Alberto Del Rio has evolved into arguably the most controversial figure in the WWE.
Yes, even more controversial than guys like John Cena and Ryback, who both have haters galore.
As is the case with Cena and Ryback, Del Rio hasn’t necessarily done anything himself to get all the hatred that’s come his way. Like with Cena, he’s simply viewed by many as too stale to be entertaining anymore.
A lot of that stems from Del Rio’s fantastic debut back in 2010. He came across as such a star upon his arrival in the WWE that it ultimately resulted in the fans having colossal expectations for him.
He created a great buzz for himself right out of the gate and had plenty of fans labeling him as a “future main eventer” without basing that label on much more than a gut feeling.
A star is exactly what Del Rio became, though.
Within a little more than a year of his debut, he won the Royal Rumble, competed for a World title at WrestleMania, won a Money in the Bank match and captured the WWE Championship. That was a career’s worth of work in a span that actually lasted only about 16 months.
Unfortunately for ADR, however, his two WWE title reigns were downright awful, and they began a chain reaction that resulted in him going from a “future main eventer” to someone in whom the fans didn’t have a ton of interest.
That’s been perhaps the biggest knock on Del Rio. Almost nothing he does these days seems to generate any sort of interest from the fans.
The guy is a great in-ring performer. He consistently delivers in the ring, even if his style isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea.
He also has great facial expressions and mannerisms, and if you can overlook his accent, he’s well above average on the mic. He’s an “old school” type of heel in the sense that he doesn’t try to be “cool” and doesn’t care what the fans think about him.
Truth be told, Del Rio’s got just about everything that you could want out of a top-level WWE superstar.
Yet, ADR seems to be missing something that has earned him that “stale” label and prevented him from firmly entrenching himself as an elite star.
That something is the same thing that many other struggling stars need: character development.
Del Rio is about as well-rounded of a wrestler as you’re going to get. He may not be the best at any particular thing, but he’s better than most at just about everything.
But the fans forget about all that because nothing that Del Rio does ever matters all that much because his character has always been exactly the same, showing very little advancement in any way, shape or form over the last few years.
He’s the rich foreigner…and that’s about it.
Even when Del Rio has been challenging for or holding World titles, the WWE has created remarkably little interest in his character, instead just having him do the same thing over and over again without any logic behind it.
When Big Show began a feud with Sheamus over the World Heavyweight Championship, he had a reason for it. He wanted to win the World title that he previously held for only 45 seconds to prove that he wasn’t one big joke.
When Del Rio was challenging Sheamus for the same World title, however, there was no real reasoning of conflict behind the feud, and there was certainly no reason for it to drag on for several months after Del Rio consistently lost to Sheamus.
Fast forward to Del Rio’s feud with Randy Orton, and he’s had the same problem. It’d be really hard to pinpoint exactly why Orton and Del Rio have a “rivalry,” other than that creative had nothing else for them to do at the time.
If the WWE wants the fans to truly care about Del Rio, then it has to avoid making the mistake it has made time and time again over the last year or so. It has to avoid making Del Rio arguably the most redundant character in the WWE.
This doesn’t even mean that ADR needs a drastic gimmick change or a baby face turn. It simply means that creative needs to develop his character somehow, some way.
Why do a lot of fans hate Cena? Because his character is stale.
Why are a number of fans getting bored with Orton? Same as above.
That’s also the same issue with Del Rio, and the problem for all three guys stems from those two simple words: character development.
Del Rio isn’t missing anything. He has all the tools that you would expect a main event guy to have.
He just doesn’t have the character development that he needs to go along with them.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!