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PWI 500 2018: Kenny Omega is the second straight non-WWE wrestler named #1 in the world

Esther Lin for SBNation

New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW)’s increased prominence in the global wrestling market continues with the 2018 edition of the PWI 500. For only the second time in the 28 year history of Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s annual list of the 500 best in pro wrestling, a non-WWE performers have topped the ranking in consecutive years. Kenny Omega has unseated the man he defeated for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, Kazuchika Okada, as their number one pro wrestler in the world.

The writer responsible for coordinating the publication’s yearly issue, Dan Murphy, told Wrestling Inc the decision was based as much on Omega’s crossover appeal as his six and seven star matches: “In a very real way, Kenny Omega embodies 2018 in professional wrestling. His success on his own terms has made him an international phenomenon.”

Omega moves up from fifth place on 2017’s PWI 500. This year’s Top Ten features many of the same talent as it did last year, and previous #1s AJ Styles (2010), Okada (2017), Brock Lesnar (2003), Seth Rollins (2015), Roman Reigns (2016) and The Miz (2011).

Dropping out of the Top Ten entirely were names like Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose, Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe and Bobby Roode.

The PWI 500 covers July 31, 2017 to June 30, 2018. The ranking is voted on by the editors and writers of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

The 2018 PWI 500 Top Ten

  1. Kenny Omega
  2. A.J. Styles
  3. Kazuchika Okada
  4. Brock Lesnar
  5. Seth Rollins
  6. Braun Strowman
  7. Roman Reigns
  8. Cody Rhodes
  9. Tetsuya Naito
  10. The Miz

On board with The Best Bout Machine’s selection atop the list? How about the rest of the picks? Order your copy of Pro Wrestling Illustrated here to see all 500 names selected, and let us know what you think of the top selections below.