Commenting on Pro Wrestling Illustrated's annual PWI 500 list of the best wrestlers in the world is an equally annual event here at Scouring Monk (last year it ended up at Fan Companion, for the record).
This year's list was topped by CM Punk, and really, it couldn't have been anyone else. Last June he unleashed a pipebomb heard 'round the world, ranting about a lack of respect from WWE and the backstage politics that'd kept him down. Then he beat John Cena in Chicago, walked out, and made a surprise return. Last November he defeated Alberto Del Rio for the heavyweight championship he still holds today, defeating the likes of Chris Jericho, Daniel Bryan, and Mark Henry during the grading period, roughly July 2011 to July 2012.
Yes, it's all scripted, but Punk has been the man for more than a year. Cena's the company man, but it's Punk who's managed to steal enough of the thunder that when they clash, it's not guaranteed that Cena will win. In fact more often than not, Punk wins (including at last weekend's Night of Champions).
TNA's Bobby Roode came in second, and that's fair, too. After last year's controversial loss to Kurt Angle at Bound for Glory (TNA's WrestleMania), Roode completed his journey to the top by defeating his own Beer Money tag team partner, James Storm, adding two homegrown stars to the main event scene. Roode has frequently been questionable as a personality, but he embraced, much like John Bradshaw Layfield some seven years earlier, the chance to be champion, and only lost the title a few months ago.
Cena came in third, because he's John Cena and can't help but be in the spotlight, even when he isn't champion. Daniel Bryan, the unlikeliest of superstars, raised his pointer fingers and shouted "Yes!" all the way to fourth, while Sheamus, the man who humiliated him at WrestleMania this year, came in fifth (I'd argue that these positions could easily be flipped, but won't protest too much).
Jun Akiyama is the token international finisher in the top ten at sixth, and his entry is fairly impenetrable for anyone who doesn't follow Japanese wrestling closely. Davey Richards, meanwhile, is the ROH representative. Considering that when Daniel Bryan (then known as Brian Danielson) and Punk were in ROH they never made the top ten, it stretches credulity to claim Richards belongs ahead of them as far as legacies at this level go. Come back a few years from now and compare where his career stands versus where Punk and Bryan are now, and still try to defend this ranking, PWI.
Kurt Angle, the warhorse of professional wrestling, comes in eighth, representing TNA, which seems a little generous, but PWI has a habit of exaggerating the year of veterans. Mark Henry is equally exaggerated in ninth, because everyone went bonkers when he won the world championship last year, even though the only thing he did differently was get the company blessing for the first time in fifteen years. Parable about patience, I guess. I always liked the guy, but it was funny to see everyone else finally like him, too. Alberto Del Rio rounds out the top ten at tenth, mostly because he missed some time. Otherwise it was his destiny to rank higher. Because he won't have had nearly as good a year in the current grading period, otherwise known as what the 2013 PWI 500 is shaping up to be. (Hint: Punk will likely take the top spot again, unless he somehow screws up all the momentum he's still riding.)
And there are four hundred ninety other wrestlers. I have not read the rest of it, but PWI did acknowledge and attempt to retroactively correct some glaring mistakes, which I appreciate, including the omission (and subsequent inclusion) of Hiroshi Tanahashi, a Japanese star who actually does transcend his scene. He's worked to a very limited extent in TNA and has been compared to Shawn Michaels. If WCW were still in business, there's no doubt that he'd have more exposure today.
Anyway, watched the debut of Revolution last night on NBC. I think NBC finally figured out how to do a genre show that might last for longer than a season. But we'll see. I'll be watching.
I'll be going to see The Avengers today, a second viewing of a movie I've been conflicted about all summer. Hopefully I'll better know what I think of it by this evening.
I'm writing about the PWI 500 because I got my copy in the mail yesterday, along with the 2012 Wrestling Almanac & Book of Facts, another annual release from PWI that I regularly find myself consulting. I also got my order of Stephen King's 11/22/63 (plus a hardcover of Grant Morrison's Batman R.I.P., which ended up being free because of a previous order). Being a very amateur obsessive of the JFK assassination, I had at least two reasons to be interested in King's latest book, plus the fact that "Castle Rock" is finally allowed to be Lisbon Falls, ME, which is my hometown and direct neighbor to King's (Durham, for the record). It's home to Moxie, a disgusting (but getting better!) holdover of the original soft drink phenomenon from the 19th century, and subject of an annual town festival, thanks in part to Frank Anicetti, the sage of Main Street, who appears as a character in the book.
I think, without even having read it yet, King's effort has already changed my mind on the famous conspiracy, thanks to an included quote from Norman Mailer, which basically states that some people refuse to believe Lee Harvey Oswald could have acted alone because he's just so random an assassin that it doesn't ken to what we want to believe must have been necessary to pull off the murder of a giant like JFK. Shakespeare's Brutus he was not. And yet, it does make sense.
Doesn't particularly mean that the official story really is the true story, but I can begin to swallow it a little more easily now.