The fifth installment of looking back at the PWI 500 starting the beginning in 1991 continues with the 1995 edition. This year, the grading period was from August 1st, 1994 to August 1st, 1995.
To view the complete list of where the wrestlers were ranked clickHERE.
Here are the notable rankings for the year 1995.
The Top Ten:
2.) Shawn Michaels
4.) Bret Hart
6.) Hulk Hogan
7.) Big Van Vader
8.) Randy Savage
9.) Razor Ramon
10.) Mitsuharu Misawa
Early on in the grading period, Diesel was one-half of the WWF World Tag Team Champions with Shawn Michaels, who is ranked number two. Diesel would win the WWF World Championship in eight-seconds by pinning Bob Backlund on November 26th in Madison Square Garden. Diesel would continually defeat Backlund on the house shows. Diesel wrestled a near thirty minute classic with Bret Hart at the Royal Rumble that ended in a draw. Diesel successfully defended the championship against former friend Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XI in what was the lone bright spot on the show. Diesel’s reign continued with a feud against Psycho Sid that lasted most of the summer. Diesel pinned Psycho Sid at the July In Your House that was competed under a lumberjack stipulation. Diesel was a dominating champion for the grading period.
Michaels run started in 1995 when he won the 1995 Royal Rumble after being the first entrant in the match and last eliminated the second entrant, Davey Boy Smith. Michaels came up short in his WrestleMania title match against Diesel, but still stole the show despite the loss. Michaels would feud with Psycho Sid after Sid turned on him after Mania. Michaels would defeat Sid in a cage match at a June MSG house show. The end of the grading period saw Michaels win his third WWF Intercontinental Championship when he pinned Jeff Jarrett at In Your House #2.
Despite not being in the main event scene during the grading period, Sting was still ranked as the best WCW wrestler in the publication. Early in the grading period Sting focused on a feud with Avalanche and Big Bubba teaming Randy Savage often times. Struggled in a feud against Big Bubba losing at UnCensored but got a victory at Slamboree. At the Great American Bash, Sting won the WCW United States Championship when he defeated Meng in the finals of a tournament. Meng was an undefeated heel monster since debuting for WCW. Sting won a rematch against Meng at the Bash at the Beach pay per view in July. It was evident that Sting was playing the third tier baby face behind Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage.
The Hitman was the WWF World Champion at the start of the grading period and successfully defended the championship against Owen Hart at SummerSlam inside a steel cage. Bret would lose the belt to Bob Backlund at Survivor Series. Hart was unable to regain the championship at Royal Rumble. Bret continued his feud with Bob Backlund winning an I Quit match at WrestleMania XI. Hart was also able to end his long-running feud with Jerry Lawler at the King of the Ring when he won a Kiss My Foot match. Hart would win memorable matches against Hakushi throughout the spring, as well. Hitman remains in the top five after consecutive back to back number one rankings in 1993 and 1994.
Sabu getting into the top five is a huge accomplishment for ECW as the company was still a company based mainly out of Philadelphia but gaining traction. Early in the grading period, Sabu got big victories over 2 Cold Scorpio and Cactus Jack in the fall. He won the ECW Tag Team Championships with Taz by defeating Public Enemy in February ’95. Sabu would leave ECW and head to Japan where h ewon the IWGP junior heavyweight championship from Koji Kanemoto on May 3rd. Sabu was a battered man who often would wrestle despite broken bones and was loved by fans for doing so. He would soon return to ECW as it will be addressed in the next edition of the series.
Hulkamania slips a few spots but remains in the top ten of the PWI 500. Hogan started the grading period beating Ric Flair in a steel cage match to force Flair into retirement. Hogan won the main event at Starrcade against the Butcher, his former best friend. Hulk started a long feud with Vader in 1995 wrestling on pay per view many times. Hogan would win at Superbrawl by disqualification, defeated Ric Flair (who was still retired) despite wrestling Vader in a strap match at UnCensored. Hogan brought his friend Randy Savage into the feud to defeat Vader and Flair at Slamboree. Hogan ended his feud with Vader by winning a cage match at the July Bash at the Beach pay per view.
Vader was unsuccessful in his attempt to win the WCW World Championship from Hulk Hogan throughout 1995, but he never suffered a pin fall loss to the Hulkster. Vader ended 1994 by winning the WCW United States Championship from Jim Duggan at Starrcade, but vacated the belt to go after Hogan’s gold. After the failed attempts, Vader turned into a good guy by siding with Hogan against the Dungeon of Doom though Vader would leave WCW soon afterward and would never return to WCW.
Last year, the Macho Man was ranked number forty-four in the PWI 500. Savage returned to in-ring competition on a full-time basis and ranked up to the eighth spot. Randy teamed with Sting to win a feud against Big Bubba Rogers and Avalanche. Had a brief singles feud with Avalanche winning a match at Uncensored. Savage would go back to feuding against Ric Flair losing to Flair at Great American Bash but winning a rematch at Bash at the Beach in July with a lumberjack stipulation.
The Bad Guy regained the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Diesel at SummerSlam with Walter Payton in his corner. Ramon held the title until the Royal Rumble when he lost the belt to Jeff Jarrett. Ramon regained the belt briefly by winning the title at a house show, but lost it two days later back to Jarrett. Ramon was also a USWA heavyweight champion during the grading period for a brief time. Razor was likely a contender to win the 1995 King of the Ring but was out of the tournament due to injury.
Misawa is the first Japanese wrestler to reach the top ten in the PWI to this point. Misawa won the Triple Crown championship from Stan Hansen on May 26th. Was voted as the best scientific wrestler in Japan.
11.) Jeff Jarrett
12.) Owen Hart
17.) Eddy Guerrero
18.) Rey Mysterio Jr.
20.) Ric Flair
Double J kicked off the grading period pinning Mabel at SummerSlam and continued to be lost in the shuffle in the mid card until early 1995 when he won the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Razor Ramon. Jarrett and Ramon traded the belt in May with Jarrett coming out as the champion. Jarrett lost the championship to Michaels at In Your House #2 before departing from the WWF.
Owen nearly won the WWF World Championship at SummerSlam inside a steel cage but settled for costing Bret the championship at Survivor Series and helping Bob Backlund win the gold. Owen would team with Yokozuna at WrestleMania XI to win the WWF World Tag Team Championships from the Smoking Gunns.
Eddy Guerrero went from 141 all the way to the seventeen spot this year. Guerrero was really starting make a name for himself competing in NJPW and ECW. While wrestling in ECW, Eddy was having memorable clashes with Dean Malenko over the ECW Television Championship that many still regard as the best matches the company had ever put on.
Rey Mysterio Jr. also moves up the ranks as he won the Triple A light heavyweight championship from Juventud Guerrera during the grading period.
The Nature Boy was retired thanks to losing a cage match to Hulk Hogan at Halloween Havoc. His retirement lasted until May when he and Vader lost a tag match to Hogan and Savage. Flair did pick up a huge victory the following month by pinning Randy Savage while Randy’s father was at ringside. PWI was quoted as saying, “Career finally appears to be winding down.” That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
23.) Lex Luger
24.) Arn Anderson
26.) Tracy Smothers
28.) Shane Douglas
30.) Bam-Bam Bigelow
Luger was once seen as the likely WWF World Champion and second coming of Hulk Hogan, but failed to connect with fans and was thrown to the mid card ranks. Had an infamous feud with Tatanka that saw his former friend turn on him after a singles match at SummerSlam. The feud would continue on for many months with Luger winning a cage match prior to WrestleMania XI. Luger formed a tag team with Davey Boy Smith but failed to win the WWF World Tag Team Championships.
Despite losing a feud against Dustin Rhodes at the end of 1994, Anderson was able to win the WCW Television Championship from Johnny B. Badd in early 1995. Arn defeated Badd in a lumberjack match at the pre-show telecast prior to Superbrawl V. Anderson suffered a loss to Johnny at Uncensored in a boxer vs. wrestler match. Arn handed Alex Wright his first loss at Slamboree to retain the WCW Television Championship but would lose the belt the following month to The Renegade at the Great American Bash.
Smothers had a lengthy feud with Bryant Anderson which saw Smothers win numerous I Quit matches at the end of 1994. Formed a successful tag team with former rival the Dirty White Boy to win feuds against the Gangstas and the Headbangers.
“The Franchise” Shane Douglas threw down history when he won the NWA World Championship after winning a tournament on August 27th and renamed it the ECW World Championship. Douglas retained the title against the likes of the Tazmaniac, Ron Simmons and Mikey Whipwreck throughout the second half of 1994. Douglas would feud with Tully Blanchard during the first few months of 1995 retaining the championship. Douglas would lose the belt to the Sandman at the Hostile City Showdown on April 15th. Shane would leave ECW for the WWF, which wouldn’t end up as being a good career decision.
Bigelow had a memorable confrontation with Lawrence Taylor at the Royal Rumble, which would lead to a main event match at WrestleMania XI. Bigelow would lose and soon his heel stable members would turn on him. Bigelow became a good guy and aligned himself with Diesel to defeat Psycho Sid and Tatanka at the King of the Ring in June.
31.) Cactus Jack
34.) Sid Vicious
36.) Lord Steven Regal
43.) Steve Austin
Cactus Jack didn’t have a great start to the grading period when he lost to Kevin Sullivan at WCW Fall Brawl 1994 causing him to leave WCW forever. However, the change of scenery ended up being a blessing in disguise as Cactus headed to ECW. While in ECW, Cactus won the ECW World Tag Team Championships with Mikey Whipwreck which they held from August to November ’94. Cactus had a lengthy feud with the Sandman which would eventually be over the ECW World Championship. Early in the feud, Cactus would get many wins, but when Sandman became champion, Jack was unable to defeat him. Cactus pinned Terry Funk twice in April of ’95, as well.
Yokozuna’s stock in the WWF was quickly plummeting as his run as a main event player was coming to an end as 1994 came to a close. Yokozuna lost a casket match against the Undertaker at Survivor Series and wouldn’t be seen again until WrestleMania XI. At the event, Yokozuna was revealed as the surprise partner for Owen Hart and the duo won the WWF World Tag Team Championships from the Smoking Gunns. They would retain the titles over the likes of the Allied Powers, Savio Vega & Razor Ramon, and Men on a Mission. They were still the champions as of press time.
While on competing in WCW or the WWF at the start of the grading period, Sid was the USWA Heavyweight Champion which he won in July of 1994 and held until February of 1995 when he lost it to Jerry Lawler. After the loss, Sid would return to the WWF where he quickly turned on Shawn Michaels and unsuccessfully challenged for the WWF World Championship on two occasions on pay per view.
Regal lost the WCW Television Championship at Fall Brawl in September of ’94 and would continue a trend of losing singles matches against the likes of the Guardian Angel, Jim Duggan and Sting. By early 1995, Regal would form a tag team with Bobby Eaton known as the Blue Bloods. They got a decent push but failed to win the WCW World Tag Team Championships from the Nasty Boys at the Great American Bash.
Austin was once seen as a top rising star in WCW, but by the end of 1994 he was losing to Jim Duggan in under three minutes and was out of a job by the spring of 1995. I have no idea how Austin could have possibly been ranked so high considering he was also injured for many months.
54.) Alex Wright
60.) The Sandman
62.) Dustin Rhodes
Hakushi’s run in the WWF started off very well as he had an undefeated streak for half the grading period with victories over the 1-2-3 Kid, Bob Holly, and enhancement talents. He would suffer his first loss to Bret Hart at the first In Your House in May. Hakushi would continually lose to the Hitman for the remaining three months of the grading period, though they were some of the best matches the WWF aired during the year.
With his partner Mo out due to injury, Mabel tried his hand at a singles push that saw him lose to Jeff Jarrett at SummerSlam. Mabel would trade wins with the likes of King Kong Bundy and IRS to close of 1994. 1995 saw an attitude change by Men on a Mission and Mabel was the unlikely winner of the King of the Ring meaning he would be the number one contender to the WWF World Championship. He defeated the Undertaker and Savio Vega on his way to winning the crown.
Das Wunderkind was another wrestler who had a lengthy undefeated streak as he spent several months in 1994 establishing himself over enhancement talents. Wright finished 1994 with an impressive victory over Jean Paul Levesque at Starrcade. Alex continued his success by winning feuds against Bobby Eaton and Paul Roma in early 1995. Wright suffered his first loss to Arn Anderson at WCW Slamboree in a WCW Television Championship match. Wright had a great match with Brian Pillman at the Great American Bash, which he won. During the grading period, Wright also worked a few matches with Ric Flair but was not successful in defeating the Nature Boy.
At the end of 1994, Sandman was on the losing end of a feud with Tommy Dreamer. As noted before, Sandman struggled in a feud with Cactus Jack that lasted over six months in 1995. Despite his struggles, Sandman was able to win the ECW World Championship from Shane Douglas in April. Sandman would successfully defend the championship against Cactus Jack in a barbed wire match over the summer.
‘The Natural” won his feud with Arn Anderson at the tail end of 1994 that included teaming with his father Dusty Rhodes and the Nasty Boys to win War Games in September. Dustin would lose a singles match against Vader in November before returning to his feud with the Stud Stable, mostly the Blacktop Bully. Dustin lost both matches he had on pay per view losing to the Blacktop Bully at Superbrawl V and in a King of the Road match at Uncensored. Following the latter pay per view, Dustin was fired for bleeding in the match. He’d go under an extreme makeover in the next installment of this series.
76.) Bob Holly
79.) Jean Pierre Lafitte
82.) Big Bubba Rogers
84.) Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Previously known as Papa Shango, Kama made his debut in January 1995. His first six months saw Kama not lose on television and was involved in a lengthy feud with the Undertaker over the urn. Despite not losing on television, Kama would often lose to the Undertaker on the house show market.
Spark Plug was not getting much momentum at the end of 1994 as he was regularly losing to various mid card heels. However, Holly teamed with the 1-2-3 Kid to win the WWF World Tag Team Championships at the Royal Rumble. Their reign lasted all of twenty four hours when they lost the titles to the Smoking Gunns. In April, Holly won the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Jeff Jarrett, but the title was held up and Jarrett regained the belt. Holly pinned Chris Benoit in what was Benoit’s tryout match.
Previously known as Quebecer Pierre, Jean Pierre Lafitte made his debut as an evil pirate would get victories over the likes of Virgil, Duke Droese and Doink the Clown during the grading period. His only memorable feud was with Bret Hart due to stealing Hart’s ring jacket and his sunglasses, though no match between the two had happened as of press time.
He was known as the Guardian Angel who wasn’t quite able to get into the WCW World Championship scene. Angel ended up turning on Sting by the winter and would team with Avalanche in a feud against Sting and Randy Savage. Bubba found some success in his feud against Sting, winning a singles match at Uncensored, but wasn’t able to continue the momentum into anything that was noteworthy.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley made his debut in April and was primarily working with undercard wrestlers such as Doink and Bob Holly. Hunter hadn’t suffered a loss as of press time. He had worked as Jean Paul Levesque in WCW for a portion of the grading period, but wasn’t heavily push aside from a loss to Alex Wright at Starrcade.
100.) Brian Lee
113.) Jim Duggan
A breakout year for Psicosis as he won the Mexican welterweight championship from El Hijo del Santo. The victory is seen as the moment that made Psicosis a superstar in Mexico.
Meng hadn’t made his in-ring debut until March of 1995 where he defeated Jim Duggan at Uncensored. Meng received a good push and made it to the finals of the WCW United States Championship tournament, which he lost to Sting at the Great American Bash and a rematch at Bash at the Beach. The brief run showed that Meng still had something to offer in the ring after leaving the WWF a few years prior.
Lee lost the tag titles with Chris Candido to the Rock N’ Roll Express just a few days into the grading period. Lee played the fake Undertaker role at SummerSlam, where he lost to the real Undertaker but returned to SMW. After being fired by Tammy Fytch, Lee would feud with Chris Candido and they would trade victories although there was not a conclusive end to their issues.
Unabomb teamed with Al Snow to win the SMW Tag Team Championships from the Rock N’ Roll Express in April of 1995. They’d hold the belts until July when they lost the titles to Tracy Smothers and Dirty White Boy. Would debut in the WWF by the summer as Dr. Isaac Yankeem to help Jerry Lawler in his feud with Bret Hart.
Hacksaw didn’t waste any time in winning a championship in WCW when he pinned Steve Austin at Fall Brawl to win the WCW United States Championship. Duggan remained champion until he was destroyed by Big Van Vader at Starrcade. Duggan feuded with the Stud Stable mainly Bunkhouse Buck and Meng. Lost to Kamala at the Bash at the Beach pay per view in July.
120.) La Parka
122.) Crash the Terminator
126.) New Jack
237.) Kevin Sullivan
Raven made his debut in January and targeted Tommy Dreamer as his first rival. Throughout the eight months of the grading period, Raven dominated his feud with Dreamer, though Dreamer did get a pin fall victory over Raven on April 14th, which is seemingly forgotten about. Along with Stevie Richards, won the ECW World Tag Team Championships on June 30th by defeating the Public Enemy.
Parka was previously a heel but was turned into a baby face during his feud with Jerry Estrada, whom he lost the Mexican lightweight championship to.
Crash the Terminator was the PCW Heavyweight Champion and was feuding with Johnny Gunn. Apparently, Crash had a WWF tryout but did not sign with them.
New Jack first arrived in Smoky Mountain Wrestling where he and Mustafa made Jim Cornette and the Rock N’ Roll Express lives a living nightmare. By the fall of ’94, the Gangstas were the SMW Tag Team Champions. He was champion for about two months before losing them back to the Express in December. By the summer of ’95 Jack made his debut in ECW and was involved in a violent feud with Public Enemy.
Sullivan’s main focus was to eliminate Hulk Hogan but failed to do so throughout the year. Kevin was successful in defeating his brother Dave Sullivan in one of the least interesting feuds that WCW had to offer. Sullivan became the leader of the Dungeon of Doom, the infamous group that had many people from Hogan’s past to eliminate him from wrestling forever.
245.) The Renegade
306.) Luna Vachon
423.) The Ultimate Warrior
The Ultimate Warrior ripoff, the Renegade, made his debut in March of 1995 aligning himself with Hogan and Savage. Won the WCW Television Championship at the Great American Bash by defeating Arn Anderson in June and was still champion as of press time. Successfully defended the championship against Paul Orndorff at Bash at the Beach in July.
Moadib, who would be better known as Ahmed Johnson by the end of 1995, was making a name for himself in the Texas independents as a rule breaker.
Luna Vachon was busy working in ECW mainly teaming with Tommy Dreamer to take on male tag teams and was doing pretty well in defending herself in the land of Extreme.
Apparently, the real Ultimate Warrior only had one match as he returned to in-ring action to defeat rival the Honkytonk Man.
What are your thoughts on the PWI 500 for 1995? Would you have ranked anyone higher or lower?
1993 marked the third installment of the PWI 500. The previous two years saw Hulk Hogan and Sting win the number one spot respectively. Hogan being a star from the 80s and Sting being a rising star for WCW since the late 80s. 1993 would see a new face of the WWF rise up the ranks to take the number one spot.
The grading period appeared to be from August 1st, 1992 to July 31st, 1993.
To view the complete list of where wrestlers landed, check that out HERE.
To go back and read the previous two installments of the series, just follow the links below!
Now, here are the notable rankings for the year 1993.
Hitman claims the number one spot!
The Top Ten:
1.) Bret Hart
2.) Big Van Vader
3.) Shawn Michaels
6.) Ric Flair
7.) Lex Luger
8.) Rick Rude
9.) Curt Hennig
10.) Scott Steiner
Sure, he lost the WWF Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam, but Bret Hart wasted very little time recapturing gold around his waist. Bret achieved the highest goal in the WWF by winning the WWF World Championship from Ric Flair on October 12th, 1992. Bret would successfully defend the belt against Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series, Razor Ramon at Royal Rumble 1993, and Bam-Bam Bigelow on the house shows until dropping the belt to the rookie monster Yokozuna in April ’93 at WrestleMania IX. Despite the loss, Hart would finish the grading period strong by winning the first ever televised King of the Ring tournament. By the end of the period, he was involved in a feud with Jerry Lawler.
Vader lost the WCW World Championship to Ron Simmons on August 2nd, a day into the grading period. He would regain the strap on December 30th and would hang onto the belt for the entire grading period, aside from a six day run that Sting had with the belt. Vader had a memorable feud with Cactus Jack in April where he took out the daredevil on WCW Saturday Night. He also introduced the moonsault to American television by performing the move at Beach Blast, where he and Sid Vicious lost to Sting and Davey Boy Smith.
In the fall of 1992, Michaels claimed his first singles championship by defeating the British Bulldog on a Saturday Night’s Main Event. Michaels lost to Bret at Survivor Series, but entered 1993 on a strong note by defeating former friend Marty Jannetty at the Royal Rumble. Michaels had some issues with Tatanka as he lost several matches against the undefeated superstar. However, Michaels retained the title at WrestleMania IX when Michaels was counted out. Michaels kept a strong hold on the WWF Intercontinental Championship until the May 19th edition of RAW where he loss to Marty Jannetty, who made a surprise return. Michaels regained the belt at a house show in Albany and defeated Jannetty on the 7/19 RAW.
Aside from a six day run, Sting didn’t taste any WCW World Championship gold. For the most part, Sting was saddled with mid card feuds and teaming with Davey Boy Smith. Sting had a infamous feud with Jake Roberts that ended in a Coal Miners glove match at Halloween Havoc, which Sting won. Sting came up short in one of the best strap matches against Vader at Superbrawl III. Despite the losses to Vader, Sting did beat Vader to win the King of the Cable tournament at Starrcade ’92. With the lack of big time wins, Sting may have been ranked a little high.
A top five debut for a new wrestler is not a bad way to make a splash in the PWI 500. That’s exactly what Yokozuna managed to do. He debuted for the WWF by the fall of 1992 and made claim that 1993 would be his year when he won the Royal Rumble in January, and followed that up by winning the WWF World Championship at WrestleMania IX. Thirty-seconds after the win, he lost the belt to Hulk Hogan, but thankfully would regain the title at King of the Ring in June. Yokozuna was a fighting champion, as well. He constantly defended against the likes of Jim Duggan and Bret Hart. He also had a solid match with Crush on the 7/12 RAW. A week prior to that match, Yokozuna had found his new challenger in Lex Luger when Luger was able to slam the champion on the USS Intrepid on July 4th.
The grading period was an interesting one for Ric Flair. In the summer of 1992, Flair was the top heel for the WWF and would win the WWF World Championship for a second time on September 1st by beating long time rival, Randy Savage. He’d lose the belt just over a month later to Bret Hart. By the end of 1992, Flair and lost his best friend, Mr. Perfect, due to Perfect teaming with Randy Savage to beat Flair and Razor Ramon at Survivor Series. On the January 25th edition of RAW, Flair lost a memorable Loser Leaves WWF match to Mr. Perfect. Flair quickly returned to WCW, but wouldn’t wrestle for several months. He would return to the ring teaming with Arn Anderson to go for the WCW World Tag Team Championships, held by the Hollywood Blonds. Although they didn’t walk away with the gold, Flair would regain championship gold when he defeated Barry Windham at Beach Blast on July 18th to close out the grading period.
The new American hero, Lex Luger.
Luger didn’t make his debut for the WWF until January ’93 as he was part of the failed WBF promotion that was the creation of Vince McMahon. Lex would feud with Mr. Perfect and was victorious at WrestleMania IX. Also seemingly forgotten about, Luger attacked Bret Hart at the WrestleMania IX press conference and wrestled the former champion several times on house shows. At the time, Luger was a narcissist and used a metal plate in his forearm to get victorious. He was a favorite to win the King of the Ring, but came up short when he and Tatanka wrestled to a draw. Out of nowhere, Lex Luger turned baby face and became a pro America character when he slammed Yokozuna on the USS Intrepid on July 4th. Luger kept an undefeated streak going until April 8th, where Mr. Perfect was able to get a pin fall over Lex by lifting his shoulder up on a back suplex attempt. With that match only airing in France, Luger still maintained an undefeated streak on American television.
Rick Rude continued to dominate the WCW United States Championship title picture having retained the championship against all opponents since winning the belt in November of ’91. By the summer of 1992, Rude was involved in a heated feud with Nikita Koloff. Rude managed to successfully defended the championship against Koloff which sometimes happened inside a steel cage. Also, Rude reached the finals of the NWA World Championship tournament but came up short against Kensuke Sasaki. Rude was stripped of the championship following an injury. While out with injury, Dustin Rhodes won the championship in a tournament and they would meet at Beach Blast in July but ended in a draw despite the match being a thirty minute Ironman match. At the end of the grading period, Rude was not champion and issues with Rhodes were not resolved. Considering he was out of action from December to early spring, a top ten ranking of Rude is quite high.
Curt Hennig, or better known as Mr. Perfect, made his return to the ring when he aligned himself with Randy Savage to take on Razor Ramon and former friend Ric Flair. Perfect got the biggest win of his career when he pinned Ric Flair on the 1/25 RAW to force Flair out of the company. Perfect would lose to Lex Luger at WrestleMania IX and followed up with a loss to Bret Hart in the King of the Ring tournament. Seemed like there was more negatives than there were positives for Mr. Perfect.
At the end of 1992, Scott Steiner won the WCW Television Championship from Ricky Steamboat. However, he and brother Rick Steiner left the company by December and thus was stripped of it. Scott jumped the WWF and dominated the tag division leading up to a series of matches with the WWF World Tag Team Champions Money Inc. They won the titles on June 14th and June 19th after having dropped the belts back to Money Inc. on June 16th. They would hold the titles for the remainder of the grading period.
The only issues I have with the top ten are towards the end, really. As much of a fan I am of Rude, he missed a good portion of the grading period and Perfect didn’t really have a top ten performance for the grading period. I do think Bret was the right choice of the number one spot, though had Vader not lost the belt to Simmons during the grading period, he would have easily taken number one for the year.
‘Lone Wolf” Barry Windham nearly makes the top 10.
#11: Barry Windham
#13: Marty Jannetty
#15: Davey Boy Smith
#23: Steve Austin
#25: Sid Vicious
For the early months of the grading period, Windham was feuding with lower mid card guys like the Barbarian and Dick Slater. He was the NWA/WCW World Tag Team Champions with friend Dustin Rhodes when they pinned the former champions Steve Williams and Terry Gordy on the 10/3 edition of Saturday Night. They held the belts for just over a month when they lost the belts to Shane Douglas and Ricky Steamboat due to Dustin Rhodes not wanting to pin Ricky after an accidental low blow. That would lead to heel turn for Windham and the change of attitude saw Windham win the NWA World Championship from the Great Muta at Superbrawl in February. He fought off challenges from Arn Anderson at Slamboree, Too Cold Scorpio at Clash of the Champions in June before dropping the belt to Ric Flair at Beach Blast in July. For a short period of time in ’93, Windham had become a very good heel and his turnaround from the early stages of grading period is impressive.
Jannetty hadn’t been seen on WWF television for quite sometime when he returned by the end of ’92. He failed at capturing the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Shawn Michaels at the Rumble and was gone again until May when he surprised Michaels and won the gold. That lasted a few weeks before dropping it back to Michaels and not doing much of note afterward. Sure, he and Michaels regularly had good matches on the house show market, but that is far from having a top 15 spot in the ranking of 500. (yes, it’s kayfabe, I get it. But, come on!)
In four short months, Davey Boy Smith went from winning the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Bret Hart in front of a sellout crowd in Wembley Stadium to being out of a job by the end of the year. He loss to belt to Shawn Michaels in November and appeared for WCW a short time into 1993. Smith quickly challenged Big Van Vader for the WCW World Championship. His first chance at the gold was at Slamboree and he won, but by disqualification. Along with Sting, he would beat Sid and Vader at Beach Blast to end the grading period for Smith. The main event push was the biggest of Smith’s career and he handled it pretty well.
Austin maintained a strong handle on the WCW Television Championship until September 2nd when he lost it to Ricky Steamboat. After the loss, Austin was lost in the shuffle until he formed a tag team with Brian Pillman known as the Hollywood Blonds. They team quickly rose up the ranks and won the WCW World Tag Team Championships from Steamboat and Douglas on March 27th edition of Worldwide. He and Pillman retained the titles inside a steel cage at Slamboree against the duo. Their biggest match would be at the June Clash of the Champions when they came up short against Flair and Anderson, but didn’t lose the belts in a best two out of three falls match. To end the grading period, Austin remained tag team champs after beating Anderson and Roma at Beach Blast.
From August to April, Sid had not competed in any mainstream wrestling promotions. He returned to WCW at Slamboree associating himself with Col. Robert Parker and defeated Van Hammer at the event. He would team with Vader and Rick Rude to win a six man tag match at the June Clash of the Champions before losing a tag match with Vader as his partner against Davey Boy and Sting. For a guy who wrestled only three months worth of worthwhile matches, the ranking is ridiculous.
The evil clown, Doink with a strong showing.
#28: Randy Savage
#33: Bam-Bam Bigelow
#34: The Kid
One of the more creative characters to ever exist in the WWF made its debut at number twenty-six. Doink began appearing in various WWF crowds by the end of 1992. He would pull pranks on various superstars and ended up feuding with Crush, whom he defeated at WrestleMania IX. Aside from that victory, Doink had some entertaining matches with Jannetty and Savage on RAW during the summer. At the end of the grading period, he hadn’t been involved in a significant feud.
Last year, Savage was ranked number two and now falls twenty-six spots. Despite opening the grading period as the WWF World Champion and then nearly winning the Rumble, Savage couldn’t break into the top twenty-five. After the new year, Savage wrestled on a limited basis but often times appeared on house shows. Macho Man was being phased out of the New Generation era.
Bigelow made his return to the WWF by the end of 1992. He would win his first pay per view match against the Big Bossman at the Royal Rumble. Bigelow continued to defeat anyone in his way until the King of the Ring where he lost to Bret Hart in the finals of the tournament. At the end of the grading period he was feuding with Tatanka.
Probably one of the more inspirational stories of the year centered around a skinny rookie who was eventually known simply was, The 1-2-3 Kid. After several weeks of losing to various WWF superstars, the Kid picked up the shocking upset over Razor Ramon on the 5/17 RAW. Kid continued to wrestle Ramon that often ended in disqualifications. In years previous, he was known as the Lighting Kid.
Over the summer, Crush feuded with Repo Man, his former partner from Demolition and won the feud convincingly. After a victory at SummerSlam over Repo Man, it was rumored that Crush could have been the guy to lead the New Generation instead of Bret Hart. That, of course, didn’t happen. Instead, Crush had a feud with Doink, which he lost, and unsuccessfully challenged for the WWF Intercontinental Championship at the King of the Ring. At the end of the grading period, Crush had been taken out of action by Yokozuna.
Simmons as the WCW World Champion.
#32: Ron Simmons
#37: Owen Hart
#38: Paul Orndorff
#40: Brian Lee
#46: The Undertaker
Despite having been WCW World Champion from August to December of 1992, Simmons doesn’t get into the top 25. During Ron’s reign, he retained over the likes of Cactus Jack and the Barbarian, which may be a reason for the low ranking. Simmons didn’t do much during the 1993 portion of the grading period as he was unable to defeat Paul Orndorff for the WCW Television Championship at Beach Blast in July.
Owen didn’t accomplish anything of note in the WWF during the time period, but did win the USWA Heavyweight Championship from Papa Shango but would soon lose it to Jerry Lawler. His rise would be a year away.
‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff started the grading period competing in Smoky Mountain Wrestling where he feuded with the likes of Ron Garvin and Tim Horner. By early ’93, Orndorff was in WCW feuding with Cactus Jack and lost a falls count anywhere match at Superbrawl III. He pinned Erik Watts in the finals to crown a new WCW Television Champion on March 27th. Orndorff was able to keep the championship for the remainder of the grading period. He successfully defended the title against Ron Simmons winning the bout by disqualification.
‘Primetime” Brian Lee started the grading period losing the SMW Heavyweight Championship to rival Dirty White Boy on August 8th, 1992. The end of ’92 saw Lee feud with The Master (aka Kevin Sullivan) which ended up being a lengthy blood feud. After over five months of feuding, Lee won the feud with Kevin Sullivan and his followers. On the May 1st television show, Lee won the SMW TV Championship from Bobby Eaton. Lee would end up turning heel by aligning himself with Tammy Fytch to win the SMW Heavyweight Championship on July 17th from Tracy Smothers to end the grading period.
Undertaker didn’t have a memorable grading period. Sure, he won his feud with Kamala by winning matches at SummerSlam and Survivor Series, but afterward Taker would feud with Giant Gonzalez, with the two meeting at WrestleMania IX. Aside from that, Taker had a less than stellar year on television and that reflects his low ranking this year.
2 Cold Scorpio!
#49: 2 Cold Scorpio
#67: Tim Horner
#84: Erik Watts
#87: Razor Ramon
Scorpio made his debut in WCW on November 18th at Clash of the Champions to help Ron Simmons defeat the trio of Tony Atlas, Cactus Jack and the Barbarian. Scorpio earned a huge win over Steve Austin on the 1/3/1993 house show. Scorpio won a great match against Chris Benoit at Superbrawl III. A month later, Scorpio would team with Marcus Alexander Bagwell on a regular basis. Scorpio would have a memorable match against NWA World Champion Barry Windham at the June Clash of the Champions, but came up short in winning the title. Scorpio had a bright future it seemed in WCW.
Tatanka maintained his undefeated streak throughout the grading period as he mainly had matches with Rick Martel, who has never been able to defeat the Native American. Tatanka nearly won the WWF Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania IX. Not many memorable moments for Tatanka despite a lengthy undefeated streak.
Horner head a feud with SMW Heavyweight Champion Dirty White Boy throughout the fall and winter of ’92, but wasn’t able to take the championship. Horner won the SMW TV Championship from the Nightstalker on the March 6th television program. He held the belt for three weeks before losing it to Bobby Eaton. One of the better in-ring workers for SMW.
The 1992 PWI Rookie of the Year, Erik Watts, had an eventful year. Far from being the best worker in the company, Watts accomplished quite a bit. He had a feud with Arn Anderson that saw the two brawl at a gas station. After the feud, they became partners but had limited success. Watts reached the finals of the WCW Television Championship tournament, losing to Paul Orndorff. A victim of nepotism due his father Bill Watts being the booker for WCW.
Razor Ramon made an impact quickly upon his arrival in the WWF. He cost Randy Savage the WWF World Championship in September of ’92 and won several house show matches against the Macho Man. Had a competitive match with Bret Hart at the Rumble, but came up short in his first championship match. Won his WrestleMania debut against Bob Backlund. Might have dropped in the rankings due to the loss to the 1-2-3 Kid on the May 17th episode of RAW. By the end of the grading period had become a fan favorite thanks to being disrespected by Money Inc.
The original gangsta, New Jack.
#108: Paul Roma
#112: Van Hammer
#198: New Jack
#222: Dirty White Boy
A year prior, Paul Roma was believed to have been retired from pro wrestling. Roma didn’t return to action until June of ’93. He was a member of the Four Horsemen and nearly won the WCW World Tag Team Championships from the Hollywood Blonds at Beach Blast. Needless to say, Roma being a Horsemen was a shock to diehards.
Seemed like wrestling publications thought of Van Hammer has being a title contender, but that never quite happened. His most notable accomplishment was losing to Sid Vicious in thirty-five seconds at Slamboree. Would be gone from WCW for several years.
At this point, Virgil was literally a jobber and was still ranked pretty decently.
New Jack makes his debut in the PWI 500. While not providing much in the ring, Jack teamed with the Homeboy to win the USWA Tag Team Championships for a short period of time.
This one is rather surprising to me. Dirty White Boy won the SMW Heavyweight Championship on 8/8/1992, right at the start of the grading period. He was able to hold onto the belt until April 2nd of 1993 when he lost it to Tracy Smothers. For the time, that’s a pretty impressive title reign, and yet he is so far down the rankings.
The Garbage Man.
#298: Billy Gunn
#301: John Hawk
#384: Disco Inferno
#483: Miss Texas
#500: Garbage Man
Mabel and Billy Gunn made their debuts in the PWI 500. Neither man accomplished much as they teamed with Mo and Bart Gunn in the WWF. I don’t believe either team lost a match during the timeframe of the grading period.
John Hawk, or better known as Bradshaw, also made his debut in the PWI 500. He was a Global Tag Team Champion with Bobby Duncum Jr. Hadn’t achieved any mainstream success, though.
At this point, Disco Inferno was claiming to be the king of inter gender matches in the USWA. That was proven to be incorrect as he often lost to Miss Texas (Jacqueline). Speaking of Miss Texas, she was the first woman to ever be ranked in the PWI 500 at #483.
The Garbage Man would be later known as Duke Droese. Pro Wrestling Illustrated would brag about his rise for the next couple of years.
Gone From The 500:
Skinner, Sgt. Slaughter, Kerry Von Erich and the Ultimate Warrior all were out of the rankings this year. Von Erich had committed suicide on February 18th, 1993.
Would you have ranked anyone differently? Were there any surprises? Leave your thoughts below!
Last week, I took a look at the first ever Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500 ranking list. The journey of revisiting that history continues here as I look at the 1992 installment of the list. I should note that I’m considering the January to December timeframe in the first installment. I looked up the apparent timeframe that is from August of the previous year to July 31st of the actual year. That being said, I’ll try to maintain my opinions strictly by that timeframe. It seemed as if the 1991 version was covering most of the year, anyway.
For a complete list of the PWI 500 check it out HERE.
That being said, here we go. The notable names from the 1992 PWI 500 with the grading period of August 1st 1991 to July 31st 1992.
Stinger reaches #1!
The Top Ten:
2.) Randy Savage
3.) Ric Flair
4.) Rick Rude
5.) Bret Hart
6.) Ricky Steamboat
7.) Jerry Lawler
8.) Scott Steiner
9.) Ultimate Warrior
10.) Steve Austin
At first I wasn’t so convinced that Sting was the number one guy during the timeframe, but you’ve got to remember that Savage was “retired” from mid March until late 1991. Sure, Savage had a strong comeback winning a feud with Jake Roberts and the WWF World Championship at WrestleMania VIII, but Sting held his own feuding with Rick Rude for most of the period and winning the WCW World Championship at Superbrawl in February ’92. I could see the Nature Boy having a better claim for the number one spot than Savage.
Flair left WCW in the summer of ’91, but upon his debut with the WWF he feuded with Roddy Piper and had huge matches with Hulk Hogan on the house show market. Also, Flair just so happened to have won perhaps the greatest Royal Rumble ever and as a result became the WWF World Champion. Flair had a rather strong presence during the evaluation period.
Rude seems a bit high on the list as he didn’t enter WCW until October but didn’t waste time winning gold as he won the WCW United States Championship in November. He also was successful in a feud with Ricky Steamboat winning a high profile match at Superbrawl. He was the leader of the Dangerous Alliance that lost War Games at Wrestle War.
Bret Hart starts to get recognized as an elite wrestler with two WWF Intercontinental Championship wins. He first won it at SummerSlam against Mr. Perfect and after losing it to the Mountie at a house show in January ’92, regained it from family friend Roddy Piper at WrestleMania VIII in perhaps Piper’s last truly great match. Hart was also involved in a house show feud with Shawn Michaels at the time.
After an underwhelming run in the WWF, Ricky Steamboat returned to top ten level wrestling winning the WCW World Tag Team Championships with Dustin Rhodes in November and defeating WCW United States Champion Rick Rude in a non-title thirty minute Ironman match at Beach Blast in June. Also, Steamboat was arguably still at the top of his game in the ring.
Jerry Lawler continued to dominate the USWA along with partner Jeff Jarrett. Scott Steiner comes in at number eight after regaining the WCW World Tag Team Championships on May 3rd defeating the Dangerous Alliance after a long chase. They soon lost the belts to Steve Williams and Terry Gordy on July 5th to end the evaluation period on a sour note.
Kind of confusing that the Ultimate Warrior came in at number nine considering he returned to action at WrestleMania VIII and was only feuding with a midcard talent in Papa Shango. Doesn’t seem worthy of a top ten wrestler let a lot top 50, honestly.
Lastly, Steve Austin makes a splash in the top ten as a member of the Dangerous Alliance. Austin had been dominating the upper mid card scene as he continually held the WCW Television Championship during the grading period.
A change of attitude did good things for Michaels.
12.) Hulk Hogan
15.) Big Van Vader
16.) Shawn Michaels
20.) Ron Simmons
21.) The Undertaker
Hogan falls out of the top ten due to lack of competing. He lost and regained the belt in late 1991 against the Undertaker, lost the Royal Rumble, and defeated Sid Justice by disqualification at WrestleMania VIII in his last match for nearly a year.
Vader’s ranking may seem a little high, but remember he stayed strong in Japan and upon his return to WCW in July he defeated Sting to win the WCW World Championship. Vader is a strong force in the PWI 500 for at least a couple more years.
After a shocking betrayal of his longtime friend, Shawn Michaels rose to number sixteen. He won his first ever Mania match against Tito Santana and continually challenged for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, though he would lose to Bret Hart each time.
During the evaluation, Simmons unsuccessfully challenged Lex Luger for the WCW World Championship at Halloween Havoc. Proceeded to be a mid card contender feuding with Cactus Jack for several months and winning the feud. At the time of the release, it was evident that Simmons was going to become a main event player for WCW.
Taker held the WWF World Championship for a short period in 1991 as a heel. By February, he turned into a good dead man and pinned Jake Roberts at WrestleMania by kicking out of the DDT. Didn’t feud with top talent afterward as he was involved with the Berzerker afterward.
Ted DiBiase with IRS and Jimmy Hart.
22.) Ted DiBiase
23.) Big Bossman
26.) Jeff Jarrett
29.) Cactus Jack
36.) Dustin Rhodes
At the tail end of 1991, DiBiase was the WWF Million $ Dollar Champion, which would soon be forgotten about. Entering 1992, DiBiase became a tag team wrestler and won the WWF World Tag Team Championships in February with IRS by beating the Legion of Doom. Successfully retained the titles by count-out against the Natural Disasters at Mania. Lost the belts in July to the Natural Disasters. Adapted well to his new role.
In early 1991, Bossman looked to be primed for a WWF Intercontinental Championship run but the push faded away and for the most part Bossman was lost in the shuffle. Was on the winning side of a eight man tag at Mania, but was soon beaten down by former inmate Nailz. His ranking is rather high considering he didn’t achieve much during the time.
Much like Lawler, Jarrett was busy winning a feud against the Moondogs. Cactus Jack had a breakout time period having a classic brawl with WCW World Champion Sting at Beach Blast 1992, despite coming out on the losing end. May have been the moment fans took Jack seriously as a contender.
Nearly a one hundred spot jump for Dustin Rhodes, who won the WCW World Tag Team Championships with Steamboat. Rhodes is clearly at the top of the heap for WCW and the following year is when he really breaks out. Underrated in the ring even in 1992.
Brian Christopher knew how to win gold.
44.) Owen Hart
47.) Brian Christopher
53.) Razor Ramon
55.) Repo Man
69.) Papa Shango
Obviously Owen Hart is a top wrestler but he was only teaming with Koko B. Ware at the time and they hadn’t done anything of note to warrant a top 50 spot for Owen.
Last year, Brian Christopher was ranked at 409 and jumped all the way up to number forty-seven. A change of attitude may have helped as he won many titles in the southern area but did so cheating. Was considered to be a top prospect out of the South.
If the grading timeframe is correct, it’s amazing that Razor Ramon was even ranked. As the Diamond Studd he had a less than memorable run with WCW and while he was with the WWF, his character hadn’t even made it to television until August.
The former Demolition Smash went the route of a comedic character with the Repo Man. Repo didn’t have any major wins but had a brief feud with the British Bulldog on television. I’ll let you guess who won that one.
The voodoo master Papa Shango debuts at number sixty-nine. Due in large part to the exposure of his feud with the Ultimate Warrior. Shango never won a match against the Warrior but faired okay against other mid card talents.
Brian Lee pinning rival DWB.
77.) Marcus Alexander Bagwell
96.) Brian Lee
Crush hadn’t made a splash on television yet, but his newfound singles push as a baby face was going well on the house show market. Probably should have been ranked where Repo Man was.
The rookie Marcus Alexander Bagwell breaks into the top 100. Bagwell didn’t have much of a direction but was being touted as a promising star for WCW and typically held his own against top heels but would come out on the losing end most times.
The lunatic Sabu goes from 389 last year to number 79 in one of the biggest jumps of the year. Most notably won the FMW Tag Team Championships with Hulk Hogan’s nephew, Horace Boulder.
Tatanka made his WWF debut in late 1991 and remained undefeated throughout the grading period and only gets ranked at 93. I can see a few people he should have been ranked above but I’ll just be repeating myself.
Brian Lee is the top baby face for Smoky Mountain Wrestling and was their first Heavyweight Champion beating Paul Orndorff in the finals in May. Continued to be considered a future star in the business.
108.) Paul Orndorff
204.) Van Hammer
256.) The Sandman
395.) Tommy Dreamer
422.) Chris Candido
Orndorff hadn’t been seen on a national level in years, but was quite successful in Smoky Mountain Wrestling as one of the top heels in the company. He proved that he had plenty still to offer to the wrestling world.
Hammer made his debut for WCW in 1991 and was involved in a feud with Cactus Jack which saw Hammer win a few battles. According to PWI, he was seen a future World Champion. Van Hammer, of all people.
He hadn’t developed the cigarette smoking, beer drinking gimmick yet but Sandman was still a force on the Philadelphia independent scene during the time. Along with Tommy Dreamer who relied heavily on a sleeper hold to win his matches, apparently. Keep your eyes on Chris Candido as well as he continued to tour the globe and gain experience.
Farewell To The 500:
If the grading timeframe is right, and I’m guessing in large part to what the PWI writers commented on, then Justice and Luger should be at least on the list.
Justice had wrestled from late 1991 to April 1992 for the WWF, which saw him main event Mania and almost win the Rumble.
Luger won the WCW World Championship in July and held it until February 1992 when he lost to Sting. He’d be out of wrestling for a year.
Zeus went back to acting. Paul Roma was in semiretirement.
There is the notable names for the 1992 PWI 500. Would you have ranked anyone differently? Leave your thoughts below!
For the past twenty-five years Pro Wrestling Illustrated has accepted the challenge of ranking 500 of the best wrestlers during each of those years. Sometimes there have been questionable rankings and times when they actually forgot to include wrestlers.
I’ve decided to take a look at each publication of the PWI 500 and see the interesting listing, dispute their rankings and show the progression of wrestlers through the years.
I’m not going to list all 500 guys, but instead point out interesting rankings and see the progression or decline throughout the years. For a full listing of 1991 PWI 500, click HERE.
The issue started in 1991 and has been a staple for the publication ever since. Lets take a look at the top 10 for 1991.
Hulkamania running wild on the PWI 500!
1.) Hulk Hogan
2.) Lex Luger
3.) Ric Flair
4.) Randy Savage
6.) Scott Steiner
7.) Ricky Steamboat
8.) Steve Williams
9.) Arn Anderson
10.) Rick Steiner
It’s quite clear as to why Hogan was number one. He had a big year by winning the Rumble, beating Slaughter at Mania VII and was able to successfully end his feud with Earthquake. Also, we can’t forget that he had numerous matches with Ric Flair at the tail end of the year. Sure, he lost the WWF World Championship at This Tuesday in Texas but a week later regained it by defeating the Undertaker at Survivor Series. Oh, by the way, they forgot to include the Undertaker and Terry Gordy. Yeah, that’s a head scratcher, I know. Anyway, Hogan at number one is perfectly fine. He had a strong year in comparison to the remaining top ten.
Luger is a close second, but a victim of Flair leaving WCW in the summer. Had Luger won the WCW World Championship at Great American Bash in June over Flair instead of Barry Windham, I think Luger gets over the hump and takes number one. Luger was a double champion holding the WCW United States and WCW World Championships after the win at the Bash. Luger continued his reign as champion leading into 1992 successfully defending against Ron Simmons at Halloween Havoc.
Flair didn’t seem to have an overly huge year. Sure, he was champion and never lost the WCW World Champion, but something just seems to be missing. He didn’t get traction going in the WWF until ’92, but I suppose their not being many top stars made it an easy pick for Flair to be in the top 5.
Not sure why or how Randy Savage was ranked number four as he was “retired” following his loss to the Ultimate Warrior at Mania VII. He wouldn’t return to action until the fall. Seems a bit high and that’s coming from a Macho Man fanatic.
Interestingly enough, Rick Steiner is ranked lower than his brother Scott Steiner despite Rick getting several WCW World Championship matches against Lex Luger, of course he was unsuccessful in those attempts. Scott was unsuccessful going after the WCW Television Championship that was held by Steve Austin. The most memorable moment for the Steiner Brothers was their classic match at Superbrawl against Lex Luger and Sting, which they won.
It’s shocking that Ricky Steamboat was in the top ten of the list. He was in the WWF for most of 1991 and literally had matches with the Barbarian and other mid card talents. Being ranked at number seven seems extremely high considering the other talent listed, which we will get to. Steamboat returned to WCW in November and won the WCW World Tag Team Championships with Dustin Rhodes, but it’s no way plausible to have the Dragon this high, at least not in 1991.
Moving out of the top 10…
Would you trust Jake Roberts?
11.) Ultimate Warrior
21.) Bret Hart
23.) Jake Roberts
28.) Jeff Jarrett
29.) Ron Simmons
Despite leaving the WWF in August, Warrior still had a big year. Sure, he lost the WWF World Championship to Sgt. Slaughter at the Rumble, but he beat Randy Savage at Mania, was successful in a feud against the Undertaker and teamed with Hogan to victory at SummerSlam. That seems more top ten worthy than Steamboat.
The rise of Bret Hart started in 1991 and gets a top 25 ranking. A fine place for the tag team wrestler who got his biggest victory against Mr. Perfect at SummerSlam 1991 to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. 1991 was a very strong year for the Hitman. He might have been a top 15 ranked wrestler.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts started off getting quite a bit of sympathy when he was nearly blinded for life by Rick Martel and beat Martel at Mania VII in a blindfold match. By the summer, Roberts was the most hated man ruining the Savage/Elizabeth wedding at SummerSlam and embarked in a truly personal and awesome feud with Savage to close out 1991. That period could be Jake’s best work.
Jeff Jarrett had a busy year in USWA where he won the USWA Heavyweight Championship four times and the USWA Tag Team Championships four times. Sure, his father Jerry Jarrett ran the company, but regardless Jeff had a stellar year full with success.
In the beginning of 1991 Simmons was the WCW World Tag Team Champions with Butch Reed, but they lost the belts in February and Simmons won a cage match against Reed at Superbrawl in May. Simmons continued to rise up the card and got a WCW World Championship match at Halloween Havoc against Lex Luger but came up short in a best two out of three falls match. Bigger things are ahead for Simmons.
The top guy for the GWF, the Patriot.
31.) Steve Austin
33.) Big Van Vader
37.) Shawn Michaels
55.) The Patriot
58.) Bam-Bam Bigelow
Austin didn’t waste anytime upon his arrival in WCW to capture gold when he beat Bobby Eaton for the WCW Television Championship on June 3rd. He’d hold the belt for nearly a year. He also joined the top heel faction in WCW known as the Dangerous Alliance. Austin was a huge part of WCW from the get go.
Vader found success in 1991 overseas as he wasn’t used all that much in WCW. He was the CWA Heavyweight Champion for more than half of 1991 before losing the strap to Rambo. At the end of the year he would win the CWA Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship but was forced to give up the championship upon signing a full-time contract with WCW and a contract with NJPW.
One half of the Rockers, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty should be close in the rankings but shockingly Jannetty was ranked at #57. By the end of 1991, the Rockers would be split up as Michaels literally tossed Jannetty through a plate glass window.
The Patriot was a breakout star for the promotion GWF, or the Global Wrestling Federation. Upon his arrival, the fan favorite won the GWF Television Championship on June 29th and within two months won the GWF Heavyweight Championship in August. Patriot would hold the Heavyweight Championship for the remainder of the year.
Bigelow had a successful 1991 working mainly in Japan and teaming with Vader, though the team wouldn’t win any gold until the following year.
The Diamond Stud. Does he look familiar?
76.) Diamond Stud
79.) Roddy Piper
107.) Chris Benoit
131.) Dustin Rhodes
171.) Shane Douglas
Kind of surprising that Stud would be ranked so high considering he lost quite a bit of steam when he lost to guys like Ron Simmons, Tom Zenk and was on the losing side of the Chambers of Horrors match at Halloween Havoc. Probably didn’t help that Rick Rude joined the company and had almost the same exact gimmick as Stud. A bigger year is in store for Stud in 1992 with a chance of scenery.
One of the biggest stars in the WWF had a busy 1991, but that wouldn’t be reflected by his ranking. He spent some of the year hurt due to his hip but helped Virgil in his feud with Ted DiBiase. More importantly, Piper was involved in a heated feud with Ric Flair upon his debut in the WWF that would continue on and off for the next seven years.
The young crippler Chris Benoit was under the radar to the mainstream fans as he was tearing it up overseas having classic matches with Jushin Liger in Japan. It would be a few years before Benoit made a splash in the States.
Dustin Rhodes had a great 1991 as he didn’t lose a match on pay per view or at a Clash of the Champions. Fought Steve Austin to a draw at Havoc for the WCW Television Championship but managed to win gold in November with Ricky Steamboat when they defeated the WCW World Tag Team Champions Arn Anderson and Larry Zbyszko. Dustin is one of the few guys who have a successful career and put on good matches like his father, Dusty.
Shane Douglas seemingly got his ranking based on what he had done previously to 1991. For the most part, the most impressive thing Douglas did was last nearly 27 minutes in the Royal Rumble.
Tazmaniac would go through a makeover over the years.
250.) Dean Malenko
253.) Lightning Kid
For a guy who won at WrestleMania against his former employer Ted DiBiase by count-out and then won the WWF Million Dollar Championship at SummerSlam, a ranking of 246 seems a bit too low for Virgil. Sure, he isn’t a spectacular wrestler, but considering Shane Douglas lasted all of 27 minutes in the Rumble and then vanished and got a ranking of 171, Virgil is made out to look like an All-Star in comparison. I’m pretty sure that’s the last time I’d ever say that about Virgil.
Who would have ever thought that Dean Malenko would be ranked lower than Virgil. Malenko, much like Benoit, found great success in Japan and wouldn’t venture over to the States for a few more years.
The highly entertaining Lightning Kid had a strong second year of competing by winning the GWF Lightweight Championship on two occasions and having several memorable matches with Jerry Lynn throughout the year.
Tazmaniac held the IWCCW Lightweight Championship for six months in 1991 and was one of the most hated men in the Northeast area.
The one of many gimmicks for Kevin Nash, OZ came in at 367. OZ was successful for a period of time before losing to Ron Simmons at the Great American Bash. The character wouldn’t make it to 1992.
GI Bro when Booker brought the gimmick back for a moment in 2000.
390.) GI Bro
392.) Jerry Lynn
403.) Chris Candido
409.) Brian Christopher
GI Bro would be better known as Booker T. In 1991 he worked for lesser known promotions but a short time into his career, he was beating veterans on a regular basis. It took him only eight weeks to make his television debut.
As noted before, Lynn was busy working in the GWF and putting on classic matches with the Lightning Kid. Lynn would win the GWF Lightweight Championship in December of 1991.
Candido had a good run with the USWA where he teamed with Eric Embry and faired well against veteran wrestlers. Another guy who would rise up the ranks throughout the years.
Brian Christopher was a top fan favorite for the USWA but would really breakout in 1992.
I’m not aware of what Zeus did wrestling wise in 1991, but it’s a notable name to be ranked as number 500.
Did you disagree with any of the rankings for the PWI 500 in 1991? Who would have been your number one? Where would you have ranked the Undertaker had he not been forgotten by the writers when this was published? Do you miss kayfabe magazines?
Not nearly as bad as I was expecting, as usually big market sites stick guys who are at best casual fans of the product into coverage like this. This actually seems to be coming from a Smarky Smark…. one of us! Hey, I'll take what I can get
I somehow don't foresee the same level of nerd rage over these rankings as there has been from the MMA hardcores. Like really, Dana White basically admits he just makes this shit up as he goes along and ignores rankings anyway.
By the way, Ronda Rousey is officially a bigger draw than anyone in WWE with the exception of the Wrestlemania name. By about 200,000 buys, in fact. Perhaps women's wrestling might make a comeback next.
Hi Scott, I don’t know if you remember, but 10 years ago (!) I sent you a list of the all the WWE PPV’s you have reviewed in descending order of average match rating. Total star ratings of each match divided by the number of matches on the card (DUDs or matches with negative numbers were given a zero). Re-rants were taken into account and the scores would replace the original rant score. Some time after that, I obtained a life. However, I’ve recently had some time on my hands, so I thought you might like an updated list to share with your readers! Please see the attached. There are some interesting results… For example, did you know Backlash 2007 is the 4th greatest WWE PPV ever according to your ratings 🙂 Regards and Merry Xmas!
I actually thought X-7 would have been higher, but maybe sheer quantity of matches skewed things down. I also found the bottom group of PPVs almost as interesting to see charted as the top ones were. Not that the numerically worst PPVs of all-time should be a surprise or anything, although KOTR 94 somehow escaped WAY better than it should have been. Thanks for the great work on this, hope you get a life again. Results are below…