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Old 04-02-2016, 12:50 AM   #1
JimHalpert
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Thumbs up The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

This thread is going to (hopefully) review every match from every WWE PPV + NXT PPV moving forward. LKJ has been kind enough to agree to do this with me while still completing his Monday Night Wars thread, which is awesome. We are starting with NXT Takeover: Dallas and will hopefully do this for each new show indefinitely.




For the purposes of this thread, I would like to give a breakdown of my rating system:


Quote:
NA: A thing that deserves no rating. It's not really a match.

Zero Stars: Absolutely atrocious. Zero redeeming qualities. Utterly pointless. Garbage.

One Star: They tried to do things, it didn't work, nobody cared. The ringwork was consistently botchy. No real purpose.

Two stars: A genuinely mediocre match. It wasn't terrible. It wasn't good. It didn't accomplish much but it at least was trying to. I'm not offended.

Three stars: Pretty damn good match. Ring work was good, crowd was into it, match had a purpose. I liked it.

Four stars: Excellent match. It felt like it mattered, everyone was into it, the ring work was excellent, there was a great story told. It accomplished what it was trying to do.

Five stars: An all-time classic. Everything clicked, it was hugely important, you were on the edge of your seat at points. It mattered.




As you can see with my scoring system, I skew a little lower than normal, as a generically average match is a 2.0 for me rather than a 2.5. I do this because I think it's more important to be able to differentiate the good matches from each other better than the mediocre/bad ones.


and LKJ's rating breakdown:

Quote:
My scoring system looks something like this (cliffs: it's a bell curve)...

N/A - this match defies actual rating, usually due to being incredibly short like an immediate schmozz or a really quick squash or something.

0* - truly without redeeming value IMO. Some matches truly either bring nothing positive to the table, or their negatives so overwhelmingly outweigh the positives that the score has to end up here.

* - Garbage match, but I saw a couple of things that were mildly okay about it.

** - Not a good match, but only a bit below average.

**1/2 - this is my median mark for obvious reasons.

*** - Three stars is the threshold for calling something a "good" match.

**** - Four stars is the threshold for calling something a "great" match.

***** - Truly rare rating for me, I'll actively look for reasons not to give this rating out. Five stars means that we're well within the top 1% of wrestling matches.

Much like you would expect in a bell curve, the quarter-stars become a lot harder to come by at the extreme ends of the curve, so it's a lot easier to upgrade something from **1/2 to **3/4 than it is to upgrade it from ****1/2 to ****3/4.



With that said, I hope this thread ends up being something fun and enjoyable. Feel free to rate things yourself, comment, dispute, etc. Should be enjoyable.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:53 AM   #2
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

NXT Takeover: Dallas
4/1/16



American Alpha vs The Revival
* * * 1/4


A good opener. Solid story of Revival trying to gain edges dirty and AA overcoming. Some good wrestling early and I enjoyed the pin attempts back and forth towards the end. Crowd really enjoyed it as well.



Corbin vs Aries
* * 1/4

Overall I thought this story was well done. This is how you do a big vs little story. Corbin dominating most of the match into the surprise roll up is a good ending for the little guy to win. Both came out of this looking good (Corbin as a dominant force and AA as a crafty veteran). The actual ring work wasn't the best and was sluggish at times, but the story told makes up for it.




Zayn vs Nakamura
* * * * 1/4


This match was incredible. Stiff, paced great, crowd was into it from the entrances through the bell, good back and forth, and a great story of one uppmanship between two of the best today. I project myself to have very few 4.25+ ratings in here but this deserved it imo.


asuka vs bayley
* * *

They kept the crowd into it despite following a fantastic matchup. Again, a well told story developed into the full-of-heart face just not having enough in the tank to prevent the submission from getting her to pass out. Some excellent transitions into submissions from both sides.



balor vs joe
* 1/2


I don't fault them for this low rating, as the cut above Joe's eye happened early and really took away any ability to get momentum going. Joe came ready to play and did the best he could with the situation, but multiple stoppages just really took the sails out of the match. The ending was abrupt and disappointing, and it made little sense to me to follow London (this makes more sense as a #1 match in a feud compared to #2 in this instance). I don't think either came out better than when they came in.
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Old 04-02-2016, 12:56 AM   #3
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Tag Titles - The Revival (c) vs. American Alpha: Dueling Germans by AA were great. Ambush clothesline by Dash outside the ring was great. Solid heel work by the Revival, especially Dash's tag breakup during the heat segment, but unfortunately it was followed by a big botch that blew what could have been a believable near-fall. I also don't think it was great in that spot to have the referee spot that he was not the legal man; have the announcers pleading desperately for him to realize it as he counts, and have a straight-up kickout. Wasted drama. But again it was after a big, badly-timed botch, so that would have ****ed it up anyway.

Play-by-play guy wasn't great here, as AA had two near-falls that he sold terribly, including botching and saying the pin was "to retain the titles," causing Graves to correct him in mid-count and bring down the whole spot. Anyway, good finish, crowd was into it and was decidedly non-obnoxious for an NXT crowd, very much enjoyed the match.
Rating: ***1/2

Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries: Arrogant half-assed heel pin attempts like the one Corbin attempted midway through the match should largely be put out to pasture. Those types of pins are incredibly overplayed, as they never, ever win matches, and it just comes off stupid at this point that heels continue to do it with literally a historical 0% success rate. The early part of this match, with the two fighting and Corbin overwhelming Aries with the size and strength advantage, was a solid foundation, but Aries's comeback sequence was completely unfocused, and it wasn't difficult to see why the fans were dead. Loved the helicopter back suplex spot on the floor by Corbin.

Ending was abrupt and not very satisfying; I think Corbin did pretty good work here, and while I liked what I saw of Aries in TNA, I put most of the weakness of this match on him. Not terrible, but not very good.
Rating: **

Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: Massive hype for this one, and it took me maybe the first five minutes to really start feeling it, but it absolutely got there. Nakamura's sudden armbar spot was great, and then transitioning into a triangle choke as Sami fought off the armbar was a standout chain-wrestling spot. Blue thunder bomb near-fall for Sami was great, and was Nakamura's second great near-fall kickout of the match. Guys who can time their kickout beautifully without obviously staring at the official really add a lot to their matches. The Nakamura kick counter on Sami's ringpost dive was very nice. Ditto for Sami msising on the big boot and Nakamura quickly capitalizing with the exploder. Strong finish. Lots of great stuff here.

I hasten to mention that, beyond these spots that I really liked, the general ringwork was just pristine even on a lot of the little things, and both guys showed up in a big way. Crowd got pretty obnoxious, by the way.
Rating: ****1/2

Women's Title - Bayley (c) vs. Asuka: This women got put in a bad spot, following Zayn-Nakamura. Happily the crowd was still up for it instead of being burnt out, but in the early going I was left wondering if the wrestling was just looking underwhelming compared to what we just watched. Happily, the match really got going and found a way to greatness. Nicely-executed super hurracanrana by Bayley and a nice mat sequence between the two where Asuka put the initial weardown on Bayley's leg, some strong work in general with running/flying kicks by Asuka. Tremendous counter into the leglock by Bayley. Just so much great mat work in general, and the finishing spot was fantastic, really bumping this match up for me. I would call it an abrupt ending, but unlike with Corbin/Aries it was more in the vein of being a pleasant surprise.

Unfortunately Bayley has her issues with forgetting to keep up a sell job on her limbs, and they were on display here, but I still loved this. Enjoyed the post-match reaction shots too. If that was the end of Bayley's NXT run, I liked that a lot better than that lame Sasha/Bayley stuff that finished out Sasha's NXT run.
Rating: ****

NXT Title - Finn Balor (c) vs. Samoa Joe:
The early color was obviously a twist to everyone, and I ****ing love that Corey Graves thought on his feet and immediately sold it as something that made Joe look even more terrifying. That's a great reaction. Unfortunately the delays to clean up the blood did hurt things and made it kind of impossible to keep a story going early on. Still, Joe's spots here were really well-executed and looked stiff as hell. He carried Balor nicely. This was going really well until the finisher kickout by Balor, then the match annoyed me for several minutes, culminating in an annoying ending. Basically there was a time when I thought this could become a four-star match, and then it veered sharply in the wrong direction at the end. Still a good bout.
Rating: ***
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:00 AM   #4
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Great idea for a thread. Only saw the last three matches.

Really want to give the full five to Zayn/Nakamura, but that's probably just recency bias talking, so I'll give myself overnight to think about it.

I'd probably put Finn/Joe at 2.75 and Asuka/Bayley at 4.
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:01 AM   #5
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

I'm gonna take better notes next time

Looks like we're on the same page on the first half and differ on the last ones. I definitely think the womens match was good. I could see myself bumping it up some on a rewatch. There was really good stuff in there, and it may just be a placement on the card issue for me on not going higher.

I also understand the comments in the joe/finn match. Graves was excellent all night and his work in that match was probably his best stuff. Just never could get into the swing of it though.
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:01 AM   #6
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

My first reaction in comparison is that Jim and I obviously rate things more differently than our descriptions seem. I think of my grading scale as being fairly tough, but Jim appears to be pretty gung-ho about keeping his grades way down.

From reactions in the live sweat thread, it seemed clear to me that he actually liked Zayn/Nakamura better than I did, so I definitely wasn't expecting to rate it 1/4* higher than he did.
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:05 AM   #7
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyebooger View Post
Really want to give the full five to Zayn/Nakamura, but that's probably just recency bias talking, so I'll give myself overnight to think about it.
Though obviously I was well short of five stars here, I honestly think that a crowd acting like Full Sail really does block a match from five stars. Crowds can obviously elevate a great match up the ladder, so I think they have to be able to actively bring matches down too.

My initial reaction was that I was conflicted between ****1/4 and ****1/2 for Zayn/Nakamura, then I went with ****1/4 by using the crowd as a tiebreaker. Then Bayley/Asuka happened, and I thought it deserved four stars, then I decided that I couldn't have it rated within 1/4* of Zayn/Nakamura, so the latter got the bump back up.
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:14 AM   #8
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Yeah, I think one of my things is that the threshold for each quarter star over 3 is more difficult to achieve than the previous one.

Like 5 stars to me isn't just a really well worked match, but an all time classic. For example, I love HBK/Angle as you know and keep saying people underrate it here, but then isolated mentioned he sees it at 5 stars in a lot of places and I don't think its that. I have it at the 4.5-4.75 range because ultimately it was just a really well done match and didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Meanwhile I have the full 5 for things like austin/bret, hbk/taker I, and cena/punk.

I guess a good idea would be to put some examples for each up top, so lets say:

5: austin/bret, hbk/taker I, punk/cena
4.75: hbk/angle
4.5: bryan/hhh
4.25: lesnar/cena/rollins
4: bryan/cena
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:16 AM   #9
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

It's interesting you mention shifting the womens match around compared to the nakamura one, as I did that too. I initially had nakamura at 4.25-4.5 and the women at 3-3.25 and ultimately went low with both
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:23 AM   #10
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

maybe i do need to open up the purse strings a bit tho
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:44 AM   #11
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Something that skews the PPV rating scale upward a bit is that WWE puts out 6-7 hours of TV per week with lots of wrestling matches, most of them being absolute crap, and there's a selection bias toward the good stuff in only rating the PPV matches. That's by design of course, since I didn't want to sit around rating the ****ty meaningless Raw matches with garbage endings.

What looked tonight like...
***1/2
**
****1/2
****
***

...would look something like this if you started cutting Raw and Smackdown in...
1/2*
*
3/4*
**1/4
*1/2
***1/2
**
****1/2
****
***
**1/2
**1/4
***
*3/4

Basically if we rated everything then the distribution would look more true, but at the same time, who wants to actually go to the trouble of grading all of the bad matches? There are just some built-in factors about matches on these shows that set them higher on the curve. Bigger feel, more likely to have a clean and decisive finish and thus an actual complete story, etc. I've certainly sat through a lot of abject trash, so I know well what it looks like and I know how the good stuff compares.

Sort of like how my movie ratings heavily lean toward being at least 6/10 or better, often 7/10 or better, because I'm selective and not making myself sit through Ed Helms as National Lampoon or Tommy Lee Jones in Volcano. Okay, I watched Volcano, but I was young and stupid.
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Old 04-02-2016, 01:49 AM   #12
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

That's a really good point. Skewing down overall makes sense to me because theres so much garbage that you're going to want to differentiate the good stuff from each other a lot more than worry about a quarter start on some irrelevant 4 minute match ending in a distraction rollup (like i mentioned). With only PPVs we should rarely be seeing NA/0/1 a lot, and so the groupings under my system will end up jamming together in the 2.75-3.5 range a lot.

I'm gonna sleep on it and rewatch the ppv tomorrow, and then might come in here and bump things up. I don't feel too bad about doing it with the first one, really the first time I've tried to keep a consistent scale going. As long as I can settle somewhere in the first couple shows I should be good.
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:49 AM   #13
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

My kinda thread . I'll probably go back to past NXTs for fun and put them here if people don't mind. I'll give my thoughts when I have more time (probably Sunday night at earliest).
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Old 04-02-2016, 02:37 PM   #14
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

good idea jim

my ratings are nearly identical to LKJ's

Tag Titles - The Revival (c) vs. American Alpha: Solid, entertaining match overall. Unfortunate that the botch happened on one of the more important parts of the patch. Good psychology and storytelling but felt the match was a bit too choreographed at times.
Rating: ***1/2

Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries: Decent but disappointing. Thought Corbin played a good, despicable heel but didn't find his comeuppance to be very compelling or satisfying due to the match flow and abrupt ending.
Rating: **

Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura: Tremendous match overall, no real complaints. A little bit of everything - mat wrestling, chain wrestling, counters, submissions. Great buildup and psychology. Could've done without the back-and-forth forearm slugfest but thought it fit well with the story in general. Lacked the long-term feud/storyline I like to see from ***** matches but it being Nakamura's debut and Zayn's farewell help it in that department.
Rating: ****3/4

Women's Title - Bayley (c) vs. Asuka: Solid in-ring work from both but plenty of minor detractors such as Bayley not selling. Ring psychology and match flow could've been better overall. Surprising (in a good way) ending.
Rating: ****

NXT Title - Finn Balor (c) vs. Samoa Joe: Stoppages didn't both me and if anything it made the match more compelling. Match delivered in nearly all aspects except for the roll-up ending, which is pretty disappointing for what appears to be a blow-off match.
Rating: ***1/4
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Old 04-02-2016, 02:47 PM   #15
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

I rewatched everything this morning and feel pretty comfortable with my match order to start. I liked nakamura/zayn the most - by a lot - followed by the tag match, the womens match, corbin, and then the main event.

As for the rating system, I think I've decided to bounce it back to a more normal bell curve (current system has perfectly average at 2.0 instead of 2.5) - mainly because this thread works better if everyones on a similar page & we're skipping a lot of raw garbage.



With that said, the new rankings are:

AA vs Revival: * * * 3/4
Corbin vs AA: * * 1/2
Nakamura vs Zayn: * * * * 1/2
Asuka vs Bayley: * * * 1/2
Joe vs Balor: * *


I just couldn't get into the main event with all the stoppages and the ending. Corbin vs AA wasn't as good the second time (so it dropped from above median by 1/4 star to median). Watched womens match first so it didn't follow Nakamura/Sami and feel pretty good about it. Tag match was very good.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:07 PM   #16
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

at first i thought the balor/joe stoppages detracted from the match but the more i thought about it the more i realized that the blood pouring down his face alone probably make it a net neutral, at worst. like someone else said in the main thread, the doctors taking a look at joe isn't a deathblow to kayfabe in and of itself though i'd be lying if i said i wish they did it a couple times less. i suspect joe was really pissed.

like i mentioned above, my big issue with the match is the ending. just don't like seeing the champion win via rollup, especially in a spot where he's miraculously able to hold down joe - who has 100 lbs on him - immediately after being stuck in joe's submission finisher. just felt out of place and abrupt.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:14 PM   #17
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

The only one I find myself second-guessing of my own ratings is the Joe-Balor one. I might be inclined to move it down to **3/4. I was really enjoying the match a lot, but an actively terrible ending sequence should have probably been worth even more negative points.

Like disko, if anything I'm less annoyed by the stoppages today than I was yesterday, though I was probably less agitated than others were even at the time.
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Old 04-02-2016, 03:54 PM   #18
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Tag Team Title Match ***1/2
Corbin/Aries **
Nakamura/Zayn ****3/4
Women's Title ***3/4
Main event **1/2
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Old 04-02-2016, 04:54 PM   #19
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Joe's face after Balor kicked out of the Muscle Buster was amazing. I'm a huge believer that a lot more matches need to end on non-finishers. Real fights often do end abruptly but that rollup didn't seem like a good abrupt finish. Have the guy get knocked out or have the wind knocked out of him for an abrupt finish.
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Old 04-02-2016, 06:55 PM   #20
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by darO View Post
Tag Team Title Match ***1/2
Corbin/Aries **
Nakamura/Zayn ****3/4
Women's Title ***3/4
Main event **1/2
This is pretty much precisely where I'm at now, except I still want to give Nakamura/Zayn *****.

All of the other matches had their flaws (some significant), but after a rewatch, I'm struggling to find anything wrong with that match. The crowd didn't really annoy me as much as they annoyed some of you. And as for the lack of a built up feud, I'd argue that this really didn't need one. It was a hyped up debut against the mainstay of NXT who's almost certainly wrestled his last match there.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:08 PM   #21
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by eyebooger View Post
All of the other matches had their flaws (some significant), but after a rewatch, I'm struggling to find anything wrong with that match.
IMO some who rate matches consider "no glaring flaws" to be sufficient to justify a perfect rating - it's why I've occasionally mocked Meltzer for fashioning himself a Russian figure skating judge rather than a pro wrestling critic - but to me a match can have no particular flaws and still land well short of five stars. I always think match rating should be more art than science since the quest for five stars requires an unquantifiable "it" factor on top of the wrestling itself being elite.

I think the basic litmus test is that you spot a viable candidate for five stars and you hold it up against historical matches you give five stars to, and ask yourself if it truly belongs in the same category as those.

All of that said, it's not like giving this five stars is anything I'd find to be absurd or anything, even if I disagree. It was excellent.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:20 PM   #22
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by LKJ View Post
I think the basic litmus test is that you spot a viable candidate for five stars and you hold it up against historical matches you give five stars to, and ask yourself if it truly belongs in the same category as those.
In that case, I think the only fair thing to do would be to revisit this in 6 months or so and see if I still believe this. It's really hard to compare something fresh in your mind that happened 24 hours ago with something from 15 years ago.

That's the main reason I've been so tentative with my words (e.g. "I want to give *****", rather than outright saying "*****")
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:34 PM   #23
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

Yeah I'm with you, perceptions of match quality do change over time. Not just in the first six months (though that's the most flexible time), but my opinion of even something like a 1999 match might be one rating today and another in five years.

My reasons for clearly leaving this one short of five:
*Limited obvious historical significance;
*The underlying story and the match story were both fine, but pretty generic;
*The crowd acted like Full Sail;
*One of the two announcers turned in a noticeably sub-par performance; and
*While the ringwork was elite, there was no particularly revolutionary standout OMG spot to really set it apart from other instances of two awesome workers putting on a show.
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Old 04-02-2016, 07:41 PM   #24
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

One thing to expand on from my comments about that match, specifically the near-fall after the blue thunder bomb by Sami. I love those moments in wrestling where you see a spot, you tell yourself "that's not going to be a three," and then the guy times his kickout so damn late without any telegraphing that you actually have that split-second of, "wait, WHAT?" as they actually manage to convince me even for the briefest of moments that it's actually going to be a surprise three-count.

My exposure to Nakamura is limited to this one specific match so far, but I'm very, very appreciative of wrestlers who don't telegraph the **** out of their kickouts.
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Old 04-03-2016, 10:38 PM   #25
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Re: The Running WWE/NXT PPV match rating thread

There are some truly bizarre rating decisions to be made tonight. A whole glut of matches that don't fit into any normal rating paradigm.
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