In 2022, I decided to do something I’d never done before: Track every wrestling match I watched on an Excel spreadsheet.

I’m hardly the first to use the Microsoft Office suite to track wrestling statistics nor to keep a personal checklist of matches I’ve seen, but I wanted to give it a try on my own for several reasons. First, to give myself a leg up in determining the best matches that I saw that year, always a challenge for someone as forgetful as I am. I also hoped that this would help make me a more attentive viewer of wrestling as, for this spreadsheet, I would have to commit a star rating for every match I watched to virtual paper. Finally, I currently have a job that allows me a lot of time to watch wrestling (usually on mute) while getting my work done, so it was a boon to have a cache of matches to watch, organized and ready to go.

By year’s end, I had watched 2,110 matches over the course of 12 months. It was a labor of love, and one that gave me a few takeaways that I’m still chewing on today. Let me take you through them.

Good Wrestling Is Everywhere

This is the most obvious point of the three, especially if you’re at all attuned to the current professional wrestling landscape, but it becomes especially apparent when you’re actively looking for new stuff to check out. The goal of this exercise wasn’t necessarily to watch as many matches as possible, but I did gain a silly feeling of pride in watching the numbers of matches go up month-by-month. So, I sought out matches airing in 2022 in places I normally wouldn’t: I got a free trial to Wrestle Universe; I earmarked YouTube channels of independent and overseas promotions that would put up matches for free; and, I began paying closer attention to television reports, scouring sites for the worthwhile matches from shows like NXT, Impact, MLW Fusion, and others outside my normal scope.

I was pleased to find that, if I took the time to invest in a match or an episode of TV, I was usually rewarded at least moderately, if not exponentially well, in the quality I received. Even if a match wasn’t so great, it felt worth it to keep my ear to the ground and investigate the new under-the-radar stars of the indie scene, or finally check out promotions like GLEAT that I’d only do heard about and had yet to make time for. The exercise made the wrestling world feel much bigger and deeper than before, and it helped me to realize that the scene doesn’t begin and end with what’s on North American television.

Star Ratings Don’t Make The Match

Of course, I recorded my star rating next to each match I watched. This practice was invaluable toward populating a year-end list, and to separating the truly great matches from the pack. However, one thing I didn’t foresee in focusing on the numerical rating of a match is that, often, truly remarkable matches would sometimes be missed or overlooked because, in my opinion, their value was not illustrated in just tally marks.

Sure, Hangman Page vs Bryan Danielson had the stars behind it. Still, other matches by both men that I really liked (ie. Page vs. Lance Archer, Danielson vs. Lee Moriarty) had charms that went beyond the more clinical rating below the 4-star threshold. I’m always on the lookout for great matches, but this helped remind me that a match’s perceived greatness goes beyond the data. You can’t put a number on the intangible ways a wrestler can get under your skin, charm you, or even bore you to tears. The numbers don’t lie, but they do omit.

It Can’t All Be Wrestling

Admittedly, when filling out yet another week of announced match cards and adding up the number of matches to a show, my #1 hobby could start to feel like work. Sometimes I didn’t feel like watching an uninspiring episode of AEW Rampage or a lackluster NJPW card, but I would force myself to at least check out the marquee matches, just so I could make sure I wasn’t missing out. This analytical approach eventually became a source of stress in my life; a small one and one that I was gladly undertaking, but stressful in its own little way and another log on the fire, so to speak. Eventually, the question reared its head: “Do I want to do this for 2023?” After much thought, I had to say no.

As helpful and enjoyable as the whole experience was, it was also very demanding of my time and my headspace. I would look at other writers and fans I followed on Twitter, and I felt almost out of breath at the sheer number of matches and shows they could cram into their days and weeks (not even counting all the times they’d watch old wrestling!). I felt a pressure within myself to keep up with strangers I’d never met so that I could be the most informed, the most knowledgeable, and maybe even the most correct.

Thankfully, I caught onto those stray thoughts, and they all built a compelling case for year’s end that this experiment should be a one-time-only affair. In focusing on wrestling, I neglected other interests I had not kept up with. I was treating my favorite pastime as something to be accomplished or completed, rather than something I enjoy. After a year of unpaid volunteer work, it was time to get back to having fun. Wrestling is my favorite thing, but it can’t be the only thing.

I don’t mean to make this sound like it was some kind of chore or negatively affected the way I watch wrestling. It wasn’t, and it didn’t! In fact, I would encourage you to think about doing your own version of this and include whatever little modifications you want in your own version of this undertaking. I would further recommend that you find a way to make the process exciting. I would get a surge of glee whenever I got to copy out the match cards of a week ahead, so I could get properly excited (or at least interested) for what the week had to store. I also used the end of months to make “[X] of the Month” distinctions, usually for wrestlers, shows, and matches. It was neat to look back on those at the end of the year and see if any of my picks were true or way off.

What worked best about this practice was that it helped me to further become a more discerning and attentive wrestling viewer. It’s very easy to throw on wrestling and pay half attention to it; hell, sometimes it practically begs you to turn away, but I rarely felt that giving something my full attention didn’t pay off in some way.

2,110 matches in one year will be another silly point of pride for me in my wrestling fandom. Maybe you’ve beaten that number without even trying, or maybe you can’t imagine devoting that much time to this pastime. I guess it just feels good to know that, as I celebrate my 20th year of being a wrestling fan this June, this obsession still has things to teach me both about itself and about me, if I care to listen.

Powered by RedCircle