Alberto Del Rio is no stranger to physical confrontations. He was fired for bitch-slapping a WWE employee, and then after coming back and leaving again, he was involved in a street brawl in which he was stabbed. He and Paige were also involved in another brawl before that. So it came as little surprise that Del Rio was involved in yet another backstage altercation, once again with Paige by his side.
Fight: Alberto Del Rio vs Tortuga Rafy
Date: December 11, 2016
Location: Arena Naucalpan in Naulcapan, Mexico
Source: Prowrestlingsheet.com, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Super Luchas
Alberto Del Rio and Paige are inseparable these days, and the two recently became engaged. With Paige recovering from neck surgery, and also having recently been suspended for a Wellness policy violation, she hasn’t been on the road with WWE for months. The two made a trip to Naucalpan for a house show put on my Mexican promotion IWRG, mainly because Del Rio’s brother Guillermo (El Hijo de Dos Caras) was in the main event Rey del Ring match (basically a knockoff of the Royal Rumble).
Alberto Del Rio was recently named as the President of Combate Americas, an MMA promotion that targets the Latino market. While his position is largely as a figurehead, he’s still the public face of the company and is very well paid in the position. Del Rio also does select independent pro wrestling dates, charging a very high price.
One of the wrestlers on the IWRG undercard was a member of the Los Tortugas Ninja, a stable whose gimmick plays off the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that was all the rage among children in the late 1980s and early 1990s. His ring name is Tortuga Rafy (after Raphael from the original Ninja Turtles), although he is best known in Mexico under the name Alan Extreme.
Alberto Del Rio and Paige were seated in the owner’s box area of the arena for much of the show. After the show ended, they were in a crowded area near a hallway that led to some stairs and the main arena floor.
As Alberto Del Rio and Paige were walking through the crowded area, Tortuga Rafy was walking towards them, still in his turtle costume. According to him, he bumped into Paige by accident, possibly because it was so crowded, and possibly because the hallway was said to be very narrow.
Del Rio didn’t see it as an accidental bump, but rather that Rafy touched Paige inappropriately. Rafy then told Paige she was beautiful, which only made the situation worse and Del Rio became enraged as the jealous fiancé.
Del Rio began yelling at Rafy, and rather than apologize or explain himself, he blew off Del Rio and kept walking. This was the worst thing he could’ve done, as the already hot Del Rio was now boiling.
According to witnesses, Tortuga Rafy went to shove Alberto Del Rio. According to Rafy, whether he shoved him or not, Del Rio ripped off his turtle mask. It should be noted that Del Rio is billed as 6’-5”, which in the world of pro wrestling, probably really means 6’-3” or 6-4”. People said Rafy was about a foot shorter than he was, which again in the world of wrestling, probably means less than a foot and most likely Rafy is 5’-5” or 5’-6”. Del Rio also had him by about 70 pounds, and himself has a significant background in MMA and is considered relatively tough by pro wrestling standards.
After Rafy’s mask was pulled off, Del Rio began throwing several punches. Rafy tried to punch him back, but it was said to be almost completely one-sided. The fight spilled out of the hallway and onto the main floor of the arena. Because fans were gathered in the area to get autographs of the wrestlers after the show, the latter part of the fight was in plain view of them.
Alberto Del Rio had to be pulled off of Rafy, and even though the fight was said to be short, enough damage was done to where Rafy was bleeding quite badly.
According to Rafy, Paige was telling Del Rio that Rafy never touched her, which Rafy also said he never did. After Del Rio calmed down, Rafy claimed Del Rio then apologized to him.
Several other wrestlers on the show were now furious with Alberto Del Rio and wanted to rip him apart. Supposedly they all had to be talked out of it. Other wrestlers who had already gone back to their hotels were told about what happened and came back to the arena to get revenge. But by that time, Del Rio and Paige had already left.
It was said to be a really bad scene that could’ve been much worse if the other wrestlers hadn’t been restrained and if Del Rio hadn’t left when he did. Oficial AK47, who helped organize the show, posted on Facebook that threatened legal action and warned Del Rio to never come back to the arena.
Around midnight, Del Rio tweeted a picture of he and Paige and wrote, “Good night marks.” He made no other comments until the following day, when he tweeted, “Just to clarify. If you inappropriately touch my fiancée in front of my face you have to prepare to learn a lesson. #Respect”
The latter tweet would seem to conflict with Tortuga Rafy’s claims that Del Rio understood that no inappropriate touching took place. Either Rafy was lying or, more likely, Del Rio was sticking to his story to justify his actions. It’s hard to believe Rafy would’ve touched Paige in the manner he was accused of doing, but very easy to believe he would’ve called her beautiful. But it’s also easy to believe Del Rio may have thought Rafy did touch her inappropriately, and while it’s not offensive to call a woman beautiful, at that moment it was a bad call because Del Rio was already seething with anger.
Tortuga Rafy posted on Facebook the next day and confirmed the fight occurred, but said that he was okay. He later went on a podcast called “En+Carados” and downplayed the incident. He claimed he had simply bumped into Paige, called her beautiful, and said there was a fight and that he definitely came out on the worst end of it. He then said Del Rio apologized for the reason mentioned above, and said it was all settled and blown out of proportion.
Tortuga Rafy also said he wouldn’t sue and that he just wanted the gossip to just go away, which is understandable since tons of media reports came out in Mexico and the US that he was badly beaten up. Such headlines are not what pro wrestlers want to see, both for their own tough guy egos and also for their own careers (having fans know you got beaten up in a real fight would seem to hurt one’s drawing power).
However, it wasn’t Rafy’s reputation that was affected. He wasn’t the focus of the story, and instead Del Rio was seen as a bully who beat on a much smaller man over a big misunderstanding. It also damaged his already shaky reputation as a guy who can’t seem to avoid out of the ring incidents like this.
Still, the guy who came off the worst was Combate CEO Campbell McLaren. McLaren is one of the early pioneers of UFC, but after this incident he came off in the worst possible way as a joke of an executive. He not only embarrassed himself, but also damaged his own company in a manner that would seem to scare off business partners and potential advertisers. Instead of apologizing for Del Rio’s actions or perhaps firing him, he used the situation to make he, Del Rio, and his company look like tough guy thugs.
In responding to fans’ tweets on Twitter, McLaren made ridiculous statements such as:
-“I heard about Del Rio last night in Mexico. All I have to say is do not f*ck with the Combate Americas presidente. You will be sorry.”
-“We are a fighting company. We revere violence.” (this was in response to someone asking if he wanted a violent thug as the face of the company)
-“I think Dana’s fans would love it if he got in fist fights.” (this was in response to someone asking how bad it would look if Dana White had done what Del Rio did)
-“This is not marketing. Not hype. F*ck with anyone at Combate Americas and you are f*cking with all of us.”
McLaren, playing tough guy, is 60 years old. He’s considered one of the key reasons the early UFC was successful, but was not involved in the later incarnation when Zuffa took over. He has since started Combate Americas and hired Del Rio once he quit WWE earlier this year.