Friday, September 8, 2017

Dave Meltzer Sucks and His Star Ratings Are Total Bullshit

...or, why it's time to cancel your Wrestling Observer subscription now.

By: Jimbo X

Howdy ho, readers! This is the first installment in a seasonal-long series we're calling BLOGTOBER, in which The Internet Is In America lays into random people who have been irking our Dear Leader Jimbo X for quite some time. If you agree with our condemnatory statements - and lets face it, you should - feel free to send the article along to the social media accounts of the people we're giving the old what-fer to. We've graciously included the online contact information for everybody we're deriding, so it shouldn't be too hard to get a hold of 'em. And yes, we did steal the idea from Opie and Anthony - but hey, at least we're giving them credit, ain't we? - THNX, MGMT

For those of you not in the know, Dave Meltzer (that's @davemeltzer on Twitter and Wrestling Observer on Facebook) is a guy from the Bay Area who has been publishing this thing called The Wrestling Observer newsletter for more than 30 years. For better or for worse, the "dirt sheet" is considered the Wall Street Journal of the pro wrestling business, which really, ought to give you an idea just how shitty pro wrestling business "journalism" ultimately is.

Granted, what Meltzer was doing was kinda' sorta' important before the Internet came along. Back in the late '80s and early '90s, pretty much all the laity had were all those Apter mags that wrote everything in kayfabe, so if you wanted to know what was really happening behind the scenes at the WWF and NWA and all those territories ran by drug addicts who forced their own children to kill themselves in the ring for minuscule monetary gain, The Observer was pretty much your only source for - and I use the term loosely - "inside information."

Like every other wannabe-bullshit industry trade publication, Meltzer's "dirt" has long come in the form of pissed-off employees who wanted to give their bosses what-fer for not pushing them. Like all great purveyors of "fake newz," Meltzer's rag has always made use of anonymous sources and unnamed tipsters, often taking their aggrievements as undisputed fact (you know, not that the wrestling biz as a whole is known as a hotbed for con-men with a borderline sociopathic flare for absolutely grandiloquent bullshit.) Yeah, sometimes the Meltz goes straight to the source for his stories (like when Bret Hart reached out to him after the Montreal Screwjob), but by and large The Observer survives on but one thing: unfounded speculation. 

If you want a taste of that award-winning Meltzer journalism, few WO shit-pieces are as indicative of Davey Boy's reportorial chops than this write-up about Kurt Angle exiting the WWE back in '06. Here, you see all the hallmarks of Meltzer's unique brand of fake-fisticuffs journalism, including: 

  • Citing the WWE website (which, by the way, is written in kayfabe) as an actual newsworthy source.
  • Simply quoting what some other website already wrote and using their proprietary quotes to make up half his article. 
  • Failure to cite a single secondary source to substantiate anything.
  • Using quotes from unnamed sources who - as fate would have it - just so happen to say everything Meltzer believes so he can push a certain angle or agenda (in this case, instigating changes to the company wellness policy)
  • Making about a half dozen different predictions on what might happen so he can say he "knew it all along" later down the road.
  • Pulling a whole bunch of irrelevant, unrelated tidbits from the past and throwing them together in long-ass paragraphs to inflate the word count ... I mean, give readers a more nuanced historical understanding of the issue.
  • Using a subjective statement - written from a first person perspective - as a framing device in the very first fucking sentence of the story.
  • Flat out delivering his opinion as declarative statements practically every other sentence

You don't need to hold a master's degree from Northern Illinois' Department of Communication to figure out a dude who uses "I hope" and "I think" as predicates is anything but an objective journalist. Simply put The Wrestling Observer has never been an impartial news source, it's just a glorified fanzine in which Davey M. espouses his own gospel under the guise of legitimate news coverage

Not that the Meltz is even a good subjective writer. Just take a gander at his acclaimed "obit" for Mitsuharu Misawa, in which he simply lifts portions of Japanese newspaper accounts of Misawa's in-ring death - without as much as a single proprietary quote - and book-ends it with nostalgic personal accounts of totally unrelated events, which only serve to showcase the author's encyclopedic knowledge of worthless trivia on the lives and times of Giant Baba and Atsushi Onita. Just soak up this two-paragraph wad of loggorhea: 

"Every argument about what you can’t follow and how long you can go and do on a show without burning out the audience early had been violated for the previous few hours. But it didn’t matter. At the time, the top stars of All Japan Pro Wrestling were just that much better than anyone else in the world.

Those days were long gone on Saturday night in Hiroshima, Japan, a city best known on a worldwide basis for having a nuclear bomb dropped on it without warning by the U.S. forces in 1945, that killed 90,000 civilians that day and probably as many as 200,000 within five years directly related to the residual effects of the radiation, and which ended World War II."

Overlooking the blatant inaccuracy of Meltzer's statement (atom bombs and nuclear bombs aren't the same thing and U.S. forces fucking dropped leaflets on Hiroshima and Nagasaki warning citizens to evacuate DAYS before the bombings), what the fuck does any of that have to do with Misawa's career or the circumstances of his death? The dude had virtually NO hard news to deliver about his passing, so to cover up his tracks he just filled the article with rehashed statements about the All Japan/NOAH split. Imagine, if you will, reading an article that's supposed to be about 9/11, only for three-quarters of it to discuss the financing plans that took place in the 1960s to build the World Trade Center. Well, that's Dave Meltzer "journalism" for you right there. 

But somehow, someway, The Wrestling Observer indeed became a "respected" trade publication, in much the same way sailors come to appreciate the only whore in town despite her only having one tooth and just as many legs. And - even worse - Dave Meltzer managed to convince the pro wrestling cosmos that he was its authoritative voice on what constitutes quality in-ring product. In many ways, Dave Meltzer is the Roger Ebert of pro wrestling, and I don't mean that as a compliment. The same way Ebert's egomania and political self-righteousness tainted his "impartial" movie reviews, Meltzer's measuring stick for what makes "good 'rasslin" is also highly suspect.

It's over, boys. We've officially found the dumbest thing anybody has ever said on the Internet.

For years, Meltzer has been rating pro wrestling matches on a five-star continuum (aka, the Michelin scale), only because he's so far gone on the autism spectrum he probably runs a Thomas the Tank Engine fansite on the downlow, he had to further atomize the scores into a quarter decimal system. This is, in and of itself, pretty stupid, since Meltzer himself has never specifically clarified what a match has to do to earn a high rating, nor offered anything resembling a coherent, non-Aspie rationale as to what makes a match rated two and three quarter stars that much better than one rated just two and a half stars. The problem here is that the Internet Wrestling Community - the horrific hive-mind it is - tends to take Meltzer's star ratings as the literal gospel, and many brainwashed fans are so hung up on Dave's nuts that they can't even determine for themselves whether a match was good or legitimately great until Uncle Dave tells 'em what to think.

The fact of the matter is that Meltzer's ratings have always been bullshit. For example, he gave one of the most memorable matches of all-time - Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at WM3, a bout that had at least 70,000-something people screaming like crazy, that me and my elementary school lads memorized move from move like a classical piano piece - a negative three star rating. Why? Because he didn't like Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon's booking, or the fact that Middle America would rather watch two tall dudes with limited mobility just slam the fuck outta' each other than watch Meltzy's beloved 180-pound rice-eater Japa-heno kung-fu cruiserweights armdrag each other for 45 minutes straight. Like Ebert, he's always been a snob for the pretentious shit, and now his import on the world of wrestling is more substantial than ever before. 

Today, wrestlers don't wrestle for the audience, they wrestle to impress the Meltz in the hopes of garnering a coveted five star rating, which they can then use for leverage in bilking more money out of promoters and procuring more DVD revenue. Back in the 1990s there used to be variety on a wrestling card, but today, ROH, WWE, NXT, TNA (or whatever the fuck its called), PWG, EVOLVE and New Japan all feel interchangeable. Each promotion seems to have melded into a singularity, with carefully laid out spots and painfully choreographed dives and pitch perfectly timed kicks and high spots you can practically set to a metronome. For fuck's sake, there's even a tag team that named one of their moves after him; the same way Steve James and Werner Herzog sucked Roger Ebert's flabby, flaccid cock for free publicity, indie vanilla midgets like the Young Bucks are just flat out pandering to The Wrestling Observer, in the hopes that King Dave bestows upon them his highest honor (and more on that complicated issue in just a second.)

There was a point in time in which Meltzer was extremely hesitant to hand out five star ratings. From mid-2006 until mid-2011, for example, he didn't hand out a single "perfect score," despite that epoch giving us some of the greatest fucking wrestling matches ever (I still say that BURNING/Kensuke Office elimination tag from '08 is the best wrestling match of the past 25 years, and anybody who disagrees is a goddamn communist.) But then, something happened - all of a sudden (and after nearly 15 years of scant WO coverage) Meltz absolutely fell in LOVE with what New Japan Pro Wrestling was doing. 

A lot of people like to comment on Dave Meltzer's (admittedly) impressive biceps. Well, if I had to venture a guess, those muscular arms aren't the result of steroids, but from jacking off Jado and Gedo nonstop for the last five years. Since then, he's awarded no less than 19 New Japan matches his highest possible rating, and even broke his own rating system to give a series of Kenny Omega matches 5.75, 6 and 6.25-star ratings. Hell, if Omega had shown up at the funeral of Meltzer's father and took a shit inside the open casket, Dave's rampant fanboyism probably would have inspired him to give it a 4.75 rating, only taking off a quarter star due to his dad's lack of selling. 

Meltzer has never been able to justify the reason for why a 4.75 star match didn't get a 5 star rating. People on Twitter ask him that all the time and every response he gives is some permutation of "well, it was missing a certain something." I hate to be cynical, but I think it's safe to say that "certain something" is a self-addressed stamped envelope with a money order in it. Think back to the roarin' 2000s, and how ROH was the only U.S. promotion consistently scoring 4.5 star-plus matches (indeed, the promotion netted three five-star rated matches that decade, to the WWE's zero.) Hey, remember which organization had their ads for DVD and merchandise plastered all over the Observer website back then? Why, my goodness, it just so happened to be Ring of Honor. If "real" journalists aren't above money-hats and pay-to-play "good" coverage (and as a guy who spent half his adult life as a reporter, I can tell you such is the truth everywhere) then what makes you think Dave Meltzer - the Fonzie with fetal alcohol syndrome lookalike he is - has higher ethical principles?

I've long been skeptical of Dave Meltzer's "coverage," but all of this New Japan dick sucking did it for me. While I likewise thought the Tokyo Dome Omega/Okada bout was good, Meltzer never gave a cogent explanation as to why that "six star" match was so much technically better than something like 06/03/94. Instead, Meltzer - the oh so impressionable, easily excitable elevated fanboy he is - just got so caught up in the moment that he figured the only logical thing to do was to reward their performances by shattering his own ratings system (which, to his credit, Ebert never had the desperation to resort to.) Well, that, or he knew that he could use his clout to shamelessly promote New Japan, and that by handing out a 6/5 score the match (and the promotion, by proxy) would receive heaps of outside media attention (as evident by the fact even Wendy's tweeted about it.) Naturally, he gave the second Okada/Omega bout an even higher 6.25 rating, and - you guessed it - he couldn't explain why that match was superior to the one he gave 6 stars to just a few months earlier. Hell, at this point, why not stop giving numerical scores at all? I can imagine Meltzer giving the inevitable fourth Okada/Omega bout a rating of a marshmallow and a sunbeam, and the IWC dorks would still lap it up like it was the Sermon on the Mount. 

And why is it that pro wrestling is the only form of sports-ish entertainment that relies upon such critical standards, anyway? I've never read an article where Peter King or Adam Schefter gave an NFL game any kind of arbitrary, subjective numerical value, nor have I seen nerds on the NFL subreddit bicker back and forth whether Super Bowl LI deserved four and three quarter helmets or the full five. You don't see MMA fans badgering Ariel Helwani for his latest UFC PPV ratings and you don't see John Buccigross handing out grades for NHL playoff games ("The triple overtime Chicago Blackhawks win over the St. Louis Blues gets four and half pucks, because there were a few moments where the goalies just kinda' stood there and the finish seemed rushed.") It's long been suspected that the Meltz has autism, and if his peculiar fascination with grading everything (and thus, inflating his own sense of self-righteousness) doesn't confirm it, this snapshot of his work space probably does. 

All in all, I'd say Dave Meltzer is just a big a carnie as the wrestling promoters, writers and stars he's always taking mad shit about. He's never booked a single show or performed a single goddamn wrestling match yet he thinks he has some sort of moral high ground to constantly berate people like Kevin Nash and Vince Russo for disagreeing with his bullshit and then calling him out on his bullshit on social media. He's made a living off the vicarious blood, sweat and tears of other people, and is conceited enough to think that his personal opinions on "the biz" have influence beyond maybe 10 percent of all the people in the world who regularly watch wrestling (do you think anybody in Japan, Mexico or India gives half a fuck about what some Greaser Greg from The Garbage Pail Kids Movie looking-motherfucker thinks about anything?) He's just a glorified fanboy who uses his tabloid piece of shit 'zine to put over people he wants to hang out with and criticize everybody who doesn't think flippity-floppity ADHD indie horse shit starring two 160-pound dorks from El Segundo is trite, boring and silly. He thinks his publication is the voice of the true wrestling fan, when all it is is a cult of personality circle jerk, probably designed with the ulterior motive of getting him one step closer to that long-fantasized penis polishing from Minoru Suzuki.

Dave Meltzer's reporting sucks, his biased op-ed writing masquerading as journalism sucks, his publication sucks and his "industry-leading" star ratings suck. You don't need this asshole telling you what's good or bad - just watch matches on your own and make up your own damn mind. The relevancy of The Wrestling Observer has long-since passed - and so have all the meandering, pointless musings of Meltzer himself.


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