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bradhindsight

The Greatest Wrestler Ever Project: Postscript

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To put it as concisely and as dispassionately as possible: there are some stunning mischaracterizations of what actually went down in the discussions as a part of this process. It's hard to tell how much of this is straw and how much of it is sheer lack of empathy; either way, pretty much everything that I found grating, petty and disappointing about GWE (which has otherwise been very rewarding to me as a fan) is not only present here, but in full plumage. An unflattering victory lap.

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"average man on the street" is a pretty awful standard for plenty of things, and i think something at the level of this project is among those. i can also easily put forth a coherent argument for Giant Gonzalez over Daniel Bryan, if you so desire.

 

people's issue with less mainstream candidates falling was that it seemed to reflect a lack of footage exposure on the part of the silent majority. i think it was overreacting, but i understand the basic sentiment. i am sympathetic to the argument that this came off as patronizing, but that doesn't seem to be the point here.

 

PROTIP: "hipster" isn't a real thing

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I thought this was a terrific read that summarized many points and thoughts along the way throughout the GWE process. Perhaps I'm alone, perhaps many agree, but I found myself nodding in agreement at various points throughout and appreciate the thought and sentiment that went into it.

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Parv, you address the influence of people like Dylan and Matt and others in promoting "niche picks", but do you feel that you were influential in on the other side of the pendulum? For example, you weren't the high vote on Ted. Do you feel as though your defense of your admitted favorites created a bias that was equally present but perhaps less noticeable because the influence was leaning toward workers from a period that the silent majority was already going to represent (although perhaps not as highly in some cases)?

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I'm amused by the fact that a fellow lawyer had so much influence on Parv's thinking about this project simply by articulating a very basic legal concept, which in turn Parv used to formulate his process to rank wrestlers for the GWE project. Because I'm a newcomer to the PWO forum, I have no baggage to carry, but this article brings out many bones of contention between various types of voters. Biases are alleged; the author demonstrates some of his own.

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I liked it for how he tries to bridge the gap between the subjectivity/objectivity debates. To me, the talk of being objective when making value judgements on the quality of someone's sounded ridiculous. The legal analogy made a lot of sense in explaining what someone might mean when talking about "objectivity" in wrestling.

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In my opinion there has to be a challenge to conventional wisdom every step of the way otherwise you end up with discourse that amounts to "man, Ric Flair is awesome, and Terry Funk too." If you look through the list there are numerous workers who've benefited from challenges to conventional wisdom, and a few that have been hurt as well, but the greatest accomplishment of the list was in those victories not Flair holding out against the heathens. Not every challenge against conventional wisdom is something people are going to agree with, but I can't imagine watching a whole bunch of wrestling, particularly from the same wrestler, without thinking about somebody else's take on it or trying to form your own. Which isn't to say I can't enjoy wrestling for enjoyment's sake, I'm specifically referring to these GWE discussions. A lot of newer or younger fans talked about discoveries and journeys but for those of us who've around a while it was more about new takes and revisiting older stuff from a different perspective. It was about how much we've changed in the last 10 years and how that's reflected in our tastes and the stuff we like now vs. the stuff we used to like. People came to this project from different backgrounds and vastly different starting bases.

 

That's what I dislike the term "niche" pick. If you've stopped following the modern product and spent the past 10-15 years watching nothing but older wrestling (with few exceptions), and you have a broad viewing experience, then there are precious little in the way of niche picks in the entire top 500. I could say that modern puro picks are niche picks but it's only because I haven't seen any modern puro. Niche picks are simply undiscovered workers that people haven't gotten to. The idea that Negro Casas is a niche pick (to choose an example) is ridiculous. I don't care how little people think of lucha or how much they prefer mainstream American wrestling or classic Japanese wrestling, Negro Casas is not a niche pick. A guy way on the outside like Pat Roach? Yeah, maybe, but Pat Roach is an oversight not some rare recording or unheard album. Fringe picks exist, but some of the people whom were named niche picks was ridiculous.

 

Another pet peeve was acting like it's okay to challenge conventional wisdom on Ronnie Garvin but sacrilegious to do it to Flair or Jumbo. Everybody should be open to the same criticism.

 

Finally, I think people took the list a bit too seriously. In 2006 people who watched a lot of tapes and people who tried their hand at being match reviewers got together and shot off a list. There were arguments and debates, but I don't think we were trying to create something that would be left behind for future generations to discover. Listmaking was popular at the time. That ended up shifting to viewing projects, which in turn fell by the wayside. Now it's podcasts that are all the rage. I'm not trying to belittle the hours upon hours of effort that went into this list, but the overall tone from the piece of how important it was that Flair finished No.1 is maybe not the victory lap it was referred to but meaningless in the grand scheme of how Flair is viewed now and forever basically.

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Yeah, about those "niche" picks. Takada was arguably the biggest draw in Japan at one point. Zenjo was packing Budokan during it's peak years. "Niche" is a patronizing term.

 

Finally, I think people took the list a bit too seriously. In 2006 people who watched a lot of tapes and people who tried their hand at being match reviewers got together and shot off a list. There were arguments and debates, but I don't think we were trying to create something that would be left behind for future generations to discover. Listmaking was popular at the time. That ended up shifting to viewing projects, which in turn fell by the wayside. Now it's podcasts that are all the rage. I'm not trying to belittle the hours upon hours of effort that went into this list, but the overall tone from the piece of how important it was that Flair finished No.1 is maybe not the victory lap it was referred to but meaningless in the grand scheme of how Flair is viewed now and forever basically.

 

Totally agree.

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Niche was not a patronizing term in this context but a catch-all for styles that were seemingly ignored by large segments of voters. The implication was only that shootstyle, joshi, British stuff, etc. were effectively reduced to niches in this process, not that they're inherently niches.

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PROTIP: "hipster" isn't a real thing

Yeah it is. I've actually known multiple people who actively call themselves that, and are proud of being hipsters.

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Of course not. Parv is an orthodox.

 

BTW, the fact he didn't post his reaction to the GWE result over here is telling that pro-wrestling boards are a thing of the past. We're all relics. Today is all about podcast's and Twitterss and shit.

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What I really wanted to say about "niche picks" is that I don't think there were that many obscure picks up and down the board. I could come up with far more obscure names than were voted for and I'm sure many others could do the same. Even if you look at niche picks as a sub genre that didn't receive much support, it's still what Parv would refer to as the "silent minority" since he's such a huge believer in consensus. I'd love to know what the hipster picks were that made the top 150.

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Of course not. Parv is an orthodox.

 

BTW, the fact he didn't post his reaction to the GWE result over here is telling that pro-wrestling boards are a thing of the past. We're all relics. Today is all about podcast's and Twitterss and shit.

 

Is anyone actually listening to these Podcasts though, or are they just vanity projects for those heavily involved in the project to discuss things among themselves? I can't think of anything worse than listening to three hours of wrestling discussion, especially since if it was written down in text form on a board you could read through it in twenty minutes.

 

The amount of replies to the reveal threads on here shows that the message board isn't a dead format yet. There is something more narcissistic and isolating about posting thoughts on your own blog or radio show or site instead of on the public discussion forum that the project was built on. It can be anti discussion. Depends if you saw the project as an individual, insular journey or just a nice group event really.

 

The Smarkschoice board was gone a few months after the 2006 project, so you could call it either a death knell or a last hurrah of a message board institution. The collapse of the board cannot be entirely blamed on the vacuum of purpose and discussion following the end of such a project, though. The list had actually revitalised that forum, because traffic was down for a while and the people funding the board were losing interest in wrestling and boarding, so the list brought a lot of people back in again to try and rediscover their fandom. It didn't really work, and once the bills stopped being paid it dragged on for a few more months before they cut it off and all was lost.

 

Nobody took the list that seriously, either, as has been mentioned. Every couple of months there was a list on the board about music, film, wrestling or whatever. There wasn't much hand wringing or soul searching about the results.

 

I doubt the completion of this list will spell the end of PWO or wrestling message boards in general. There will always be people willing to discuss and hang out online in this format - it is a nice refuge from the more open ended forms of social media. Niche little corners of the internet should be preserved. They have far more heart and soul than a million Twitter feeds sending out worthless sentences into the ether.

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Is anyone actually listening to these Podcasts though, or are they just vanity projects for those heavily involved in the project to discuss things among themselves? I can't think of anything worse than listening to three hours of wrestling discussion, especially since if it was written down in text form on a board you could read through it in twenty minutes.

 

I never listened to any of these podcasts myself. No interaction or discussion possible. Of I listen to a podcast, I want Cornette, Sullivan or Austin to tell me some actual stories. Plus, the fact you couldn't discuss Flair in the infamous "Podcast Thread" if you had not spent the three hours listening to it, even if you were reacting to some written statements made about Flair was a huge turn off for me.

 

The Smarkschoice board was gone a few months after the 2006 project, so you could call it either a death knell or a last hurrah of a message board institution. The collapse of the board cannot be entirely blamed on the vacuum of purpose and discussion following the end of such a project, though. The list had actually revitalised that forum, because traffic was down for a while and the people funding the board were losing interest in wrestling and boarding, so the list brought a lot of people back in again to try and rediscover their fandom. It didn't really work, and once the bills stopped being paid it dragged on for a few more months before they cut it off and all was lost.

 

 

How long did it take before the board went down. Wasn't some hacking involved too by a loony member, or did I just mix this with something completely different ? Seems so long ago, almost like another life (and really, it was, on more personal levels).

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Niche little corners of the internet should be preserved. They have far more heart and soul than a million Twitter feeds sending out worthless sentences into the ether.

This, I couldn't agree more. I hate the Twitter "culture".

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The Smarkschoice board was gone a few months after the 2006 project, so you could call it either a death knell or a last hurrah of a message board institution. The collapse of the board cannot be entirely blamed on the vacuum of purpose and discussion following the end of such a project, though. The list had actually revitalised that forum, because traffic was down for a while and the people funding the board were losing interest in wrestling and boarding, so the list brought a lot of people back in again to try and rediscover their fandom. It didn't really work, and once the bills stopped being paid it dragged on for a few more months before they cut it off and all was lost.

 

 

How long did it take before the board went down. Wasn't some hacking involved too by a loony member, or did I just mix this with something completely different ? Seems so long ago, almost like another life (and really, it was, on more personal levels).

 

 

The initial board was gone by sometime in early 2007 - all the content was lost, as well as the content from the earlier forum from circa 2000-2003 which had been preserved as a viewable archive. Nobody had been paying the server bills since early 2006 or something, and eventually the host pulled the plug and none of it was retrievable. Unfortunate, as you would have thought there was some way to preserve an archive.

 

The board was restarted as a free forum, Invision or something. It never regained the popularity but had a reasonable amount of traffic. There was a 'Best WWF/E Matches' poll that got some traction. The 'loony member' you refer to is Modest, who as the forum declined in activity gained admin rights - and promptly wiped the whole thing. It was restarted and hacked and wiped another time as well I think.

 

Still exists as a ghost town here http://s7.zetaboards.com/Smarkschoice/index/.

 

Agree it seems like another lifetime. An age when the internet had not been homogenized, when it was less of an extension of real life and more of a lawless little corner where you could indulge fandoms and meet people as a completely separate dimension from what was happening in the real world. I was really young at the time so possibly it is just nostalgia talking. A lot has changed in my life and my psyche since those days, it all seems quite alien to me.

 

Unsure how I even find myself here on wrestling message boards over a decade later - I haven't been properly into wrestling since Smarkschoice shut down. Weirdly the explosion of cheap footage on DVD contributed to this - I ended up having so much wrestling to watch that it became joyless, and it lost the magic of playing a six disc AJPW set at £5 a disc over and over.

 

Force of habit, I suppose, and a compulsion to escape to some hidden room where I can read and discuss pretty meaningless things outside the parameters of real life.

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How do you remember all of this ? :)

 

I think I was still around when the Best of WWF/E matches poll happened. I know I was there during the first restart. I remember a Best WCW match poll in which I don't think I tool part in. I began posting here in 2008 so that timeframe makes sense.

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How do you remember all of this ? :)

 

I think I was still around when the Best of WWF/E matches poll happened. I know I was there during the first restart. I remember a Best WCW match poll in which I don't think I tool part in. I began posting here in 2008 so that timeframe makes sense.

 

I have a good memory for pointless and irrelevant information. Wish I had the same powers of retention for knowledge that is actually useful.

 

Smarkschoice was a really good board - there was an excellent balance between serious wrestling posters, people who just liked to joke around off topic, people chatting about music and film, a good spectrum of personalities. PWO is really good in a different way - probably the most 'academic' wrestling board there has ever been, a true archive of information. Would be terrible is a lot of the content on here was lost.

 

Considering the fairly humble beginnings as New Millenium Blues on as I recall some free Proboards server, this board has flourished to be the best wrestling forum on the internet by an absolute country mile.

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Add me to the list of people who doesn't listen to podcasts and finds it annoying for people to bury their points on 3 hour shows instead of posting them on the board.

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I've enjoyed some of the podcasts on the GWE, but generally as background noise in 20min chunks. If I've got 3 hours free to spend on wrestling, I'd prefer to just watch some wrestling.

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Add me to the list of people who doesn't listen to podcasts and finds it annoying for people to bury their points on 3 hour shows instead of posting them on the board.

I don't think it's either/or for the most part. The majority of those who recorded podcasts also posted extensively in the threads.

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