Is Alberto Del Rio WWE's newest Mexican hero?

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January 23, 2013

Stop us if you’ve heard this one: A cranky rich Mexican aristocrat with a heart of lead spends years and years antagonizing his peers and staring down his nose at those he considers beneath him. He spirals further and further from the righteous path, and just when it seems he can go no lower, fate intervenes and offers him unexpected chance at redemption. Seizing the opportunity, the  man rediscovers himself as a man of the people, and is reborn as a hero in the eyes of those who counted him an enemy. And then everyone chants Si! Si! Si!

That is the basic story of Alberto Del Rio, who until about a month ago was one of WWE’s most notorious scoundrels, an opulent aggressor who liked to break arms and take names, exploiting every dirty trick in his extensive playbook of skullduggery to achieve glory. After years of antagonizing the “peasants” that surrounded him, however, Del Rio found himself on the other side of the coin when he discovered his altruistic side and captured the World Heavyweight Championship from Big Show in a Last Man Standing Match on the Jan. 11 edition of SmackDown. The title victory, which was as sudden as it was hard-fought, humbled the formerly hubristic Del Rio to his knees in a fit of emotion, and he celebrated the win among the denizens of a WWE Universe who finally embraced him as one of their own.

“I don’t know what to say, because they start cheering for me, they decide to support me,” Del Rio told of the sudden groundswell of support. “And to be honest, I don’t know why, but it feels great, it feels awesome. “So all I gotta say is thank you! Thanks for supporting me!”

And while Del Rio’s change of heart is Dickensian enough as it is, The Essence of Excellence’s championship victory also thrust a family legacy and national tradition on his shoulders that the former aristocrat is more than happy to bear. Suddenly he finds himself in the same position as icons like WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio and Sin Cara — not to mention his own family — who competed not just for themselves but for their country as well.

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