Follow TV Tropes


Wrestling / The Wrestling Observer Newsletter

Go To

"Hooooooooow's it going everybody?'"
Bryan Alvarez

The Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON) is a Professional Wrestling magazine first published in 1983 by Dave Meltzer. Initially published as a way to keep wrestling fans in the loop of smaller and international promotions that wouldn't be covered by other, more mainstream publications, it eventually grew in reputation as a Smark friendly magazine, and is to this day the most well respected publication covering pro wrestling.

Ric Flair mentioned in his 2004 autobiography, To Be the Man, that the WON is the Bible for wrestlers. Aside from Flair, several professional wrestlers or promoters have read or made a mention to it, among them being Vince McMahon, Hulk Hogannote , Bret Hart, and Mick Foley.

Particularly notable is the "5-star" match rating system, to which Meltzer has given a 5 or more star rating to 196 matches in the publication's multi-decade spanning history. Yes, his five-star rating system can go beyond five stars; he has given one match (WALTER vs. Tyler Bate at NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff) 5.25 stars, one (Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: New York) 5.5 stars, one match (The Young Bucks vs the Lucha Brothers at AEW's All Out 2021) 5.75 stars, three matches a 6-star rating, one match a 6.25-star rating, which is Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega at NJPW's Dominion 6.11 on June 11, 2017, and their subsequent match at Dominion 6.9 on June 9, 2018 seven stars.

In 2008, the Wrestling Observer website merged with Bryan Alvarez's popular wrestling website Figure Four Daily. Meltzer now pens regular news updates to the website, while the Wrestling Observer brand is applied to a daily radio show hosted by Alvarez. There is also a daily Wrestling Observer Live show hosted by Alvarez and Mike Sempervive which airs on the Sports Byline USA satellite radio network. In recent years, both the Wrestling Observer and Figure Four Weekly have dedicated more and more coverage to MMA. This has proven to be no small cause of controversy among fans of the site.

Though both the Wrestling Observer and Figure Four Weekly are published under the same brand, the two newsletters have distinctive feels. The Observer focuses more on straightforward news coverage and historic profiles, while Figure Four Weekly is focused more on Alvarez's comedic status as a Caustic Critic, while usually leading with a in-depth story on smaller goings on in the wrestling world that Dave can't or won't cover in detail in The Observer. On the radio shows, both Alvarez and Meltzer are masters of snark. The Bryan & Vinny Show is a more comedic-oriented show co-hosted by Bryan's long-time friend and Figure Four Weekly editor Vince Verhei, and can delve into such topics as sports (Verhei was once a sports correspondent), movie reviews (usually featuring wrestlers), and the misadventures of Bryan's cats. It also features Bryan's grandmother, Gladys Gibson, whose own perspective on the news of the week has been a distinctive feature not long after the show's conception.


    open/close all folders 

     Wrestling Observer Newsletter 
  • Accidental Misnaming: Dave is prone to this. Voodoo Kin Mafia becomes Voodoo Murders, for instance.
  • Award Bait: The Young Bucks 2014 finisher (and winner of 2014 Best Move Award) where one brother holds an opponent to do a piledriver, aided by a springboard somersault. The name? The Meltzer Driver.
  • Broke the Rating Scale
    • Dave and Bryan infrequently rate horrible matches with negative ratings (Bryan's "MINUS FIVE STARS" for Jenna Morasca vs. Sharmell being notorious), but a match between The Bushwhackers and The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff at the infamous Heroes of Wrestling event in 1999 was rated "absolute zero stars" by Dave and "minus more stars than there are stars in the universe, and the universe is infinite" by Bryan.
    • Going the other way, Dave rated a Mitsuharu Misawa vs Toshiaki Kawada match for All Japan in June 1994 six stars, proclaiming it to possibly be the greatest match ever. About two decades later the Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega match at Wrestle Kingdom 11 he also gave six stars, immediately declaring it to be the greatest match of all time... but then awarded their next match at Dominion 6.11 six-and-a-quarter stars (Dave would give one more match that year 6 stars, and another match that year got 5 3/4 stars). Omega and Okada's Dominion 6.9 match the following year sent the rating scale into the stratosphere with seven, and every year since has featured several matches over 5 stars, an era mirabilis for Dave's vision of in-ring action.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Meltzer seems to be one in a whimsical sense.
  • Insult Backfire: When Hulk Hogan appeared to burn a copy of a "rag sheet" at WCW World War 3 1995, he shouted "OBSERVE THIS, BROTHER!" Moments before he claimed that it said The Giant was going to win at the main event (Meltzer predicted Sting or Randy Savage, and Savage did win) and claimed that a report stating Savage had an arm injury was false (despite the injured arm being taped, noticeably smaller than the healthy arm, and the commentary playing it up). Despite the misinformation, Meltzer took it as a compliment that the biggest star in wrestling spent a whole segment burying him.
    Hulk Hogan: Observe this, brother! This is what we call a rag sheet, brother! They said The Giant was gonna win the match, they said the Macho Man was hurt! This is like... This is like a dinosaur compared to the Internet, brother! The Internet's got the scoops, we're gonna steal the belt, the Stinger, Macho Man, and Hulk Hogan together! The Macho Man's not hurt, and what are you Hulkamaniacs gonna do when the Stinger, Macho Man and Hulk Hogan run wild on you guys!
  • Letters to the Editor: Used to dedicate several pages to letters received until the website became a more integral part of the newsletter. Now, major feedback and letters of interest are posted to the website, and Dave spends several minutes answering fan submitted questions on Observer Radio shows or several hours doing so on the monthly "Sin Limite" show with Observer Live host Mike Sempervive.
  • Shown Their Work: Anytime a major wrestler passes away Dave Meltzer goes out of his way to write up an in-depth biography for next week's newsletter.
    • Dave also frequently goes above and beyond the call of duty for the annual "Hall of Fame" issue.
    • Dave and Bryan are both athletes (Dave played sports as a youth and weight trained until recently and Bryan was a former gymnast, pro wrestler, and current jiu jitsu instructor), so they both have firsthand experience in wrestling/MMA training and fitness. Vince Verhei was also a pro wrestler on top of being an sports corespondent.

     Wrestling Observer Radio and other shows 
  • Artifact Title: Dr. Keith Lipinski no longer hosts "Dr. Keith Presents."
    • Wrestling Observer Radio also features MMA discussion, to the point that some readers think a rename is in order.
    • Since 2015, Doc Young has not been a regular host on "Doc Young's Wrestling Weekly".
  • Berserk Button: Senseless "fuck-finishes" that are meant to protect someone but harm everyone, e.g. distraction finishes, "disqualified for kicking too much ass" (i.e. not letting up from beating a guy into the ropes), no contests, etc.
  • Ear Worm: On the show following AEW's All Out 2021 show, Dave said he really needed to go to a concert to hear some new catchy music, because he was going to have Ruby Soho's new entrance music ("Ruby Soho" by Rancid, obviously) playing in his head over and over again on repeat until he did.
  • Insistent Terminology: They often use the most famous name for a Finishing Move (eg, the STO will be called the Downward Spiral), but Bryan once stopped a review to explain that he will only refer to Beth Phoenix's Glam Slam as the Bitch Clamp due to Rule of Cool. John Cena's Attitude Adjustment is still sometimes called the FU.
  • Precision F-Strike: Usually when Dave swears, one time describing a nonsensical TNA angle with Dixie Carter and ending by shouting "What the fuck!?"
  • Rambling Old Man Monologue: As he ages, Dave has developed a tendancy to ramble on for minutes at a time expressing a point he could get across in a matter of seconds, sometimes going completely off on a tangent that has almost nothing to do with the original point. When Bryan tried to use the metaphor of watching a good movie over and over again until you get bored of it to demonstrate what watching WWE is like, he made the mistake of asking Dave what was the most-recent film he'd watched, and ended up getting derailed into an extensive discussion about Hidden Figures.
  • Shaped Like Itself: "It was a match" or "they had a match" is often said to describe a So Okay, It's Average wrestling match. This can extend into entire shows.
  • Southern-Fried Genius: Karl Stern
  • Trademark Favorite Food: According to Bryan, Dave really likes Korean barbecue.
  • Verbal Tic: Dave says "ya know" a lot.
    • Lance Storm, a regular guest on the Figure Four Daily radio show, says "it's one of those things" very often, and in one episode of The Bryan & Vinny Show, Bryan quipped that when someone pointed it out in the form of a compilation soundbite, Lance became very self-conscious and didn't say it at all on his next appearance on Figure Four Daily.

     Figure Four Weekly 
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Started as a parody newsletter. Then the parody articles were folded into a section called "Frank A. Gotch's Flying Mare" before ultimately being phased out.

     The Bryan & Vinny Show

  • Air Quotes: Bryan tends to do this a lot. He even had an habit of explaining things with hand gestures, including doing finger quotes, when the show was exclusively on radio and the listeners couldn't perceive it, leading Craig to say "[This is] great radio, Bryan" (Hilarious in Hindsight once they started recording the shows on video), but even afterward he would do an audible example of this by prefacing a word by saying "quote-unquote".
  • Angrish: Bryan when his "dander" is up.
  • All Men Are Perverts: Can't get anything past Craig.

  • Attention Whore: Brent
  • Big Eater: Vinny
    • To a much lesser extent, Bryan.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Vinny is the strong, silent type. Bryan is the wise-ass with Little Man Syndrome.
  • Big "NO!": Vinny did this when Bryan patched Brent into a call with Missy Hyatt.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Bryan can come off as a brat sometimes. And he is short.
  • Brutal Honesty: Bryan is very accomplished at this.
  • Bubble Boy: Figuratively. Bryan is constantly accused of living in a wrestling/MMA bubble and has little to no knowledge of the goings on of the world outside it. Even Dave, who has reportedly spent up to 20 hours a day working during busier seasons, has time to go out with his family or watch other television (such as Dallas).
  • Butt-Monkey:
  • The Cameo: Craig shows up front and center in the crowd during a segment on WWE Raw.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Wang. Bryan himself doesn’t drink except for the annual Christmas show and the results are never pretty.
  • Can't Take Criticism: Bryan's biggest problem with Vince Russo.
  • Catchphrase:
    • General
      • "no buys"
      • "The temerity of this person!"
      • "To the back!"
      • "That was lewd"
    • Bryan
      • "Howww's it goin' everybody?"
      • "You dumb fucker/s!"
      • "MINUS FIVE STARS!"note 
      • "What a geek!"
      • "I'm sure he/she is a nice guy/girl"note 
      • "Who could possibly care (now)?"note 
      • You have to wonder if he’s paid a bonus each time he says “rigmarole.”
    • Vinny
      • "It was...a show."
      • "LIES!" or "FALSE!"
      • "B!"note 
      • "WHY!?"
      • "That sucked a dick/a dick that sucked"
    • Craig
      • "Well, on the bright side..."
      • "Let me write that down..." note 
      • "Hmm."
      • "[This is] great radio, Bryan", referring to Bryan's bad habit of trying to explain things with hand gestures the listeners can't perceive. Hilarious in Hindsight once they started recording the shows on video.
  • Caustic Critic: Bryan is the diminutive loudmouth, but Vinny gets his punches in, too. Very often Vinny is so disgusted, he refuses to let a PPV occupy another moment of his thoughts, so he clams up.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Bryan, YOU DUMB FUCKERS!!!!!!
  • The Chosen One: Bryan and Vinny may disagree on some things, but they both agree that Brock Lesnar is this.
  • Christmas Episode: An annual tradition centered on drinking.
  • Cool Old Lady: Granny.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Bryan is fascinated with these, along with cryptozoology, UFOs, etc. In one of the odder parts of the website (where every other podcast has at least some connection to MMA and wrestling), he hosts an irregular "After Dark" show dedicated to them.
  • Covert Pervert: Tuesday night co-host Craig, who is a laid-back, church-attending man who never swears but makes many sexual remarks.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Brent Kremen... dear god.
    • Granny has her moments.
  • Crazy Cat Guy: Bryan dotes on his three cats.
  • The Cynic: Everyone on the show in regards to wrestling, particularly Vinny.
  • The Cyrano: Listeners, never fear! Bryan keeps us all up up-to-date on Vinny's engagement, wedding plans, marital life, and cheekily prods him about having kids in the near future. Vinny weathers it well—but occasionally barks at Bryan for being tactless.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: If a match didn't do anything truly offensive but also has nothing of note, Vinny will describe it as 'a match'.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Vince Verhei.
  • Department of Redundancy Department
  • Doting Parent: Bryan.
  • Drama Queen: Bryan can be this sometimes, especially if he gets water on him.
  • The Dreaded: How Bryan and Vinny feel about numerous things such as:
    • Vince Russo's booking
    • WWE creative
    • another Big Show vs. Kane match.
    • Dixie Carter
    • Opening Segment Promos
  • Enraged by Idiocy
  • Fat Best Friend: Vinny and Craig for Bryan.
  • The Finicky One: Bryan
  • Foil: small, loud, assertive Bryan and large, reserved, passive Vinny are perfect examples for each other.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Sanguine: Granny
    • Choleric: Bryan
    • Melancholic: Vinny
    • Plegmatic: Craig
  • The Freelance Shame Squad: you better believe if somebody screws up a spot or flubs a promo, Bryan and Vinny will riff on it and even tell fans to go watch the replay.
  • Friendly War: The Battel of the Empire: Bryan vs. Vinny
  • Gentle Giant: Vinny.
    • Craig, though he is a little rougher around the edges.
  • Hot-Blooded: Bryan. Especially when his "dander" is up.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Anytime Bryan complains about people who spell their name differently, such as replacing the "i" in Bryan with a "y".
  • Immediate Self-Contradiction: During his rant on Vince Russo's attempts at sympathy in his autobiography, Bryan insists that he's never criticised Russo as a person. When Vinny points out that Bryan has called him an idiot, Bryan just shouts "He is an idiot!", though he still considers this a criticism of Russo in a professional rather than personal capacity.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Bryan and Vinny getting to talk to Ring of Honor's Beer City Bruiser while they were drunk.
  • It's the Best Whatever, Ever!: Bryan tends to use this to describe exceptional matches or promos.
  • Leitmotif: blues and funk music.
  • Manly Tears: The usually cynical Vinny stuttering over his words and seemingly holding back tears while discussing the Chris Benoit family tragedy.
  • Motion Blur: an effect the WWE camera crew tries to create through constant use of Whip Pan to make a slower wrestler appear faster or a brawl appear more frenzied. Every time it happens, it sets Bryan and Vinny off on a tirade about it.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Vinny jokingly implies this towards Vince Russo. note 
  • No Indoor Voice: BRYAN! and to a lesser extent, VINNY!
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Whenever a well known wrestling personality dies, Bryan and Vinny will forgo their usual silliness and reflect on the person's career, discuss the circumstances surrounding their death, and give their opinions on them.
  • Papa Wolf: Bryan, big time.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: Shows often open with old blues songs.
  • The Quiet One: Craig
  • A Rare Sentence: From their review of the Silent Night, Bloody Night Match from a Christmas episode of TNA Impact: "He must circumnavigate the tree!" Particularly notable for forcing Bryan to move away from the microphone due to laughing so Goddamned hard.
  • Sampling: Listeners frequently send in clips of songs "enhanced" by samples from the radio shows or wrestling television. Many funny moments were born from Bryan and Vinny's reactions to the more well-realized ones.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
    • This seems to be Brent's relationship with Vinny in real life.
    • Bryan has had this relationship with several board posters, specifically Anchor.

Alternative Title(s): Wrestling Observer Newsletter