The 2013 CRL 100

Welcome, one and all, to the 2013 CRL 100! Tonight we will begin the second ever installment of the aptly titled Cewsh Reviews List 100, as we begin the countdown of the 100 best and most significant wrestlers of the past calender year. This list, which was founded originally in protest of the PWI 500, is the sum of a full year’s worth of tireless tape watching and analysis by us here at Cewsh Reviews Headquarters, and we can’t wait to show you who we chose for what spot, so you guys can get down to the important business of tearing it to shreds.

The goal here is to spread the word about people who had a great year, while rewarding the people who went above and beyond in the name of our entertainment. And while you might think you know how things will play out if you read our list last year, I assure you, things are VERY different this year. With a almost a third of the members of last year’s list falling off of this one altogether to make room for fresh blood, and a radically different looking top 10, this list reflects a turbulent year in wrestling history. But at the end of it all, only one man can stand tall as Mr. 2013.

Will it be Daniel Bryan? John Cena? Hiroshi Tanahashi? Only one way to find out!

Just like last year, i’ll be doing write ups for the top 50, to give you some insight into everything they accomplished this year, but the bottom 50 get no such distinction. But before we get to the list, I’m going to post the traditional FAQ to hopefully clear up some questions that may arise from this list.

Q: What goes into deciding these ratings?
A: Everything. This isn’t just a list of who had the best matches this year, (though that plays a major part,) it’s also a list of who was the most valuable to their promotion, and to wrestling in general over the past year. Think of this list as representing where everyone in the wrestling world stood in 2013 in relation to everyone else. But to be clear, this is not a popularity contest. Nobody in contention for the status of “Cewsh’s Favorite Wrestler” even made the top 10. This is meant to be an objective look at who was top shit in 2013. Keep that in mind.

Q: How did you research for this?
A: Tirelessly, for one thing. I made a point to watch every major show by every significant promotion over the course of the past year and supplement it as much as possible with other shows as well. I left no stone unturned in trying to find talent wherever there might be some.

Q: Why 100?
A: Because 500 forces you to include people who aren’t really worthy of consideration, and 276 wasn’t symmetrical enough.

Q: So where are you going to rank the Undertaker/Brock Lesnar/The Rock/Triple H etc?
A: I’m not going to. In order to make things as fair as possible across the board, I required that in order to be eligible for this list, you have to have wrestled at least 5 matches in the past calender year. Any less than that and there just isn’t a fair sample size to base an educated opinion on. And Taker (1 match), Brock (2 matches), Rock (2 matches), and Triple H (3 matches) do not make the cut. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Q: John Cena’s not on here, is he?
A: Oh yeah, he totally is.

Q: Why are you combining the men and women on one list? That’s not fair to the women, is it?
A: Judging by some of the women you’ll find on this list, it might not be fair to the men.

Q: This is just the first 25, when will you be releasing the rest?
A: The will be 25 posted each day, ending before Raw on Monday Night. So that’s 100-76 tonight, 75-51 tomorrow, 50-26 on Sunday and the coup de grace on Monday.

Alright, that’s enough with the questions already. Let’s get down to the meat of the thing. Here are numbers 100-50 on the CRL 100 list of the best wrestlers of 2013! Think of them as the runners up. They’ll all get a nice fruit basket and a book about dinosaurs.


100. (#42) Wade Barrett (WWE)
(2 WWE Intercontinental Championships)

99. (#77) Jay Lethal (ROH)
(1 SWE Speed King Championship)

98. (#35) Low Ki (Freelance)

97. (#87) Kenny King (TNA)
(1 TNA X Division Championship)
(1 FSW Elite Championship)

96. (N/A) Curtis Axel (WWE)
(1 WWE Intercontinental Championship)

95. (#25) Hailey Hatred (Freelance)
(1 Remix Pro Wrestling Championship)
(1 Goddesses of Stardom Championship)
(1 Triangle Ribbon Championship)
(1 TLW World Women’s Championship)
(1 TLW World Women’s Tag Team Championship)

94. (#5) Kenny Omega (Freelance)
(1 KO-D Openweight Championship)
(1 DDT Extreme Division Championship)
(1 KO-D Six Man Tag Team Championship)
(1 JAPW Light Heavyweight Championship)
(1 PCW Tag Team Championship)

93. (N/A) Darren Young (WWE)

92. (#58) Saraya Knight (Shimmer)
(1 Shimmer Championship)

91. (N/A) Jack Swagger (WWE)

90. (N/A) Yujiro Takahashi (NJPW)

89. (#56) Jeff Hardy (TNA)
(1 TNA World Heavyweight Championship)

88. (N/A) Adrian Neville (NXT)
(1 WWE NXT Tag Team Championship)

87. (N/A) Luke Harper (WWE)
(1 WWE NXT Tag Team Championship)

86. (#38) Hirooki Goto (NJPW)

85. (#20) Eddie Kingston (Freelance)
(1 Chikara Grand Championship)
(1 JAPW Tag Team Championship)
(1 Ace Diamond Division Championship)

84. (#79) Bo Dallas (NXT)
(1 WWE NXT Championship)

83. (N/A) Masato Yoshino (Dragon Gate)
(1 DG Open The Dream Gate Championship)
(1 DG Open The Brave Gate Championship)

82. (N/A) Damien Sandow (WWE)
(Smackdown Money in the Bank)

81. (#94) Toru Yano (NJPW)
(1 GHC Tag Team Championship)

80. (#22) Abyss (TNA)

(1 TNA Television Championship)

79. (N/A) Minoru Suzuki (NJPW)

78. (#65) Samoa Joe (TNA)

77. (#78) Dean Ambrose (WWE)
(1 WWE United States Championship)

76. (#52) Takeshi Morishima (NOAH)
(1 GHC Heavyweight Championship)

75. (#81) Nicole Matthews (Shimmer)
(1 Shimmer Tag Team Championship)
(1 ECCW Women’s Championship)

74. (N/A) Tomoka Nakagawa (Freelance)
(1 Shimmer Tag Team Championship)
(1 WAVE Tag Team Championship)
(2 OZ Academy Tag Team Championships)

73. (#73) Michael Elgin (ROH)
(1 PWG Tag Team Championship)
(1 AAW Heavyweight Championship)

72. (#85) Shelton Benjamin (Freelance)

71. (#10) James Storm (TNA)
(1 TNA World Tag Team Championship)

70. (#39) Eddie Edwards (ROH)
(1 ROH World Tag Team Championship)

69. (#47) Leo Kruger (NXT)

68. (#54) Kevin Steen (ROH)
(1 ROH World Heavyweight Championship)
(1 AAW World Heavyweight Championship)

67. (#40) Masato Tanaka (NJPW)
(1 NJPW NEVER Openweight Championship)

66. (#98) Paige (NXT)
(1 WWE NXT Divas Championship)

65. (#36) Satoshi Kojima (NJPW)
(1 IWGP Tag Team Championship)

64. (#68) Portia Perez (Shimmer)
(1 Shimmer Tag Team Championship)
(Global Shield Tournament)

63. (#95) AR Fox (Freelance)
(1 Evolve Championship)
(1 CZW Wired TV Championship)
(1 DGUSA Open The United Gate Championship)
(1 CLL International All Star Championship)
(Torneo Sala de Campeones)

62. (N/A) Ryback (WWE)

(1 IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship)

60. (N/A) Jimmy Uso (WWE)

59. (N/A) Jey Uso (WWE)

58. (#80) Jessicka Havok (Freelance)
(1 WSU Championship)

57. (N/A) Emma (NXT)

56. (#8) Kota Ibushi (NJPW/DDT)
(1 KO-D 6 Man Tag Team Championship)

55. (#32) Mark Henry (WWE)

54. (#6) Austin Aries (TNA)

53. (N/A) Big E Langston (WWE)
(1 WWE Intercontinental Championship)
(1 WWE NXT Championship)

52. (N/A) Chris Sabin (TNA)
(1 TNA World Heavyweight Championship)
(1 TNA X Division Championship)

51. (#88) La Sombra (CMLL)
(1 IWGP Intercontinental Championship)
(NWA World Historic Middleweight Championship)
(Reyes del Aire)
(Torneo Nacional de Parejas Increibles)

50. (#43) Mercedes Martinez (Freelance)
(NCW:FF Championship)
(WXW Women’s Championship)


Ah, Mercedes Martinez. Possibly the least appreciated of the triumvirate of women’s wrestlers that revolutionized the independent scene all through the last decade, (Cheerleader Melissa and Sara Del Rey being the other,) Mercedes rarely gets the credit she deserves for being continually great year after year. In 2013 she ended Kalamity’s 538 day hold on the NCW: Femme Fatale Championship, and continued to serve as the backbone of the Shimmer roster. But it was her alliance with a newly heel Cheerleader Melissa that may bear the most fruit as we look forward to next year. Two Woman Power Trip? You best believe it.

49. (#86) Antonio Cesaro (WWE)
(WWE United States Championship)

In some ways it’s been a tough year for fans of the giant swingin’ stud. They’ve had to watch him abandon his singles run in order to tag with Jack Swagger in an anti American stable, and as part of it he’s taken more losses than Henry VIII took wives. But all the while, Cesaro has remained incredibly relevant, both with the fans and, if you believe the rumor mill, the WWE office. And with an open endorsement from John Cena, and with Cesaro finding a move that fans absolutely love in the Giant Swing, Cesaro stands a fair chance to cut his ranking in half again going into next year.

48. (N/A) Madison Eagles (Shimmer)

After missing a year of her career due to various injuries that put her in real danger of never wrestling again, Madison Eagles returned to the American stage in a major way in 2013. With fans adamantly refusing to boo her in Shimmer, she developed an Eddie Guerrero style “evil babyface” gimmick and just ran with it while running through all comers one at a time. A collision with the woman who took the Shimmer Championship from her, (Cheerleader Melissa,) seems inevitable, and since their last match was a contender for match of the year, one can only imagine what they have in store for us next time.


47. (#23) Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH)
(GHC Tag Team Championship)

I will eagerly call Naomichi Marufuji the greatest Jr. Heavyweight wrestler of the the post Jushin Liger era. He was among the first to break the Jr. Heavyweight/Heavyweight barrier, opening the door for guys like KENTA and Prince Devitt to enjoy the success they have; and he is perhaps specifically responsible for the rise in prominence that Jr. Heavyweight and lucha libre wrestling have seen in recent years in New Japan. He’s just pretty much awesome.But this is about 2013. And Marufuji’s 2013 is less about year long consistency, and more about the incredible, incredible matches he had with longtime rivals Shinsuke Nakamura and KENTA. Marufuji has become perhaps Japan’s best part time performer, and he’s made a habit of turning it on when the lights are on brightest. He’s limited by his role as the Vice President of NOAH, so he’ll likely never work enough to get much higher on this list. But when he does work, it’s an event unto itself.

46. (N/A) Katsuyori Shibata (NJPW)

Once upon a time, Katsuyori Shibata was the viewed as a can’t miss future main eventer alongside his fellow young New Japan dojo graduates, Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi. It didn’t exactly work out that way. A long and complicated road led Shibata out of New Japan and into increasing irrelevance. Years went by without much in the way of career progress for Shibata in either wrestling or MMA, until the new owner of New Japan stunned the wrestling world by bringing in Shibata and Sakuraba to go to war with Shibata’s old compatriots. But that was 2012.

2013 saw Shibata testing himself against the toughest bastards that New Japan has to offer. He had incredible battles against Togi Makabe, Hirooki Goto and Tomohiro Ishii that more than proved his badass credentials, even if it didn’t get him any closer to title contention. But even more important than what he did in the ring was what he did outside of it, as he controversially allied himself with Pro Wrestling NOAH champion KENTA, creating a cross promotional alliance that is set to strike fear in the hearts of all life forms that are susceptible to being kicked in the face.

45. (#45) Kofi Kingston (WWE)
(WWE United States Championship)

Kofi Kingston was born to rank in the mid 40s. For yet another year, Kingston was in high profile midcard matches, and was a very popular babyface, while not making any actual upward progress towards the top of WWE. Kingston remains WWE’s most valuable midcard star, and they seem content to leave him there, stranded forever in mid 40s limbo. Is Kofi capable of more? Who knows? Maybe someday we’ll finally get to find out.

44. (#13) Ayako Hamada (Freelance)
(WAVE Tag Team Championship)

The only problem with Ayako Hamada’s 2013 is that she didn’t wrestle more. What she did was effortlessly charismatic and dazzling just like it has been throughout her entire comeback to wrestling. A full slate of Shimmer shows and some more shows in Japan will doubtless see her right back in the thick of the top 10 race where she belongs. But when 45th is a down year for you, you must be a special talent.

43. (N/A) Togi Makabe (NJPW)

King Kong took on more of a support role in New Japan this year, giving Okada a title defense, and acting as Hiroshi Tanahashi’s second in his year spanning feud with Prince Devitt and his Bullet Club. But this was still perhaps Makabe’s finest year as a professional, as he found exactly the right tone for his People’s Champion character and got enormous reactions for nearly everything he did.

New Japan has the unique problem of having a main event that is preposterously overloaded, which forces people like Makabe into the midcard, but make no mistake. There isn’t a company in Japan that wouldn’t kill for Makabe right now, and it’s not hard to see why. He makes every show he’s on better.

42. (N/A) Alex Shelley (NJPW)
(IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship)

It isn’t often that being fired from a lucrative and high profile job is a blessing, but for Alex Shelley it would be hard to argue that it has been this year. After living through a year in exile in TNA after Chris Sabin got injured Shelley left the States and headed on across the ocean to live out his dream of wrestling in Japan. And boy did he ever. In KUSHIDA he found a Japanese partner that he quickly established a chemistry with to rival even his partnership with Sabin, and his performance in the Super J cup earned him a nation full of fans. An injury kept him out for most of the last half of the year, but as one half of the most electrifying tag team in all of Japan, 2014 may be the best year of his professional career.

41. (#3) Bobby Roode (TNA)
(TNA World Tag Team Championship)
(TNA Tournament of Champions)

I hate seeing people like Bobby Roode take such a precipitous drop in the rankings for reasons that are completely out of their hands, but the facts are the facts. In 2012, Bobby Roode was the glue that held TNA together, as well as becoming its longest reigning World Champion in history, and proving himself as a clear cut main eventer in feuds with everyone from Jeff Hardy to his former partner James Storm. He gave TNA a foundation to build on, and everyone who feuded with him became a bigger star for having done so.

So naturally 2013 saw Bobby Roode shunted into a nonsensical, (but entertaining,) tag team with Austin Aries, the man that he had put over tremendously just a few months before. The two of them would spend the year being high profile jobbers to whatever passing fancy TNA wanted to push that week. But despite the rotten booking working against him, Roode continued to show great skill and dependability as one of TNA’s greatest assets, and stole the show at Bound For Glory against Kurt Angle.
It’s probably asking too much to hope that Roode will ever return to the stature he achieved in 2012. But if nothing else, he has developed a body of work that nobody can deny, and 2013 proved he could do it with no help whatsoever.
40. (#55) Masakatsu Funaki (Freelance)
(AJPW Triple Crown Championship)

Credited as the 2nd most successful MMA fighter in Japanese history, (behind only fabled Gracie Killer Kazushi Sakuraba,) Funaki has been enjoying his twilight years as an athlete in the only way that a double hard bastard like he can, by getting kicked in the face a whole bunch, and dishing out even more.

2012 saw Funaki capture the AJPW Triple Crown championship, and he held it all through the first half of the year before dropping it to SUWAMA to set the younger man up to be the face of All Japan from that point on. But Funaki, unhappy with the new ownership of All Japan, bolted in the second half of the year to join up with fellow legend Keiji Mutoh in his burgeoning WRESTLE-1 promotion. The early months of WRESTLE-1 have been dominated by the epic feud between Funaki and his protege, Masayuki Kono, as Funaki continues to put over the next generation and kick people’s teeth out, usually whichever comes first.

39. (N/A) The Miz (WWE)
(WWE Intercontinental Championship)

2012 was the year that the Miz turned it all around. Unfortunately, it seems like nobody noticed. In the years following his Wrestlemania main event, the Miz seemed to slip further and further into obscurity. But after some time off and a stunningly great feud with Kofi Kingston, the Miz was back on his feet, and that momentum carried him into 2013 and led to an unexpected babyface turn that I wouldn’t have belieced could possibly work unless I had seen it with my own eyes.

Miz captured the Intercontinental title once again this year, thanks to Ric Flair formally granting him the use of the Figure Four Leg Lock from here until eternity. And while the Miz still hasn’t grown back to the main event status of a few years ago, he has become a trusted midcard force, as well as catalyst for numerous segments like Miz TV. It’s not exactly going to get him into the top 25 anytime soon, but nobody worked harder to make the secondary belts in WWE matter than the Miz did this year, and if you smarks don’t watch out, you may well find yourself realizing that this former reality star is becoming one of the best in ring talents in WWE.
38. (N/A) Seth Rollins (WWE)
(WWE Tag Team Championship)

There aren’t enough words in the English language to fully articulate just how wrong I was about Seth Rollins. All throughout his run on the independent scene, (as Tyler Black,) and throughout his time in FCW and then NXT, I was one of the harshest critics in the world of the man. I raked him over the coals for being spotty, for being inconsistent, and for lacking the charisma to stand out on his own. And while I don’t think he’s ready to be on his own at this point, what I never could have expected is for something like the Shield to come along.

Rollins’ run with the Shield has been downright magical, as these three rookies shook the WWE to its foundations all year long, while simultaneously delivering the best run of debut matches by any group, team or wrestler in WWE history. In Roman Reigns, Rollins found the ideal counterpart to his high flying, fast bumping antics, and the two of them have torn up every show from here to eternity ever since.
It’s always hard for someone to admit when they’re wrong, (especially when they, like me, are so frequently right,) but Seth Rollins is a god damned star. And I couldn’t be happier to say it.

37. (#76) Go Shiozaki (AJPW)
(AJPW Unified World Tag Team Championship)

It was a year of change and renewal for the man who represents the single greatest failure in the history of Pro Wrestling NOAH. Once upon a time, Shiozaki was a can’t miss prospect, expected to usher NOAH into a new generation of prosperity. Unfortunately that all fell apart in the wake of Mitsuharu Misawa’s death, when NOAH overpushed Shiozaki before he was ready and killed any chance he may have had to be the top guy. If the years after, Shiozaki just sort of hung around and carried that albatross with him, until January of this year, when he made history.
Shiozaki and several other NOAH talents jumped ship to All Japan, and the change invigorated Shiozaki immediately. He won the tag titles with Jun Akiyama, feuded with a whole new group of main eventers, and impressed even his most ardent critics with his firey performances. Go revived his career from life support in 2013, and even more impressively was part of that terrifying pic above. Legend has it that if you look into his mad eyes while eating a sandwich, you’ll only have 3 days to live. So, you know, hug your family or something.

36. (#67) LuFisto (NC:FF)
(NSPW Championship)
(ICW Olympic Championship)


What a comeback year it was for LuFisto. After bouncing back from a stroke, as well as from doubts about whether or not she should continue wrestling at all, it seemed like this year was all about LuFisto in women’s wrestling. In Shimmer especially, Lufi went from “beloved midcard veteran” to “badass top babyface” in the blink of an eye, and her match with Cheerleader Melissa is already one of the most looked forward to matches of 2014.

Beyond that, LuFisto made her debut in Mexico with great success, and remained an icon in her home province of Quebec. This wasn’t just a bounce back, it was a pounce back. And if a stroke can’t stop her, what on Earth can?

35. (N/A) Roman Reigns (WWE)
(WWE Tag Team Championship)

When the Shield debuted last year, it started with two established and experienced wrestlers and a big green guy who really just did spears and stayed out of the way. What a difference a year makes. Fast forward to Survivor Series, where Roman Reigns turned in an absolutely marvelous performance in eliminating 4 men on his way to a victory that will go into highlight packages for years to come. And that was just the cherry on top of a year that saw Reigns grow into one of the best tag performers in the world alongside Seth Rollins.

As the year draws to a close it is clear that Reigns is on the verge of breaking out on his own. How that will work for him is impossible to guess, but if he keeps growing at this rate, I doubt there’s anything that can stop him.

34. (#72) Christopher Daniels (TNA)

It’s hard to imagine that TNA has fired this man multiple times, isn’t it? In 2013, Christopher Daniels was the glue that held TNA together throughout all of the turbulence and awfulness, and there could be no better man for the job. He stole the show in matches, backstage segments, in ring promos, and probably the company picnic too. I dread to think what watching Impact would have been like without Daniels having his fingers in nearly every major storyline while sipping on his now iconic appletini. And while recognition from TNA seems characteristically hard to come by, anyone watching their shows knows damn well that they’re looking at a Hall of Famer in action.

33. (#17) Sheamus (WWE)

Oh hey, remember Sheamus? It’s been 6 long months that Sheamus has been out with an injury, so it’s easy to forget what a major part of WWE programming he was before the injury. He was a major part of the coalition to defeat the Shield, he played a huge part in the heel turn of the Big Show, and in general he was the top star that Smackdown has been searching for for years.
With his great skill and the full weight of the WWE marketing machine behind him as the potential heir to John Cena, its hard to imagine him missing the top 25 next year. Especially if he actually sticks around for all of it.

32. (N/A) Goldust (WWE)
(WWE Tag Team Championship)

Just what in the hell is this old bastard doing this high on this list? After all, just 6 months ago, Goldust was about as far removed from relevance as the Gobbledy Gooker. And then, during a storyline between Randy Orton and Cody Rhodes, Goldust was given the chance to beat the WWE Champion in order to get his job back. He came up short that night, but much to everyone’s surprise, (possibly even Goldust’s,) his run was far from over. In the weeks that followed, he teamed up with his half brother Cody to do battle with the Shield, and in perhaps the most emotional moment of 2013, they triumphed over the most dominant team of the decade to win both of their jobs back.

Which is all well and nice, but that doesn’t tell the full story of why Goldust is here. The simple fact of the matter is that over the last 3 months of 2013, he may very well have been the best wrestler on the planet. I don’t even know how to come to grips with the fact that at the age of 44, Goldust is having the best run of his entire career. But all you have to do is turn on Raw on any given night, and see the Goldy stealing the show away from men half his age and with twice his push. And he makes it look good.

31. (#59) Cody Rhodes (WWE)
(WWE Tag Team Championship)

First of all, go back and read that last paragraph about Goldust, because all of that applies to Cody too. Up until Money in the Bank, Rhodes was going nowhere fast, and the writers dropped storylines with both Kaitlyn and Damien Sandow on multiple occasions. But what separates Cody Rhodes from his brother is what happened at Money in the Bank, where Cody jump started his career in a single match, blowing the roof off of the place and turning face in the process. Ever since things have been gravy for the baby Rhodes, and he’s a popular choice for the breakout star of 2014. We’ve been sold that old story before with Rhodes, but after the last few months it would be impossible to say that he doesn’t have it in him.

30. (N/A) Tomohiro Ishii (NJPW)

The enforcer is one of the classic wrestling archetypes. Having a guy in your stable who takes all the punishment and does the heavy lifting is half the reason for even having stables, and there are generally considered to be two types of enforcers. There are the musclebound monsters who will inevitably go on to lucrative careers of their own, (Batista, Kevin Nash,) and then there are the guys who seem to lack the charisma or star power to ever be more than the guy who does the dirty work. Up until this year, Ishii had spent nearly all of his career being in the second camp, only to break loose and catch fire in a major way almost out of nowhere.
In 2013, Ishii became an unlikely fan favorite as he took unbelievable beatings from the best in the world and refused to stay down, resulting in all time classic matches against the likes of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Katsuyori Shibata, and allowing him to completely steal all the attention during the G1 Climax Series. Now all eyes are on him going into 2014. Can the momentum carry him all the way to the top? If the fans have anything to say about it, this stubby, charismaless enforcer will have a brand new belt to go along with his heart of gold.

29. (#14) Yuji Nagata (NJPW)

I suspect that if I had been running the CRL 100 for the past 10 years or so, there’s no year that Yuji Nagata would have dropped out of the top 50. He continues to be a pillar of consistency and excellence, even while wrestling in nearly every major Japanese promotion against a wide variety of opponents. He carried long term feuds in THREE DIFFERENT PROMOTIONS AT THE SAME TIME, while still finding the time to put over KENTA as part of NOAH’s last chance at relevance. Just another year for GatMan.

28. (#49) Bray Wyatt (WWE)

Not since the debut of CM Punk has a prospect come to the WWE main roster with so much buzz and potential ahead of him. Unlike Punk, though, Wyatt began living up to that potential immediately. With the eeriest entrance this side of the Undertaker, a series of enthralling promos, and some genuine intrigue behind both his motives and his abilities, Bray Wyatt has become the most fascinating character in WWE in no time.

Of course that’s no surprise to anyone who saw him completely dominate NXT throughout the first half of the year, along with his posse of bearded giants. Everywhere he goes, Wyatt brings breeds discussion and destruction. And if you want to know where the future of WWE might very well lie, then it’s very simple. Just follow the buzzards.

27. (#29) Kana (Freelance)
(JWP Openweight Championship)
(WAVE Tag Team Championship)

Just another year for the best Joshi that the world has to offer. This year saw Kana invade JWP and win their biggest title while insulting the promotion as a whole. Like an army of one she brought the company to its knees before being driven off, but that’s just one chapter in the story of Kana’s 2013. She stole multiple Shimmer volumes, continued to be the shining star of the Japanese indy scene, and just for good measure she opened a potential feud with Shimmer champion Cheerleader Melissa. You know, yawn, ho hum. Just another year for the Queen.

26. (#27) Jun Akiyama (AJPW)
(AJPW Unified Tag Team Championship)
(AJPW Champion’s Carnival)

Jun Akiyama is the last of the legendary walkers of the King’s Road. He was the youngest of that great crop of talent that roamed All Japan in the 90s, and he is the only one still going strong. But in recent years he had been pushed to the side in Pro Wrestling NOAH, as that company tried desperately to find a new identity is the wake of Mitsuharu Misawa’s death. But nobody could have seen what would happen when NOAH decided to get rid of Kenta Kobashi at the end of 2012. Akiyama, Go Shiozaki and a few others all immediately decided to leave the company and return to All Japan, in the biggest mass defection of talent since the formation of NOAH itself.

Once he showed up back in his old stomping grounds, Akiyama wasted no time in showing that he was still just as relevant as ever, winning the tag titles with Shiozaki and heading the “Burning” stable which all but declared war on the promotion all through the first half of the year. Akiyama even went on to wins All Japan’s most prestigious event, the Champion’s Carnival, before finally being turned back by SUWAMA in their title match.

Jun Akiyama might very well have single handedly saved All Japan from the brink of creative and financial ruin simply by arriving and bringing the credibility of his legendary career with him. And as revitalized as he has looked this year, he might just be getting started.

25. (N/A) Mistico II (CMLL)
(CMLL World Trios Championship)
(CMLL Copa 60 Anniversario de la Arena Puebla)

How do you replace a legend? That’s the question that was posed to CMLL when Mistico, the greatest Mexican draw since the white hot 90s, left his homeland for the bright lights of WWE. After some consideration, they decided to name a new Mistico to take his place, giving the incredibly young Dragon Lee the mantle to make his own.
With less than 2 years total experience to his name, Mistico II set out to continue CMLL’s solid momentum going into 2013. He joined together with Valiente, (Cewsh’s favorite chubby luchador,) and Mascara Dorada to form Los Estetas del Aire, and the trio spent the year wowing audiences and cementing themselves as the top triad in all of Mexico, an honor every bit as significant and revered as any singles championship, if not more so. But more important than any individual victory, Mistico II served as a symbol of CMLL’s rebirth and youth movement as they worked to establish a new generation of stars. He has a long way to go yet to fill the shoes of the man who wore his mask before him, but with the company on the rise, and fans flocking to the arena, this young man might go down in the record books all the same.
24. (#84) Kane (WWE)
(WWE Tag Team Championship)

If there’s one theme that you can take away from wrestling around the world over the past year it would have to be veterans passing the torch on to new stars. From John Cena putting over Daniel Bryan clean, to Hiroshi Tanahashi legitimizing Kazuchika Okada and onwards. But somewhat lost in all of this is Kane, who was so integral to the rise of Daniel Bryan, Bray Wyatt and the Shield that it’s hard to believe that any of them could have reached such heights without him.

This year saw Kane defying the maxim that giants fade as they get into their 40s, by delivering what may be the best collection of matches in his long career, all while being a huge favorite of fans worldwide. The end of the year saw Kane dramatically give his mask to the Authority and join them as part of the most powerful stable in the wrestling world; a partnership that has only just begun to bear out it’s potential.
Kane’s selflessness and skill were never more evident than this year, and his value to WWE has never been higher. Giant’s curse my ass.

23. (#4) Dolph Ziggler (WWE)
(World Heavyweight Championship)

It was a tale of two half years for Dolph Ziggler. There was the first half, when Ziggler was one of the hottest commodities in the wrestling world, forming an alliance with AJ Lee and Big E Langston, winning the World Heavyweight Championship, and seemingly poised to dominate Smackdown for years to come; and then there’s the second half where all of that fell apart thanks to several poorly timed injuries, where Ziggler was relegated to multiple losing efforts for the United States and Intercontinental Championships.
It was the strength of the first half of his year, as well as his habit of giving his all whether he’s in a main event or a pre show match, that got Ziggler this far up the list, even while his second half was one of the most miserably unsatisfying of anyone in the wrestling world. We can only hope that the Show Off has another big run in him to get back to where we all feel he belongs.

22. (#41) Big Show (WWE)
(World Heavyweight Championship)

Boy, Big Show sure was sad a bunch this year. So maybe it will cheer him up to learn that this is almost certainly the finest in ring year of his entire career. Show has become a savvy performer who wrenches as much emotion out of a match as he possibly can and it really showed in a number of breakthrough matches this year. And while most big men his age are slowing down, I swear the big lug is taking bigger bumps than ever. Whenever it is that he’ll slow down, it certainly hasn’t happened yet. Does he have enough left in the tank to make a play for the top spot next year?

21. (#75) Sami Zayn (NXT)

El Generico had a lot of fans on the indy scene who were sorry to see him go when he signed his WWE developmental deal in January of this year. They loved him for his goofy antics, his high flying expertise, and for his willingness to put his body on the line in any number of crazy ways. But if any of those fans tell you that they had even an inkling of what Generico would become when he arrived in WWE, they’re either a god damned liar or his mother.

Sami Zayn took NXT by storm upon his arrival, and that truly is the only apt way to put it. His matches with Anotnio Cesaro were the best of the indy style melded with the WWE style to create something that jumped right off the screen from the first lock up. It was obvious right then and there that Zayn was special, and he has only gone on to back it up further with a full year of character growth and eye popping performances. For a developmental wrestler to get this high on the list is an incredible feat. But for Sami Zayn, it’s just the prologue.

20. (#74) Suwama (AJPW)
(AJPW Triple Crown Championship)
(AJPW Unified Tag Team Championship)
(World’s Strongest Tag Determination League)
SUWAMA IS ALL JAPAN. You might as well put that phrase on the logo, because, with the exception of someone we’ll get to later, there is no promotion that depends so heavily upon one single man to keep it afloat. He wins every title, is part of every title feud, and is just generally the gamble that the entire promotion is staking everything on. So why isn’t he higher on the list? Well, in short, he just hasn’t had much to work with. With the exception of Go Shiozaki and Jun Akiyama, who gave him a welcome batch of new opponents SUWAMA has been mired in messy feuds with lesser talents all year long. That’s what you get when you work for a company so far on the downslope, but SUWAMA has proclaimed his allegiance to All Japan for the near future. So we’ll have plenty more time to see him rule the roost there, for whatever that may be worth.

19. (#33) Gail Kim (TNA)
(TNA Knockout Championship)

I want you to imagine that you’re Gail Kim. You created the TNA Knockouts Division, and have seen it fall to ruin over the years through mismanagement and bad booking. You return to TNA triumphantly after a run in WWE, only to find the level of competition severely degraded from when you were there before. Now fast forward a bit to this year, and that talent has degraded even further, to the extent that your ENTIRE DIVISION is comprised of ODB, Velvet Sky, Taryn Terrell, Madison Rayne, Lei’D Tapa and Brooke Tessmacher, all of whom had been in non wrestling roles or off the show altogether a year before. Most people, when faced with this dire level of competition, would have given up and just gone with the flow. Instead, Gail Kim set about turning scrubs into stars.

Kim pulled incredible matches out of Terrell and Tessmacher, made ODB into a relevant name again, helped Tapa to look like a monster in the making, and gave everyone a foil to play off of. It’s been known for a long time that without Gail Kim, there never would have been a Knockouts Division. To that, I will amend that if it weren’t for her, there wouldn’t be one now either.

18. (#60) Johnny Gargano (Dragon Gate USA)
(DGUSA Open The Freedom Gate Championship)
(2 PRIME Championships)

Okay, listen up people because this is important. If you learn nothing else from the CRL 100 this year, I at least want you to remember the name Johnny Gargano. Because he is, for my money, the best wrestler on the planet who is not signed to a major promotion. It’s inexplicable that WWE and TNA have left Gargano to his own devices all this time while they desperately gobble up anyone on the indy scene who can do a suplex without falling over, but just take that as an opportunity to see the man before he gets big.

2013 saw Gargano continue his two year long streak as the champion of Dragon Gate USA, a streak that has seen him make a whopping EIGHTEEN title defenses against the likes of Chris Hero, Brian Kendrick and new WWE hires Samurai Del Sol and Sami Callihan. In between, he took time out of his busy schedule to win the PRIME Wrestling championship at their biggest show of the year, and to challenge Adam Cole to a match for the PWG Championship at All Star Weekend X that is my hands down indy match of the year.

Johnny Gargano is more than just a great wrestler, he’s one of the last great hopes for indy wrestling as a whole. And while there’s only so much higher he can possibly rise before heading for the big leagues, that just gives you a little while longer to enjoy the best talent walking the bingo hall circuit today. Don’t miss out.

17. (#18) Tetsuya Naito (NJPW)
(NJPW NEVER Openweight Championship)
(G1 Climax Series)
Like it or not, this was the year of the Stardust Genius in New Japan. Though he missed nearly half of the year with a knee injury, he came back in the second half of the year like a storm, not only besting Masato Tanaka for the NEVER Championship, but also winning the entire G1 Climax Series by pinning Hiroshi Tanahashi in the finals.
With that incredible victory, (no G1 winner will ever be outside the top 50, that’s how prestigious a tournament it is in Japan,) Naito has propelled himself into the main event and will face Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship just 4 days after the start of the new year. With a win there, his stock would be through the roof. For now, though, he’ll have to settle for moving up just one spot from last year.

16. (N/A) AJ Lee (WWE)
(WWE Divas Championship)

I’m not even going to try to untangle the web of feelings that people have for the wild twists and turns of AJ’s character over the years. This isn’t a list for that. What this list is for is looking at how great and significant a person was in 2013, and from that point of view it would be hard to say that AJ is anything short of one of the top female performers in WWE history. In her dual role as both valet and wrestler this year, AJ’s accomplishments speak for themselves. She managed a World Champion in Dolph Ziggler and, more importantly, she engaged in a feud with Kaitlyn that captured the imagination of audiences world wide and which netted AJ her first ever WWE Divas Championship.

Now that title isn’t exactly one that has had a proud lineage, but all year long, AJ has been working overtime to change that, with fantastic results. Her title defenses have made women’s matches on pay per view something to look forward to again, and her feud against the Total Divas crew created a whole new crop of babyface challengers seemingly out of nowhere.
To say that AJ is the undisputed face of women’s wrestling in the United States right now is really underselling it. She has brought credibility back to a division that some thought would never see it again. And just wait until those developmental girls get brought up to face her…

15. (#64) Adam Cole (ROH)
(ROH World Heavyweight Championship)
(PWG World Heavyweight Championship)
(ROH World Championship Tournament)

It seems like every few years the American indy scene comes to some kind of unspoken agreement and chooses for itself a new “king of the indys”. That isn’t just a guy who gets pushed hard in one company, but rather someone who every indy company seems to realize all at once is THE guy. Low Ki was that guy once upon a time, so was Daniel Bryan, and more recently Kevin Steen held that mantle. But in 2013, that torch got passed definitively to Adam Cole.
In winning both the PWG title and the ROH one, (both featured dramatic heel turns by Cole,) Cole put himself on the map with a select few individuals over the past decade as the top guy on the independent scene. In times gone by, this has been like putting chum in the water for the WWE sharks to come, but until they do, we can enjoy the new face of indy wrestling. And a goddamn good looking one at that.

14. (N/A) Nick Jackson (Freelance)
14. (#93) Matt Jackson (Freelance)

(IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship)
(PWG World Tag Team Championship)
(DGUSA Open The United Gate Championship)
(HOG Tag Team Championship)
(FSW Tag Team Championship)
(Chikara Campeonatos de Parejas)
(NJPW Super Junior Tag Tournament)
(PWG Dynamic Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament)

The Young Bucks have always been a hugely exciting team, and we were proud to be among the first blogs to herald their most excellent potential. But in the years since they first broke onto the scene in a big way, the Young Bucks have transcended any of the “Hardy Boyz 2.0” labels they found themselves shackled with in the beginning, and have staked a definitive claim to the title of “Best Tag Team In The World”. With a slate of incredible performances across an enormous variety of promotions, and an eye popping collection of titles and awards, the Bucks have made themselves into perhaps the most compelling act on the independent scene today. Frankly, in today’s climate, the Young Bucks basically ARE tag team wrestling. Just look at that list of fucking titles. IN ONE YEAR. And now that they have joined Prince Devitt’s Bullet Club and found a new home in Japan, the sky truly is the limit for the brothers who spit on gravity.

Now, who wants to have a superkick party?

13. (#46) Alberto Del Rio (WWE)
(2 World Heavyweight Championships)

Has any wrestler in any year ever been so great with so little recognition? In 2013, Alberto Del Rio WAS Smackdown. Every major rivalry on the blue brand revolved around Del Rio, as everyone from Dolph Ziggler to Christian to John Cena vied for the second biggest prize in the WWE Universe.
Del Rio kicked off the year with a face turn that had no right to work as well as it did, and at the Royal Rumble he had a fantastic match with the Big Show that began a streak of great pay per view matches that is unequaled by any other wrestler in any company this year. This year, Del Rio established himself as the perfect undercard champion, having great matches with a wide variety of opponents and making threats out of contenders that might be laughable against anyone else.
Now that we have a unified title, Del Rio’s value may be dimmed, but 2013 will always be the year that he found his place in WWE at last. 

12. (#16) Prince Devitt (NJPW)
(IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship)
(NJPW Best of the Super Juniors)

Welcome to the age of the Real Rock ‘N’ Rolla. This year saw a rise from Prince Devitt that took him from opening matches to main events and everywhere in between. From the moment he cast off his babyface persona and traded it in for a new, darker one, Prince Devitt became one of the top stars in New Japan seemingly without trying. His stable, Bullet Club, bullied and destroyed opposition wherever they went, and Devitt himself proved his unstoppable domination of the Junior Division by winning the Super Junior Tournament almost out of spite, and holding the title all year long, even as he pursued Okada and the Heavyweight title relentlessly.
In Japan it is very very difficult for a foreign wrestler to get to the main event. It is even harder for a junior heavyweight wrestler to do so. But somehow, this skinny Irishman with an impenetrable accent made it look goddamn easy from his perch on the shoulders of his bodyguard, Bad Luck Fale.

This was a banner year for Devitt, but it’s only the start for him. And that’s a shoot.


11. (#44) Bully Ray (TNA)
(TNA World Heavyweight Championship)

Has anyone in wrestling history ever been tasked with doing more with less? As one of the two people that TNA built its entire year around, it was Bully Ray who was asked to do the heavy lifting in promos and PPV main events, even while the storylines that surrounded him were increasingly baffling, and the company fell to pieces around him.

But no matter how bad TNA got, Bully Ray never let it slow him down for a second. He made being sttoryline married to Brooke Hogan work, he made leading the worst stable in wrestling history work, and he even managed to pull off the most satisfying heel turn of the year at TNA Lockdown. And when it came time to put over AJ Styles at Bound For Glory, he went down swinging in a match that will rank up there as one of the best of his career.
In 2013, Bully Ray wasn’t the star that TNA wanted or even the one that it needed. But he was the one that it had. And did the impossible every single time he hit the ring. He made people care.

10. (#2) Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW)
(IWGP Heavyweight Championship)
(CMLL World Tag Team Championship)
(CMLL Universal Championship)

So what does it look like when the best wrestler on the planet has an off year? Well, he legitimizes the new face of his company, (Okada,) puts over a fresh new heel sensation, (Devitt,), puts over his eventual replacement in the main event of the second biggest gala event of the year, (Naito), works tirelessly to improve the company’s partnerships, (CMLL, Europe,) and acts as the company’s spokesman and figurehead throughout the world during it’s attempts at global expansion.

Gosh, Tanahashi. What a let down.

9. (#19) AJ Styles (TNA)
(TNA World Heavyweight Championship)

It aint easy being AJ Styles. After waiting over a decade for TNA to finally commit to him as it’s top star, he finally got his wish; only to see the sweet taste of success turn to ashes in his mouth thanks to the storyline they gave him. 2013 was a year that had AJ Styles abandoning everything his devoted fanbase had loved about him and parroting a tired storyline from 1997. The feud was one of the most poorly constructed in wrestling history, and shortly after it concluded, AJ found himself out of a job with the company he is synonymous with.

So with all that being true, how did AJ Styles wind up in the top 10? Well, it’s simple. In 2013, TNA made AJ Styles its undeniable focus, and his victory over Bully Ray and Aces and Eights at Bound For Glory was every bit as triumphant as it was significant. Frankly, I don’t know that anyone else could have come out the other side of a storyline that terrible and still shine like AJ Styles did. And while that win over Bully Ray may well prove to be the climax that precedes the downturn of his career, at least we can finally say that one of the unsung greats of our era finally got his moment in the sun.
8. (#7) Shinsuke Nakamura (NJPW)
(2 IWGP Intercontinental Championships)
The most charismatic wrestler on Earth did it again this year. Despite wrestling midcarders, luchadors, American invaders, MMA fighters and Junior Heavyweights, Shinsuke Nakamura went another year without missing a single beat, stealing show after show after show with his ridiculous antics and unstoppable intensity. Nakamura has taken a midcard title and elevated it to unheard of heights simply by holding it, and may very well have made himself into the most popular wrestler in all of Japan without even seeming to try. I mean hell, the guy feuded with Shelton fucking Benjamin for months, and had people hanging on every counter for every match. Do I need to paint you a picture?
There’s something truly special going on here with Nakamura, and now, planted firmly in the back of every New Japan fan is the realization that someday soon, SWAGSUKE is going to decide to come for Okada. And when that happens, there won’t be an arena in the world big enough to contain them.
7. (#21) Cheerleader Melissa (Shimmer)
(Shimmer Championship)
(RCW Triple Crown Championship)
(RCW Angels Division Championship)
(PWR Women’s Championship)

The first woman ever to make the top 10 of the CRL 100, Melissa earned it in spades this year, with the heel turn that will define her entire career, and a title reign to tell the grandkids about. After battling long and hard to finally reclaim the Shimmer championship from Saraya Knight, Melissa seemed poised to enjoy a nice relaxing year or being the top dog in Shimmer. But none of us could have expected her to turn on her old friend Allison Danger and head down the path of the dark side, or the carnage that would result.

Whether in Shimmer or outside of it, this was a year of dominance for the now Present Legend. Even Pro Wrestling Illustrated acknowledged it by giving her the top spot in their list of top female wrestlers of this year. And who are we to argue with them?

With Melissa making enemies out of everyone of importance in the entire world of women’s wrestling, 2014 may be a wild year for her, but for now she’s the queen of the world with no debate to be had.

6. (#24) John Cena (WWE)
(WWE Heavyweight Championship)
(World Heavyweight Championship)
(WWE Royal Rumble Win)

I bet that there are more than a few people who are looking at that list of accomplishments with surprise. After all, the perception among wrestling fans seems to be that John Cena was surprisingly inconspicuous compared to years past. Or at least as inconspicuous as you can be when you win the Royal Rumble, face the Rock in the biggest rematch of our era in the main event of Wrestlemania, put over the next big thing in the main event of Summerslam, and compete in the match to unify the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships.

This year was less about John Cena being absent, and more about him getting the most mileage out of every single thing he did. His feud with Mark Henry will go on Henry’s highlight reel forever, his work in putting over Bryan will be a point of pride for the rest of his career and his near miraculous return from crazy injuries will baffle medical experts for years to come.
We’ve entered the golden period with John Cena, a period where we’ve grown comfortable with him, and he has grown into the peak of his skills. And for anyone hoping to stay ahead of his on this list, the idea that he might get MORE conspicuous and, even scarier, that we might not mind, is enough to keep you up at night.
5. (#31) Randy Orton (WWE)
(2 WWE Heavyweight Championships)
(WWE World Heavyweight Championship)
(WWE Money In The Bank Win)
How long did we all beg for that Orton heel turn? How long did we kick and scream and cajole and demand and shout from the rooftops that Orton is better as a heel, and about how great it could be if we could just see him go evil one more time?
It feels good to be right, doesn’t it?
As the heel foil for Daniel Bryan, and the centerpiece of the Authority, Randy Orton has unexpectedly gotten the biggest push of his entire career this year, allowing him to cap off a marvelous 2013 with the greatest prize in the entire wrestling industry, a Unified WWE Championship. Winning that belt fair in square made Orton an automatic top 5 entrant into this year’s list, but that’s not to say he didn’t earn it the rest of the way. His work with Bryan was critical to Bryan’s growth into a main eventer, and Orton’s uncharacteristic deference to putting over the Shield at every turn helped turn them into the monsters of 2013.
Ultimately though, it is the enduring image of Orton standing astride the brand split and hammering it shut himself that will be the accomplishment that defines him. That, and the warm, happy feeling that we got for getting exactly what we asked for and seeing it turn out so, so well.

4. (#9) CM Punk (WWE)
(WWE Heavyweight Championship)

What is there left to be said about CM Punk? This year saw the man do it all. From feuding with the Rock and leading him to some of the best matches of the legend’s career, to stealing the show at Wrestlemania with the Undertaker, to having the WWE match of the year with Brock Lesnar at Summerslam. CM Punk’s year was defined by coming up big in the biggest moments, and on the biggest stages, and in doing so, he has become a true icon all of his own. The only thing that could have made this year better for CM Punk is if he would have won some of those matches, (he went 0-4,) but just being there and breathing that rarefied air next to names like Rock, Taker and Lesnar puts you on a whole other level.

Outperforming them all while you’re there is just the icing on top.

(GHC Heavyweight Championship)

It’s one thing to be the top star for your company; to be counted on and looked to to lead the promotion to greatness. There are a select few individuals who are ever put into that position, and they are names that most of us can draw upon at will. But it’s a whole other ballgame to be the one and only reason why your promotion continues to exist at all. And all of that crushing pressure and responsibility was placed onto the shoulders of KENTA in 2013, as he finally ascended to the GHC Heavyweight Championship in a last ditch effort by Pro Wrestling NOAH to make anyone care about them. And it worked.

Now KENTA is a name that many American wrestling fans are already familiar with. He brought his incredible in ring style to ROH during it’s hottest period, his moves have been stolen en masse by top American wrestlers, and he and Naomichi Marufuji made a whole new generation of puro fans with their jaw dropping matches in the mid 00s. But what many American fans don’t know is that before very recently, Jr. Heavyweight wrestlers were doomed to oblivion in the undercard for their whole careers. There was a huge size bias in Japan that was impossibly hard to overcome, and which kept KENTA, NOAH’s most popular star by a mile, from becoming a main eventer. It took the very real threat of total irrelevance to force NOAH to finally give KENTA the ball to run with and put their full hopes for the future behind him. And luckily for them, he has been all they could have asked for and more.

Throughout this year, KENTA has defended NOAH’s title tirelessly, breaking their record for most title defenses in a year. He has faced down the likes of Takeshi Morishima, Naomichi Marufuji, and Yuji Nagata, and has restored fan interest in NOAH enough to pull it’s neck off the chopping block. It’s entirely possible that no man or woman means more to their company than KENTA does to NOAH, which is a dangerous thing. But, at least for the present, the gamble is paying off big time.

2. (#1) Daniel Bryan (WWE)
(WWE Heavyweight Championship)
(WWE Tag Team Championship)

Our returning champion had a great year last year, as he almost single handedly carried the entire WWE undercard on his back, made the most unexpected tag team in WWE history a success and cemented himself as WWE’s finest performer all in one go. And maybe the most amazing thing about Daniel Bryan’s 2012 is that his 2013 was EVEN BETTER.
After all, this is the year that Daniel Bryan lit the WWE Universe on fire and somehow ascended to heights that seemed unreachable by anyone not named John. On the strength of several wildfire performances, a rabid fan following and, strangely enough, reality show stardom, Daniel Bryan became the hero of WWE, and captured the WWE championship by beating John Cena clean in the main event of WWE’s second biggest show of the year. Unfortunately a slow start to the year, (with him playing third fiddle in the feud with the Shield,) and a end of the year bogged down with overbooked pay per view matches and a lack of success post Summerslam have to count against him ever so slightly. Which is why he slides ever so slightly down to number 2.
In damn near any other year, what Bryan accomplished would have been more than enough to keep a hold on the top spot. But this is 2013. And 2013 belonged to…

1. (N/A) Kazuchika Okada (NJPW)
(IWGP Heavyweight Championship)

Believe me when I tell you, it just couldn’t be anyone else. Despite the incredible, incredible years had by every single member of the top ten, and Daniel Bryan in particular, this was quite simply the year of the Rainmaker.

Okada’s year began with a match against Hiroshi Tanahashi that is a serious contender for the match of the year while still somehow not even being the best match they would have this year. Okada lost there, and rumors began to swirl that WWE was showing serious interest in the 26 year old mega star, bringing Okada’s name to a whole new crop of fans curious about what would have WWE so interested. Okada shot the rumors down, and even went on to win the New Japan Cup soon thereafter while inventing a brand new submission finisher called “Red Ink”. With all the momentum in the world behind him, and a new arsenal prepared, Okada challenged his arch rival Tanahashi one more time.

In the most climactic match in any promotion in 2013, he defeated the former face of New Japan once and for all, taking his place as the top star of the second biggest wrestling company in the world.

For most people, this would have been too much pressure, and comparisons were made to how WWE pushed Randy Orton too fast and too young. But Okada buried all of that discussion as business boomed all year long with him on top, defending the title against the likes of Togi Makabe, Minoru Suzuki and Tanahashi (again) in matches that had people raving, and new fans from other countries flocking to join the New Japan craze. And now he stands ready to face the challenge of Tetsuya Naito at New Japan’s biggest show of the year on January 4th.

New Japan is the hottest promotion in the world, and Kazuchika Okada is the rocket that is carrying them into the stratosphere. There are many men and women who could have fairly held this top spot, but there’s only one who truly deserves the title of Mr. 2013. And baby, you’re looking at him.

Well, that’ll do it for us this time, boys and girls. We hope you enjoyed this epic countdown of the greatest of the great from this amazing year in pro wrestling. 2014 is fast approaching, full of potential and intrigue, and who the hell knows how this list might shake out one year in the future. But if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that it’ll be a whole lot of fun to figure it out.

Now i’ll leave you with a list of the people who were on the list last year and dropped off, just to give you an idea of just how volatile this year in wrestling was. In the meantime, remember to keep reading and be good to one another!

Names That Dropped Off Of The List:
Sara Del Rey (#12) – Retired
Mike Quackenbush (#15) – Injured
Chris Jericho (#26) – Semi Retired
Christian (#28) – Injured
Ayumi Kurihara (#30) – Retired
Tensai (#34)
Rey Mysterio (#37) – Injured
Madison Rayne (#48) – Pregnancy
Jessie McKay (#50)
Rysuke Taguchi (#51) – Injury
Akira Tozawa (#53)
MVP (#61)
Santino Marella (#62) – Injury
Richie Steamboat (#63) – Injury
Davey Richards (#66)
Primo (#69)
Hiroyoshi Tenzan (#70) – Injury
Tommaso Ciampa (#71)
Athena (#82) – Injury
L.A. Park (#83)
Hunico (#89)
Devon (#90) – Retired
Courtney Rush (#91) – Injury
Rey Bucanero (#92)
Jigsaw (#96)
Ray (#97)
Keiji Mutoh (#99) – Semi Reitred
ACH (#100)

Written by Cewsh

I am the owner and operator of Cewsh Reviews. We review pro wrestling shows in a way that is funny and educational. Probably. Usually at least one or the other.


  1. I was at the live show in Seattle before TLC and I couldn't believe how loud the Yes! Chants were during that ending segment, you legitimately couldn't hear Triple H trying to speak on the mike because we were all so loud. If we were this loud for hometown hero Daniel Bryan in Seattle I can only imagine what its like in Chicago for CM Punk! The amazing thing is if you asked me before his run on NXT in 2009 who he was I wouldn't even have known his name. What a crazy fast rise to the top.


  2. Awesome list, I knew Bryan and Okada were going to take the top 2 spots, I just didn't know who would edge out who. Bryan had one of the best years any pro wrestler has arguably ever had but Okada can claim pretty much the same… tough call.

    Just out of curiosity, I know Brock Lesnar isn't eligible for your list but if you could include him, where would you place him? I mean he only had 3 matches but one of them was one of the best damn wrestling matches I've ever seen.


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