Frequent Opponents & Partners - a new chart from Charting the Territories

In many ways, I view Charting the Territories as an ongoing beta test of the statistics I have created. I look at it as hey, I invented these follow along with me as we see if they *work*. With the SPOT Rating, I've actually been quite surprised at how well it measures what it is supposed to measure (a wrestler's average position on the cards expressed as a number) across different territories and different time periods.

I first debuted the FEUD Score in November of 2019. It's an attempt to measure how "big" a feud was based on how many times it occurred on house shows, and how clustered those matches are over time (if they're wrestling against one another once a week for five weeks, that's different than if they wrestled each other five times in one week). The idea being that if a particular feud between two wrestlers or teams is received well by the fans (i.e., it draws money), the booker/promoter will continue to run it around the horn, with finishes crafted to lead to rematches in many of the towns. If the matchup doesn't draw well, they'd likely have a clean finish and try something different the next week.

There are two issues with the FEUD Score as I have been presenting it:
1) if one wrestler is feuding with a team or stable and enlists the help of various partners, the FEUD Score doesn't capture this. Think of JYD vs the Freebirds, or Jimmy Valiant vs Paul Jones' Army, or Dusty vs the Horsemen. In the case of JYD vs the Freebirds in Mid-South in 1980, you end up getting separate FEUD Scores for JYD & Buck Robley vs Hayes & Gordy, JYD vs Gordy, JYD & Robley vs Gordy & Roberts, JYD vs Hayes, JYD & Terry Orndorff vs Gordy & Roberts, and so on and so on.
2) it doesn't take into account WHERE on the card a match happens. If JYD wrestles Paul Orndorff numerous times in main events, while at the same time Carl Fergie wrestles Buddy Landell numerous times in preliminary matches, JYD-Orndorff is a "feud" while Fergie-Landell is just two guys who happen to be booked against one another frequently. It almost certainly doesn't have angles behind it, whereas JYD-Orndorff does.

So for the last several months, I've been testing a new way of measuring "feuds". In addition, it goes hand-in-hand with another measure that looks at how often wrestlers team up with specific other wrestlers. Not only was it a matter of me figuring out how to best measure it, but also to figure out how to enter my house show data into Excel in such a way that makes it as easy as possible to calculate. I've finally got the system down, and beginning in July 2021 I am going to launch this new Frequent Opponents & Partners chart, replacing the FEUD Scores chart.

Let's take a look at a few charts for different time periods. I will walk you through how to read the charts, what the numbers mean, and what interpretations we can make from the data.

First up is the Frequent Partner & Opponents chart for the 3rd quarter of 1981 in Mid-South.

The first thing to note is that wrestlers are listed in descending order based on their SPOT Rating for the quarter. So the Main Eventers will be at the top of the chart, and wrestlers lower on the cards will appear further down. The first wrestler listed is Junkyard Dog. Directly under his name you see a list of his frequent partners during the quarter. The Frequent Partner scores are shaded in yellow, with darker shading indicating a higher score. Each weekly score is calculated based a weighted, rolling five-week period. Instead of listing EVERY partner he teamed up with during the quarter, I only list wrestlers with a score of 20 or higher.

You may ask yourself...20 what? Did they team up 20 times? Were they in 20 main events? What's the highest possible score?
Keep in mind that we are not always working with complete data. There are some time periods where we have the vast majority of house show records for a territory, and other times where we have less. Even on a week-to-week basis there are some weeks where we have more complete records than others. Using the weighted, rolling five-week period was done in a way such that a theoretical high score is 100 if we had complete records for that time period. It is technically possible to have a score above 100, but I don't really think we're going to see it except in the rarest of occasions. The numbers are best looked at as a way to compare two feuds or two teams.

Looking at Junkyard Dog's frequent partners, he teamed up regularly with Dick Murdoch for the first five weeks of the quarter (Murdoch leaves in mid-August). Later in the quarter, JYD teams occasionally with both Bob Roop and Ted DiBiase. We can say "occasionally" because their scores are lower than the scores for Murdoch as a partner. This is also shown by the level of shading, the lighter shades indicate a lower score and the darker shades indicate a higher score. So the darker shading indicates that they were likely a "regular" tag team.

Below the Frequent Partners is the Frequent Opponents. You can see that JYD was basically feuding with the Samoans (Afa & Sika) for the entire quarter, and also feuding with Orndorff the first four weeks. While the Frequent Partner scores are shaded in yellow, the Frequent Opponent scores are shaded in green. Again, the darker the shading, the more frequently that they're wrestling against one another.

So if you were to try and describe what JYD was up to during the quarter, you might phrase it like this: at the beginning of July, JYD was regularly teaming with Dick Murdoch and feuding with the Samoans, while at the same time he also had a singles feud with Paul Orndorff for the first four weeks. He then continues to have frequent matches against the Samoans, likely with a variety of partners but none on a regular basis. As we get into September, he is teaming with both Bob Roop and Ted DiBiase on occasion as part of his continuing feud with the Samoans.

Directly below JYD is Dick Murdoch. You can see that he was teaming regularly with JYD (which makes sense, since we already saw that JYD was teaming regularly with Murdoch; in fact, the week-to-week scores are JYD teamed with Murdoch the exact same amount that Murdoch teamed with JYD). Murdoch's frequent opponents were Afa & Sika. You'll note that the numbers here are similar, but not exactly alike, to JYD's scores against Afa & Sika. There are a few occasions where Murdoch teamed with different wrestlers against the Samoans (perhaps on the shows where JYD had a singles bout against Orndorff).

So to describe Murdoch's quarter, you could say: Murdoch was feuding with the Samoans for the first five weeks of the quarter, almost always teaming up with Junkyard Dog.

Below Murdoch is Paul Orndorff. Orndorff did not have any frequent partners during the quarter. His frequent opponents were JYD, Jake Roberts, Jim Garvin, and Ted DiBiase. Another point I want to make here is that these opponents are listed in descending order based on the highest weekly score. Orndorff's feud with JYD has a "high score" of 44 in the second week of the quarter, his feud with Jake has a "high score" of 37, his feud with Garvin a "high score" of 30, and his feud with DiBiase a "high score" of 22. It's also worth noting that the numbers for Orndorff against JYD should exactly match the numbers we saw in JYD's chart for Orndorff.

To describe Orndorff's quarter, you could say: for the first 4-5 weeks, Paul was feuding with both Jake Roberts and Junkyard Dog. Later in the quarter he has a feud with Jim Garvin for a few weeks. At the end of the quarter he has some matches against both JYD and Ted DiBiase.

As you go further down the chart, you can get a good feel for each wrestler's "arc" during the quarter. Keep in mind that since the Frequent Opponent measurement takes into account where on the card matches happen, you will mostly see Main Eventers and Upper Mid-Carders on these charts. You won't see as many Mid-Carders and Preliminary Wrestlers. In fact, you generally won't see any Prelim Wrestlers except on rare occasions where there is a regular tag team slotted in the prelims.

Next we'll look at the Frequent Partners & Opponents chart for the McGuirk territory in the 3rd quarter of 1964.

You may notice that this chart has NO frequent partners. At this point in time, there weren't any regular tag teams in the area. Karol Krauser & Stan Pulaski had been a regular team, but both were injured early in July. Here I should remind you that the Frequent Opponent scores include any time one wrestler is booked against another. So if Danny Hodge has Mike Gallagher as a Frequent Opponent, that doesn't mean they were only singles matches. If, say, Hodge & Jerry Kozak had a match against Gallagher & Art Neilson, equal credit is given for Hodge vs Gallagher, Hodge vs Neilson, Kozak vs Gallager, and Kozak vs Neilson.

The first wrestler listed here is Danny Hodge, but he was in Florida until the last week of the quarter. Likewise, the next wrestler on the list, Hiro Matsuda, was only here for 5 weeks at the end of the quarter. So let's take a look at the next two wrestlers listed, Al Lovelock and Mike Gallagher.

Lovelock feuded with Gallagher during the quarter. You can see they have a Frequent Opponent score above 20 for the first 10 weeks of the quarter. And Lovelock didn't feud with any other wrestler, or at the very least he didn't have enough matches against any other wrestler for them to be listed on this chart. Gallagher, meanwhile, of course has Lovelock listed as a Frequent Opponent (and again note the numbers for Lovelock vs Gallagher should match EXACTLY the numbers for Gallagher vs Lovelock) but Gallagher also had a feud with Jerry Kozak. In fact, the feud with Kozak is listed first because it's "high score" was a 38, while the feud with Lovelock had a "high score" of 37. As for trying to say which was a 'bigger' feud, there's no easy answer. The feud with Lovelock lasted for a longer period of time while the feud with Kozak was shorter but had a higher 'peak'. Gallagher also had enough matches against both Matsuda and Hodge towards the end of the quarter for them to be on this chart.

Below Gallagher is Jerry Kozak. Kozak's Frequent Opponent chart is a good example of how you can read from left-to-right to get some chronology on Kozak's "arc" during the quarter. At the beginning of the quarter, he's wrestling against Art Neilson regularly and also occasionally against Stan Pulaski. As we move further into the quarter, he starts his feud with Mike Gallagher but also has a minor feud with Nelson Royal for a few weeks. As we get to the end of the quarter he is wrestling regularly against Hiro Matsuda.

Sometimes the charts can get a little unwieldy because there's a lot of info crammed into it. In particular, territories with a larger crew can result in a larger chart. Furthermore, places with a lot of regular tag teams makes for a lot more information (if, say, the Rock & Roll Express are feuding with the Midnight Express, you're going to see Ricky Morton having Robert Gibson as a Frequent Partner and having both Bobby Eaton and Dennis Condrey as Frequent Opponents, and this will be repeated for Gibson, Condrey, and Eaton). Which brings us to Mid-Atlantic in the 3rd quarter of 1973.

That's a lot to digest! Let's just focus on the first few wrestlers listed; see the below chart.

The first wrestler listed is Ole Anderson (as he had the highest average SPOT Rating in the territory during the quarter). He teamed regularly with "brother" Gene Anderson for the entire quarter. His most Frequent Opponent was Jerry Brisco. He was feuding with Jerry for the first half of the quarter. In looking at his other Frequent Opponents, it can be inferred that some of these matches were tag bouts with Ole & Gene against Brisco & Thunderbolt Patterson, but there were also some singles bouts and some tag bouts where Jerry teamed with somebody else. Ole also had a handful of matches against Nelson Royal & Sandy Scott. Royal & Scott were regular tag team partners (go back to the really large chart and you can verify this), so these were almost certainly tag matches with Gene. There's also a handful of heel vs heel matches against Jonathan Boyd & Norman Charles and towards the end of the quarter there are more matches against Royal & Sandy Scott.

Next is Jerry Brisco. His only Frequent Partner is Thunderbolt Patterson. But they are not teaming up as frequently as Ole & Gene were. Ole's Frequent Partner score with Gene is generally in the 50s every week, whereas Brisco's score with Thunderbolt is in the 20s and 30s. Brisco is feuding with Ole & Gene for the first half of the quarter. Note that Brisco's Frequent Opponent score with Ole is higher than his score with Gene. This almost certainly means that Brisco had some singles bouts with Ole, and not with Gene (or at least, not as many).

The third wrestler listed is Johnny Weaver. His only Frequent Partner is Art Nelson. Remember that Mid-Atlantic was known as a "tag team territory" at this time and most all the wrestlers at the top of the cards had one regular partner. Weaver's Frequent Opponents are Jonathan Boyd, Norman Charles, Rip Hawk, and Swede Hanson. The scores for Weaver against Boyd and Charles are virtually identical to one another (except for some small differences in the first few weeks of the quarter), so we can infer this was a tag team feud for the most part with Weaver & Nelson against Boyd & Charles. Further, the scores for him against Hawk and Hanson are identical to one another. So again we can infer that this was also a series of tag bouts with Weaver & Nelson vs Boyd & Charles.

There's a lot going on with these charts, so I understand if it looks overwhelming. Additionally, these are best viewed in conjunction with the SPOT Ratings charts for the same time period, That helps you see which of these "feuds" are happening between Main Eventers or Upper Mid-Carders or whatever. You can also see when wrestlers come and go, which helps explain if there's a period of time where a wrestler has NO frequent partners or opponents. Going back to Mid-South in 1981, once you know that Dick Murdoch left the territory about halfway through the quarter, you now know why he doesn't have any partners or opponents during the second half (because he's not there!). Without any fixed start or end points (remember, wrestling is a year-long occurrence, with wrestlers coming and going virtually every week) and feuds not having set definitions (a feud can last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months) and not beginning and ending at fixed intervals (this is before the WrestleMania/Pay-Per-View era where multiple feuds are blown off on one supercard), this is an attempt to use what's happening on the house shows to construct a narrative describing each wrestlers' role in the territory.

Using the SPOT Ratings chart and the Frequent Partners & Opponents chart together, we can put together a  brief bio describing what a wrestler did in a particular territory at a particular time. A hypothetical example would be this: "Bobby Babyface came to the territory in August; he started in the Mid-Cards but moved up to the Upper Mid-Cards after a few weeks and began a feud with Harry the Heel. After that feud, he then feuded with Masked Wrestler #1 and Masked Wrestler #2, usually with Billy Babyface as his partner. While this feud was going on, Bobby's SPOT Rating continued to move up, and he reached Main Eventer status in November. He then feuded with Charlie Champion for several weeks."

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