Is Dave Meltzer too generous with his star ratings in recent times, and does he actually reflect the voice of the wrestling fandom? Do his ratings mean as much as they once did, at a time when a ***** effort actually left a lasting cultural footprint?
These are questions that have polluted social media in recent years. His ratings were always controversial, and this sort of conversation took place on forums years and years before AEW broke everybody's brains - but the discourse is more toxic than ever. Longtime readers of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter will always cherish Dave, earnestly and ironically, because his writing opened a gateway into two worlds: the endlessly fascinating backstage corridors, and the art that exists on the international and independent stages outside of the mainstream product you watched as a child.
On the following evidence, Meltzer is not, in fact, an AEW shill who only goes high with his ratings because he is being paid to do so. That is a deranged, outright brainwashed take and it's genuinely alarming how many people actually believe it.
The curators of Cagematch.net echo his ratings, but within the top 10 matches, there is a distinct lack of potentially impulsive TV match ratings.
So which matches make up the very tippy-top...?
10. Hangman Page Vs. Jon Moxley - Revolution 2023 (9.28/10 Per Cagematch)
There's nothing better in wrestling than an excellent match studded with great ideas that isn't convoluted or masturbatory, and the Jon Moxley Vs. Hangman Page Texas Death match struck that sweet spot.
It never lost the tone of an ultra-violent war because every plunder spot was arranged in such a subtle, practically hidden way that it felt like they were arrived at organically. The level of thought existed to make it feel like no thought had been put into the match at all, that it was a spontaneous war. In a great spot, Mox grabbed a fork and repeatedly jabbed it into Page's forehead when he had him trapped in a triangle choke. 'Death Jitsu' isn't just a cool-sounding slogan with which to sell t-shirts; in this match, it was an omni-badass genre fusion. The garbage element wasn't artless; Mox located a way to use weapons to compound the damage he was already delivering.
Fate conspired to enhance this feeling when Page took a header into a suspended barbed wire chair, which took a chunk out of his hair.
Deeper in the match, Page was blasted through a barbed wire board suspended across two chairs, and was only able to survive by propping himself up on one of them. Every spot logically informed the next.
Bloodline fans look away: the finish, a lesson on the glorification of violence, was actually a nod to Western cinema!