Australians In The PWI 500 (2023)
By Mick Robson
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It's around that time of year where wrestling social media goes nuts, as PWI has just released their 33rd edition of the PWI 500. If you're unfamiliar, the PWI 500 is a list of 500 of the best pro wrestlers in the world.
Now, the bit that trips up a lot of people- it's a kayfabe list. Meaning it's based on things like amount of matches won, the quality of opposition, championships won etc etc. It's also subject to the evaulation period of July 1, 2022 to July 31, 2023. Anything that happened outside that time frame- doesn't matter.
This article is to highlight the Australian wrestling talent that made it in the 500, so some non-Aussie spoilers coming. You can see Rollins at #1, Reigns at #2 and Moxley at #3. The World Heavyweight Champion tops the list both due to his championship, record and strength of schedule- that last point is what sees him rated above Roman Reigns, despite Reigns being a more dominant champion, bigger star, ratings and merch mover. Those kind of things aren't the metrics that PWI play by.
In a similar vein, there's some outrage about Cody Rhodes, possibly the top babyface in the company- let's be real, Rollins has largely been treated as secondary in company hierarchy- being rated as #10. But Cody was out with injury for half the evaluation period, won the Rumble, lost to Reigns, lost to Brock Lesnar, squeaked out a roll up win over the Beast, and his proper defining win over Lesnar happened at Summerslam after the evaluation period ended. Cody may rank higher next year, depending on where he fits in at WrestleMania 40, and if there's any story finishing to take place.
But enough of that, let's have some Aussie pride and see which Superstars from the Land Down Under made the biggest impact!
#143 Buddy Matthews- The MCW Heavyweight Champion tops the list for the Aussies, with a strong presence in Australia as well as worldwide on AEW. PWI says:
"Affiliation: House of Black... Became world Trios title holder after defeating The Elite (with Brody King & Malakai Black) at AEW Revolution... Beat Mitch Waterman for Melbourne City Wrestling belt at "The House Always Wins" in February... Challenged Darby Allin (AEW TNT title) and KC Navarro (Warrior Wrestling Championship)."
#150 Bronson Reed- The Colossal Reed has made quite the splash (pun intended) on his return to WWE, destroying folks on Monday Night Raw. PWI says:
"CV: One-time NXT North American Champion... Former "JONAH" downed Kazuchika Okada in 2022 G1 Climax tournament... Shocked fans by returning to WWE Raw last December...Went on to defeat Akira Tozawa, Dolph Ziggler, and Shinsuke Nakamura... Competed in Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal".
I also want to add, Bronson was a killing machine inside the Elimination Chamber in February. More of that Bronson Reed, please.
#188 Kyle Fletcher- "Affiliation: Aussie Open...Returns to ranking this year after complementing a hugely successful tag run with solid solo work... With partner Mark Davis sidelined, became a singles competitor of note for Tony Khan's AEW and ROH... holds victories over Christopher Daniels, Robbie Eagles, and Action Andretti."
#211 Robbie Eagles- "Sports Background: Rugby... Australian native is still impressing international audiences... Won the MCW/PWA Colosseum tournament in his homeland...Challenged Claudio Castagnoli for the ROH World title in Florida... Successful New Japan outings saw him defeat BUSHI, Clark Connors, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, and YOH."
#235 Julian Ward- "Nickname: The Outlaw...Picked up SHWA championship and retained his EPW heavyweight belt in a winner-takes-all match in March, only to lose both titles the very same day to Michael Morleone... Australian standout ventured to North America, impressing fans at Millenium Pro (California) and Greektown Wrestling (Ontario)."
#250 Shazza McKenzie- "Tagline: #HEARTBREAKcore... fan favourite's bold decision to relocate from native Australia to US was foreshadowed in two-part IWTV docuseries... Defeated Danny Demento in violent deathmatch... Also beat Laynie Luck and Allie Katch in anything goes bouts... Faced AC Mack for Independent world title last October."
#261 Ricky South- "Signature Move- Down South Driver... "Downunder grappler "Tough Stuff" (sp) reigned as Pro Wrestling Australia heavyweight champion... Has held this distinction for more than two years, at time of this writing... Trainee of Robbie and Madison Eagles can both outwrestle and outwit foes."
#266 Adam Brooks- "Trained By: Buddy Matthews... Respected journeyman from Melbourne, Australia traversed the United States for competition... Battled third-gen talent Kerry Morton for the NWA... based on early efforts there, Pro Wrestling NOAH may be a nice fit moving forward."
#283 Tommy Knight- "Trained By: Bronson Reed... Named one of PWI's 2023 "top prospects", this has been a big year for the big man from Adelaide, South Australia... Held Wrestle Rampage National championship twice during evaluation period... Retained it over tag partner Slex... Battled Buddy Matthews for MCW Heavyweight title."
Editor's Note: He also owes me a beer!
#287 Corndog- "Nickname: Sauce God... Silly ring name belies sincere in-ring success... Wrestle Rampage National championship reign began and ended with matches against Tommy Knight, 203 days apart... Won 2022 Conquest tournament, defeating Rat Daddy in the final round... Also recorded solo wins over Punch-Drunk Istria and Julian Ward.
#309 Matt Hayter- "Hometown- Adelaide, South Australia... Held Riot City Wrestling title for nearly 300 days before dropping it to Cadie Tre last December... Challenged for Deathmatch Downunder championship, failing to unseat Gore... Defeated Luke Watts at IMPACT Australian Showcase... Throws a pretty wicked superkick."
#325 Emman Azman- We'll adopt him, why not. "Birthplace: Kuala Lumpur...Malaysian sensation has been plying his trade successfully in Australia... Downed Adam Brooks and Mick Moretti in triple-threat to become Melbourne City Wrestling Intercommonwealth champion... Also won MCW Ascension tourney... Clashed with Kerry Morton, Alex Taylor on NWA Aussie tour."
#327 Jessica Troy- "Prize Collection: Opponent's arms... Competed twice for NJPW during its treks to Australia... Defeated five foes in a ladder match to win PWA Black Label title shot... Overtook 29 competitors to win the PWA Rumble... Her submission game is just superb."
Editor's note: Your next PWA Heavyweight Champion, ladies and gentlemen!
#335 Cherry Stephens- "Hometown: Sydney, New South Wales... Spent nine months as Soul of PWA after unseating Mick Moretti (one of her trainers) last September... Retained over Jimmy Townsend, Kai Drake, and Michael Spencer before falling to Unsocial Jordan in June... Gave Jessica Troy a run for her money at NJPW Tamashii show."
#359 Mick Moretti- "Nickname: 'Rapscallion... Held Battle Championship Wrestling heavyweight title for entire evaluation period, recording defenses over Hijo del Vikingo, Taka Michinoku, PJ Black... Seven month reign as Melbourne City Wrestling Intercommonwealth champ ended with November 2022 to Emman Azman... Impressed against Hirooki Goto at NJPW Tamashii show."
#392 Joel Bateman- "Nickname: Smash Hit... Two-time American Deathmatch champ commenced second reign in July 2022, holding title for two months before falling to Kasey Kirk... Captured Deathmatch Downunder championship by defeating Callen Butcher in finals of DREAM tourney... Internationally respected hardcore warrior is tough to beat".
#413 Vixsin- "Wrestling Style: Deathmatch... Celebrated hardcore veteran of the Australian scene... Won the DMDU Deathmatch championship in October by defeating Joel Bateman... Semifinalist in the DREAM Tournament... Scored key wins over Tarlee, Mad Dog, and Danny Demanto in no-holds-barred environs."
#421 Unsocial Jordan- "Home Promotions: PWA Black Label, Newy Pro... Aussie vet had strong resurgence, enjoying stints as Newy Pro middleweight and Future Wrestling Australia heavyweight champion... Downed Cherry Stephens for Soul of PWA title on June 24... Challenged Mitch Waterman for Melbourne City Wrestling championship last autumn."
Editor's Note: Spring in Australia.
#461 Jimmy Townsend- "Accessory: Backpack... Nomadic spirit undertook brief, bicoastal US tour... Managed two reigns with International Wrestling Australia Trans-Tasman championship during evaluation period... Won PWA Black Label tag belts, teaming with trainer Mick Moretti... Beat Ricky South at Impact Wrestling Australian Showcase in Wagga Wagga."
#483 Cadie Tre- "Home Promotion: Riot City Wrestling... "Gunslinger" dispersing his brand of justice on South Australian scene... Defeated Matt Hayter for RCW championship last December and never let go of it... Previously wore promotion's Emerald Crown title... Turned back REDSHAW's challenge at April 15 Sin City Showdown event."
And that does it for the Aussies this year in the PWI 500! Who do you think should have made the cut? Who should have been ranked higher? I'm personally a bit shocked at the omission of Grayson Waller- I know he missed some time due to injury but I didn't think that would have disqualified him from ranking. But then again, as I said at the outset, it is a kayfabe list, and as talented and entertaining as Waller is, he did take a number of losses throughout the evaluation period, mostly just breaking through over the past couple of months on the main roster. There's always next year.
Until next time, keep killing it as always!