No 7-star matches from this guy.
I thought I should dive into explaining my star ratings a bit. The motivation for this being that I do so many 1-2 star ratings. Typically I’ll put this alert before the star rating at the end of one of these matches:
Note: Just because I give a match a low rating doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it for what it was nor is it necessarily a commentary on the competitors. Not all matches are meant to be 3-to-5 star matches.
And that kind of sums it up really. Someone like, oh, I don’t know, say, Dave Meltzer wouldn’t even both rating a 1:48 second match on Dark. I do. And I feel like some readers may feel I’m probably pretty charitable in giving them even 1-star whereas others may look at my giving a bunch of matches 1-2 stars and think the quality of wrestling is shit.
I try to ask myself during and after a match:
- Did I feel anything?
- Did it go by faster than it felt?
- Am I seeing the “authors hand” too much during the match?
- Are there exciting developments or prospects that came from this match?
Being that I’ve just gotten started actually attributing star ratings to matches, I feel like there’s a good chance I will go back at some time and make some adjustments. But I think as I go along, I’ll get more consistent.
Recently I’ve been listening to interviews from women indy wrestlers who’ve wrestled on Dark or Elevation and they all talk about getting that call to job on YouTube as a career trajectory altering event. People forget just what a huge platform AEW Dark and AEW Dark Elevation are. So from a match reviewer’s perspective, I’m often looking up women’s experience levels: How many years in the business, how many career matches, how many matches in AEW, etc. I also look at what their background is said to be. These matches, more than often, are meant to be reps. But sometimes two or four women go out there and tell a cogent story in the 2-3 minutes they’re given.
With that, here’s my star ratings system explained:
For something it hit 5-stars, everything has to hit just right. Perfect execution. Great dramatic storytelling. Star quality presentation. Awesome finish. Not too many unnecessary rest holds. Britt Baker vs Thunder Rosa from St. Patrick’s Day Slam 2021 would be a 5-star match (had I been reviewing matches at the time). It also has to have that special ingredient that just transcends pro wrestling. The kind of life-affirming thing that makes you want to watch it again and again and gets you choked up. That can ever paper over a small botch.
The difference between a 4 star match and a 5 star match essentially is that inspired element. The difference between a 4 star match is a 3 star match is that the execution and whole flow of the match may have left me wanting but it did have that inspired element.
I have yet to give a match 4 stars.
Great match or good match with intriguing storytelling.
When I give something 3+ stars, it usually means I was a big fan of the match but it didn’t bring the emotional heft with it. It may have given us some interesting insight on a character or introduced some new element through its storytelling. Or it may have just been a super fun, super exciting adrenaline ride.
Okay to good match or a great squash match.
There are 7-9 minute matches on Dynamite or Rampage that underachieve. There are 2-3 minute squash matches that are just an exciting sprint. 2 stars is usually the range in which they land. Depending on how much I liked spots in the match, it may make it a mid or high 2.5-2.9 range match. But it’s fair to say it wasn’t a “complete” match.
This is where most 2-3 minute Dark/Elevation matches end up. The purpose of those matches aren’t necessarily to be good matches. They’re reps. They’re to try out new moves, gimmicks or angles. So long as it’s a fluid, reasonably paced, safe match I’ll give it a 1. And then for every small thing I liked, I’ll often give another .1 or .2.
Barely a match, actively bad or dangerous
First off, if someone gets squashed in mere seconds, how do I give that even 1 star? Other than that, in the same way I may add .1 or .2 to 1 star matches, if there’s something I really don’t like, I may also detract those and make it a 0.9 or 0.7. To Dark’s credit, for the amount of inexperienced talent they bring in, I think they’re typically really safe. They probably do have flubs or botches that they cut out but for me, I consider the televised product to be the official canon version of something therefore if it’s not televised, it’s not in my review.