One of the biggest pieces of wrestling news this week was the apparent firing of Alberto Del Rio by WWE. Apparently, he slapped a WWE.com employee. A lot of people online have put on their conspiracy theorist hats, assuming that this is all a work based on the wording of the WWE’s statement as well as the odd Twitter posts @WWE had as of late, but I’m not so sure.
I’d love to see Dos Caras make a few appearances before heading back to Mexico, or more intriguingly, have Alberto join the Kofi / Big E stable, using these “events” as a springboard, but I don’t think that’s happening. I think all of this really happened and it is a harbinger, in some ways, of the future of WWE.
Let’s take a look at what we definitely know to be true.
The WWE.com statement
“WWE announced the release of Alberto Del Rio due to unprofessional conduct and an altercation with an employee.”
Most people are suspicious of this based on two factors; they didn’t use Del Rio’s real name and they didn’t wish him well in future endeavors. The latter of those shouldn’t come as a real surprise. If Alberto did assault a WWE.com employee, the people who run that website aren’t going to be feeling particularly positive towards him.
Now, the fact that they didn’t use his real name (Alberto Rodriguez) is a little more peculiar. However, if you go back to June and look at WWE’s statement when they released a whole bunch of talent, they didn’t use their real names either.
Based on the website alone, we can’t say for sure whether or not this was a work or reality.
For the first time, @WWE made a statement about a firing, telling us we should blame Del Rio for his own actions and that there is no excuse for being unprofessional. This was retweeted by many, including Triple H himself, which caused another round of speculations that this is all fake.
Once again, I can see why some people would say this. We almost never see the WWE make comments like this after someone is released, and if they did, it’s usually not acknowledged by anybody else in the company, especially not the backstage guys.
However, this was a physical altercation between Del Rio and somebody who I’m just going to go out and assume was not anywhere near Alberto’s size. Also, from the reports that have been out there lately, it is not the first time something like this has happened with Del Rio.
Also, I’m sure that a lot of Twitter folks, especially the ones who choose to use their anonymity as an excuse to be a-holes, were sending a lot of vitriol towards @WWE regarding Del Rio’s firing. I’m also sure many of those same folks said similar things to @TripleH as well. As we’ve seen in the past few weeks, Triple H is well aware of the social media and doesn’t mind addressing them publicly.
The Lesson (Maybe):
There’s no such thing as “backstage” at WWE now, and it looks like the company recognizes that and is going to be more public in addressing events in the future.
I think this is a change in public relations that is directly tied to the change in who is running the company, as well as the change in technology.
Vince would likely not have made any public statements regarding Del Rio’s firing; he would have been content to let him fade in our memories over time, just like the countless other superstars who have come and gone over the years. With Stephanie and Triple H taking more and more responsibility, both on camera and behind the scenes, we’re likely going to see a more assertive and public response to a lot of what happens in the company.
Also, we can not forget the role Twitter and other social medias have had in forcing these sort of “backstage” decisions out into the open. I can recall hearing about some sort of WCW donnybrook that took backstage at a European event in the early 1990’s. If I remember correctly, Arn Anderson and Sid Vicious got into a brawl that involved scissors. There were a lot of rumors flying, but they came in the form of print magazines, dirt sheets and hotlines.
Now imagine that situation with the Internet. Bellboys taking cell phone videos of blood-stained carpets, people getting scoops from WWE sources about what actually happened, and the Twitter-verse going crazy demanding “Shears on a Pole” matches at all PPV’s.
If I’m right, the first thing we should be discussing is whether or not this is true for everybody in the company. Based on the apparent incident with Randy Orton and a fan a week or so ago, that obviously isn’t going to happen. There are still going to be talents who are beyond reproach, mainly because they are making serious money for the company, while guys like Del Rio were not. If Twitter folks want to give WWE a hard time for something, make it that.
I also think this has served as a warning to WWE talents; the powers-that-be aren’t going to be looking too hard for reasons to let you go (again, provided you’re not making them the type of money they are hoping for). In addition to Del Rio, a timekeeper with 30 years of service to WWE was released this week. The WWE is not in the financial state to let emotions play a part in their business. If you screw up, or if you’re not serving a real purpose, you’re likely done sooner rather than later.
Finally, wrestling fans should be grateful that this seems to be the beginning of a new era of transparency within WWE. We’re going to find out a lot more information on the inner workings of the company, though to me, that comes with an extra level of responsibility on our parts.
The WWE, in its own way, is reaching out to fans in ways that have never before been possible. We can, however slightly it may be, impact and shape this sport we love so much, so let’s not waste that opportunity. This is the time for intelligent, well-worded opinions, not sophomoric insults hidden behind a veil of anonymity. I challenge you, dear students, to make your opinions known, but do it wisely. As our good friend @NewAgeInsiders says, BE HEARD. Just don’t give those who listen a headache from doing so.