Alberto Del Rio just wasn't working as a babyface. It was tough sledding to portray a hard-working everyman just living the American Dream after showing up to arenas in luxury vehicles for over a year.
With little storytelling to an abrupt babyface turn back at December's TLC pay-per-view, the crowd predictably failed to really latch on. "Let's Go Ziggler" chants dominated his world championship title defense at WrestleMania against Jack Swagger. It was a damning sign of a floundering babyface run.
WWE rectified the situation in the same arena that saw a double turn at WrestleMania 13. Del Rio repeatedly struck Dolph Ziggler with blows to the head in his first match back from concussion-related injuries.
The valiant Ziggler refused to stop the match, but would eventually succumb to an onslaught of kicks to the skull. This led to a surprising Del Rio victory and an even more surprising apparent heel turn for the two-time world heavyweight champion.
In trying to brave the effects of a concussion, not to mention inside a pro-Ziggler Chicago crowd, Ziggler immediately became the hero.
In exploiting a sensitive injury to his own benefit, Del Rio was perceived to have taken the easy way out, making him a heel.
The double turn is one of the last novel arts in professional wrestling. It hasn't been beaten over our heads the way the Montreal Screwjob has, and that's why it's so effective.
Del Rio will now return to being a villain, where he does his best work and was more comfortable as a smug aristocrat. This time around, Del Rio's obnoxious pandering for support should add a fresh coat of paint creatively.
If Ziggler ever becomes a top star in the WWE, it will be as a babyface. His in-ring work is too pretty to dislike, and he doesn't have the larger-than-life personality to carry a main event heel persona.
What was an afterthought of a program in the wake of CM Punk's return and Cena-Ryback stole the show, and now becomes one of the more compelling rivalries in the WWE.
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