Tri-State Wrestling 1966 - SPOT Ratings for Different Time Periods
One of the questions I have asked myself about using SPOT ratings is: what is the optimum period of time over which to calculate them? Since wrestling has no offseason, there are no fixed start or end points. A wrestler's SPOT rating is the average of numerous data points, thus it can be calculated for any length of time. So far we've looked at a yearly SPOT rating, but can we learn anything by using a shorter period of time to calculate it?
In order to answer that question, we first need to take a broader look at the "booking philosophy" of the territories. As a general rule of thumb, once a wrestler is established in a certain position (main eventer, mid-carder, etc) in a territory, that role doesn't change much over the short term. Over the long term, of course, a wrestler can move from prelim matches to the mid-card to the main events. In 1966, Jack Brisco was an example of this. Brisco wrestled mostly in preliminary and mid-card matches in the beginning of his career; he left the territory for several months and upon returning, was moved up the cards. This happened quite often in the territorial era, a good way to move someone up the cards was to send them away and bring them back. Another way was by changing their role, i.e. turning them from face to heel or vice versa.
If we look at the short term, wrestlers that are new to a territory that are being built up for a main event spot often spend the first few weeks lower on the card, winning matches over lower card and mid-card wrestlers. So if we were to look at the SPOT ratings for wrestlers that fit in this category (and in 1966, the Assassins would be a good example), we could see their movement up the cards over a short period of time.
But do we need to? Does it matter if a wrestler spends a few weeks moving up the card if his long-term destination is as a main-eventer? Does looking at Jack Brisco's movement up the cards in 1966 tell us anything we couldn't already know by looking at his annual SPOT ratings for 1965, 1966 and 1967?
The answer to the above questions is this: it probably doesn't give us "new" information, but it _could_ be just interesting enough to make it worthwhile.
Let's take a look at Mike Clancy. Because of Danny Hodge's injuries keeping him out for a couple of months, Clancy is the only wrestler that competed as a regular in Tri-State for the full calendar year. Is there anything interesting we can see by calculating his SPOT rating over shorter periods of time?
I am going to look at a 1-week, 3-week, 5-week and 7-week SPOT rating. For any given week, a wrestler's SPOT rating is based on his bookings for that week as well as a fixed number of weeks before and after the given week. So a 3-week SPOT for a given week would be based on his bookings for that week, one week before, and one week after. A 7-week SPOT for a given week would be based on his bookings for that week, the previous 3 weeks, and the following 3 weeks.
The below charts show Clancy's SPOT rating over the course of 1966 using a 1-week, 3-week, 5-week and 7-week SPOT calculation. Ideally, we are trying to find a smooth curve; the shorter the time period we use, the "jumpier" the chart will look.
While there's a good bit of noise in the 1-week SPOT chart and a little less in the 3-week spot chart, all four of these charts show the same thing: in May, June and early July, Clancy was pushed above his established spot in the territory, followed by a significant de-push below his established role (it's also worth noting that the first two charts show a down spike in April, but this is smoothed out when you look at it over a 5- or 7-week period). Is there a reason for this that we can identify by looking at the data?
Since there are no start and end points or seasonality to pro wrestling, wrestlers come in and out of the territory regularly over the course of the year. Generally speaking, these comings and goings are randomly distributed (there sometimes is an end of the year exception where a larger number of wrestlers than normal will leave a territory to go home for the holidays). If more than one or two key wrestlers leave the territory at the same time, it opens up a hole at the top of the cards. Usually when one main eventer leaves, another one comes in to take his place, but it's not always simultaneous.
If we look at the spring of 1966, six main eventers and upper mid-carders left the territory within a several week span. The Assassins, Great (Hiro) Matsuda, Joe McCarthy, Lorenzo Parente and Krusher Kowalski all left between late April and the end of May. While several wrestlers came in to the territory to take their place (the Medics, Battleship Johnson, Tor Kamata, Don Kent and the returning Jack Brisco), many of them didn't come in right away, and when they did come in they started lower on the cards to be built up and moved upwards. So there was definitely a hole at the top of the cards. Established veteran Clancy, who was generally in the upper mid-card, could easily be bumped up into the main events.
Conversely, once these new (or returning) wrestlers were established in the main event and upper mid-card spots, you can see Clancy being moved back down the cards. It's also worth noting that Clancy is in his early 40s at this point in time, had been wrestling for over 15 years, and took virtually no time off after being involved in the same car accident that sidelined Danny Hodge earlier in the year. He retired from wrestling in 1967, so this "de-push" might be the beginning of him being phased down before being phased out.
Next we'll look at the Assassins. They first came to the territory in early January, and were built up over a several week period. By late February, they were main eventers. Not only that, but from that point on they were ALWAYS in the main event until leaving the territory in May. The below chart compares their 1-week, 3-week, 5-week and 7-week SPOT ratings for this run.
Again, the 1-week SPOT line is not as smooth as the others, all of which capture their movement up the cards for several weeks until settling into the main events.
So, did we learn anything interesting from this exercise? Yes. Did we learn anything vital? Not really. The idea of calculating SPOT ratings over a short period of time to look for movement up and down the cards can be useful at certain times for certain wrestlers, but I don't think that it's anything that needs to be done for every wrestler all the time. The Mike Clancy charts show that he was generally in the upper mid-cards, which we already know from calculating his SPOT for the full calendar year. The same can be said for the Assassins; they're main eventers for the year as a whole, the short-term SPOT ratings just give us a little more insight into how long it took them to move up into that role when they first came in.
In the next blog post, I'm going to attempt to answer the question "how complete is the data that I have?" Currently, I have lineups for 456 different cards in Tri-State in 1966 (and results for about three-fourths of them). We'll take a look at what towns I have data for, what nights of the week those towns were run, and see if we can use that information, as well as data from the cards themselves, to pinpoint how many cards we're missing.