagree. After weaseling his way up the ramp and being pelted with pancakes, GM Paige insists Mike get out there and fight. The Miz defeated Big E with help from The Bar. This led to The Sexy Goth Chick making a six-man tag next week, cool!

Early recess with dual qualifiers for Chicago on the ladies’ side. Our first contest is proof smarks still can’t do this on paper. Last week; when this match was made, 98% of the audience had one or both of these thoughts in their collective head: “Why is Lana in this match?” and/or “She has no shot here.” Tell me you didn’t and you’re lying! Billie Kay going over in this spot made complete sense because her IIconic partner did not qualify and Lana hadn’t wrestled in months. Her fans; which unabashedly include this author, were just happy to see her on camera again. She has proven more than capable with a promo. Would her in-ring potential be given legitimate thought again? Wait, they gave her a solid entrance with accompaniment from Aiden English. But, she’s competing against someone who is getting a massive push? Fortunately for The Ravishing Russian, Sexy Koalas have the attention span of two gnats. The Songbird brought out a very tall “Lana Day” sign to do the distraction thing. The Aussies lose their minds, allowing Lana to slap the s*** out of one while barricading the other. Could she do this? A huge Machka Kick and sit-out faceplant later, the answer was YES! Lana won her first singles match in WWE and I popped like a kid!

Later in the night, Naomi and Sonya Deville had their chance to qualify for Money in The Bank. Athletically these two ran circles around the previous feminine encounter. However, Lana evokes the type of emotional reaction they can only wish for right now. Most memorable spot involved several dueling kicks. Eventually, The Glow Worm got the advantage and the victory with an old-school looking rollup. It will be interesting to see if there is any tension between Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville because only The Pound For Pound Pinup made it to the PPVs namesake match.

Then we move to a promo in the ring between The Usos and The Good Brothers. “I don’t see any bars…” Preceded by “This ain’t Japan….” Very Typical stuff. Although this was gonna be an interesting match because we haven’t seen it in a while. The Samoans were able to get most of their spots in. They even tried their tandem finish from opposite corners. The attempt was not successful. One of them got pushed off the top turnbuckle, eventually leaving the other vulnerable for The Magic Killer. Congratulations Gallows & Anderson! Your reward is a date with The Bludgeon Brothers for Tag Team Gold in Chicago.

This week’s action concludes with a first-time match between Daniel Bryan and Jeff Hardy. Excuse me? Yes, I think The Charismatic Enigma was losing his mind in Orlando during some of Daniel’s prime run in New York. Otherwise, Vince never put them on the same competitive path. Why the HELL not? As expected, it was a clinic and coin flip throughout. This was a second chance for The American Dragon, who went over clean with a Heal Hook. The victory cleared the way to a final qualifier for The Yes Man against Samoa Joe who was on commentary this week.

Most important piece of news from this week’s SmackDown Live? Let’s go to the ring for a face-to-face promo between WWE Champion AJ Styles and Money in The Bank Challenger Shinsuke Nakamura. These two have already had three solid matches. The Con Artist won last, enabling him to choose the stipulation in Chicago. Nakamura is a very good heel, capable of making anyone on Tuesdays twist in the wind. A Ninja takes whatever advantage he can. The challenger was ready to show his cards, but not before administering a beatdown and ten-count that Styles could not answer. I was wrong. It’s not gonna be in a cage. We have A Last Man Standing Match for WWE Gold. I doubt people is Sasha’s home state left disappointed like those in New York on Monday Night. Relax everybody, the itinerary takes us to Flair Country again next week.


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Dear Smarks: Stop Bringing Up Roman’s Wellness Suspension

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Roman Reigns WWE WrestleMania 34

So the wonderful Greg DeMarco recently did a study. He showed non-wrestling people at his place of employment photos of Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns and asked them who they would pay to see, just based on the pictures; all of them chose Roman Reigns. As you can imagine, the anti-Roman contingent threw a FIT about this, saying that he shouldn’t be asking non-fans about who is a draw because they wouldn’t know who either guy was, which was the point of the whole experiment.

One of the complaints about Reigns that his detractors like to drag up, when they get tired of trying to claim he has no wrestling ability, mic skills, or charisma, is his 2016 Wellness Policy suspension. According to them, Reigns’ suspension is a dealbreaker, he should never be allowed to be The Guy ever again because of this mistake. Really? One Wellness Policy violation over Roman forgetting to give WWE his prescription for Adderall because he was having trouble sleeping and he should be forever barred from being The Guy? Have you all conveniently forgotten about all the Legends and top guys that had or still have serious substance abuse problems? Well, if you have, let me remind you. Here’s a list of people that either had Wellness Policy violations or were known in their day for having a drug and/or alcohol problem:

  1. Jeff Hardy *
  2. Stone Cold Steve Austin. * **
  3. Shawn Michaels * **
  4. Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) **
  5. Sean Waltman (1-2-3 Kid, X-Pac)
  6. Kevin Nash (Diesel). * **
  7. Road Warrior Hawk **
  8. Eddie Guerrero * **
  9. Carlito
  10. William Regal. To the best of my knowledge, Regal’s substance abuse issues weren’t widely known for much of his career, but he has admitted to them in interviews.
  11. Sunny **
  12. The Iron Sheik * **
  13. Randy Orton *
  14. Rey Mysterio *
  15. Paige *
  16. Eva Marie
  17. Alberto Del Rio *
  18. Edge * ** (part of the fallout from Chris Benoit’s death).
  19. The British Bulldog
  20. Ric Flair. * **
  21. Tully Blanchard **
  22. Kerry Von Erich *  **(The Texas Tornado)
  23. Luna Vachon
  24. Chyna *
  25. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts **
  26. Curt Hennig (Mr. Perfect) **
  27. Lex Lugar *
  28. Miss Elizabeth.
  29. Umaga
  30. Joey Mercury
  31. Road Dogg
  32. The Fabulous Freebirds **
  33. Roddy Piper **
  34. ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan **.
  35. Dustin Rhodes. Note: This one wasn’t known until recently, and Dustin has been very honest about his issues.
  36. Kurt Angle. * **. Note: Angle never had a Wellness Violation that I’m aware of, but he and Vince have said that his drug issues and refusal to go to rehab partly lead to his departure from WWE in 2006.
  37. Don Muraco. **
  38. Cowboy Bob Orton. **

*= Became Heavyweight Champion/Women’s Champion

**= Hall of Famer

As you can see, a lot of wrestlers past and present have either run afoul of  WWE’s Wellness Policy or were known to have issues with drugs and/or alcohol. Many of them are now considered Legends and/or Hall of Famers. I know there are more than this, but these were the ones I could remember off the top of my head. Several of the people listed that were WHC of some description, often during the times of their issues. Few of them found their careers hindered by their issues alone, more than half of them are in the WWE HOF and the ones who aren’t are still considered legends. If they get a pass on past bad behavior and poor decision making, why am I supposed to buy Roman Reigns’ one mistake as an insurmountable barrier to his becoming the top guy and Universal Champion?

Yes, Reigns made a mistake back in 2016 with that Wellness violation, but he also owned up to it publicly, we’re told that he apologized to the locker room, and took his punishment humbly. There’s no actual reason for this to keep him from being champion, especially since his violation was because he didn’t turn in the prescription in time, rather than he got busted for illegal drugs. Of all the ‘reasons’ smarks give for why Roman shouldn’t be The Guy, this is one of the most pathetic because it blatantly ignores the fact that so many of the ‘Legends’ smarks looked up to struggled with substance abuse issues and still had successful careers in the wrestling business while finger pointing and shaming Reigns for a relatively minor infraction. Let’s grow up a little, people.


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Cheap Shots: Billion Dollar Contract, Ten Cent Show!

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With the company coming off arguably the most public and busiest non-Mania month in WWE history; I was asked to fly the jet from Baltimore back into The Empire State Capitol. This time, to what was certainly an ancillary stop for the old man’s original four-lettered territory. On top of the most ambitious travel schedule Vinnie has ever put in front of his talent, a massive television contract was finalized in the last few days. This contract delineates a sad day for smarks, sheep, and all fans of the art form because our thoughts and opinions regarding this soap opera we love have just disappeared in a billion-dollar black hole. I am truly saddened for all of us.

With this explosive news in the background, what did we get for the first Monday Night Raw in The States in two weeks? When I was a young fan, Jesse Ventura used to refer to certain baby faces by telling us: “He’s got a million-dollar body and a ten-cent brain.” Last night, fans got stuck with the dime. RAW opens with GM Kurt Angle being properly serenaded with a “YOU SUCK!” chant as he heads to the ring. I hope he enjoyed the feeling. It was straight downhill from here. Angle was not given five minutes to hold his own balls. I wonder who cut them off? Oh look, Daddy’s Little Girl is back. Stealing someone’s chance because Vince struggles to make authentic heels. Her arm has healed. She has too much make up. Her mouth is still functional. The same cannot be said for her brain. Welcome to the downside of allowing ownership to play pricks on television. Stephanie, the match and results at WrestleMania were booked by your gene pool. Three choices: Shut your mouth, get off camera, or break the fourth wall.

After The Wicked Witch puts her Ginsu away, she mentions Roman Reigns. Before she can finish her thought, The Big Dog is unleashed from the back to a chorus of boos. He is still struggling with cutting promos years into his run. They are asking him to do John Cena style mic work. The next person who can do that is a generation away from the roster. Hype Machine actually says Management doesn’t wanna put Gold on him. Save it Roman. This latest accusation brings Kevin Owens out to remind him that he is not the only performer with authority issues. After getting to close to Steph, KO earns a singles match with Roman to commence immediately.

Kevin Owens is a fantastic bump taker. After about ten minutes of literally being turned inside-out; including a spear and Superman Punch, The Canadian was barely hanging on. This was the perfect time for Jinder Mahal to run in and exact some revenge for being put through a wall last week. This interference gave Roman the win by DQ. We weren’t done though. The Big Dog has backup too. Dude’s Shield Brother comes out to even things up. Seth Rollins was already a great athlete, but he is flirting with oxygen very few can breathe. Very little of what he is doing right now doesn’t look like it has an athletic purpose. His coin flip dives from ring to floor were breathtaking. Very rarely does Creative enable someone to hit a finish immediately after missing it, like you would try to do in a REAL FIGHT! It happened last night to give Reigns & Rollins the win. Seth Rollins is carrying the men’s division of Monday Night Raw right now.

 

My sincerest apologies for the nightmare we must walk into at present. Before we go into the wormhole, I’d like to remind my readers that this is 2018 and Bobby Lashley can work anywhere in the world. Last week, Sami Zayn of all people cut a promo telling us he would expose Lashley as a fraud by bringing his sisters to Monday Night Raw for an interview. Quick. does anybody but Vinnie care about this? Last night, the skinny Canadian bounced his way to the ring like he had solved The Kennedy Assassination. Instead, he called out three guys in drag to rehash this opioid-induced train wreck. This is 2018. Then Zayn called Lashley out to confront him with this bad joke. Walking Armageddon came out to crickets, disposed of the gentlemen quickly, and left to the same crickets. Anyone, including my colleagues thinking Vinnie’s negotiating skills turn him into Einstein with a script, just watch this segment. Yes Bobby, it’s 2018 and you sold your athletic soul to New York for six figures and THIS!

Three recess segments and I still fell asleep. That tells you how bad this episode was. First, Alexa Bliss is backstage cutting a history-based promo on The Romans and The Visigoths? Interesting set up to explain away her New Year’s Day loss to Ember Moon. Nice try Little Miss Math Class. You still haven’t graduated yet! Ten minutes and one BFF having a conniption fit later, The Lunar Lone Star won clean with The Eclipse. Excuse me, how does Little Miss Bliss have two pieces of Raw Women’s Gold? That’s right, she worked with a pro. Watch them hand her the briefcase. Sadly, more crickets. This time for the ladies. A Four-Way Money in The Bank Qualifier. Participants: Liv Morgan, Natalya, Sarah Logan, Dana Brooke. Only two of these girls have a pulse. Nattie got payback on Logan for the incident prior to the desert with The Sharpshooter and a clean tap out for the win. This night cements the case that Sasha Banks is indeed carrying The Raw Women’s Division. After the match Nattie cut a strange promo on her friendship with Ronda Rousey and what will happen in Chicago. Speaking of Ms. Rowdy, she signed the contract opposite Nia Jax. Even with Steph stirring things up, this segment felt slightly forced. Ronda is getting better on the mic. They didn’t bring her to Stamford to talk. I really don’t wanna see this match in June.

The rest of the show could’ve happened two months ago. Elias cuts a great promo. TURN HIM ALREADY! He beat Bobby Roode clean with The Drift Away. Bothers me when a guy like Roode is brought in to job out. He has more talent than that. Move these gentlemen along please. Baron Corbin beat No Way Jose for the millionth time on TV. The Former Lost Puppies; now being called The B Team, beat Breezango again. Stop acting like me if I won a match clean. You have generational legacies, respect them. Dolph Ziggler cut a promo on Chad Gable in a hallway. Of course this lead to a match with Drew Galloway standing outside the ring. For a nanosecond, I thought the former amateur Pan-American Games participant had a chance. Then my eyes opened. Dolph went over clean and Galloway landed a Claymore Kick afterward. Earlier in the night, Finn Balor and Braun Strowman were looking for a rematch with the above-mentioned duo. Steph hijacked Angle’s office. She was being her typical self. No tag-match. Rather, a main event singles contest between the two. After a surprisingly competitive match. Braun went over clean. Assuming Vince McMahon even had a brain after Steve Austin’s retirement, this is easily the worst episode of Monday Night Raw in five years, if not longer. I hope that money didn’t go to his head or somewhere else. Hopefully SmackDown is better.

 


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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