1993 marked the third installment of the PWI 500. The previous two years saw Hulk Hogan and Sting win the number one spot respectively. Hogan being a star from the 80s and Sting being a rising star for WCW since the late 80s. 1993 would see a new face of the WWF rise up the ranks to take the number one spot.
The grading period appeared to be from August 1st, 1992 to July 31st, 1993.
To view the complete list of where wrestlers landed, check that out HERE.
Now, here are the notable rankings for the year 1993.
The Top Ten:
1.) Bret Hart
2.) Big Van Vader
3.) Shawn Michaels
6.) Ric Flair
7.) Lex Luger
8.) Rick Rude
9.) Curt Hennig
10.) Scott Steiner
Sure, he lost the WWF Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam, but Bret Hart wasted very little time recapturing gold around his waist. Bret achieved the highest goal in the WWF by winning the WWF World Championship from Ric Flair on October 12th, 1992. Bret would successfully defend the belt against Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series, Razor Ramon at Royal Rumble 1993, and Bam-Bam Bigelow on the house shows until dropping the belt to the rookie monster Yokozuna in April ’93 at WrestleMania IX. Despite the loss, Hart would finish the grading period strong by winning the first ever televised King of the Ring tournament. By the end of the period, he was involved in a feud with Jerry Lawler.
Vader lost the WCW World Championship to Ron Simmons on August 2nd, a day into the grading period. He would regain the strap on December 30th and would hang onto the belt for the entire grading period, aside from a six day run that Sting had with the belt. Vader had a memorable feud with Cactus Jack in April where he took out the daredevil on WCW Saturday Night. He also introduced the moonsault to American television by performing the move at Beach Blast, where he and Sid Vicious lost to Sting and Davey Boy Smith.
In the fall of 1992, Michaels claimed his first singles championship by defeating the British Bulldog on a Saturday Night’s Main Event. Michaels lost to Bret at Survivor Series, but entered 1993 on a strong note by defeating former friend Marty Jannetty at the Royal Rumble. Michaels had some issues with Tatanka as he lost several matches against the undefeated superstar. However, Michaels retained the title at WrestleMania IX when Michaels was counted out. Michaels kept a strong hold on the WWF Intercontinental Championship until the May 19th edition of RAW where he loss to Marty Jannetty, who made a surprise return. Michaels regained the belt at a house show in Albany and defeated Jannetty on the 7/19 RAW.
Aside from a six day run, Sting didn’t taste any WCW World Championship gold. For the most part, Sting was saddled with mid card feuds and teaming with Davey Boy Smith. Sting had a infamous feud with Jake Roberts that ended in a Coal Miners glove match at Halloween Havoc, which Sting won. Sting came up short in one of the best strap matches against Vader at Superbrawl III. Despite the losses to Vader, Sting did beat Vader to win the King of the Cable tournament at Starrcade ’92. With the lack of big time wins, Sting may have been ranked a little high.
A top five debut for a new wrestler is not a bad way to make a splash in the PWI 500. That’s exactly what Yokozuna managed to do. He debuted for the WWF by the fall of 1992 and made claim that 1993 would be his year when he won the Royal Rumble in January, and followed that up by winning the WWF World Championship at WrestleMania IX. Thirty-seconds after the win, he lost the belt to Hulk Hogan, but thankfully would regain the title at King of the Ring in June. Yokozuna was a fighting champion, as well. He constantly defended against the likes of Jim Duggan and Bret Hart. He also had a solid match with Crush on the 7/12 RAW. A week prior to that match, Yokozuna had found his new challenger in Lex Luger when Luger was able to slam the champion on the USS Intrepid on July 4th.
The grading period was an interesting one for Ric Flair. In the summer of 1992, Flair was the top heel for the WWF and would win the WWF World Championship for a second time on September 1st by beating long time rival, Randy Savage. He’d lose the belt just over a month later to Bret Hart. By the end of 1992, Flair and lost his best friend, Mr. Perfect, due to Perfect teaming with Randy Savage to beat Flair and Razor Ramon at Survivor Series. On the January 25th edition of RAW, Flair lost a memorable Loser Leaves WWF match to Mr. Perfect. Flair quickly returned to WCW, but wouldn’t wrestle for several months. He would return to the ring teaming with Arn Anderson to go for the WCW World Tag Team Championships, held by the Hollywood Blonds. Although they didn’t walk away with the gold, Flair would regain championship gold when he defeated Barry Windham at Beach Blast on July 18th to close out the grading period.
Luger didn’t make his debut for the WWF until January ’93 as he was part of the failed WBF promotion that was the creation of Vince McMahon. Lex would feud with Mr. Perfect and was victorious at WrestleMania IX. Also seemingly forgotten about, Luger attacked Bret Hart at the WrestleMania IX press conference and wrestled the former champion several times on house shows. At the time, Luger was a narcissist and used a metal plate in his forearm to get victorious. He was a favorite to win the King of the Ring, but came up short when he and Tatanka wrestled to a draw. Out of nowhere, Lex Luger turned baby face and became a pro America character when he slammed Yokozuna on the USS Intrepid on July 4th. Luger kept an undefeated streak going until April 8th, where Mr. Perfect was able to get a pin fall over Lex by lifting his shoulder up on a back suplex attempt. With that match only airing in France, Luger still maintained an undefeated streak on American television.
Rick Rude continued to dominate the WCW United States Championship title picture having retained the championship against all opponents since winning the belt in November of ’91. By the summer of 1992, Rude was involved in a heated feud with Nikita Koloff. Rude managed to successfully defended the championship against Koloff which sometimes happened inside a steel cage. Also, Rude reached the finals of the NWA World Championship tournament but came up short against Kensuke Sasaki. Rude was stripped of the championship following an injury. While out with injury, Dustin Rhodes won the championship in a tournament and they would meet at Beach Blast in July but ended in a draw despite the match being a thirty minute Ironman match. At the end of the grading period, Rude was not champion and issues with Rhodes were not resolved. Considering he was out of action from December to early spring, a top ten ranking of Rude is quite high.
Curt Hennig, or better known as Mr. Perfect, made his return to the ring when he aligned himself with Randy Savage to take on Razor Ramon and former friend Ric Flair. Perfect got the biggest win of his career when he pinned Ric Flair on the 1/25 RAW to force Flair out of the company. Perfect would lose to Lex Luger at WrestleMania IX and followed up with a loss to Bret Hart in the King of the Ring tournament. Seemed like there was more negatives than there were positives for Mr. Perfect.
At the end of 1992, Scott Steiner won the WCW Television Championship from Ricky Steamboat. However, he and brother Rick Steiner left the company by December and thus was stripped of it. Scott jumped the WWF and dominated the tag division leading up to a series of matches with the WWF World Tag Team Champions Money Inc. They won the titles on June 14th and June 19th after having dropped the belts back to Money Inc. on June 16th. They would hold the titles for the remainder of the grading period.
The only issues I have with the top ten are towards the end, really. As much of a fan I am of Rude, he missed a good portion of the grading period and Perfect didn’t really have a top ten performance for the grading period. I do think Bret was the right choice of the number one spot, though had Vader not lost the belt to Simmons during the grading period, he would have easily taken number one for the year.
#11: Barry Windham
#13: Marty Jannetty
#15: Davey Boy Smith
#23: Steve Austin
#25: Sid Vicious
For the early months of the grading period, Windham was feuding with lower mid card guys like the Barbarian and Dick Slater. He was the NWA/WCW World Tag Team Champions with friend Dustin Rhodes when they pinned the former champions Steve Williams and Terry Gordy on the 10/3 edition of Saturday Night. They held the belts for just over a month when they lost the belts to Shane Douglas and Ricky Steamboat due to Dustin Rhodes not wanting to pin Ricky after an accidental low blow. That would lead to heel turn for Windham and the change of attitude saw Windham win the NWA World Championship from the Great Muta at Superbrawl in February. He fought off challenges from Arn Anderson at Slamboree, Too Cold Scorpio at Clash of the Champions in June before dropping the belt to Ric Flair at Beach Blast in July. For a short period of time in ’93, Windham had become a very good heel and his turnaround from the early stages of grading period is impressive.
Jannetty hadn’t been seen on WWF television for quite sometime when he returned by the end of ’92. He failed at capturing the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Shawn Michaels at the Rumble and was gone again until May when he surprised Michaels and won the gold. That lasted a few weeks before dropping it back to Michaels and not doing much of note afterward. Sure, he and Michaels regularly had good matches on the house show market, but that is far from having a top 15 spot in the ranking of 500. (yes, it’s kayfabe, I get it. But, come on!)
In four short months, Davey Boy Smith went from winning the WWF Intercontinental Championship from Bret Hart in front of a sellout crowd in Wembley Stadium to being out of a job by the end of the year. He loss to belt to Shawn Michaels in November and appeared for WCW a short time into 1993. Smith quickly challenged Big Van Vader for the WCW World Championship. His first chance at the gold was at Slamboree and he won, but by disqualification. Along with Sting, he would beat Sid and Vader at Beach Blast to end the grading period for Smith. The main event push was the biggest of Smith’s career and he handled it pretty well.
Austin maintained a strong handle on the WCW Television Championship until September 2nd when he lost it to Ricky Steamboat. After the loss, Austin was lost in the shuffle until he formed a tag team with Brian Pillman known as the Hollywood Blonds. They team quickly rose up the ranks and won the WCW World Tag Team Championships from Steamboat and Douglas on March 27th edition of Worldwide. He and Pillman retained the titles inside a steel cage at Slamboree against the duo. Their biggest match would be at the June Clash of the Champions when they came up short against Flair and Anderson, but didn’t lose the belts in a best two out of three falls match. To end the grading period, Austin remained tag team champs after beating Anderson and Roma at Beach Blast.
From August to April, Sid had not competed in any mainstream wrestling promotions. He returned to WCW at Slamboree associating himself with Col. Robert Parker and defeated Van Hammer at the event. He would team with Vader and Rick Rude to win a six man tag match at the June Clash of the Champions before losing a tag match with Vader as his partner against Davey Boy and Sting. For a guy who wrestled only three months worth of worthwhile matches, the ranking is ridiculous.
#28: Randy Savage
#33: Bam-Bam Bigelow
#34: The Kid
One of the more creative characters to ever exist in the WWF made its debut at number twenty-six. Doink began appearing in various WWF crowds by the end of 1992. He would pull pranks on various superstars and ended up feuding with Crush, whom he defeated at WrestleMania IX. Aside from that victory, Doink had some entertaining matches with Jannetty and Savage on RAW during the summer. At the end of the grading period, he hadn’t been involved in a significant feud.
Last year, Savage was ranked number two and now falls twenty-six spots. Despite opening the grading period as the WWF World Champion and then nearly winning the Rumble, Savage couldn’t break into the top twenty-five. After the new year, Savage wrestled on a limited basis but often times appeared on house shows. Macho Man was being phased out of the New Generation era.
Bigelow made his return to the WWF by the end of 1992. He would win his first pay per view match against the Big Bossman at the Royal Rumble. Bigelow continued to defeat anyone in his way until the King of the Ring where he lost to Bret Hart in the finals of the tournament. At the end of the grading period he was feuding with Tatanka.
Probably one of the more inspirational stories of the year centered around a skinny rookie who was eventually known simply was, The 1-2-3 Kid. After several weeks of losing to various WWF superstars, the Kid picked up the shocking upset over Razor Ramon on the 5/17 RAW. Kid continued to wrestle Ramon that often ended in disqualifications. In years previous, he was known as the Lighting Kid.
Over the summer, Crush feuded with Repo Man, his former partner from Demolition and won the feud convincingly. After a victory at SummerSlam over Repo Man, it was rumored that Crush could have been the guy to lead the New Generation instead of Bret Hart. That, of course, didn’t happen. Instead, Crush had a feud with Doink, which he lost, and unsuccessfully challenged for the WWF Intercontinental Championship at the King of the Ring. At the end of the grading period, Crush had been taken out of action by Yokozuna.
#32: Ron Simmons
#37: Owen Hart
#38: Paul Orndorff
#40: Brian Lee
#42: Tony Anthony (Dirty White Boy)
#46: The Undertaker
Despite having been WCW World Champion from August to December of 1992, Simmons doesn’t get into the top 25. During Ron’s reign, he retained over the likes of Cactus Jack and the Barbarian, which may be a reason for the low ranking. Simmons didn’t do much during the 1993 portion of the grading period as he was unable to defeat Paul Orndorff for the WCW Television Championship at Beach Blast in July.
Owen didn’t accomplish anything of note in the WWF during the time period, but did win the USWA Heavyweight Championship from Papa Shango but would soon lose it to Jerry Lawler. His rise would be a year away.
‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff started the grading period competing in Smoky Mountain Wrestling where he feuded with the likes of Ron Garvin and Tim Horner. By early ’93, Orndorff was in WCW feuding with Cactus Jack and lost a falls count anywhere match at Superbrawl III. He pinned Erik Watts in the finals to crown a new WCW Television Champion on March 27th. Orndorff was able to keep the championship for the remainder of the grading period. He successfully defended the title against Ron Simmons winning the bout by disqualification.
‘Primetime” Brian Lee started the grading period losing the SMW Heavyweight Championship to rival Dirty White Boy on August 8th, 1992. The end of ’92 saw Lee feud with The Master (aka Kevin Sullivan) which ended up being a lengthy blood feud. After over five months of feuding, Lee won the feud with Kevin Sullivan and his followers. On the May 1st television show, Lee won the SMW TV Championship from Bobby Eaton. Lee would end up turning heel by aligning himself with Tammy Fytch to win the SMW Heavyweight Championship on July 17th from Tracy Smothers to end the grading period.
Dirty White Boy won the SMW Heavyweight Championship on 8/8/1992, right at the start of the grading period. He was able to hold onto the belt until April 2nd of 1993 when he lost it to Tracy Smothers.
Undertaker didn’t have a memorable grading period. Sure, he won his feud with Kamala by winning matches at SummerSlam and Survivor Series, but afterward Taker would feud with Giant Gonzalez, with the two meeting at WrestleMania IX. Aside from that, Taker had a less than stellar year on television and that reflects his low ranking this year.
#49: 2 Cold Scorpio
#67: Tim Horner
#84: Erik Watts
#87: Razor Ramon
Scorpio made his debut in WCW on November 18th at Clash of the Champions to help Ron Simmons defeat the trio of Tony Atlas, Cactus Jack and the Barbarian. Scorpio earned a huge win over Steve Austin on the 1/3/1993 house show. Scorpio won a great match against Chris Benoit at Superbrawl III. A month later, Scorpio would team with Marcus Alexander Bagwell on a regular basis. Scorpio would have a memorable match against NWA World Champion Barry Windham at the June Clash of the Champions, but came up short in winning the title. Scorpio had a bright future it seemed in WCW.
Tatanka maintained his undefeated streak throughout the grading period as he mainly had matches with Rick Martel, who has never been able to defeat the Native American. Tatanka nearly won the WWF Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania IX. Not many memorable moments for Tatanka despite a lengthy undefeated streak.
Horner head a feud with SMW Heavyweight Champion Dirty White Boy throughout the fall and winter of ’92, but wasn’t able to take the championship. Horner won the SMW TV Championship from the Nightstalker on the March 6th television program. He held the belt for three weeks before losing it to Bobby Eaton. One of the better in-ring workers for SMW.
The 1992 PWI Rookie of the Year, Erik Watts, had an eventful year. Far from being the best worker in the company, Watts accomplished quite a bit. He had a feud with Arn Anderson that saw the two brawl at a gas station. After the feud, they became partners but had limited success. Watts reached the finals of the WCW Television Championship tournament, losing to Paul Orndorff. A victim of nepotism due his father Bill Watts being the booker for WCW.
Razor Ramon made an impact quickly upon his arrival in the WWF. He cost Randy Savage the WWF World Championship in September of ’92 and won several house show matches against the Macho Man. Had a competitive match with Bret Hart at the Rumble, but came up short in his first championship match. Won his WrestleMania debut against Bob Backlund. Might have dropped in the rankings due to the loss to the 1-2-3 Kid on the May 17th episode of RAW. By the end of the grading period had become a fan favorite thanks to being disrespected by Money Inc.
#108: Paul Roma
#112: Van Hammer
#198: New Jack
A year prior, Paul Roma was believed to have been retired from pro wrestling. Roma didn’t return to action until June of ’93. He was a member of the Four Horsemen and nearly won the WCW World Tag Team Championships from the Hollywood Blonds at Beach Blast. Needless to say, Roma being a Horsemen was a shock to diehards.
Seemed like wrestling publications thought of Van Hammer has being a title contender, but that never quite happened. His most notable accomplishment was losing to Sid Vicious in thirty-five seconds at Slamboree. Would be gone from WCW for several years.
At this point, Virgil was literally a jobber and was still ranked pretty decently.
New Jack makes his debut in the PWI 500. While not providing much in the ring, Jack teamed with the Homeboy to win the USWA Tag Team Championships for a short period of time.
#298: Billy Gunn
#301: John Hawk
#384: Disco Inferno
#483: Miss Texas
#500: Garbage Man
Mabel and Billy Gunn made their debuts in the PWI 500. Neither man accomplished much as they teamed with Mo and Bart Gunn in the WWF. I don’t believe either team lost a match during the timeframe of the grading period.
John Hawk, or better known as Bradshaw, also made his debut in the PWI 500. He was a Global Tag Team Champion with Bobby Duncum Jr. Hadn’t achieved any mainstream success, though.
At this point, Disco Inferno was claiming to be the king of inter gender matches in the USWA. That was proven to be incorrect as he often lost to Miss Texas (Jacqueline). Speaking of Miss Texas, she was the first woman to ever be ranked in the PWI 500 at #483.
The Garbage Man would be later known as Duke Droese. Pro Wrestling Illustrated would brag about his rise for the next couple of years.
Gone From The 500:
Skinner, Sgt. Slaughter, Kerry Von Erich and the Ultimate Warrior all were out of the rankings this year. Von Erich had committed suicide on February 18th, 1993.
Would you have ranked anyone differently? Were there any surprises? Leave your thoughts below!
Thanks for reading.