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.

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