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.

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