THE VON ERICH RATING SYSTEM
I hate the damn star system. I’ve used them when filing reports for the sheets, but I hate them. They’re a pain in the ass. Let’s say that you use match reviews in wrestling newsletters to decide which PPV matches you want to track down (which I have done). If a match is ****1/4 instead of ****1/2 stars, does that make you want to see it any less? Me neither. From negative stars to *****+, there are about 16 different ratings you can give a match, and that’s not even counting stuff like “NR” (no-rating/non-ratable). IMHO, that’s just too damn many ratings, especially when I find that my appraisal of any given wrestling match usually falls into three categories: “good,” “bad,” or “okay, but nothing special.” I wanted an easier way to rate matches, without sacrificing the six major levels of match quality (Match-Of-The-Year candidate, excellent, good, okay-but-nothing-special, bad, and completely insulting to me as a fan). Back in 1997, I first developed a primitive version of the Von Erich system that rated wrestling matches on a scale of dead Von Erichs. Each wrestling match is assigned a Von Erich rating. The better the match, the more over the Von Erich was in his heyday.
That’s right, dead Von Erichs. Von Erichs that have ceased to be. If you want to think of my VE system as a touching memorial tribute, that’s fine. If you want to think of it as a heartless gag, that’s fine, too. This will likely upset the thin-skinned out there, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. Bottom line: This is my rant and, and this is my match-rating system. If it upsets you, feel free to file a complaint with the webmaster of this site. We welcome your feedback and you can access our complaint department by holding the ALT key and pressing F4.
Don’t laugh, idiots will actually fall for that. Do you really think all the Von Erich drug problems and suicides are a coincidence? Me neither. I could go into a long-winded rant about how Fritz Von Erich is a sick bastard for shoving the limelight down his kids’ throats until they all choked to death on it (sans kevin), but I won’t. You get the point. Anyway, here’s the breakdown of my VE system, associating my ratings with what they’d translate to on that damn star system. Learn it, use it, love it:
(FRITZ)= Near-perfect to MOTY (Match Of The Year) candidate (**** to *****+).
This is the top honor. In his heyday, Fritz was one of the most over heels in the country as an evil German guy. Fritz then carved out his true legacy as an evil Texas guy who pushed his sons into early graves, but I digress.
A (FRITZ) is the highest rating a match can achieve, and (FRITZ) matches are career-makers that fans talk about for years. A (FRITZ) match is something you’d show a non-fan in an attempt to convert them. A (FRITZ) match is why you’re a wrestling fan. A (FRITZ) rating is always spelled out in all caps as a respectful tribute to the efforts of those involved. And if you can read this paragraph out loud with a straight face, you’re one up on me.
(Kerry) = Very good to excellent match (*** to ****).
When I designed the system, there was some discussion among the insiders I pal around with as to whether Kerry was more over than David. The problem most people had (and I wish Vince McMahon suffered from this) was that they confused “better worker” with “most over.” The debate led to an amusing exchange between myself and a friend of mine.
My friend: “David was even a star in Japan. Kerry never could’ve survived in Japan.”
Me: “Actually, David didn’t survive Japan either.”
While there’s no doubt in my mind that David was the best pure worker out of all the Von Erich boys, when Kerry pinned Ric Flair in Texas Stadium to win the NWA World title in 1984, he reached a career peak of “over” that 99.9% of pro wrestlers can only dream of. Kerry was also the Von Erich boy with the most and best international exposure, thanks to a brief WWF fling in the 90s, highlighted with an IC title win over Curt Hennig at SummerSlam 90. (As for where kevin fits in with the grand scheme of things, I’ll get to him later.)
A (Kerry) rating is for those show-stealing, expectation-surpassing matches that you want to watch again as soon as they’re over. Just short of a (FRITZ), a (Kerry) match is something you want as part of your video library.
(David) = Okay to good match (** to ***).
A (David) rating means a match is fine in its own right, good for what it was, accomplished what it needed to (such as advancing a storyline, or getting a character over), but it’s not necessarily something you’d want to ever see again. Nothing so extraordinary that it made you say “wow” or made you sit up and notice who is wrestling. But in the same vein, a (David) match doesn’t have any noticeable screw-ups or blown spots either.
(Mike) = Neither bad nor good, it’s just kinda there (* to **).
Filler matches. Matches that don’t really accomplish anything (furthering storylines, building characters, etc). No room for discussion here. Mike was easily the least athletically gifted and least-over of all the full-sized Von Erichs to compete in the squared circle, and if the real Mike ever actually wrestled a (Mike) match, he was undoubtedly carried.
(Chris) = Worthless match (DUD).
A waste of time and tape, just as Fritz’s Mini-Me, Chris Von Erich, was the least over of all Von Erichs to step in the ring. A (Chris) match will see things like the wrestlers not clicking worth a damn, too many spots blown, cred-killing phantom punches, and so on. Basically, a (Chris) rating goes to a match with absolutely no redeeming value.
(kevin) = Not just terrible, but completely insulting to you as a wrestling fan (negative-stars).
What I said above about the ****1/4 match versus the ****1/2 match goes double for negative-stars. When you get right down to it, what’s the difference between a -* match and a -**** match? (And don’t say “three negative stars,” smart asses. It’s a rhetorical question.) To me, the worst condemnation you can give a wrestling match is saying that it actually makes you embarrassed to be a wrestling fan, hence the negative-stars concept.
It doesn’t matter if it’s one negative-star or 100, a turd is a turd is a turd. I remember Wrestling Observer Newsletter assigning the Sheik & Volkoff vs. Luke & Butch match at the Heroes Of Wrestling PPV something like negative-400-stars-plus (I’m serious). That kind of proves my point that multiple negative stars are excessive, redundant and meaningless. Once something’s buried by the “negative-stars” label, it’s buried for good (hey, just like most of the Von Erichs!).
Now then, how to translate a “negative-stars” rating to my Von Erich system? I’m glad you asked. In a rare moment of epiphany, it came to me that if a positive-stars match equals a dead Von Erich, a negative-stars match should equal a living Von Erich. As a friend of mine said to me when I explained this to him, “That’s so logical, it’s frightening.” Naturally, there aren’t a lot of living Von Erichs to choose from, so kev is the no-brainer choice for the worst of the worst…and it’s a fitting label.
You see, kevin is, and I’m being kind here, a scumbag. Listen to this story and tell me if you don’t agree. When Kerry died in 1992, a memorial card was thrown together in Texas, with the proceeds going to the two daughters Kerry left behind. The main event was scheduled to be kevin & Chris Adams vs. Michael Hayes & Buddy Roberts. The promoter of the show told the boys that he would cover any other bookings they had for the evening. So the night of the show rolls around, and kevin goes to the promoter and holds him up for $2,000, claiming that he could have made that much at a different show in Alabama. That’s right, kevin HELD UP THE PROMOTER AT A BENEFIT SHOW FOR HIS OWN NIECES. And he’s the one that lived. If anyone wants to defend kevin for this, do it somewhere else. I just don’t want to hear it. When discussing him within the context of my VE system (kevin) the rating and kevin the man are both always spelled out in lowercase letters to truly hammer home the fact that I have no respect for the guy and he isn’t even worth holding down a SHIFT key for a fraction of a second. However, if you take a page from the WWE and remove the letter “F” from the word “SHIFT,” you’ll have a better idea as to what I think of kevin.
Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering, I would rate kevin between David and Mike on the grand scale of “over.” It’s a debatable point, but a moot one, as now that I finally have my VE system completed, and I’m not changing it anytime soon. But we’re not done yet…
(Waldo) = Unratable.
As Waldo wasn’t really one of the Von Erich family, a (Waldo) rating is for a match that isn’t really a match. This covers gimmick matches, novelty matches, and other unratables. A squash match would be a (Waldo). A match that goes 30 seconds would be a (Waldo). A T&A match (bra & panties, evening gown) would be a (Waldo). The important thing to remember is that a (Waldo) must have an official decision, or basically, fall under the pretense of being an actual bell-to-bell match.
(Lance) = The match didn’t actually happen.
This doesn’t occur often, but it does happen from time to time. Angles where a wrestler gets attacked before the bell (or no-shows) and forfeits the match. Waldo was more over than Lance ever was, hence their placement in the grand scheme of things.
And that’s the VE system in all its glorious shame. Obviously, like any rating system, it’s subjective. One man’s (Kerry) is another man’s (Chris) and vice versa. Unlike the inferior star system, the VE system gets easier to use with time. Give it a try sometime soon. Hey, it might make that upcoming lousy PPV easier to sit through. You have nothing to lose except your respect for the Von Erichs. And you’re better off without it.
Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.