The Scouting Report #1: Randy Savage, 1987-1988

Photo credit: noticeofmeowry, Flickr.
Photo credit: noticeofmeowry, Flickr.

This is an idea I’ve had for a few months, basically around the time I started Off The Top Rope, but I had never gotten around to it… until now. I’m a big fan of baseball scouting, and recently, between Baseball Prospectus doing their own public scouting reports, and the Baseball Hall of Fame opening historic scouting reports, it’s awesome to go back and look at where scouts were wrong, where they were right, and so I kind of wanted to analytically look at wrestlers and try to break them down into the things that I think makes a wrestler important. These are all done on the 20-80 scale. 20 is the lowest a wrestler could receive in any category, while an 80 is a max.

To put the ratings into perspective, here is current Astros Director of Pro Scouting Kevin Goldstein talking about the scale. Obviously, it’s not a perfect comparison because I’m talking wrestling and not baseball, but still.

A score of 50 is major-league average, 60 is above-average (also referred to as “plus”), and 70 is among the best (“plus-plus”). 80 is top of the charts, and not a score that gets thrown around liberally. 80s in any category are rare, and the scoring system is definitely a strong curve that regresses to around 50 at the major league level, but lower as you move down. Very few players have a 50 score or higher for every tool. Just being average across the board is quite an accomplishment.

I’m breaking down wrestlers at specific points in time. This will allow me to reevaluate the same worker at a later time to see how they’ve changed or adapted. These are all adjusted for the worker’s time and era.

Up first, a guy who might be my pick for the greatest of all time.

RANDY SAVAGE: 1987-1988

TIMELINE: Savage entered 1987 as Intercontinental Champion, having won the title from Tito Santana in 1986. He feuds with George Steele and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, leading into one of the greatest matches of all time at WrestleMania III. By the fall, he had become a hero, and feuded briefly with the Honky Tonk Man over the mantle of who was “The Greatest Intercontinental Champion of All Time”. At WrestleMania IV, Savage won the one-night tournament to become the new WWF Champion, defeating Butch Reed, Greg Valentine, the One Man Gang, and finally Ted DiBiase in the finals. Over the summer, Savage would team with Hulk Hogan as “The Mega Powers” and continue to feud with Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant.
Look: 55
Brawling: 70
Technician: 40
Speed/Aerial: 75
Selling: 75
Psychology: 80
Charisma: 80
Promo: 70

PROS: Basically the perfect professional wrestler. Could work both heel and face, a master storyteller. Could be a major star in any promotion, any era without changing a thing. Flew very well for his size and era. Was able to pull off crazy in a very controlled situation. Was a great brawler, great striker, excellent timing.

CONS: Might actually be crazy. Actual mat-work is far between and sloppy, although it doesn’t detract from the total package.

Matches Scouted: Savage vs. Bruno Sammartino, 1/3/1987, Savage vs. Bret Hart, 11/28/1987, Savage vs. Ted DiBiase, 7/23/1988, Savage vs. Bad News Brown, 12/30/1988

Send along any suggestions for future scouting reports to MichaelW@placetobenation.com

Author: Michael Waldrop

Michael Waldrop co-hosts and edits Off The Top Rope: A Pro Wrestling Podcast while also co-hosting The Logocast and Mike and Greg Talk Baseball. In between talking about everything, he's also a big film buff and loves writing about wrestling. He is a giant man, possibly Viking, and should not be messed with. Send Michael an email