Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 03/13

#1 Edge [--] (13-1-1) (WWE)
[World Heavyweight Champion]

Edge moves four wins clear of his Wrestlemania XVII rival and nearest challenger, Alberto Del Rio (#2), as the WWE television advantage starts to show itself from top to bottom! Frankie Kazarian's (#9) X-Division Championship win over the weekend is all that's keeping a third TNA wrestler in the top ten, while WWE's hefty network of television hours stuffs the win/loss spread in the favour of some of it's top stars -- and some not quite so prominent. Chris Masters (#6) is the surprise package of WWE Superstars, the programme that looks more like an FCW show at times, but clearly packs a seperatist punch. He continues to feud with Tyler Reks (#28) in the show's main event in a good old fashioned weekly serialized rivalry.

Edge remains something of a bane to my self-imposed weekly obligation, failing to capture my imagination as his championship defense against the Royal Rumble winner draws nearer. I still can't get much of a feel for what to expect from the World Heavyweight Championship bout, as Wrestlemania moves forward, still flickering between the good and bad. I don't know if this is going to be the show to reinvigorate a lacklustre "showcase of the immortals," but I do know that for all but one or two weeks of the year, WWE have had a hook that has had me interested. They are making up for the mistakes of the past few years and I'm grateful for that!

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

#1 [--] Robert Roode & James Storm (7-0-0) (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 [+1] Sarita & Rosita (3-0-0) (TNA) [Knockouts Tag Team Champions]
#5 [-1] Layla & Michelle McCool (3-1-0) (WWE)
#6 [--] Edge & Randy Orton (2-0-0) (WWE)
#7 [--] John Morrison & R-Truth (2-0-0) (WWE)
#8 [--] Rey Mysterio & R-Truth (2-0-0) (WWE)
#9 [--] Edge & Kelly Kelly (2-0-0) (WWE)
#10 [RE] Shannon Moore & Jesse Neal (2-1-0) (TNA)

Superstar Spotlight:
#32 Jeff Hardy
(4-6-0) (TNA)

Was he, or wasn't he? I'm sure most people will be assuming the latter, rather than asking the former. I'm not entirely convinced a stumbling or distracted Jeff Hardy constitutes anything hugely unusual, but owever you cut it, it was a farcical conclusion to TNA's Victory Road Pay-Per-View this weekend.

The Charismatic Enigma should've shined against boyhood idol and wrestling icon, Sting (#36), in their TNA World Heavyweight Championship rematch on PPV. Instead, the live crowd and paying home audience could only watch on in puzzlement as the main event duo exchanged a few awkward physical moments, resulting in an abrupt scorpion deathdrop and pinfall victory. All in all, a non-event of a title match that lasted barely ten percent of the time given to entrances and pre-match hype.

Jeff Hardy's demons have been well publicized, making him an easy scapegoat for a situation like this. When you have an injured arm, you sell an injured leg. There's no denying that the finish to Victory Road was unusual and disatisfying, but I've seen an angry Sting, peculiar Jeff Hardy, and phony referee gestures enough to wonder if this isn't all a great big work. Reports are TNA Impact has been receiving a bump in ratings. Wouldn't it just be like Vince Russo and Eric Bischoff to try to maintain those numbers by tapping into the transfixing self-destruction of Charlie Sheen by marrying some of Jeff Hardy's own pop cultural mythology with references to the imploding actor?

I'll be honest -- I don't really know what to think.
It doesn't help that notoriously unreliable dirtsheet accounts of TNA events jumped straight to gross exaggerations of the details. Claims that Sting man-handled Jeff to keep him from kicking out of an early pinfall is quickly undermined by a leaning Sting on his back, hooking a leg. Sure, Jeff kicked like wanted out, but let's not forget that wrestling is supposed to exist under a veil of suspended disbelief. Times are tough these days, but even in 2011 a wrestler occasionally looks like he's actually putting some effort in. Which could also explain away Hardy's preoccupation with his shirt, which was likely to be his brand of heel performance art, as it was any drug-induced stupor.

Again, I say it: I just don't know what to think! About the legitimacy of the problem, or who was to blame. All that's clear is that there's a lot about the situation that was odd and unsavory. If it was a healthy Stinger out there, why didn't he get an opponent to fill the void of time? If it was an intoxicated Jeff Hardy, why wasn't he explained away in a backstage skit or announcement?

Some dirtsheets were reporting Jeff Hardy was arrested immediately after the show. If Hardy was at all responsible for the strangeness of the show, then I think it's time for TNA to cut it's ties. I've supported his hiring, and even been an apologist for his position, at times. I've got no more patience if this is going to be the outcome, however, to say nothing of a basic human hope that talent are looked after. All of that is assuming a lot, however, and I'm really not willing to condemn someone on the basis of tonight's performance, because, I'll say it again... I just don't know what to believe.

What I do know is that TNA isn't remotely like the company I used to enjoy.
When it dawned on me that Ken Anderson (#12) and Rob Van Dam (#45) were competing for the right to face the winner, it came with a bitter realisation about the TNA title. Something the company did quite well, for a time, was shuffle it's many prospects. It wasn't that long ago you had Desmond Wolfe taking his chances in a title shot on Impact, while the likes of Kurt Angle (#84), AJ Styles (#59), Samoa Joe (#50), and many others, were circling like sharks. Once upon a time, I would lament the difficulties posed by the company being so top heavy. Now I wonder how they've squandered so much of their potential.

With so much baggage wrapped up in the old faces from WWE and WCW, I can't help but wonder what would happen if the powers that be decided to just go for it. To book the likes of Douglas Williams (#86), Brutus Magnus (#110), Robert Roode (#4), Matt Morgan (#65), Frankie Kazarian (#8) and Samoa Joe in the main event. What would happen if TNA decided to take a chance on names they've seen through their doors? Guys like Petey Williams or Consequences Creed? Would the company really be any worse off if it followed through on the promise it seems to have abandoned? I'd love to include Jeff Hardy in that list of names, as the first in a new generation of senior leaders, but after this weekend, I don't know. Is Jeff Hardy just a new brand of laibility, or are the likes of Sting, Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Jeff Jarrett and Vince Russo the monkey on the back of the industry and company, repeating the mistakes of the past? I really just don't know...

Special Note: The Kayfabe Countdown includes results from TNA: Victory Road, where Sarita (#27) and Rosita (#37) captured the Knockouts Tag Team Championship from now-former champions, Angelina Love (#41) and Winter (#55). No other title changed hands.

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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