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Thread: [ColuMania - King of Stats Invitational] Green Eyes: The Wrestlemania Title Change

  1. #1
    Where's Cliff gone?!?
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    [ColuMania - King of Stats Invitational] Green Eyes: The Wrestlemania Title Change

    Green Eyes: The Wrestlemania Title Change

    Greetings one and all. I am Shee and this is Green Eyes. For the first time in many years I will be bringing that stats magic your way. Lets see if I can shake off the cobwebs and dazzle you with those numbers!

    Wrestlemania, like any good PPV, will have plenty of title matches. But how likely are we to see those titles change hand? Furthermore, what chance does the rookie Roman Reigns have of taking the gold from Brock Lesnar? Yes, we’ve been hearing on the dirt sheets since last year that Reigns is getting the win but in the ever changing WWE world, can we really take this as almighty fact?

    What do we know about Reigns? How is he similar to those who have gone to ‘mania before him? How is he different? Can we look at the stats surrounding those who were similar and apply the same logic to Reigns? What is unique about Reigns’ position going into ‘mania?

    Today folks I hope to give you the definitive stats guide to Roman Reigns’ Wrestlemania chances. In addition we’ll look at the wider Wrestlemania picture and figure out exactly how likely it is for each championship match to yield a title change.


    The Potential Reigns

    Is Roman Reigns just another Wrestlemania competitor? Well he is, first and foremost, a Royal Rumble winner so that automatically puts him in the elite group of Wrestlemania world title challengers.

    Fact: Since the Wrestlemania world title shot was introduced, 13 of the 23 Royal Rumble winners have won the world title at Wrestlemania.

    The above stat shows what Reigns’ general chances are at Wrestlemania as a Royal Rumble winner. But I reckon we can put Reigns into a much smaller subset. First let’s see where Reigns is as a drop in the ocean compared to every other man and woman that has ever competed at Wrestlemania.

    Reigns is one of 362 wrestlers that have already competed at a Wrestlemania event as seen above.

    Reigns is one of 133 wrestlers to challenge for a championship title at Wrestlemania.

    Reigns is one of 32 wrestlers to challenge for a world title at Wrestlemania.

    Reigns is one of 18 Royal Rumble winners to challenge for a world title at Wrestlemania.

    Reigns is one of 9 Royal Rumble winners looking to win their first WWE world title at Wrestlemania.

    Reigns is one of 7 babyface Royal Rumble winners looking to win their first WWE world title at Wrestlemania.

    So in just a few steps, Reigns goes from being part of quite a large Wrestlemania subset, to a much smaller one.

    Roman Reigns will become the 9th WWE Royal Rumble winner to go on to Wrestlemania seeking their first world title in WWE. The 8 men that went before him were:

    Bearing in mind that Shawn Michaels needed two bites of the cherry, that's 9 previous attempts by 8 Royal Rumble winners to win their first WWE world title at Wrestlemania.

    History suggests that the odds are in Roman’s favour as 66% of the previous bouts have ended in success for the challenger with 6 of 9 WWE title matches seeing a new world champion crowned. History gives Reigns a further boost when we consider that 5 of the 6 face challengers in the list above all went on to win the world title with the only failure being Lex Luger in 1994. In addition to this stat being 83% in Reigns’ favour, the list above shows the faces are on a 5 match Wrestlemania winning streak.

    We have the successful challenges in green and losses in red above. What’s interesting about this visual is that we can see how frequently a Royal Rumble winner is looking for their first world title at Wrestlemania. Since WWE started giving Rumble winners world title shots, we have seen 42% of 'manias featuring a challenger seeking his first world title. So WWE are not far off going down this road in 1 of every 2 Wrestlemanias since Wrestlemania 9.

    Reigns will however be the first face to go down this route in 9 years with Rey Mysterio being the last face to win a Rumble and subsequently seek his first world title at 'mania. This represents how WWE have moved away from giving new stars their traditional “Wrestlemania Moment” in recent years and instead moved towards cyclical main event runs and feuds for the same stars over the last decade.

    Fact: Roman Reigns has only competed in 2 PPV singles matches to date with Wrestlemania 31 also being his first singles shot at the WWE title.

    Reigns is strongly tipped to be WWE’s pick for the future. “Wrestlemania Moments” are not only first time world title winners but they have painted some of the poster moments for WWE down through the years. Shawn Michaels in 96, Stone Cold in 98, Chris Benoit in 04 and Rey Mysterio in 06 all represent some of the biggest Wrestlemania moments to date. The direct path of winning the Royal Rumble and going on to ’mania to win your first world title, for me, is WWE’s old fashioned way of creating that historic moment.

    Roman Reigns is checking all the boxes history has put in front of us. Face Royal Rumble winners seeking their first world titles have a pretty good chance of crossing the line. Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of the push he’s received, I’ve come to accept it. The fact that WWE are now ready to push a new face to the top is really encouraging. That’s not a slight on John Cena, but after 10 years of Cena dominance, I’m ready for something new. I would perhaps have preferred a Daniel Bryan or a Dolph Ziggler but I’m certainly willing to give Reigns a chance. The stats seem more than willing also as the more you look at this, the more likely it is that Reigns will be holding gold come the end of ‘mania. With the last 5 faces in his position all bagging gold, I think Reigns is odds on to do the same.

    Title Changes at Wrestlemania

    But Reigns-Lesnar ain’t the only game in town come ‘mania. We’ll have the Undertaker back in action to take on Bray Wyatt in what promises to be a physical affair. Seth Rollins will most likely take on Randy Orton in what should be an outsider for match of the night. And Sting finally graces a WWE ring to do battle with Triple H. I am particularly looking forward to that one as the Game has been in top form in all of his part time matches over the last few years.

    But we need more than the matches above. We need title matches. We need title changes. We need that oh so exciting feeling that a title change may or may not occur. We need that edge-of-our-seat-close-count-false-finish-shocking-twist-never-ending wrestling heroin to truly get our Wrestlemania fix. This year’s ‘mania promises to be no different. But just how likely are we to see the titles change hands?

    There have been 112 title matches at Wrestlemania with title changes in occurring 55 of these matches. That’s one match short of a perfect 50% split. But how does this filter through to the individual titles? Let’s look at the total number of title changes for each different title in WWE down through the years.

    A few notes on the above:
    • Stats measure title changes only and not DQ or countout victories.
    • The world title includes the WWE title, World Heavyweight title and ECW title.
    • The Tag title stats include all of WWE’s incarnations of the tag belts.
    • Cruiserweight and light heavy weight titles are included together.
    • The Women’s title includes both the original women’s title and current Divas title.
    • Multiple hardcore title changes that occurred are counted as 1 for the entire event.
    • Stats do not include the Million Dollar title.
    • Stats do not include pre-shows.

    We’ve looked directly at Roman Reigns’ chances of winning the world title given his somewhat unique position. But let us look also at the chances in general of a world title change at Wrestlemania.

    As we can see above, 63% of world title matches at ‘mania have ended with a new champion. But how relevant is that when we look ahead to Wrestlemania 31? For vast periods of the last decade, more than 1 world title has been defended at Wrestlemania including one instance where 3 world titles were on the line if you include Kane’s ECW title win in 2008.

    Fact: With 8 a piece, Triple H and John Cena have competed in more world title matches at Wrestlemania than any other wrestlers.

    We can break Wrestlemania down into blocks of five years to see the frequency of world title changes over time. The below shows the percentage of world title changes per block of 5 Wrestlemanias.

    Wow. I love compiling a stat and surprising myself. We are currently coming off of the most barren period in history as regards to world title changes. In the 9 world title matches that took place during the last 5 years, only 4 title changes took place. This includes wins for John Cena over Batista and the Rock. Sheamus defeated Daniel Bryan in 2012 and Daniel Bryan himself won the world title last year against Randy Orton and Batista. In between these victories have been failed world title challenges by Edge, Chris Jericho, Alberto Del Rio, John Cena and Jack Swagger.

    So whilst WWE have had more than one world title match at many of the Wrestlemanias down through the last decade, this has far from guaranteed a world title change. You would in fact have to go back to Wrestlemanias 5 through 15 to get the era where the ‘mania world title change was at its most prominent with change rates upwards of 80%.

    Fact: John Cena has been the challenger in 6 of his 8 Wrestlemania world title matches winning 4 of the 6 as challenger and successfully defending on the other 2 occasions.

    The next most frequently defended titles at Wrestlemania are the tag titles and intercontinental title. Steeped in history, each respective title has given its share of great Wrestlemania matches down through the years with Macho Man vs Ricky Steamboat at Wrestlemania 3 still considered by many to be the best of all time. However both titles appear to have lost their ‘mania prestige in recent years.

    Fact: The tag titles were defended in 18 of the first 20 Wrestlemanias.

    Shockingly, the tag titles have only been defended in 3 of the last 10 ‘manias after such a prestigious run prior. One can only imagine why when you consider the likes of the Hardys, Dudley and Edge/Christian giving us the TLC matches down through the years, not to mention the likes of the Hart Foundation, Demolition and Money Inc. The advent of the Money in the Bank ladder match, celebrity involvement in storylines and promotional battle royals have seen the tag titles get less than the deserved time over the last decade.

    The above shows not only the years in which the tag titles were defended at Wrestlemania but also the number of challengers for the titles in each match. The above also shows the titles were classically defended in the two-on-two format for the first 15 Wrestlemanias; the only exception being Mr. Fuji’s inclusion with the Powers of Pain against Demolition at Wrestlemania 5.

    Fact: Wrestlemania 20 saw 16 men competing across 2 matches for the Raw and Smackdown tag team titles.

    Going into this years ‘mania, at this time I reckon there’s a strong chance Tyson Kidd and Cesaro will defend against the Usos. History shows us that the tag titles have changed hands at Wrestlemania in 39% of cases down through the years. However the odds may be firmly against the Usos or any team claiming the tag titles as they have failed to change hands in each of the last 7 Wrestlemania matches where they have been defended. In fact, to find the last title change you would have to go back 14 years to Wrestlemania 17 when Edge and Christian won the titles from champions the Dudley Boys during the TLC match which also included the Hardys.

    The intercontinental title comes next in our list of ‘mania titles. The title looks set to make a Wrestlemania return this year after plenty of time on the bench. The afore mentioned advent of the Money in the Bank ladder match has done particular damage to the presence of intercontinental title matches with the I.C. champion often involved in the challenge for the briefcase.

    Fact: The intercontinental title was defended in each of the first 11 Wrestlemanias making it the only title to do so.

    There have been only 2 intercontinental title matches in the last 10 years. Below you can see exactly how the intercontinental title’s Wrestlemania status has fallen from grace.

    Up until Wrestlemania 15 the title was defended in all but one Wrestlemania. However in the next 15 years the title has only been defended 5 times. The title looks set to now ironically replace the Money in the Bank match that likely kept it off so many Wrestlemania cards over the last decade. Since receiving its own PPV, the MITB match has left a hole in the Wrestlemania card that is crying out for the multi man ladder match to return. With the likes of Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler and Luke Harper set to challenge Bad News Barrett, Wrestlemania 31 could be where we see the intercontinental title match put firmly back on the map.

    Fact: Wrestlemania 31 will be only the 3rd time the intercontinental title is competed for in a multi man match after Wrestlemania 15 and 16.

    The intercontinental title has a similar rate of title change at Wrestlemania to the tag belts, with 37% of bouts ending with a new champion. However, recent history favours this stat with each of the last 3 matches ending with a new champion. The last unsuccessful intercontinental title challenge occurred at Wrestlemania 17 when William Regal failed to defeat Chris Jericho.

    Moving on, we can close out our list of male titles by looking at some of the remaining belts currently or previously up for grabs in the WWE. Unfortunately the low number of ‘mania matches associated with these titles mean there is not much data to work with but we will grind out a meaningful stat or two regardless.

    Fact: It is 8 years since the U.S. title was last defended at Wrestlemania.

    The U.S. title looks all but certain to be defended at ‘mania this year. However the title has a disastrous appearance count over the last 10 years. The title has a total of 3 Wrestlemania defences out of a possible 11. Even the European title did better than that! Of the 3 U.S. title matches that took place 2 ended with title changes. John Cena was one of these successful challengers so he might well be in line to become the first WWE star to win the U.S. title at Wrestlemania twice.

    Fact: The European title was defended in 5 out of possible 6 Wrestlemanias.

    We then have the already mentioned European title along with the Hardcore title and Cruiserweight title. I personally loved the European title. At a time when the main event and even the Intercontinental title scene were crowded, it gave meaning to the lower mid card feuds and helped future stars along the road such as Kurt Angle, William Regal and Eddie Guerrero.

    These now defunct titles were defended a combined total of 12 times. The Hardcore title saw multiple title changes at Wrestlemania 18 as Maven traded the belt with Christian, Spike Dudley and Molly Holly before eventually coming out as champion under the 24/7 rule. The Cruiserweight title was featured in Wrestlemania 19 and 20 after a 5 year ‘mania hiatus when it was previously defended as the Light Heavyweight title before its eventual merger with the WCW Cruiserweight title. Chavo Guerroro emerged successful at Wrestlemania 20 when he defended the belt against 9 other men.

    We come finally to the Women’s title which has been defended in 12 out of the 30 Wrestlemanias to date. The Divas title as it is now known had gone through periods of inactivity during the 80s and 90s but has been very much alive over the last decade. I had to double check this next stat but I was surprised to see that the title has only been defended once in the last 7 Wrestlemanis. Diva tag matches, inter gender matches and celebrity involvement have seemingly interrupted the Divas title renewed prominence at ‘mania.

    Fact: With 13 women challenging, the Divas title match at Wrestlemania 30 involved the single largest number ever of competitors to challenge for a title in a Wrestlemania match.

    It is unclear yet whether the title will be defended at Wrestlemania 31. What is clear however is that the ladies title boasts only a 33% rate of title change at Wrestlemania. In addition the champion has retained in 4 of the last 5 ‘mania matches.

    That concludes our breakdown of each of the individual titles. Let’s take a step back once more and look at the bigger picture. The below shows title matches vs. title changes at ‘mania down through the years.

    Can we expect title changes at Wrestlemania 31? I think the answer is very much yes. In fact title changes are a stalwart of Wrestlemania with any given ‘mania giving us a 97% chance of at least one title change.

    Fact: Wrestlemania 27 was the only Wrestlemania in which no title change occurred.

    Is the number of title changes relevant to the number of matches that take place? I would like to go into some very detailed statistical theory to give a comprehensive answer but the graph above does suffice in suggesting the gap between title matches and title changes is fairly consistent. The only occasion where all title matches resulted in a title change was at Wrestlemania 12. However this was a Wrestlemania where only a single title was defended, with Shawn Michaels defeating Bret Hart for the WWE title.

    The above gives us an idea of how many title changes we are likely to see. I am quite happy to see that only 3% of Wrestlemanias have failed to deliver a title change. Whilst 5 title changes is not impossible, it is unlikely given that it has only occurred once before at Wrestlemania 17 with the its closest challenger being 4 changes occurring the previous year at Wrestlemania 16. The more likely outcome is that we will see 1 or 2 title changes taking place at Wrestlemania 31 with a combined 83% chance of either occurring.


    That’s it from me folks. I hope I have enlightened you to some of the more meaningful stats surrounding Wrestlemania this year. Wrestling will always present the numbers enthusiast with a plethora of figures that enables endless analysis when it comes to predicting wrestling outcomes. Wrestlemania is but a drop in the ocean of the stats that are out there.

    It’s hard to conclusively stand over any type of prediction model with regards to outcomes. One must remember that the ultimate decisions on match winners are man-made and not an unknown outcome. But with the mountains of data available and obvious trends that are extractable, those stats can still deliver some very meaningful predictions and possibilities. I do hope I have opened your eyes to just some of those today.

    Enjoy Wrestlemania and good luck to all competing in ColuMania.

    Slán go fóill!


  2. #2
    The Underage Pessimist Subho's Avatar
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    Awesome analysis! The stats about the US, Tag and Intercontinental Titles were really great. It's kinda a shame where all 3 of them have fallen. It seems we're going to have another multi team match for the tag titles, though, as Cesaro & Kidd were curiously watching New Day's match on SmackDown this week and they had a bit of an altercation with Los Matadores as well. The penultimate graph was the best. WM 20 (where it all began again) was rightly the peak, and since then we've moved on to a different kind of booking strategy.

    {Also, the "Royal Rumble winners seeking first wwe world title at wrestlemania" graph has a bit of an error. ADR won the Rumble that year (as a heel) and he was unsuccessful in winning the world title from Edge.}

    Awesome stuff here, man! Really enjoyed it!

  3. #3
    The Brain
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    Sep 2013
    Man, this took me back in the best possible way. Pure Shee. Made me want to cry a little. A thing of beauty. You are the man.

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    Vintage Ehohanaghan Quigg here

    Glad you came back, this was awesome

  5. #5
    Senior Member Freeman's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    Classic Shee. Fascinating stuff here mate, you haven't missed a beat since you've been away.

    Some really interesting facts here as well. Poor Roman, only 44% world title changes in the 4 most recent Wrestlemanias doesn't bode well for him, although I still fancy him to come out on top. Also, shit, the US Title hasn't been defended in 8 years at WM? Shocking and just proves how little WWE cares about its midcard titles in recent years.

    Great to have you back writing again man, even if it only turns out to be a one time thing.

  6. #6
    Senior Member JacobWrestledGod's Avatar
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    Oct 2013
    There have been only 2 intercontinental title matches in the last 10 years. Below you can see exactly how the intercontinental title’s Wrestlemania status has fallen from grace.
    This is perhaps one of the best and most straight-forward stat column I have read. As i wondered about the stats on the IC title, I was thinking about how Daniel Bryan might be put into the match so that he can be the elevator that makes the title worth something again, and when we look back in time, we can say that WM31 was where the revival all began. The same goes for the US title defense being so high profile.

    I would perhaps have preferred a Daniel Bryan or a Dolph Ziggler but I’m certainly willing to give Reigns a chance. The stats seem more than willing also as the more you look at this, the more likely it is that Reigns will be holding gold come the end of ‘mania. With the last 5 faces in his position all bagging gold, I think Reigns is odds on to do the same.
    That's a fair assessment. I wonder if they will go the CM Punk route. Have Heyman emphasize on Brock leaving WWE with the title, let Vince be involved again with Triple H wanting to concentrate on Sting.
    And Jacob wrestled with God.

  7. #7
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    The more I read this, the better it gets, it's why I've missed not only you, but this place in general.

    This is just well written, entertaining, and above all doesn't want to be too fancy, too complicated or over thought... And I mean that in the best way possible. Far too many columnists try this and fail by a want to over complicate things.

  8. #8
    Broken Kleck Kleckamania's Avatar
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    Sep 2013
    I loved this. My favorite column from all of ColuMania so far.

    So many variables in these kind of equations. So many things to dissect and break down. You did that so well here. You say Wrestlemania is the Stalwart in title changes, but I'd be curious to see how other long running PPVs such as Royal Rumble, Summerslam, and Survivor Series stack up. I'm sure WM comes out on top, but that might make for a very interesting column. (I'm hinting because I hope you will write again sometime soon )

    Some haunting facts in here. Particularly the mid card title scene at Wrestlemania as a whole. Not often defended. Definitely lends credence to the notion that Vince books to keep the spotlight firmly on the top of the card. Since the Attitude/Ruthless Aggression Eras at least, which seem to have been a learning curve on booking for Vince and company based on these numbers. That big period of over inflation led to a big change in their Mania booking. Interesting to ponder what specifically led to that change.

    The Tag Titles section was the most interesting for me. All those years since the belts have been won at Mania, and so few tag title matches since the big drop off. This like the stats above really makes you wonder where these drastic decisions came from. Like overnight they decided to completely change product directions. This column has me delving in my mind, thinking these kind of things over. Awesomeness.

    This was a wonderful read. Did you used to write on the MP (been reading up there since like 98)? I get the feeling this isn't the 1st time I've read your work...

    I also hope it won't be the last. Or next to last. Or... you get it.

  9. #9
    Where's Cliff gone?!?
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    Subho: Well spotted, Zzzorf was kind enough to let me amend the original photo so the error is fixed. Just to clarify for anyone else, the 2011 Heel data point was showing up as green instead of the correct red. I hope they do a four way for the tag belts, I really do. But its also the kind of match that could get relegated to the pre-show last minute. They might also choose a Kidd-Cesaro-Natalya vs Usos-Naomi. Yeah the Title Matches v Changes graph was one of my favourites too. Was expecting more of a gap but WWE have actually been consistent enough with the matches to title changes ratio, with numbers of course dwindling since WM 20 as you said. Thanks for feedback and extended discussion.

    mizfan: thanks buddy! Always great to hear from you.

    bear1: Whatever happened that young fella? He'd the singing world in his hands back in 2010....

    Freeman: Yeah I do fancy Roman Regardless. The stats tell an interesting story but I reckon Roman's position as first time world title challengers at 'mania will see him through. Its got all the Wrestlemania moment ingredients. Would be v surprised if Brock came out on top but sh*t they better have a match worthy of the occasion. This is mega mega MEGA Brock we're talking about, I'll be damned if Reigns gets the comeback victory after some 3 star snooze fest. Although throw in a Heyman turn maybe....

    Yeah, U.S. title stat bummed me out too. At least there's a bit of interest in it this year. Athough if Cena wins it I can see the belt getting lost in the shuffle again. I think they need to merge with the Intercontinental belt and make at least one of them strong before considering having two again. Hell I'd even can the U.S. title and bring back the European title. That belt was awesome! Thanks for stopping by dude!

    JacobWrestleGod: The I.C. title has a big chance of being renewed at 'mania. But this match has to be about the belt. And pride in the belt at that. This stealing the belt mumbo jumbo is flying a little too close to the sun in terms of a funny storyline and just degrading the title. With the two weeks left between now and 'mania I want to see those 7/8 wrestlers getting serious about this match and the importance of that belt. Those multi man ladder matches can steal the show. A bit of pride in that belt wouldn't go amiss. As much as I hate seeing Ziggler and Bryan down the card, they need to take this chance and make this match the card!

    I wouldn't rule out a Heyman turn on Brock as I said above. Might just get this match over the line for WWE. Very hard to know whats really going on there behind the scenes but you know Brock ain't hanging around for something small. Thanks for feedback and comments!

    bear2: Two bear comments? You flatter me! :-) I'm glad you mentioned the layout. I worked really hard on, as you say, making this as straight forward as possible and giving the reader the full value of the stats. Its easy to get sucked into a more complicated route after doing so much research and collecting with the data. At one point I was working all the "Facts" above into each paragraph and then highlighting them in bold. Then the fact idea hit me and it worked so much better. I think they key here was to get a few of the known stats and less known stats together and make them interesting. The rest wrote itself.

    Thanks for stopping by old friend, me and you defo got to do a stats piece someday!

    Kleckmania: Well I suppose I meant that title changes are a stalwort of Wrestlemania as opposed to the other way around. Interesting though, I would like to see how other PPVs stack up against them. The big 4 PPVs in particular would have mountains of data to work with. Royal Rumble in particular has no end of stats value.

    The tag titles and intercontinental titles have suffered indeed. Having two world titles killed the mid-card titles in many ways. Throw in MITB, celebrity matches and other gimmick matches and they've barely been making the card. The streak, over the last decade, delivered some great contests which is about the only plus in not seeing tag matches and mid card title feuds. But when you look back to the first 20 years of Wrestlemania and all the value these matches delivered, WWE could really do more to book them strongly again. Here's hoping!

    I appeared on the main page a few times back in 2010 and 2011 but never wrote their regularly! Thanks for feedback and extended discussion, very happy to hear you liked the piece!
    Last edited by Shee; 03-14-2015 at 09:06 PM. Reason: typo

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Shee I wasn't familiar with your work before this, but this was impressive.

    I didn't think anyone could outstats Zzzorf, and only time will tell if you have here, but this was amazing. The detail was sharp without ever feeling like overkill. I loved that you were able to deliver something impressive and chock full of information without being overwhelming, or boring. This was ace stuff.

    I've yet to find something in ColuMania that hasn't tickled my fancy, the voters are going to have their hands full!
    Read my latest. That's not a request.


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