Top 5 WWE Superstars in the PWI 500 list
Pro Wrestling Illustrated recently released its list of the 500 best wrestlers in the world for 2021, with many WWE names in the mix. AEW World Champion Kenny Omega was named number one, but which stars from Vince McMahon’s promotion ranked the highest?
The PWI 500 is based on several criteria, including in-ring ability, win-loss record, and influence on the sport. The evaluation period for 2021’s list was from July 1st, 2020, through June 30th, 2021.
The higher spots have been occupied by some expected names. Four WWE Superstars are in the Top 10, with a further two more in the Top 15. Big E has just missed out on this list, coming in at #13 in the PWI 500.
Anyways, let’s take a look at the five highest-ranked WWE Superstars in this illustrious list.
#5 Randy Orton – No. 12 in the PWI 500 (WWE RAW)
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) October 26, 2020
Randy Orton ended the first half of 2020 on a high, having defeated Edge in the ‘Greatest Wrestling Match Ever’ at Backlash. He feuded with Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship over the summer and fall, even winning the belt inside Hell in a Cell.
However, The Viper lost it in his first defense to The Scottish Warrior. Orton spent a lot of the following months feuding with Bray Wyatt and Alexa Bliss. While the story was questionable, his two victories over The Fiend will have helped a lot in his ranking in the PWI 500.
Following his win over the former WWE star at WrestleMania 37, Randy Orton formed a tag team with Riddle. However, RK-Bro’s Tag Team Title win came outside the evaluation period and will be considered for next year’s PWI 500.
#4 Finn Balor – No. 8 in the PWI 500 (WWE NXT)
Finn Balor is now a 2x NXT Champion
— Alastair McKenzie🏴 (@mckenzieas93V2) September 9, 2020
While he is now on SmackDown, Finn Balor spent a couple of years in NXT before crowds returned in July. He had a stellar run there and enjoyed a seven-month-long NXT Championship reign.
Balor defended the title in hard-hitting clashes against Kyle O’Reilly, Pete Dunne, and Adam Cole. The Prince truly elevated NXT during his time there, rejuvenating his career in the process. He feels like a big star once again, as a result.
If WWE maintains his momentum following his feud with Roman Reigns over the Universal Championship, Finn Balor could have a strong position in next year’s PWI 500 too.
#3 Drew McIntyre – No. 4 in the PWI 500 (WWE RAW)
Just like in last year’s PWI 500, former WWE Champion Drew McIntyre was named the fourth-best wrestler in the world. He continued his momentum from winning the title at WrestleMania 36 and remained in the main event scene for the entirety of the evaluation period.
The Scottish Warrior had a long rivalry with Randy Orton last year, during which he lost the WWE Title but quickly won it back. McIntyre enjoyed successful defenses against the likes of AJ Styles, Keith Lee and Goldberg before losing the belt via a Money in the Bank cash-in from The Miz.
He was locked in an angle with Bobby Lashley from WrestleMania 37 until Hell in a Cell, the final WWE pay-per-view during the PWI 500’s evaluation period.
#2 Bobby Lashley – No. 3 in the PWI 500 (WWE RAW)
Like their rivalry this year, Bobby Lashley just about beats Drew McIntyre. He enjoyed a career-defining twelve months from July 2020 to June 2021. The All-Mighty got rid of Lana and formed The Hurt Business with MVP, Shelton Benjamin, and Cedric Alexander.
He would go on to have a dominant six-month-long reign as the United States Champion. Eight days after losing the US Title, Bobby Lashley won the WWE Championship by squashing The Miz. He has held the belt ever since.
The All-Mighty WWE Champion has shown incredible dominance and consistency over the past year, with his matches with Drew McIntyre standing out among WWE’s best during the ‘Pandemic Era’ and justifying his position on the list.
#1 Roman Reigns – No. 2 in the PWI 500 (WWE SmackDown)
Roman Reigns objectively should have been #1 on the PWI 500 list pic.twitter.com/cZnjQJ0Oid
— Bonafide Heat (@BonafideHeat) September 8, 2021
As if there was any doubt. Roman Reigns is WWE’s top Superstar currently. In fact, he could have very easily been ranked number one in the PWI 500.
The Tribal Chief’s body of work ever since his shocking return at SummerSlam 2020 has been world-class. Reigns is on another level, both in the ring and as a character. He has elevated everybody that crossed his path, as well as WWE as a whole.
The Head of the Table has adopted an incredibly dominant role that fits him to a tee and continues to wow us with his storytelling expertise. Every feud Roman Reigns has been a part of has been excellent, with the subsequent match being among the best at their respective pay-per-views.
Many fans are not happy with Roman Reigns not getting the top spot on the PWI 500 list. After having such a dominating year, Reigns not being at the top does come as a bit of a surprise. #RomanReigns #PWI500 #Smackdown #WWERaw pic.twitter.com/z9cAmXRvmC
— RomanReignsSquad (@Wwe_RomanReign) September 8, 2021
The standouts include his emotional series with the Usos, the Champion vs. Champion match with Drew McIntyre, and his triple-threat WrestleMania main event against Daniel Bryan and Edge. The PWI 500’s evaluation period ended before his mega main events against Edge and John Cena.
As long as Roman Reigns maintains this insanely high level he is currently on, he very well may become number one in the PWI 500 for 2022.