FanPost

Wrestlemetrics: Examining how WWE tells us what they want us to think

J. Meric

There are a variety of oft-repeated refrains whenever wrestling fans get together and start discussing what's going to happen in the future. Two of the most common - wins and losses don't matter and the belt is a prop - are heard in nearly every conversation that involves projecting what their favorite wrestlers are going to do in the future. So what happens when we take this conversation piece and put it under the microscope? I'm going to spend a few posts in the next few days reviewing the statistics we have available and trying to determine which ones have the highest predictive value in determining the future of a given performer.

The jumping off point for this analysis was the conversation on CSS Live this week, when the guys were discussing Daniel Bryan and his prospectus for being a "top guy." According to the fine folks at wrestlingdata.com, Bryan lost 40 of his 229 matches in 2013 while John Cena lost only 6. Of course, comparing Cena -- the unquestioned top star in the company and an already made man is begging the question a bit -- if Bryan were booked like Cena, we wouldn't be having this discussion. What might be more illuminating is to compare the win/loss records of other stars of the WWE and see if there's anything there.

To do so, I scummed the wrestlingdata.com database for win/loss records of some major figures in WWE over the last 10 years. Rather than discuss my methodology at length, let's take a look at Cena:

Wrestler Year Wins Draws Losses Difference Total Matches Win %
John Cena 2003 54 1 81 -27 136 39.71%
John Cena 2004 88 1 25 +63 114 77.19%
John Cena 2005 153 3 10 +143 166 92.17%
John Cena 2006 146 5 28 +118 179 81.56%
John Cena 2007 111 3 13 +98 127 87.40%
John Cena 2008 71 1 18 +53 90 78.89%
John Cena 2009 150 8 19 +131 177 84.75%
John Cena 2010 136 16 29 +107 181 75.14%
John Cena 2011 163 12 25 +138 200 81.50%
John Cena 2012 155 7 14 +141 176 88.07%
John Cena 2013 124 1 6 +118 131 94.66%
John Cena 2014 16 0 1 +15 17 94.12%

As you can see, CENAWINSLOL. All kidding aside, the data in the table conforms to what we perceive about Cena. He started his push in 2004, he was "made" in 2005 and has remained at the top ever since. In the top stars I looked at, he's also the only one to have more than 6 straight years of a positive win-loss record and in fact hasn't won less than three-quarters of his matches since 2004. I didn't review pre-Cena eras, but I'd gander his records would compare favorably with anyone short of Hogan in his pomp. Now let's take a look at another guy often perceived as being shoved down our throats, one Randall Keith Orton.

Wrestler Year Wins Draws Losses Difference Total Matches Win %
Randy Orton 2003 40 4 39 +1 83 48.19%
Randy Orton 2004 113 2 39 +74 154 73.38%
Randy Orton 2005 32 2 62 -30 96 33.33%
Randy Orton 2006 43 2 74 -31 119 36.13%
Randy Orton 2007 35 4 105 -70 144 24.31%
Randy Orton 2008 33 3 49 -16 85 38.82%
Randy Orton 2009 38 10 130 -92 178 21.35%
Randy Orton 2010 127 9 39 +88 175 72.57%
Randy Orton 2011 145 6 50 +95 201 72.14%
Randy Orton 2012 88 5 26 +62 119 73.95%
Randy Orton 2013 131 8 63 +68 202 64.85%
Randy Orton 2014 5 0 16 -11 21 23.81%

Orton presents a much more interesting dataset. You can see in 2004, he's basically neck and neck with Cena. WWE, perceiving a need for new stars, pushes both of the young guns high. But then Orton spends the next five years jobbing left, right and center, crapping in peoples bags and collecting wellness violations. By the time he recovers, the narrative on him is fairly well-set and even in his hottest years, never breaks that three-quarters milestone. Let's review another worker, one inexorably linked with Mr. Bryan - Sheamus:

Wrestler Year Wins Draws Losses Difference Total Matches Win %
Sheamus 2009 82 2 38 +44 122 67.21%
Sheamus 2010 51 13 120 -69 184 27.72%
Sheamus 2011 99 6 75 +24 180 55.00%
Sheamus 2012 188 7 23 +165 218 86.24%
Sheamus 2013 104 6 24 +80 134 77.61%
Sheamus 2014 5 0 2 +3 7 71.43%

Sheamus had the rocket strapped to him in 2012 and is one of only 3 wrestlers I reviewed who broke an 85% winning percentage. He's also the only wrestler to break the lofty heights of winning 4 out of 5 matches in a year who didn't become a huge draw. Usually, once a wrestler hits that number, their stats look more like this:

Wrestler Year Wins Draws Losses Difference Total Matches Win %
Batista 2003 19 0 34 -15 53 35.85%
Batista 2004 59 1 104 -45 164 35.98%
Batista 2005 133 4 15 +118 152 87.50%
Batista 2006 63 2 8 +55 73 86.30%
Batista 2007 135 9 19 +116 163 82.82%
Batista 2008 85 11 46 +39 142 59.86%
Batista 2009 43 1 26 +17 70 61.43%
Batista 2010 4 2 53 -49 59 6.78%
Batista 2014 1 0 0 +1 1 100.00%

Batista was once a super-hot thing, so I'm told at least, and it is evident here. That three year stretch from 2005-2007 was LOLBATISTAWINS right on the level with what Cena was doing himself. I wasn't watching the product then, but I imagine it must have pretty disheartening to have been a fan of neither man during that time. Batista's cooling off coincided directly with HHH heating up again, for what its worth. So enough with the preamble, what's Daniel Bryan look like:

Wrestler Year Wins Draws Losses Difference Total Matches Win %
Daniel Bryan 2010 71 3 31 +40 105 67.62%
Daniel Bryan 2011 109 2 72 +37 183 59.56%
Daniel Bryan 2012 87 11 108 -21 206 42.23%
Daniel Bryan 2013 183 6 40 +143 229 79.91%
Daniel Bryan 2014 4 0 12 -8 16 25.00%

What's actually most amazing there is the number of matches the last two years. Daniel Bryan's 2013 and 2012 are the most and third most matches anyone I reviewed had during the period. Its clear Bryan got a push in 2013, its equally clear it wasn't the superman push. What remains to be seen is where this leads. Was Bryan's 2013 Cena's 2004 - a harbinger of things to come or was it Orton's - the year the company decided he couldn't be counted on to make them money?

The next post in the series will examine individual wrestlers interactions with titles before diving deeper on wins and losses to determine if when and where they happen matter. Have at it, Cagesiders.

Is there anything you'd like me to investigate in particular?

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.

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