Our Favorite WWE Stats of 2013
It’s been a full year since I embarked on an insane quest to become the Nate Silver of professional wrestling. While it’s still in question whether any of this data means anything or anyone besides my mom thinks I’m cool, I’ve had a blast tracking all the low blows, elbow drops, and running knees. Everyone needs a gimmick, and this one’s mine.
Now that 2013 is over, let’s comb over the spandex spreadsheets and see what we can learn about the WWE’s past 365 days. Stamford published this awesome article earlier this week, so we’ll skip over those stats and highlight our own.
15:24 – John Cena’s average match length. In 23 singles matches in 2013, Cena led all of WWE in match length by almost two minutes, beating CM Punk’s 2nd place time of 13:27. It’s no surprise that the two biggest stars in the Fed dominated this category – if they’re advertised the WWE makes a conscious effort to get fans their money’s worth. With Cena you always get at least ten minutes worth of hot babyface comeback fire sandwiched around those 5 sweet moves, as only three of Cena’s matches failed to hit that mark. He might be booked as the WWE Superman, but at least he puts some time in before taking flight.
11 – Matches between Dolph Ziggler and Alberto Del Rio on WWE Television in 2013. Del Rio and Ziggler take the top spot in most matches against an opponent over the last year. They ranked 2nd and 3rd in overall televised singles matches, so you weren’t seeing things if you thought they squared up every single week. Only 3 of those 11 matches took place in their official “feud zone” – my term for when there’s some sort of discernible stoyline to follow in a program. They faced each other 4 times before the epic cash in on the night after Mania, and even with Ziggler fading from the WHC scene they still matched up three times after their last bout with a title on the line. They are two of WWE’s weekly workhorses, an example of great ring work and chemistry mixed together, but also an example of WWE’s penchant for putting together programs without much story to make it compelling. Outside of their double-turn match at Payback and of course the cash-in, most fans would be hard pressed to even remember the other nine. Not a good sign for two hopeful main event talents.
3 – Number of Bury Points earned by CM Punk. Taking a loss isn’t necessarily a negative thing in pro wrestling. Seth Rollins just wrestled John Cena and CM Punk back-to-back on Smackdown and Raw, and each match went over 17 minutes in a losing effort. In regular sports, there’s no such thing as a positive loss on the stat sheet, but in WWE it’s all about the exposure. Rollins is getting a chance to shine solo in the ring against the best, rather than beating up JTG or Yoshi Tatsu on Superstars. And we try to reflect that in our points system. Any match over 15 minutes earns the competitor 0 Bury Points, and anything over 20 minutes earns 0.5 positive Bury Points towards their total. Theoretically, if a wrestler lost every match, but each went over 15-20 minutes, they’d be ranked far ahead of a middling grappler who trades wins.
That brings us to CM Punk’s 2013. Nobody lost more big-time epic matches than Punk. 26 minutes with Cena on Raw for a WrestleMania title match shot. 22 minutes with Taker trying in vain to snap The Streak. 25 minutes getting obliterated by The Beast at SummerSlam. But despite these losses, Punk’s legendary standing grew among the WWE faithful, and that’s what our stats reflect. Out of 47 qualifying wrestlers in 2013, only Punk and Cena (+1.5) ended the year in the positive. Even overall PIN champ Randy Orton finished with -4.5, a full 7.5 difference for our leader. Punk looked better losing than most guys looked winning.
6 – Times Randy Orton main evented a PPV in 2013. Orton wrestled last in half of the years PPVs – but don’t sleep on everyone’s favorite underdog Daniel Bryan, who’s close behind with 5. Not bad for a guy Triple H and Vince hate so much. Some of these cats made this prestigious list by competing in July’s Money in the Bank, but it went on last so it counts. Check out the full pie-tastic breakdown below:
226 Days – Number of days Dean Ambrose held the US Title in 2013. Improbably, Dean Ambrose weaseled his way to the longest title reign of any championship belt in 2013. Well, not improbably if you noticed his last title defense was all the way back on October 28th, against Big E. Langston. I’m surprised WWE hasn’t focused more on his ducking competition and winning almost every title match via DQ loss – it fits the character arc so well. Probably because the lack of luster makes it as worthy of a prize as the Jelly of the Month club – focusing on it might actually hurt Ambrose’s standing. The guy is jawing with CM Punk on Raw every week, the US championship is not a great talking point in his favor. Here’s a list of the longest reigning champs for each belt in 2013:
198 Days – AJ Lee (Diva’s)
155 Days – Curtis Axel (IC)
148 days – The Shield (Tag-Team)
133 days – John Cena (WWE)
133 days – Alberto Del Rio (WHC)
28 – Submission wins for Alberto Del Rio. I wrote this post back in July trying to figure out who the best submission specialist in WWE was, and the landscape has changed so much since then. Jericho’s off playing Metal God, Swagger is a Real American and Bryan introduced the Running Knee, and thank god the Miz hasn’t used the figure-four since September. So that leaves Del Rio as our only consistent tap-artist in the WWE. It’s amazing that these effective finishing maneuvers have been reduced to just token in-match drama rather than the destructive forces that can destroy careers. Here’s to hoping Bryan brings back the Yes Lock with a vengeance real soon. Start on Triple H please.
11 – Consecutive losses for Wade Barrett. Zack Ryder claims the top losing streak of 2013, but Wade Barrett was supposed to be somebody dammit. Dude actually won matches in 2013 and still suffered that incredible losing streak. It’s amazing that somebody that actually held a title at one point this year lost that many matches in a row. As crappy as some people think his new “Bad News Barrett” gimmick is, anything’s better than getting kicked in the nuts and losing to The Miz on Superstars.
5.56 – Bray Wyatt’s TOS. Our TOS (TEST OF STRENGTH) metric shows the relative level of competition a wrestler has faced. Bray has the 10th worst out of all qualifying grapplers in 2013 – and it’s a big reason why the man is such an enigma so far. Wyatt’s only competed in 6 official singles matches in his short career, and it’s not impressive:
8/18/2013 SUMMERSLAM – KANE
8/19/2013 RAW – R-TRUTH
8/21/2013 MAIN EVENT – JUSTIN GABRIEL
9/9/2013 RAW – DOLPH ZIGGLER
9/27/2013 SMACKDOWN – ZACK RYDER
10/6/2013 BATTLEGROUND – KOFI KINGSTON
12/30/2014 RAW – DANIEL BRYAN
The last on this list wasn’t even a match, but it’s in the record books so it counts. Compare his number his Family member Luke Harper, who’s wrestled CM Punk and Daniel Bryan so far and sports a sparkling TOS of 36.15, best in the WWE. Finally putting Bray in a storyline as compelling as recruiting the most popular good guy into the Backwoods Creepy Club certainly covers for the in-ring mystery so far – but I wonder how long we can wait for the good stuff. It’s tough to book somebody you want to build up as a legit monster without letting him run roughshod over your roster; playing it safe with Bray needs to end. I love the sizzle – this is the best story on WWE TV going – but the steak better be coming soon. A nice, juicy 20 minute match with Bryan would do the trick.