On today’s episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily podcast, Wrestling Inc. Managing Editor Nick Hausman sat down with WWE on FOX’s Ryan Satin to discuss the reaction to his recent letter grading list for WWE Smackdown Superstars. Mickie James’ response created a lot of buzz after she was given an F grade due to her lack of time on television. Satin talked about the reaction to the article as well as his new transition to more opinion analysis from his time as a hard news journalist.
“It is a transition for me to go from news, where there is no opinion. Even though I had a weekly podcast, the news coverage that I did was pretty much by the book, and so this is new waters for me that I’m navigating,” Satin admitted. “To be completely honest with you, I didn’t think that the tier list was gonna make people angry. I honestly thought that it was a fun thing that people can look forward to like, ‘Oh, where did I move? Up or down?’ In retrospect, I guess using letters wasn’t the the best choice, using a letter grading system, but I mean, I don’t know.
“I thought that was part of the fun. I wasn’t knocking on anyone’s talent whatsoever. If this had been a tier list based on talent, everybody would have been an A+ category. I think the world of all these people. If everyone had read the actual 2000-word article that accompanied the image, they would have seen that I wasn’t knocking on anyone. I was saying I would like to see more for all of these people. I hated the fact that Ricochet was in the D tier, same for Andrade and people like that.
“Mickie James should not be in the F tier, but she has barely wrestled in the past year and same for Mojo, which is why I had him in that tier. He hasn’t wrestled since June. I thought that it would be a fun thing that people would be like, ‘Oh cool, I moved up. I moved down.’ I didn’t think that people were just going to look at the one image that went on social media and be like, ‘F this guy for putting me in the F tier.'”
Hausman noted that grading articles are nothing new as veteran journalists like Bill Apter would publish something similar back in the old magazines. Satin agreed noting that other sports do the same thing, and he talked about the support he had to write the article.
“I’m torn to be honest with you. On multiple levels I’m torn here,” Satin expressed. “My bosses liked it. They thought it was a good idea. They like that I utilized different departments working together to do something for the WWE on FOX account and for the new app and website. They didn’t have a problem with it or anything like that.
“Personally though, I don’t like making people feel bad. I thought that it would be a light-hearted thing. Like you said, in every other sport too, not even just Bill Apter going back in wrestling, but in every sport, entertainment, everything, letter gradings are such a common thing, and I wasn’t grading them on talent. It was more about the creative aspect, how I wanted more for all of these people. I don’t know. It’s hard to say because I liked it. I enjoy doing it.
“I was proud of the article, but at the end of the day, I don’t like to make people feel bad, and you know what, I understand that the difference here, in their eyes, was that we’re partners. It was like, ‘Why are you dogging me when we’re partners,’ but I just wish everybody who was mad about it would read the 2,000-word article that accompanied it where I said how great all of them are, most of them.”
Satin reiterated his initial belief that the article would be a way to create a fun debate amongst fans. He joked that he might have to change his tier list to something more simple like good, great or best.
“I thought it was gonna be fun. That’s precisely why I thought everyone was gonna enjoy,” Satin said. “I thought someone goes, ‘Mickie James isn’t an F. Mickie James is a B.’ I didn’t think that it was gonna lead to people going to my Instagram and sending me the meanest possible messages that you can think of about it. I’m all for a healthy debate.
“There were times where people were like, ‘Asuka should have been an A+,’ and I’m not going to disagree with you. That’s the fun part of a discussion. I agree. It was weird. I have seen my whole life people do graded letters. AEW has rankings. WWE used to have rankings. I just didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but if I do it in the future, maybe I’ll not have letter grades. It’ll just be good, great, best [and] also good.”
Hausman and Satin later talked about their love for SmackDown including Sami Zayn. Satin praised Zayn’s current work and explained why he thought Finn Balor vs. Kyle O’Reilly was more deserving of match of the year than the Zayn, Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles ladder match where Zayn won the Intercontinental Title.
“He’s absolutely killing it. He’s so good right now,” Satin stated. “I loved Sami Zayn in NXT. I loved that character so much when it came to the main roster. It’s crazy to me that I’m saying this, but I feel like this is the best version of Sami Zayn we’ve ever seen. He’s just on another level right now. The only reason Finn vs. Kyle beat it is because there’s so much emotion in it. The guys actually went to the hospital afterwards. They were legitimately injured. Those guys beat the living crap out of each other.”
You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanSatin. Ryan’s full interview aired as part of today’s episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it’s released Monday – Friday afternoon by clicking here.