Many have attempted to devise alternative rating schemes to the typical Meltzer 5-star system that has been established as the predominant choice of wrestling writers. Most have been unsuccessful due to simply trying to trade one scale for another. My problem with a traditional scale is that wrestling is so subjective and the viewer values so diverse, trying to rate it as one would with music or film–where there are some major assumptions about the audience–is fraught with annoyance and feels too personal to me.
I’m not interested in American wrestling or indie wrestling or lucha libre or joshi, I’m interested in the form as a whole. Maybe if I had a joshi-only blog it would make sense to score matches on a traditional ratings scale, but since I don’t, it only really makes sense to say in context if I think you should watch the match or not.
I rate all matches on recommendation scale of 0-3 such that:
- 0: low-value
- 1: not recommended
- 2: recommended
- 3: essential
There is also another a plus marker (+) sometimes added to these that signifies distinction. Any rating can have a distinction marker, usually good reasons but sometimes for notorious reasons.
In general you’re not going to see me rate zeros and ones that often on an article unless I’m doing the entire card, but I usually do keep the scores. An explanation of the numbers are below.
0: A low-value match is not always bad, it just has limited value as a wrestling match. Sometimes low-value matches are squashes or throwaway comedy pieces and sometimes they are matches that mostly service story and fall short as a standalone piece. A zero plus is generally enjoyable but without significant value.
1: A “not recommended” rating does not mean that I didn’t enjoy the match, but that I don’t recommend you necessarily seek this one out if you aren’t already watching the show. 75% of matches are probably of this rating. A 1+ usually means I found the match high quality yet it still falls short of me having you chase it down.
2: A “recommended” rating means I think you need to watch this match if you’re interested at all in the promotion, show, or performer. A 2+ are generally reserved for sub-classic matches that are still extremely good or noteworthy.
3: An “essential” match is one that you need to go out of your way to see no matter what you think your interest in the promotion, show, or performer is. 3s are reserved for the very finest matches in wrestling. A 3+ signifies that a match is an all-time classic. I generally only hand out about 5-10 of those a year and I watch a significant quantity of wrestling.