The five star match, what exactly does that mean in 2022? Cody Rhodes and Sammy Guevara earned the five star rating from Dave Meltzer and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter sparking even more discussion over the stretching scale that wrestling's most famous journalist uses to rate matches.
The most compelling argument in favour of the 5 star rating is that it matches the five star rating Meltzer gave Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon's ladder match at Wrestlemania 10. A match that was rated 5 stars 28 years ago, is unlikely to be seen as such in 2022, but Melter doesn't function in that manner instead choosing to extend his scale; the highest match now sitting at 7 stars.
To get some context we can look at modern day crowdsourcing of match ratings in the form of Grappl and Cagematch. The Grappl app currently has Cody vs Sammy sitting at 4.19 stars out of a possible 5 with 218 ratings whereas Michaels vs Ramon has a rating of 4.7 from 222 ratings. On the other hand the Cagematch ratings, which are out of 10, see Cody/Guevara rated as 8.63 and HBK/Razor rated as 9.41, with 221 and 322 votes respectively.
So why is Dave Meltzer rating both matches the same and the wider wrestling audience favours the Wrestlemania 10 ladder match? Hasn't wrestling evolved to producing a better match in 28 years? You definitely will have the issue of nostalgia, the momentous nature of Shawn and Razor being the 'first' ladder match.
Personally, i'd say they are matches of similar standing. Cody and Sammy's effort was a mix of the psychology of HBK and Razor's use of the ladder wedded with state of the art wrestling athleticism. However after collating and processing the numbers some very interesting similarities and differences cropped up.
In-ring Statistics - Cody Rhodes vs Sammy Guevara
An incredibly close match upon first glance, only 2% between them in the offence split. However, Cody's offence was more weighted towards 'Big Offence' and 'Weapon Attacks'. Guevara's dependence on strikes to keep up with Cody highlights the struggle the character had to undertake to survive until finding a winning opportunity. This is particularly underscored by the dive use of the two men.
Cody's dominance throughout the match is highlighted by the fact he only conceded the more simple strikes metric and the high-risk dives metric. The fact Sammy Guevara also made more ladder climbs to attempt to receive the belts shows Cody's perspective that he'd eventually win. This is backed up, more obviously, by his taunt tally!
The story of this match is that Cody takes the advantage from the early back and forth, by the 9th minute. He held this advantage and took almost maximum advantage of it for just over five minutes. There was then a period of back and forth that Cody generally got the best of until Sammy Guevara won from underneath with boundary defying offence.
Cody Rhodes/Sammy Guevara vs Shawn Michaels/Razor Ramon
When comparing the two matches, it is helpful that they are similar lengths however for accuracy we also have per hour rates to compare them exactly.
The Cody/Guevara match was wrestled at a much more frenetic pace than its predecessor; the strike rate is almost double and reversal rate is substantially quicker. Where the matches are more similar is in the use of Big Offence; Michaels/Razor utilised the majority of the Big Offence categories in line with Cody/Guevara match; strikedowns, grapples and dives.
It would appear that both matches had a similar pacing of the bigger spots, with Guevara/Cody keeping things moving at a 2022 pace with more strikes, reversals, showmanship and some submissions.
There are some fascinating similarities between the structuring of the dual flow of offences in the two matches. Both matches see competitors ground their opponent for stretches of around five minutes. The difference being that the Wrestlemania 10 match utilised this back to back with the competitors trading roles, whereas Sammy was unable to turn the tables on Cody in this manner.
Both matches' overall Match Flow stuck within the same parameters; an offence value of 30 was never better in a minute of either match. Both matches also used an almost offence-less minute to precede the biggest offence spike of the match. The biggest difference between the two matches was the manner in which they built to the finish as the more modern affair used the match's peak to inform the finish whereas Michaels/Razor used a period of stability to finish things.
At the end of all of this, I enjoyed both matches. The Michaels/Ramon match is intriguing due to the exploration of the stipulation but is very slow and measured. Whereas the Cody/Guevara match is a turbo-powered thrill-ride filled with spots that are somehow novel in 2022.
I think after really digging into all of this, I would side more with Dave Meltzer on the ratings. I believe the Wrestlemania 10 match, excellent for its time, is fuelled by nostalgia and the reputation of its competitors and the match itself. Neither match is a 4.75 star affair. Personally I'd give both 4 stars, which is a terrific rating.
The issue I take with all this is the watering down of star ratings. Dave Meltzer has dominated conversation around this for years, however Grappl is leading a wave of popularisation of fans doing this themselves. Because Meltzer has extended his scale and gives out more 5 stars than one would on a restrictive 5 star scale, wrestling fans seek out matches to give their own 5 star ratings to. Meltzer's influence means that fans expect to have their own bank of 20+ 'five star' matches.
Personally, I'd only rate 2 matches 5 stars and would feel the need to adjust ratings rather than extend my own personal scale. I understand Meltzer's difficulty here, but I think the '7 star' scale is unwieldily and misguiding. A 4.75 star match should be the big deal, the '5 star' moniker is watered down and has lost specialness.
In-ring Statistics for Red Velvet vs Leyla Hirsch and for Orange Cassidy vs Adam Cole: