The PWI 500 for me used to be a huge deal 20 or so years ago. Back when I was really young and I was swaddled in the cloth of kayfabe, this kind of thing was so intriguing. As I grew "smarter"1, the list diminished more and more in significance until the point where earlier this week, I used it mockingly in my slam piece on Kevin Kelly. So yeah, asking the question "Does the PWI 500 matter?" in regards to a guy like me seems like an easy question right off the bat. In terms of ranking the best wrestlers in the world via kayfabe, no, it doesn't matter to me, because as this sort of wrestling critic, I don't take the same things into consideration as PWI does (although interestingly enough, their 2010 #1 was the same as my 2010 Wrestler of the Year, so maybe we're not too far off from each other...).
I'm well aware that I'm not the target audience, but reading through Twitter the other day, I was reminded that maybe the kids and the "It's still real to me, dammit" crowd aren't the only people PWI aim their list to.
Yep, that's Chikara standout and TWB favorite Sugar Dunkerton, chest puffed out over his placement in the list. It was his reaction that made realize that hey, this isn't just some fantasy ranking of guys trying to use the same criteria for companies that use vastly different ways of making their guy a star. This is about recognizing guys for doing work on all levels of the world stage. This isn't the PWI 50 or 100. Five hundred, current wrestlers we're talking about here, is a hefty number for the climate right now. The entrants aren't just coming from the top level indie guys or people in WWE or Impact that may or may not give a shit if a magazine for "marks" rates them high. This is for the guys like Sugar D who work hard to get recognized, who compete in promotions that may or may not have a national reach, who bust their asses to entertain sometimes in front of 20 people and appreciate all the limelight that is shone upon them.
So yeah, maybe the PWI does have more of a purpose than to rate wrestlers for the kids at home. It's about recognizing the guys who may not be the household names yet, and in turn, giving the kids, and hell, even guys like me a reason to go to a local indie card with names unfamiliar otherwise. It's probably time we started to reconsider the PWI 500's place and maybe giving it a little more credence, just not for the reasons that the editors and publishers of it set out to make it for initially.
1 - In quotes because really, am I that smart when it comes to this, or better yet, is it better to be a "smart" wrestling fan?