Sunday, March 06, 2011

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 03/06

#1 Edge [--] (12-1-1) (WWE)
[World Heavyweight Champion]

I started these weekly accounts of wrestler stats in late 2010, so it's only anecdotally that I can talk about the variety of names that came through the top ten in the early parts of the year. By the final quarter of 2010, it was becoming a two horse race between Big Show (#26) and eventual year-ending #1, Kofi Kingston (#31). In 2011, it seems the statistical top ten has both victim and beneficiary of an even more varied approach to booking in the major promotions.

By using the entirety of their television network to showcase superstars from the less accessed Smackdown program, WWE have created a widening gap between top stars from the blue brand and the rest of the field. Where in 2010 many names came and went during the first half of the year, it seems the build to 2011's Wrestlemania XVII has put the focus squarely on Edge and Alberto Del Rio (#2; Royal Rumble winner). As Edge spends more time as the subject of this Countdown opening monologue, I find my patience for the Rated-R Superstar wearing a little bit thin.

I've been very enthusiastic about Alberto Del Rio, but I'm sure along the way I've expressed some doubt about his readiness to be World Champion, particularly on a stage as grandiose as Wrestlemania. That said, Edge's reign as an 11-time World-level champion, in only five years, has served to highlight what I believe are his many inadequacies as a top level talent. So we have two shades of a bad situation, and I find myself hoping Edge can start balancing out his record with a few losses, just to give me something else to talk about at the end of every week.

Three wins clear of his nearest rival, and with twice as many as the pack vying for #5 rank, I get a sense Edge and I will have to spend a lot of time together over the next few months. It's not a fact I'm at all at peace with, but I won't bother to labour the point this early in his reign of terror.

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

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

Superstar Spotlight:
#NR Mistico
(0-0-0) (WWE)

To say I'm any kind of aficionado of Mexican wrestling would be a complete lie, but when I see it, I often enjoy it. I like the different logics and concepts that are at work in this world, where styles and characters have different depths to their counterparts abroad. For me, there's a lot to like about the prospect of lucha libre and the mythic history it's steeped in, which looks all the more colourful when placed beside the developing mediocrities of certain American styles. WWE, for example, has abandoned much this colour, denying it's history whilst stripping away at it's interesting characters.

With all of that in mind, it was with mixed feelings that I learned of Mistico's signing with WWE -- an eventuality that has been many years in the making. Given their recent track record, it was easy to approach the news with extreme cynicism. It was with dreaded expectation that they unveiled a new moniker for their 'big name' international acquisition, who won't be wrestling under his 'big name' when he debuts with WWE.

I'm told CMLL -- the company he remained loyal to when WWE first began courting him -- own the rights to the Mistico name, which makes the situation that has given us "Sin Cara" much more forgiveable than the name itself. A name that reminds me of the last time they picked up a wrestler with history in Mexico -- Dos Caras Jr, aka; Alberto Del Rio. If including "face" in the new name is intended as a humorous reference, it isn't appreciated.

Still, Mistico arrives in a WWE that seems to be changing...
2011 has already given us some of the best booking of the last five years, with an interesting blend of new and old coming to prominance as we head toward Wrestlemania. Linda McMahon's political aspirations were dashed late last year, and one of the leading proponents for WWE PG, Donna Goldsmith, has left the company. Alberto Del Rio won the first ever forty-man Royal Rumble and is getting a World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania XVII. In the build-up for that same show, The Rock has returned to WWE, unleashing more pseudo-profanity in a single promo than WWE has in the entirety of two years. The Rock's return has also waved the flag for an era of wrestling that many fans like myself are looking back on, regarding as a much better time in wrestling. In other words; WWE is showing signs of changing.

In 2011, Mistico might not be walking in to a company that has dashed the hopes of almost every foreign wrestler to walk through it's doors. Mistico might be walking in to a company that is ready to get back in touch with it's penchant for colourful characters, outrageous situations, and maybe even the credible wrestling it's presented at various points in it's history. Mistico -- Sin Cara -- might be walking in to WWE to be a catalyst for a new era! If that's how it works out, colour me excited!

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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