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September 5, 2008

The PWI 500 and The Ring Posts 20

You have to give credit to the people who work for Pro Wrestling Illustrated. In the era of insider Web sites and newsletters, the mostly kayfabe magazine is still around and still relevant.

A subscriber to several of the family of magazines that came to be known as “Apter mags” (named after famous wrestling writer Bill Apter) when I was a teenager, I still get the PWI Wrestling Almanac and Book of Facts every year, as well as the PWI 500 and year-end awards issues.

The PWI 500, which is out on newsstands, is always fun to read. For the uninitiated, the magazine ranks the top 500 stars in wrestling. The rankings are based on how wrestlers fared over the past year (basically last summer to this summer).

Randy Orton beat out Kurt Angle for the top spot in the 500. Rounding out the top 10 are Triple H, Samoa Joe, Edge, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Nigel McGuinness (Ring of Honor), John Cena and Shinsuke Nakamura (New Japan Pro Wrestling).

In the spirit of the PWI 500, I decided to come up with my own rankings. Of course, I wouldn’t dream of attempting to compile a list as comprehensive as PWI’s. The best I can muster is a top 20.

I based my list on the same criteria used by PWI: overall accomplishments during the past year, titles won, quality of opposition, quantity and quality of promotions worked, overall talent and spot on the card (in addition, PWI said it also took into consideration “other factors,” but there were no specifics). I also took durability into account.

You will notice that my list is comprised entirely of WWE and TNA talent. That’s where “quality of opposition” and “quality of promotion” come into play. There is a clear pecking order in wrestling: WWE is No. 1, TNA is No. 2 and Ring of Honor is No. 3. So in my estimation, ranking ROH champion McGuinness ahead of Cena is ludicrous. Like previous ROH champions Samoa Joe and CM Punk, McGuinness might end up being a star in a big promotion someday, but right now he isn’t even on the radar of casual fans. I didn’t consider Japanese or Mexican promotions because I don’t really watch tapes of international promotions.

Just so everyone is clear, this is a kayfabe list, meaning that the rankings are based on wins and losses as if wrestling was legitimate competition and not scripted entertainment.

Here is The Ring Posts 20 (let the arguments begin):



12. JBL

19. KANE

Posted by Kevin Eck at 1:03 PM | | Comments (16)


Kinda hard to make a kayfabe list based on wins and losses and not consider the fact that it' scripted- if it wasn't for backstage politics and such, would Triple H have the gaudy win/loss record he has over the past year, based purely on his talent? As good as he and the Undertaker are as wrestlers, they would certainly lose a heck of a lot more if they didn't have some say in the outcome.
Having said that, I like your list, and it makes for some fun debate.

I think Kurt Angle should be a little higher, he has been a part of the TNA title scene for almost the whole year.

Also I'd have MVP on there before Umaga, Tomko, and Kane. He held the US belt for a mighty long time.

Wait...are you just writing down names in no order at all? I must have jumped the gun in responding then, i mean, why else would you have written names like Tomko, Kane, and Umaga, right? Especially ahead of guys like Kaz, CM Punk and AJ Styles. Sorry, I'll let you finish writing the article now.

Good list but the number one spot should have went to Brayden Walker.

Yeah. The Tomko ranking over Punk doesn't work. You're going to have to change that, mmk?

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: Punk wouldn't have even made the list at all had he not won the title in June. For most of the year he was on WWE's "C" show. After he won Money in the Bank, he still was jobbing (clean) to guys like The Miz.

Tomko, on the other hand, was in the main event mix in TNA for a good portion of the year. He scored wins over Angle and Joe (you can look it up), captained a team at Lethal Lockdown and wrestled in six-man main events on two PPVs. Plus, he and Styles had a seven-month reign as tag team champs against good competition.

FYI -- In PWI's list, Punk is No. 24 and Tomko is No. 25.

I Think Edge should be number one on everyone's list he's put on some of the best matches this year. I even thought for a little while that he was going to win at WM 24. Although I also like Orton at the top even though he's hurt right now.

No Santino?

I think Tomko's one of the most under-rated superstars in all of wrestling. Like you said, he's main evented a few pay per views & was a member of one of the more dominant tag teams of the last few years.

Plus, in areas that aren't relevant in this ranking, he has a great look and good microphone skills.

I can't believe the Miz didn't make your list.

You go, Kevin! Your Punk argument is solid. If you extended your list, where would you place Ric Flair with the "run" he went on prior to his retirement?

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: Flair would probably be somewhere in the next five.

In overall quality and performance there is no way that Edge and Randy Orton should not be the top two on any list. Though HHH may be champion and as much as I like him, his character has become real generic. The way I see it, the top three should be Orton Edge, and Undertaker.

On a kayfabe, win-loss record, you won't get any argument from me.

And, as always, it amuses me that people love to bring up the alleged backstage politics of Triple H and skip over the fact that he is cheered wildly and effusively by the fans. Triple H is one of the most over individuals in the business.

Same with Undertaker. He is insanely over with the fans. Politics or no, these are two veterans that don't have Wellness violations and other risky behavior that jeopardizes the business.

PWI was my wrestling bible back in the 80's. I loved the year end award issue, From 1984-1988 (6th to 9th grade) for some reason that issue always arrived at our small town bookstore on Dec 23. I would get it early on Christmas eve Day and it seemed like the start of the holidays.

My only problem ever with PWI and Apter magazines was its biastowards NWA and AWA over WWF. Now I guess Aoter just had a better relationship with those guys than he did with McMahon. I was so mad when the decided WWF wasn't a world title and always had Hogan ranked behind Flair and Martel (HEY I Was a kid what did i know!)

I would have edge at no1, and a place as surely got to be made for mvp in here. Umaga has to go because he has jobbed to many times and really has not been in any title matches in a while.

"Good list, but the number one spot should have went to Brayden Walker."


Mr. Bronson is correct. Walker cleanly defeated every opponent whom he faced on WWE television, so his exclusion was a severe oversight.

John Cena was injured for much of the last year and lost the vast majority of his 2008 PPV matches. In kayfabe terms, that doesn't seem worthy of a #6 ranking.

RESPONSE FROM KEVIN ECK: If we're going from summer 2007 to summer 2008 as the grading period, Cena was champion until October 2007 (a reign of over a year). He gave up the title due to injury not because he was defeated. He came back in January and won the Royal Rumble. Then he was in the main event at four PPVs, including WrestleMania (five if you count his match with Batista at SummerSlam). The guys he lost to -- Triple H, Orton and Batista are all ranked ahead of him. He beat JBL two out of three and also beat Jeff Hardy on Raw.

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About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
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