Take out a piece of paper. I have a challenge for you.
I want you to rank the top 50 actors in the world over the past 12 months.
Okay … Matthew McConaughey won the Best Actor Emmy and he is amazing in True Detective, so maybe he gets the top spot. Brian Cranston earned another Emmy for his magnificent work as Walter White in Breaking Bad, so maybe he earns the number-two spot.
Now what? For the purpose of this exercise, we’re omitting women (they’ll get their turn next issue), so who’s number three? Is it the star of the biggest summer blockbuster (Chris Pratt from Guardians Of The Galaxy?) Is it a proven commodity, like Leonardo DiCaprio or Kevin Spacey? Is it a feature film star, a television star, or someone from Broadway (or off-Broadway, for that matter)?
Don’t forget—we’re looking at the world here. Anyone stand out in Bollywood this year? Who has been doing The Bard the most justice in Merry Olde England?
Go ahead … try to make your list of 50, being sure to consider standouts in regional/community theater, supporting characters in sitcoms, and Hollywood megastars. Now go ahead and expand your list to the top 500.
This is, essentially, what we do each year with the “PWI 500.”
It’s not an easy task; after all, we’re comparing many different kinds of wrestlers—good guys and bad guys, big guys and little guys, MMA-styled submission machines and Mr. Juicy. But we believe the “PWI 500” is a valuable exercise. Sure, it’s great to finish in the top 10, but there are also hundreds of guys competing throughout the independent circuit hoping to get recognition and a 60-word blurb as a reward all of the sacrifices they have made—weekends traveling long distances for little pay, time away from their families, and aches and pains that sometimes keep them awake at night, wondering why they’re doing it.
We endeavor to make the “500” as objective as possible by adhering as closely as possible to our criteria. We consider accomplishments during the designated evaluation period, title success, activity, and quality of opposition. Like the exercise with actors, we evaluate wrestlers from different countries, different styles (or genres), and different roles within their own company.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when the “500” list is invariably posted online, and message boards light up with comments like … Why was Wrestler X so low, how can Wrestler Y be above Wrestler Z, etc. Generally speaking, if you pay attention to the criteria as outlined in the introduction to the section, and read the biographies, you’ll be able to see why we made the decisions we did. We do wish people would at least understand our criteria and the time frame we’re evaluating before passing judgment. People may disagree; we expect them to disagree. If you could have sat in on our editorial team ranking meetings, you would have heard plenty of disagreements amongst ourselves. It’s a good thing we conducted our meeting via GoToMeeting. I might have taken a swing at Mike Bessler at one point if he were in front of me.
I’m not trying to make the “PWI 500” out to be a Herculean task. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s something we love to do, and something our readers love to read, discuss, and debate. I just want to make sure everyone—from our readers, to the wrestlers (those ranked and unranked), and the anonymous Internet message board commentators—to know that we take this project seriously.
The actors exercise may give some general insight into the difficulties inherent in what we do, but when all is said and done, we think our ranking accurately reflects the top 500 wrestlers in the world over the past year.
PWI Senior Writer