Pro Wrestling Illustrated has been a staple in the wrestling business since it launched in 1979. With nearly 40 years of history behind it, the magazine was very important to a lot of wrestling fans growing up especially in the pre-internet days.
In 1991, PWI launched their PWI 500 list, a list of their choices for the 500 best (male) wrestlers in the world. While I never subscribed to the magazine, I always bought the PWI 500 because it was a good way to learn about wrestlers I didn’t know, and to argue with friends about the rankings.
Some of the notable names that topped the PWI 500 list in years past are: Hulk Hogan (1991), Shawn Michaels (1996), Steve Austin (1998, 1999), Kurt Angle (2001), John Cena (2006, 2007, 2013), AJ Styles (2010), Daniel Bryan (2014) and Roman Reigns in 2016.
The number one spot in 2017 belongs to IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada of New Japan Pro Wrestling, which is no surprise considering the amount of incredible matches he has had in the last year, and really the last few years. He’s an amazing talent. Okada was number two to Reigns last year. Here’s the reveal that PWI did via Twitter earlier today: