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Dr. Darin Davis

Minnesota independent pro wrestler discusses past experiences and the current state of pro wrestling

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Tag: WWE

Back in the beginning of August, I posted rankings of the top 15 wrestlers in the WWE and in TNA based on my own data on the quality of the matches over a one year period (Final Wrestler Stats)

Around the same time, Pro Wrestling Illustrated released their yearly PWI Top 500 wrestlers list. Regardless of what you think of their ranking system (I don’t remember how much effect reader ballots have on the rankings vs. PWI staff voting), I thought it would be interesting to match up my list with theirs to see how they compared.

Below are the same rankings I originally published, with the addition of the PWI top 500 ranking. Coincidently, the PWI rankings span the same months as my data collection (July through June).

WWE Top 15

Here are the Top 15 wrestlers under the WWE brands and their PWI 500 rankings for July 2009 through June 2010:

Name PWI 500 Ranking
1. John Morrison 27
2. Evan Bourne 63
2. Chris Jericho 21
2. Jack Swagger 5
5. Rey Mysterio 13
5. Christian 22
7. Dolph Ziggler 50
8. Kofi Kingston 26
8. Zack Ryder 117
10. CM Punk 3
11. Miz 12
12. Shelton Benjamin 76
12. John Cena 2
12. Jeff Hardy 20
12. Yoshi Tatsu 78

TNA Top 15

For TNA, there is only one program available that I was tracking (TNA Impact).

Here are the Top 15 wrestlers under the TNA brand and their PWI 500 rankings for July 2009 through June 2010:

Name PWI 500 Ranking
1. AJ Styles 1
2. Samoa Joe 31
3. Kurt Angle 9
4. Christopher Daniels 47
5. Chris Sabin 95
6. D’Angelo Dinero 87
6. Amazing Red 36
6. Doug Williams 45
6. Desmond Wolfe 28
10. Suicide/Kaz 92
10. Alex Shelley 88
10. Hamada not ranked
13. Matt Morgan 38
13. Hernandez 71
15. Sarita not ranked

Conclusion

Just what I expected… absolutely no correlation between my rankings and the PWI 500 (except for A.J. Styles in TNA).

You can see all the details about the rankings on the Wrestler Match Ratings page.

You can also look at the spreadsheet here– Google Docs: Wrestler Match Ratings Spreadsheet

From July 2009 through June of 2010, I collected some stats on the WWE Monday Night Raw, WWE Smackdown, and TNA wrestling products (and ECW until their shutdown on 2/19/2010). I was measuring the quality of the matches on each program by giving each one a “Thumb” rating. A great match gets one Thumb Up, an outstanding “match-of-the-year” candidate gets two Thumbs Up, and everything else gets zero (I was also giving Thumbs Down– more on that later).

When I recorded the Thumb Rating, I also happened to write down the names of the wrestlers that were involved in the matches. Since I had the data, I decided to total these up for each wrestler involved. All participants in the match got the same number of points.

You can read all the details and a bit of analysis on the Wrestler Match Ratings page, including a link to the spreadsheet so you can see the numbers for yourself.

I’m providing a quick summary below.

Top 15 in WWE and TNA

For the WWE, I used the combined data from the Raw, Smackdown, and ECW programming to calculate the rankings. I assigned one point per Thumb, so the scoring should be obvious.

WWE Top 15

Here are the Top 15 wrestlers under the WWE brands:

Name Total 1 Thumb Up 2 Thumbs Up
1. John Morrison 24 20 2
2. Evan Bourne 18 18 0
2. Chris Jericho 18 16 1
2. Jack Swagger 18 18 0
5. Rey Mysterio 17 13 2
5. Christian 17 15 1
7. Dolph Ziggler 15 15 0
8. Kofi Kingston 14 12 1
8. Zack Ryder 14 14 0
10. CM Punk 13 11 1
11. Miz 8 8 0
12. Shelton Benjamin 7 7 0
12. John Cena 7 7 0
12. Jeff Hardy 7 3 2
12. Yoshi Tatsu 7 7 0

TNA Top 15

For TNA, there is only one program available that I was tracking (TNA Impact).

Here are the Top 15 wrestlers under the TNA brand:

Name Total 1 Thumb Up 2 Thumbs Up
1. AJ Styles 22 12 5
2. Samoa Joe 13 11 1
3. Kurt Angle 12 6 3
4. Christopher Daniels 11 7 2
5. Chris Sabin 10 8 1
6. D’Angelo Dinero 9 9
6. Amazing Red 9 9
6. Doug Williams 9 9
6. Desmond Wolfe 9 5 2
10. Suicide/Kaz 8 8
10. Alex Shelley 8 8
10. Hamada 8 8
13. Matt Morgan 7 7
13. Hernandez 7 7
15. Sarita 6 6

Take a look at all the details on the Wrestler Match Ratings page.

You can also look at the spreadsheet here: Google Docs: Wrestler Match Ratings Spreadsheet

Back in July of 2008, I decided to keep track of my viewing time of WWE Monday Night Raw, ECW, TNA, and WWE Smackdown to see if I would be able to tell anything about the direction of the quality of the programming. This is assuming that if the quality (in my opinion) is better, I will watch more, and if the quality drops (again based on my tastes), I will watch less.

I tracked all four shows for a year before deciding to change things up and measure them differently (you can find the results of the that year-long experiment, including the charts and data, on the TV Viewership Stats page).

In July of 2009, I started collecting some different data about the same wrestling programming. What I was measuring this time was the number of matches per hour, and the quality of those matches as judged by a simple rating system.

The rating system I used was not one to five stars. It was closer to how I rate programming using my TiVo (Thumbs Up/2 Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down).

Since the WWE decided to shut down the ECW promotion, I stopped reporting on ECW and just did the other three.

The Final Results

After 52 weeks of collecting data from July 7th 2009 to July 9th 2010, here is a summary of the rating results. If you want to see more details, take a look at the TV Match Ratings page.

Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down Rating Totals

For each of the three brands, the thumb ratings have been totaled since I started collecting data the week of July 7th, 2009. Just to be clear, each “One Thumb Up” rating counts as one point, each “Two Thumbs Up” rating counts as two, and each “Thumb Down” rating counts as negative one (which subtracts from the total).

Here are the Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down ratings for the three programs:

Total Thumbs Up Ratings

Despite all of the negative press it gets, TNA pulled out ahead of Smackdown and way ahead of Raw in the quality of the matches (in my opinion). TNA would have been even farther ahead on positive ratings, except that they have had so many bad matches since Hogan and company showed up that it pulled their total down (remember a really bad match gets a Thumbs Down which reduces the total by one).

Avg Ratings Over Time

One other thing of note was the average ratings per match over time for each brand.

Avg Thumb Rating Per Match

The Raw guest host format has certainly affected the WWE programming. They are consistently at the bottom, even though it is supposedly the WWE’s “flagship” program. About 1 in 20 Raw matches is considered great.

If you take a look at the trend of TNA, you can see the damage Hulk Hogan and his cronies inflicted after the first of the year (about the midpoint of the charts). The average rating of each TNA match was climbing until Hogan took over. At its peak about 1 in 3 matches was great. It has been steadily falling since then, up until the last few weeks where it leveled out.

Smackdown has been fairly consistent over time, equaling TNA in the last couple of months. About 1 in 5 matches are considered great.

Take a look at all the stats and my “brilliant” conclusions over on the TV Match Ratings Page

Has TNA started their own “Attitude” era? Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a few changes to the programming that by themselves seem pretty insignificant, but combined seem to indicate an actual company direction. I know, I’m making the assumption that TNA Management actually has a plan. Or even that they have the idea that they need a plan.

With the turn of Abyss and a more serious Jay Lethal, there aren’t any “cartoonish” characters left. On top of that, they’ve gone from bleeping the word “ass” on the broadcast, to allowing the word a**hole to be said multiple times per episode. It’s even part of Mr. Anderson‘s gimmick. Add the bit with Angelina Love‘s backstage camera shot and you’ve got the start of a more “adult” TNA.

Back in 1998, the WWE started running more edgy angles, violence, and swearing to compete with WCW. TNA has dipped their toes in the deep end a little bit with some hardcore thumbtack matches and flaming tables (I’m not going to comment on the “glass” this time). Now it looks like they’ve got their whole foot in.

Will it be the start of something good, or just another attempt of TNA copying what was successful in the past and keeping their fingers crossed?

Interesting ending to the 3-hour June 7th Monday Night Raw episode. The NXT rookies wreaked havoc on John Cena, the commentary crew, the announce table (including the announcer), and the ring itself. Not sure where they’re going with this,other than an nWo angle. Probably the best and most unexpected thing I’ve seen happen in the last couple of years. At least as far as storylines go, which I don’t care too much for to begin with.

Also interesting to see that the WWE ring is built the same way most of the wrestling rings are on the independents. Sheets of foam board insulation with their edges duct taped together, on top of 2″ x 12″ planks, on top of a steel frame (one of our earlier rings used 4 x 8 foot sheets of plywood instead of the planks).

On the same program, however, was one of the most embarrassingly awful series of skits the WWE has put on with the actors from the new A-Team movie. For all the flack TNA gets, they haven’t put on anything rivaling the WCW appearance of RoboCop.

Okay, I’ll admit I watched the A-Team as a kid. But if I saw Mr. T break out of handcuffs on the Tonight Show, I’d call B.S. (not B.A.)

If the A-Team movie is really “the biggest blockbuster of the summer” as they kept boasting, Hollywood has a lot worse problems than piracy. In fact, they may have just created the perfect pirate-proof product. Actually, most pirates just download stuff because they can, not because they actually intend to watch it, so I take that back.

Please, please WWE, get rid of the Raw guest host crap. You’ve got a general manager now. You don’t need to turn every show into a two hour product placement.

I pity the fool that keeps milking the guest host gimmick.

I surrender!

TNA IMPACT! is moving back to their previous Thursday night time slot after trying to directly compete with the WWE on Monday nights for the past two months.

I haven’t followed the whole ratings game for quite awhile, but I’m assuming this means that the ratings dropped. If the ratings didn’t increase at all, or didn’t increase as much as they had hoped, it doesn’t seem like reason alone to move. I don’t think there is added cost for airing a taped show on Mondays instead of Thursdays (I think they would normally tape on Mondays anyway). When they were live it was probably a bigger deal. Probably more of an issue for SpikeTV, since they’re the ones that had to shuffle the rest of their schedule around.

Some would say that TNA is “waving the white flag” and surrendering. Others would say… okay, everyone is saying that. Including me.

I didn’t think it was a good idea to begin with, so it’s pretty easy for me to say, “Told ya so“. But to be honest, I didn’t really know that it wouldn’t increase ratings. I was probably not on board when Bischoff decided to go head-to-head against the WWE on Monday back in the mid ’90s (although I was at the first WCW Monday Nitro at the Mall of America). That turned out to be a huge success, with WCW beating the WWE in the ratings for 84 consecutive weeks.

But that was a different time, and a different set of rules. WCW was able to beat WWE by taking away part of their viewership. People had to choose between one program or another. There weren’t many options to watch both, except for putting a tape in your VCR or flipping between channels.

Fast forward to today, where we can watch TNA at any time of day (delayed by a week) using Hulu or TNA’s own web site. Or using their DVR (TiVo, DirectTV, etc.). People no longer have to choose between watching one over the other. They don’t have to worry about missing something, because they can always watch it later. There is no scarcity here (manufactured or otherwise).

Hopefully for TNA, they won’t lose more viewership due to people not knowing when the hell they’re on.

Below are links to some wrestling-related blog entries & articles that I found interesting during the month of February 2010.

  • StuntGrannie: WWE Kills Survivor SeriesVince McMahon announced during the stockholders’ conference call today that WWE would no longer use the Survivor Series PPV name, stating it has “outlasted its usage” and is “obsolete.”
  • The Geek Revolution: Farewell, ECWThe last episode (ever) of ECW aired on Feb 16th. The promotion has been ECW in name only, but they still could have done a better job with the last episode.
  • Joe Montana’s Right Arm: The Many Faces of FlairWith the passing of his 61st birthday, take a look at the many faces of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
As I run across things, I’m also going to be adding them to my Delicious bookmarks page (http://delicious.com/drdarindavis). You can also find the last 10 of them on the right side of the page towards the bottom.

Below are links to some wrestling-related blog entries & articles that I found interesting during the month of January 2010.

As I run across things, I’m also going to be adding them to my Delicious bookmarks page (http://delicious.com/drdarindavis). You can also find the last 10 of them on the right side of the page towards the bottom.

In addition to covering the “salted nut of the day” and their web exclusive section of “What’s Up in the Hubs“, Continental Airlines Magazine has an article about the female executives at World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) in their January 2010 issue. How I even came across this, I’m not sure.

One of the biggest problems with the wrestling in the WWE can be summed up with one quote (the emphasis is mine):

There are two things WWE wants you to know. First, the operative word is “entertainment,” not “wrestling.” Second, watch how you refer to the talent. They’re not wrestlers; the men are “superstars” and the women “divas.”

The WWE has spent at least the last several years, maybe the last decade, telling anyone who would listen that they are an entertainment company and not a wrasslin‘ company. Wrestling is apparently a dirty word.

Here are a couple more choice quotes from the same article:

As Wilson points out, there’s a certain logic inherent in having women at the top of WWE. “We’re an entertainment company,” she notes.

and this

Goldsmith, who moonlights as an extra in TV soap operas, says her biggest challenge is dispelling misconceptions about WWE. “One of those,” she states, “is us constantly being called professional wrestling. That term just doesn’t give us the credibility we deserve.”

Nice. What is that supposed to mean? You have wrestling in the name of your company! Other than putting out some crappy movies using their WWE roster as “talent” (See No Evil, The Marine, 12 Rounds, The Condemned), what do they do besides wrestling? The article talks about TV, Pay-Per-View, and merchandise, but it’s all wrestling related.

I’m not sure when all this distancing started, but it may have been around the time they went public with some of their stock. Or when they started putting out crappy movies (although No Holds Barred came out way back in 1989). There was definitely a shift when they decided to enter the talk show circuit and go with the weekly guest hosts on WWE Monday Night Raw.

I doubt they would ever drop the second ‘W’ from their name (so as not to be confused with that women’s channel on cable), but how long before they change what the acronym stands for?

Remember The Nashville Network (TNN)? When they started to change their format from redneck to a “the first network for men” (which is what I thought ESPN was), they kept the logo and abbreviation but put out a press release that they now wanted to be called “The National Network“. Prince and P-Diddy would be proud. Eventually they would change to “SpikeTV” and get sued by Spike Lee, but that’s a whole other story. Now I guess they’re just called “Spike

How about World Wide Entertainment? After all it used to be the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) until they dropped the ‘W’ in 1979.

My advice for the WWE– don’t forget what brung ya to the dance. The more you distance yourself from the wrestling, the more you will distance your fans.

I’ve already gone on about how some of us “want our wrestling back“, so I won’t go into detail again. If they think they can generate their $530 million in annual revenue off of producing direct-to-DVD action movies (The Marine 2), they haven’t looked at DVD sales charts lately.

Say what you want about TNA (and most people do), they go out of their way to proudly state they are a wrestling company.

Unfortunately, it’s right before they bring out Lacey Von Eric, the worst third generation wrestler of all time.

Thumbs Up/DownBack in July of 2008, I decided to keep track of my viewing time of WWE Monday Night Raw, ECW, TNA, and WWE Smackdown to see if I would be able to tell anything about the direction of the quality of the programming. This was assuming that if the quality (in my opinion) was better, I would watch more, and if the quality dropped (again based on my tastes), I would watch less.

I ended that tracking last summer. You can find the results of the that year-long experiment, including the charts, data, and a summary on the TV Viewership Stats page.

The New Method

In July of 2009, I started collecting some different data about the same wrestling programming. After a few months of dragging my feet I finally decided on how I want to show the data, so I’ve added the information to the website.

What I am measuring this time is the number of matches per hour, and the quality of those matches as judged by a simple rating system (1 Thumb Up, 2 Thumbs Up, 1 Thumb Down).

You can find out all the details on the new TV Match Ratings page. There is a new tab at the top of the main page for this.

I won’t be posting too much about it on the main page, other than the occasional reminder that it is happening, and maybe a summary every few months. Those that are interested can check out the details on the ratings page, and those that aren’t don’t have to look at it at all.

To finish out this announcement, I’m including one of the charts from that page that shows the total “Thumb” ratings for each of the four brands from 7/7/09 through 11/20/09. The idea is that the higher the number, the better the overall quality of the wrestling matches of that brand (click on the image for a larger view).

Total Thumbs Up Ratings Thru 11/20/09

Total Thumbs Up Ratings Thru 11/20/09

As of this writing, TNA is ahead, followed by Smackdown and ECW, with Monday Night Raw trailing pretty far behind. If I remember right, the change in format where Raw has a guest host every week started sometime in July. Coincidence? I don’t think so.