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LISTEN: Beau James Interviews Randy Hales

Beau James, a.k.a. King of Kingsport, has posted an episode of an old podcast called "Do You Wanna Be A Wrestler, Kid?" to his YouTube channel where he interviewed Randy Hales.  Hales was the promoter of Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis, TN, from 1998-2001 and worked for many years before that for Jarrett Promotions, making him a mainstay in the Memphis wrestling scene of the time period. Topics include the USWA-WWF working relationship of the 1990s, Monday Night Memories, and Hales booking the USWA. You can listen below. Part 1: Part 2: Part 3: Part 4: UPDATE, July 15: Part 4 has also been added above. As Beau James mentioned to me on Twitter, he also conducted a two-part interview with Bill Dundee.

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

FREE MATCHES: FTWW Breakin' It Down

YouTube user carlos lucha has posted matches Fight The World Wrestling's Breakin' It Down show on July 7 in Tampa, Florida to his channel. Links are included below. Full card: Damien Darling & Jack Gallow vs Alex Todd & Apolo Jr. Luis Adams vs Tony Ortega Amber Nova vs Layne Rosario vs Natalia Markova vs Rosalie Valle Max Power vs Josh Grady Chico Adams & Spectacular JC vs Kevin Powers & Salazar Austin Gunn vs Ricky Arness Bryan Idol vs Mike Reed Deondre Motion & Zebediah Cole vs Kayden Greene & Ronnie Rios Billy Gunn vs Deimos Let us know what you think of these matches by starting threads to discuss them at the Pro Wrestling Only forums! Are you one of the wrestlers or promoters involved with this card? Contact us and we'll help put a spotlight on your matches and promote your merchandise to our readers.

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

'Locals To Legends Radio' Podcast Interviews Madman Pondo

Gene Jackson of the Locals To Legends Radio podcast posted an interview with Madman Pondo yesterday that's worth a listen, especially for fans of death match wrestling. Topics covered include Pondo's stints in Herb Abrams' UWF and Kick Ass Wrestling in Memphis. Pondo also reflects on Insane Clown Posse, how Girl Fight was formed, $5 Wrestling, and more.  Pondo recently released his autobiography, Memoirs of a Madman, that looks to be a must-read. With a foreword written by Vanilla Ice, Pondo dives into his career both as a pro wrestler and as a casting agent for the Jerry Springer Show.  Pondo was a BJW mainstay for a decade and was also a long-term death match scene regular in IWA Mid-South and Combat Zone Wrestling.   

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

FREE MATCH: Su Yung vs Harlow O'Hara (06-16-18)

Title Match Wrestling has posted a free match to their YouTube channel from Battle Club Pro's Malice at the Palace, which took place on June 16 in Stafford Springs, Connecticut. In this match, Su Yung faces Harlow O'Hara in a Last Woman Standing match. Check it out below. The rest of the card is available with a two-week free trial for new users on Title Match Wrestling's Network. Other matches on the show include: Hudson Envy vs Davienne Tasha Steelz vs Kaitlin Diemond Candy Cartwright vs Nikki Adams Veda Scott vs Allie Kat Katred vs Vanity Santana Garrett vs Kylie Rae Gabby Ortiz vs Solo Darling  

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

MATCH REVIEW: Jushin Liger vs Great Sasuke (07-08-94)

New Japan Pro Wrestling
July 8, 1994
Summer Struggle
Sapporo, Japan
9.4
It's a status that in many ways he still holds today. Jushin Liger is simply The Man. He's been The Man for the better part of thirty years in New Japan Pro Wrestling, setting up worthwhile opponents to knock them down. In terms of longevity and match quality, Liger has as strong a case as any wrestler for being the greatest of all time. That reputation was already well established on April 16, 1994, when New Japan Pro Wrestling ran the first Super J Cup. It wasn't the very first tournament of its kind, but it was the most high-profile one, and it was certainly a groundbreaking event. More than even the final match of the evening, a match rated ***** in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and an all-time classic in its own right, the most memorable match on the card was probably the Jushin Liger vs Great Sasuke semi-final. In an iconic moment near the end of the match, Sasuke springboarded to the top rope, only to fall off on his own and collapse at Liger's feet. It was a sequence intended to set up the finish. Thinking on his feet, Liger casually applauded and worked toward an improvised finish a few moments later, and Sasuke won, which advanced him to the finals where he faced "Wild Pegasus" Chris Benoit. 

If Sasuke won the first match, why would he wrestle as the underdog and aggressor the second time around? Funny you ask. Because of the fluke nature of Sasuke's win,  Liger's sterling reputation, and Sasuke's impressive but limited standing as the ace of a small independent group based in Northeastern Japan, it was Sasuke who came into this match with more to prove. That was evident in how the match was worked, with Sasuke charging at Liger immediately. The match, despite its end result with Liger reigning victorious, was also clearly a project designed to get Sasuke over. He wrestled the match on even footing with the top junior heavyweight in the country. They also wrestled this more like a Sasuke match than a Liger match. Contrary to popular belief, high flying was never really a critical part of what made Liger great. Sure, he was great at it, but he didn't need to fly to be great. 1994 might have been the last year Liger did a notable amount of flying anyway, as he retooled his game after his brain tumor removal in 1996 to move even more toward a mat-based style. This match had more high flying than Liger matches typically did at this point, which got over the idea that Sasuke was forcing him to wrestle his own type of match.  This match acted as the inverse of the J-Cup. In that outing, Liger dominated most of the match, only for Sasuke to hit a few key big moves at just the right time and bring it all home. This time around, it was Sasuke controlled most of the match and Liger who got lucky by hitting one big move -- a super fisherman's buster -- at the end. The end result is that despite trading wins, Sasuke was put over strong in both matches by an opponent who was always hungry for new rivals who could go on his level. It's debatable whether Sasuke ever truly became that opponent in the way Shinjiro Otani did, for example, but they did produce matches that were not only the best of Sasuke's career, but were near the top of Liger's extensive highlight list too.

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

MATCH REVIEW: Ric Flair vs Lex Luger (07-10-88)

Great American Bash 1988: The Price For Freedom
Baltimore, Maryland
NWA World Heavyweight Championship
July 10, 1988 7.5 In Japan, multi-year chases are fairly common, but that has never really translated to American audiences for whatever reason. Chalk it up to the reactionary tendencies of promoters when gates aren't at a certain level. Maybe it's a lack of conviction. Maybe it's even that pro wrestling has always been more of a fad-based interest than a long-term hobby for most casual viewers. Maybe it's even differences in culture, as it's much easier to plan that type of story in a company where it's almost unthinkable that a homegrown talent would leave and go to the competition (even if it did occasionally happen). Regardless, the idea of fans, promoters, and wrestlers sticking with a six-year chase to an undercard title win the way AJPW handled the Masa Fuchi vs Tsuyoshi Kikuchi feud from 1990-1996 are pretty unlikely on this side of the Pacific. The Ric Flair-Lex Luger rivalry is interesting to think about in that context. Between 1988 and 1991, through changes in ownership, executive leadership, and even the name of the very company where the rivalry played out, the two wrestled each other five times on pay-per-view and once on a Clash of the Champions TV special. Flair turned twice during this time, Luger three times going on four -- they were even set to do a sixth pay-per-view match, the one that would finally pay off Luger's perpetual chase, before contract negotiations broke down and Flair bolted for the WWF. The rivalry sustained through all of that, and defiantly, it seemed to be a feud that just kept falling up. Despite the chaos that surrounded it, Flair-Luger always worked, even if it did play to diminishing returns. It worked so well in the summer and fall of 1988 that it gave David Crockett temporary hope that they would not have to sell the company to Turner Broadcasting. Flair and Luger did massive house show business during a time that Crockett was dying, and even in 1990, when Luger stepped in to hastily turn babyface to substitute for an injured Sting, Wrestle War '90 did a surprisingly good buyrate and house show attendance had a short-lived mini-spike. It was a rivalry people were interested in following and the prevalent belief, years before wrestling conditioned its fans to never expect anything to pay off, was that this had to pay off somewhere and that they wanted to see it happen. That continued investment can be attributed to how well these matches were worked. Flair saw his role as not to have a great match with Luger, although they would eventually have some classics. Instead, he saw his role as to make him look invincible.  Flair has told a story many times about how he drew the ire of Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard because of how he worked with Luger; Arn and Tully thought Ric's pinball bumping and obsessive begging off was a little too much self sacrifice. Flair explained to them that he saw his role as to both carry Luger and teach him how to draw money at the same time, so he had to work in overdrive to pull it off. 
They weren't quite there yet at this early stage of the feud, but it was clear that once they settled into their formula, Ric Flair and Lex Luger would have a sure thing. 

Flair has always defended Luger as someone who never had the opportunity to really learn how to work because he was pushed to the top right away. While Flair's graciousness is appreciated, he was selling Luger short. This match had some rough spots because it was Luger's first time to be in such a pressure-packed main event position, to the point that Dave Meltzer commented in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the match looked like two independent wrestlers trying to copy a Flair match than it did an actual Flair match. However, Luger reminded us all that he was an excellent athlete in spite of any other critiques leveled his way -- his surprise leapfrog and dropkick were legitimately great moments. Over time, Luger did exactly what Flair hoped he would do -- he learned on the job and adapted. By the time they met again on pay-per-view four months later at Starrcade, Luger had dropped about 15 pounds in muscle and improved his cardio so he could do long matches without getting winded. By the time they wrestled a year after that, Luger was strong enough to carry a match between the two of them offensively while working heel. While Luger never really learned how to do a proper figure-four leglock, he did have one of the best heel runs of his era in 1989 as U.S. champion and had a clear hot streak on pay-per-view that lasted a good two or three years. He gelled wonderfully with Flair, who would take his own trademark bumps in exaggerated fashion during their matches -- usually two or three high-elevation press slams, big back body drops, the slam from the top rope, and the Flair flip into the clothesline off the apron. The "Flair Formula" as we know it didn't originate in the Luger series, but that's where it was tweaked and cultivated.  None of this addresses what this match is most notorious for, and that's the finish. Luger was barely cut at all, the match was stopped by the Maryland State Athletic Commission for Lex's "excessive lacerations", and Flair retained on a technicality. It did lead to a massive house show run of Flair-Luger matches, sold on the idea that they don't stop matches for blood loss in YOUR town, so YOU might just see a title change. However, I'll reprint a fan letter from the October 3, 1988, issue of the Observer explaining the problem with this booking, even though it worked in the short-term, and which Meltzer defended for that reason. "Your comment that, ipso fact, the ridiculous Flair-Luger blood angle on the PPV Bash was a success because live gates were up immediately was the most naive thing I've ever read by you. Don't you think infuriating the PPV audience was more significant than live audience, a totally different and relatively microscopic portion of the potentially vast PPV audience? The NWA's biggest problem is they never take the long view. Like children, they live in the eternal here and now. People are turned out of the blue (Windham, Luger, Murdoch, Garvin) with no build up because they need heat at some shows. They get good notices on Clash and think they've won the wrestling war. They draw a few good live gates and suddenly Dusty and Jimbo are convinced they've been right all along and should continue to run the organization even after Turner spends good money on it. " -- Bill Kunkel, Woodhaven, NY This match being the catalyst, the Flair-Luger feud acted as a platform for a lot of people to project their own biases, ideas, and truths, including promoters, wrestlers, reporters, and even fans like Mr. Kunkel of Woodhaven. It was hard to cut through the noise and appreciate the matches for what they were, but it's something that became easier with time as Luger gained confidence and Flair found in-ring sanctuary from the constant politics of the new TBS environment. While it was a  long-running program that left behind so much collateral damage and Luger developed a "choker" label that followed him for the rest of his career as a result of this very match, it did eventually become a really rewarding series. This isn't the match to watch to see the absolute best version of these two against each other, but it's a primitive look at where they'd go through the turmoil, growth, and fallout of the next few years, accidentally crafting a compelling long-term story in spite of itself. 

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

FREE MATCHES: Proving Ground Pro's No Broken Promises (05-18-18)

Proving Ground Pro has published some of their No Broken Promises show from May 18 in Washington, Illinois, on their YouTube channel. In two first-round matches of the one-night tournament to crown a PGP Cutting Edge Champion, Jake Lander faced Jah C and Tyler Matrix faced Paco Gonzalez. You can watch the matches below.    Let us know what you think of these matches by starting threads to discuss them at the Pro Wrestling Only forums! Are you one of the wrestlers or promoters involved with this card? Contact us and we'll help put a spotlight on your matches and promote your merchandise to our readers.

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

FREE MATCH: Six-Man Scramble (05-11-18)

Maine independent Limitless Wrestling has posted a new free match to their YouTube channel from their Feed The Need show on May 11. This is a six-man scramble that includes Ace Austin, Kevin Ku, AJ Gray, Jake Parnell, Tony Deppen, and Bolt Brady. Watch it below.   This card is not yet available on DVD, but Limitless Wrestling indicates that it will be. Also on the show: Brody King vs Eli Everfly Ace Romero vs AR Fox Dream Team vs The Rascals vs Anthony Henry & James Drake Rachael Ellering vs Ashley Fox JT Dunn vs Anthony Greene Darby Allin vs Zachary Wentz (clip) Kimber Lee vs Skylar (clip) Jeff Cannonball & Brandon Kirk vs Jay Freddie & John Silver Teddy Hart vs Josh Briggs

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

First Episode of Dojo Pro Wrestling Airs on Amazon Prime

In partnership with Ring of Honor, Dojo Pro Wrestling has launched a new TV show that's available on Amazon Prime. The concept show includes a gauntlet where independent wrestlers receive a belt to signify completion of that particular level, only to go to their next match and aim to receive a higher belt, like martial arts starting with a white belt. When a wrestler receives the Dojo Pro Black Belt, he earns a shot at the ROH World Championship.  Eleven of the  wrestlers are: Aaron Solow Brandon Cutler Corey Hollis Gunner Miller James Storm Jeff Cobb Joey Janela MJF Ricky Starks Shane Strickland Wheeler Yuta Kerry Awful and Kevin Ku are in competition for the twelfth spot and face each other in the sole match on the first show. Cobb, the #1 seed, had an altercation with a ringside fan to establish him as the top heel.  Amazon Prime members can watch the show by clicking here.

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

MATCH REVIEW: Bret Hart vs 1-2-3 Kid (07-11-94)

In the quarter century that has passed since this match took place, it has become rightfully immortalized, although the environment in which this match was created remains frozen in time. WWF Monday Night RAW 07/11/94
Bushkill, PA
WWF World Championship 8.7 In 1994, Bret Hart clearly had a vision for the type of World Champion he wanted to be. He wasn't your older brother's WWF champion. Instead, whether intentionally or not, he was your father's NWA champion, a modern-day Jack Brisco. Brisco, who held the NWA title for most of the period between 1973 and 1975, was a highly-skilled athlete and an excellent wrestler, but more than that, he was a clean-cut, guy-next-door type who treated wrestling, and his opponents, with a certain respect. As with most NWA champions, when he faced a local babyface, he took on the heel role, but played it in a much more subtle way so that it wasn't a dramatic departure from his usual persona. This usually meant little to no outright cheating and instead meant wrestling from a position of dominance to set up the babyface's comeback, all while showing moments of mild frustration that he can't put the challenger away. As his successors Ric Flair and Harley Race became the dominant NWA champs and mostly wrestled as heels, the Brisco doctrine became more of a distant memory. Understandably, Hulk Hogan was something far closer to Bruno Sammartino than any long-term NWA champion. He faced his challenger of the moment in a series that usually lasted three matches, then moved on to the next monster to repeat the cycle. The Bret Hart feud formula wasn't the Hulk Hogan feud formula, nor should it have been. When Bret became champion for the first time in 1992, wrestling was in the doldrums. Domestic business had collapsed drastically in a fairly short period of time under the weight of company scandals. Ultimate Warrior and Davey Boy Smith, two wrestlers who were being positioned as the top babyfaces in the company, were fired for using HGH as Vince McMahon was facing indictment for steroid distribution. Bret, who always had a dedicated WWF following -- at one point, he received more fan mail than any wrestler in the company -- was also someone more established at the Intercontinental title level, and he wasn't the level of star just yet that could immediately reverse the WWF's fortunes. He could, however, either slow the sinking or prevent things from getting worse.

In Bret's first run with the title, he was presented as an unusually active champion, an easy label to apply because it was true. The WWF put him in title defenses four to five nights per week and played this up heavily on television to get him over as a Fighting Champion. He was often vanquishing low-level foes, but so many of the stars were gone first of all, and second, he was doing it decisively, and beating other midcarders made clear that Bret Hart was now a cut above the guys that were previously presented as at about the same level that he was.  With plans of Bret beating the Ultimate Warrior at the 1993 Royal Rumble and Hulk Hogan at the subsequent Summerslam not working out as originally planned, Bret wasn't really put in a position to be a real champion until his second run, which started just three months before this when he beat Yokozuna at Wrestlemania X. For the foreseeable future, the company would be built in the image of Bret "The Hitman" Hart, who fans clearly preferred to Lex Luger when they were asked to choose between them. Bret could finally take main events somewhere more consistent with who he was. This was how he crossed paths with the 1-2-3 Kid. Kid was a supremely talented independent wrestler, working a highly-regarded series against Jerry Lynn in the Minnesota indies that continued to the Global Wrestling Federation, which was a more high-profile setting. The Razor Ramon upset on the May 17, 1993, episode of Monday Night RAW  is widely considered one of the most memorable moments of the era and it made Kid a bonafide star. Bret spoke highly of Kid at the 1994 WWF Hall of Fame ceremony, clips of which were included in the pre-match video. It speaks to what made Bret an effective champion. He wanted to test himself against someone he saw as a great wrestler, and it was a breath of fresh air because they didn't have to presume that they hated each other or manufacture an issue to get there. This is a big part of why Bret Hart was a star -- he was a real person in a sea of cartoon characters. He was facing a challenger who also resembled that remark and earned the opportunity by simply being talented and getting some big wins. This match aired on television only six days before Hulk Hogan would have his first match in WCW, a title match against Ric Flair at Bash at the Beach. It reprsented quite the reversal in stature for the two companies -- the WWF running a title match between two great workers in a dingy building in a small market while WCW headlined with a dream match featuring the two biggest stars of their era, taking place in a major, full-sized arena in a city that hosts Walt Disney World and is notorious for being a tourist trap.  Bret went out of his way to make Kid look credible here. When Kid snuck in the armdrag off of their first lockup, Bret's face said it all -- he was both surprised and impressed. Bret attempted to use his size to his advantage, something he didn't get to do very often, by bodyslamming Kid out of his second armbar attempt, an example of the aforementioned Jack Brisco subtle heeling. This continued when Bret applied a chinlock, which was the first step in turning the crowd. The match started with the crowd firmly behind Bret, booing Kid and acting dismissive of his chances, and the chinlock started the ball rolling in their preferred direction, putting sympathy on Kid. These holds are sometimes written off as restholds, and that's often deserved, but here, it played a key role in turning the audience. The first image after a commercial break was Kid once again in control, with Bret only able to turn the tide with a knee to the gut, another subtle heel move. Bret slowed the pace, which was another example of great psychology because it built anticipation for Kid's eventual faster-paced comeback. Bret hit Kid with a series of awesome European uppercuts in the corner, which only further endeared him to the audience. At this point, the crowd was slowly moving to Kid's side, and more great offense like the swinging neckbreaker from Bret only helped build sympathy. When Kid blocked Bret's crucifix attempt and covered him for a three count, Kid was in the ropes and Bret was declared the winner anyway because the referee was out of position. Bret insisted on a restart, hammering the point home that this is a champion who finds it important for his title defenses not to end in controversy. Catching Bret off his guard just after pleading his case to continue the match, Kid snuck in a quick nearfall and almost got the victory. The crowd bit hard. In Bret Hart's WWF, the great wrestlers could become the new champions at any time.  Frustrated, Bret grounded Kid and went back to the chinlock, which at this point made for a fully-divided crowd that just minutes earlier was solidly on Bret's side. When Kid blocked Bret's hiptoss attempt with a backslide, only to be cut off again, they finally had the people where they wanted them, chanting "1-2-3!" and fully supporting Kid's title bid. When Bret attempted the middle-rope elbow, Kid kicked him squarely in the face. It was a common transition in Bret Hart matches, but it had more impact here because it reinforced that high flying was Kid's domain. To hammer this point home, Kid hit a flying crossbody for a hot nearfall, and after Bret barely kicked out, Kid clotheslined the much larger champion over the top rope. The message was clear -- we were watching a WWF now where the best wrestles were as big as anyone in the company. After the best nearfall of the match, one where Kid reversed a superplex mid-air to land in a pinning position on top of Bret, Bret finally secured the sharpshooter, and with it victory, after Kid got a little overzealous going up top. As the two congratulated each other on a great match when it was over, Jim Ross had the wherewithal to stay quiet since the wrestlers were conveying the points just fine on their own, a sixth sense he wouldn't always have in future years.  If the NWA champion working style died another death when Bret Hart was no longer the top guy, it wasn't because the groundwork was never laid by matches like this, nor was it because wrestlers like Kid didn't know how to sell themselves as challengers at just the right pitch -- strong enough to be taken seriously, but not so strong that he would lose his underdog appeal. It's more that the American wrestling scene became increasingly impatient, aimless, and focused on outside shenanigans as the years waned on, a continued trend that helped Sean Waltman make big money at the end of the decade as much as it deprived us of some chances to see a great wrestler in long title matches. It was also a trend that, sadly, would eventually leave Bret Hart as a casualty. The small building and small market suggest otherwise, but these were happier times, not because the present was great as much as it was that the future hadn't yet been bargained away. Even if the elevator never hit the top floor, Bret Hart and the 1-2-3 Kid were hard at work building the ground level.

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

FREE MATCHES: Next Evolution Wrestling (06-30-18)

Matches from the Next Evolution Wrestling (NEW) show in Elizabeth City, North Carolina on June 30, have been posted for free on YouTube.   They are: Austin Shadowz vs Dontay Bishop DA Assassin vs Livid the Clown Joe King vs Preston Quinn Wes Rogers vs Jake Hollister Handicap Match: Blunt Force Trauma (Benjamin Money Banks & The Demented Bradley) vs Victor Griff Evolution Championship: Beau Crockett vs Franco Varga   Let us know what you think of these matches by starting threads to discuss them at the Pro Wrestling Only forums!   Are you one of the wrestlers or promoters involved with this card? Contact us and we'll help put a spotlight on your matches and promote your merchandise to our readers.

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

FREE MATCH: Barba Roja, Chris Stone Jr. & Syrus vs Alfa, Angel & Secreto Negro (07-08-18)

The HECTOR GODFREY TV Youtube channel has just uploaded a free match from the Wrestling Martin Calderon show on July 8 at Azteca Arena Budokan. In the opener of the card, Barba Roja, Chris Stone Jr. & Syrus teamed against Alfa, Angel & Secreto Negro.   Also on the card: Emperador Azteca Jr. & Impossible vs Corazon Negro Jr. & Drako Super Comando, Terremoto & Toxico vs Danger, Guerrero Mixtico & Sadico Fly Star & Muneca de Plata vs Baronessa & Toxin Miss Janeth, Rossy Moreno & Tiffany vs Keyra, Lady Maravilla & Star Fire El Sagrada vs Fly Warrior vs Ultimo Gladiador Are you one of the wrestlers or promoters involved with this card? Contact us and we'll help put a spotlight on your matches and promote your merchandise to our readers. UPDATE: This channel later posted two other matches from this show. Those matches have been linked above.

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

 

How Matches Are Rated

Why we rate matches
The mantra we try to live by here at Pro Wrestling Only is that there are only two types of professional wrestling -- good wrestling and bad wrestling. We profess this because as a medium, pro wrestling has proven that it can connect to people in a way that transcends time, place, and culture. We also believe passionately that no matter when or where new fans reach their point of entry, the most open-minded ones can discover and enjoy great wrestling in all corners of the world and moments in history, provided that the footage exists.  We find it fun at PWO to make comparisons between matches in different time periods that involve a diverse array of wrestlers. Rating matches provides a quantitative way to do that, which makes it possible to do direct, match-to-match comparisons. On a larger scale, it also facilitates list-based projects and countdowns. Why we think about wrestling critically
There are some who argue that watching wrestling should be lighthearted or mindless entertainment and that we shouldn't overthink it, to which we respond that this is fun or we wouldn't do it. We consider pro wrestling a form of performance art and consider rating it a way to show our appreciation for just how powerful pro wrestling can be at its best. Consider this critical thinking respect for the form, not an attempt to tear anything down. We believe pro wrestlers can achieve greatness in any environment, with any wrestlers, in any style, in any era, and with or without any limitations. We believe this, in fact, because we've seen it happen. Why we don't use the classic five-star rating system
At PWO, we find challenges with the more conventional and established five-star rating system. It has certainly been useful in determining what matches are worth watching, and in the past, we've championed it ourselves, but it's not an infallible way to view wrestling (nor is our approach, to be clear, but it does work well for us). There are specific ideals that usually accompany the star rating system about what makes a match good or bad. We find those ideals to be narrower in scope than the way that we enjoy watching and talking about wrestling, even if they are admittedly useful as a short-hand reference point. We have also learned that not all four-star matches are created equal and that greatness resides on a spectrum. What matters to us when rating matches
We believe that matches should be rated on their own terms. A 9.0 squash is possible, even if we have yet to see it. It may not be as good as a more competitive 8.0 match the way that we would traditionally think about it, but we also believe this distinction to be an unnecessary fan construct in the first place. Matches are something more than the sum of their parts -- crowd reaction can elevate or devalue wrestling, as can historical significance, buildup, match follow-up, later increase or decrease in importance of a move or hold, or an angle or interview that precedes or follows the match.  What we care about most is how successful a wrestling match is in either creating or maximizing its surroundings. Show us a match where fans are cold early on and end up fully engrossed by the end of it and you're likely showing us a match that we'll go to bat for. Show us a match that started with a super hot crowd that stayed that way and we'll give credit where it's due, but we're less likely to be impressed because the specific actions taken in the ring are not what generated that reaction. Show us a match that had a strong storyline with over performers going in and then went on a thrill ride, taking the crowd up and down as they saw fit and getting their desired reaction most of the way, and you're likely showing us an all-time classic. We believe that there is no such thing as a bad crowd, just as we believe that everything is possible -- the five-minute opener at a TV taping that was just decided upon by the bookers that afternoon has every bit the potential to be a 10.0 as the main event of a card at Budokan Hall that has 18 months of build and will be given 30 minutes of ring time. That doesn't mean that the latter isn't more likely to be great than the former, but we have seen wrestlers overcome obstacles to produce something great so many times that we see preemptive dismissal as disrespectful to the pro wrestling craft. That's not to say that matches that have uninterested crowds don't have other merits and can't be great in their own way, but it does make clear that they failed to achieve their most basic goal, and they likely aren't something we'll view at the all-time classic level. Likewise, two wrestlers in a pie-eating contest or game of cards that the fans go crazy for isn't enough to make it great by itself -- the bell-to-bell actions and technique do matter and are significant, but we care more about the dish than the recipe.  We also realize that what a hot crowd is differs according to time and place. It's not about volume or frequency as much as it is about generating a favorable reaction through specific actions in the ring. Crowds in RINGS are a bit more attentive to detail than crowds in 1980s WWF, so they might not make as much noise, but that also doesn't mean that they aren't interested.  We believe that context matters, just as we believe that understanding the norms in a given wrestling company or era is highly important. What we think matters most in pro wrestling
In the end, we see professional wrestling as something where presentation matters as much as or more than content. This means that the whole of a presentation can often render the content of the match less important or even irrelevant. For example, the main event of Bash at the Beach '96 is iconic in that it concluded with a classic angle that jumpstarted an era and cemented WCW as the number-one wrestling company in the United States, at least for a couple of years. From a business perspective, it accomplished everything one could hope for in spades. When watching it decades later in an attempt to discern the match's quality, that alone won't make it a great match, although those positives do work in the match's favor. We believe that current watchability is important, and ultimately, any rating that we provide for a match is our way of saying, "This quantifies just how much we think this match is worth your time."  How we think great output reflects on a wrestler
We all have favorite wrestlers, but we don't put as much stock in quantifying our thoughts on them. The reason is that most wrestling careers have peaks and valleys. 2010's great wrestler can be 2011's disappointment, and forming an overall takeaway from that is something a bit more nuanced than it is something that can be explained in numeric form. While we appreciate projects that rank wrestlers and see immense value in it, it's not our priority because there are too many ups and downs in the average wrestling career to distill it all down to a "bottom line" much of time. And possibly to our detriment at times, PWO loves the bottom line (and not just 'cause Stone Cold said so). We also think we are far less qualified to rank chefs than we are meals. When eating a meal at a nice restaurant, we might not know who developed the recipe, who thought it needed more seasoning and called an audible, or who boiled the potatoes. It's not that we see those issues as unimportant as much as we see them as mostly beyond our knowledge -- we just don't know enough to say. Even when wrestlers are on the record with their account of how a match is put together, wrestling's carny history means that we (lovingly) treat it with skepticism. All we can do as fans is observe patterns over time. We do believe we're fully capable of explaining what worked for us or didn't work for us about a match, and why. We see ourselves as insufficient when we delve into The Politics of Who. Who we think owns it all -- work and perception of work
The wrestlers own their actions in the ring, but we do not believe they have any ownership of the interpretation of their work. The best intentions sometimes result in the best matches, but they sometimes don't. A match is more than a collection of ideas -- it is something executed. If that wasn't true, the staff of Pro Wrestling Only could probably have great matches against each other now, and you aren't likely to see us pop up on any year-end lists. How we view the lifespan of a match rating
There are two leading views on this. One is the strict originalist point of view championed by Dave Meltzer, editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, which is that all that matters is how good a match is in its place and time because it can't be known at the time how well it will hold up, and that wrestlers have no ability of working for a future audience.. While we agree that wrestlers can't see the future, we disagree with the notion that durability is meaningless. We would suggest one reason that we can clearly make that distinction is that we are able to separate the number of high-end matches from the perception of the wrestler. Another is that if we review a match that took place forty years ago, we aren't expecting the wrestlers to perform like today's wrestlers, and we likely have a good understanding of what wrestling was like at the time. To disagree that only the views of the moment matter is not to argue that they don't matter at all.  How a match holds up long term matters to fans who come along in future generations and want to see what all the fuss was about. Sometimes, because norms have shifted, what was a great match in its time (or even five years after its time) is no longer anything special, or vice versa. We see this as a normal and healthy process, just as we believe that new knowledge or attitudes can change past opinions. No opinion on a wrestling match should be seen as permanent. Wrestling fandom is always a work in progress, and when you see a match rating, it just means that's where we were on our journey at the time the match was reviewed. We see this as a great thing because old wrestling can always become new wrestling, whether that's because we're seeing something old for the first time or because we're approaching it from a new point of view. How authoritative we think our opinions are
We don't. Seriously, we don't. We put this out there because our desire is to provide what we see as a great roadmap for the curious pro wrestling fan. In the same way numerous publishers print their own maps (and in the same way that new construction changes old routes, to add to the previous point), others may see it differently. Our goal is not so much that you'll read and agree with everything that we write, although if you do, that's really amazing and we'd love you to let us know so you can be our new sidekick. It's more that you can compare your own thoughts on something you've seen to those that we've put forward and see how much of a gap exists between your take and our take. We think that if you get to a point where you can do this and generally predict how much you'll like or dislike a match, we've provided a valuable service. How we rate current year wrestling compared to classic wrestling
We believe that hindsight provides a much clearer view than real time and typically wait one year to assign a match rating to ensure that we aren't just caught up in the moment. If we do feel that the match warrants a rating, we'll usually just give it a star rating so that our readers have a general idea of where we fell. Some argue that losing that moment goes against the entire purpose of watching wrestling, but we disagree in such a roundabout way that we actually agree and end up back on your side -- one could argue that matches aren't meant to be rated or watched outside of real time at all, which means that we're respecting the intent of the moment by not rating it at that time. If it sounds like we're teenagers trying to twist our way out of trouble with our parents, maybe we are. We'll get back to you on that. In a year, when we give the match a rating. The rating scale we use
As we've mentioned above, we use a 1-10 scale -- or more accurately, a 0-10 scale, to rate matches. A 0.0 would be the worst match and a 10.0 would be the best match. Don't worry about our deep affection for both Dave Meltzer and Spinal Tap affecting the site too much -- if we saw a 10.0 match that we truly believed set a new standard in pro wrestling, it would still top off at 10.0. It might mean that next time we watch some other perfect tens that we see them as something more at the 9.9 level. Again, this is a journey. We'll never make it to the destination. We see that very fact as something worth celebrating. Match currency conversions
9.8 - 10
* * * * * match
This is a match that can be reasonably compared to any match in wrestling history in terms of quality. As good as any match in wrestling history, or at least in that level of discussion. 9.3 - 9.7
* * * * 3/4 match
This isn't something quite as good as the very best matches in history, but it's at a minimum one of the best matches of the decade. Maybe the work itself is every bit as good as in some better matches, but the match doesn't quite have the same universal appeal.  8.8 - 9.2
* * * * 1/2 match
This is one of the best matches of the year or of its era. It's not quite one of the best matches of all time, but it's near the top in its own era. This is the type of match that represents its style, performers, company, or weight class exceptionally well. The best match of its kind, or among the best of its kind, even if it might not click with those who aren't fans of the style. 8.3 - 8.7
* * * * 1/4 match
This is a fantastic match. In some years, it could be a low-end match-of-the-year candidate. This is often a match that has something hold it back like a weak finish, questionable booking, bland atmosphere, or one moment that works against what the match was aiming to achieve otherwise, although that isn't etched in stone. 7.8 - 8.2
* * * * match
This is an excellent match worth seeing. It's not a match-of-the-year candidate, but it's an exceptional match by either global standards or the standards of the company, performers, style, or weight class. This match usually hits every note that that can be reasonably expected.  7.3 - 7.7
* * * 3/4 match
This is a borderline great match that usually isn't quite at that level because of either something like a weak finish or a few off moments that bring the match down. If we'd say "This would be a great match if not for ", this range is about right. 6.8 - 7.2
* * * 1/2 match
This is a very good match well worth seeing. We tend to rate a lot of matches in this range that tug at our heartstrings. What usually keeps them from going higher is that either they weren't given enough time, there were extenuating circumstances beyond their control or that we admired what they were going for so much and they came close to pulling it off, but they didn't quite get there. The prototypical match in this range would be the really hot, well-worked 10-minute TV match that is forgotten about quickly. 6.3 - 6.7
* * * 1/4 match
This is the B-plus player of wrestling matches. A step above the average good match for sure, but only a step above. Maybe a solid match that has an outstanding finish or a really great singular moment in it would qualify. 5.8 - 6.2
* * * match
This is a good, solid match that we're glad we saw. Everything was done very well. Nothing world changing, but so what -- it was good while it lasted. We believe that every  wrestling card should have at least one of these to justify its very existence. If we rate something below 5.8, we are usually saying that the match is not worth your time. In some cases, we still think the match is interesting and worth your time, but more as a snapshot in time of the wrestlers involved, the era, or the company.  That's why we write reviews to go with the ratings.

Charles (Loss)

Charles (Loss)

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