A guide to SPOT Ratings and FEUD Scores...featuring Magnum T.A. and The Midnight Express

To coincide with my recent appearances on the July 10th episode (#339) of the Jim Cornette Experience and episode 102 of the 6:05 Superpodcast discussing Charting the Territories, I've prepared a (not-so) brief primer to the statistics I have developed to quantify a wrestlers' role in a given territory at a given time, using data for Magnum T.A. and The Midnight Express in Mid-South Wrestling.

The SPOT Rating, which stands for Statistical Position Over Time, measures the average position of a wrestler on a card (or their "spot", if you will) at a given point in time. It is a number between .00 and 1.00, with a 1.00 being the highest possible score and meaning the wrestler was in the main event of every show they were booked on in the given time period.

In general terms:
Main Eventers have a SPOT Rating between .80 and 1.00
Upper Mid-Carders have a SPOT Rating between .60 and .80
Mid-Carders have a SPOT Rating between .40 and .60
Preliminary wrestlers have a SPOT Rating below .40

The FEUD Score, which stands for Frequent Encounters Using Data, is a measure of how often a specific match occurred in the given time period. It is a whole integer; the higher the number, the more often the match occurred and the more it was 'clustered' in a short time period. Both FEUD Scores and SPOT Ratings use a five-week time period, so when I present these numbers for a given week, it's actually based on the week in question plus the two weeks before and the two weeks after (with different weighting applied to put more emphasis on the 'middle' week and less emphasis on the earliest and latest weeks)

In general terms:
A FEUD Score between 15 and 24 means they wrestled each other regularly, but probably isn't a "feud" per se
A FEUD Score between 25 and 39 is indicative of a "feud"
A FEUD Score of 40 and above generally means a "major feud"; they're wrestling each other at least a few times per week for at least a few weeks

Since the FEUD Score is not a percentage, it can be affected by how much of the overall data we have. In the case of Mid-South Wrestling, my data is somewhere between 60%-70% complete (in particular, much of the weekly New Orleans shows, regular Little Rock shows, and assorted spot towns are what's missing). It can also be affected by "booking philosophy". In the early '60s, there appears to be less of an emphasis on running the same match around the horn. Instead, each town is treated as its' own entity with a match occurring repeatedly if it drew a good crowd. Also, if we had more complete data, the scaling listed above may not apply (as we'll see later in this post).

I look at these statistics like this: SPOT is similar to Batting Average in baseball, while FEUD is similar to Home Runs. Both individually have some merit; they're not perfect, but they're simple to calculate and you can get a significant amount of information from them quickly.

So let's look at Magnum T.A. and his 18 month run in Mid-South Wrestling. I have broken it down into three separate six-month time periods. This first chart looks at the first six months of his run.

The first thing to note is that the higher values in these charts use a darker shading. Also, babyfaces (such as Magnum T.A.) have their SPOT Ratings shaded in blue; heels are shaded in orange (as we'll see later with The Midnights).

Looking at the SPOT Ratings in the top half of the chart (hint: clicking on the chart may make it easier to read), you can see he started out in the Mid-Cards and by late July moved up to the Upper Mid-Cards. Looking at the FEUD Scores in the bottom half of the chart, you can see who he was generally wrestling against each step of the way. For those first few weeks, he is facing opponents such as Rip Rogers, Mr. Olympia and Boris Zurkhov. As he moves up to the Upper Mid-Cards, he continues to wrestle against Zurkhov but also against The Missing Link and Nikolai Volkoff. His FEUD Score against Zurkhov peaks the week of August 28th with a 26. His FEUD Score against Missing Link peaks two weeks later (and again the week of October 23rd) with a 28. Against Volkoff, the peak is the week of November 6th with a 25. Looking at both the peak and the number of weeks each feud is listed, it's safe to say his biggest "feud" in the first six months was against Missing Link.

While Magnum did team up with Hacksaw Duggan to win the Mid-South Tag Team titles in July, no tag team matches have a FEUD Score high enough (15 or above) to be listed. He is primarily wrestling in singles bouts on the house shows for the entirety of their two-and-a-half month run with the belts.

We can also look at changes (or lack thereof) to his SPOT Rating to gauge his push. Once he hits the Upper Mid-Card threshold, his SPOT Rating holds steady for a while. Between mid-August and early December, it stays between a .67 and a .71. It does start to increase in mid-December, and the week of December 18th his SPOT Rating climbs to a .76, which is the highest it's been up to that point. So it looks like he might be starting to get a bigger push...

This second chart looks at the middle third of his run in Mid-South, from Dec 19th 1983 to June 17 1984. He has a second run with the Mid-South tag belts, this time with Mr. Wrestling II (Johnny Walker) as his partner.  During this title reign, he does team with Wrestling II on the house shows a good bit. His SPOT Rating crosses a .80 for the first time the week of January 29th, and this coincides with a series of matches between Magnum & Wrestling II and The Midnight Express (Eaton & Condrey). That feud peaks with a FEUD Score of 55 the week of March 4th. Looking at Magnum's SPOT Rating, it hits a peak of .92 in February. It's clear looking at both SPOT and FEUD that Magnum & Wrestling II vs Midnight Express was a significant main-event level feud.

As that feud ends, it leads to another big feud for Magnum. They lose the belts to the Midnights in March when Wrestling II walks out on his partner. This kicks off a series of matches between Magnum and II that peaks the week of April 15th with a FEUD Score of 61. Magnum defeats II for the North American title (which II had won in March just days before walking out on Magnum) in May. Right around this time, Wrestling II changed his ring name to just "Mr. Wrestling" and introduced a new protege that was now billed as Mr. Wrestling II (Ray "Hercules" Hernandez). To avoid confusion, I have continued to list Johnny Walker as Mr. Wrestling II and have listed Hernandez as Mr. Wrestling #3. After winning the North American title, Magnum is facing both Wrestling II and Wrestling #3. His SPOT Rating takes a dip and he is technically in the Upper Mid-Cards for several weeks around this time. His matches against Wrestling #3 were generally placed a little lower on the cards. As we get to mid-June, he bounces back above a .80.

The above chart looks at the last six months of Magnum's run in Mid-South. He is back as a Main Eventer, and begins feuding with Ernie Ladd in July. That feud peaks the week of July 29th with a FEUD Score of 38. He then starts feuding with Butch Reed, with that feud peaking in early September with a FEUD Score of 31. For the entirety of these two feuds, his SPOT Rating hovers between a .83 and a .88. In mid-October, he loses the North American title to Ernie Ladd at a TV taping and then is booked for a series of matches against fellow babyface Terry Taylor. The matches against Taylor seem to be a "placeholder" of sorts as the TV episode with the title change makes its' way through the territory. He then has another house show series against Ladd, and it's interesting to note that many of these matches were placed a little bit lower on the cards than their previous bouts, as Magnum's SPOT Rating again dips below a .80 for several weeks. As the feud comes to an end, his SPOT Rating climbs back up above a .80 for several stipulation matches including at least one no-DQ bout and at least two steel cage matches.

That's a lot of info to take in, and I understand if you're a little exhausted, but I hope you'll bear with me a for a little bit longer. To sum up Magnum's run in Mid-South, we can look at it this way:
Weeks as a Main Eventer - 34
Weeks as an Upper Mid-Carder - 39
Weeks as a Mid-Carder - 4
His SPOT Rating for the entire 18-month period was a .76

His most notable feuds were:
Magnum vs Mr Wrestling II had a peak FEUD Score of 61
Magnum & Wrestling II vs Midnight Express peaked at 55
Magnum vs Ernie Ladd peaked at 38
Magnum vs Butch Reed peaked at 31
Magnum vs Missing Link peaked at 28

In looking at the FEUD Scores, it's clear that the top two feuds were "bigger" than the others. I wish I had more complete data, that way we could get an idea of what a high score would be. Well...thanks to the diligent record-keeping of Jim Cornette, we actually do have more complete data for The Midnight Express in their Mid-South run, which overlapped with Magnum's. Jim's book "The Midnight Express and Jim Cornette 25th Anniversary Scrapbook" (which is currently out-of-print) includes detailed information about the Midnights and who they wrestled each and every night. Way back at the beginning of this post, I mentioned that my house show records are about 60%-70% percent complete; comparing the records in Jim's book to mine, 30% of the matches he lists in his book during the Midnights' run in Mid-South are from shows I don't have records for. I calculated SPOT Ratings and FEUD Scores for the Midnights in the following charts. It includes ALL known matches for The Midnights; as such, the FEUD Scores are significantly higher than what we saw in the above charts for Magnum.

Right off the bat, we can see that my previous scaling for the FEUD Scores is no longer appropriate. The Midnights first regular opponents were Lanny Poffo & Rick Rood (Rick Rude). That series of matches has a peak FEUD Score of 55, which would make it a "major feud" by my guideline. It obviously was not a major feud; while they wrestled each other on a regular basis for several weeks, they generally only worked each other once in every town. As we get to the first real feud of significance, we see the matches between the Midnights and Magnum & Wrestling II had a peak of 98 in mid-February. Since FEUD Score is based on the number of house shows run over a several week period (remember that they taped TV every other Wednesday and usually but not always had multiple shows on Sundays and the rare double shot on Saturdays), the highest possible score would change slightly from week-to-week. But anything approaching a score of 100 pretty much means they're working each other almost every night of the week for several weeks running.

After the feud with Magnum & II, they started wrestling against both The Rock 'n' Roll Express and The Bruise Brothers (Pork Chop Cash & Dream Machine). The matches against The Bruise Brothers allow me to bring up an important point: the SPOT Ratings and FEUD Scores are calculated using the advertised lineups where possible, as opposed to what actually happened. About halfway through the series of matches against the Bruise Bros, Dream Machine broke his ankle. The remainder of the series saw Bill Dundee sub for him. However, all of the advertisements still listed the Midnights vs the Bruise Brothers with no mention of Dundee; as such, all of those bouts are "credited" to Pork Chop & Machine.

Their feud with Rock & Roll is interrupted by a series of matches against Bill Watts & Stagger Lee (a masked Junkyard Dog). This series was billed as The Last Stampede, with Watts coming out of retirement. It led to record-setting houses in many of the cities. Interestingly enough, this is not reflected in the FEUD Score, as it peaks with a 52 the week of April 22nd. At a glance, you might think it was no more significant than the matches against Poffo & Rood. Keep in mind that while the matches against Watts & JYD were MAJOR matches with MAJOR stipulations, the match only occurred once in each city (and not in every city, there were a total of 15 matches between the two teams). To get a high FEUD Score, you generally have to work a series of bouts in each town. One way that we CAN see the weight of this feud is by looking at the SPOT Ratings. The Midnights' SPOT peaks at a .96 in mid-April, which coincides with the height of The Last Stampede feud.

As that feud winds down, the feud against Rock & Roll heats back up. That feud peaks the weeks of May 6th and May 13th with a FEUD Score of 71. But it's also worth noting that the SPOT Rating for the Midnight's drops at this time; they're still considered Main Eventers, but they're rotating in and out of the actual main events.

In July, the Midnights win a loser leaves town (for 60 days) bout against Rock & Roll. They enter into a brief series of matches against The PYT's (Koko Ware & Norvell Austin) which peaks with a FEUD Score of 52, and then begin feuding with The Fantastics. As these two feuds overlap in August, the Midnights' SPOT Rating falls below a .80. After the big blowoff with Rock & Roll, they were moved down the cards, given a series of wins over The PYT's and started the feud with The Fantastics. As that feud heats up, their SPOT Rating moves back above a .80. The FEUD Score for the Fantastics peaks with a 97 the week of September 23rd, and their SPOT Rating hits a peak of .94 two weeks later. This is indicative of them working a series of matches in every town, with many of the rematches being major stipulation bouts in the main event.

That SPOT Rating peak also coincides with the return of The Rock & Roll Express as their 60 days is up. They pick up right where they left off with The Midnights. This portion of the feud has two separate peaks, one in late October and one in early December. In between that time, their SPOT Rating again briefly falls below a .80; at the time, they're wrestling against Rock & Roll some nights and against teams such as Brickhouse Brown & Master G (George Wells) and Shawn Michaels & Tony Falk other nights. Obviously, those matches are lower on the cards than the ones against Rock & Roll. As the Midnights' run in Mid-South comes to a close, they have scaffold matches against Rock & Roll Express in most of the towns as the blowoff. These are generally main events, so their SPOT Rating again crosses above a .80 and peaks with a .91 their final week in the territory.

To sum up the Midnight Express' run as we did for Magnum:
Weeks as Main Eventers - 36
Weeks as Upper Mid-Carders - 12
Weeks as Mid-Carders - 4
Their SPOT Rating for the entire 18-month period was a .82

Their most notable feuds (by FEUD Score):
Midnights vs Magnum & Wrestling II had a peak FEUD Score of 98
Midnights vs Fantastics had a peak of 97
Midnights vs Rock & Roll peaked at 71

It's worth noting that their feud with Rock & Roll lasted longer than the other feuds. And as mentioned earlier, we have to consider the series of matches against Watts & JYD to be very significant. This is one of the reasons I would love to have complete attendance figures; I would then be able to correlate main event feuds to attendance data and see which main events actually made the most difference at the box office. One concern I have with that is this: the whole point of developing these statistics was to come up with a "stat line" for ALL wrestlers, not just the main eventers. So in lieu of that, we make do with what we have, take everything with a grain of salt and try to explain the idiosyncrasies.

Going back to my baseball comparison, if SPOT is akin to Batting Average and FEUD to Home Runs, using both of them in conjunction paints a more complete picture than either one individually. Cody Bellinger batted .305 in 2019 with 47 home runs. Pete Alonso batted .260 and hit 53 home runs. Attempting to compare them by just one of those statistics is imperfect; when you combine the two, it's still not perfect but gives you a much clearer comparison between them. Using SPOT Ratings in conjunction with FEUD Scores gives you a clearer picture of which feuds mattered the most.

In fact, while not displayed in these charts, I have been dabbling with calculating the SPOT Rating for a feud. If we can calculate the SPOT for a wrestler by looking at his placement on the card, we can do the same for a feud. Looking at the Midnights, every single time they wrestled against Watts & Stagger Lee, it was the main event of the show. Thus, that feud has a SPOT Rating of 1.00, a perfect score. Calculating this for all of their regular opponents:
Midnights vs Watts & Stagger Lee: 1.00
Midnights vs Rock & Roll: .92
Midnights vs Magnum & Wrestling II: .88
Midnights vs Fantastics: .83
Midnights vs Bruise Brothers: .80
Midnights vs PYT's: .70
Midnights vs Poffo & Rood: .48

Now we have a clear(er) picture of what the "most important" feuds were. The feud with The Rock & Roll Express may have lasted the longest, and the feuds with Magnum & II and the Fantastics may have had higher peak FEUD Scores, but here we can see that the feud with Watts & Stagger Lee was placed higher on the cards than any of those feuds. And this also paints a better picture of the matches against Poffo & Rood; regardless of how often they wrestled one another or what the FEUD Score was, we now can see it was a match that generally occurred in the middle of the cards (almost the exact middle to be precise).

Doing the same for Magnum's most significant opponents, we find:
Magnum & Wrestling II vs Midnight Express: .88
Magnum vs Butch Reed: .88
Magnum vs Mr Wrestling II: .85
Magnum vs Ernie Ladd: .83
Magnum vs Missing Link: .70


*NOTE: Since the Midnights' stats include a more complete listing of matches, the FEUD Scores on that chart for the Midnight vs Magnum & Wrestling II feud are different than the FEUD Scores on Magnum's chart for the same feud. Since Cornette's records only included Midnight Express bouts, I wanted to use apples-to-apples comparisons. If I had used the more complete data in Magnum's chart, it would give the impression that his feud with the Midnights was much more significant than his other feuds. The Midnights' chart is merely to show what the FEUD Scores would look like if we had more complete data. It is also worth noting that the additional Midnights data was only used to calculate FEUD Scores, not SPOT Ratings (since we don't know the placement of all of those matches on the complete cards).

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