What It’s All About
We hear it all the time from the commentary desk: “Styles Make Fights.” But what does that mean in practice?
Welcome to Week 2 of SMF, where we will be exploring that idea by using my SMF Interactive Dashboard to preview a fight scheduled for the following night's AEW show.
For more details on how this interactive tool works, please take a glance at the "Styles Make Fights" introductory post!
Eddie Kingston vs. Lance Archer
Last week’s match-up was about as clear cut of a case as could be made for the concept and value of this form of analysis. I said then that by standard measures, (winning record, strength of schedule, and physical size,) Archer was already a favorite. And that a comparison of their styles made him all the more a favorite: two wrestlers whose styles of offense are very similar favors the favorite, and when both of them have the match style of controlling the match and monopolizing offense, that isn't so easy when a significantly larger man is trying to do the same to you.
I said that a Kingston win would be a significant upset, but that there were a few strategies Kingston could employ (individually or in concert) that would make that upset significantly more likely (or to phrase it outside kayfabe, if he were booked to win, make that upset seem believable).
The first was to hide from and minimize Archer’s offense as much as possible--fight a defensive and elusive fight.
The second was to take Archer’s offense when he could not avoid it, rather than attempt to go strike for strike. Conserve his energy, let Archer punch himself out, and wait for an opening.
And the final strategy was to cheat outrageously.
Now compare the offense mix of the two competitors in general...
...with their offense mix against each other in last week's match:
Kingston was clearly making an effort to save his strength and not dish out nearly as much offense as in his typical match, and he also successfully avoided some of Archer’s offense, relatively speaking. And of course everyone (other than Bryce Remsburg) saw how outrageously Kingston cheated!
Thunder Rosa vs. Dr. Britt Baker, DMD
Thunder Rosa and Britt Baker are incredibly evenly matched. Each has only suffered two losses in AEW in the past year, and for both of them one of those was against the current AEW champion, Hikaru Shida. They are similar in their winning ways, but they could hardly be more different in how they get there:
Thunder Rosa throws everything at her opponents at full speed and hardly gives them any opening to respond. Baker is almost as balanced in her offense types, only de-emphasizing aerial offense, but her mix of delivered vs received is totally different: she is accustomed to giving as good as she gets.
Specifically in AEW-officiated standard-rules one-on-one matches, Thunder Rosa has had two matches against NWA World Champion Serena Deeb--one W and one L. I think that an analysis of the difference between the two is instructive in seeing why Dr. Baker’s style may pose a particular challenge to her. See below Deeb’s offense mix in those two matches: on the left when beating Thunder Rosa, and on the right when losing to Rosa:
It’s like night and day! In the loss, Deeb just got bulldozered. In the win, she found her way to counter and stop Thunder Rosa’s offensive drive and grind out a win.
Now let’s compare Deeb’s mix in her wins on average with Baker’s
When winning, Deeb prevents her opponent’s offense. When winning, Baker takes all her opponent has to dish out and comes back and gives just as much right back. Rosa’s style of giving all-out offense with no breathing room till her opponent is beaten will face a particular test against Baker who has proven that she has the reserves to take everything her opponents can dish out and still come back and win.
The Bottom Line
Pick a Winner?
I am definitely not saying that Rosa is a significant underdog in tomorrow night’s match. She can win and the odds look very even. But I am saying that Baker’s style will pose a particular challenge for her. I would have called them completely even based on wins and strength of schedule, but after looking at the offense mixes, I would call Rosa the slight underdog. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this were the start of a series of traded wins between the two.