Newsletter Special Feature #2
GRAPPL - Gareth
Gareth is the founder and driving force behind GRAPPL, the match ratings app which can be found on the app store. He sometimes features on Spotlight, the official podcast of GRAPPL and often shares infographics on Twitter providing insight into statistics revealed by ratings collated via the app.
GRAPPL is a crowdsourcing ratings app that gathers ratings from its users to provide a consensus on the quality of matches. The app’s main selling point is that users can use it to find matches worth watching when time is at a premium whilst compiling a record of their own appraisals throughout the years.
GRAPPL has over 40,000 matches from 30 promotions, new and old, ranging from WWE, NJPW and AEW, to WCW, ECW and NWA, and other leading promotions across the US (Impact/ROH/GCW/PWG/MLW/Beyond), Europe (PROGRESS/RevPro/wXw), Japan (AJPW/Dragon Gate/Stardom/NOAH/DDT), Mexico (AAA/CMLL) and Australia (PWA/MCW).
Hi Gareth and thank you for joining us for this interview about GRAPPL and how your love of wrestling led to the creation of GRAPPL. First question is quite simply, why GRAPPL? With match ratings being provided by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and Cagematch, why did you feel the need to create GRAPPL?
I’d had the idea for GRAPPL for a number of years because I was a pretty early user and big fan of the beer rating app Untappd. As a wrestling fan of over 30 years, I’d obviously seen Meltzer ratings used for a long time, and also seen both the reverence and negativity these generated. I thought for a few years “I wish somebody would make an Untappd for wrestling” because I loved seeing how my views compared to the average across all users, and after a while this changed to “This is a good idea, why don’t I make it?”.
I absolutely love Cagematch but I just felt that an app gave you more scope for inputting the ratings while you are watching, in an easier way. Visual media consumption is rarely “single screen” these days. People tend to be on social media, searching for information or gaming while they watch things, so it made sense to me to introduce this platform.
Are match ratings something you have always been interested in and are you someone who has kept track of match ratings, personally?
It might surprise you that prior to launching GRAPPL I never kept my own match ratings on spreadsheets or anywhere else! I’d use Meltzer ratings, or ratings from the likes of Voices of Wrestling, or Cagematch recommendations as a guide on what to watch but never kept my own. The same applies to films and music etc. where I’d always look at and use things like Empire ratings or NME ratings etc.
A lot of people seem to use GRAPPL in the same way in that that they don’t rate, but they use it for discovery. I’ve always been a “list” person though. I love thinking like “what are my top 10 WrestleMania matches or Bret Hart matches or whatever” and sit and put them together. I think the app idea just made it easier, more fun and more meaningful to actually rate matches and maintain them (and make lists!).
Needless to say, I really enjoyed pulling together the first ever GRAPPL 100 – the 100 best matches of 2019 based on user ratings (https://www.grapplapp.com/grappl-100)!
The official podcast of GRAPPL, Spotlight is a big part of the GRAPPL brand due to the podcast’s popularity. How did Spotlight come to fruition and what was your role in this process?
Benno, Joe and JP were already producing Spotlight for another website before I’d even met any of them. I met Benno on a train coming back to Liverpool from a PROGRESS show (randomly, it turned out we lived pretty much around the corner from each other) and he told me about their podcast and I told him about the app idea I was working on. We kept in touch after that and I started listening to their show and it quickly became probably my favourite podcast, and I also became friends with Joe & JP.
The website only wanted them to focus on British wrestling, whereas they wanted to be able to talk about whatever they wanted on a weekly basis. I’d always thought in the back of my mind that it would be great to have Spotlight as part of GRAPPL, so when we were all doing a car journey from a RevPro show to a PCW show and they suggested it to me I was totally on board, and the rest is history!
Their content is as good as anything out there and it’s a great way to help keep GRAPPL in people’s heads!
What are the main demands of running the GRAPPL app? Which do you enjoy and are there drawbacks of running such a comprehensive app?
The main demand is the time. I’ve always wanted to present it as professionally as possible in terms of ‘look & feel’, branding and the people we look to partner with, so I sometimes think that people think that it’s a bigger operation than it is. In reality its just me doing all the updates to the app, social media, marketing, planning, updating the website, trying to build new opportunities etc. This is on top of my day job and the demands of two kids!
I always feel like there’s more I want to be doing with GRAPPL which can get frustrating. The only thing I don’t do is the programming / tech side of things. I partnered with an app development company to build GRAPPL and that’s another drawback because there’s plenty of little improvements I’d love to be able to just make myself but it might take them weeks or months – it’s the only part out of my control!
The main enjoyment comes though from just seeing people from all over the world using it. It was such a buzz last year when I realised we’d passed over quarter of a million ratings on the app in under 12 months, I couldn’t quite believe it and had to keep adding things up to make sure! I love just going on the feed and seeing like one person is rating a Stardom match from the previous day, the next person is rating 1980’s WWF and the next person is rating GCW show. The fact that people are sat around the world using something which was just an idea in your head is pretty cool!
Are there any other stories about GRAPPL or details you have noticed via the app that would be of interest to readers?
Not sure how interesting these will be?!... The original working title was “Five Star Classic”. Think I made the right decision ditching that one!
You can trust all the ratings on the app apart from one… there’s a bug on there which means that occasionally when too many people are trying to rate at the same time and the server is struggling, some ratings will default to the first match on the database – Tito Santana vs. The Executioner from Wrestlemania 1. If you look on there it has over 650+ ratings and an average of over 3 stars (ridiculously high if you’ve ever seen it!). I know it needs to be fixed but I’ve become quite attached to it because of the ridiculousness of it.
Because of GRAPPL I got the opportunity to have a beer and discuss the app with somebody who was once a very senior figure in wrestling. He asked me if it was possible to re-skin the platform and use it for porn. Well… I suppose ‘controversy creates cash’ after all…
More from a ratings point of view….
Kazuchika Okada is in the four highest rated matches of all time on the app and randomly all four have an average rating of 4.89 despite having a combined total of 3.5k ratings. Not a bad effort!
A lot of people thought that the Bucks vs. Page/Omega match from earlier this year was the greatest tag match of all time but not for GRAPPL users. The 1995 All Japan match between Super Generation Army (Kobashi / Misawa) and Holy Demon Army (Taue & Kawada) sits at the top of the tag tree, also with an average of 4.89.
The worst match of all time on GRAPPL is Kevin Sullivan vs. Mr. T from Starrcade 94 (0.29 average).
WWE has produced only 11 main roster matches with an average of 4.5+ in the last DECADE! New Japan had 13 matches with an average of 4.5+ in 2019 alone. “We make movies pal”.
Follow Gareth on Twitter @GRAPPLgareth
Follow GRAPPL on Twitter @GRAPPLapp
Visit the website www.grapplapp.com
Download GRAPPL via the link below