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Pro Wrestling Illustrated

December 2021

Published every other month, the magazine’s mission is to bring our readers right to the ringside with brilliant, high-impact photography and to inform and entertain readers about the Pro Wrestling world. Get Pro Wrestling Illustrated digital magazine subscription today to get unbiased coverage of every major promotion and wrestling news.

United States
Kappa Publishing Group, Inc.
9 Issues

in this issue

2 min
from the desk of …

EVER SINCE PWI expanded its list of recognized world championships to include promotions like Ring of Honor, IMPACT, CMLL, and the NWA, the feedback has largely been positive. Though some readers would rather we keep the list more exclusive, the majority agreed with our logic: Championships are defined by who holds them, what they represent, and how they are perceived by the industry as a whole. If you follow us on social media, you probably already know that we recently added two additional championships to our official list. Namely, the IWTV Independent Wrestling World championship and the Pan-Afrikan World Diaspora Wrestling championship. While both titles have been mentioned on national TV programs like Dynamite and Ring Of Honor Wrestling, neither has been defended in front of millions of people … yet. But…

10 min

WHAT IS THE future of NXT as WWE approaches the final few months of 2021? Will most of the black-and-gold brand’s headliners be elevated to Raw or Smackdown? Will free agent Adam Cole remain in NXT … or even with WWE? Can NXT survive such a depletion of its roster and remain destination programming on USA? All these questions arose after WWE implemented yet another round of talent cuts this summer, this one specifically targeting NXT. Ex-North American champ Bronson Reed, perennial favorite Bobby Fish, and the respected Mercedes Martinez were the most prominent names among the dozen dismissed performers that also included Jake Atlas, Asher Hale, Kona Reeves, Leon Ruff, Tyler Rust, Stephon Smith, Zechariah Smith, Ari Sterling, and Giant Zanjeer. While it was widely reported that WWE Chairman and CEO…

5 min
omega is the alpha … again

HEADING INTO THIS year’s “500” meetings, there was one thing everyone on the ratings committee seemed to agree on: This year’s top-ranked wrestler would be in that coveted position for a second time. But would it be WWE’s top dog, Roman Reigns (#1 in 2016), or AEW’s “Belt Collector,” Kenny Omega (#1 in 2018)? With all respect to the “Head Of The Table”—who, most of our staff feels, is doing the finest work of his career—we’ve never been faced with the prospect of ranking a man who simultaneously held three prestigious world championships from top promotions in the U.S. and Mexico. Given Kenny Omega’s unprecedented, concurrent title runs in All Elite Wrestling, IMPACT, and Lucha Libre AAA, how could we not rank him #1? For his part, “The Cleaner” was quite surprised…

130 min
31st annual pwi 500

#1. KENNY OMEGA YEARS PRO: 21 2020 RANK: 13 SECRET WEAPON: “V-TRIGGER” RUNNING KNEE STRIKES TOP FIVE MOMENTS DURING EVALUATION PERIOD: 1. Defeated Jon Moxley on the December 2 edition of Dynamite to capture his first AEW World championship. 2. Beat Rich Swann in the main event of the April 25 Rebellion pay-per-view to win the IMPACT World championship. 3. Hit Laredo Kid with his One-Winged Angel finisher from the second rope to retain his AAA Mega championship in the main event of Triplemania 28 in Mexico City on December 12. 4. Retained his AEW World title in a three-way match against Orange Cassidy and PAC at Double or Nothing on May 30. 5. Beat Moxley again in a wild Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match in the main event of AEW’s Revolution PPV on March 7. WHY HE'S NUMBER 1 Kenny…

7 min
a-z 500 list

335 1 Called Manders 277 2 Cold Scorpio 118 A-Kid 379 Joey Ace 361 Chris Adonis 44 Trish Adora 283 Trevor Aeon 419 Aeroboy 408 Prince Ahura 445 Saki Akai 489 AKIRA 306 Francesco Akira 51 Jun Akiyama 383 Baliyan Akki 163 Marius Al-Ani 30 Nick Aldis 153 Cedric Alexander 107 Josh Alexander 462 Dimitri Alexandrov 128 Mustafa Ali 206 Ethan Allen 14 Darby Allin 493 Athrun Amada 440 Omar Amir 159 Karl Anderson 176 Andrade El Idolo 337 Angelico 351 Alan Angels 228 Yuma Aoyagi 104 Lance Archer 482 Tristan Archer 166 Arez 216 Shotaro Ashino 354 Atlantis Jr. 305 Jake Atlas 243 Mo Atlas 156 Ace Austin 477 Bad Luck Fale 8 Finn Balor 127 Bandido 372 Tyler Bate 410 Bateman 164 Trey Baxter 170 Shelton Benjamin 300 Mike Bennett 94 Chris Bey 478 Big Callux 13 Big E 391 Joshua Bishop 99 Black Taurus 427 Kevin Blackwood 398 Jordan Blade 488 The Boar 370 Slice Boogie 304 Anthony Bowens 131 Jay Briscoe 265 Mark Briscoe 369 Ken Broadway 309 Isaiah Broner 224 Chris Brookes 210 Adam Brooks 417 Rampage Brown 36 Daniel Bryan 435 BUSHI 303 Colt Cabana 264 Cabana Man Dan 83…

3 min
al castle's take

FOR 15 OF the 30 years that the PWI “500” has been around, I’ve had the privilege of putting together the write-ups for the top 10. And so, I’ve gained a unique appreciation for what it takes to make it to the top 2% of a list that many gifted wrestlers never make it onto at all. As the premier brand in all of pro wrestling, WWE has always been well-represented in the top 10. After the fall of its closest competitor, WCW, in 2001, WWE held on to 8 of the top 10 spots for two consecutive years. This year, WWE boasts four wrestlers in the top 10, and three in the top 5. On the surface, that seems impressive. But here’s another metric for promoters: How well do your respective…