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Pro Wrestling Illustrated (PWI) is an American 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". The magazine recognises various world championships as legitimate, similar to The Ring in boxing.

PWI is often referred to as an "Apter Mag", named after its long time photographer Bill Apter, a term used for wrestling magazines that keep kayfabe. 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 50 Female wrestlers" list which changed to "Top 100 Female Wrestlers" since 2018.

History

Pro Wrestling Illustrated was started in 1979. The magazine is known for not breaking kayfabe. Some magazines will break kayfabe and tell the behind-the-scenes reality of pro wrestling; PWI has never done that, traditionally treating all "storyline" events as real. However, in more recent years, the magazine has taken an editorial approach halfway between kayfabe and "shoot" writing, for the first time using terms such as "storyline" and differentiating between "onscreen" feuds and real-life controversies.

PWI also does not follow only the "big" promotions, as they also cover some independent promotions. The magazine features stories about wrestlers and wrestling groups/teams. PWI also has monthly rankings for the big promotions, some select independents, and an overall rankings in singles and tag teams.

PWI declared it would recognize three World Titles when it started publication: NWA, AWA and WWF. When Jim Crockett Promotions, which controlled the NWA Title, became WCW in 1991, WCW earned World Title Status, and the NWA's world title status was dropped. ECW finally earned World Title recognition status in 1999, not long before ECW itself went out of business. The NWA title was restored to a World Title in July 2006 based on TNA's success. They also granted World Title status to two of WWE's World titles, referred as the "RAW World Championship" and the "SmackDown! World Championship". Despite the fact that ECW has been revived as a WWE brand, PWI has yet to recognize the world title status of the resurrected "ECW Championship".

Bill Apter, who can be seen at most high-profile wrestling events taking photos, was the senior editor of PWI for years. Stuart M. Saks is the current longtime publisher for PWI. Hunter S. Thompson-influenced Matt Brock has been PWI's most popular columnist. Brock, however, is actually a fictitious writer. Through the years, many different PWI editors have written stories as Brock. Likewise, columnist Liz Hunter is fictitious, as are oft-quoted WWF/WWE "inside source" Thomas Pilliard and "wrestling psychologist" Dr. Sidney M. Basil.

While PWI writers do conduct certain legitimate interviews with figures within the wrestling business, the majority of "in-character" quotes are penned by the magazine's staff. The rule of thumb: If a quotation is about real-life events (i.e., the people behind the characters), it was uttered by the quoted source. If the quote pertains to any angle or someone's in-ring persona, the response is typically "invented" by the feature's writer.

PWI is now headquartered in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania and published by Kappa Publishing.

PWI's biggest competition is no longer from other wrestling magazines, but from the Internet. Results are reported faster online than the magazine can report, but PWI still has enough sales to stay alive.

PWI Awards

PWI's family of magazines has given out annual awards since 1972. Unlike the PWI 500 which is voted on by the PWI Staff, the fans ostensibly vote for the winners of the year-end awards. A ballot is printed in the special year-end issue. A special PWI Awards magazine is put out annually, which shows not only the winners, but the first three runners-up with the number of votes. The wrestlers receive plaques for each PWI Award that they win.

The awards that PWI has given out are as follows:

Discontinued awards are as follows:

The "PWI Awards" issue also serves as a "year-in-review" issue, with a listing of the top events, matches, angles, feuds and other news (both kayfabe and legit) of the preceding year, usually from January to the publishing deadline for the year-end issue (typically, early December). A listing of wrestlers who had passed away during the past year is also included, as well as a list of top superstars who had announced (legit) retirements. In addition to the voted awards in the established categories, readers are also invited to create their own "categories" and award them to a wrestler or other individual fitting that category, and make their predictions as to what they think will happen (or would like to see happen) during the upcoming year.

Starting in 1981, the "PWI Editor's Award," a legit award given to a wrestler, personality, promoter or other individual connected with the business for lifetime achievements in the industry, was created. The first recipient was Bruno Sammartino, who had announced his (first) retirement that year; later honorees were typically longtime wrestlers who had recently retired or top superstars who had passed away during the past year. The award was renamed in memory of PWI founder and longtime publisher Stanley Weston in 2003.

Special PWI Editions

Besides the special year-end edition and the special PWI Awards Edition, PWI also publishes other special issues. They have published the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Wrestling Almanac & Book of Facts since 1996. It includes all of the PWI 500 rankings over the years, title histories, PPV histories, wrestler stats, top stories of the year, PWI Award Winners and a What's In/What's Out list.

PWI also publishes a Women of Wrestling magazine that has short bios of the divas of pro wrestling and includes lots of pictures.

From 1989 through 2000, PWI published a weekly newsletter entitled PWI Weekly. It had results from the previous week that included all wrestling shows, title changes, injury updates, wrestlers leaving/entering promotions, and obituaries. It was cancelled due to monetary and time constraints on the part of its writers.

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. As of 2018, only Jushin Thunder Liger has appeared in every edition of the PWI 500. In 1993, Miss Texas (Jacqueline Moore) was the first woman to be ranked in the list at No. 249. Since 2008 men and women have their separate lists.

Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1991 Hulk Hogan

WWE

Lex Luger

WCW

Ric Flair

WCW/WWE

Randy Savage

WWE

Sting

WCW

Scott Steiner

WCW

Ricky Steamboat

WCW

Steve Williams

AJPW

Arn Anderson

WCW

Rick Steiner

WCW

1992 Sting

WCW

Randy Savage

WWE

Rick Rude

WWE/WCW

Bret Hart

WWE

Ricky Steamboat

WCW

Jerry Lawler

USWA

Scott Steiner

WCW

The Ultimate Warrior

WWE

Stunning Steve Austin

WCW

1993 Bret Hart

WWE

Big Van Vader

WCW

Shawn Michaels

WWE

Sting

WCW

Yokozuna

WWE

Ric Flair

WCW

Lex Luger

WWE

Rick Rude

WCW

Mr. Perfect

WWE

Scott Steiner

WCW

1994 Hulk Hogan

WWE

Ric Flair

WCW

Big Van Vader

WCW

Shawn Michaels

WWE

Stunning Steve Austin

WCW

Razor Ramon

WWE

Sting

WCW

Ricky Steamboat

WCW

Owen Hart

WWE

1995 Diesel

WWE

Shawn Michaels

WWE

Sting

WCW

Bret Hart

WWE

Sabu

ECW

Hulk Hogan

WCW

Big Van Vader

WCW

Randy Savage

WCW

Razor Ramon

WWE

Mitsuharu Misawa

AJPW

1996 Shawn Michaels

WWE

The Giant

WCW

Kenta Kobashi

AJPW

Ahmed Johnson

WWE

Kevin Nash

WWE

Rey Misterio, Jr.

WCW

Hulk Hogan

WCW

Sabu

ECW

Ric Flair

WCW

1997 Dean Malenko

WCW

Mitsuharu Misawa

AJPW

Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWE

Diamond Dallas Page

WCW

Lex Luger

WCW

The Undertaker

WWE

Shinya Hashimoto

NJPW

The Giant

WCW

Jushin Thunder Liger

WCW

Chris Benoit

WCW

1998 Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWE

Goldberg

WCW

Mitsuharu Misawa

AJPW

The Undertaker

WWE

Kenta Kobashi

AJPW

Booker T

WCW

Ken Shamrock

WWE

Chris Jericho

WCW

1999 Rob Van Dam

WWE

Rey Misterio, Jr.

WCW

The Rock

WWE

Diamond Dallas Page

WCW

Keiji Mutoh

AJPW

The Undertaker

WWE

Goldberg

WCW

Taz

ECW

2000 Triple H

WWE

The Rock

WWE/WCW

Chris Benoit

WCW/WWE

Kenta Kobashi

AJPW

Jeff Jarrett

WCW/NWA

Justin Credible

ECW

Mike Awesome

ECW

Jushin Thunder Liger

WCW

Chris Jericho

WCW/WWE

Kensuke Sasaki

AJPW

2001 Kurt Angle

WWE/WCW/ECW

Stone Cold Steve Austin

WCW/WWE

Keiji Mutoh

NJPW

Booker T

WCW/WWE

Triple H

WWE

Scott Steiner

WCW

Mitsuharu Misawa

AJPW

Rhyno

ECW/WCW

2002 Rob Van Dam

WWE

The Undertaker

WWE

Keiji Mutoh

NJPW

Chris Jericho

WWE

Eddie Guerrero

WWE

Kurt Angle

WWE/WCW

Edge

WWE

Yuji Nagata

AJPW

The Rock

WWE/WCW

Triple H

WWE

2003 Brock Lesnar

WWE

Triple H

WWE

Kurt Angle

WWE

Keiji Mutoh

NJPW

Chris Jericho

WWE

Big Show

WWE

Booker T

WWE

Kenta Kobashi

AJPW

Eddie Guerrero

WWE

Rob Van Dam

WWE

2004 Chris Benoit

WWE

Eddie Guerrero

WWE

Triple H

WWE

Kenta Kobashi

AJPW

Randy Orton

WWE

Toshiaki Kawada

NJPW

John Cena

WWE

A.J. Styles

NWA

Shawn Michaels

WWE

Chris Jericho

WWE

2005 Batista

WWE

John Cena

WWE

Satoshi Kojima

AJPW

Triple H

WWE

John Bradshaw Layfield

WWE

Kurt Angle

WWE

A.J. Styles

TNA

Edge

WWE

Shelton Benjamin

WWE

Hiroyoshi Tenzan

AJPW

2006 John Cena

WWE

Kurt Angle

TNA

Edge

WWE

Samoa Joe

TNA/ROH

Místico

Lucha Libre

Rey Mysterio

WWE

Brock Lesnar

NJPW

Kenta Kobashi

AJPW

Shawn Michaels

WWE

Jeff Jarrett

TNA/NWA

2007 Edge

WWE

Místico

Lucha Libre

Kurt Angle

TNA

The Undertaker

WWE

Shawn Michaels

WWE

Christian Cage

TNA/NWA

Perro Aguayo, Jr.

Lucha Libre

Bobby Lashley

WWE

Takeshi Morishima

NJPW

2008 Randy Orton

WWE

Kurt Angle

TNA

Triple H

WWE

Samoa Joe

TNA

Edge

WWE

The Undertaker

WWE

Shawn Michaels

WWE

Nigel McGuinness

ROH

John Cena

WWE

Shinsuke Nakamura

NJPW

2009 Triple H

WWE

Chris Jericho

WWE

John Cena

WWE

Edge

WWE

Randy Orton

WWE

Nigel McGuinness

ROH

Hiroshi Tanahashi

NJPW

CM Punk

WWE

Sting

TNA

Último Guerrero

Lucha Libre

2010 A.J. Styles

TNA

John Cena

WWE

CM Punk

WWE

Randy Orton

WWE

Chris Jericho

WWE

Batista

WWE

Shinsuke Nakamura

NJPW

The Undertaker

WWE

Kurt Angle

Impact

Sheamus

WWE

2011 The Miz

WWE

Randy Orton

WWE

John Cena

WWE

Kane

WWE

Takashi Sugiura

NJPW

Alberto Del Rio

WWE

Mr. Anderson

Impact

Rey Mysterio

WWE

Eddie Edwards

ROH

CM Punk

WWE

2012 CM Punk

WWE

Bobby Roode

TNA

Daniel Bryan

WWE

Sheamus

WWE

Jun Akiyama

AJPW

Davey Richards

PWG

Kurt Angle

Impact

Mark Henry

WWE

Alberto Del Rio

WWE

2013 John Cena

WWE

CM Punk

WWE

Hiroshi Tanahashi

NJPW

Bully Ray

TNA

Kazuchika Okada

NJPW

Sheamus

WWE

Jeff Hardy

Impact

Alberto Del Rio

WWE

Dolph Ziggler

WWE

Kevin Steen

PWG/ROH

2014 Daniel Bryan

WWE

Randy Orton

WWE

John Cena

WWE

A.J. Styles

TNA/NJPW/ROH

Bray Wyatt

WWE

Roman Reigns

WWE

Magnus

Impact

Adam Cole

ROH/PWG

Bully Ray

Impact

2015 Seth Rollins

WWE

John Cena

WWE

A.J. Styles

NJPW

Roman Reigns

WWE

Shinsuke Nakamura

NJPW

Randy Orton

WWE

Jay Briscoe

ROH

Rusev

WWE

Alberto El Patrón

Impact

Kevin Owens

WWE

2016 Roman Reigns

WWE

Kazuchika Okada

NJPW

Finn Bálor

WWE

A.J. Styles

NJPW/WWE

Jay Lethal

ROH

Kevin Owens

WWE

Shinsuke Nakamura

WWE

Seth Rollins

WWE

Dean Ambrose

WWE

John Cena

WWE

2017 Kazuchika Okada

NJPW

A.J. Styles

WWE

Kevin Owens

WWE

Roman Reigns

WWE

Kenny Omega

NJPW

Shinsuke Nakamura

WWE

Samoa Joe

WWE

Dean Ambrose

WWE

Bobby Roode

WWE

The Miz

WWE

2018 Kenny Omega

NJPW

Kazuchika Okada

NJPW

Brock Lesnar

WWE

Seth Rollins

WWE

Braun Strowman

WWE

Roman Reigns

WWE

Cody Rhodes

NWA/NJPW

Tetsuya Naito

NJPW

2019 Seth Rollins

WWE

Daniel Bryan

WWE

A.J. Styles

WWE

Kofi Kingston

WWE

Kazuchika Okada

NJPW

Johnny Gargano

WWE

Kenny Omega

AEW

Hiroshi Tanahashi

NJPW

Will Ospreay

NJPW

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.

Year 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
2008 Awesome Kong

Impact

Beth Phoenix

WWE

Gail Kim

WWE/Impact

Mickie James

WWE

MsChif

NWA

Sara Del Rey Roxxi Laveaux Melina

WWE

Michelle McCool

WWE

Candice Michelle

WWE

2009 Mickie James

WWE

Angelina Love

Impact

Melina

WWE

MsChif

NWA

Tara

Impact

Awesome Kong

Impact

Beth Phoenix

WWE

Michelle McCool

WWE

Maryse

WWE

Taylor Wilde
2010 Michelle McCool

WWE

Mercedes Martinez

MXW/Shimmer/WXW

Cheerleader Melissa Eve Torres

WWE

Madison Rayne

Shimmer

Mickie James

WWE

MsChif

Impact

Maryse

WWE

2011 Madison Eagles Mercedes Martinez Mickie James

Impact

Natalya

WWE

Madison Rayne Cheerleader Melissa Tara

Impact

Sara Del Rey
2012 Gail Kim

Impact

Beth Phoenix

WWE

Cheerleader Melissa Sara Del Rey Jessicka Havok Layla

WWE

Miss Tessmacher Saraya Knight Mercedes Martinez Tara
2013 Cheerleader Melissa Mickie James

Impact

Saraya Knight Jessicka Havok Kaitlyn

WWE

Gail Kim Kacee Carlisle Tara AJ Lee Mercedes Martinez
2014 Paige

WWE

AJ Lee

WWE

Gail Kim

Impact

Cheerleader Melissa LuFisto Angelina Love Ivelisse Velez Courtney Rush Natalya Charlotte
2015 Nikki Bella

WWE

Paige

WWE

Sasha Banks

WWE

Santana Garrett Gail Kim

Impact

Charlotte Naomi Cherry Bomb Courtney Rush Taryn Terrell
2016 Charlotte

WWE

Sasha Banks

WWE

Asuka

WWE

Becky Lynch

WWE

Bayley

WWE

Jade Natalya Gail Kim Sexy Star Sienna
2017 Asuka

WWE

Charlotte Flair

WWE

Alexa Bliss

WWE

Sasha Banks

WWE

Io Shirai Sienna Naomi Kairi Sane
2018 Ronda Rousey

WWE

Alexa Bliss

WWE

Charlotte Flair

WWE

Io Shirai

WWE

Asuka

WWE

Shayna Baszler Carmella Nia Jax Mayu Iwatani
2019 Becky Lynch

WWE

Charlotte Flair

WWE

Ronda Rousey

WWE

Shayna Baszler

WWE

Tessa Blanchard

Impact

Bayley Natalya Io Shirai Mercedes Martinez Nicole Savoy
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