Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 02/27

#1 Edge [--] (11-1-1) (WWE)
[World Heavyweight Champion]

Another week, another win for Edge on Smackdown. The current World Heavyweight Champion doesn't look to be having any troubles in the push department, despite being bogged down in an obscure team-up with Kelly Kelly (#50) against the ailing forces of Vickie Guerrero (#108) and her crumbling house of cards. This premature march of heroes might lead some fans to speculate the chances of Royal Rumble #1 contender, Alberto Del Rio (#2), who'll face off against Edge at Wrestlemania XXVII for the title.

With John Cena (#38) and The Miz (#7) likely to headline, and The Rock in a supporting role, you'd have to think the good guy glory will come from some form of reconciliation between "The People's Champion" and his rapping counterpart, Cena, setting up a customary happy ending for the massaged Mania audience. Which really only lends credence to the theory that Del Rio might be gearing up for a win. He certanly seems to have the more impressive build, besting Intercontinental Champion Kofi Kingston (#26) in the most unflattering of manners for the IC belt. In other words -- I'm starting to believe and get very curious about the recent WWE signing of Mistico, who may or may not join his lucha fellows on the blue brand just in time for the "showcase of immortals." Very interesting!

#2 [--] Alberto Del Rio (9-2-1) (WWE) [Royal Rumble]
#3 [+5] Ken Anderson (6-3-0) (TNA)
#4 [new] Justin Gabriel (6-3-0) (WWE) [Tag Team Champion]
#5 [-2] Randy Orton (6-4-0) (WWE)
#6 [+3] Rey Mysterio (6-4-0) (WWE)
#7 [RE] The Miz (6-6-0) (WWE) [WWE Champion]
#8 [-4] Robert Roode (5-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#9 [-4] James Storm (5-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#10 [-4] Frankie Kazarian (5-1-0) (TNA) [X-Division Champion]

#1 [--] Robert Roode & James Storm (5-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [+5] Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater (4-2-0) (WWE) [Tag Team Champions]
#3 [-1] Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov (4-4-0) (WWE)
#4 [-1] Sarita & Rosita (2-0-0) (TNA)
#5 [-1] Edge & Randy Orton (2-0-0) (WWE)
#6 [-1] John Morrison & R-Truth (2-0-0) (WWE)
#7 [-1] Rey Mysterio & R-Truth (2-0-0) (WWE)
#8 [new] Edge & Kelly Kelly (2-0-0) (WWE)
#9 [-1] Layla & Michelle McCool (2-1-0) (WWE)
#10 [-1] Madison Rayne & Sarita (2-1-0) (TNA)

Superstar Spotlight:
#NR The Undertaker
(0-0-0) (WWE)

Depending on who you ask, WWE's latest Wrestlemania return campaign may have backfired, somewhat. As remarked upon at the time [February 6], it never struck me as likely that the 2 21 11 promos would regard anything but the return of the Deadman, but it seems some fans had so thoroughly talked themselves into anticipating the arrival of Sting, that they were disappointed by The Undertaker.

The Phenom didn't arrive on RAW alone this week, immediately follow by a returning Triple H, whose silent face-off with the Deadman confirmed their involvement in the annual clash to test Undertaker's winning power. On the one hand, I thought this was a very simple and effective moment, which used all the cache value of these two tested stars, as well as the weighty iconography of the Wrestlemania name and logo itself. On the other hand, I was disappointed that the atmospheric cabin promos that preceded Undertaker's return weren't of more value. Despite an exit that implied some sort of passage to the afterlife, and these return promos that insinuated something akin to a home haven for the wild west inspired Undertaker, it was for moot, a mere transition from clip to stage playing out the involvement of the rainy desert and it's cultish gloom.

I've always been a fan of the pageantry and the fiction of The Undertaker, which are aspects generally lacking from today's WWE product. That said, I wouldn't let personal preference get in the way of appreciating what was ultimately a much more convincing set-up than I would've expected of a match that will only have one month to breathe. In a way, it segues out of the Shawn Michaels challenges of the previous years, which completely changed the complexion of what it is to challenge The Undertaker's streak at Wrestlemania. I would still have loved to see Brock Lesnar return to challenge the streak in an MMA-infused encounter, but I doubt Undertaker is physically up to making the most of that scenario, any way. With Triple H, it becomes a match about status and standing. A continuation of the previous two years that sees the fresher of the DX duo take on the Deadman, in a rematch of their 2001 "X-Seven" clash that gave 'Taker Mania win number nine! Roll on number nineteen!

Special Note: On the February 21 episode of RAW, John Cena (#38) and The Miz (#7) were paired together to win the Tag Team Championships. They lost the belts back to Justin Gabriel (#4) and Heath Slater (#22) immediately, granting the latter pair their second reign for 2011, and third overall. It was about as pointless as it sounds.

The Kayfabe Countdown is based on the cumulative tally of wrestler win/loss records, based on televised matches from WWE and TNA 2010 broadcasts. At present, they includes TNA: Impact!, WWE: RAW, WWE: Superstars, WWE: Smackdown, and monthly Pay-Per-View events.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 02/20

#1 Edge [+1] (10-1-1) (WWE)
[World Heavyweight Champion]

It was triple duty for the World's Heavyweight Champion this week, giving him a clear win ahead of Royal Rumble #1 Contender and current Kayfabe Countdown rival, Alberto Del Rio (#2). The "Rated-R Superstar" continues to benefit from his on-going feud with Dolph Ziggler (#90), who granted Edge a second World title reign for 2011 when Teddy Long returned to undo Vickie Guerrero's dodgy dealings. A twelve-man tag team match made it a triple-double for Edge on the 600th episode of Smackdown, levelling Ziggler with a feeble 1-9-1 win/loss/draw rate, before being fired by the returning GM, and removed from Sunday's Elimination Chamber.

As expected, Edge came out on top over Kane (#51), Rey Mysterio (#9), Drew McIntyre (#12), Wade Barrett (#50), and Ziggler's replacement, The Big Show (#46), to set-up a title clash with Alberto Del Rio at Wrestlemania XXVII (April 3). It seems unlikely the match will headline the show, with John Cena (#54) having earned a WWE title match against The Miz (#11) in the RAW Chamber match.

Personally, that bothers me. I like the main event marquee being part and parcel with the honor of winning the Royal Rumble, something bookers know well in advance after more than a decade (with rare, justifiable exception). I agree that, even with his meteoric rise shown on RAW, it might be a big ask for an audience to go with Del Rio in a main event. It could even be a big ask for Del Rio, who might be irrevocably damaged by being prematurely pushed into the biggest spotlight of the year. It's a no-win situation, which will just have to bother me without reply.

#2 [-1] Alberto Del Rio (9-2-0) (WWE) [Royal Rumble]
#3 [RE] Randy Orton (6-4-0) (WWE)
#4 [-1] Robert Roode (5-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#5 [-1] James Storm (5-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#6 [+1] Frankie Kazarian (5-1-0) (TNA) [X-Division Champion]
#7 [+1] Eve Torres (5-2-0) (WWE) [Divas Champion]
#8 [-3] Ken Anderson (5-3-0) (TNA)
#9 [+1] Rey Mysterio (5-4-0) (WWE)
#10 [new] John Morrison (5-5-0) (WWE)

#1 [--] Robert Roode & James Storm (5-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [+5] Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov (4-4-0) (WWE)
#3 [new] Sarita & Rosita (2-0-0) (TNA)
#4 [new] Edge & Randy Orton (2-0-0) (WWE)
#5 [new] John Morrison & R-Truth (2-0-0) (WWE)
#6 [new] Rey Mysterio & R-Truth (2-0-0) (WWE)
#7 [RE] Justin Gabriel & Heath Slater (2-1-0) (WWE) [Tag Team Champions]
#8 [-6] Layla & Michelle McCool (2-1-0) (WWE)
#9 [-4] Madison Rayne & Sarita (2-1-0) (TNA)
#10 [-7] Zack Ryder & Primo Colon (2-2-0) (WWE)

Superstar Spotlight:
#NR The Rock
(0-0-0) (WWE)

Here at the end of the week, it seems like ancient history, but no one can have forgotten the electric shock of February 14's Monday Night RAW announcement of Wrestlemania XXVII's celebrity host!

I was tempted to describe this as a spotlight on "Dwayne Johnson," but I think we all saw quite clearly that FINALLY The Rock has come back to WWE!

In my former life as a columnist for and an Attitude Era tragic, I generally had more negative things to say about icons, The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, than positive. As much as the vivid characters, trademark phrases and moves, and bold storylines were important to me, I valued sport as well as the entertainment. Rock and Austin, to even the most dedicated fan, were not terrific in-ring performers. Not during their prime, at least. Another grinding factor was their omnipresence, which sometimes seemed to only be interrupted by occasional, half-hearted month long glimpses of rival contenders. To a lesser degree, but in similar fashion, it bred resentment in me as a viewer that I now feel toward John Cena (#54) and Randy Orton (#3) without mitigation.

The Rock's return, however, undeniably highlights the contrast between the two periods. While he and Austin had a reign of terror over the main event for a good four or five years, they had the benefit of being far more compelling in their presentation, charismatic in their person, and surrounded by a company that supported this domination, even if it wasn't exactly to my taste.

In twenty minutes, The Rock held a captive audience, who simmered hushed mere moments after exploding into the biggest applause I've heard in years. Rock dipped into some of the sillier turns of phrase that sit awkwardly with his better known repetoire, references to fruity pebbles and hobbits effective, if a little hokey. For the most part, Rock, even without attacking Miz, John Cena, and Michael Cole, revealed everything that made him "The Great One", and has been lost since the mid-late nineties. As critical as I might have ever been of The Rock, I could not deny that he's a great personality, a great talker, and was electric in his return to the ring.

"Damn" and "ass" was flying around the arena as live censors did a mediocre job to keep safely within the Mattel sponsored PG rating. Is that a sign of a shift in the WWE product, post-Donna Goldsmith (Executive Officer key to the Mattel deal, and proponent of the soft PG brand)? The Rock's appearance seemed to rebel against everything that the current WWE is bogged down in.

Will The Rock step into the ring for Wrestlemania? All logic suggests no, even though he laid the verbal smackdown on some of WWE's biggest top stars. It seems unfathomable that Rock will remain uninvolved in the WWE title match between The Miz (#11) and John Cena, but I can't imagine anything more than a Rock Bottom or a People's Elbow. I also can't imagine The Rock leaving WWE before attempting to give the rub to good-guy and company leader, John Cena, with whom he had some legitmate beef with a few years back, but probably has no real problem with. An exit without endorsement seems unfathomable, given the company's reluctance to turn John Cena heel, and their utter dependence on he and Orton in the main event. Then again, there is the small matter of Randy Orton, and who he'll face at Wrestlemania... Psyche!

It was good to see The Rock back, but I don't expect to see a lot of him. Certainly not to the weekly degree some fans have imagined after what was apparently a promise to be 'back for good.' I don't remember anything like that sticking out to me during Rock's rant, but it's been a big story for a lot of outlets. I'm sure The Rock intends to keep wrestling in his heart, and to make future appearances that would constitute 'never going away [for good]', but weekly appearances on RAW? I've got my doubts. It'll be fun finding out, though, as a little slice of the Attitude Era comes back to bring sponteneity and surprise with it. If you smell what The Rock is cooking!

Special Note: At Elimination Chamber (2011) on February 20, 2011; Justin Gabriel (#15) and Heath Slater (#42) defeated Vladimir Kozlov (#22) and Santino Marella (#23) to claim their second Tag Team Championship reign.

The Kayfabe Countdown is based on the cumulative tally of wrestler win/loss records, based on televised matches from WWE and TNA 2010 broadcasts. At present, they includes TNA: Impact!, WWE: RAW, WWE: Superstars, WWE: Smackdown, and monthly Pay-Per-View events.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 02/13

#1 Alberto Del Rio [+1] (8-2-0) (WWE) [Royal Rumble]
The 2011 Royal Rumble winner and Wrestlemania #1 contender is back on top of the Kayfabe Countdown... but you already knew that! Alberto Del Rio came out on top this week with a win against Kofi Kingston (#14), while Edge suffered in the quagmire of a convoluted finish to his Championship defense to Dolph Ziggler (#87). His status as World Champion is supposedly in doubt, which not only robs him of a higher win count than Del Rio, but also much less momentum heading down the road to Wrestlemania.

Wrestlemania XXVII sits late in the cycle this year, April 3rd (as opposed to the frequent March dates), where Del Rio is expected to face the winner of the February Smackdown World heavyweight title Elimination Chamber. Safe money says Edge will be there in the end, but he'll have to best Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre (#15), Rey Mysterio (#10), Kane (#40), and Wade Barrett (#35), to carry the belt into 'Mania. A Mexicasa match-up with Mysterio strikes me as a somewhat tantalizing outsider possibility, but it seems the mounting uncertainty surrounding wrestling's biggest show of the calendar is almost exclusively on the RAW side.

There will be no WWE Pay-Per-View event in March, meaning there's still plenty of TV time for plans to change, but Edge/Del Rio stands as one of the more certain outcomes. The blue brand's other marquee match will involve Undertaker's annual outing, where a variety of possible challengers to the 18-0 streak of wins have been raised, raging from Wade Barrett and his Corre, Kane, and even a returning Triple H -- who would otherwise be expected to face his arch-rival, Sheamus (#86), in revenge for eliminating him in October of last year. That's a discussion for another Countdown spotlight, however...

#2 [-1] Edge (7-1-1) (WWE) [World Heavyweight Champion]
#3 [--] Robert Roode (5-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#4 [--] James Storm (5-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#5 [--] Ken Anderson (5-3-0) (TNA)
#6 [+4] Jeff Jarrett (4-1-1) (TNA)
#7 [RE] Frankie Kazarian (4-1-0) (TNA) [X-Division Champion]
#8 [new] Eve Torres (4-1-0) (WWE) [Divas Champion]
#9 [new] Tyler Reks (4-1-0) (WWE)
#10 [-4] Rey Mysterio (4-3-0) (WWE)

#1 [--] Robert Roode & James Storm (5-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [--] Layla & Michelle McCool (2-1-0) (WWE)
#3 [--] Zack Ryder & Primo Colon (2-1-0) (WWE)
#4 [--] Yoshi Tatsu & DH Smith (2-1-0) (WWE)
#5 [RE] Madison Rayne & Sarita (2-1-0) (TNA)
#6 [-1] Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov (2-3-0) (WWE) [Tag Team Champions]
#7 [new] Brother Devon & Samoa Joe (1-0-1) (TNA)
#8 [-2] Eve Torres & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#9 [-2] Natalya Neidhart & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#10 [-2] Randy Orton & Jerry Lawler (1-0-0) (WWE)

Superstar Spotlight:
#27 Samoa Joe
(2-0-1) (TNA)

Late last year, I talked about some of my hopes for Samoa Joe in another spotlight [November 14], but admittedly, soon forgot about them as more probable eventualities took priority. Here, on the eve of TNA: Against All Odds, I find those old thoughts creeping back in, however.

On the Pay-Per-View, Joe was successful against "The Pope" D'Angelo Dinero (#101), in a grudge match formed by Pope's largely unprovoked attack on Joe. It was nice to see "The Samoan Submission Machine" winning matches once again, but the glory was bittersweet, given how flimsy the pairing's association has been. On the same show, Jeff Hardy (#21) defeated Mr. Anderson (#5) to recapture the Heavyweight title, despite his pending legal hearings that will see him plead guilty for minor charges of drug possession. I'd consider Jeff Hardy a worthy champion, one who stands far above Anderson on any legitimate contender list, but when you combine these two results, it's impossible to ignore better days in Total Non-Stop Action.

From April to October in 2008, Samoa Joe held the TNA Heavyweight Championship. It is, to date, his only top reign in the company, but a memorable one for it's position at the top of a TNA that was much more sports focused than the current product. Joe was extremely competitive against top class opponents like; Kurt Angle (#61), Booker T (#95), and Sting -- legends of the industry who appeared to be working with, and for, the star for a new generation. Samoa Joe might not have matinee idol good looks working in his favour, or a towering muscle bound physique, but his in-ring skill and energy was proven in that year that he held the title belt.

In 2011, that hardwork and credibility might as well have never been there.
Under the Hulk Hogan/Eric Bischoff regime -- which arrived at the beginning of 2010 -- the sports-lite focus that made TNA great has eroded away. With the exit of AJ Styles from the title picture early in 2010, there has been an effective reboot of reality, their focus readjusting squarely on talent established outside of TNA. Their three champions might not have held unquestioned favour in World Wrestling Entertainment, but it's fair to say Rob Van Dam (#44), Jeff Hardy, and Ken Anderson, are all still reasonably considered products of the other company's system. Their elevation in TNA is arguably a total positive, but it's eventuality at the expensive of once promising and credible contenders, like Samoa Joe, is a glaring negative.

Tall men like Abyss (#63) and Matt Morgan (#33) have been given glimpses of opportunity, as old habits die hard for the current regime. Even these plans of mixed merit have been abandoned and short-lived gestures, all too familiar to those old WCW days. All the while a tested champion is left to job to joke-MMA masters, and suffer the indignities of a match-up contrived from juvenile namecalling.

RVD has overdue claim to a title shot, missing out on a rematch against Jeff Hardy as a result of various distractions. I wouldn't begrudge him finally reentering the picture, but Samoa Joe is being utterly wasted in idiotic, go nowhere feuds that are completely removed from the title. Even if he isn't in the championship feud, he should be loitering outside the main event. He should be benefitting from competitive wrestling, instead of squandered against other mismanaged mid-carders who're making jokes about pigs. He should be the wrestler he once was, when he was defending the championship against the best and looking right at home. He should be the next contender; one not facing legal complications, one with main event credibility, one who doesn't owe his marquee value to somewhere else.

Special Note: Jeff Hardy (#21) defeated Ken Anderson (#5) to regain the TNA World Heavyweight Championship at the TNA: Against All Odds on February 13. Frankie Kazarian (#7) retained the X-Division Championship against Robbie E (#56), who progressed to the match by default when Max (#50) and Jeremy Buck (#53) failed to appear for their contender match due to 'travel problems.'

The Kayfabe Countdown is based on the cumulative tally of wrestler win/loss records, based on televised matches from WWE and TNA 2010 broadcasts. At present, they includes TNA: Impact!, WWE: RAW, WWE: Superstars, WWE: Smackdown, and monthly Pay-Per-View events.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

MKO: Mortal Spotlight: Jeri Ryan on the Set of Mortal Kombat!

Jeri Ryan has been one busy actress... With a career in film and television spanning twenty years; Ryan has acted in starring roles in many successful primetime dramas, including Dark Skies, Boston Public, Shark, The OC, and Law & Order: SVU. For some, she will be best remembered as the cult sci-fi heroine of more than one hundred episodes -- Seven of Nine, from TV's Star Trek: Voyager. An impressive body of work by any measure, but for fans of a certain conccurently running twenty-year video game franchise, about to pale in comparison to a ten episode, digitally distributed series!

Ryan's association with Mortal Kombat began in June, with the online leak of a high-quality production demo called Mortal Kombat: Rebirth [full story]. The eight minute clip, directed by Kevin Tancharoen (Fame, DanceLife), presented a stark reinterpretation of the MK mythos, with a bent toward over-the-top, gritty urban adaptation. Acting opposite action favourite, Michael Jai White (Spawn, Black Dynamite), during interrogation scenes led by his Jax ; Ryan completed the Special Forces duo as a file wielding, business suited Sonya Blade. For fans concerned the former Miss Illinois will be a paper pushing wallflower version of the fighting Lieutenant, Jeri Ryan has provided pictorial documentation of her action packed role! Via Twitter, the actress promises "ass is being kicked," showing off battle scars from her kombat experience, which includes kicking the occasional door on the Vancouver location shoot, as well! Full Article:

Friday, February 11, 2011

MKO: Liu Kang Biography Vignette Released!

Gamespot have exclusively revealed the first-look at number four in a series of character vignettes, each designed to spotlight the backstory of classic fighters in the lead up to entering Mortal Kombat!

Liu Kang is featured this time, lamenting on his training as a child with Shaolin Monk, to his special mastery under the Outworld-born master, Bo' Rai Cho (introduced to the canon in Deadly Alliance). Referencing his relationship with Raiden, the vignette appears to retain the expectation of Liu Kang as Earthrealm's greatest warrior and eventual champion.

As a young orphan, Liu Kang was trained by monks, ultimately becoming a Shaolin expert under Master Bo' Rai Cho. Assisted by the God of Thunder; Liu Kang is Earthrealm's best hope for freedom -- and survival! Liu Kang is destined to reach the final challenge and become the champion of Mortal Kombat!
Full Article:

MKO: Mortal Kombat: Songs Inspired by the Warriors

It was in 1993, on the back of the success of the original Mortal Kombat, that two Belgian electronica artists set about creating a dance anthem inspired by the game. Techno Syndrome, in it's varied mixes, has gone on to be one of the most memorable novelty songs of it's time, popularized through use in the 1995 Mortal Kombat feature film [coming to BluRay in April], as well as television marketing for home console release of the games prior to the movie, and pop culture references following. It was even included as bonus material in Sega CD releases of the game.

Oliver Adams and Maurice Engelen (Praga Khan) -- who were well known at the time for their work as part of the Industrial Techno collective, Lords of Acid -- were tapped by Virgin Records America to produce a complete concept album as soundtrack to the game as The Immortals.

Mortal Kombat: The Album was released subsequently in 1994, featuring ten original tracks inspired by the game and it's seven playable characters. Shang Tsung was notably the only character to go without a song; the rest of the cast, (including famous sub-boss, Goro), benefitting from high energy dance tracks, with descriptive titles and lyrics based on characters' biographies. Original tracks, Techno Syndrome and Hypnotic House, even boast soundbytes from the Sega version of the game, said to have been provided for the album.

In 2011, Warner Brothers' WaterTower Music will team with Teenage Riot Records to continue this MK musical tradition, producing a soundtrack for a new generation and a new game -- Mortal Kombat: Songs Inspired by the Warriors!

Executive produced by Teenage Riot co-founder, JFK (of MSTRKRFT); the album is set to provide a contemporary take on the soundtrack concept, providing a more subtle source of inspiration in the mix, drawing from various styles to deliver an album of tracks "Inspired by the Warriors".

A complete tracklisting is yet to be made available, but music from the album has already been featured in character vignettes for Mileena, and most recently, Liu Kang. These singles, performed by Tokimonsta and Congorock, have been made avaialble for pre-release download on Amazon ($0.99) and iTunes ($1.29), along with Sub-Zero's theme.

Full Article:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

MKO: Russian Website Releases Sindel Screenshots!

It was another scoop from our friends in Russia, this time a collection of screenshots previously exclusive to print domains. have six previously embargoed in-game screen grabs showcasing the lush background environments from the new game, as well as some of it's classic characters in not-yet seen classic poses!

These screenshots mark the first widely available viewing of Queen Sindel -- the Edenian royal who became Shao Kahn's bride and took her own life. Given the new games retro setting, we can be sure Sindel will be right in the heart of the action as the game revisits storylines leading up to and including Mortal Kombat 3!

Sindel's Banshee Scream is on display in the shots, along with classic special moves belonging to Sonya, Jax, Scorpion, and perhaps Ermac -- who is another of the returning characters yet to be showcased extensively.

Full Article:

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 02/06

#1 Edge [+1] (7-1-0) (WWE)
[World Heavyweight Champion]

It seems Alberto Del Rio's victory in the Royal Rumble has fulfilled WWE's hard working plans for the Mexican superstar, at least for now. Edge has risen rapidly in the win/loss rankings to leap from 2011 obscurity, back into second place for last week's [January 30] Countdown! In a year when John Cena (#99) has begun his road to Wrestlemania without a single victory; Edge's 87% win rate from eight matches in five weeks has to be considered no small feat!

Edge was unsurprisingly successful in defending his championship against unlikely contender, Dolph Ziggler (#76), whose fortunes have been inverse to Edge's (1-7-0 win/loss/draw), including losing the Intercontinental Championship immediately before his entry into the World title picture. I'm not sure I'll ever agree with the favour Edge has garnered in his role as a main event player, but it's undeniable that Ziggler was not yet ready to step up into the role. I appreciate, particularly with a WWE Champion as green as The Miz (#37) working on RAW, that bookers saw fit to grant Ziggler the opportunity, without prematurely following through on it.

Pseudo-babyface Edge appears to be carrying a little babyfat right now, but that hasn't stopped WWE investing heavily in the "Rated R Superstar," who replaced Kane (#73) as Smackdown's resident World Heavyweight Champion. With an opportunity to main event Wrestlemania in a title bout against Del Rio on the line; you'd have to think Edge will be relatively secure when he defends the belt in an Elimination Chamber at the February event of the same name. His opponents will be Dolph Ziggler, Kane, Drew McIntyre (#17), Rey Mysterio (#6), and Wade Barrett (#68), presenting the most likely alternate as Mysterio, whose feud with Del Rio was supposedly ended in a match won via count-out due to interference. An all-Mexican main event would certainly be a welcome change from WWE's typically unkind booking to international stars, but is only an outside possibility.

#2 [-1] Alberto Del Rio (6-2-0) (WWE) [Royal Rumble]
#3 [--] Robert Roode (4-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#4 [--] James Storm (4-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]
#5 [RE] Ken Anderson (4-2-0) (TNA) [World Heavyweight Champion]
#6 [RE] Rey Mysterio (4-2-0) (WWE)
#7 [-2] Kofi Kingston (4-3-0) (WWE) [Intercontinental Champion]
#8 [-2] Randy Orton (4-3-0) (WWE)
#9 [RE] Yoshi Tatsu (4-3-0) (WWE)
#10 [-3] Jeff Jarrett (3-0-1) (TNA)

#1 [--] Robert Roode & James Storm (4-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [RE] Layla & Michelle McCool (2-1-0) (WWE)
#3 [-1] Zack Ryder & Primo Colon (2-1-0) (WWE)
#4 [RE] Yoshi Tatsu & DH Smith (2-1-0) (WWE)
#5 [RE] Santino Marella & Vladimir Kozlov (2-3-0) (WWE) [Tag Team Champions]
#6 [-3] Eve Torres & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#7 [-2] Natalya Neidhart & Brie Bella (1-0-0) (WWE)
#8 [-2] Randy Orton & Jerry Lawler (1-0-0) (WWE)
#9 [-2] Angelina Love & Winter (1-0-0) (TNA) [Knockouts Tag Team Champions]
#10 [-2] Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy (1-0-0) (TNA)

Superstar Spotlight:
#NR Sting
(0-0-0) (Independent)

A promo promising something mysterious for Monday night's RAW on the 21st of February has sparked speculation and theories about the imminent arrival of one of wrestling's biggest stars never to sign with WWE. The Sting phenomenon owes it's origins to the days of NWA (National Wrestling Alliance), but was solidified in WCW (World Championship Wrestling), where he eventually transformed from a brightly coloured surfer, to a gothic, comic-book inspired Crow style figure, clad in long trench coat.

While the "2 21 11" promo features a black figure in a long coat, and bares superficial similarities to promo reels from Sting's WCW days, there isn't a doubt in my mind that says this is a sign of the return of The Undertaker. [Undertaker] was bundled out in October last year at Bragging Rights, where he lost a Buried Alive gimmick match to fictitious brother, Kane. His only subsequent appearance featured the Deadman in a long hall, stepping through a door into white light -- imagery similar to previous instances of the Undertaker's theatrics, which have suggested many experiences with the afterlife.

These new promo vignettes, set in the rainy gloom of a solitary desert shanti, harken back to the original concept of Undertaker, which was directed toward the archetype of a Wild West figure, rather than the overtly supernatural, gothic overtones that the character is well remembered for. The video is either part of a return campaign that will be told exclusively in clips, or merely hype for the Undertaker's return from his previous bizarre video sequence. It may represent an Undertaker who has 'gone home', and come back stronger -- in time for Wrestlemania, which is a key part of his dominant mythology.

The looming significance of Wrestlemania plays a part in Sting theories, as well, given that the show is returning to WCW's spiritual home of Atlanta. WWE's annual Hall of Fame is expected to include representatives of the WCW era, and Sting is certainly among the top contenders who haven't already been inducted -- but will it happen? If it does, I don't think the 2 21 11 clips will have any part to play.

In the recent past, Sting has flirted with permanent retirement, but seems to be persuaded to come back to action time after time by a paycheque, and some sense of loyalty to a group who has opposed the oft-times dominant WWE, for two decades. His most recent performances have been with TNA (Total Non-Stop Action), often described as being as much about giving the fledgling company a chance to rise, as any aspiration to maintain his iconic status as one of wrestling's biggest stars.

Special Note: Technical difficulties meant the publication of this post was delayed [until February 11]. A second "2 21 11" vignette has aired, finishing with the Johnny Cash "Ain't No Grave" song used to promote Undertaker's 2010 Wrestlemania clash with Shawn Michaels. It seems a certainty the promos refer to WWE's "Phenom", rather than the Stinger.

The Kayfabe Countdown is based on the cumulative tally of wrestler win/loss records, based on televised matches from WWE and TNA 2010 broadcasts. At present, they includes TNA: Impact!, WWE: RAW, WWE: Superstars, WWE: Smackdown, and monthly Pay-Per-View events.