The word “MexAmerica” is one that still makes WWE fans in the mid-2010s shudder upon its utterance. The concept was one last chance to make Alberto Del Rio a single star in the WWE, after his shock return to the company after a year away. Pairing him with one of the top manager’s in the company in Zeb Colter, Vince McMahon gave him one last chance to become the Latin American-star he always wanted him to be.
Teaming together the former far-right American nationalist with the proud Mexican wrestler seemed a very odd decision. The pair did not really mesh well, and the combination of the duo just didn’t make sense. The concept of MexAmerica was explained properly either, leaving fans confused about why they should cheer the two bad guys who decided to suddenly be friends.
Alberto Del Rio was fired by WWE in the summer of 2014 for slapping a social media manager (allegedly for making a racist remark), so his return a year later was surprising to say the least. He beat John Cena on his first match back, but the company killed all his momentum by teaming Del Rio with Zeb Colter and founding the new country of MexAmerica – with disastrous results.
Who Is Zeb Colter?
MexAmerica was a gimmick formed by Zeb Colter and Alberto Del Rio. While you will remember Del Rio’s vast success in the WWE, Zeb Colter is a name unfamiliar to most fans, even older fans who know him for his work during the territory days.
Colter wrestled mainly as “Dirty” Dutch Mantell. He was known mostly in the southern territories, becoming a successful star in the National Wrestling Alliance, while helping to build the careers of many top stars in the business. Wrestlers like Sting, Undertaker and Ultimate Warrior have all credited him with helping them start in the business, while Zeb Colter is known as the man who gave Steve Austin his stage name in wrestling.
He also worked as a booker and backstage producer for multiple promotions, including TNA, WWE and in Memphis, but he wasn’t known as Zeb Colter until 2013, when he returned to the WWE after decades away. He was brought back to be Jack Swagger’s manager, with the pair forming a “Tea Party” gimmick that was alleged as racist, although Colter cleared that up in an iconic Youtube video.
After breaking his leg during Jack Swagger’s feud with Rusev in 2014, Colter took nearly a year off TV to heal. Zeb Colter returned at Hell in a Cell 2014, joining Alberto Del Rio to form the terrible gimmick called “MexAmerica”.
Alberto Del Rio Returned To WWE at Hell in a Cell 2015
Alberto Del Rio was one of the hardest-pushed wrestlers after his debut, although he struggled to live up to the huge expectations put upon him. The WWE signed Del Rio after his work as “Dos Caras Jr” in Mexico, where he was known as a huge star and the son of the legendary Dos Caras. He was snapped up with the WWE with great fanfare, with Vince McMahon hoping to make him the next big Latino star in the company.
They were hoping he could become the next Eddie Guerrero, but Del Rio ultimately failed to connect with the crowd. Despite winning the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank and WWE Championship, he never became a consistent star in the eyes of the fans, choosing the likes of CM Punk and Dolph Ziggler above him in the pecking order.
Despite his many impressive accolades, WWE fired Alberto Del Rio in the summer of 2014. Cody Barbierri was the road social media manager for WWE who drew the ire of Alberto Del Rio. Barbierri allegedly made a joke in catering that Alberto Del Rio was a “busboy”, which could be interpreted as a racist comment.
According to the Wrestling Observer’s report, Del Rio confronted and then slapped Barbierri knocking him to the ground and causing a huge scene backstage. Barbierri threatened to sue WWE, and Del Rio was swiftly fired for unprofessional conduct, with the WWE making an odd press release based on the matter, telling fans “If you’re angry at anyone, be angry at Alberto”.
He spent a year away from the company, wrestling in Ring of Honor and Lucha Underground before being re-signed to the WWE. Alberto Del Rio returned to the company at Hell in a Cell 2015, answering John Cena’s open challenge as a surprise challenger for his United States Championship. Cena had seemed unstoppable in this run, so fans were shocked when Del Rio pinned Cena with a kick to the head in just 7-minutes, winning the United States Championship for the first time.
This could have been the start of a great run for Del Rio as the top of the mid-card, elevating other talent with some fantastic matches, using his clout as a former world champion to elevate the United States Championship even more. However, that wasn’t quite how it went.
One part about Alberto Del Rio’s return to the WWE we neglected to mention was the man who joined him upon him answering John Cena’s open challenge. It was actually Zeb Colter who rolled out onto the stage on a scooter (still selling the broken leg he suffered at the hands of Rusev the year prior), before announcing Alberto Del Rio as “the next United States Champion”.
While Colter did not accompany Alberto Del Rio to the ring, he sat and watched gleefully as Del Rio kicked John Cena in the head in just over seven minutes, pinning him to win the United States Championship for the first time in his career.
This began a short and unsuccessful stint, in which the pair formed a connection that would confused fans for years to come, Alberto Del Rio and Zeb Colter declared that they were forming a new country, one that encompassed both of their countries. Announcing themselves as the first two residents of this new state, they named the country “MexAmerica”, a horrific portmanteau of Mexico and America.
This was an odd choice. Fans weren’t really sure how to react to Del Rio at this point. By the time he had been sacked, he was a heel, so… boo? But he returned after being sacked for defending his honor against a racist employee – yay! But then he beat John Cena and alligned with a known bigot on TV. Boo? But wait, they are promoting international relations by forming their own country where everybody is included.
So, maybe they were good guys, maybe they weren’t. Del Rio quickly renamed himself as the MexAmerica Champion, which fans in the United States could certainly see as a heel move. They also walked (rolled) to the ring while holding a flag that looked like they’d glued the US and Mexican flags together, desecrating two great flags in one fell swoop.
It also showed a stark change of character for Zeb Colter, which also made little sense. He quickly turned from hateful bigot to loving Mexico (and only Mexico, as he was happy to run down Canada and the UK whenever he visited), demanding that people “Must cast aside your differences, because the one thing that is not allowed in MexAmerica is hate”. Did his hypocrisy make him a heel, or did his love for MexAmerica keep him on the good side?
It was a very confusing gimmick, and luckily one that did not last long. The pair soon disinvited everybody from MexAmerica, changing their motto to “Everyone Sucks But Alberto and I”. They began insulting both the US and Mexico, turning heel on a crowd who were continually confused on how to act, so simply stayed quiet when they were in the ring.
Del Rio soon dumped Zeb Colter after tripping over his scooter, during a face off with Jack Swagger. He was quickly recruited by Sheamus to join him, Rusev and Wade Barrett in the League of Nations – a faction with great promise that was completely looked over and created just to give Roman Reigns four wrestlers to beat all in one go – abandoning his principles (if he had any?) and MexAmerica in one fell swoop.
After splitting with Del Rio, Zeb Colter left the WWE. He was never seen on TV again, and was released a year later without ever reunited with Jack Swagger. His final run was disappointing, so fans were not that upset at seeing a legend like Zeb Colter scooting off into the sunset and off the TV screen.
They definitely didn’t miss whatever MexAmerica was supposed to be, and I pray to God it never returns.
Zeb Colter On MexAmerica
During an interview with Sports Illustrated, Zeb Colter (referred to as “Dutch Mantell”) admitted that the “MexAmerica” angle did not make much sense, and that he didn’t blame the fans for not reacting the way that he intended.
He claimed that he had no chemistry with Alberto Del Rio, and admitted that there was no logical reason why he would team up with the Mexican superstar – echoing the sentiments said in this article, and by fans ever since the horrendous angle began.
“WWE failed to take into account that it didn’t make a lot of sense,” said Zeb Colter. “Remember, I hated Alberto Del Rio, and he hated me. So, all of a sudden, I disappeared and came back. But it’s not necessarily the first step in wrestling that is the most important, because it’s the second step that identifies and clarifies the first one. That’s what we didn’t do. There was no chemistry, but there was also no logical explanation as to why I would be with Alberto. I said to the guys in the back, ‘I’m not getting the story,’ but people kept saying, ‘Just wait.’ I’ve walked on enough wrestling floors, and I know if a crowd isn’t getting a certain vibe. The chemistry wasn’t there with me and Alberto.”
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.