Sunday, April 03, 2011

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 04/03

#1 Edge [--] (17-1-1) (WWE)
[World Heavyweight Champion]

Another Wrestlemania, another disappointment...

On paper, this had the potential to be a card that bucked against the trend of underwhelming shows, but alas, the opportunity was squandered. The tone was set with the pre-show announcement that Bryan Danielson (#19) and Sheamus (#31) would be relegated to dark match status in their US Championship match, later to be wrapped up in annual battle royal shenanigans. Edge and Alberto Del Rio were relegated to the opening match -- not necessarily a negative placement for this type of exciting encounter -- but an insult to the tradition of the Royal Rumble winner as a main event contender. Their bout was given little time and little inspiration, but probably sits in the positive half of the show review, never the less. Rey Mysterio and Cody Rhodes (#41) did good business with a fun Captain America nod from Rey, Jerry Lawler (#55) and Michael Cole (#84) overstayed their welcome with a result that made it all seem for moot. Finally The Rock came back to Wrestlemania, and finally The Rock came back to do a move, but in the end, it was a convoluted finish with a rusted silver lining -- John Cena (#47) loses, but The Miz (#15) wins. Bittersweet. Ultimately, for any positive, it was another Undertaker [see spotlight] year, with his match against Triple H easily the only reason to really buy -- something I did not do, and something I won't do (on DVD).

Meanwhile, observant readers must note the (somewhat expected) departure of TNA's representation in the joint statistical top ten. There will be time for this to be reversed if TNA latch on to a prominent posterboy in the next few months, but without that, it's a last hurrah from Robert Roode as his Beer Money partner, James Storm (#11), slips just outside the stack. With that companys problems I'm not sure I would expect anything else, but... it's an instinctive alarm bell for a fan of their potential.

#2 [--] Rey Mysterio (10-5-0) (WWE)
#3 [+1] Randy Orton (10-5-0) (WWE)
#4 [-1] Alberto Del Rio (9-7-2) (WWE) [Royal Rumble]
#5 [new] Santino Marella (9-8-0) (WWE)
#6 [-1] Eve Torres (8-4-0) (WWE) [Divas Champion]
#7 [-1] Chris Masters (8-4-0) (WWE)
#8 [-1] Justin Gabriel (8-6-0) (WWE) [Tag Team Champion]
#9 [-1] Layla (8-6-0) (WWE)
#10 [-1] Robert Roode (7-0-0) (TNA) [Tag Team Champion]

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

Superstar Spotlight:
#85 Undertaker
(1-0-0) (WWE)

Heading into this match, there was a lot of speculation about whether or not Undertaker was even physically capable of pulling it off. Deciding who would contend the covetted "streak" spot came late, the build only a month long. If you were watching during the month, you were hopefully convinced a little bit more each week, until expectations made this one of the biggest matches on the card -- and if you watched Wrestlemania XVII -- I hope you were able to enjoy it to that fullest extent.

Undertaker and Triple H (#122) went on to have what I believe was the only really significant match on the card. Some critics may subscribe to the idea that it walked ground already bravely pioneered by Shawn Michaels, but I think the tone was inevitably different with Triple H. This was less a wrestling match and more a violent epic between two mythological creatures. Finishing moves were less constructs of a conceptually rule driven performance-sport, and more akin to claps of thunder as two titans collided. Arsenals were obliterated -- as was furniture -- as the pair blitzed WWE's soft PG policy and wrapped a chair around with violent intent. The match didn't really veer into the nineties garbage style hardcore showcase that both have touched upon in the past, and I consider that a compliment.

On a Wrestlemania card that gambled away its wrestling credentials for questionable non-wrestlers, I appreciated a tense finish that dovetailed back to the wrestling arena, seeing two spent men locked together in a final test of wills. Undertaker's gogoplata "Hells Gate" submission was the perfect, fluid transition to an end, which saw Triple H desperately, blindly reaching for a sledge hammer that failed to finish a job that not even multiple pedigrees or a tombstone piledriver could. The Game was finished. Undertaker won.

It seems this was the first Wrestlemania in a long time that finished with no titles changing hands. As nostalgia for the micro-era where Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar competed in the main event in a wrestler's wrestling match grips me, I wish that fact meant more. If nothing else, at least Undertaker and Triple H made it count.

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. Blogger errors delayed the publication of this post until April 10. 

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