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Match Rating - Strong Style vs. Sports Entertainment

We all know the obvious differences between Japan's traditional "Strong Style" and the WWF's "Sports Entertainment." For most of us, Japan offered a new market that was clearly opposite of what the United States offered us. Though we all have our opinions on which style is better, no answer is definite. I personally enjoy aspects of both and have long been faced with the dilemma of how to rate matches.

Every wrestling fan has their own guilty pleasure or ugly past heroes, whether you were a Hulkamaniac, thought Ron Garvin was a worthy champion, or got into puroresu via garbage wrestling, it doesn't really matter. We live and we learn. Maybe it's the past few days of reading nothing but Immanuel Kant and his complicated philosophy, but I've been trying to grasp how to fairly evaluate these two these styles.

The old five-star system has been used for quite some time. No man's opinion is more respected than Dave Meltzer, whose WON's have been telling us all what's good and what is not. I share the same views of Mr. Meltzer and feel he treats Japanese and American matches differently, but fairly. Then there is Stuart (of Wrestling Viewpoint), whose in-depth reviews are excellent, though sometimes harsh. I looked over some of his views on WWF and WCW events over the past few years and he pulled no punches. He seems to have a distinct view on what matches need and you can't fault his reviews for that.

I've been looking at both styles hard and contrasting them and honestly feel one system is not enough. Some things are just given to elevate a match: psychology, heat, work rate, salesmanship, proper execution, appropriate length, and preferably a clean finish. Now if a Kawada and Misawa did a flawless match, but had a tainted finish in anyway, most would blast the match (and rightfully so), but it would probably get the lowest rating of their series. If the WWF had a match of half that caliber, but had the unclean finish, the match would probably be given rave reviews. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

I have a handful of favorite WWF matches (Hart-Michaels, Hart-Hart, Hart-Austin, I'm starting to notice a trend) and I have my favorite All/New Japan matches (Misawa-Kawada, Misawa-Kobashi, Kawada-Sasaki). I would easily say that the WWF ones were more captivating start to finish, but technically the Japanese ones were superior. I hate to look down upon the WWF matches as I grew up with them and if it wasn't for their child-friendly 80s `Rasslin, I might be reviewing the latest metal album. On the other hand, I have turned to Japan when the WCW sucked and the WWF wasn't much better.

As I get more involved rating wrestling to aid my tape selling/trading site, I battle with the method to dole out stars. I look at Sports Entertainment as it is meant to be seen (in my humble opinion) as an engaging story. I don't rate angles, gimmicks, or mic skills, I rate the in-ring work. This may hurt some matches, which had an excellent storyline going into them, but this is pro wrestling - do it in the ring. Japanese matches tend to do just that, which is makes rating very straightforward. When an American match does that, it makes it exceptional and should be looked at accordingly. I won't even get into Lucha Libre, which I feel should be rated uniquely as well. Sorry if this sounds like a poorly organized rant, but it's been on my mind and sometimes we just have to get these things out.

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