The Stomping Ground: Is Alberto del Rio a Transitional Champion?

Good morning Vietnam!

Now that the Robin Williams reference is out of the way, let’s dive into this week’s topic. Last week Alberto del Rio defeated the Big Show for the World Heavyweight Championship on Smackdown in a Last Man Standing match. To say that such a title change came out of left field is most certainly an understatement; in fact, there was absolutely NO indication or foreshadowing that such a momentous event would take place. The last time we saw del Rio was over a week prior and he had not been scheduled for a title shot until the very night of the Smackdown taping.

It all boils down to a very interesting query: Is Alberto del Rio merely a transitional champion?

A transitional champion is someone who gets a title belt from one wrestler simply to pass it on to a third individual as a measure of avoiding a match or confrontation between the previous owner and the newest title holder. This could occur for a number of reasons, such as keeping two babyfaces away from one another, or even if personal issues are involved. In any case, a transitional champion typically holds the title for a month or less. Notable transitional champions include: Sergeant Slaughter (Ultimate Warrior ——> Hulk Hogan), Ivan Koloff (Bruno Sammartino ——> Pedro Morales), and the Iron Sheik (Bob Backlund ——> Hogan).

The reason I’ve postulated that del Rio might be in the position of transitional champion is due to a number of factors; most notably, the reports that Randy Orton will face Sheamus for the World Heavyweight Championship in two-and-a-half months at Wrestlemania XXIX. Eagle-eyed readers will no doubt note that del Rio’s name is in no way attached to said match. Obviously plans can change at the drop of a hat, but the fact that Big Show dropped the title in such a fashion only serves to perpetuate the theory that del Rio’s reign is not long for this world.

Let’s look at the evidence we have and see where it leads us:

1. Alberto del Rio is poised to have a big run as the top Hispanic wrestler in the company, due in no small part to Rey Mysterio’s unreliability with constant injuries and his two strikes against him, as well as Sin Cara’s seeming inability to really get over with the fans.
2. Randy Orton is allegedly going to get a heel turn. Note that this has been reported since last November, but the rumor persists.
3. Sheamus is, for all intents and purposes, the WWE’s answer to John Cena on Smackdown.
4. Sheamus has also notably failed to dethrone Big Show on three separate occasions.
5. Orton and Sheamus spent all of last week one-upping each other in preparation for the Royal Rumble. This is the usual route two face wrestlers take before either a) facing off or b) one turns heel.
6. The World Heavyweight Championship match on Smackdown came from out of nowhere with little-to-no build.

There are at least two possible reasons for the title switch. One indicates that the WWE has realized that Sheamus is not ready to run Smackdown by himself. Perhaps this is why he never took the title back from Big Show, and now del Rio is getting a chance in the spotlight. A second reason is simply that the WWE is using del Rio to get the belt off Big Show so that Orton or Sheamus can take it from him and start their feud (while simultaneously keeping Show out of the title scene).

In any case, it will be interesting to see if the company changes their tune by Wrestlemania and keeps del Rio in the spotlight. Perhaps a Triple Threat match for the title? What do you think about the possibility of del Rio as a long-term or transitional champion?

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

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