Growing up in San Luis Potosi, Mexico and watching his father, a professional Mexican wrestler known as Dos Caras, compete night after night in the ring, Alberto del Rio (born Alberto Rodriguez) knew early on that he would follow that same path.
After a successful career in lucha-libre style wrestling as Dos Caras Jr., which took him all over the world, del Rio made his official debut with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in August 2010 as the arrogant wrestling villain fans know today. This past January, del Rio defeated 39 other wrestlers in the 2011 Royal Rumble. With the win, del Rio earned the right to fight for the WWE World Heavyweight Title at WrestleMania XXVII against Edge on Sunday, April 3.
During an interview with me, del Rio, 33, who is also the nephew of world-famous luchador Mil Máscaras, talked about his deep-rooted family history in wrestling and what it felt like the first time he was booed, since he is the first in his family to perform as a villain.
Coming from a Mexican wrestling background, did you ever envision yourself on a stage as big as WrestleMania?
It’s the reason I came to the U.S. I came to be a superstar and take my career to the next level. I’ve always wanted to be in the main event at WrestleMania.
Do you think it’s a dream for wrestlers in Mexico to be in the position you are in right now or are most comfortable wrestling on a smaller scale?
It’s where we all want to be. It’s like Hollywood, like the NFL, like the NBA. I’m sure everyone wants to come here. But for most people, it’s easier to stay in their country and work and perform in their little organizations. I think that’s the reason why so many wrestlers stay in Mexico and never try to come to the big leagues.
You have such a rich family history in wrestling. What is the first wrestling memory you have as a child?
I remember one night my father was wrestling this guy and he lost the heavyweight title against him. I was about five or six. I remember it was the night I decided I wanted to be a world heavyweight champion someday.
Did you see your father as a superhero because of the person he was inside the ring?
All the time. I remember when I was a kid playing with my friends and they would all pretend to be Batman or Superman, but I would pretend to be Dos Caras. It was my dream since then.
Something very unique about you as a wrestler in the WWE is you have a personal announcer to introduce you at every match. What is the idea behind that?
I think that’s something that makes me different from the rest of the wrestlers. The whole idea is to have someone who can pronounce my name in the right way. The name Alberto del Rio is so pure that you don’t want an American announcer pronouncing it the wrong way. I’m a wrestler with history. I’m a third-generation wrestler and I’m proud of my legacy and my name. I think that’s why Alberto del Rio has been so successful in such a short time.
You were the first in your family to perform as a villain in the wrestling ranks. What was the feeling like the first time you were booed in the ring instead of cheered?
It was incredible. Well, the first time it was a little bit weird, but in this moment I can tell you that I love it. I love it so much and am having so much fun that I don’t want to be a “babyface” (good guy) ever again in my life.
What is life like now when you go back to Mexico?
You know, I haven’t been there in a while. The last time I was there was for the WWE Mexico tour last year. There were a lot of people supporting me and booing me. I had the chance to wrestle against Rey Mysterio and the Undertaker. I wrestled those guys and the reaction of the crowd was incredible. It was great to have the chance to perform in front of my people again.