As a lapsed wrestling fan who still follows some of the news and a WWE PPV maybe once a year (and to be fair, I've seen very little outside WWE) I'd like to weigh in on the whole Meltzer vs. The World argument.
I'd grew up in early 90s WWF, lapsed for several years, and became a bigger fan in the late 90s into the early 2000s. A large part of the reasoning for this return was reading Meltzer's review and seeing that wrestling could be more than the goofball nonsense that WWE had been and could, in fact, be looked at as a higher level of art. Through Dave, I learned to appreciate wrestlers whose work I either missed as a kid or were reaching their prime in the '97-2000. (IE: Hart/HBK/Jericho/Benoit/Guerrero/Austin/Foley and the like)
For me, those were the guys that are on the wrestling Mt. Rushmore (Even Benoit, as evil as he is). Those were the guys that created magic whenever they were in the ring. They were my style of wrestling, and it made me appreciate Meltzer even more, knowing that as much as I knew he liked those guys as well, he barely ever gave any of them 5*, which I had been trained to see as the high-water mark to end all others.
I believed in 5 Stars.
In fact, during that period, NOT ONE MATCH in WWF got 5*. In fact, no WWF match got 5* from 1997 to 2010. IE: Not one match in 2000, when I'd say (hot take) WWE had the best roster in wrestling history. Not one match in 2001, a reasonable successor. Those were some of the most unbelievable matches I've ever watched, that I still love to this day and Meltzer didn't deem any of them worthy of 5*. I might have been insulted by this; I might have felt Meltzer a little snobby for deciding some random Kobashi match was 5* worthy but Jericho/HHH Last Man Standing wasn't. In fact, it seemed like the message that Meltzer was sending was that, if you wanted to watch THE GREATEST MATCHES EVER, you better get into tape trading because you would never see it on a US PPV.
But like I said, I believed in 5 Stars.
Now fast forward 20 years, and guys that weren't even in their teens in the 90s aren't getting just 5* but 6 and 7? Really? Bret Hart and HBK have two 5* matches each and REY FENIX has FIVE (and at least one match > 5)? Most everyone agrees that at least one of the Flair/Steamboat matches was one of the greatest matches of all time. Most of those were 5 stars. ARE YOU SERIOUSLY GOING TO TELL ME THAT THE FRIGGIN YOUNG BUCKS HAVE HAD MATCHES BETTER THAN FLAIR/STEAMBOAT?! REALLY?! I don't care how much of a revelation Kenny Omega is. Are you seriously going to tell me he's had more perfect matches better than Ric Flair?
I know, it's all subjective but DAMNIT, it's still real yadda yadda. I had faith in Meltzer. Faith in 5*. Now I see Meltzer hanging out with the Young Bucks, posing like a doof fan and I just feel like “THIS is the guy I thought of as an authority? This is the guy?”
What the hell, Dave?
Totally pictured you reading that like Teddy the handyman on Bob’s Burgers.