Sunday, April 07, 2013

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 04/07

#1 Sheamus [--] (20-6-1)
I had Sheamus, Randy Orton & Big Show finally ending the three-man reign of terror that is The Shield. Shows what I know! The Wrestlemania opener kicked things off in ways that can only deliver down the road. Everybody's talking heel turn for Randy Orton, so you've got to think that's on the table. With Jack Swagger on the out (after a drug charge), it's no surprise Alberto Del Rio is making motions toward the top of the Countdown again. I'm not sure I ever expected Swagger to be the man to take the World Heavyweight Championship -- certainly not at Wrestlemania -- but it's his future that's really in doubt now.

#2 [+1] Alberto Del Rio (19-2-1) [World Champion]
#3 [-1] Randy Orton (19-8-1)
#4 [--] Bryan Danielson (15-9-0) [Tag Team Champion]
#5 [--] Kane (15-9-0) [Tag Team Champion]
#6 [--] Ryback (14-5-0)
#7 [--] Jack Swagger (13-1-1)
#8 [--] Mark Henry (13-2-0)
#9 [--] Big Show (12-10-1)
#10 [--] The Miz (11-6-1) [Intercontinental Champion]

#1 [--] Kane & Bryan Danielson (10-3-0) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [--] Sheamus & Randy Orton (7-1-0)
#3 [+1] Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns (4-0-0)
#4 [+1] Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins (4-0-0)
#5 [+1] Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins (4-0-0)
#6 [-3] Brodus Clay & Tensai (4-1-1)
#7 [+2] Sheamus & Big Show (3-1-0)
#8 [+2] Randy Orton & Big Show (3-1-0)
#9 [-2] Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso (3-2-0)
#10 [-2] Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow (3-5-1)

Superstar Spotlight:
Wrestlemania XXIX
Another year, another dubious Wrestlemania.
It had to be one of the all-time worst builds to the biggest show of the year, with many matches only coming together at the last moment. I find it galling that the event was dominated by first timers, let alone wrestlers who were making their in-ring debut!

Fandango and Big E Langston made their competitive debuts in matches that felt like a last minute waste of talent. I wasn't down on Fandango/Jericho entirely, not as a mid-card bout, but I can't help but acknowledge the potential for so much better for Chris Jericho. Likewise, the tag team situation stumbles its way through all kinds of clumsy missteps. Langston had absolutely no business debuting at Wrestlemania, let alone at the expense of various tag teams that have been putting in the hard yards. Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow -- absent from the card -- stand out immediately as a duo who should've not only been there, but arguably picking up the straps. Kane & Bryan Danielson would've been far better off following through on those January teases for a singles mid-card match with some story behind it. A more disappointing story than the bumped 8-Person tag, which, truth be told, was probably a better decision for the shape of the entire card.

Despite complaints and a flimsy build, the event still carried a certain atmosphere. It is Wrestlemania and with a set that inspired delusions of grand, King Kong-style city brawls, it was hard not to be in awe of the spectacle, if not the wrestling. Brock Lesnar/Triple H was the no brainer for match of the night, in my eyes. The pair put on a brutal battle that lived up to expectations. Undertaker's defense of the streak was solid, but lacked the technical excellence of the past four years, and the spectacle the storyline deserved. With all the back and forth over urns and ill speeches toward the dead, I really wanted to see CM Punk carted out in a druid-manned casket. It's tough to penalize them for something they didn't do, but that felt like a real hole in the finish.

The main event capped off a Wrestlemania with few surprises, but I maintain that there's no shame in that. I think back to the last Wrestlemania's that really blew me away, like Wrestlemania XX, where Chris Benoit's World Championship victory was widely seen as a foregone conclusion. There comes a time when sometimes you just need to deliver the good result. John Cena is far from my favourite wrestler, but it made sense to finish the Three Act story. He's the WWE Champion and now the only question is -- what comes next? With Ryback suffering a shock loss to Mark Henry, expectations in that area have at least been subverted for the following Monday. It might be a nail too many for Ryback, whose time in the spotlight came far too soon, but I'm more than happy to take Mark Henry for the contender he deserves to be.

The Kayfabe Countdown is based on the cumulative tally of wrestler win/loss records. Tallied results only include matches broadcast during WWE 2013 programming. At present, this includes RAW (Mondays), Main Event (Wednesdays), Smackdown (Friday), and monthly Pay-Per-View events.

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