Newsletter Special Feature - Craig's Q and A

Special Feature #1

Q and A with Craig, Founder of Pro Wrestling Musings.

   How did you come up with the idea of doing this and where does your love of stats come from? @Anthonydownunda

   I essentially decided I'd like to contribute something to the online community, first I shared match ratings and created bar chart races to illustrate title histories throughout history. You can still find these title history videos on my site: https://www.prowrestlingmusings.com/title-histories

I then started thinking about what else I'd like to create and due to my background as an avid football viewer I landed on the idea of creating 'match stats' for wrestling as they do for football: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/53745581

   I've always loved looking at football stats. From the simple stuff like differences between goal differences or top scorers charts to more complex stuff provided by OPTA or Squawka. Football stats are endless, theres common stuff like possession and shots on target provided commonly to the less well-accessed stuff like dribbles per 90 or % of passes forward.

   What have you found that has made your life easier in doing these stats? @DavePozefsky

   Working with others really helps. I got really behind for a while but since I got people onboard to do some of the content creating it's easier to motivate myself to produce the numbers to a schedule.

   In terms of the actual nuts and bolts of it, having played the Smackdown vs Raw games as a kid and into adulthood really helps with categorising manoeuvres. Additionally, the symbols based shorthand I made up is really efficient! (fancier than it sounds!)

   Is there a specific software that helps you counting the strikes, moves etc of every match? @LMWPodcast

   Unfortunately not. It's all pen and paper! I have some wrestling match mapping ideas that would be cool if there was some kind of software that could record categorised events against a timeline.

   In your podcast I heard you say that you're a teacher but i didn't catch what subject. Are you by any chance a maths or physics teacher or where does your passion for statistical breakdowns come from? Love the content! @Cid_Raynes

   In Scotland children go to Primary school between the ages of 4/5 and 11/12. A primary school class is taught by one teacher for the year. Therefore Primary Teachers teach all subjects for that year group.

   I'm a Primary School Teacher, and I have to say the skill-set transfers well. In the job you are dealing with a large number of very complex young people whilst teaching a range of skills and topic areas, some of which are completely novel to you.

   The creativity, problem-solving and information displaying skills are clearly relevant to creating unique wrestling analysis.

   How did you become interested in Pro Wrestling? @EPWShow

   A very interesting question... I always have been, I've only had a few years where i didn't watch around 2010-2012 or so.

   I suppose the question is almost why are you still a fan as an adult even though the whole concept of pro wrestling is a bit odd?

   Well... I suppose I feel a bit uncomfortable with aspects of masculinity, the quickness to anger and displays of toughness! So wrestling to me is a self-aware expression of masculinity without straying too far into the realms of alpha-male-ism. 

   I know it's predetermined but I enjoy the story and result like I do any other form of fiction.

   I'm guessing this wasn't the answer you assumed the question would get!

   What are the main struggles of writing stats for a predetermined sport? @Quasde09

 Well this week on Dark, Fenix did those over the top punches where it was really clear most of them were miles away... So I had decide which to count and which to disregard. Even though none of them are real punches, which is a weird way to think about it. So it was like adjudging convincingness!

   I suppose people like to point that out and ridicule the idea. I'd suggest that's more to do with people's own inner conversation about why they themselves watch something that's fake? Which is something I think fuels a lot of the aggravation in wrestling's online spaces.

   Was there a specific match/show that made you decide to create wrestling content from a statistical point of view? @ElCompactoNewt

 Not as such, it was more the pull of creating something in an area of interest.

   The stats I'd guess was prompted by hearing of AEW's intention to use more statistics in their product. The other thing, I believe thinking back, was NJPW's use of statistics via the English commentary team and believing that there could be a lot more to be done with it.

   Are all aerial manoeuvres considered dives and do you have a statistic for signature moves. Just an in depth explanation of the stats in an understandable way. @RIA_Otis

   So the words I use for my categories come from Smackdown vs Raw games. Not particularly consciously but that's where it comes for. A button for grapples, a button for strikes...

   There's an argument what I call dives should be 'aerial manoeuvres' and what I call grapples should be 'power moves' or 'slams'. I'm not saying this wouldn't be better but I'm keeping the verbiage as is for now.

Here's an explanation of each category:

  • Strike - Punch, kick, elbow, clothesline... Body part 'strikes' opponent.

  • Strikedown - A strike that floors or knocks down an opponent. Typically spears, lariats, Superkicks.

  • Grapple - Slams, bombs, suplexes, drivers... Moves where wrestlers use force and an abrupt stop to damage their opponent.

  • Dives - Any move that uses extended gravity to create extra force. Top rope jumps, springboards and in to out dives.

  • Submission - Accumulated by total time as some submissions are 5 seconds long whereas some are 35 seconds long. The time based accumulation gives a better comparison.

  • Reversals - Defensive grapples or evasions that provide an opportunity to turn the tide, wrestlers can exchange reversals.

  • Pin Attempts - Successful and unsuccessful pin attempts.

  • Fouls - Anything the ref applies a five count to, actions that would result in disqualification if observed by the ref and use of objects around the ring.

  • Taunts - Deliberately mocking opponent or firing up showmanship.

  • Finishers - Moves that finish matches more often than not. For example only Okada's ripcord Rainmaker is a finisher, the other variants almost never result in pin fall. Another example, the Codebreaker is no longer a finisher as it rarely wins matches but the Judas Effect does.

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