Last week brought surprising news from the WWE, three performers were suspended in just a few days for violating the wellness policy. It was announced that real-life pair Alberto Del Rio and Paige were suspended thirty days each. The following day, Eva Maire was suspended as well.
Two years ago, Alberto Del Rio was dismissed from the WWE after he slapped an employee that made a disparaging joke about his Mexican heritage. The employee, who was fired a few months after the incident, deserved to be slapped, but the WWE is a publicly traded company and the release of Del Rio was probably more to avoid a lawsuit at the time than anything. Alberto, a second generation wrester, worked for years as a main event star in Mexico as Dos Caras Jr. and was an established talent in his home country for years before he debuted on WWE TV. After his release in 2014, he became one of the most in-demand freelancers in the sport, returning to Mexico an even bigger star than before he left, and worked around the globe in a variety of promotions. He had a brief stint in Ring Of Honor and appeared for Lucha Underground as well.
In October of last year, Del Rio made a surprising return and defeated John Cena to win the US title on pay-per-view. Despite the tremendous start, for whatever reason, things fizzled out relatively quickly for him, as he dropped the US title just a few months later. Prior to dropping the title, Del Rio joined the League of Nations stable, but the group was basically formed because the writing team didn’t seem to have any plans for them, and aside from a relatively short time frame, the faction was mostly irrelevant. In April, the League of Nations disbanded and Del Rio has somewhat floundered since that time. There was a report online in recent months that Del Rio was unhappy with his status in the company and might opt out of the deal when he has the contractual opportunity to do so, but those are just rumors at this point so who knows?
However, I always find it puzzling when WWE management either downgrades Alberto’s spot on the card or keeps him at a stagnant level. Del Rio is one of the most solid in ring performers on the WWE roster and consistently delivers quality matches. Furthermore, he has the mic skills and the charisma to be a main event star so it was a little disappointing when he was booked for a generic foreign stable. Plus, the WWE has looked for another top Hispanic star, specifically since Rey Mysterio left the company and it’s a role that Del Rio could portrayal well. If this wellness policy violation contributes to Alberto’s eventual departure or not remains to be seen, but he has more leverage than the majority of mid card performers. Del Rio has options and he doesn’t necessarily need WWE to work a lucrative schedule. He was a star in Mexico before he signed a WWE contract and he will still be a star there if he leaves the company. He made good money outside of the WWE as well, and as was discussed when he returned last year, he was obviously offered a generous contract to return, considering that he traded it for the great money he was making in Mexico after his release. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised if Del Rio decides to leave the company when he has the option.
Paige, another second generation performer, is a member of a prominent wrestling family in Britain and started wrestling during her early teenage years. Her parents, Ricky and Saraya Knight are extremely influential and respected in the UK, and as a result, Paige had a solid foundation to build upon when she signed a WWE deal in 2011. After three years in the developmental system, she debuted on Raw and defeated AJ Lee to win the Divas title.
Ironically, the 24-year-old was suspended on her birthday, which probably isn’t a coincidence and some might view that as a harsh move from WWE brass, but at the same time, it could be an attempt to send her a message not to fumble the opportunity that she has at this stage of her career. The argument could be made that money wise, right now is the best chance women’s wrestling has ever had on the WWE platform to be presented in a credible manner. The women are finally getting the chance to become legitimate stars that draw money, and in the process, get the chance to make better money than in the past. Competitors like Victoria and Molly Holly were true pros and underrated talents, but worked for WWE during a time when pillow fights were considered women’s matches. Would it be that much of a stretch if Bayley vs. Sasha was booked to main event a pay-per-view? If the women become more main stream starts, it allows them to make more money from merchandise sales etc.
Paige is a very skilled in ring performer and she has a unique charisma that gives her the star quality. However, she became a globally known talent at a relatively young age and that combination can be dangerous, especially in the technology based society today. One misstep or a one word slip can have a drastic effect on someone’s career. For example, during a social media Q&A last year, Paige used profanity to respond to fan’s rude comment, and was told by WWE producer Scott Armstrong to watch the language. Obviously, it’s a PG product and despite her younger age, Paige should know better than to allow an internet toll to bait her into a heated exchange. The clueless keyboard warrior has nothing to lose, but Paige has a career to maintain. There was also the bizarre Twitter situation last year when Lana claimed Paige was a bully during her time in NXT, which led to several messages on social media. There was also some type of incident in June after the Money in the Bank pay-per-view when Paige was briefly detained by police before she was released after an altercation with hecklers at an entertainment venue. Obviously, it’s not Paige’s fault that the intoxicated patrons started an argument, but sometimes it’s better to avoid that type of situation.
In recent months, Paige has been on the sidelines with an injury so was this violation from something related to it? Depending on where she goes from here, Paige could use the suspension as a learning experience or sadly it could be another case of “too much too soon” when a young athlete achieves success, but doesn’t avoid the pitfalls of fame. Don’t get me wrong, Paige is a tremendous talent and has the ability to be a star, but it would be disappointing if she wasted that opportunity. You can read stories how about nice Paige is to all the fans at autograph signings and appearances so that’s a positive from a PR prospective, but the WWE is a publicly traded company, and it only takes one incident to cost someone their job. Hopefully after the suspension and Paige heals from the injury, she can get a fresh start to her career on Raw because she has the talent to be one of the main stars of the shift toward women’s wrestling instead of sitting on the bench.
Eva Maire was suspended for thirty days and if it wasn’t for a wellness policy violation, it should be for a lack of talent. Eva revealed on social media that she failed a test because of Addreal, the same substance that Roman Reigns tested positive for a few months ago. She claimed to have a prescription for the medication, but didn’t have the correct paperwork submitted to the WWE medical staff in the proper time frame. Obviously, the former model will have a job as long as Total Divas is on the air, but she could cost herself an opportunity after she was getting a push on Smackdown.
It’s interesting to note that these full time WWE performers were suspended, but Brock Lesnar, who failed two USADA tests for his fight at UFC 200, was allowed to work the match at Summer Slam without any penalty from WWE.
Until next week
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