Updated: Sep 10, 2021
Ask any color commentator, (both in professional wrestling and in other combat sports,) and they will undoubtedly assure you that “Styles Make Fights.”
In theory, this means that fighters with different styles match up against one another differently--that you can’t go solely by each fighter’s competitive rating to assess the win likelihood of a particular match-up. This makes fighting sports a lot like Rochambeau: just because Rock beat Scissors, and Scissors beat Paper, don’t be so certain that Rock is a sure thing to beat Paper!
But what does that mean in practice? Can we prove it? quantify it? draw inferences or make predictions based on it? To find out, we need data, and, fortuitously, Craig William just dropped a motherload of it for the new year: data on the type of offense used by All-Elite competitors in every standard-rules one-on-one and two-on-two match at every All-Elite Dynamite and Supercard of 2020. If you frequent this site, I’m sure you’ve seen it, but here’s a link: All Elite Performance Stats.
I’ve been fiddling with ways to visualize and utilize these stats since they dropped, and one of the results is my “Styles Make Fights” Dashboard: AEW_SMF_Dashboard_2020_21
This data-visualization tool allows you to select two competitors and see a dynamic and interactive visual representation of their specific mix of offense, as well as the balance between the offense they deliver and what they absorb. You can use the other drop-boxes to see how that mix changes if you look just at that competitor’s wins, or just their losses, or just matches against a specific opponent. Feel free to fiddle around with it-- only the drop-down boxes for changing the input settings are adjustable by anybody but me, so you can’t break it!
Below is an example of what it looks like set to two not-at-all-random competitors:
Starting tomorrow evening, I am going to start posting a weekly preview based on using the interactive dashboard to preview one (maybe two) of the upcoming scheduled matches from the following night's Dynamite. Tomorrow night I will be posting a preview of Eddie Kingston vs. Lance Archer. I hope that you all find a lot of value in the previews and the dashboard!
Note: the % in the dashboard are not percentages, they're percentiles. They don't indicate a proportion of some maximum amount, they indicate what proportion of the population, (other competitors in their division with at least 20 mins ring time,) do less of each thing. So, for example, a 90% striker delivers more strikes per hour than nine out of ten in their division.