One of the most shocking moments at WWE TLC didn’t take place during a match, but rather, when Alberto Del Rio apparently turned babyface by preventing the 3MB from attacking the Spanish announce team.
Yes, a former WWE Champion turned face during a segment (and later a match) that involved a trio of guys who think they’re in a band and perhaps the most famous jobber ever, The Brooklyn Brawler.
While this was a very odd way to ignite Del Rio’s face turn, it does indeed appear to be the start of his run as a babyface.
Although Del Rio himself took to Twitter to state that he won’t be a “good guy,” what transpired at WWE TLC and on this week’s Raw points us to the contrary: He’s indeed going to be a “good guy.”
Seeing the face turn, which had been rumored for a week or so, actually come to fruition was a bit of surprise, though, because Del Rio is such a natural heel.
Nothing he’s done throughout his WWE career has ever really been babyface-like. In fact, he’s been one of the most “old school” heels on the roster, a guy who does anything to get booed and doesn’t want to be a “cool” heel who gets cheered.
That begs the question: If Del Rio is such a natural heel, then can he succeed as a babyface?
Assuming the WWE does go full speed ahead with his face turn, this is something the creative team will have to consider. They will have to find a way to get him over as a good guy because it won’t be easy.
Just look at the case of The Miz. Many fans thought that he would have a pretty easy transition to his role as a face, and yet, he’s still struggling to change up his heel ways.
The fact that, like Del Rio, The Miz has been involved in recent segments with two really over babyfaces (The Brooklyn Brawler and Tommy Dreamer) speaks volumes about The Miz’s struggles to adapt to his new role.
As is the case with The Miz, the WWE has associated Del Rio with babyfaces this week, even having Ricardo Rodriguez get beat down by The Shield to generate some sympathy for him as well.
Whether Del Rio wants to admit or not, he definitely appears to be transitioning to a face role and will now have to do all he can to make it work.
He can, too.
If you look at just about all of the WWE’s top performers, they’ve succeeded as both babyfaces and heels. John Cena, Sheamus, Randy Orton, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan and a number of others have gotten over as both bad guys and fan favorites.
If all of those superstars can do it, then Del Rio can do it, too.
After all, getting the fans to like you is the same as getting them to hate you. It’s all about performing, and if you’re a good performer, you can make the fans who once despised you start to cheer for you.
While Del Rio may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he is indeed one of the better performers in the WWE. He’s got great facial expressions and mannerisms, and he’s done everything from comedic skits to serious promos.
The best performers can make the fans hate them one day and like them the next, and unless Del Rio does nothing to change up the way he acts as a babyface, he should slowly but surely start being cheered.
That’s the key, though. Del Rio’s got to be different as a good guy.
At least so far, the problem with The Miz’s face turn is that he hasn’t adjusted the way he goes about things well enough. He still comes off as somewhat obnoxious and annoying when that’s not what anyone wants out of a babyface.
Del Rio is going to have to avoid that same pitfall. He’s going to have to do something to differentiate Del Rio the face from Del Rio the heel.
That may include toning down his “Mexican Aristocrat” gimmick down a bit or dropping it altogether. After all, there’s no reason to cheer for a guy who flaunts his wealth and brags that he’s got more money than we do.
Perhaps a way to get Del Rio over as a babyface would be to have him lose all of his money and go from the rich guy to the poor one. Plenty more people can relate to being broke than being rich, so having ADR lose his millions might make him a more sympathetic character.
That isn’t exactly what has to happen, but you get the idea: Del Rio simply needs to do something different if his face turn is going to work.
It’s going to have to be more than saving the Spanish announce team or being paired up with other babyfaces, and if it is, then Del Rio can succeed as a good guy.
Because he’s a good enough performer to know what it takes to get the fans to hate him, he’s also a good enough performer to get the fans to love him.
The best heels make the best babyfaces, and as a damn good heel, Del Rio might very well make a damn good face.
Drake Oz is a WWE Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter!