(Note: I made a Sporcle quiz off of this data if you want to try to guess who the top 50 wrestlers are. You can find it at https://www.sporcle.com/games/hurfdurf/top-50-in-ring-wrestlers-per-cagematchs-match-ratings)

Last year, I attempted to find who had the best in-ring year (the criteria of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s Most Outstanding Award) according to the match ratings from Cagematch.net’s database. Surprisingly, Mike Bailey finished on top of the heap, besting Will Ospreay by a slight margin. Early in July, I pulled Cagematch’s data from the first six months of the year to examine the standings through the first half of 2023.

I assigned point values to ranges of match ratings in an attempt to reward top-level matches. In my experience, a weighted average of 9.25+ is approximately in the range of a Dave Meltzer rating over five stars. 8.75 to 9.24 is roughly equivalent to 4 3/4 or 5 stars, and so forth to the range of 6.75-7.24, roughly three and a half stars. I tried to space out the points assigned to rating ranges to best reward the higher-rated matches while still providing recognition for matches on the lower end of ratings. Matches rated under 6.75 are not considered.

Matches involving more than three people on a team, matches with more than four sides competing, and battle royal-type matches are not included in these ratings. Matches must have at least ten distinct ratings; this is to prevent people who vote every match from a promotion a 10 from having an outsized impact.

Cagematch (or CM) is a little better this year compared with last when it comes to acknowledging lucha libre and Dragongate, but neither CMLL or DG are getting as many votes as they would in an arbitrarily defined “just” world. Speaking of arbitrary: I do not enjoy WWE as much as some people, which defines my perception of the data setting up the following statement. It seems to me that voters who enjoy WWE vote their matches very high on Cagematch. I have not got around to watching anything from The Great American Bash yet, but I am dubious that Carmelo Hayes and Ilja Dragunov just had the 57th greatest match of the 2020s. Our own Suit Williams gave the match 3 1/2 stars, far from the 9.19 it currently has on CM. That puts it above last year’s Gunther vs. Sheamus match, amongst others.

After six months, we have 681 different wrestlers who recorded at least one point in 932 matches, covering everyone from 1 Called Manders to Zoey Stark, Big Bill and Big BOSS Shimizu, AKARI and AKIRA, Asuka and ASUKA, Yoshihiko and Andreza Giant Panda, and everyone in between.

The number of matches by tier is roughly equivalent to the same at this point last year. I don’t think much can be drawn from this information.

The rest of the data is viewable here.

The most represented companies aren’t surprises.

New Japan is on top of the field with 134 qualified matches, followed by WWE (122) and AEW (102). Stardom, Tokyo Joshi Pro, Impact, GCW, Ring of Honor, NOAH, and All Japan round out the top ten. If you add AEW and ROH together, the extended Khanverse would be on top of the list.

This gives me an opportunity to talk about my pet peeves again: Dragongate only has one more match than PWG, a company whose 2023 schedule consists entirely of the two nights of Battle of Los Angeles. CMLL and AAA added together has fewer matches on the list than GLEAT, and nearly half of DEADLOCK.

If you’re looking for a chance to watch neglected wrestling, here’s a list of the top ten rated matches with under 100 ratings:

Please note that the NXT tag now has 102 ratings and has dropped to a 8.31 rating.

And if you want to dig even deeper, here are the top ten rated matches with 25 or fewer ratings:

The CMLL match is now up to 26 ratings and a 8.04 rating.

Who’s leading the individual standings?

It’s… Mike Bailey. The full top 50 follows.

Bailey has the schedule of a workaholic. The wrestler with the second most qualifying matches is Zack Sabre Jr. with 24; Bailey has 43. Mike Bailey Promotions would have the ninth most matches if he were put on the company list, edging out NOAH and just falling behind Ring of Honor. He has at least one match for ten different promotions, plus what Cagematch considers a freelance show in the United States.

The top ten contains many regular contenders for Most Outstanding honors: Okada, Hiromu, Moxley, Ospreay, and Kenny Omega. El Desperado finishes higher than most people would probably have guessed, but the same was true last year. Hijo del Vikingo is getting more exposure with AEW and RoH, which is great because he’s improved over the last year. Kenoh is the most interesting name in this group to me: NOAH is not having a super high profile year, but he’s done well enough to get noticed some. Popping up on All Japan, New Japan, and Dragongate shows have also helped him out some.

A few high finishers from last year’s year-end rankings aren’t in the top fifty. Top ten finishers Syuri, Starlight Kid, Kazusada Higuchi, and Dax Harwood are all down the rankings for various reasons. Meanwhile, Hiromu Takahashi (58th last year), Kenoh (54th), and Hijo del Vikingo (162nd) are all doing much better this year.

Finally, this year I’m able to introduce the Yoshihiko Index. DDT’s legendary inflatable doll is credited with one seven-point match, putting it (him?) in a tie for 377th place. The following wrestlers are, scientifically speaking, having worse years in the ring than Yoshihiko:

Ricky Starks, Clark Connors, Andrade El Idolo, BUSHI, Christian Cage, Dragon Kid, El Barbaro Cavernario, Moose, Nick Gage, Powerhouse Hobbs, Sting, Tiffany Stratton, Xavier Woods, Yuya Uemura, Alba Fyre, Alex Reynolds, Angelo Dawkins, Anthony Bowens, Blue Demon Jr., Dolph Ziggler, Hikuleo, Jeff Jarrett, John Silver, KiLynn King, LA Park, Lance Archer, Lyla Valkyrie, Minorita, Montez Ford, Ruby Soho, Tay Melo, Atlantis Jr., Great-O-Khan, Kip Sabian, Roxanne Perez, Tony Nese, Trish Adora, Anthony Greene, Big Bill, Bishop Kaun, Bronson Reed, Ninja Mack, Toa Liona, Aaron Solo, Apollo Crews, Andre Chase, Becky Lynch, Bobby Lashley, Cameron Grimes, Drew Gulak, Dustin Rhodes, Ethan Page, EVIL, Gabriel Kidd, Gigi Dolin, Hook, Josh Briggs, Kerry Morton, LA Knight, Matt Hardy, Preston Vance, Psycho Clown, Sexy Star (but not THAT Sexy Star), The Butcher and the Blade, Wardlow, Toru Yano, Zelina Vega and Zoey Stark.

You can follow Fred on Bluesky at @flagrantstats.bsky.social. He hosts an All Elite Wrestling (AEW) podcast with Tyler Forness called The Good, The Bad, and The Hungee; the latest episode is available here.

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