ZINIO logo
Pro Wrestling Illustrated

Pro Wrestling Illustrated Pro Wrestling Illustrated Winter 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.

Read More
United States
Kappa Publishing Group, Inc.
9 Issues

in this issue

3 min
from the desk of …

THANK YOU FOR buying this special, digital-only edition of Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine. For decades, our publication has covered Japanese pro wrestling to varying degrees, often depending on how much intersection or collaboration existed between Japanese and North American promotions. However, in recent years, it has become increasingly clear that many of our readers not only watch Japanese wrestling—in many cases, they actually prefer it to the offerings of U.S. federations. In particular, New Japan Pro-Wrestling has become a global phenomenon, with merchandise available in malls worldwide, and American fans (including yours truly) routinely eschewing sleep to catch the company’s biggest events live, as they air. In 2017 and 2018, Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega even parlayed their respective runs as IWGP heavyweight champion into #1 rankings on our annual PWI…

17 min

New Japan Pro-Wrestling currently dominates the professional wrestling market in Japan, while also being one of the leading wrestling promotions globally. Antonio Inoki founded the promotion on January 13, 1972, after a seven-year stay with national powerhouse Nihon Puroresu Kyokai (Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance). Inoki took inspiration from the likes of British wrestling great Billy Robinson, Belgian born (and legend in Japan) Karl Gotch, and Japanese icon Rikidozan to create “Strong Style”—a term closely associated with New Japan Pro-Wrestling and still in use today. Gotch and Kotetsu Yamamoto, who both played a role in the inception of New Japan, are credited along with Inoki as creating the building blocks for the hybrid wrestling style. During the early years of NJPW, Karl Gotch filled numerous roles for the company, including behind the…

12 min
wrestle kingdom: the real winners & losers

FOR THE SECOND straight year, New Japan Pro-Wrestling presented a two-night iteration of its annual Tokyo Dome event, which has been known for the last 15 years as Wrestle Kingdom. Though the COVID-19 pandemic meant some noticeable differences from last year—a limited audience, mandatory facemasks, and the banning of cheers and boos, all meant to prevent the spread of the virus—the event delivered plenty of memorable matches and moments for viewers around the globe. Wrestle Kingdom featured a total of 13 televised bouts, plus two bonus dark matches from World Wonder Ring Stardom, which were only seen by fans in attendance. Three major titles changed hands, rivalries exploded, and wrestling fans the world over were abuzz about every minute of it. Coming out of Wrestle Kingdom, Pro Wrestling Illustrated is proud to…

4 min
pwi remastered: okada is #1

FOR THE FIRST time in the 27-year history of the “PWI 500,” the top position goes to a wrestler who is not based in a major American promotion. “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada has been selected as the best wrestler of the past 12 months and earns the number-one spot. There were several factors that went into the selection of Okada as number one. For one thing, Okada has held the IWGP championship throughout the entire evaluation period. He is unquestionably the top dog in the second-largest wrestling promotion in the world and has faced elite level competition all year. And his Wrestle Kingdom title defense against Kenny Omega (and the subsequent rematch at Dominion) have been lauded as not only potential Match of the Year candidates, but arguably two of the…

2 min
jushin liger: a career in photos

THE KING OF THE “500” Although Jushin Liger never ranked #1 in the celebrated PWI “500,” he holds the record for most appearances—having placed on the first 29 editions of the list. His rankings for each year were as follows: 1991: 27 1992: 18 1993: 21 1994: 21 1995: 143 1996: 38 1997: 9 1998: 9 1999: 15 2000: 8 2001: 25 2002: 41 2003: 66 2004: 53 2005: 39 2006: 40 2007: 34 2008: 119 2009: 315 2010: 317 2011: 80 2012: 150 2013: 226 014: 244 2015: 230 2016: 261 2017: 263 2018: 264 2019: 357…

3 min
capsule profile

BORN FEBRUARY 19, 1993 in scenic Mine, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Mayu Iwatani rose from humble beginnings to international stardom … First experience with combat sports came in primary school, where she trained in judo … Preferring to keep to herself in high school, she dropped out before obtaining her diploma … In 2010, headed for the big city (Tokyo) to enroll in the first training class at World Wonder Ring Stardom, then in its infancy … Honed her craft under joshi standout Fuka Kakimoto before making her debut at Stardom’s first show, where she fell to Arisa Hoshiki in a singles bout … Iwatani and Hoshiki teamed up in a tournament to crown the inaugural Goddess of Stardom (tag team) champions … After struggling heavily in singles matches, Iwatani briefly aligned…