Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wrestling: The Kayfabe Countdown - 08/18

#1 Randy Orton [--] (45-18-4)
[WWE Champion]
Although the WWE brand split was officially ended some time ago, remnants of it remain, particularly for the Smackdown side. The blue brand, for various reasons, is the less watched show. As a stalwart of Smackdown through the final year of the split, Randy Orton has been allowed to be obscured by these discrepancies in ratings, at least to a certain degree. His program has rarely been as featured as any RAW talents, which may or may not have helped make a surprise of his Money in the Bank WWE Championship cash-in.

Bryan Danielson can count himself among the prestigious college of WWE Championship holders -- but he also joins those who've had the smallest of reigns. The curse of minute-long reigns installed by the Hardcore 24/7 styled philosophy of MITB continues. At least Alberto Del Rio finally registered the necessary wins to surpass an out of action Sheamus at the top of a growing Kayfabe Countdown disparity.

#2 [+1] Alberto Del Rio (38-13-5) [World Champion]
#3 [-1] Sheamus (36-14-2)
#4 [--] Bryan Danielson (36-24-1)
#5 [--] Kane (27-21-0)
#6 [--] Ryback (22-14-1)
#7 [--] Roman Reigns (21-6-2) [Tag Team Champion]
#8 [--] Seth Rollins (21-10-1) [Tag Team Champion]
#9 [--] Mark Henry (21-10-0)
#10 [RE] The Miz (20-9-1)

#1 [--] Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins (20-6-1) [Tag Team Champions]
#2 [+2] Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso (16-9-1)
#3 [-1] Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns (15-5-0)
#4 [-1] Dean Ambrose & Seth Rollins (15-5-0)
#5 [--] Kane & Bryan Danielson (14-9-0)
#6 [--] Sheamus & Randy Orton (11-3-0)
#7 [--] Brodus Clay & Sweet Tea Tensai (9-9-1)
#8 [--] Cody Rhodes & Damien Sandow (5-11-1)
#9 [--] Randy Orton & Bryan Danielson (4-2-0)
#10 [--] Brie Bella & Nikki Bella (4-3-0)

Superstar Spotlight:
Summerslam (2013)
I've never been the biggest believer in Summerslam, as an event. It purports to be one of the original "big four" [fondly regarded as the big five, while I lament the loss of King of the Ring], but it lacks the almost infallible appeal of the Royal Rumble, the hit and miss intrigue of Survivor Series, or the sheer spectacle of Wrestlemania. The inclusion of a star like Brock Lesnar alludes to a desire to elevate this summer feature to Wrestlemania-type stature, but the end result undermines it beyond repair.

It's fair to say no WWE Pay Per View is particularly up to par. The presentation is more slick than ever before, but the wrestling showcases all that's missing in today's product. The storylines are meandering, the pay-offs confused and inconsequential, the ring style dependent heavily on the individual and their willingness to create a narrative, or feature the sport. The latter is rare. The former is just not taught enough.

It's disappointing that everything built to Bryan Danielson being screwed.
There's truth to the theory that the thrill is in the chase, but Bryan Danielson's entire career has been the chase. He lacks almost all the qualities associated with a traditional WWE star. He's small, a little on the unusual looking side, and prone to doing more than three or four moves. In keeping with the mood of the summer blockbuster, I think this should have been a celebration. The fulfilment of the underdog and the realization of a wrestling talent as WWE Champion. We don't really need to see Bryan Danielson get screwed. It's what we expect. The thrill is in his success, and for that, it appears we'll have to wait.

The return of the Inferno Match -- or at least something resembling it -- was a thrill in concept, but turned out to be a bit of a dud. Bray Wyatt's debut came with the obligatory win over Kane in a fire-type match, but the bulk of the story was the bumbling attempts of his lackeys. The controlled fire bars are always a little too small to fully live up to the visual concept, but it's never worse than when the purpose is to keep someone in or out of the ring. Kane's off to film a movie, so he follows John Cena onto the omissions list. Here's hoping they make the most of it. Guys like Ryback, Mark Henry, and other absentees from the Summerslam card will hopefully get a chance to shine. We'll see.

Recent returns Christian and Rob Van Dam further appear to be here as jobbers to the stars. It's a big ask to expect them to come back to the fore while other names are developing (Danielson, Del Rio), but it's frustrating to see them be bit players in one unconvincing contest after another. RVD in particular had all the hype in the world behind his return. Watching him bounce around the way he has is depressing. CM Punk can't catch much more of a break, but it'll be worse then Lesnar's limited dates mean there's no follow-up. Here's hoping the last couple of Lesnar wins mean there's a chance he'll face Undertaker at the coming year's Wrestlemania. I'd still like to see that.

All in all, Summerslam felt like another dud. Which is a shame, because at the behest of friends and acquaintances, I have managed to find enjoyment from more Summerslams  than I realised. I'm willing to believe the slam of the Summer can be a big four blockbuster. They just need to back it up. Until then, I'll be pining over the Summerslam '96/'97 DVD pack and wishing I had more disposable cash.

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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