Every year Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) comes out with its list of the best 500 wrestlers on the planet. Not everyone agrees with the ranking, which is often pro-WWE (eight of the top ten are WWE talents), but by most accounts, it is one of the gospels of ranking wrestlers and performances in the wrestling industry over the past year.
The 2017 version of the list was recently released, and there are some interesting rankings. In fact, there are, what some might call revelations from the list that are worth noting. Kazuchika Okada topped this year’s list, making him the first Japanese wrestler to ever win the top spot. He was followed by A.J. Styles and Kevin Owens. Some who made the Top 10 jumped up a number of spots and many dropped right out of contention.
Here are the five biggest news items coming out of the PWI Top 500 Wrestlers of 2017 List.
5. Okada Is Clearly The Best In The World
For the first time, a Japanese wrestler has earned the crown as PWI’s best wrestler of the year. This is a major development that shows two things. First, the WWE does not employ the best in the world and second, Japan is making major strides in the industry and the WWE should take notice.
Okada’s reign as IWGP Champion during the entire evaluation period (July 2016 through July 2017) helped solidify his place on the top, and his many five-star matches with some of the independent scenes top performers spoke volumes. As Okada put it, this award is an indication that finally, the world at large is realizing just how great Japanese wrestlers and Japanese wrestling is.
4. Kenny Omega Jumped 18 Spots To Make Top 10
As one of the best wrestlers not in the WWE, if Omega was not high on the WWE’s want list, he should be now. Having multiple matches with Okada helped, but as part of the Bullet Club, and one of the best talents not interested in joining the WWE at this time, this is another sign that the WWE needs to consider reaching out to see if they can’t get him to change his mind.
But not all is lost for the WWE. Shockingly, Omega rated one spot lower than Roman Reigns who has to be on the list only thanks to his affiliation with the WWE.
3. The Miz Made The Top 10
Interestingly, The Miz made the list at number 10 thanks almost entirely to his ability to cut a wicked promo. He didn’t have many high-quality matches to speak of, but he took major strides in his getting noticed on shows like Talking Smack and for calling out wrestlers like John Cena and Daniel Bryan.
2. Part-Timers Dropped
This list shows that part-time wrestlers like John Cena and Brock Lesnar are losing credibility to the PWI since they aren’t around enough to make a big difference in the industry. John Cena dropped out of the top 10 and to spot 19, and Brock Lesnar dropped six more spots from the previous year despite holding the Universal Title for some time.
It’s not necessarily about how many matches one has, but it’s also about the approach these wrestlers seem to have to the industry. If you’re not going to devote your full time to the business, you’ll drop in the rankings.
1. The List Is Glorious
Bobby Roode moved up 61 one spots from number 70 on last year’s list to rank in the Top 10 at number nine. After dominating NXT for a full year as their champion, it showed that moving from TNA to NXT was a major promotion for the wrestler and that NXT talents are given major consideration while the list is being compiled.
If the WWE keeps having Roode play the babyface character on SmackDown Live he’s sure to drop again but to have made the Top 10 as a wrestler in the later stages of his career and completely re-established his place in the wrestling industry.
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