When WWE brought José Alberto Rodríguez, the former Dos Caras Jr., into the company, their hope was to create a Mexican superstar who could draw a Latino audience even after Rey Mysterio retired.
Unfortunately, the renamed Alberto Del Río did not work out as hoped, being nowhere near as popular as Rey-Rey, even during his brief run as a babyface from 2012-2013.
It might have had to do with him running over Santa Claus that Christmas.
In the summer of 2014, Alberto Del Río was fired from WWE for slapping a “social media manager” who made a racist comment about him backstage.
Almost immediately, Del Río told his story to the Spanish-speaking press and became a hero in Mexico for standing up for himself and his people. Now dubbed, “Alberto El Patrón”, Del Río was more popular than ever in Mexico while maintaining a presence in America via Ring of Honor and Lucha Underground.
So in October 2015, Del Río had all the makings of a top babyface heading into his rumored surprise return to WWE, where John Cena had just issued an open challenge for his US title at Hell in a Cell.
Return Del Río did, but, in a surprising twist, WWE paired him up with Zeb Colter, whose whole character was created specifically to feud with Del Río and take exception to his Mexicanity.
Maybe it was because, besides certain ring announcers, Zeb was the only person in WWE who attempted to pronounce his name right.
After Zeb cut a Kumbaya promo on reaching out to people of different backgrounds, his new associate Del Río beat John Cena clean for the US title.
The next night, the duo revealed their new, soon-to-be great country, MexAmerica, of which they were the first two citizens. This new country would eliminate the border between Mexico and America and unify it into one big happy country. In keeping with this new patriotism for an imaginary nation, Del Río declared himself not the US champion, but the MexAmerican champion.
It was a strange angle to re-launch the WWE career of Del Río, who just the night before had conquered the company’s top star to thunderous applause. Everyone had questions:
Were we supposed to cheer Mexamerica for promoting international unity?
Were we supposed to boo Mexamerica for undermining either country’s sovereignty?
Was this wrestling’s first NAFTA-inspired faction?
And (had fans known in 2015 about the Shining Stars), was this new campaign part of a scam to sell time shares?
But all the fans knew for sure was that “MexAmerica” consisted of one Mexican, one American, and one butt-ugly flag. Look at that thing.
Clearly, this was not the work of Betsy Ross, or even WWE’s seamstress Sandra Gray, who left the company earlier that year.
So little thought was put into this gimmick that Alberto Del Río continued to be billed from Mexico instead of Mexamerica. If Brodus Clay and Shawn Stasiak could claim birthplaces on other planets, why couldn’t ADR get Lilian García to tweak her note cards a little?
Plus, the ring announcers kept calling him the US Champion instead of the MexAmerican champion, an oversight even the Raw commentators noticed.
You know what would be great? If Alberto had his own personal ring announcer.
In the angle’s first month, Zeb praised both Mexico and the USA for its “great people” and “great resources”.
MexAmerica, he explained in his confusing speeches, was not just a country “united by humanity”, but also a state of mind. “You must cast aside your differences,” demanded Zeb, “because the one thing that is not allowed in MexAmerica is hate”.
The previously grumpy old Zeb even started quoting John Lennon.
On the other hand, Zeb’s xenophobic side sometimes surfaced, like when he took cheap shots against the British (when in Manchester)…
…and Canadians (when in Denver).
Week after week, Zeb and Alberto’s promos raised more questions than answers as to what MexAmerica was supposed to be and why anyone should care. Fans were supposed to boo Del Río and Zeb either for believing in these warm and fuzzy ideas, or for not believing in these warm and fuzzy ideas but pretending that they did. The fans, conflicted, typically stayed quiet…
…except on the pre-taped Smackdown, where the WWE Universe made their voices heard (in post-production).
Fans finally got some indication of how they were supposed to feel about Alberto and Zeb’s Land of Imagination right around Survivor Series.
Del Río attempted to unify his title MexAmerican title with the WWE title, but fell in the semi-finals to Pensacola, FL’s Roman Reigns. Fortunately, it was not a flag match.
The next night, Zeb delivered the State of MexAmerica address, lamenting that back when he and Alberto offered fans the chance to join the new country of MexAmerica, all the Americans went on social media to complain.
All of social media: Twitter, Facebook, Grindr…
I’m not sure whether Zeb meant to name-drop a gay hook-up app, or whether he was thinking of Tumblr, but the point was the same: Americans don’t deserve MexAmerican citizenship because they’re “a bunch of haters” and also maybe homosexual.
Under their country’s new “Everyone Sucks But Alberto and I” policy, MexAmerica’s borders were officially closed. Unfortunately, this did not lead to Zeb and Alberto carrying around a ten-foot fence to surround them at all times. At least this new “closed borders” policy meant no time shares.
Soon, Zeb was running down America (and Del Río, Mexico) like a classic foreign heel.
Lana and Rusev did that too, except that they praised a country that existed.
For Colter’s former protege Jack Swagger, it was as if his mentor had completely forgotten what those three words, “We the people”, even meant. The WWE Universe certainly hadn’t forgotten (because no one besides Zeb and Jack knew what that slogan was supposed to mean in the first place).
Jack Swagger scolded Colter, disillusioned that a great patriot like Zeb could turn his back on his home country in favor of an imaginary one. That’s not treason, Jack. That’s dementia.
MexAmerica was put on the back-burner shortly thereafter when Del Río joined forces with Sheamus, Wade Barrett, and Rusev to form the League of Nations, named for the international governing body best known for its failure to prevent the Second World War.
No doubt, membership in this new club put pressure on Alberto to ditch Zeb and the whole MexAmerican enterprise, as Sheamus’s new faction had a famously restrictive “Real Nations Only” policy.
Civil war ripped MexAmerica apart one fateful Monday night in December when, in the midst of a chair-fight with Jack Swagger, Alberto Del Río unconvincingly tripped over Zeb’s mobility aid before fleeing the scene.
Backstage, Alberto fired Colter as his manager, thus making MexAmerica the only nation in history to dissolve due to one founder tripping on another founder’s scooter.
With the confused, possibly senile Zeb now out of the equation, Del Río and Swagger’s pay-per-view match was switched from a commitment papers-on-a-pole match to a chairs match, which Alberto won to retain his title.
While MexAmerica never achieved its long-term goals, such as annexing Suplex City or establishing a bicameral legislature, it did nearly achieve the impossible: to make Alberto Del Río completely irrelevant again.
It took the League of Nations to accomplish that goal, and Del Río quit the company in 2016.
If Alberto had been handled correctly upon his return, the nephew of Mil Máscaras who won four world titles in WWE could have ended up in its Hall of Fame. Instead, the company put him in “MexAmerica.”
It’s ironic, then, that Alberto’s membership in one dubious organization with no physical home would prevent his membership in another.