There is already a website that kind of does what I am going to do in the next few blog posts (sheetsandwich.com)-but I am going to do it anyway because I was planning it for a while. I am going to look at several websites/memberships and just give my opinion. This post is going to be about wrestlingobserver.com. The site is a combination of Dave Meltzer’s and Bryan Alvarez’s Figure Four Online newsletter and audio. I have been a member for about seven years so if anything the free site and the pay site will be talked about interchangeably because they are basically the same from my perspective based on the fact that it’s all the same to me (even though I know there are differences).
Meltzer is the absolute best in his field. Meltzer isn’t the best writer or even speaker, but he has so much information and no one has more inside knowledge than Dave Meltzer. His opinions (especially on in-ring work) can be debated, but ultimately the opinion should be respected if not agreed with based on his knowledge of wrestling. His biographies (especially of deceased wrestlers) are tremendous in terms of how comprehensive they are. The biographies not only talk about the wrestlers’ careers, but also their background and they have quotes from those that worked and/or admired the wrestler who is being featured in the biography. I don’t want to put a percentage on it, but it is a better than even chance that any question that you have about wrestling’s past or present is a question that Meltzer can answer. Moreover, Meltzer watches just about everything. It seems that he misses Smackdown some weeks, but he makes up for it by watching Raw, New Japan, TNA, NXT, ROH and Lucha Underground.
The knowledge of Meltzer is enough in and of itself to be worth $10 a month for a hardcore wrestling fan. I say that knowing that much of the insider news that Meltzer reports does end up on free sites. There are two things I would say about that. The first is that often times what Meltzer writes gets lost in translation by those who report it second-hand or even those who read it and respond to it (i.e.: TNA). The second thing is that the archives are worth the $10 because they encompass a great deal of wrestling history that people may wonder about. Moreover, with a subscription to the site comes the opportunity to ask questions that can be answered on members-only audio and as I said above Meltzer can answer most questions asked.
Hall of Fame/Year End Awards
(Editor’s note: I could put this under the Meltzer heading, but I decided against it). The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame is probably (and it certainly should be) the most prestigious Hall of Fame in wrestling. More than the actual Hall of Fame inductees, the argument over wrestlers like Sting, the Rock and Roll Express, the Andersons, Big Daddy, CM Punk and Brock Lesnar among others is worth the price of the observer and is probably one of the only saving graces of their BOARD. Those arguments wouldn’t mean much if the Hall of Fame wasn’t very important. It is important to note that the Hall of Fame is discussed in the newsletter itself, on the message boards (the aforementioned BOARD) and in audio.
The year-end awards issue is another one of the most anticipated newsletters of the year. Observer subscribers and others vote on categories such as the Match of the Year, the Wrestler of the Year, Feud of the Year, Promotion of the Year, Best Television Show of the Year, Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic of the Year, Worst Match of the Year, Most Underrated and Most Overrated among plenty of others. Much like the Hall of Fame issue, the year-end awards are a source of tremendous debate (most of which is intelligent). Also like the Hall of Fame, the awards are discussed on the message board and members-only audio.
There are 10-15 audio shows a week, including at least three with Dave Meltzer (including one after every major PPV event). While some of the audio is free and can even be accessed outside of the site-the best audio comes from the pay site including the aforementioned three audios with Meltzer a week. There is also a show with Lance Storm every two weeks, which some people think is boring-but I enjoy the show immensely even if I always don’t agree with Lance. Losing Todd Martin show hurt the website to a degree-but from my perspective it is not enough to hurt the website for me. At the same time I have to admit that I have a subscription to Pwtorch.com where Todd Martin is doing audio once a week so I still get to listen to Todd’s show.