It’s no secret that pro wrestling is a predetermined sport. But despite that, it evolves like any other sport and that evolution has allowed fans to see more excellent pro wrestlers from all around the world. We’ve also seen an increase of 5-star matches in the sport…
Read about the reasons fans today are seeing more 5-star matches than any other era in pro wrestling.
Star Rating Scale
As a reference point, we are going to use Dave Meltzer’s Star Rating Scale to see why pro wrestling has evolved to the point we are currently in, in terms of in-ring quality. We should also point out that Meltzer’s scale is his personal opinion and we should not take it too seriously, as Meltzer himself has mentioned multiple times.
One of the first reasons we’ve seen a rise in 5-star matches is because of Dave. The influence of one of wrestling’s biggest journalists and historians is a reason why quality of matches has improved over the last 30 years. Meltzer’s ratings of the matches The 4 Pillars of Heaven (Mitsuharu Misawa, Toshiaki Kawada, Kenta Kobashi & Akira Taue) had defined generations to come and we are going to see that going forward. We’ll also see more pro wrestlers and fans put stock on the importance of good matches in the sport.
Wrestlers like Manami Toyota, Akira Hokuto, Rey Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho have been key on the evolution of wrestling, and all have been key on inspiring the next generations of wrestlers.
If you don’t agree with Meltzer’s opinion and scale, that’s fine. We can also look at Cagematch as another reference point… In Cagematch’s Top 20 Most Voted Matches, it includes 13 matches from the period of 2013-2023. This shows that even outside of Meltzer’s scale, people agree that in-ring quality has improved since the days of the Pillars of Heaven in AJPW.
On June 30th, Will Ospreay did something that many considered impossible and that was breaking Misawa’s 25 5-star match record on Meltzer’s scale. Will Ospreay, Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada are close to surpassing all the pillars of heaven in terms of 5-star matches.
As mentioned before, despite pro wrestling being predetermined, there has been a major change and evolution in the way players, or in this case pro wrestlers, take care of themselves and their bodies. This evolution and the rise of clean culture in wrestling has allowed wrestlers to take care of their bodies more and be able to have longer primes to produce more 5-star matches.
Can the next generation of wrestlers after Omega, Okada and Ospreay surpass them in terms of 5-star matches? Only time will tell… But signs are pointing to that it could be the case if wrestlers like MJF, Shota Umino, Hijo del Vikingo, Starlight Kid, Jack Perry and more, are able to follow and improve upon what came before them.