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.

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