Editorials

Stuck Between an Asterisk and a Hard Place

A purposely bad parody

“It is called an asterisk because it resembles a conventional image of a star.”

I have no problem scoping out a wrestling show and naming out the stars I see on a show. When it comes time to critique matches, aka popularly pressing shift + the symbol above the 8 on the keyboard, otherwise known as a star or asterisk, this is where all my problems stem from. I’ve been creating content in relation to professional wrestling for two years now. I’ve never been able to hold a “formula” to review matches. I’ve walked in every type of review shoe, gaining tons of mileage on the way. I’ve tried stars like the norm. I’ve tried to recommend matches from a show. I’ve tried to make “word grades” rather than star ratings. I’ve written reviews of matches without anything else accompanying it. I’ve never felt at home doing my reviews for more than a month or two at a time.

This is why I constantly ask myself: “Why can’t I just use that mainstream system that seems to go well for everyone else that does it?” 

Never have I felt more comfortable with my way of doing things, when I stumbled across the 1053 Ridge piece on why star ratings aren’t effective.

“(J.I.P. in article) But also, there’s the idea that sometimes a match isn’t meant to be GREAT. The purpose of every wrestling match is not to have some epic perfect match. TV matches can differ from PPV matches – TV matches are usually about some kind of angle and shorter due to time/commercials, while PPV matches go long and are given more opportunity to hit second gear.” (HIGHLY recommend you read the rest of this as a companion piece to this article.) 

This is where it hit me. This exact paragraph. Why have I been so fixated on grading matches on the scale of worst of the worst – perfect? The goal of matches is never going to be the same. What about comedy wrestling being unfairly graded? What about a house show match I review where Dean Ambrose has to hit his lazy tope suicida for the fourth time that week? What about a short match hindered by what I think is an excellent disqualification, though it made the match 4 minutes in length? The laundry list continues. I feel guilty for having been on some type of chase for an epic wrestling match on every show I watch.

Sometimes shows like NJPW Lion’s Gate with 10-12 minute matches evokes more excitement/positive critique than a huge show with many popular highly rated matches. That most definitely doesn’t equal higher star ratings if I were to review the show. The evidence is on the site still. That’s when I feel like I’m going crazy. It’s a mental struggle to even place a grade on something you know you still love more than ***1/2. There were so many things to unwind about. How has this all come to be, and is there a chance I can come up with something to counter the star rating system?

Over the last few months, I haven’t. I got to the point where I had a legitimate breakdown over how I’ve been doing my job on WWW. I wanted to revert back to that dumb star rating system that provides success. Ironically enough, I buckled down and tried for a few shows again – aka my recent reviews. After a few days, I had to quit again. I felt the need to write this ASAP. Now I’m not looking back on what could be, trying to force my review hand, because I know it isn’t the way I can critique wrestling. I think of all those circumstances in which matches are being subtracted stars from. I don’t want to punish a match I really like with a ***1/4 rating because that’s the “systematic level” it’s at. I can write/blemish/talk about it without the rating, more accurately describing why I enjoyed it, and how it was great. ***1/4 ain’t going to make nobody watch the match. My voice without that will more than likely make people watch it. That is if people are going to read the reviews in the first place without seeing any type of rating system, which haunts me still. Another thing I have to battle with.

In closing, I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the fact that I’m the odd man out when it comes to star rating matches. I can never bring myself to understand how this way of reviewing my favorite art-form came to be the standard. I frustratingly have spent 2 years trying to come up with a system to talk about it. Now that I’ve had this experience and understanding under my belt, I have only realized that I’ll continue to be the odd one out. I just want to write about wrestling more positively. I want to talk about wrestling more positively. It’s not as easy as dropping starz and getting to my points. But I do know now that I don’t want to throw **1/2 at an opener because that’s the level it’s at. I want to explain further than a locked-in grade that’s known to be on a tier of “skippable, oh, was a typical opener I guess”. I don’t want wrestling to be forced into these statistical hazards of bad, or statistical recommendations of awesomeness. I’d rather explain why it’s bad, or explain why something rules. I don’t want any grade to speak for me.

I feel guilty when I think of that fourth tope suicida. I’ll use more words; no asterisks.

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