The first Mexican-born champion in WWE history Alberto Del Rio has made his mark.
His name is Alberto Del Rio… But you already knew that.
What you may not know is that the first Mexican-born professional wrestler to hold the World Wrestling Entertainment’s heavyweight championship looks to shine this Sunday on Sports Entertainment’s biggest stage, WrestleMania, and for the first time as a good guy.
“I was having a blast being the bad guy of the movie, but I’m also having fun being the baby face, the good guy,” Del Rio told Fox News Latino.
The son of Mexican legend Dos Caras and a formerly masked performer in Mexico as Dos Caras Jr., Del Rio has spent the majority of his WWE career as the bad guy — or “heel” in wrestling slang.
But as it was with others before him, most notably Stone Cold Steve Austin, Del Rio began to receive the respect and admiration of the fans and the formerly affluent, cocky and egotistical wrestler softened.
“There’s a certain joy to being the bad guy,” said Del Rio. “Sometimes they hate you, sometimes they love you.”
“At this point in time [the fans] prefer us being a good guy,” said Ricardo Rodriguez, a WWE performer who serves as Del Rio’s personal ring announcer.
His first WrestleMania experience two years ago left the Mexican star on the losing end to retiring superstar Edge.
Not only did he lose his championship but his fights were moved to the beginning of the event, which many fans found peculiar. Del Rio isn’t sure where in the show his match will be placed this year — he only knows it’ll be different.
“It’s going to be an amazing night not only for me but everyone in Mexico and around the world,” said Del Rio. “We’re going to make history.”
For the first time ever WrestleMania will take place at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, just across the river from New York City.
The WWE is hoping to break attendance records as they did in the past in Detroit and Miami, FL. And while Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, whose movie “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is number one at the box office and John Cena will be competing in the main event, Del Rio’s matchup with Jack Swagger has probably garnered the most attention in recent weeks.
“I’m going to teach him a lesson,” said Del Rio in character.
Swagger, who in the past has had trouble connecting with fans, has been branded as a Tea Party/anti-immigrant stereotype with a firebrand manager named Zeb Colter speaking for him and on behalf of “other Americans” who think undocumented immigrants are hurting the country.
“That’s one of the rights granted by the constitution. Freedom of speech,” said Del Rio in character. “But Sunday I’ll be able to do something about it.”
The Zeb Colter/Tea Party story line has been criticized by some conservatives, most notably by Glenn Beck, who as a response was confronted by a WWE announcer in his Dallas studio.
“There are a lot of points that Zeb Colter has made that I don’t quite agree with,” said Rodriguez. “It’s been interesting.”
For Del Rio, this Sunday is yet another chance to prove his status as an elite professional wrestling performer and to show Latinos around the world that he will be there to represent them.
“My father’s going to be there,” said Del Rio. “We don’t have too many successful people from Mexico doing things like this.”