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Joshi champ beats out AEW & WWE stars to claim top spot in PWI Women’s 150

Women’s Pro-Wrestling ‘Stardom’ Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images

Fans have grown accustomed to seeing a dominant WWE Women’s titleholder take the top spot in the PWI 150 each year.

Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s (mostly) kayfabe ranking of the world’s top female wrestlers joined the magazine’s annual top 500 list for men back in 2008, and recent #1s have been people like Becky Lynch, Bayley & Bianca Belair. You have to go back to before the Divas Revolution/Women’s Evolution to find someone who didn’t wrestle for WWE in the top spot (2013, when indie legend Cheerleader Melissa — aka TNA’s Raisha Saeed/Alissa Flash & Lucha Underground’s Mariposa won top honors).

That streak ended in 2022. And it wasn’t broken by an AEW talent like current Women’s champ Thunder Rosa or undefeated TBS champion Jade Cargill, although they both made the top five.

No, it’s joshi wrestler Syuri. The World of Stardom champ (that Bushiroad-owned promotion’s top prize) is coming up on one year with the red belt. The 33 year old has successfully defended the title eight times in her first run with it.

She’s one of three Stardom stars in the top ten:

1. Syuri
2. Bianca Belair
3. Thunder Rosa
4. Becky Lynch
5. Jade Cargill
6. Jordynne Grace
7. Saya Kamitani
8. Charlotte Flair
9. Starlight Kid
10. Taya Valkyrie

According to the magazine, the PWI 150 covers the period from Oct. 1 of the previous year to Sept. 15 of the current one. Selectors weigh in-ring achievement, influence on the sport/promotion, technical ability, quality of 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 personally believe some thought is understandably given to their own shoot business, e.g. what will sell magazines. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

Syuri joins Roman Reigns, who took first place in the latest PWI 500, in being recognized as the best in the world.

Hard to argue against someone who’s been champ for almost all of the evaluation period while wrestling in what many consider to be the best fed for women’s wrestling in the world. The WWE champions didn’t have uninterrupted reigns of that length, and the one AEW titleholder who did won’t get as high marks in the other categories. If there’s a notable omission near the top, it’s NXT Women’s champ Mandy Rose. But despite a year long run with the belt, Rose gets much of the same criticism Cargill does, so...

Let the debate begin!

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