Is Ricardo Rodriguez destined to be the next sidekick that forges his own path?
A history of "taking the bullet" for Del Rio
For more than two years, Ricardo Rodriguez has handled personal ring announcing duties for The Mexican Aristocrat, Alberto Del Rio. In that time, Rodriguez has often gone above and beyond the call of duty, risking life and limb to assist in his employer’s quest for squared circle greatness. The tuxedoed Superstar’s unwavering loyalty to Del Rio has placed him in countless dangerous and embarrassing situations.
On the Sept. 3 edition of Raw, Rodriguez’ devotion was perhaps tested like never before. After World Heavyweight Champion Sheamus won his match against Jack Swagger, Del Rio and Rodriguez stormed the ring and attacked the champion. The Great White turned the tables and prepared to nail Del Rio with a blistering Brogue Kick. However, at the last second, Rodriguez would again take a bullet for his boss, shoving the No. 1 Contender to the World Heavyweight Championship out of the way and suffering the full force of The Celtic Warrior’s earth-shattering finishing maneuver himself. The blow left the announcer motionless for minutes, and his injury status is still unknown. ( WATCH | PHOTOS)
Although this Monday was the most shocking and frightening instance of Rodriguez sacrificing his body for Del Rio, past incidents have included multiple run-ins with The Mexican Aristocrat’s rivals, messy catering mishaps, a particularly painful Mexican hat dance and countless bumps and bruises. ( WATCH PLAYLIST)
Ricardo has stood by Del Rio’s side through thick and thin. But as he helps his employer realize his destiny, could his true fate be to someday go solo? After all, Rodriguez wouldn’t be the first sidekick who seized the spotlight and struck out on his or her own.
From the shadows to the spotlight
Ricardo Rodriguez can look to WWE's past for a blueprint on how to break out and achieve success apart from Alberto Del Rio. Previous WWE Superstars and Divas have risen from lower roles and less recognizable positions to win titles, compete on The Grandest Stage of Them All and etch their names into WWE lore.
As bodyguard for “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, Virgil was tasked with carrying the rich man’s money and battling some of WWE’s greatest Superstars, in an effort to soften them up for his nefarious employer. Eventually, Virgil turned on DiBiase, defeating him at WrestleMania VII and winning the Million Dollar Title at SummerSlam 1991. He would later challenge Bret Hart for the WWE Championship and he also notch another Show of Shows win at WrestleMania VIII. But Virgil wasn’t the only former henchman to go on to great success.
Hailing from Detroit, Diesel first appeared on the WWE landscape as a bodyguard to Shawn Michaels. While working side by side with Michaels, Big Daddy Cool was able to become an Intercontinental Champion and WWE Tag Team Champion. But after the alliance between Michaels and Diesel dissolved, Diesel went on to much greater success, winning the WWE Championship and defeating his ex–best friend HBK to defend his title at WrestleMania XI.
After a long stint as a manager, accompanying Test & Albert, Val Venis and others, Trish Stratus took her talents inside the ring and reached the pinnacle of WWE, winning the WWE Women’s Championship seven times and going down in history as “Diva of the Decade.” Not many would have expected such lofty achievements from Stratus early in her career.
Other sidekicks, managers and supporting characters have risen to stars in their own right: Road Dogg, Hornswoggle, Lita, Spike Dudley, the list goes on. It’s not a huge stretch to think Ricardo Rodriguez has the ability to succeed like these Superstars. After all, he’s already shown the ability to shine on his own when given the chance.
A show-stealing entertainer in and out of the ring
Although Rodriguez is not often the focus of a show or match, he has taken advantage of every opportunity he’s had to seize the spotlight for Del Rio and, by association, himself. He’s hilariously masqueraded as Big Show and Sheamus, respectively. ( WATCH) His personality and sense of humor have ingratiated him with WWE fans, who always love an entertainer. Positions such as manager and announcer could be in the future of this charismatic and colorful character. But Rodriguez isn’t simply out good for a laugh, he can really “go” in the ring, too.
Rodriguez pulled an upset in his first singles match in WWE, defeating Conor O’Brian on a January 2011 episode of NXT, showcasing his legitimate in-ring skill. ( WATCH) At WWE Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2011, he climbed to the top of a ladder to try to reach the WWE Championship hanging above the ring, but CM Punk and The Miz toppled the ladder over and Rodriguez crashed through a table at ringside. It was the scariest and most intense moment of the night and one of the most memorable falls of 2011. The biggest match of his career thus far was the 2012 Royal Rumble Match, where entering at No. 8, Rodriguez acquitted himself well, working with Mick Foley to eliminate Justin Gabriel.
Could he make it on his own?
After the brutal events of Monday, it’s an opportune time to ask the question: What would happen if the “R”-rolling announcer were to break away from Alberto Del Rio and pursue his own career in WWE? Could Ricardo Rodriguez go on to a successful career that rivals that of his current employer? Or is he better suited, no pun intended, to life in the shadows? While he has shown flashes of brilliance, the only way to find out for sure is for the announcer to exchange his microphone, bowtie and perfectly parted hair for a pair of trunks and a chance at chasing his own destiny.