Since his ill-fated exit from the WWE in 2014, Alberto El Patrón, formerly known as Alberto Del Rio, has been in search of a permanent wrestling home. In his first post-WWE stop with the upstart Lucha Underground, it appeared as if he found it. El Patrón's deep-rooted connection to lucha libre, as the son of Dos Caras and nephew of Mil Máscaras, made his fit with Lucha Underground seemingly perfect. However, like much of El Patrón's career, plans quickly changed.
In a move that shocked the wrestling world, El Patrón showed up at WWE's Hell in the Cell pay-per-view in October 2015, leaving Lucha Underground behind. But in true El Patrón fashion, he would leave the company for the second time in September after a lackluster run featuring failed Mex-America and League of Nation experiments.
Despite his recent woes and unwanted attention, El Patrón's undeniable talent and track record of success in the industry led him to his next destination and -- if it is up to him -- his last:
Alberto El Patrón has found his new home at the rebranded, newly owned Impact Wrestling.
"The first time I was out of WWE, [Impact Wrestling] reached out to me. But unfortunately we couldn't do business because the offer was not the right one for me at the time," El Patrón said in an interview with ESPN.com. "We went back and forth for pretty much a year, and then when they finally had the right offer for me in the creative department with the right money is when I was about to go back to WWE. Unfortunately, we couldn't do business at that time. But this time with me leaving [WWE] for reasons everybody knows already, it was the perfect time and they were ready for me with the right offer, the right money offer. I was just ready and excited to go work for them."
El Patrón could not have arrived at a better time for Impact Wrestling, which lost such talent as the Hardy Boyz, Drew Galloway (now NXT's Drew McIntyre), Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis as the company transitioned into the new ownership of Anthem Sports in January. El Patrón was hesitant to join Impact Wrestling at first, fearing his schedule would remain too hectic, but the parties eventually agreed to a more limited number of dates.
"That's actually the main reason I decided to leave WWE, the brutal schedule that you have when you work for a company like WWE. I couldn't take it anymore. I didn't want to be on the road for 210-220 days per year," El Patrón said. "That was one of my first things when I started having conversations with Impact Wrestling. They were asking me for a certain number of dates, and I said, 'There's no way I'm gonna do those dates because I also have my dates with Combates America, the MMA company. If I put all of those dates with you guys, I'm gonna end up doing what I was doing with WWE and that's something that I don't want. I want to be able to enjoy my ride. Of course I want to continue doing pro wrestling shows, but my time is for my family. So if you guys aren't comfortable with this, I can give you this number amount of dates, and I promise I will give you my best.' And of course they said yes. That's the reason they're happy with me. I'm happy with them."
Impact Wrestling quickly thrust El Patrón into the main-event picture, giving him a title shot against Impact Wrestling world heavyweight champion Bobby Lashley on his first night with the company. Although controversy marred that matchup, the two will face off once again in the main event of Sunday's Slammiversary.
"We never crossed paths before," El Patrón said. "He was in WWE, but I wasn't there when he was working for that company. When he left is when I joined the company, so we never had the opportunity to work together or against each other in that other company. Here in Impact Wrestling that was my first task. My first match was against Bobby Lashley. Even though it was the first time for us sharing the ring, everybody knew and we knew it was going to be a fantastic match because he's a fantastic performer. He's a real athlete. A real fighter, just like me."
El Patrón calls himself, Lashley and Brock Lesnar the only hybrid wrestlers in the business today. Lesnar competed in UFC, winning the heavyweight title, while Lashley continues to fight for Bellator, where he holds a career record of 15-2. El Patrón has retired from MMA, but he finished with a career record of 9-5, appearing twice for Pride F.C. and having last fought in 2010.
"For us it's different the way we see the business," El Patrón said. "We are hybrid wrestlers. We know we have to put on a show in the ring every night, but everybody also knows we could go 100 percent. We can also go at it if we want to. We totally understand the difference between our sport and the other."
El Patrón's interest in MMA led to his role as president of Latino promotion Combate Americas, where his name value and ability to build relationships is an asset to the upstart promotion.
"The same stuff that [president] Dana White does for the UFC, I want to do for Combates America," said El Patrón. "I help them to find talent, to hire talent, to find places where we could take this company to make this company go. Of course we don't have the money that UFC has, but that will eventually come with time. We're doing great things."
Even though his focus is on pro wrestling and MMA, El Patrón is also a huge fan of boxing. From a fan's perspective, he thinks the upcoming Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor superfight is a detriment to the sport.
"To be honest, I'm disappointed that something like that happened because we all know that fight is just gonna happen because they wanna make money," El Patrón said. "I totally understand the business. We are in the profession of sports business and it's all about money, but for someone like me that loves boxing so much, for me it's just something that's gonna hurt the business. We know Conor McGregor is a fantastic fighter -- he's amazing, the best MMA fighter -- but he's not a boxer. Mayweather is a great fighter, a great boxer, but me in particular, I'm not a big fan of Mayweather. He's a great fighter, but to me he's not an exciting fighter to watch. So we know that fight is just gonna be something that is gonna generate a lot of hype, but I don't think they're really gonna offer us a high-caliber match."
For the first time in a long time, El Patrón feels like he has his future mapped out. He plans on wrestling with Impact Wrestling for three more years before retiring in-ring and staying with the company as a producer/agent. El Patrón wants to help young talent in the industry who he feels suffer from poor psychology.
"I have a bunch of ideas," El Patrón said. "I have a bunch of storylines that I could pass to other performers or especially all my knowledge that I have when it comes to building matches, to creating an exciting finish or telling stories in the ring. That's something that I could pass to all the new talent that the company has because these days we have a problem in pro wrestling. Most of the wrestlers just want to do spectacular moves without telling a story to an audience. Without taking that audience into that roller coaster of emotion with a great performance in the ring. Now they think just because they can fly and do 25 flips in there, they think that's wrestling, but that's not wrestling.
"Wrestling is to go out there and perform and make people believe that either of the performers in the ring can win -- either the bad guy or the good guy. Now it's just all about moves, not respecting the essence of wrestling. The business is changing, and I don't think it's changing for the best. But if I could pass some of my knowledge to the new talent so they learn how to put a match together, how to come up with an exciting finish, that would be fantastic."
El Patrón envisions having a proper send-off in the ring before taking a behind-the-scenes role. He even already has his last opponent in mind.
"I always had fun with my great friend Rey Mysterio Jr.," he said. "I think it would be fantastic to have my very last match against someone like him because my very first match in WWE was against Rey Mysterio Jr. I know that all the pro wrestling fans, in particular the Mexican fans, would love to see Rey Mysterio against me for my very last match. But it could be any other [wrestler]. There's a lot of amazing performers out there that I would love to work in my last match, but I think Rey Mysterio could be the perfect one for me."
That match, according to El Patrón, would take place in his hometown of San Luis Potosí, Mexico, with his father, Dos Caras, and his brother, El Hijo De Dos Caras, in attendance. As for his last match in America, El Patrón plans on fulfilling his commitments to his newfound home.
"When it comes to United States, I want to retire in Impact Wrestling," El Patrón said. "I know it's always the same when a wrestler goes to a different company, he always puts the company over and forgets about the other one. The difference between me and other talent that has left WWE is -- I left the company. In most of the other situations, the company fired them or not wanting to do with business with them. The company wanted me to stay, and I didn't want to for the all the reasons that I already mentioned and because I wanted to have a place where I could be happy in my last three years of my career, and that place is Impact Wrestling."