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Mat Matters: 10 observations from The Great 1,024 Wrestler Tournament
By DAVE HILLHOUSE -- SLAM! Wrestling


The largest number of votes in a first-round losing effort goes to Papa Shango. Photo by Christine Coons

Not to get all nostalgic here, but it seems like a long time ago that I stole away whatever free time I had to research and tally up enough names to start The Great 1,024 Wrestler Tournament. Once the list was complete, the wrestlers randomized and matched up, there was still the question of whether it would catch on. In other words, would this interest anyone but me?

As the tournament moves into the third round, it certainly has entrenched itself with routine visitors and a lot of discussion about the very crux of this whole exercise: who moves on?

It seems like a good time, then, to share some observations on trends and peculiarities that emerged through the first two rounds. In no particular order, here are my ten lessons learned:

1. There were a few times when I was certain that the tournament's first shut-out was taking shape, but not once did any wrestler get skunked. The ultimate proof that everybody must love somebody: even Jay Leno gets some votes. No shut-outs in the second round, either, and I imagine the best chance was probably in the first round, simply because of the greater possibility of a main eventer vs. a curtain-jerker.

2. The largest number of votes in a first-round losing effort goes to Papa Shango. Not the first name that would have jumped to my mind.


3. The largest number of votes in a first-round losing effort for a celebrity-wrestler goes to Mr. T (with 38/100 votes against Don Evans). Andy Kaufman was a very close second.

4. A source of great consternation among many voters is not knowing or understanding the minds of other voters. Sure, Mr. Leno may have received votes simply as a contrarian protest against his massively favoured opponent, but that's fine. It's stated in the description of the site that there are no rules as to how someone should decide upon their vote. It could be name recognition alone, wrestling ability, mic skills, or how well someone wore tassels. Not surprisingly, this gets some people upset, especially when a more contemporary "superstar" type of wrestler goes up against a no-nonsense shooter from a bygone era. I think that these kinds of clashes of abilities makes things interesting.

5. No matter how many times I wrote this surname down, I still can't write Zbyszko without thinking my way through it.

6. These matches are good in my mind, and even better when someone else describes them. We have featured write-ups of some of the unique matches that the tournament has had to offer so far (see links to these stories below), and this is a feature that will continue through to the end. In the meantime, get involved! Post your comments on the Tournament's Facebook site, submit your own Fantasy Match write-up, or use your vote to be heard.

7. Every commentator for the Royal Rumble has made mention of this before, but never has it been truer than in this tournament: the luck of the draw is a big, big deal. Each round of the tournament has every entrant randomly re-seeded, which ensures that the first rounds aren't cakewalks for everybody, but is it fair that Rick Martel and Davey Boy Smith have a first-round battle, while Bob Ellis gets to tip-toe past Michael Cole? No no it's not. It wasn't fair that One Man Gang received a bye at Wrestlemania IV, either, but whatcha gonna do? The whole purpose behind the random seeding is that it gets rid of what would have been an exceedingly boring first two rounds (or more) while the lesser-knowns go up against the shoo-ins. Ultimately, how far someone makes it in this tournament isn't as important as the list of those that they've defeated, which is probably just as true in any tourney.

8. Turns out the Mongols beat me to this whole thing, anyway. I had to search to see if anyone had put together a fantasy tourney like this before I even started, but found something better: the National Naadam competition in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, actually enlists 1,024 wrestlers as part of an annual festival. Most years, only 512 competitors take part, but for very significant celebrations they go all out with a, well, great 1,024 wrestler tournament.

9. The timing of real-life events, like the luck of the draw, is huge. Do you think The Rock would be waltzing through just the same had he not returned as a part-time wrestler? Johnny Curtis bowed out easily to ODB in the first round; how do you think Fandango might have fared? On the other hand, I thought Ryback might do better as he was in the middle of his big push, but it didn't help him get to the second round.

10. For every match that has caused some hard decision-making, it's only going to get harder as the rounds march forward. Stay tuned!

RELATED LINKS

  • Vote in The Great 1,024 Wrestler Tournament
  • Introduction: The Great 1,024 Wrestler Tournament
  • Fantasy Match: Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Bob Backlund
  • Fantasy Match: AJ Styles vs The Iron Sheik
  • Fantasy Match: Trish Stratus vs. Ravishing Rick Rude
  • Fantasy Match: Wahoo McDaniel vs Undertaker
  • Previous Mat Matters Editorial columns

    Dave Hillhouse is saddened that Goldust had to run into Nick Bockwinkel in the second round. Shattered Dreams, indeed.