Kazuchika Okada PWI 500

Photo: NJPW

Kazuchika Okada Tops 2017 PWI 500

IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada is at the top of the 2017 PWI 500. In past years, the list has normally run along kayfabe lines (with Roman Reigns being last year’s number one), but this year, they seem to have actually gone with the best wrestler in the world.

Okada held the championship throughout the entire evaluation period, July 31, 2016 to June 30, 2017, defending it against the likes of Naomichi Marufuji and Kenny Omega. The trilogy of matches between Omega and Okada are arguably the best matches of the modern era.

PWI Senior Writer Dan Murphy had the following to say about Okada’s topping this year’s list:

“What this award signifies is that wrestling fans and media worldwide are thinking about what promotion and what wrestler deserves their attention, and the answer is Okada. It’s an indication that finally the world at large is realizing just how great Japanese wrestlers and Japanese wrestling is, and that’s special.”

Okada is the first Japanese wrestler to ever top the PWI 500. He’s been in the top 10 for four of the past five years, including a second-place finish last year. In past years, Kenta Kobashi made it to number four on the list on three occasions and Keji Muto ranked number three once, but no other Japanese professional wrestler has ever made it to the top spot.

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