Kazuchika Okada Tops This Year’s PWI 500, Top Ten Revealed

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:

Here’s what Okada told PWI’s Senior Writer Dan Murphy about the honor via WrestlingInc:

“What this award signifies is that wrestling fans and media worldwide are thinking about what promotion and what wrestler deserves their attention, and the answer is Okada. It’s an indication that finally the world at large is realizing just how great Japanese wrestlers and Japanese wrestling is, and that’s special.”

Who else in the top 10 this year? Here’s what we know based on the information from PWI’s Senior Writer Dan Murphy, who shared the information on a recent episode of Jim Ross’ podcast. Keep in mind that their rankings are for one year from July 2016 – June 2017.

  1. Kazuchika Okada
  2. AJ Styles
  3. Kevin Owens
  4. Roman Reigns
  5. Kenny Omega
  6. Shinsuke Nakamura
  7. Dean Ambrose
  8. Samoa Joe
  9. Bobby Roode
  10. The Miz

How do they come up with the list? This comes straight from a previous year’s issue: They include win-loss record, championships won, quality of competition, major feuds, prominence within a wrestler’s individual promotion(s), and overall wrestling ability. The guess here is that a lot of the complaining will be about Roman Reigns being ahead of Kenny Omega.

You can pick up the PWI 500 in print and digital formats at pwi-online.com now.