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What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:47 pm
by Jeff Martin
First off, for those of you who don't know me (which I assume is probably most of you), I'm Jeff Martin, I write stuff for the site sometimes.

An interesting topic came up in a staff discussion that I'd like to extend to all of you: what's your match of the year process?

It seems like a lot of people keep extensive lists, or do rewatches, or actively refuse to do rewatches. How do you determine what makes your top 10 list?

Personally, I don't keep a list of matches throughout the year. I feel that if a match is really great, I'll remember it come the end of the year, because I'll probably have thought about it off and on since it happened. When it comes time to do my MOTY ballot, I write down all of the matches that I remember thinking were contenders when I watched them. This year that was about 20 matches. From there, I start rewatching them to see which ones I still feel strongly about, and start ranking them against each other. At this point I also watch stuff that got a lot of buzz that I didn't see and feel might be worth checking out. For example, I added the Death Vegas main event to my list of things to watch because of the excitement I saw about it.

When I'm breaking down the final list, the only slots that reeeeeally matter are 1, 2, and 3. After that I don't stress too much about which match should be in which slot.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:12 pm
by Rainmaker_F7
I watch what I want to watch. When I hear a lot of buzz over a Progress, AAW or a DDT match, I try to see it. It's impossible to see all of them with the little free time I have for this stuff, but I think I've seen most of the top tier MOTY stuff this year that I wanted to.

I don't do rewatches, unless I completely forget about something, like I did with for example Shibata vs Riddle. Dem star ratings help me choose what was the best, but at the end I just try to think "which match do I remember enjoying the most". And that is how my top 10 looks as of 12/19 for the record

1. Okada vs Omega - 1/4
2. Okada vs Shibata
3. Naito vs Elgin
4. Okada vs Omega - 8/12
5. Hiromu vs Kushida III
6. Naito vs Tanahashi I
7. ZSJ vs Elgin AAW
8. Bate vs Dunne - Takeover
9. Suwama vs Miyahara October
10. Walter vs Dragunov Carat final

HM: Goto/Shibata, Strong BJ/Twin Towers, Ishikawa/Miyahara I and II, Takeshita/Harashima from Saitama, Susumu/Mochi, Yamamura/Kagetora 5/5, Cobb/Riddle, Dijak/Lee PWG, Naito vs Tanahashi III, Okada/Suzuki II, Almas/Gargano Brooklyn

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 10:52 am
by Ckkj14
I rate matches throughout the year but never do re watches. Top 10 this year would be

1) Okada v Omega - Wresle Kingdom
2) Okada v Shibata - Sakura Genesis
3) Okada v Omega - Dominion
4) Takahashi v Kushida - Dominion
5) Okada v Omega - G1
6) Omega v Naito - G1
7) Tyler Bate v Pete Dunne - Takeover Chicago
8) Will Ospreay v Ricochet - BOSJ
9) Kenny Omega v Ishii - G1 Special
10) Tanahashi v Naito - G1

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 11:26 am
by Jeff Martin
So do you just take your top 10 star ratings and call it done, then?

I also have a self-imposed rule that I forgot about in the initial post, but both of your lists reminded me: I have to include at least one tag team match.

Right now, that match is Shingo & Okabayashi vs Sekimoto & Sato from the BJW tag league.

I've currently got about half my list filled with matches that will definitely be on it, but what's going to slot in where is up in the air.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 3:05 pm
by mlev76
Since 2012, I've kept a list of 4 star or better matches I've seen. At the tail end of this year, I started just keeping a spreadsheet of all matches as well. Right now, Ospreay vs. Kushida from BOSJ is my top match this year.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 4:09 am
by Joe Lanza
I don't rewatch. I like to go off of how a match made me feel in the moment, that's what is most important to me.

I keep a list of everything 4-star+. I whittle that down to everything ****3/4 or better. Some years that;s more than ten, others years it's less. This year, it's way more than ten. I also include anything ****1/2 that stands out for whatever reason.

From there, there are usually 4 or 5 matches that are locks that I know I'm including. The rest I measure against each other. As a general rule, if I can't remember much about it, especially the finish, I eliminate it. Then I slot the last ten I'm left with.

I don't make special rules or anything. If it's ten matches from one promotion, so be it. No WWE or something, so be it. No tag matches, so be it. The chips fall where they fall. I usually don't do a vanity pick at #10, either.

Sometimes a match with less stars finishes ahead of a match with more stars. Stars are a guide and how I fell in the moment, they aren't a be all end all. Best & favorite are often different.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 6:50 am
by HeadCheese
What I like doing is try to make a three section spreadsheet. .
The first with all my matches I really like and above.
The second section is matches that I really, really like and potentially top ten contenders.
And making the third section a top ten spreadsheet by which matches I like the best and rank them against each other.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 7:10 am
by suplexberry
I actually got into a discussion about this topic with fellow VoW poster Jacobs Bawks close to the end of my yearly wrestling hiatus, which really made me re-think my process into a more feelings-based, selfish "favorites" type of list than even just strictly "best matches of the year in my opinion", which is what I suppose the list should be, and maybe in the past my MOTY lists have been that. I've only been a wrestling fan in adulthood since 2013 so I've gone through pretty radical changes in taste and what I perceive as good and entertaining over the years; the more I learned the more it taught me what I actually like and don't like, including going against the grain when something super popular just doesn't click with me personally.

Talking to Jacob, I also realized I like it when the list reflects not just my favorites or what I loved this year, but also what I watched and did not watch. It has to become a snapshot in time so when in 5 years I look back, I can go "okay, yeah, that was what 2017 was for me". So last year's list was pretty BritWres heavy - this year I watched almost exclusively puro, with a brief dip into the German scene with wXw. So there is definitely some diversity, which depending on your definition may be forced or not. I could make a top ten that only has Tomohiro Ishii matches and stand by that list, but I didn't want to do that.

But anyway, I guess here's the short of the parameters: if I don't remember it in December, it's not on the list. If I do remember it, but get a sense that I liked it more in the moment and have no desire to look back on it, it's probably not on the list. If I didn't like it on rewatch, it's not on the list (I fully understand not rewatching, but a lot of my biggest enjoyment in wrestling nowadays comes from picking up the details you might not see on viewing 1, or even viewings 2 or 3). If I saw it live, it's probably higher on the list and that's 100% okay - wrestling is first and foremost a live spectacle. I don't star rate, score 0 to 10, or keep a list, so the list ends up becoming instinctual and retrospective with some rewatching, mostly because I will enjoy it, not because I think I need to do it. Some matches on the list I may have only seen once, others 2 times, some even up to 5 times.

I guess I could take a more structured approach, but honestly that's not really me. I also don't feel bad for not including matches, which used to happen - there's a wealth of good wrestling out there, but it doesn't have to be on a list, if a match or an angle is good enough, it should stick with me regardless.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:50 pm
by Jeff Martin
I think one of the fun things about MOTY is that we're all making up our own criteria, but it's compiled into one master list. It'd be like if a music site made a list that was a compilation and ranking of every music site's top 10 of the year.

I like rewatching for similar reasons to suplexberry - it lets me relive fun I had earlier in the year. That emphasis on fun is why Brock Lesnar vs Goldberg from Wrestlemania is currently atop my MOTY ballot. There are other matches that were arguably "better," but that match was the most fun I had watching wrestling all year. I was in a comic shop with about 15 other people and a minute into that match everyone was screaming and jumping up and down. It was incredible.

Dr. Wagner Jr. vs Psycho Clown is also going to end up finishing higher than I expected because I keep thinking about how much I love the emotional impact of the match, and if I spend that much time thinking about a match, it needs to finish high.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 4:40 pm
by suplexberry
Yeah, I think emotional impact and sometimes just plain fun play a big role. I have a tag match on my list that is going to make a lot of people raise an eye-brow, because some won't even remember it and to those who do remember, it's just a "fun" match. But it's the kind of fun match whose story I really liked, and I ended up rewatching a lot. I kept coming back to it, even late in the year, just because it was interesting to me, for multiple reasons. Then I also have a match where I was very emotionally invested in, and that's why it was actually kind of hard to rewatch, even though it is an amazing match.

I guess we'll have another topic on people's MOTY lists so I won't derail the convo by posting mine.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 1:09 am
by K. Hare
I'm a rewatcher. I rewatch things whether I'm evaluating them for MOTY purposes or not. I just like seeing things over again that I really like. I might watch one match 3-4 times in a year, maybe even more. I do agree that sometimes it may take my original feelings out, but it also lets me notice things that I may have missed the first time (example: I JUST noticed that Shibata tried to counter the final Rainmaker with a punch of his own last night). For MOTY, I'll probably rewatch 20-30 things and figure it out. This year, I want to include a lot more non-NJPW stuff, because having a list with all NJPW matches is a little boring.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 2:34 pm
by itsberlo
I, just like Joe, keep a notebook list however instead of star ratings I just go off of a bar system. Since the year generally starts off with Wrestle Kingdom, I set the "bar" with the best match from the show and work off of that. I generally keep a rolling top 20 with an additional list of matches I really like and adjust accordingly. At the end of the year, I narrow down from 20 to the final 10. If there are matches that are close, it is at that point, I re-watch to get a final opinion. I generally do not like to re-watch however.

I also do this list to share with one of my friends who loves wrestling. He coaches a men's college basketball team and only gets a few times a year to binge watch wrestling. I make him a huge list of matches/shows to watch so that he can keep up with the best stuff.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Sat Dec 23, 2017 3:07 am
by ScorpioCorp
I just keep a big list of all the matches that I've given +4 stars during this year on a word document. At the end of the year, I will look at the matches that I given the highest ratings (5 or 4 3/4 stars) & rank them by how memorable they were to me. I don't do re-watches, because I'm constantly watching new stuff & catching up on stuff that I missed from earlier in the year.

This is my current list:

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:59 pm
by Jeff Martin
It's interesting to see how many people record star ratings. I've never been an Observer reader, so I didn't really think about matches in those terms until I started writing for VOW and realized how prevalent stars were within the Observer's sphere of influence.

Re: What's Your Match of the Year Process

Posted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 12:16 pm
by DylanWaco
I generally find matches way harder to rate than wrestlers, as to me it's way harder to find clear marks of delineation between matches which may have different goals, requirements, restrictions, meaning, et. In any event my process has changed a lot over the years.

I haven't consistently used star ratings in well over a decade. There are a lot of reasons for that, and I don't want to go into it now, but in general one reason that is relevant to MOTY stuff is that I don't really like the idea of simply looking at a spreadsheet and seeing which matches have the requisite number of symbols to be considered. That is way to soulless to me and kind of runs counter to what makes wrestling exciting and interesting to me in the first place. I realize that the symbols would denote what I felt about something, but I still have a Richard Weaveresque/Unabomberesque resistance to categorization of that sort that I can't shake. I don't want my wrestling opinions to ever be a math problem.

I used to not rewatch when I didn't go to as many live shows. But over the last couple of years as my live show attendance has skyrocketed, I now feel compelled to because it is so different comparing live experience to tape experience. This is enhanced by the fact that I help book/promote/do commentary on shows which really changes your perspective a ton (I've struggled a lot with whether or not I should disqualify myself from voting on matches that I had some sort "involvement" with but I can't bring myself to do it. I am interested in hearing others take on that though). Some might argue that it shouldn't matter, you should just go with what grabbed you the most live and I've thought about that. In fact for the last three years I've strongly considered submitting a VOW MOTY ballot that featured nothing but matches I attended live. If I were to do that this year my ballot would include these matches in no particular order:

Nakamura v. Roode I
Riddle v. Gunner Miller I
Trevor Lee v. Chip Day
The CWF Rumble
Logan Easton LaRoux v. Arik Royal
Goldberg v. Brock Lesnar
6-way Elimination Match to crown WWN Live Champ
Cena v. AJ Styles
Keith Lee v. Dijak (Mania weekend)
The Authors of Pain v. Team DIY (San Antonio)

This isn't an awful list, more than one of those will make my actual ballot, at least a half dozen would make my top 20, but it doesn't feel comprehensive. More to the point if I looked at that list in 5 years I would not think of it as a list that fairly represented what 2017 really meant and was to me as a wrestling fan.

And that is really the point that I always end up coming to when I put together a top ten. I basically start by thinking about which matches grabbed me and stood out. If I don't think of a match immediately it has zero chance of being my number one. I occasionally will go through and look at match lists to jog my memory for lower spots, but if I see a match on the list and can't think of an essential element to it that left an impression on my mind it has no shot at making my top ten.

This year is tough because there are really about six or seven matches that I feel strongly about and then about 40-50 that could easily fill out the last few spots. I'm not going to rewatch that many matches. What I will do though is think about the matches that brought me a certain kind of joy or fit a certain theme that seemed central to my experience as a fan that year. And those matches I will rewatch if I can.

To me the themes of 2017 were the rise of the unlikely freakshow/spectacle match, the beautiful tragic failures of men chasing ultimately unachievable (at least in 2017) goals and the return of the great pairs/traveling match. The bulk of my top ten will speak to these themes, because that is what I think of when I think of 2017 wrestling.

One thing that will help a match for me is if I find it especially rewatchable. As in it's a match that I find myself actively wanting to rewatch throughout the year. This year this poses a real challenge for me because BY FAR the match I've found myself doing this the most with is Gunner Miller v. Matt Riddle which benefits from being extremely short (about 5 and a half minutes), and also is a match that was on a show I helped book and promote. In most years if I rewatched a match as many times as I rewatched that one and got the same feeling I got every time I watched that one it would be my runaway number one. But there is a bias and a time advantage here that is impossible for me to ignore so I'm not sure what to do with it. In any event there are a couple of other matches from this year that do fit into that eminently rewatchable category and they will both easily place in my top ten.