Just because you’re moving forward, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re actually going anywhere.
Exhibit A: Alberto Del Rio.
Though he has been a top superstar from the moment he debuted in the WWE a little more than two years ago, Del Rio’s pushes that seemed to be leading him somewhere, well, really haven’t.
His first major accomplishment in the company came back in January 2011, when he won the Royal Rumble—quite the accomplishment for someone who had only been around for about six months. While winning the biggest Royal Rumble in history is certainly great for his resume, his monumental victory didn’t have the end result that many thought it would.
At WrestleMania 27, Del Rio challenged Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship, but was relegated to the show’s opener and lost the match. Not even a month later, he got another chance to win the World title, but in a surprising twist, lost a Ladder Match to Christian at Extreme Rules.
With ADR’s Royal Rumble victory ultimately proving to be rather pointless in the long run, the WWE decided to give him another opportunity to make an impact by having him win Raw’s Money in the Bank match that July. But again, his big MITB win didn’t turn out to be so big after all.
Sure, it led to his first WWE Championship victory (at SummerSlam) and first World title reign in the WWE. But that title reign lasted all of 35 days, featured exactly zero successful title defenses on pay-per-view and did absolutely nothing to establish ADR as a legitimate World title threat and/or main-eventer.
After Del Rio dropped the WWE title to John Cena at Night of Champions in September, he won the belt back the next month by defeating Cena and CM Punk in a Triple Threat Hell in a Cell match at the HIAC PPV. On paper, the victory looks great, but in reality, it was yet another disappointing event during Del Rio’s supposed push to the top.
ADR won the WWE Championship for the second time—and by this point had racked up an impressive resume of two WWE titles, a Royal Rumble win and a Money in the Bank victory—but once again, what looked to be a career-defining moment for Del Rio was ultimately forgotten about when he lost the title just 49 days later.
Those WWE title, Rumble and MITB wins seemed to have done something for ADR, but the end result? Two lackluster WWE title reigns that lasted just 84 days. Combined.
By this point, ADR should have been built up as one of the WWE’s three or four biggest stars. After all, he received more opportunities in a year and a half than 99 percent of WWE Superstars get in a lifetime.
But all of ADR’s great achievements were followed by lackluster pushes or title reigns that hurt his credibility much more than they helped it. Some of us thought that would change when ADR was sidelined with an injury in late 2011 before returning earlier this year, but in reality, things didn’t get any better. In fact, they may have gotten worse.
Since returning back in April, Del Rio has spent just about every waking moment pursuing Sheamus and the World Heavyweight Championship. Although their feud finally seems to have ended, ADR spent much of the last six months trying to win the World title, only to fail each and every time.
In what has felt like a never-ending rivalry, Del Rio has gotten opportunities to win the World Heavyweight title from Sheamus at Over the Limit (in a Fatal 4-Way), Money in the Bank, SummerSlam and Night of Champions. Every single time, however, he failed to do so, with only one of those matches—the SummerSlam one—ending in any type of controversy.
For the most part, though, this was a feud that was dominated by Sheamus from start to finish, with Del Rio never looking like he had even a puncher’s chance to end the Great White’s lengthy title reign.
And now that ADR has finally moved on, I have to ask: exactly what did that six-month-long rivalry accomplish for him?
Much like just about everything else that’s happened in ADR’s career, his push during his rivalry with Sheamus was nothing more than a mirage. It looked like it was there, but it didn’t take long to discover that, in fact, it was not.
Del Rio consistently did what he does in almost every match that matters. He lost.
And whether the WWE wants to admit this or not, its long history of bad booking for Del Rio has consistently led him on a fast track to, well, absolutely nowhere.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!