Alberto Del Rio became the new World Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Dolph Ziggler at WWE Payback on Sunday night June 16. Though the end result surprised many fans, Del Rio’s apparent heel turn is even more surprising.
That’s right folks, we could actually be seeing the return of the Mexican Aristocrat.
I for one have to say that I definitely did not see this one coming. Though the Chicago crowd was raucous as usual and actually chanted for Ziggler during the majority of the match, I really did not expect that to mean anything.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
The match was evenly fought, but the advantage went to Del Rio when it became obvious that the former champ was intentionally targeting Dolph’s head. As we all know, Ziggler was on the shelf with a concussion and was facing one of the biggest moments since his return.
But Del Rio was having none of it, as it seemed as though he was taking the heel role during the bout, capitalizing on Ziggler’s recent injury and smiling as he did it. The crowd may have been on to something after all.
By the same token, Ziggler began to take the role of the babyface in the match. He became the sympathetic figure due to his injury and the fact that he refused to give up after being repeatedly checked on by the trainer.
It was around the midpoint of this one that I began to see what could be happening; a double turn.
The theory sounds somewhat impossible, mostly because Ziggler is such a good heel and because neither his girlfriend AJ nor his “heavy” Big E Langston have shown signs of switching sides at all. This is assuming of course that if Ziggler turns, they both would turn with him.
But is that the case? Could AJ decide at some point that she’s done with Ziggler? Or could Langston be the one to walk away?
Could both of them leave Dolph’s side?
It is the unclear nature of this whole thing that really makes the issue even more confusing. Right now, we have more questions than answers. But for me, there are a couple of certainties that I cannot deny.
The first is that Alberto Del Rio is a very good heel. Though I had become very accustomed seeing him as a face and believed he did very well with it, I don’t think it matched his strength of character from before. The fact is that fans loved to hate him and he excelled at earning that hate.
The second certainty for me is that Dolph Ziggler is a favorite among many WWE fans. Yes, he is successful as a heel and yes he is consistently booed out of the building, but he has earned the respect of a large part of WWE’s audience. They see him as a valuable performer, a talented worker in the ring and as someone who deserves every accolade he has ever received in WWE.
For those fans, Payback was just a public confirmation of how much Ziggler means to them and how hard he has worked to earn their respect. Ziggler went from hated to cheered and the match supported that change.
Now we’re left with "what happens next?" Is this truly a double turn? On the June 17 edition of Monday Night Raw, will we see Alberto Del Rio smiling and cocky as the new World champion? Will we see a humbled Dolph Ziggler admit that perhaps he came back too soon, that he wants a rematch?
Alberto Del Rio appears to have changed sides at WWE Payback. He took on the role of the heel in his match with Dolph Ziggler and became the new world heavyweight champion. Now the question is what will the company do from here on out?
Monday Night Raw should be a good one.