David Allen Meltzer (born October 24, 1959) is an American journalist covering professional wrestling and mixed martial arts.
Since 1983, he has been the publisher/editor of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON). He has also written for the Oakland Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Yahoo! Sports, and The National Sports Daily. He has extensively covered mixed martial arts since UFC 1 in 1993 and currently covers the sport for SB Nation. He has been called "the most accomplished reporter in sports journalism" by Frank Deford of Sports Illustrated.
He is also a frequent lecturer on many aspects of the business of MMA, professional wrestling, and boxing at the Graduate School of Business, Stanford University.
Meltzer was born in New York City, lived in upstate New York until he was ten, before his family settled in San Jose, California. Meltzer earned a journalism degree from San Jose State University and started out as a sports writer for the Wichita Falls Times Record News and the Turlock Journal. He demonstrated an interest in professional wrestling and a journalistic approach to it early in life. Meltzer wrote several wrestling-related publications that predate WON, dating back to 1971. The most notable of these was the California Wrestling Report, ca. 1973–1974, which reported on the still-extant National Wrestling Alliance territories operating out of Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The beginnings of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (WON) date back to 1980, when Meltzer began an annual poll amongst those with whom he corresponded regarding professional wrestling. According to Meltzer, he was just a fan at first. A short time later, he began maintaining a tape-trading list, and would occasionally send match results and news updates along with tape updates. Meltzer stated that he wanted to keep his friends in college "in the loop" for his tape trading as well as the happenings in the business, as the mainstream wrestling magazines catered to a somewhat younger demographic.
Meltzer popularized the "star rating" system (devised by Jim Cornette and his childhood friend Norm M. Dooley), which rates matches on a scale of zero to five stars (sometimes going to negative five stars in the case of very bad matches) in a similar manner to that used by many movie critics. As in the field of film, a rating is a largely subjective affair that may take into account the amount of action as opposed to restholds ("workrate"), the difficulty and variety of moves used, the history of the workers and their feud, the development of an in-match storyline based on the wrestling moves and how they affect the wrestlers, and the overall reaction of the crowd.
Five-star matches, as rated by Meltzer, are extremely rare. The latest was Donovan Dijak vs. Keith Lee from Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's Battle Of Los Angeles 2017 Night 3. 94 matches have received the honor since Dynamite Kid and Tiger Mask I were the inaugural "five star match". Mitsuharu Misawa has the most five-star matches with 23 (including one match wrestling as Tiger Mask II).
Meltzer has also given ratings that have exceeded five-stars, giving a six-star rating to a 1994 match between Mitsuharu Misawa and Toshiaki Kawada, and to the Wrestle Kingdom 11 match between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega on January 4, 2017. Meltzer went even further beyond the six-star rating in June 2017, when he gave the Dominion 6.11 in Osaka-jo Hall rematch between Okada and Omega 6¼ (******1/4) stars. Meltzer continued going past the five-star rating for two matches in the 2017 G1 Climax; giving the third match between Okada and Omega 6 stars and the final between Omega and Tetsuya Naito 5¾ stars.
Despite this rating system representing only the subjective opinion of one individual, wrestlers, such as Bret Hart, have written how proud they were when their performances were praised in the WON.Cauliflower Alley Club
James Melby Historian Award (2017)
George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
Jim Melby Award (2016)