2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

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armsofsleep
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2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by armsofsleep » Mon Jun 11, 2018 1:53 pm

Hey, this has been a big point of discussion lately! Why not make it official? I always find discussion about this interesting, because it is meant to cover both drawing ability AND in-ring ability, and I think people's thoughts are often an interesting reflection of what they value. Like it's obvious that Joe thinks a lot about the drawing ability of wrestlers usually, but his Thesz/Flair rankings really solidified that to me.

Whereas for me, if you suck, you ain't making my list. I tend to value in-ring work a little more. I also care a lot more about your drawing power in relation to where you work. Like Shuji Ishikawa being a main event guy for multiple companies is HUGE for me, even if those companies are smaller in comparison. So that's going to inform my list a lot.

Anyway, here is my current top 10 (in no order..... yet)

- LA Park

- Shuji Ishikawa

- Kento Miyahara

- Soberano Jr.

- Zack Sabre Jr.

- Andrade Cien Almas

- Kazuchika Okada

- Hiromu Takahashi

- WALTER

- Matt Riddle


and here are some interesting guys with weird cases


- Kenny Omega (good matches all year, but the Cow Palace and CEO shows could flop with him on top)

- Fenix (could be a legit star in every company in Mexico AND in a few US places, work has been quietly stellar)

- Rey Mysterio (All In, NJPW, and possibly working big lucha shows)

- Pentagon Jr (sense a theme here? The new lucha landscape has opened up a lot of possibilities)

- Joey Janela (what if the big GCW shows do gangbusters this year?)

- Will Ospreay (if he does insane business in Australia, is he the top draw on the indies?)

- Pete Dunne (lower on the workrate side this year, but the WWE UK/PROGRESS stuff is still pretty hot)

- Literally any WWE guy (because, like last year, it just looks like no one will standout besides maybe Gargano?)

- Konosuke Takeshita (one of the best candidates of last year, but will he be on top at all again in 2018?)

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by mlev76 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:27 pm

Gargano, if he headlines the Chicago Takeover and it does over 10k, will break the record for most 10k main events amongst NXT stars. Right now, he's tied with Samoa Joe and Nakamura. He does have a tag match in there, but it will also be three in a row, which neither Joe nor Nakamura hit.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by Joe Lanza » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:21 pm

armsofsleep wrote:Hey, this has been a big point of discussion lately! Why not make it official? I always find discussion about this interesting, because it is meant to cover both drawing ability AND in-ring ability, and I think people's thoughts are often an interesting reflection of what they value. Like it's obvious that Joe thinks a lot about the drawing ability of wrestlers usually, but his Thesz/Flair rankings really solidified that to me.

Whereas for me, if you suck, you ain't making my list. I tend to value in-ring work a little more. I also care a lot more about your drawing power in relation to where you work. Like Shuji Ishikawa being a main event guy for multiple companies is HUGE for me, even if those companies are smaller in comparison. So that's going to inform my list a lot.
Doing a run-in here to defend myself concerning the bold.

Yes, I do value drawing ability for this, but when you look at my list I laid out a few weeks ago, my top two were Ospreay & WALTER. Good indie level draws for sure, but are either of them Top 10 worldwide draws? Probably not.

I think most of the time I will side with the great worker who is a so so draw over the good draw who stinks bell to bell. Now, if there was a standout, without question mega draw head and shoulders above all others, I'd *probably* go with that guy. We haven't had that in a while. I think the reason Okada was such a slam dunk last year was because he drew a billion sellouts and killed in in the ring.

I'd also like to point out that the show dropped a few days before the big LA Park angle and subsequent match announcements. It should be noted that he barely came up at all when I crowd sourced my list. Obviously, he would have been included if I did the show today, and ranked fairly high. The issue with Park for me, is his case is speculative. The matches need to happen. I don't think he's done enough as of today, June 11, to win.

I think something that would be helpful to the process overall would be if someone could compile a list of big lucha gates, Arena Mexico in particular. I think part of the reason lucha gets no love in the Meltz awards is ignorance. It is inherently going to struggle based on the smaller reader pool (or maybe more fairly, voters), but getting the information out before the final weeks of voting would help, I think.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by syxxpakk » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:29 pm

Okada.
"If I’m Neville or Aries, I definitely give a shit about the take of TJ “Career Trajectory Vanilla Midget” Perkins regarding my burning desire for advancement and steady income." - supersonic

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by armsofsleep » Mon Jun 11, 2018 4:58 pm

Joe Lanza wrote:
armsofsleep wrote:Hey, this has been a big point of discussion lately! Why not make it official? I always find discussion about this interesting, because it is meant to cover both drawing ability AND in-ring ability, and I think people's thoughts are often an interesting reflection of what they value. Like it's obvious that Joe thinks a lot about the drawing ability of wrestlers usually, but his Thesz/Flair rankings really solidified that to me.

Whereas for me, if you suck, you ain't making my list. I tend to value in-ring work a little more. I also care a lot more about your drawing power in relation to where you work. Like Shuji Ishikawa being a main event guy for multiple companies is HUGE for me, even if those companies are smaller in comparison. So that's going to inform my list a lot.
Doing a run-in here to defend myself concerning the bold.

Yes, I do value drawing ability for this, but when you look at my list I laid out a few weeks ago, my top two were Ospreay & WALTER. Good indie level draws for sure, but are either of them Top 10 worldwide draws? Probably not.

I think most of the time I will side with the great worker who is a so so draw over the good draw who stinks bell to bell. Now, if there was a standout, without question mega draw head and shoulders above all others, I'd *probably* go with that guy. We haven't had that in a while. I think the reason Okada was such a slam dunk last year was because he drew a billion sellouts and killed in in the ring.

I'd also like to point out that the show dropped a few days before the big LA Park angle and subsequent match announcements. It should be noted that he barely came up at all when I crowd sourced my list. Obviously, he would have been included if I did the show today, and ranked fairly high. The issue with Park for me, is his case is speculative. The matches need to happen. I don't think he's done enough as of today, June 11, to win.

I think something that would be helpful to the process overall would be if someone could compile a list of big lucha gates, Arena Mexico in particular. I think part of the reason lucha gets no love in the Meltz awards is ignorance. It is inherently going to struggle based on the smaller reader pool (or maybe more fairly, voters), but getting the information out before the final weeks of voting would help, I think.

Yeah, I didn't mean to be like "Joe only cares about the dollars brother!" (that's only true when it comes to Patreon plugs) just that I've found in a lot of your defenses of booking, be it WWE, NJPW, ROH, etc, you do often come on the side of "well they're doing business so they have to do it/it's the right decision." Which is a totally valid way of looking at things, I just maybe approach is slightly differently because I have particular tastes in wrestling.


Also hard agree on the lucha stuff. Fenix/Penta are also two that COULD be slam dunk picks but you can only pick them based on speculation right now. Park I included just because, even if he was to do one of those two big shows, his work is good enough that he might make my list anyway.

IIRC some of the usual lucha diehards will post weekly gates from time to time but I agree there should be a consistent tracker. I'd be tough to argue against a lucha guy headlining several 10k shows a year, but with the lack of good lucha resources in general (outside of Luchablog and the usual suspects), I'm doubtful anyone is really tracking this stuff well.

Hell, you could argue that since The Crash doesn't make tape, live gates there are of big importance too. And like I said if you are going by "importance to the level of promotion they work", that helps a lot of lucha lads as well.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by Joe Lanza » Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:27 pm

armsofsleep wrote: Yeah, I didn't mean to be like "Joe only cares about the dollars brother!" (that's only true when it comes to Patreon plugs) just that I've found in a lot of your defenses of booking, be it WWE, NJPW, ROH, etc, you do often come on the side of "well they're doing business so they have to do it/it's the right decision." Which is a totally valid way of looking at things, I just maybe approach is slightly differently because I have particular tastes in wrestling.
This is fair, I absolutely do this.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by mrjoshdude » Mon Jun 11, 2018 5:48 pm

syxxpakk wrote:Okada.
No other choice this year. He's been outstanding in every defined category for this award, and he still has the G1 left which he could potentially win to solidify his claim. The only way he doesn't win this is if he gets injured next week and doesn't return until 2019. Guys like Ospreay, Shuji, Kento, WALTER are nice to mention because they are having great years, but honestly giving it to any one of them over Okada is a disservice to what this award actually is in my opinion. Okada literally near sold out the Tokyo Dome this January and we're really talking about WALTER being wrestler of the year? I love WALTER and he's either my number 1 or 2 for Most Outstanding, but this is Okada's year. Especially if he takes the G1.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by armsofsleep » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:06 pm

I can't accept a reality in which Okada is just the shoe-in winner just because he's champ for the biggest non-WWE company and is a good worker. I mean if you want to view the award that way, it's all well and good, but I feel like having a diverse set of drawing power (ie Ospreay working tons of indies as a top draw on top of NJPW) is almost more impressive in a way?

Besides, I do think the gap between someone like Ishikawa's in-ring year vs Okada's in-ring year is big enough to atleast warrant discussion.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by packerman120 » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:17 pm

When I think of a mock top five, here's what I think, and this is a good topic since I accidentally unleashed the LA Park defense on squad on the VOW account last night. I'm not going to rank these either.

Chris Jericho - If he appears on the Cow Palace, and it seems like a big if, and it sells out, big feather. If his cruise does well and comes out with great matches and good reviews, it's a cool revolutionary dumb thing. If he manages to have some more great matches in New Japan, and continuing to bump NJW numbers and people talking about the product, he could run away with it.

LA Park - His case really hinges on whether or not the two main events happen as planned. If he ends up headlining the Aniversario and Triplemania, it'd be huge, especially if the events draw well, even more enhanced if the matches are good. I'm not high on LA Park matches, but he's a very interesting character, and has drawn me into watching lucha more, and I can't imagine I'm the only one. He's also a proven draw with Arena Mexico numbers.

Kenny Omega - The most boom or bust candidate on this list. Has two of the best matches ever under his year, and is a gaijin holding the biggest title in Japan. Also has been part of the BC split story line and BTE, which do gang-buster numbers every week despite what people here may think. His case really depends on how Cow Palace and CEO, CEO especially, draw. If those succeed, Omega's case is boosted tenfold, as that Cow Palace show is a weak lineup, and really hinges on him and Cody. CEO, meanwhile, is 18 days out and we don't have a card, which is questionable. Pure potential pick as of right now.

Kazuchika Okada - He's had more insane matches, he's continued to draw on top after 2 years of being the champion, and he's the biggest name in New Japan aside from Tetsuya Naito. He's a really good wrestler, and he's a good draw. The only reason we don't think about it more is because he's the popular pick.

Will Ospreay - My current most outstanding wrestler, with 12 ****+ matches currently on my list. He's really good, and if he draws well in Australia and makes people talk about it more again, his name goes up in the list. However, he lacks the ability or chances to draw like the others on the list, which impedes his candidacy, in my eyes at least.

I guess if I'd rank them at this moment I'd go:

1. Okada
2. Jericho
3. Park

And for whatever's sake, here's my most outstanding, since I mentioned that a couple of times.

1. Ospreay
2. Omega
3. WALTER

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by armsofsleep » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:23 pm

Omega will be an interesting case, just because his work is a touch more divisive than Okada's. Even last year, you have matches like Omega vs Suzuki that a lot of people were very down on (although I guess the first Okada vs Suzuki was the same way).

But at the end of the day, if you think Omega has had 2-3 ALL TIME GREAT matches in vs Jericho, GL vs Bucks, and vs Okada, I feel like he has to be in the top top discussion. Personally I didn't adore any of those matches in the same way, so that's a much tougher bridge to cross for me. Even last year with Okada, while I didn't really agree with the "all time great year" praise at all, I still viewed Shibata vs Okada as an all time great match (and my only ***** match of 2017) so I was ultimately okay slotting him in as number one.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by BoxingRobes » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:29 pm

This is like asking about Jordan or LeBron at this point.

To me, the winner is Okada every year. He's just on a level no one else outside of Omega is at. I don't care whose "year" it is...fuck all that. Its Okada.

If you don't think its Okada, I am not sure you fully understand what is going on here. He's not just the best right now...he's the best of all time right now. He's in the middle of lapping the field all-time multiple times.

What he's done with Tanahashi and Omega is have the international equivalent of Flair-Steamboat (the American standard) 3 times and did so over YEARS.

If you want to sell me on Omega, go right ahead, but its still Okada. Anyone else up for discussion is you all trying to get cute.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by mrjoshdude » Mon Jun 11, 2018 11:33 pm

armsofsleep wrote:I can't accept a reality in which Okada is just the shoe-in winner just because he's champ for the biggest non-WWE company and is a good worker. I mean if you want to view the award that way, it's all well and good, but I feel like having a diverse set of drawing power (ie Ospreay working tons of indies as a top draw on top of NJPW) is almost more impressive in a way?

Besides, I do think the gap between someone like Ishikawa's in-ring year vs Okada's in-ring year is big enough to atleast warrant discussion.
I think you're selling Okada way short here. He's more than just a good worker, the guy is legendary at this point, even if you ignore his big stuff with Tanahashi and Kenny, he's had top level matches with pretty much everyone on the roster. Shuji's had a great year and he's one of my favourites but I don't think anything he's done so far touches Okada's matches with Tanahashi, ZSJ, Kenny, or Naito. The highest I've got on Shuji this year is ****1/2 against Higuchi back near the start of the year. That could just be my personal preference though. And while I agree with your point about Ospreay being a top draw on the indies, so would Okada if he ever actually wrestled on the indies. If Okada get's announced in pretty much any company on the indies I guarantee the show sells out, you could probably make a case that the SSEUK shows have sold so well on his back too. You could probably also make a case though that they're gonna be sell outs just based on the NJPW name though so I won't push that.

I think my main point is that business-wise, nobody touches Okada. He's sold out every venue he's main evented including the Dome, broken a ton of records this year not just for the IWGP Title but for any world title in Japan, and continues to be in the hottest programs in wrestling outside of Jericho's stuff. The only argument I feel you can realistically make is that his in-ring isn't as strong as some others, but even then I'd argue he's having a legendary in-ring year anyway. I just feel like the guy is being undervalued for this award because he's the obvious or boring choice.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by armsofsleep » Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:34 am

What I agree with both of you guys on is that, if you view Okada at that level of work, he probably should just win every year. Even if it’s 10 years in a row.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by armsofsleep » Thu Jun 21, 2018 5:05 pm



Might be good to use this thread to compile particularly notable statistics/facts about guys. Lots of developments happening over the next couple months with big ROH shows, All In, the NJPW USA shows, lucha stuff, BOLA........ lots of guys can help or hurt their cases.

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Re: 2018 Lou Thesz/Ric Flair Award (Wrestler of the Year)

Post by Joe Lanza » Mon Nov 05, 2018 9:31 pm

I think Omega is going to win this, and quite handily. And that is going to annoy a lot of people.

With no obvious WWE main roster contenders, and business being a component, it's a lot of NJPW dudes pitted against each other, plus LA Park. The Rush match not happening hurt Park, obviously. He still has a case, but that was a possible deathblow.

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