The 2019 - 2020 edition of the PWI 500, Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s (mostly) kayfabe ranking of best pro wrestlers in the world, has arrived.
Jon Moxley sits atop the durable print publication’s 30th annual top 500 list. And they’re not above using the AEW/WWE fan debate to sell some magazines, slapping an exclamatory word ballon that alludes to it right next to All Elite’s World champion on the cover.
And just as WWE was when Seth Rollins was number one on last year’s list, AEW was quick to crow about it. Mox’s victory was tweeted about by his All Out challenger MJF, and brought up by Tony Schiavone & Chris Jericho on Dynamite last night (Aug. 27).
From tonight's Dynamite, @AEWrestling champ @JonMoxley is announced as the #1 wrestler in the #PWI500. And @IAmJericho has words for PWI Editor-in-Chief @wackelvaney! pic.twitter.com/iIr4TJgpL7— PWI (@OfficialPWI) August 28, 2020
According to the magazine, each PWI 500 covers the period from July 1 of the previous year to June 30 of the current one. Selectors weigh win-loss record, technical ability, influence on the sport, success against the highest grade of competition, success against the most diverse competition, and activity. I call it “(mostly) kayfabe” because “influence on the sport” gives them some room to consider non-work elements of a person’s career... and because I think some thought is understandably given to their own shoot business, e.g. what will sell magazines. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.
Wrestlers sometimes use the list in their storytelling, as MJF and Jericho did yesterday. Sometimes they seem worked by it themselves, although that hasn’t been as prevalent this year as it’s been in years past. The runner-up to Mox, NXT’s Adam Cole, seemed to be using it as motivation (and a sneaky way to promote his girlfriend Britt Baker’s show) when he retweeted the above clip from Dynamite with the comment “#2 huh? Alright...cya soon 2021. #AdamColeBayBay #1.”
Anyway, here’s the top ten, which features as many WWE wrestlers as non-WWE wrestlers:
1. Jon Moxley
2. Adam Cole
3. Chris Jericho
4. Drew McIntyre
5. Tetsuya Naito
6. Kazuchika Okada
7. Cody Rhodes
8. Seth Rollins
9. Kofi Kingston
10. AJ Styles
A redditor has posted the full list here. Interesting to note that PWI included women who work intergender matches in the 500 this year, with Kylie Rae 78th, Tessa Blanchard 83rd, and others. The magazine started doing a “Women’s 100” in 2018; the new edition of that should be out in October.
Let the debate rage on. You can purchase a digital or print copy of the full Sept. 22-releasing issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated here.