OPINION: Why the Meltzer wrestling ratings aren’t the be-all and end-all

Steven Wilson looks at the Meltzer rating system, why people might not agree with them and why you shouldn’t gauge your like of the sport purely on them.

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There is no denying that Dave Meltzer is one of the finest journalists wrestling has seen.

For the past four decades, he has provided us fans with a regular source of news and updates. Such coverage was unheard of in the sport before hand.

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON) helped to break down barriers in a kayfabe-heavy industry long before social media.

Like many a journalist, he’s had his share of critics. However, his longevity in the industry means most of what he presents is given a great deal of respect.

One of Meltzer’s concepts that divides the community though is his match rating system. Similar to how film critics would rate movies, Meltzer will give matches he watches a star rating between zero and five, although recent years have seen this extended as high as seven.

Given his reputation in the wrestling journalism world, Meltzer’s ratings are given a lot of weight. Even wrestlers such as Bret Hart have expressed how proud they were to see their performances praised so highly in the WON.

For all the praise it receives though, the WON ratings have had their fair share of criticism, and you can see why some would feel this way. 

Wrestling is a subjective sport

In the eyes of many fans, wrestling is a subjective sport. You are unlikely to get two fans who share the same tastes in every way. Some may enjoy the technical, ground-based style of wrestling whilst others love the over-the-top gimmicky comedy stuff.

In this age of Twitter, some present Meltzer’s scores as the bar – if you don’t agree with him, then your opinion is wrong. This is simply not the case in any form of life.

Winners of awards across the globe are decided by large vote or view of a panel of many. Statisticians judge their findings using large sample sizes. Presenting research in your field of choice based on one finding would be brushed off instantly.

Like every fan or expert, Meltzer is entitled to his views. Let’s not kid ourselves either, there are times where it is hard to disagree with him.

Whilst it could be viewed that his recent scores are skewed heavily towards Japanese wrestling, give me one person who hated the original Okada vs Omega match?

Those loyal to WWE will likely feel aggrieved when another main roster PPV goes by without an Observer five star. But we shouldn’t feel disheartened by this in any way, shape or form.

To me, I think the best rating systems of any kind are ones gathered from the broadest range of wrestling aficionados. That way, you can see clear ranges, medians and averages of scores and get a true feel of the subjective nature of the sport.

Apps such as GRAPPL do this perfectly.

But hey, this is just one fan’s opinion. I’m sure you have your own, and this is what makes wrestling great.

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