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<a href="/content/Daniel_Bryan" style="color:blue">Daniel Bryan</a> on the March 2014 cover
Daniel Bryan on the March 2014 cover

Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) is an American produced, internationally sold professional wrestling magazine that was founded in 1979. PWI is headquartered in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania and published by Kappa Publishing Group. The magazine is the longest currently published English language wrestling magazine. The PWI publishes monthly issues and annual special issues such as their "Almanac and Book of Facts".

PWI is often referred to as an "Apter Mag", named after its long time publisher Bill Apter, a term used for wrestling magazines that keep kayfabe, the illusion that professional wrestling is a competitive sport and not scripted entertainment. In recent years, the PWI has moved away from reporting on storylines as actual news and mixed in editorial comments on the behind the scenes workings.

Each year since 1991, PWI publishes every year their "Top 500 Wrestlers" in the world list; since 2008, they also publish a "Top 100 Female wrestlers" list.


The first issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated was released in 1979. The magazine soon became known for not breaking kayfabe in its articles as it traditionally treated all "angles", or storylines, as real. However, in more recent years the magazine has taken an editorial approach between kayfabe and "shoot" writing, differentiating between on-screen feuds and controversies behind the scenes. PWI is not limited to covering only prominent professional wrestling promotions, as it also covers multiple independent promotions in the United States. PWI also publishes other special issues, which include: Pro Wrestling Illustrated Wrestling Almanac & Book of Facts since 1996, Women of Wrestling and a weekly newsletter entitled PWI Weekly from 1989 to 2000. It was eventually acquired by Golden Boy Enterprises.

PWI has given out annual awards and recognitions since its inception. These awards had previously been given out by another Victory Sports Magazine property, Sports Review Wrestling. PWI has also given out monthly rankings for the big promotions, some select independents, and an overall rankings in singles and tag teams. Additionally, readers are given the ability vote for the winners of the year-end awards with ballots being included in special year-end issues. A special PWI Awards magazine is issued annually, which reveals winners and the number of votes counted. The following is a list of categories in which PWI has issued awards.

PWI world championship status

Although many wrestling organisations promote their lead title as a World Heavyweight Championship, PWI has only recognised two or three top versions as valid World titles at any one time. With regard to the NWA World Heavyweight championship, PWI has generally recognised the lineage retrospectively traced by the NWA from its 1948 formation back to Georg Hackenschmidt in 1905.[1] PWI has also recognised any tag team title corresponding to a recognised World title as a World Tag Team Championship.

Until March 1991, Pro Wrestling Illustrated and its sister publications steadfastly referred to WCW as "the NWA" despite WCW having increasingly phased out the latter name in the preceding months. In Spring 1991, the family of magazines adopted a new policy of referring to the current promotion and its champions as WCW and the promotion's pre-1991 past as the NWA. The magazine also announced it would refer to the overall history of the World title as the "NWA/WCW World Championship" (and likewise with other WCW championships).[2]

Subsequently, after Ric Flair left WCW and was stripped of the WCW World Heavyweight Championship in July 1991, PWI and its sister publications nonetheless continued to recognise the WCW title as held by Lex Luger, Sting, Vader and Ron Simmons as the rightful continuation of the historic NWA World Heavyweight Championship. When Masa Chono won an NWA World title tournament in Japan in July 1992, PWI and its sister publications only recognised Chono's title as the "NWA Championship" and rejected it as a World title or as a continuation of the historic NWA World title.[3]

In 1983 Pro Wrestling Illustrated withdrew world title recognition from the WWF, citing how champion Bob Backlund was not facing contenders from outside the WWF territory and furthermore was only facing rulebreakers.[4] This coincided with the WWF's withdrawal from the NWA in summer 1983. PWI reinstated world title recognition in 1985[5] on account of the WWF's massive mainstream media profile.

The AWA was stripped of world title recognition in January 1991 when the promotion was in its final months.[6] By this time, the AWA World Heavyweight Championship was vacant and would remain so until the promotion's closure in August that year.[7] ECW was finally granted world title status in 1999 only for the promotion to close the following year.

As of August 21, 2016, only the WWE Championship and WWE Universal Championship are currently recognized by the magazine's present editors as having been world titles. [8][9]

According to the latest PWI almanac, PWI also recognizes select world title reigns from May 4, 1905 – January 28, 1946, prior to the formation of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) in July 1948.

PWI 500

PWI has published the list of the top 500 professional wrestlers each year since 1991 in an annual special edition magazine, the PWI 500. PWI writers choose the position of the wrestler following a designated evaluation period starting from mid-June; anything a wrestler accomplished before or after that period is not considered. They follow a criterion that includes win-loss record, championships won, quality of competition, major feuds, prominence within a wrestler's individual promotion(s) and overall wrestling ability.[11][12] As of 2018, only Jushin Thunder Liger has appeared in every edition of the PWI 500.[13] In 1993, Miss Texas (Jacqueline Moore) was the first woman to be ranked in the list at No. 249.

PWI Women's 100

PWI has published a list of the top female professional wrestlers each year since 2008 in a special edition magazine, the Women's 100 (formerly known as Female 50). Like the list of male professional wrestlers, PWI writers choose the position of the wrestler following a designated evaluation period starting from mid-June; anything a wrestler accomplished before or after that period is not considered. In 2018, after ten years of the list including 50 wrestlers, it was expanded to 100, and renamed from Female 50 to Women's 100.[43]

See also

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