Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Two Years

Today marks the second anniversary of this blog. It's gone a lot faster than I thought it would. I still can't imagine how other guys have done it for so long, but one post at a time, right?

Count 'em, Trent! One year. Two years.
(Trent Blayze vs. Darius - BGEast)

Last year, I spent a lot of my anniversary post (here) on who visits my blog. The composition and interests of my visitors haven't really changed, so I figured that this year, I'd give some insight into my process and why my blog is the way it is. I'll also look at results for my fellow data geeks at the end. And, of course, I've plopped in a bunch of images, a few of them new, for those of you that aren't interested in either of those topics.

Running a Blog

If you haven't noticed, I'm a bit OCD. I need to know what's coming and be well ahead of the game. For me, this is the only way to enjoy blogging. I could certainly never wake up in the morning, write something then post it. The stress would kill me. I already regret not letting some posts wait until I had more time to think about them. Yeah, if I'm going to blog as a hobby, I need structure and to work from a set schedule.

I need to feel like I'm in complete control
(Steel vs. Scrappy - Thunders Arena)

I aim for a minimum of eleven posts each month, which means a post every 2-3 days. I'm pleased that I exceeded that every month in 2016. Each month, it helps to know that three of the eleven posts are accounted for with two stories and a casting post appearing on specific dates. So then it becomes about filling in the gaps with another 8 posts, mainly reviews.

I manage my blog with a combination of timely and timeless content. Current reviews are timely. They need to be posted somewhat close to the video release date. I'm never worried about being first, mainly because it seldom happens. It's really about relevance. If I'm trying to inform on a new release, that information isn't as helpful six months after the fact.

Timeless content includes posts like classic reviews (e.g., "RHW 1.0") and things like "holds" posts. The timeless ones are like a free post every month that I can move around as needed. With all of my reviews, I do try to assign them to different producers to ensure variety, but obviously I watch a lot more BGEast and Thunders Arena than the other guys.

Classic RHW filled some gaps
(Jake Jenkins vs. Ethan Andrews - RHW)

I've used my results to determine the right frequency. They show that daily posts are too much and four days is too big a gap. Some content - stories and popular reviews - sustain views over three days, while others are only good for two. I'm learning what you like, so I'm getting better at predicting performance.

I still only post on videos that interest me, but I know that UCW, for example, is consistently low-performing, so I try to place those posts with only a two-day window. On the other hand, a new BGEast review is good for three.

So that's my posting process. What about the content?

Writing Stories

I shared this with someone who wanted advice on process. I'm probably one of the best guys to ask. Not being arrogant, but let's look at the facts. Bard posted my first story (Flag vs Flag) five years ago on March 6, 2012. I've shared 118 of them at this point. When I add in my March 1st post, that means I've averaged almost exactly 24 per year for five years. You simply can't do that without some kind of plan and process.

Basically, the hardest parts for me are always the beginning and the ending. If I can get those right, the middle fills itself in. If I can't then the story isn't going anywhere. Who are they? Why are they wrestling? How do they talk? Why do I care? I also have to figure out where can I naturally weave in the details - names, age, stats, settings, etc. That is harder than you might think and you wouldn't believe how many times I re-write openings to get things in a good place.

Who are you, Ram?
(The Bat vs. RamRam vs. Super Soldier)

The action is fairly straightforward. I try to decide the style of the match and moves based on the characters. Big guys using big power moves? Little guys using speed? Is it a squash or back and forth? Fair or dirty? Is it a surprise twist? Do I have a specific result in mind or should I let the action just flow?

Once I know the general direction, I outline the moves without any description. Say it was Cody vs Jae, it might look like this:

  • C power into headlock
  • J go for side suplex
  • C counter
  • C hip toss, stay standing
  • C stomp abs
  • J roll away
  • C move in
  • J surprise tackle

I do that for as many falls as necessary, usually as a stream of consciousness. 1 page of that is like 3 pages of text for me, so I try not to exceed 1 page or it gets too long. Sometimes I have a finisher in mind, which helps. If the finisher is a heart punch, I need to attack the chest. If it's a camel, I need to attack the back. That kind of thing.

The ending is usually done before the action, but I can change it. Sometimes the action takes me in a new direction where it seems hotter to have a different outcome. Sometimes it's what's best for the story. Most recently, Jax/Owl was going to win his debut for a really long time. It was always my intent. However, I just didn't like the ending. Jax forgiving Cody seemed to have more weight if he lost. I felt like it was too easy to win then forgive, but forgiving after vengeance denied had more meaning. And so, as so often happens, a definite Cody loss turned into a Bat win.

Sorry, Jax, you were so close to winning
(The Bat vs. The Owl)

Writing Reviews

Even with writing my reviews you can probably see my need for order. I consistently start with a five-part structure: Intro, Wrestlers, Action, Summary, Request for Comments. Done. I aim for ten images interspersed within the text - one for the intro, two for each wrestler and five for the action. It's more formulaic and less profound than other bloggers, but it works for me.

I try to follow a set flow with my reviews
(Favero vs. Reno vs. Dean - Wrestler4Hire)

So that's the framework, what about the content? My main objective is to give a flavor for what you can expect. I try to provide enough details that you can decide for yourself if you're interested, regardless of my own reaction. I try not to spoil, unless the outcome is obvious or important for you to know. I try to be honest and fair, but always respectful.

I am obviously willing to post negative reviews or reactions, but it's not a goal. I really only do it when I think it's in the reader's interest to know something. Some things that trigger this are a popular wrestler in a sub-par match, deceptive descriptions, lazy action, poor production ... that kind of thing. In general, I'm more apathetic than irritated about matches I don't like, so they just get no review at all.

There, that's my Alex Miller Blogging 101 guide. Does it work? Let's look at results.

2016 Results: Overall

I know results are a specialty taste, but some of you like them. I know I do. This is a good time to look at the entire year, because after two months, things settle down and inertia sets in. Unless there's some external push, like a link, I don't see much changing of position. And so, by the end of February, the 11-month time advantage that a January post has on a December one is virtually negated.

2016 was a great year as far as I'm concerned. Views will be more than double those of 2015 (Mar-Dec vs Mar-Dec). Comments remain robust. December was the biggest month for views, but it was inflated by traffic from Russia that wasn't real traffic. My blog is small enough that 5,000 random views will impact my results. So July was the real peak then things held reasonably steady throughout.

Based on average views/per day

2016 Results: Stories

I already shared the top six stories for 2016 in my year-end post. While there has been some slight shifting, the winning titles are the same as they were then. The Cave 15 (Bat/Spartan) was my biggest story of the year by far and my second biggest story of all-time. Stories 2-6 are so tight that less than 200 views separates them.

Rather than talk about the winners, I'll focus on some other results.

Jae/SuperStar. The most popular Adventures of SuperStar was AoS 11 (DarkStar/Ace) ranked in 10th. Perhaps folks wanted a fresh perspective. While I didn't manage a breakout SuperStar story this year, Jae obviously has some very passionate fans. That includes me, so he's certainly not going anywhere.

Route 69: Bad Boys. I posted 26 total stories this year, not including the R69 Season 1 epilogue. There were six R69:BB stories. The top story was the tag match R69: BB S106 with Ryker/Hawk, but even it only ranked as the 13th most viewed. The others ranked 17th, 18th, 19th, 22nd and 26th. Yes, my least popular story of 2016 was R69:BB S108 (Kyle vs. Mike). This is the main reason Route 69 went on hiatus to make way for new series, like BIGBeast and Camp Grapple.

Heroes. They did well again this year, providing the only break in Cave dominance. As you can see, Hercules Unbound was extremely popular. After a slow start, Tarzan and James made it all the way up to 7th place, while Spider-Man's Wild Night came in at 14th.

My most viewed story of 2016 is actually a 2015 story: Tarzan and the Twins of Tibor. Amazingly, it has never left the top ten. I'm not sure if it's even left the top five. It represents 2.3% of my total views, which is insane for a single post when I've posted nearly 400 times. Why large numbers are reading it every single day and who they are, I don't know. I'm glad it's so popular, but it's resilience is more than a little baffling to me. Hopefully it's not just some weird spambot just messing with me.

The domination of Tarzan continues to thrill
(Tarzan and the Twins of Tibor)

Another 2016 winner posted in 2015? Producers Ring: Hemsworth vs. Hemsworth found an audience this year, too. It must have been linked somewhere, but I don't know where. If you do, please let me know. Its views quadrupled this year, launching it to be my fourth biggest story of all-time, behind Tarzan/Tibor, The Cave 15 (Bat/Spartan), and The Cave 1 (Bat/Riddle).

It took a year, but this story found a following in 2016
(Producers Ring: Hemsworth vs. Hemsworth)

2016 Results: Reviews

In terms of reviews, I can't figure out exactly what makes a popular one, but I assume it's got to be repeat viewers coming back for the images. Social media promotion does help, especially Twitter feeds for Wrestler4Hire, Movimus and Ty Alexander, which often boost results with re-tweets.

BGEast is the highest ranked of the groups I review regularly (10+ reviews in 2016). They averaged 14% more views than Wrestler4Hire and a whopping 71% more views than Thunders Arena. There's a 25% drop to the bottom three (RHW, Movimus, UCW), which are bunched together with minimum views.

The RHW number is a little misleading, because 9/13 of my RHW reviews were for older matches and those have lower views. If I only look at the four reviews for new RHW matches (Alex Waters v Chad, Alex v Wes(t), KOTR7 Alex v Zack, Tanner v Wes), they average closer to Thunders, although still behind them.

Ty led the way for BGE and W4H

As I said in my year-end post for 2016, Ty Alexander dominates my top ten BGEast reviews, while Biff Farrell, Chase Addams, and Guido Genatto each appear in two of them. Biff Farrell is also one of the top search terms that leads people to my blog, including being the top wrestler name from any company. Other BGEast wrestlers that lead a lot of people here include Aryx Quinn, Jonny Firestorm and surprisingly Tyrell Tomsen.

Some of the wrestlers that I think are popular are among the least popular review subjects. All three Kid Karisma reviews rank in the bottom third of my BGEast reviews. And Biff Farrell also has three reviews in the BGEast bottom ten to go along with his two near the top.

You really liked my review of Biff in The Comeback 2
(Biff Farrell vs. Joe Mazetti - BGEast)

But not Biff being double-teamed by pro heels
(Biff Farrell vs. Dolph Danner w/Brice Moore - BGEast)

I loved this match, but readers didn't love my review
(Kid Karisma vs. Carter Alexander - BGEast)

Out of my 29 Thunders Arena reviews, Eagle is the top performing Thunders Arena wrestler with three top ten Thunders Arena reviews. After that, it's a mixed bag. Bolt, Frey, and Travis all appeared in two of my Thunders top ten. So did Scrappy and Vinny, but they also had two in the bottom ten, too. Now, Marco and Vinny are popular Thunders searches that somehow lead people to my blog, while Scrappy has been a very popular traffic driver recently.

On the other end of the scale, I reviewed seven Talon matches and while his match against Vinny was my most popular Thunders post of 2016, Talon also had four reviews in the bottom ten. All four of my Jet reviews are also in the bottom ten, even though I liked him.

Eagle was a winner in views, if not always in wrestling
(Bolt vs. Bucky vs. Eagle - Thunders)
My Talon and Jet reviews didn't attract your interest, so
doing two Talon v Jet reviews didn't work for you
(Talon vs. Jet - Thunders)

So that's it for this year's anniversary post. Thanks for reading and commenting for another year. Now it's on to year three!



  1. Happy anniversary Alex! I try to check this site daily, and it helps to know your stories posting schedule. They're the main reasons I check into your blog, but overtime I've come to really appreciate the other parts of your blog as well. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks. Yep, I'm pretty consistent, especially with the stories. 1st and 15th at 5:00am CT.

  2. Happy Anniversary! Congratulations on making your blog a must see for those that share our love of wrestling. It's not that you post so much content, it's that you always post quality content which is all the more impressive considering how much you give us to read each month. Well done!

    1. Thanks! I appreciate the congratulations and compliment.

  3. Happy anniversary, buddy. :) Thanks for all your hard work and hot posts!

    1. You're welcome. Thanks for the amazing Hercules Unbound images. Obviously it was a huge hit!

  4. As always, love these posts! Lots of goodies. So to be honest first I'm surprised by MM/Day with top three stories. He is one of my favorites, and it seems that I'm not the only one! He is up there with the Bat and Spartan/BB. Besides that it kind of sucks that fakebots can attack a site like this. Why don't the Russians don't just harass some other people and let you be!
    Anyways congrats to you for two fun years of publish your blog and for some real cool stories. Hope to enjoy many more.

    1. Thanks! And thanks for all the models, including Day/Moneymaker. Hopefully blog readers are checking out your Tumblr.

      Fortunately, the bots aren't 'attacking' the site yet, they're just checking it out. LOL. It's like they just come in and view the main page and index pages 500 times. I could tell because it was a huge unexplained boost, but wasn't for any specific post. And normally, Russia isn't anywhere on my list of top traffic sources, so whenever it's high, you know it's fake.

  5. Happy Anniversary! Your blog is one of my favorites. I've discovered some new fav and hot story lines.

    1. Great! I'm glad to hear you're discovering new storylines and videos.

  6. Happy 2 Years! Damn did it fly by fast, as always thanks for posting quality stories that are always on time! And The hemsworth story got popular? Maybe we could see more matches in the future *nudge* *nudge* I hope its real viewers and not bots though celebrity wrestling is a niche that I hope i see more of in the future.

    1. Thanks! Bots don't usually go into specific posts, so I feel pretty sure that it was just linked somewhere. We'll see. I've got so many stories to write and I'm getting less and less interested in pop culture.

  7. hi Alex ... I'm kind of a new reader but I think you do a great job on the blog. My favorite entries are the reviews and your opinion pieces but its a great read most any time ... thanks, Ray

    1. You're welcome, Ray! New readers are important to any blog, so I appreciate you taking the time to comment.