12 Wrestlers Who Never Got A 5-Star Rating From Dave Meltzer

Professional wrestling rides the line between "sports" and "entertainment" — not quite a sport, but also an athletic endeavor unlike anything else. Given that wrestling outcomes are pre-determined, how do fans (or anyone else observing) assess quality? How do they gauge storytelling? How do they figure out what the hell is going on? How does the wrestling community as a whole rate and review matches?

Dave Meltzer is probably the most famous journalist in the world of wrestling. Since the early 1980s, Meltzer has been covering professional wrestling using his star rating system to rate matches. Traditionally, five stars has been the highest rating (with some notable exceptions). His system is regarded by "smart mark" fans as the holy of holies. People wait for Meltzer to reveal his ratings after a big match, eager to jump on Twitter and debate.

For the wrestlers themselves, it is also a badge of honor. It is the closest thing they have to keeping score. Star ratings have even been worked into promos and points of contention between feuding stars. Without question, the ratings court controversy and are subjective. It is also without question that Meltzer's ratings are widely used as the metric to rate matches. This piece will examine the strange, unbelievable and downright confusing omissions from Meltzer's five star match list.

Kurt Angle

Kurt Angle. That's correct, Kurt Angle. If you're a pro wrestling fan, it's almost obscene that he doesn't have a five star match. Angle has done everything in wrestling. Literally everything. He is a two time NCAA Division I wrestling champion. He won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics wrestling with an actual broken neck. He also won gold at the Junior Nationals and the World Championships. Simply put, he's a pretty good wrestler.

Since pro wrestling is different, let's examine that. He won numerous titles in WWE. Kurt's feud with Brock Lesnar defined 2003. Brock vs Angle at SummerSlam 2003 was a unique contest where both men drew on their amateur backgrounds. The same year, Angle and Brock would go 60 minutes in an Iron Man match on "SmackDown." Once again he was part of something only a handful of performers on the planet can do. Both of these matches fell short of 5 stars (4.25 for each of them). Angle would later face Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 21. This contest is an all-timer. It was a good story and a perfect wrestling match. According to Meltzer it was .25 less than perfect (4.75 was the official rating). 

In TNA, more of the same. Kurt Angle vs. Mr. Anderson at Lockdown 2010 (4.5). Kurt Angle vs Jeff Hardy at No Surrender 2010 (4.25). At this point it's starting to feel cruel. Kurt just can't get over the hump. On the Mount Rushmore of no five star matches, Angle deserves a place.

Jake Roberts

Jake "The Snake" Roberts. A wrestler's wrestler and one of the godfathers of modern ring psychology. He is probably the best promo ever, or certainly in the conversation. In the age of giants in WWF (WWE), Roberts didn't need 24 inch "pythons" to get over. He just needed a microphone. Jake was able to hold the crowd in the palm of his hand without raising his voice. His diabolical persona and pet snake Damian terrified and enthralled a generation of fans. To this day, his clips get millions of views.

As an in-ring performer, Roberts was elite. His pacing, timing, and technique were flawless. His finishing maneuver the dreaded DDT was the One Winged Angel of its day. No one kicked out of it. No one.

Given the complete package Roberts brought to his craft, how did he fare in the star rating system? The answer is, not great. His highest rated solo match in WWF was against Ricky Steamboat at the WWF Big Event 1986 (4.0 stars). Outside of that match Jake was destined to hang around the 2.5 to 3.5 star rating. It could be argued this was largely due to the wrestlers he worked programs with. The likes of Bad News Brown, The Honky Tonk Man, or King Kong Bundy are not exactly match of the year factories. Jake managed a 4.5 against Konnan and Cien Caras at AAA La Revancha 1996. This is the highest rating he was ever given. Given his talent and how much he contributed to wrestling, it is sad that he never received 5 stars.

Mr. Perfect

Curt Hennig AKA Mr. Perfect. A standout performer in every sense. If ever someone lived up to their gimmick, it was Hennig. He was, well, perfect. Hennig's character was a classic villain. He espoused his perfection weekly on TV and was featured in vignettes doing things "perfectly" (bowling, baseball etc.). In-ring, Curt had technique, timing and was as slick as they come. His finishing maneuver the Perfectplex (or Fisherman's Suplex present day) pin was clean and precise every time. He was the complete package and seemed tailor made for the WWF and big matches. 

Given Hennig's ability, persona, and understanding of wrestling, his ratings are baffling. There are many examples of head scratching results. The one that makes zero sense is Perfect vs. Bret Hart for the IC title at SummerSlam 1991. Hennig and Hart put on an absolute clinic. The match is a back and forth fast paced contest with zero mistakes. They mix in strikes, high level technical moves, and quickly exchanged pin fall attempts. Hennig did it all while dealing with a back injury. Most people with a back injury have trouble getting out bed. Despite all of this, only 4.0 stars were given. 

Sadly, this is a theme in the career of Mr. Perfect. 1990 Saturday Night's Main Event vs Tito Santana, 4.0 stars. Road to WrestleMania 1991 vs Shawn Michaels, 4.0 stars. The closest he would ever get was another match vs. Bret Hart at King of the Ring 1993, 4.25 stars. Mr. Perfect will go down in history as one of the best all around talents to ever lace up a pair of boots. When considering all of that, he feels like a notable omission from the 5 star list.

Edge

In the history of WWE, there are few –  if any — performers with a career like Edge. The Rated R Superstar has competed at a high level in four different decades. A seven time tag team champion with his partner Christian, Edge and Christian helped to popularize the TLC match in WWE. At WrestleMania X-Seven, they took on the Hardy Boyz and the Dudley Boyz in TLC II. The match is an eye popping spot fest. Edge and Christian would walk out of X-Seven as the tag champs for the 7th and final time. The contest was crazy, innovative, and quite frankly scary. Despite putting it all on the line, Edge walked away with a 4.75 star rating. 

Edge moved on to one of the most prolific solo careers in the history of professional wrestling. Edge won every conceivable singles title and was one of the most reliable stars in the business. He was a sure thing performance wise, yet he could never crack 5 stars. Edge vs. Angle Judgement day 2002, 4.5 stars. Edge vs Undertaker SummerSlam 2008, 4.5 stars. Edge vs John Cena Backlash 2009, 4.5 stars. There seems to be a pattern here.

In 2011, Edge was forced to retire due to neck issues. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the next year. For basically every other wrestler this is where the story would end, but not for Edge. In 2020, he returned. He didn't return to smile and hit his finisher on some NXT dude. He returned to wrestle. In 2021, at the age of 47, he wrestled Seth Rollins. This match took place in Hell in a Cell at Crown Jewel. The match is a teeth rattling banger, and it was given 4.75 stars. It's hard to conceive what Edge has to do at this point to be given his 5 star match.

Kevin Owens

Kevin Steen was one of the biggest stars on the independent scene in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Despite not having the classic wrestlers physique, Kevin Steen was able to put together incredible matches. Despite his detractors Kevin always seemed supremely confident in his abilities. During his tenure in Ring of Honor he was essentially a 4-4.5 star match machine. Steen vs. El Generico (Sami Zayn) at Final Battle 2010, 4.25 stars. Against Generico again at Showdown in the Sun 2012, 4.0 stars. Steen vs. Michael Elgin at Glory By Honor 2012, 4.5 stars. The list goes on and on.

Kevin Steen eventually decided to take his shot at WWE. He was rebranded as Kevin Owens and came to the WWE working a "prizefighter" gimmick. After a quick run and a couple of bangers in NXT, he was called up to the main roster. He would promptly rip off six 4+ star matches. His two contests with John Cena were particularly astonishing. Owens was the NXT Champion heading into Elimination Chamber 2015. John Cena was, well, John Cena. After a 20 minute plus affair, Owens beat Cena clean in the middle of the ring. 4.5 stars. The rematch at Money in the Bank (which Cena won) was also 4.5 stars

Owens has gone on to have a prolific if somewhat stop/start experience in WWE. He pulled a 4.5 rating out of Roman Reigns at TLC 2020. He was also part of 4.75 star rated affair at Money in the Bank 2021. His crowning achievement is probably his WrestleMania match with Steve Austin in 2022. While it wasn't very highly rated (3.5), it was still a main event spot at the biggest show in the business. A very nice moment for a performer who certainly deserved it. 

El Generico/Sami Zayn

Sami Zayn is a unique individual, even for the world of professional wrestling. Hailing from Quebec, Canada, Sami came up in the indie scene. His El Generico gimmick brought him to the hottest indie companies in the world. His work in Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Chikara, and Ring of Honor demonstrated his ability to work different styles of wrestling at a high level. El Generico was over wherever he went.

In Ring of Honor, any match that saw El Generico team with or fight against Kevin Steen was a guaranteed banger. The real life friendship between the two translated to the ring. At Final Battle 2010, they went to war. It's a classic match and one that is well known to fans of indie wrestling. According to Meltzer, it was a 4.25 affair. Fast forward to Final Battle 2012. Generico and Steen met one last time (as these characters) in Ladder War. Another unbelievable performance that fans still talk about to this day. 4.0 stars awarded.

Zayn eventually landed in WWE, specifically the NXT brand. In 2013/2014 Zayn took off. He has a string of incredible matches that helped solidify NXT. Zayn vs. Adrian Neville at NXT TV Oct 23rd, 4.0 stars. Later that year at NXT Arrival vs. Cesaro, 4.25 stars. His crowning achievement there without doubt was his title match against Neville. At NXT Takeover 2014, Zayn and Neville would etch their names into the history of that company. It is a perfect match. The crowd is white hot, all of the sequences are incredible, and every moment feels enormous. 4.75 stars given. If that doesn't deserve 5 stars, it is difficult to comprehend what does. 

On the main roster Sami, has had his ups and downs. Some great moments and some forgettable ones. One has to hope he will get his 5 star moment.  

Eddie Guerrero

When talking about a performer like Eddie Guerrero, it is very easy to run out of synonyms for "excellent." Eddie was a genius. The Guerrero Family are Mexican wrestling royalty, boasting multiple generations of bona fide stars. On a recent episode of "Grilling JR," Jim Ross referred to Guerrero as "the best performer in the locker room" when discussing Eddie and his legacy. That is just about the highest praise you can receive, period. 

Eddie's run in WWF/WWE was magnificent. As part of the "SmackDown" Six, he was an integral part of building "SmackDown" into a viable weekly show. The latter half of 2002 belong to Guerrero. Eddie had a 4.25 rated match against Mysterio, and 4.5 match against Kurt Angle, Benoit, and Edge (November 12th and December 3rd respectively).

At No Way Out 2004, Eddie came face to face with Brock Lesnar for the WWE title. It's an unbelievable match that ended with Eddie capturing the belt, yet 4.0 stars were given. His match at WrestleMania with Kurt Angle that same year was an all-timer. Eddie showcased his athletic talents and personality. Guerrero won after unlacing his boot mid match causing Angle to fall into a roll up. Eddie also used to ropes during the pin, a no no according to the rules. Despite "cheating" the fans go nuts. A clear indication of how loved Eddie was by the WWE universe. An absolute classic, but one that only earned 4.0 stars.

El Desperado

El Desperado has been the most dominant Junior Heavyweight in New Japan for the last three years not named Hiromu Takahashi. Despi is a four time IWGP Junior Heavyweight tag team champion and a two time IWGP Junior Heavyweight champion. He's also just magic in the ring. In terms of building a match, ratcheting up the intensity, and creating suspense El Desperado is on another level. 

His top tier run in NJPW would truly begin at Best of the Super Juniors 2018. El Desperado vs Hiromu Takashi earned 4.25 stars. Same tournament, 12 days later — El Desperado vs. Dragon Lee gets 4.25 stars. For context, some wrestlers never get a 4 star rating. He got two in less than two weeks. That is absurd. His match at the New Japan Cup in 2020 against Tomohiro Ishii netted 4.25 stars

In 2021, Despi would rip off two 4.5 star matches in two months. At Castle Attack and the New Japan 49th Anniversary show, he proved he was a top guy.  The New Japan Cup in 2022 saw El Desperado and Okada steal the show and earn 4.5 stars. Despi was later given 4.75 stars for his match against Jun Kasai at a JTO show in September 2022. It almost seems unbelievable that Despi doesn't have a 5 star match. It is also very believable that, for El Desperado, it is not a question of if, but when.

Triple H

Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Triple H. The Game. The King of Kings. The Cerebral Assassin. One of the founding members of DX with Shawn Michaels and a seven time WrestleMania headliner. Triple H has done everything a performer can do in wrestling. He's held every belt, wrestled every major star in WWE and his resume of matches in unimpeachable. How then does he not have 5 stars?

Triple H found his footing as a singles competitor in the late '90s. His first 4 star match was against Cactus Jack in a Street Fight on "Monday Night Raw" in September 1997. SummerSlam 1998 saw him put up a 4.25 affair with The Rock. Triple H and Foley would have two more classics in 2000: at the Royal Rumble in a Street Fight, which earned 4.5 stars, and at No Way Out in Hell in a Cell, which got 4.5 stars. At Fully Loaded the same year, Hunter and Chris Jericho were given 4.5 stars for their Last Man Standing match. Given how prolific Triple H has been, listing all of his 4+ star matches would quite frankly take too long. It is safe to say that when the circumstances were right, Triple H was as good as they come.

Flash forward to 2011. Hunter is now a part time performer and executive with WWE. That didn't stop him from having two incredible matches with Undertaker at WrestleManias XXVII and XXVIII. 4.5 stars in 2011 and an eye popping 4.75 stars in 2012. If that latter match isn't a five, what the hell is? 

Given his official retirement, Hunter will never get his 5 stars. He will have to be content with controlling the largest wrestling company in the world.

Dean Malenko

If someone went into a lab to create the perfect technical wrestler, they would probably come back with Dean Malenko. Malenko had no holes in his in-ring game. The Man of a Thousand Holds was a machine. His submission skills, willingness to sell, and athletic abilities were note perfect every night. Dean could wrestle anyone in the business and make them look like a million dollars.

Dean Malenko got his start in ECW where he promptly put on two 4+ star bangers. At ECW Return of the Funker 1995, Chris Benoit and Malenko teamed against Sabu and the Tasmaniac for the tag straps. Malenko and Benoit won the titles that night, getting 4.5 stars in the process. Two months later at ECW Hostile City Showdown, Malenko stepped into the ring with Eddie Guerrero. They blew the roof of the joint and whipped the notoriously difficult Philadelphia fans into a frenzy. 4.75 stars was the rating. Watching this match back, it's staggering that it didn't receive 5 stars.

Dean's WCW career brought more of the same. Hog Wild 1996 vs Chris Benoit got 4.25 stars. Halloween Havoc same year vs Mysterio, 4.25 stars. Later that year, he had two 4.5 star matches with Ultimo Dragon at Clash of the Champions and Starrcade. For a large part of 1996, he was averaging 4+ stars

His WWE career was disappointing. He was never able to claw his way to the top. He had a 4.0 rated match at Backlash 2000 with Scotty 2 Hotty but, by and large, his time there fell flat. Despite that, Dean is all-time great. He just doesn't have the 5 stars.

'Macho Man' Randy Savage

The word "icon" gets bandied around a lot in wrestling. Randy Savage, however, is an absolute icon. A crossover star who's personality connected with people all over the world. His trademark gravelly voice and ring gear is about as recognizable as it gets. Savage was six time world champion but is more remembered for his Intercontinental Title run. Savage legitimized that belt, and made it the title associated with in-ring skills.

Macho Man broke into the WWF in 1985 and had an immediate impact. He had two 4.0 star matches in the same night. Let's repeat that: In the same night. At WWF The Wrestling Classic 1985 Macho Man was given 4.0 stars for his singles contests against Dynamite Kid and Ricky Steamboat.

Macho Man vs. Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III is one of the most mythologized matches in history. He and Steamboat would steal the show. The intensity and passion clear to every fan watching. Steamboat eventually triumphed, winning with a roll up. For reasons beyond comprehension, 4.5 stars was the rating. This might be the most egregious rating on this entire list.

Savage would also pull two 4+ star rated matches out of the Ultimate Warrior (WrestleMania VII and SummerSlam 1992). That is remarkable given Warrior's lack of in-ring skills. Savage's list of 4.0 star and above matches is too long to list. For the Macho Man to not have 5 stars just feels wrong.

Rob Van Dam

Rob. Van. Dam. One of the most unique men to ever step foot in a wrestling ring. Also one of the most talented. Rob was able to blend high flying maneuvers and solid ring work together in a way few wrestlers ever have. He also held the world championship in two major companies (WWE and TNA). That is incredibly rare for someone of his size. 

Van Dam's time in ECW is littered with unbelievable performances. The one that stands out above them all is his bout vs. Jerry Lynn at Hardcore Heaven 1999. In a No Time Limit slugfest, RVD and Lynn went all out. It's a classic in the eyes of many fans. Meltzer awarded 4.25 stars. Rob's ECW career featured a lot of innovative stuff that was probably a little too ahead of its time.

RVD's early career in WWF was legit, specifically 2001. Rob would be awarded 4+ stars four times. The highlight from that era would undoubtedly be his 4.5 star affair with Steve Austin and Kurt Angle for the WWF World Heavyweight Title. Rob came up short but showed that he could hang with the big dogs. 

For Van Dam, the crowning moment has to be ECW One Night Stand 2006. After winning the MITB contract at WrestleMania 22 (4.0 stars), RVD faced Cena at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York. This match is terrific in every way and ends with RVD beating maybe the most dominant wrestler ever. For Meltzer, it was a 3.25.

Rob eventually left and ended up in TNA where he was never able to crack the 4.0 star mark. Despite that he won the title and proved he could draw money. Always a fan favorite, RVD was truly "one of a kind".

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