Thursday, August 23, 2012

PWI's 500: I Know Some of You

AAPW stars & guests in the PWI Top 500
Photo by Jason Wilkey
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Since 1991, Pro Wrestling Illustrated has featured the top 500 men and women in the world of wrestling.  Each year they've come up with a list that covers the major companies and the independent leagues.  When the issue first started coming out, I had a subscription to the magazine and never missed one.  But with the rise of the Internet, I'll admit I stopped buying PWI, Inside Wrestling, The Wrestler, and WWF (yeah back then the F was still there) magazines.

Who knew 20 years ago when I was reading those rankings that I would one day be able to lay claim to  actually knowing wrestlers on the list?  And I mean legitimately know, not just guys I've interviewed like the Miz, Lex Luger, or Hacksaw Duggan.  Several AAPW wrestlers and guests made an appearance on this year's list.

We'll talk more about the top ranking guys on Thursday's From the Rafters Radio show.  You can click this link to listen live at 7 p.m. CST or search us on iTunes.  It's no surprise to me that CM Punk tops this year's list.  It's a well deserved honor in my view.  I'd like to share with you the folks I have had an opportunity to work with over the last 18 months or so with AAPW.  If you've not heard some of these names, I'm sure you will in the not so distant future.

Matt Cross, El Generico, PAC, and Colt Cabana
AAPW Main Event
Photo by Brian Kelly
Colt Cabana (44), El Generico (82), PAC (88), and Matt Cross (188) all appeared for the first time at AAPW Main Event in January.  It was a pleasure getting a chance to not only see these guys wrestle, but to call their matches too.  PAC and Generico had an amazing match which was probably the most challenging bout I've ever done play-by-play for.  Matt Cross put up a good effort against the undefeated Pokerface. He also returned to AAPW recently for Summer Chaos. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be at the announce table for Colt's match against Eric Wayne as I was preparing for my own match that night.  I'm excited that Colt will be joining us again on October 20 for Zero Hour.  More details to follow on that event.

Ace Hawkins & Brandon Espinosa
AAPW Collision
Photo by Jason Wilkey
Ace Hawkins (295) and Brandon "Espy" Espinosa (311) are great on their own, but they also make an excellent tag team.  They've dropped their "Minor Threat" moniker as they want to prove to the AAPW tag team champs they're serious about winning the gold.  By the way, Ace also appeared on WWE Extreme Rules as "Aaron Relic" alongside AAPW standout Heath "Jay" Hatton in a match against Ryback.  Who can forget that two is greater than one?

Other notables include Adam Pearce (62) who is the current NWA World's Heavyweight Champion. He's bringing that 10 pounds of gold to Marion, Illinois on September 22 and will defend it against Hatton.  I'm looking forward to that match for several reasons and will talk more about it soon.  I can't wait to meet him as well.

Mike Sydal (335) is a rising star, wrestling for AAPW and ROH among other companies.  Mike has had several matches in AAPW and he's got a lot of energy.  He's fun to watch and will continue to climb the ladder of success, much like his older brother Evan Bourne.

Dave Osborne (428) has had a handful of matches with AAPW as well.  He has come a long way and continues to improve as well.

"Golden Boy" Greg Anthony vs. Heath Hatton
AAPW Main Event
Photo by Jason Wilkey
"Golden Boy" Greg Anthony (434) has always noted that he's as good as gold.  I like his style in the ring and miss him at AAPW.  He's got an incredible amount of passion for the business and it shows in his work and his promos.  Golden Boy has offered me advice not only on commentary, but as I geared up for my one and only match back in January.  His advice is always appreciated.

Perhaps one of the biggest miscarriages of justice (thanks Gorilla Monsoon) is the fact that Sara Del Rey is ranked at 430.  She's only the fourth woman to crack PWI's Top 500 in its 22 year history. I've only seen her wrestle live a couple of times for Chikara, and I can tell you she deserves a much better ranking.  Of course, I'm sure the editors at PWI have a very difficult time coming up with this list and I don't envy them at all.  You're never going to please everyone.

What are you thoughts on the list?  Remember, listen to From the Rafters Radio and weigh in on the discussion via Facebook or Twitter (@RaftersRadio, @my123cents)

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