I’ve been interested in expanding a project that I started on Isolating the Best Singles Wrestlers using the latest Dave Meltzer’s Star Ratings for WCW PPVs and Clash of the Champions Events.

One reason I think this is important is because just looking at average star ratings per wrestler can be quite deceiving.

Wrestlers with 5+ Singles/Tag Matches 

Your top fifteen WCW Singles wrestlers (based on highest average singles match star ratings) would include: Jushin Thunder Liger, Ultimo Dragon, Ricky Steamboat, Rey Mysterio Jr, Eddie Guerrero, Vader, Chris Benoit, Ric Flair, Too Cold Scorpio, Terry Funk, Juventud Guerrera, Dean Malenko, Syxx, Psychosis and Chris Jericho.  All are fine performers but they each worked with different opponents that each have different strengths and weaknesses. What I’m trying to determine is how these wrestlers impact their opponent; which wrestlers seem to be make singles matches better?

To illustrate the methodology, let’s look at someone with a middle-of-the-pack singles average: Lance Storm.  While his star rating average (1.55) is hardly exceptional, an alternative view will show that his score is largely due to his PPV opponents.

Lance Storm Singles: 1.55 average

  • NEW BLOOD RISING Storm vs. Awesome      DUD
  • FALL BRAWL 2000 Storm vs. Gen Rection    **1/4
  • MAYHEM 2000  Storm vs. Gen Rection          *3/4
  • STARRCADE 2000  Storm vs. Miller                *3/4
  • SUPERBRAWL 2001 Storm vs. Miller              **

So, Lance had one match against Mike Awesome and two each against Hugh “General E. Rection” Morrus and Ernest “the Cat” Miller.  Let’s look at each of those men:

Mike Awesome

Mike Awesome Singles: 1.50 average

  • SPRING STAMPEDE 2000 Awesome vs. Miller               **1/4
  • SPRING STAMPEDE 2000 Scott Steiner vs. Awesome *
  • SLAMBOREE 2000  Awesome vs. Kanyon                           ***1/4
  • GAB 2000                               Awesome vs. DDP                        **1/4
  • BATB 2000                          Scott Steiner vs. Awesome        ***1/4
  • FALL BRAWL 2000  Jarrett vs. Awesome                             ***
  • HH 2000                                 Awesome vs. Vampiro                -**1/2
  • STARRCADE 2000                 Awesome vs. Bigelow              *
  • NEW BLOOD RISING         Storm vs. Awesome                    DUD

Mike Awesome Singles w/o Lance Storm: 1.6875 average

Difference: (0.1875) [ 1 match ]

Hugh Morrus

Hugh Morrus Singles: 1.25 average

  • SOULED OUT 1997 Morrus vs. Big Bubba                    1/2*
  • GAB 1997                 Konnan vs. Morrus                             1/2*
  • SLAMBOREE 2000 Scott Steiner vs. Gen. Rection **1/4
  • FALL BRAWL 2000 Storm vs. Gen Rection                **1/4
  • MAYHEM 2000         Storm vs. Rection                          *3/4
  • STARRCADE 2000         Douglas vs. Rection                  3/4*
  • SIN                                 Gen Rection vs. Douglas                 *1/2
  • SUPERBRAWL 2001     Morrus vs. Wall                           1/2*

Hugh Morrus Singles w/o Lance Storm: +1.00 average

Difference: +0.25 average [2 matches]

Ernest Miller

Ernest Miller Singles: 0.769 average

  • FALL BRAWL 1998 Smiley vs. Miller                   -*
  • STARRCADE 1998         Miller vs. Saturn            DUD
  • GAB 1999                 Miller vs. Horace                       -*
  • BATB 1999                 Miller vs. Disco                       1/2*
  • ROAD WILD 1999         Miller vs. Bagwell               DUD
  • SS 2000                         Awesome vs. Miller               **1/4
  • NEW BLOOD RISING Muta vs. Miller                    *
  • HH 2000                         Sanders vs. Miller             -1/2*
  • MAYHEM 2000         Douglas vs. Miller                 *1/4
  • STARRCADE 2000         Storm vs. Miller            *3/4
  • SIN                                 Miller vs.Sanders                   **
  • SUPERBRAWL 2001      Storm vs. Miller             **
  • GREED                          Kanyon vs. Miller               *3/4

Ernest Miller Singles w/o Lance Storm: +0.568 average

Difference: +0.201 average [2 matches]

Lance Storm Effect:

Mike Awesome (-1.875) x 1 match + Hugh Morrus  (+0.250) x 2 matches + Ernest Miller (+0.201) x 2 matches = +0.1429 average effect on singles matches

We’re comparing how a wrestler does in all of their singles matches besides a specific opponent and comparing to their improvement when they interact with a specific wrestler.

WCW Singles Wrestlers with Largest Improvements (3 or more singles matches)

  1. Reno: +0.71 improvement over 3 matches
  2. Akira Hokuto: +0.49 improvement over 3 matches
  3. Scott Norton: +0.39 improvement over 5 matches
  4. Ricky Morton: +0.38 improvement over 6 matches
  5. Chris Benoit: +0.30 improvement over 30 matches
  6. Shane Helms: +0.30 improvement over 3 matches
  7. Ric Flair: +0.28 improvement over 61 matches
  8. Dustin Rhodes: +0.26 improvement over 17 matches
  9. Vader: +0.25 improvement over 22 matches
  10. Mick Foley: +0.24 improvement over 10 matches
  11. Juventud Guerrera: +0.22 improvement over 10 matches
  12. Terry Funk: +0.22 improvement over 10 matches
  13. Hak: +0.20 improvement over 3 matches
  14. Ricky Steamboat: +0.17 improvement over 16 matches
  15. Billy Kidman: +0.17 improvement over 17 matches
  16. The Great Muta: +0.17 improvement over 12 matches
  17. Brian Pillman: +0.17 improvement over 24 matches
  18. Steve Austin: +0.15 improvement over 16 matches
  19. Lance Storm: +0.14 improvement over 5 matches
  20. Rey Mysterio Jr: +0.14 improvement over 21 matches
  21. Ultimo Dragon: +0.12 improvement over 13 matches
  22. Glacier: +0.12 improvement over 4 matches
  23. Diamond Dallas Page: +0.11 improvement over 44 matches
  24. Barry Windham: +0.11 improvement over 15 matches
  25. Jeff Jarrett: +0.08 improvement over 25 matches
  26. Chris Kanyon: +0.08 improvement over 9 matches
  27. Ice Train: +0.08 improvement over 3 matches
  28. Bam Bam Bigelow: +0.08 improvement over 12 matches
  29. Lex Luger: +0.07 improvement over 52 matches
  30. Ray Traylor: +0.07 improvement over 12 matches

I admit to being surprised by some of these results.  (After all, it isn’t every day where you produce a list touting the greatness of Ice Train, Sandman and Lex Luger as singles wrestlers!)However, you can see how quickly we’re talking about very minor changes (such as adding less than a tenth of a star when the smallest increment is a quarter)

Likewise, we can also look at the singles wrestlers who seemed to consistently make matches worse:

WCW Singles Wrestlers with Largest Impairments (3 or more singles matches)

  1. Butch Reed: -0.52 impairment over 6 matches
  2. Scotty Riggs: -0.44 impairment over 5 matches
  3. Dave Sullivan: -0.37 impairment over 4 matches
  4. The Renegade: -0.35 impairment over 4 matches
  5. Stevie Ray: -0.28 impairment over 6 matches
  6. Dusty Rhodes: -0.28 impairment over 4 matches
  7. Steve McMichael: -0.28 impairment over 9 matches
  8. Big Josh: -0.25 impairment over 3 matches
  9. Jim Duggan: -0.23 impairment over 11 matches
  10. Larry Zbyszko: -0.17 impairment over 5 matches
  11. Vampiro: -0.16 impairment over 13 matches
  12. Ernest Miller: -0.16 impairment over 12 matches
  13. Van Hammer: -0.16 impairment over 7 matches
  14. The Demon: -0.14 impairment over 3 matches
  15. Ranger Ross: -0.14 impairment over 5 matches
  16. Maxx Payne: -0.14 impairment over 4 matches
  17. Bryan Clarke: -0.12 impairment over 5 matches
  18. Masahiro Chono: -0.12 impairment over 5 matches
  19. Road Warrior Hawk: -0.11 impairment over 3 matches
  20. The Wall: -0.11 impairment over 8 matches
  21. Konnan: -0.11 impairment over 18 matches
  22. Disco Inferno: -0.11 impairment over 13 matches
  23. Sid Vicious: -0.10 impairment over 18 matches
  24. Mike Sanders: -0.10 impairment over 3 matches
  25. Crowbar: -0.10 impairment over 4 matches
  26. Rick Rude: -0.10 impairment over 13 matches
  27. Prince Iaukea: -0.09 impairment over 8 matches
  28. Paul Orndorff: -0.09 impairment over 9 matches
  29. John Tenta: -0.09 impairment over 5 matches
  30. The Iron Sheik: -0.09 impairment over 3 matches
  31. Hulk Hogan: -0.09 impairment over 30 matches

With these numbers, you can almost calculate a “difficulty of schedule” metric for wrestlers – who had the most lummoxes they had to carry?

You can also tell that there is some bias towards wrestlers that only have a few appearances on the list versus those that wrestled many, many, many different people.  The most improvement people would probably be Benoit, Flair, Vader and Rey who proved they could assist a lot of different people.  If I was only taking the top ten improvements for these wrestlers, their average effect would be higher.

Singles Match Improvement Scores (minimum 5 matches; use the top ten results)

  1. Chris Benoit: +0.70 improvement in 10 matches
  2. Ric Flair: +0.67 improvement in 10 matches
  3. Lex Luger: +0.52 improvement in 10 matches
  4. Dustin Rhodes: +0.48 improvement in 10 matches
  5. Vader: +0.44 improvement in 10 matches
  6. Scott Norton: +0.39 improvement in 5 matches
  7. Brian Pillman: +0.39 improvement in 10 matches
  8. Ricky Morton: +0.38 improvement in 6 matches
  9. Billy Kidman: +0.31 improvement in 10 matches
  10. Diamond Dallas Page: +0.30 improvement in 10 matches
  11. Sting: +0.28 improvement in 10 matches
  12. Johnny B Badd: +0.26 improvement in 10 matches
  13. Ricky Steamboat: +0.26 improvement in 10 matches
  14. Mick Foley: +0.24 improvement in 10 matches
  15. The Great Muta: +0.23 improvement in 10 matches
  16. Steve Austin: +0.23 improvement in 10 matches
  17. Rey Mysterio Jr: +0.23 improvement in 10 matches
  18. Juventud Guerrera: +0.22 improvement in 10 matches
  19. Terry Funk: +0.22 improvement in 10 matches
  20. Jeff Jarrett: +0.21 improvement in 10 matches
  21. Barry Windham: +0.19 improvement in 10 matches
  22. Ultimo Dragon: +0.15 improvement in 10 matches
  23. Booker T: +0.15 improvement in 10 matches
  24. Lance Storm: +0.14 improvement in 5 matches
  25. Bam Bam Bigelow: +0.14 improvement in 10 matches
  26. Eddie Guerrero: +0.13 improvement in 10 matches
  27. Mike Rotunda: +0.12 improvement in 10 matches
  28. Chris Jericho: +0.12 improvement in 10 matches
  29. Dean Malenko: +0.10 improvement in 10 matches
  30. Ray Traylor: +0.10 improvement in 10 matches

This is generally a list of highly regarded wrestlers with several hall of famer workers (Benoit, Flair, Vader, Steamboat, Foley, Muta, Austin, Rey, Funk, Ultimo, Guerrero, Jericho).  Certainly, I am surprised to see Luger, Norton, Mero (Badd) fare so well while on the other hand no one should be surprised to Benoit, Flair, Vader and Pillman. Keep in mind that when you’re only cherry-picking the top scores, you’re going to portray a rosier-than-reality picture.  With Dustin Rhodes recent career renaissance in the Rhodes Scholars tag team in WWE, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that his WCW work appeared to have the quality where his presence in a match made everything better! Still, I would refer people to the final table in this article and look at both a wrestler’s average and median scores.  Some people, such as Butch Reed, have abysmal average singles match impact scores (-0.52) while their median singles match impact score (-0.01) is perfectly normal.

Lastly, age obviously is going to play a role in this.  Some wrestlers came to WCW in the twilight of their career.  Others were young & budding talent.  Some have matches in this dataset spanning more than a decade (Terry Funk, Ric Flair) and that will heavily impact results as well.  This analysis is pretending that each wrestler had the same potential regardless of their age or gimmick or title position they were in at that time.

I am working on my first book, #Wrestlenomics—a collection of pro-wrestling analytics and statistics. If you’re interested in purchasing a pre-order copy reach me at [email protected]

Also, check out more of my work at indeedwrestling.com and indeedwrestling.blogspot.com