The highly anticipated Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 500 has been released on Wednesday to what many will consider as no surprise, but a good choice overall. Current IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega has earned the high honors for 2018, surpassing the likes of AJ Styles, Roman Reigns, and last year’s number one wrestler Kazuchika Okada. Omega was ranked number five in last year’s PWI 500.
While the PWI 500 is the topic of conversation and controversy alike, many fans are much aware of the phenomenon that Omega has become over the last two years. The leader of the Bullet Club has been consistent with top-notch performances and the attitude to go with it. Omega is one of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s biggest assets, as he rose to prominence with his rivalry with Okada that took the pro wrestling world by storm at the beginning of 2017.
Omega would ultimately defeat Okada this past summer at the Dominion 6.9 event, ending his historic 720-day Championship reign. Omega was also the inaugural winner of the IWGP United States Championship, which debuted in NJPW last summer. Omega had also kicked off 2018 with a dream match at WrestleKingdom 12 with current IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Chris Jericho.
In addition to Omega’s achievements, with him and Okada topping the coveted list the last two years makes the first time in PWI’s twenty-eight years that the number 1 spot has been held consecutively by non-WWE wrestlers. That is a testament to the growing popularity and rise of NJPW. Furthermore, with All In coming up this Saturday, the news only brings more hype and more attention to the well-regarded company.
Following Omega is AJ Styles, who stays put at number two this year, while Okada slides down to number three. Brock Lesnar’s 504 day Universal Championship reign brought his ranking up twenty-one spots to number four. Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman’s consistent performances earned the number five and six spots. Current Universal Champion Reigns moves down from last year’s number four to number seven.
Cody’s incredible year landed him at number eight, which is an astounding jump from last year’s ranking at number thirty-three. Los Ingobernables member Tetsuya Naito earns the number nine spot while the Miz, a former Top 500 winner, rounds out the top ten list.
Below is the list and previous year’s rankings:
1. Kenny Omega (#5)
2. AJ Styles (#2)
3. Kazuchika Okada (#1)
4. Brock Lesnar (#25)
5. Seth Rollins (#16)
6. Braun Strowman (#34)
7. Roman Reigns (#4)
8. Cody (#33)
9. Tetsuya Naito (#12)
10. The Miz (#10)