As of this morning, news broke that Jesus Rodriguez, a/k/a Ricardo Rodriguez, Alberto Del Rio’s personal ring announcer, was popped for a 30 day suspension due to a wellness violation. On screen, Rodriguez was written off TV courtesy a thundering crack across the head from a Dolph Ziggler wielded guitar. As is usually the case with these situations, the timing is less than ideal. Del Rio just completed a major heel turn after a brutal assault on the concussed skull of Ziggler that led to the Mexican Aristocrat regaining his coveted World Heavyweight Title. Rodriguez was sure to be set to play a key role in this title run, as he is a constant at the side of Del Rio. Rodriguez will now go down in history with other key WWE players that had violations while in the midst of a big push.
In March 2008, Jeff Hardy was on the verge of a long-awaited sustained main event push. Coming off a respect-based feud and PPV win over Triple H and a title showdown with WWE Champion Randy Orton, Hardy was rumored to be in line to win WrestleMania’s Money in the Bank match, which would guarantee him a future title shot. On March 11, WWE announced that Hardy had failed a drug test and was immediately suspended, knocking him off the Mania card. Coincidentally enough, the straight-edge living CM Punk stepped in and grabbed the briefcase, which he would cash in later in the year. Hardy returned in May but it took him almost a full year since he defeated Triple H at Armageddon 2007 to reassert himself back into the main event scene.
Just two weeks after Hardy returned, William Regal was suspended in the midst of the biggest push of his career. Regal was dominating Raw, having been named GM of the show just prior to winning that year’s King of the Ring tournament. King Regal was the focal point of Raw and after years of start and stop pushing, Regal was finally ready to run with the ball as a premier heel. On TV, he lost a “Loser Gets Fired” match to Mr. Kennedy. He would return two months later (it was his second violation) but his push and heat were gone, never to return in any sort of sustained capacity.
Fast forward a year later and the oft-injured Rey Mysterio was actually healthy and having a renaissance in the ring as he dominated the Intercontinental title scene for most of the year. After winning the title from John Bradshaw Layfield at WrestleMania XXV, Mysterio entered a red-hot feud with Chris Jericho, which he survived with both his mask and title in tact. His next goal was to help establish young upstart Dolph Ziggler. After turning away Ziggler’s challenge with a fun match at SummerSlam, it looked like fans were in for an exciting fall with Ziggler chasing after the veteran Mysterio. Those good feelings came to an abrupt halt on August 27 when WWE announced that Mysterio had failed a wellness test. Because he still had the strap, Mysterio remained on active duty until September 2, a day after he jobbed the title to John Morrison. Mysterio would return and have some success in 2010, but this time around it was his opponent who suffered. WWE brass felt Ziggler wasn’t ready for the title just yet and it would be another year before Ziggler saw gold and overall success.
On November 1, 2011, WWE announced that fan favorite Evan Bourne had a failed a test for synthetic marijuana and would be sent to the bench for a month. When that news broke, stories also began to leak that an accomplice had also been pinched but not suspended. Rumors swirled, but the world didn’t find out the identity of the mystery puffer until November 22, when the company revealed that R-Truth was suspended dating back to a failed test alongside Bourne. The reason Truth’s suspension was delayed was because he was set for a major main event match at Survivor Series, teaming with The Miz to square off against John Cena and The Rock, the latter of whom was wrestling his first match since 2004. After floundering as a face, Truth abruptly turned heel earlier in the year and took the company by storm with his inane antics. In a match that could never have been envisioned just months before, Truth had headlined the Capitol Punishment PPV against the WWE Champion Cena. Once again, a competitor in the middle of the hottest push of his career couldn’t put the reefer down long enough to reap the rewards of his hard work. Truth returned at the end of 2011 but the push and heat vanished in a puff of plastic smoke.
So now Ricardo Rodriguez joins the ranks of the infamous, a guy knocked off his main event run thanks to illegal ingestion. One would assume he will return to his prominent perch due to his alliance with Del Rio, but as history has illustrated, that is not a guarantee. Rodriguez better hope the company thinks highly enough of him to not send him to the swamp for more “training” once his probation is up. If not, it could be a long rest of the year waiting for that push that may never come again.