Welcome to the Latest PWI Weekly
As I’ve mentioned recently in this space, the May issue of PWI features some big updates regarding some major promotions and world title recognition. I don’t want to dwell on those here, but I would like to talk about one of the championships PWI has included on its “world title” list since 2019: The IWGP heavyweight championship.
When we officially recognized the IWGP heavyweight title, some critics pointed out that even New Japan didn’t call their top championship a “world title.” Well, that’s no longer the case. Going forward, the IWGP heavyweight and Intercontinental titles (last held by Kota Ibushi) have been unified and retired, beginning an entirely new lineage. NJPW’s top belt is now called the IWGP World heavyweight championship.
In some ways, this feels appropriate. After all, New Japan is an international promotion with training facilities on three continents. Why wouldn’t their top prize be dubbed a “world title?” Plus, many observers have rightly pointed out that the Intercontinental title has largely been made redundant by the prestigious NEVER openweight and United States championships.
On the other hand, the fact that NJPW has declared a new lineage for its top title—effectively archiving the dozens of world-class championship reigns of Antonio Inoki, Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and so many others—feels bittersweet. It’s a new era in New Japan. As the company continues its global expansion, let’s not forget all the great titlists of the last 33+ years. —Kevin McElvaney
Wrestler Of The Week
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16 years after first stepping foot in a WWE ring, Bobby Lashley has finally done it. Though he’d reigned atop Impact Wrestling on four occasions—and twice worn the resurrected ECW title in WWE—Lashley had never managed to become WWE World heavyweight champion. This week, he did exactly that, making short work of The Miz in Raw’s main-event lumberjack match. In doing so, “The Almighty” has entered the record books as only the third Black man to win the WWE championship, following The Rock and Kofi Kingston. He’s also cemented The Hurt Business as the current top faction in all of WWE. Given his legitimate background in MMA and amateur wrestling—not to mention his incredible strength, agility, conditioning, and ring presence—Lashley has all the tools to be a dominant world champion. And, frankly, his ascent to the top of WWE feels long overdue.
This Week In Headlines
From The Vault
PHOTO BY SCOTT FINKELSTEIN
In the photo above, a bloody Adam Pearce winds up to clock Brent Albright in a 2008 NWA championship defense for Ring of Honor. Long before he assumed the role of “WWE Official” on Raw and Smackdown, Pearce was one of the most skilled grapplers on the American independent scene—a proper “wrestler’s wrestler” in the tradition of Billy Robinson, Jack & Gerry Brisco, or Danny Hodge. In the May 2021 issue of PWI, “Scrap Daddy” Pearce steps into the Hotseat, catching up with PWI’s Al Castle more than a decade after their last meeting. Don’t miss this awesome conversation with one of wrestling’s most respected minds: getpwi.com
Classic PPV Reviews: Wrestle War 1991
How about some more great photos from the PWI Vault? Join Mr. Warren Hayes for the first episode of our brand-new YouTube series, Classic PPV Reviews. To kick things off, Warren offers his quirky, but thoughtful analysis of WCW’s Wrestle War 1991, complete with both color and black-and-white images from our archives.
A Look Inside Our May Issue
Want to see what's inside the latest issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated? In our latest YouTube video, PWI Editor-in-Chief Kevin McElvaney gives you the inside scoop. It’s just like an unboxing video, only without the box!
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