It’s a question we’ve seen come up time and time again… from WrestleKingdom’s infamous six-star match, to what is quickly approaching trolling of one of our favourite Kiwis racks up ****¼ outings. “Why do you rate matches?”. Here’s why.
It’s not a question of “shouting to get our voice heard” – wrestling fans gravitate to review sites such as this one to see whether shows are worth watching… or indeed, whether certain matches are worth hunting down. In the age we’re in now, where it can be a struggle to keep up with current content, let alone older stuff, only the hardest of the hardcores have the time (and indeed the inclination!) to watch everything.
We’ve largely used star ratings for rating matches, since these have become a standard that are easy to compare. Yes, we’ve flirted with using other forms of grading, but at the end of every discussion (and poll), it’s always come back to the snowflakes.
The key thing to remember with all of this is that our ratings are subjective, not definitive. The fact that I rated Omega vs. Okada the same as the WWE UK Championship tournament means little other than I enjoyed both matches the same at the end of it. Both of those matches made me scream out watching at home as I would have done in the arena – and beyond “they were really good matches” the discussion should remain there.
One thing I have always been at pains to stress is that when we rate matches, it’s solely to do with how much I have enjoyed a match, as opposed to the ultra-nerdy “eeeh, they looked to overshoot a dive by an inch, that’s a star off”. As a fan, I’m not able to critique moves, because I am not a wrestler! Never have been, never will be. As such, it’s unfair on those who do compete to critique outside of offhand remarks like “it looked like they were trying for…” if a move or a sequence looks to go awry. What can be commented on is how characters or matches connect with myself as a fan; so if the character and matches “click” then they’re more likely to be enjoyed than someone who wrestles well, but has a character that just doesn’t resonate.
If reading the opinions and thoughts of a fan, a mark, a punter – or whatever you want to call it – turns you off, then that’s your prerogative. If you’re still interested… here’s what the stars mean in my eyes, with thanks to Dylan Hales (@DylanWaco on Twitter) for some of the inspiration that went into putting stars-into-words:
***** – an all-time great – one of the best I’ve (personally) seen, regardless of the time or style it took place in. Five-star matches should be able to hold up throughout the years.
****¾ – not quite the best of the best, but not too far off. On another day this could have been a full five, but certainly is not a match that you should ever consider skipping over.
****½ – on the fringes of “best of the year” debates, but still a really great match.
****¼ – Still a really good match, but likely a match that went too long and kept going after reaching its natural climax… or one that hit the proverbial wall and barely got over it. For what it’s worth, this level and above are the matches we stick into our “contender” lists…
**** – a really good match, but one that’d hardly come into contention for “match of the year”. Everything feels right, but it lacks an X-factor (not the move) that’d put it over the top.
***¾ – a little below **** (duh!), let down by maybe an odd slip or perhaps the crowd not being invested in the match
***½ – as Dylan puts it, “a very good match, more than just “well worked,” but lacking a certain something that reaches the next level.”
***¼ – solid match, but one that in the weeks after the show wouldn’t get recognised as much more than that.
*** – a good match, but can be run of the mill. Nothing wrong with it, but this is mostly perfectly fine wrestlers plying their craft.
**¾ – just above average, but not anything that’ll leave much of a memory. Quite a lot of TV matches will fall in this category and below, largely due to time constraints.
**½ – average – we start here and go up or down from there. Perfectly acceptable wrestling, but that’s about it.
**¼ – just below average; can be due to a slip-up or a poor finish.
** – as above, just a little worse.
*¾ – we’re getting into bad territory here; matches that are usually OK, but were either far too short to amount to anything or had bad chemistry between the workers involved.
*½ – almost a competent match, but with too much bad stuff to outweigh the good.
*¼ – as Dylan puts it, a “very bad match… all parties in the match sucked consistently”
* – awful match, either wrecked by timing, execution or booking
¾* – waste of time
½* – “why did they book this?” territory, either due to bad execution, bad spots, or other acts of God that stopped short of cancelling this
¼* – a disaster
DUD – typically squash matches that are little more than someone hitting their move and winning; however, we usually tend to not rate these, especially if it’s storyline-driven.
Unlike Dylan, we deal with negative stars – but without any quarters and half stars. For those, you can take them as the opposite of the above – so -* is somewhat awful with a lot of bad moments, whilst -***** is going to be memorable for all the wrong reasons.
Remember, all of this is subjective, and your milage will probably vary. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure… but it’d take a lot of positivity to take a minus-five-star outing and turn it into anything remotely enjoyable!