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What’s Old #AndNEW Again

Mystery Pack #1: Classics

Introducing: Vintage Wrestling Magazine Packs

THREE YEARS INTO my tenure as PWI Editor-in-Chief, I continue to be amazed by the depth and breadth of the archives around Pro Wrestling Illustrated magazine and its sister publications.

The former London Publishing empire once adorned newsstands with numerous wrestling titles. Well before the 1979 debut of PWI, Stanley Weston’s team of journalists and photographers was responsible for numerous other titles. Most notably, these included Inside Wrestling and The Wrestler, which survived until about a decade ago as a two-in-one publication. Other former mags included the somewhat-sensationalist Sports Review Wrestling, the bold Wrestling Superstars, and the patriotic Wrestle America.

Over the last three years, I’ve frequently been asked whether any of these titles might ever be resurrected. My answer has always been this: If the demand is there, we will do our best to rise to meet it.

Wrestling Superstars, 1990s Turnbuckle Turkey Awards

For those among the PWI readership in search of the nostalgic rush of those fallen sister publications, I have some very exciting news: We’re now able to offer vintage mystery bundle packs from our archives!

Just recently, our fulfillment center uncovered a treasure trove of back issues from the London Publishing archives, with boxes full of well-preserved, unread magazines from the late-1970s through the early-2000s. Most of these publications fall under those aforementioned former titles, which we would call “sister publications” to PWI. Among them are Inside Wrestling, The Wrestler, and Sports Review Wrestling … there are even some immaculately kept PWI Almanac editions in the mix! In all cases, these are long, long out-of-print issues, many of which have been widely coveted by collectors on internet auction sites.

Inside Wrestling copies inside storage box

Of course, the last thing I wanted was for these books and magazines to sit in storage for any longer. Once the most recent issue of PWI was sent off to our printing plant, I canceled all my other plans and made the drive to our fulfillment center to take stock (literally and figuratively) of what was unearthed.

Carefully, I packed my car full of various titles of vintage pro wrestling magazines, and returned to the PWI offices, where I promptly organized and cataloged these precious tomes. Some will be added to our magazine archives for posterity and safekeeping. And yes, it is likely that many of these magazines will be digitized in the not-so-distant future. But the rest? Well …

Rather than start a bidding war over these classic wrestling mags, we figured the most democratic thing to do would be to offer them as part of the aforementioned mystery bundles. Yes, we are selling these for a bit more $$ than some of our more contemporary magazine bundle packs. However, we feel the contents more than justify the slightly higher price. Each mystery pack will be lovingly crafted, packed, and mailed out from the PWI offices, shipped by USPS Priority Mail to those who order them (tracking info available upon request). Dare we say … this is a wrestling mag collector’s dream?!

Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to own some amazing artifacts of yesteryear, presented in their original (sometimes wild and controversial) glory. Click on any of the bundles below to claim your piece(s) of wrestling history.

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Stardom’s Hazuki Talks “Tag Team 100,” WWE Divas, More

Hazuki vs. Mayu Iwatani

DESPITE HER YOUNG age (and two years missed due to early retirement), Stardom mainstay Hazuki has already created a glowing reputation amongst pro wrestling fans in all parts of the globe.

After returning to the ring and teaming with fellow Stardom vet Koguma to win the 2021 Goddesses of Stardom tag league tournament, this talented grappler out of Fukuoka, Japan, re-established herself as something of a tag team specialist. At the same time, the 25-year-old Hazuki remains a formidable challenger to any singles gold, memorably challenging Mercedes Mone for the IWGP Women’s title in a triple-threat at NJPW’s Sakura Genesis 2023.

Earlier this year, Hazuki was kind enough to answer some of our questions in writing via a translator. The exchange is included here.

FWC with partner Saya Iida ahead of a Stardom Triangle Derby match

PWI: Together with Koguma, you ranked #5 in the 2022 PWI “Tag Team” 100 list. How do you feel about FWC’s success and progress as a duo over that period?

HZK: I was extremely happy that FWC was ranked 5th in the world rankings, and I was even happier that we were ranked 1st amongst women. If we hadn’t made a comeback from our retirements, we wouldn’t have been in this ranking, so I’m really glad we made a comeback. FWC’s tag work is unmatched by any tag team, and it’s become our goal to aim even higher in the future.

PWI: Is your preparation for a big tag team bout different than for a singles match? If yes, how so?

HZK: Tag teams can make up for what each individual can’t do and help each other. When it comes to singles, it’s a battle of individual strength, so it’s different.

But, during the 5☆STAR Grand Prix tournament in 2022, I think everyone was able to see Hazuki’s individual strengths, and, because of that, I was able to think about how FWC should be as a tag team.

PWI: Do you have any interest in facing teams outside of Japan, perhaps from WWE, AEW, or IMPACT Wrestling?

HZK: I always want to fight with various tag teams. It’s difficult to make these matches, but I want to compete with various people around the world and see how good our tag team is.

As our tag name [Fukuoka Double Crazy] suggests, we are a crazy tag team in many ways, so we want to absorb various things from working with other tag teams and want fans to know more about our crazy nature.

PWI: You grew up a fan of WWE wrestlers Kelly Kelly and Nikki Bella. Do you think the so-called “Divas” era gets a bad rap, compared to the harder-hitting style we see in Japan or even WWE today?

HZK: Japanese pro wrestling and the Divas Era have different fighting styles, but I’m glad I fell in love with WWE and fell in love with the Divas division. Without it, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Professional wrestling is interesting because there are various fighting styles, and, when I became a pro wrestler, I realized that even more.

Hazuki attempts to submit Momo Kohgo in trios action

PWI: While growing up and watching WWE, did you watch any WrestleMania shows/matches? If so, please share with us some of your favorites and what you most enjoyed about them.

HZK: I have been to see WWE Live Events in Japan. At that time, I was in the back rows at Ryogoku Kokugikan, so it was far from the ring. But I had made a John Cena sign and waved it around when he made his entrance.

When I was watching it on TV, I was interested in CM Punk and Randy Orton, and trying to adopt some of their styles to my own.

Hazuki vs. Mayu Iwatani

PWI: What do you think it is about these events, such as WrestleMania, Wrestle Kingdom, and Stardom Dream Queendom, that leaves fans with such lasting memories?

HZK: Professional wrestling is a job that lets us live our dreams. And so, we want to have an atmosphere that will make you excited, just by our entrances, before the match even starts. And we hope those emotions make your day better.

When I saw WWE live, even though they were professional wrestlers just like me, their auras were different, and I almost cried feeling like I was a fan again.

Now, it’s my turn to stand in the ring, so I’ll do my best every day to impress the fans and give them hope and courage.

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The Hex (PWI June 2022 Alternate Cover)
Alternate Cover #1: June 2022 PWI

The National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) figures prominently into the June 2022 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated—on newsstands nows—with a feature story on reigning NWA World champion Matt Cardona and a special “12 Questions” feature with NWA World Women’s champions The Hex (Allysin Kay & Marti Belle). The magazine, which features former Raw Women’s champ Becky Lynch on the cover, also includes interviews with stars from WWE, AEW, and the independent circuit.

As you’ll note from the photo above, we’ve opted to create an alternate cover featuring reigning World Women’s tag champs The Hex—who, with their recent accomplishments, have quite palpably helped put women’s tag team wrestling back on the map. More on that in a moment …

While we ultimately decided to recreate this cover with an image of The Hex, we should extend credit for the idea to Matt Cardona, who has been campaigning for his own inclusion on the cover of PWI for months now. We outright acknowledged this in the Cardona feature in our June issue.

As we noted in our QRT reply, that’s not how this works, Matthew!

The issue escalated slightly when we informed Mr. Cardona that we wouldn’t submit to his demands. However, we pressed on (literally). After the issue was released, featuring Becky Lynch’s photo front and center, “The Broski” hit back with a new demand: that we release an alternate cover for the issue.

And here we are. While we agreed to Cardona’s request, we were quick to note that he never specified who or what should be on the cover. Enter The Hex, who, as mentioned above, is the subject of our latest “12 Questions” feature in the same issue.

In addition to not threatening us, vaguely or otherwise, Allysin Kay & Marti Belle made history last year by winning the newly reintroduced NWA World Women’s tag team title in a tournament final at NWA Empowerrr. Since then, they’ve gone on to wear tag team gold in prominent women’s promotions SHINE and Pro Wrestling: EVE in the U.S. and U.K., respectively. They’ve also defended the NWA tag belts proudly in the NWA, various independent promotions, and even overseas.

For that reason, we are thrilled to offer this free, digital-only download of our OFFICIAL Alternate Cover (same specs as our print magazine) for the June 2022 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, featuring Kay & Belle with their World tag team title belts. Hope you enjoy the cover, champs!


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Corrections for PWI April 2022

Corrections for PWI April 2022

We have a few relatively minor, yet regrettable corrections to report for the latest issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

Missing photo credits on page 60 and 61, respectively:

Good Brothers & Brandon Cutler (Lee South/AEW) Second Gear Crew (Earl Gardner)

Author byline on page 39:

Terry Funk (Brian R. Solomon); This error was fixed for the digital edition of the magazine.

As always, we greatly appreciate all of our contributors and do our best to make sure they’re properly attributed. My apologies, once again, for the errors in this issue. -K.M.

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Full spread (dual cover) of April 2022 PWI

FROM THE DESK OF … [April 2022 PWI; A Plea To MJF]

Full spread (dual cover) of April 2022 PWI
Back/front cover of PWI April 2022 issue

TEMPTING AS IT is to use this space to reminisce about 2021, that’s not what I’m going to do here. At the risk of seeming biased, I’ve instead got some things I’d like to say about Maxwell Jacob Friedman.

This year, MJF took home PWI’s notorious Most Hated Wrestler of the Year Award in what amounted to a landslide. He received more votes for Most Hated than any winner in any other category. He’s ably played his job as a villain, although he’s crossed a few lines that some of us wished he wouldn’t have. (That comment about Melanie Pillman? C’mon, Max.)

Friedman has made a choice to be detestable, and it’s mostly working out. As much as he claims to be “Salt Of The Earth,” he’s been pretty much untouchable in AEW. And, when I say “untouchable,” I mean that literally. Over the last 12 months or so, MJF has talked a much bigger game than he’s played, leaning heavily on his cohorts in The Pinnacle or, just as often, choosing not to compete at all.

And I get it. After all, it’s pretty easy to boast a high win-loss percentage when you take most weeks off from competition.

At press time, MJF has wrestled about a dozen-and-a-half times in 2021. Compare that with 2019, when he signed with AEW—and wrestled 84 matches. Sure, it’s important not to burn yourself out, but Friedman enjoys a relatively light schedule compared to the other “Pillars Of AEW.” For instance, Jungle Boy has wrestled 52 matches in 2021, as of this writing.

It’s certainly not because MJF can’t go. He’s in incredible shape; has remarkable stamina. He’s proven that he’s a great mat wrestler, showcasing technical ability that rivals his ego. His talents between matches—his vicious promos, his singing voice—are proof positive that he’s not only gifted, but willing to put in the work. And yet … he trades verbal insults far more than holds.

Deep down, I’m convinced MJF doubts his own merit. Though he appears confident, he’s taken shortcut after shortcut to win matches, and he’s made opponents, like Chris Jericho, jump through hoops merely for the chance to punch him in the mouth.

And that mouth. Whew! There’s no denying MJF has a unique ability to talk fans into seats, and foes into encounters they may not be quite ready for. The guy, for all his faults, has “Future World Champion” written all over him. But he’s not going to get there unless he allows himself to be vulnerable—to take the chance that he might actually get his butt kicked more often.

Max, if you happen to read this—and I have a feeling you might—please realize you won’t get where you want to be by coasting. Get out there and wrestle. Wrestle at least half as much as you talk. And rely on your actual abilities inside the ring. Because, at the end of the day, you’re good enough to be the star you already say you are. But, first, you need to get out of your own way.

Kevin McElvaney

Pro Wrestling Illustrated



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FROM THE VAULT: Baba and Vince Open the Forbidden Door

Giant Baba, Vince McMahon, and Seiki Sakaguchi pose together for a photo

FROM THE VAULT: Baba and Vince Open the Forbidden Door (updated 11/19/21)

VINCE MCMAHON. GIANT Baba. Together in the same ring. The 2,350 FANS in attendance at Korakuen Hall on January 28, 1990, were in for a big surprise. As recently as the early-1980s, McMahon’s WWF had enjoyed a solid relationship with All Japan’s biggest competitor, New Japan Pro-Wrestling. Suffice to say, no one was expecting Vince McMahon and Giant Baba to show up on the final day of AJPW’s New Year Giant series.

But that’s exactly what happened. On a show that saw All Japan Pro Wrestling founder Giant Baba defeat American journeyman Rip Rogers in a singles bout—along with the swan song of The British Bulldogs—no less than Vincent Kennedy McMahon made his way to the ring to address the crowd.

Vince McMahon waves to the crowd at Korakuen Hall, January 1990
Vince McMahon waves to the crowd at Korakuen Hall as Giant Baba looks on.

The above photo, along with the forthcoming photos in this entry, was sent to the Pro Wrestling Illustrated offices by a Japanese freelance photographer who asked us not to name them. This person specifically cited the fact that McMahon appeared in the photographs as the reason for their anonymity. Regardless, the veteran photographer seemed excited to share the photos in question.

As one might guess, Vince wasn’t simply in town as a tourist, opting to take in a show at one of Japan’s most historic combat sports venues. He was there on business. McMahon took the microphone and announced to the crowd that the WWF would be teaming up with not just AJPW, but NJPW, as well. The three promotions would come together to present the WWF/AJPW/NJPW Wrestling Summit.

Giant Baba, Vince McMahon, and Seiki Sakaguchi pose together for a photo
From left to right: AJPW President Giant Baba, WWF President Vince McMahon, and NJPW President Seiji Sakaguchi pose together for a photo.

The event, which emanated from the Tokyo Dome on April 13, 1990, was attended by more than 53,000 people. Despite not being released officially in the U.S., it was voted Best Major Wrestling Show in that year’s Wrestling Observer Awards. With an undercard that included a bout between Bret Hart and Tiger Mask, the show featured Andre The Giant and Giant Baba teaming up to take on Demolition, and the main event pitting Hulk Hogan against Stan Hansen.

Vince McMahon shakes Giant Baba's hand
Backstage at Korakuen Hall, Vince McMahon shakes the hand of Giant Baba.

In 2021, promotions are increasingly working together for the greater good. From the contemporary IWGP Conception, which saw NJPW copromote with Ring of Honor and CMLL, to the current, extensive interplay between AEW, IMPACT, the NWA, and other companies, cooperation is arguably one of the most exciting things about today’s wrestling landscape. Given WWE’s history of partnering with promotions overseas—and, later, giving visibility to upstarts like ECW and EVOLVE—is it really so hard to imagine the industry leader doing so once again?

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PWI Women’s 150 – Top 5 Revealed

2021 PWI Women’s 150 – The Top 5 Revealed!

As revealed by PWI Contributing Writer Kristen Ashly on the latest episode of Renee Paquette’s Oral Sessions, WWE superstar Bianca Belair is the #1 ranked wrestler in this year’s PWI “Women’s 150.”

The January 2022 issue of Pro Wrestling Illustratedavailable now for preorder—includes this year’s ranking in its entirety, plus special coverage of NWA EmPowerrr, Ring of Honor’s Quest for Gold tournament, and Ashly’s extensive “Hotseat” interview with Paquette.

Belair, who memorably main-evented this year’s WrestleMania against Sasha Banks, tops the list on the strength of that victory, her victory in the 2021 Royal Rumble match, and her prominent position on WWE Smackdown—along with a string of high-quality championship defenses and a remarkable win-loss record. Heading into her world title loss to Becky Lynch at SummerSlam, Belair had not lost a singles match since last December.

The number-two ranked wrestler, Utami Hayashishita, is a former runner-up for PWI’s Rookie of the Year award (2019). The reigning World of Stardom champion at the time of this writing, she is the highest-ranked representative of a Japanese promotion in the history of our annual women’s ranking.

Since its inception in 1979, Pro Wrestling Illustrated has been considered the world’s #1 professional wrestling magazine. And, 40 years on, we pride ourselves on covering wrestling as both sport and art form. Our annual women’s wrestling ranking, which is released each year after our much-discussed PWI “500” list, began in 2008 as the “Female 50.” As women began to take on a more prominent role in North American wrestling, the list expanded to become the “Women’s 100” in 2018.

The “Women’s 150,” which focuses primarily on the in-ring success of wrestlers competing in women’s divisions and promotions, is based on the evaluation period beginning October 1, 2020, and ending September 30, 2021. In order to qualify for the list, wrestlers must have competed in at least 10 matches or, if less than 10 matches, in six bouts in six separate months during the evaluation period.

Criteria for the “Women’s 150” list included:

  • In-Ring Achievement (championships, tournaments, win-loss record)
  • Influence (in one’s home promotion and the industry at large)
  • Technical Ability
  • Breadth and Quality of Competition
  • Activity

For posterity, here are the top five wrestlers ranked in this year’s “150” issue:

  1. Bianca Belair
  2. Utami Hayashishita
  3. Deonna Purrazzo
  4. Britt Baker
  5. Thunder Rosa

CLICK HERE to preorder the print edition of our January 2022 “Women In Wrestling” issue, which contains the “Women’s 150” list in its entirety. It ships out to subscribers soon, followed by internet preorder customers. The magazine will be available on newsstands beginning November 9, 2021.

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What’s The Deal With The Weekly Ratings?

What’s The Deal With The Weekly Ratings? — PWI’s Weekly and Monthly Top 10 Lists Explained

FOR ABOUT AS long as we’ve been compiling weekly and monthly wrestling ratings—online and in our magazines—we’ve been asked about the criteria used for determining them. How do we narrow each roster down to a top 10? And, for that matter, how do we choose who ranks in the overall categories?

As with our annual rankings, such as the PWI “500,” the individual rankings are primarily based on what goes on between bells and between the ropes. Per our official ratings page:

Criteria for ranking includes championships held/defended, win-loss record, push, and technical ability.

Some of those criteria are clearer than others. Championships held and defended, as well as wins and losses, are objective metrics. Push is a little more squishy and subjective, as what constitutes a push (or momentum, influence, etc.) will vary from promotion to promotion. Technical ability is another pretty tenuous way to evaluate a wrestler, even if there’s a general consensus about what solid move execution might look like. And, as we know, this is not always the case.

Evaluation becomes even trickier when comparing wrestlers from across promotions, as we do with our top three categories (Heavyweight, Women’s, and Tag Team rankings). That’s a big part of why we have a weekly and monthly ratings committee, along with a team tasked with putting together our triad of annual rankings.

When people ask how we compile the PWI “500,” I like to tell them that we’re using objective metrics, but evaluating those metrics as subjective human beings. Yes, we’ll look closely at win/loss records and lengths of championship reigns. But we’re not running some formulas through a computer programmed to spit out the list. Instead, we try to take into account the meaning behind the numbers—what they represented within a promotion and the industry at large. Randy Orton may have a poorer win-loss record than his AEW equivalent, but he may have main-evented more shows, faced tougher competition, and put on better matches.

PAWD Wrestling champion Trish Adora applies an armbar on Tony Deppen during their February 14 Iron Match. (PHOTO BY JAYLEE PHOTOGRAPHY)

Historically, we placed a great deal of weight on WWE’s place at the mountaintop. And, to some degree, we still do. The company is the industry leader throughout the world, and it will likely continue to be for quite some time. But, as a publication that has always viewed wrestling as a sport, we’ve also noted some changes in how it’s being presented. We’ve even expanded our definition of what constitutes a world championship.

The COVID-19 pandemic has leveled the playing field somewhat in that regard, making it so that WWE talent didn’t automatically wrestle dozens more matches (especially televised ones) than any other American talent. Additionally, streaming services like IWTV and WRESTLE UNIVERSE have greatly expanded the influence of independent and international pro wrestling. These changes are all reflected in our ratings.

All of these things are taken into consideration with our weekly and monthly ratings. After all, the “500,” “Women’s 100,” and “Tag Team 50” are, essentially, annual extensions of those regularly updated top 10 lists.

One fairly recent change to our rankings is the blurring and blending of gender lines. Previously, women would only appear on the overall Women’s Top 10 list. In more recent years, women have crossed those imaginary lines and thrived. Some have won heavyweight titles traditionally associated with men. Meanwhile, women’s tag team wrestling has become far more prominent, between WWE’s introduction of multiple tag championships, the revival of the Knockouts tag team belts, and the efforts of promotions like Japan’s World Wonder Ring Stardom.

As those wrestlers have thrived, PWI has tried to recognize their efforts. The “500” is once again open to women who compete in intergender matches, and our tag team rankings are no longer segregated by gender. Since opportunities for women are still fewer, we’ve opted to continue with our overall Women’s rankings, with the caveat that they focus more on women’s divisions and promotions than on any intergender competition.

Syuri & Giulia, collectively known as ALK, are, at the time of this writing, the reigning Goddess of Stardom (tag team) champs. They’ve stood out recently as one of the world’s premier tag teams, regardless of gender. (PHOTO ©STARDOM)

Is this a perfect system? Surely not. And it’ll likely continue to evolve as the old ways do. In the unlikely event that promotions like WWE, AEW, New Japan, and Lucha Libre AAA get rid of gender distinctions, we would almost certainly follow suit. Until then, we’re doing our best to reflect the current state of the industry.

To that end, we’ve continued to grow our weekly and monthly ratings by adding new categories. For example, we list the top 10 contenders to the IWTV Independent Wrestling World title and have recently added an official countrywide ranking for Australia. If you have any suggestions for our ratings page, feel free to drop me a line at

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“Punk Appears Or We Riot” (Metaphorically)

CM Punk, Starrcast 2019

“Punk Appears Or We Riot” (Metaphorically)

LOOK … CLICKBAIT HEADLINES aside, I’m not suggesting that fans will actually riot at a wrestling show in the year 2021. But the hype surrounding this Friday’s edition of Rampage—the follow-up to last week’s celebrated series premiere—has officially reached a boil. And, much as I don’t expect actual, physical unrest at the venue, All Elite Wrestling had better deliver what fans expect, or the company is going to have one upset fanbase on its hands.

Let’s take a look at the facts, shall we? The show is in CM Punk’s hometown of Chicago. The United Center holds 23,500. That’s an awfully big venue for a one-hour show in which nothing of note happens. And the fact that so much hype surrounded the announcement of the live event is another tip in the direction that the rumors are, in fact, true.

If Punk shows up on Rampage, this will be his first official wrestling appearance since his 2014 WWE departure. Even at his most popular, the former world champion was not everyone’s cup of tea. But, for the thousands of fans who still chant his name at WWE live events, his returning to the ring would be a very big deal.

CM Punk, Starrcast 2019
CM Punk fields questions at Starrcast 2019. (PHOTO BY GEORGE NAPOLITANO)

Of course, AEW hasn’t merely let fans quietly speculate about Punk’s rumored return. Instead, the company has doused gasoline all over the proverbial fire. The most obvious example has to be Darby Allin’s on-air willingness to fight “The Best In The World.” But there have been other hints.

It’s safe to say that more than a few fans purchased tickets for Rampage who may not otherwise have done so. Add to that the countless wrestling enthusiasts planning to stay in this Friday night to catch the second episode of AEW’s second cable series live, as it airs. Suffice to say, those folks wouldn’t take kindly to all this hype being for naught. The goodwill that has been earned through a particularly strong stretch of programming—one that saw Dynamite averaging more than one million viewers per week—could easily be squandered.

CM Punk reluctantly shakes the hand of “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson after their singles match at ROH Reborn: Stage One. (PHOTO BY WAYNE McCARTY)

In other words, if Punk doesn’t show up this Friday night, the company had better have something else in store, whether that’s a major title change, a huge storyline development, or another game-changing debut (Daniel Bryan, anyone?). While it’s perfectly fine to tease debuts or dream matches, this is a critical point for AEW. As the company continues to grow, reputation is important. And the last thing fans want to see is a bait-and-switch of this size.

Of course, this is all speculation at the moment. But one thing is for sure: Between Kenny Omega, Christian Cage, and Adam Page, things are already pretty crowded near the top of the card. The addition of CM Punk would make the main-event scene on Dynamite that much more competitive.

And, honestly? That might be a good thing.

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From The Desk Of … (April ’21)

From The Desk Of … (April ’21)

By the time you read this, 2020 will officially be in the rearview mirror. This was a difficult year for wrestling. Government-mandated shutdowns led promotions around the world to shutter their doors … some never to reopen. Economic concerns forced reliable venues to close, as well as some journeyman independent grapplers to hang up their boots for good. With independent wrestling events shut down worldwide, the #SpeakingOut movement offered survivors of abuse and assault a receptive audience to share their stories. While the movement was inspiring, the alleged conditions that led to it were, of course, anything but.

WWE and AEW continued to operate, running shows throughout the pandemic. Each company was impacted at various points by COVID—not only because of lost revenue, but by talent and crew who either contracted the virus or had to quarantine after being exposed to it. Fans and pundits alike continue to debate whether running shows in 2020 was actually a good idea, but you know what they say about hindsight.

Personally, 2020 was a year of tremendous highs and lows. If you’re a regular reader, you likely know that I was tapped by Stu Saks to take over the role of Editor-in-Chief of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. It’s been an absolute joy to work on this magazine full-time. I’ve learned so much about the history of PWI while aiming to help it evolve. But, away from PWI, this has been the most challenging year I could have imagined.

Back in April, my grandmother, who had long suffered from dementia (and lived in a nursing home), was taken from us by COVID. Hundreds of thousands of families this year came to know the pain of mourning that was delayed, isolated, or otherwise less than ideal.

Around the same time my grandmother passed, my wife Megan was struggling with escalating G.I. issues that were clearly more serious than the acid reflux her doctor had initially suspected. It took us months of specialist appointments and tests to learn that she was actually battling advanced bile duct cancer, which had spread to her liver.

Megan, who hasn’t yet turned 35, is the kindest, most thoughtful person you could meet—the kind of person who feels a real responsibility to the world around her. She’s devoted countless weekends to helping shelter animals. She offers to babysit for free because she loves kids (and their parents). She even learned how to make her own soap because she heard recycling plastic was bad for the environment. As you can imagine, her diagnosis has hit all of us—Megan, myself, her loved ones—pretty hard.

I know that many of our readers have battled a horrific disease like cancer (or loved someone who has). Please know that my thoughts are with you. Witnessing Megan’s battle, doing whatever I can to support her, I see the toll serious illness can take.

As an optimist, I’d like to leave you with this: Now, as always, professional wrestling offers me a measure of comfort through the dark and unknown. Whether you’re a lifelong fan or someone who just picked up this magazine on a whim, I sincerely hope that the squared circle provides some light for you, too. And I hope that PWI, even if only in some small way, helps enhance and enrich your enjoyment of this beautiful sport/art form/catharsis we know as professional wrestling. Thank you for reading … and thank you for being a fan.