The BWI 500 highlights a need for more minority-focused lists in wrestling

All Elite Wrestling
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Lists are a popular tool to create the space for debate. Ask anyone to name their “Top Five” anything and there is usually a wide diversity in selections across all industries. The same is said for professional wrestling. The idea of “GOAT” or the best in the year will create a wide range of topics. Black Wrecellence created a list of their own titled the BWI 500. The debate about the list has raged all week and regardless of the position taken, there is a need for this list and others like it in professional wrestling.

Diversity and inclusion are important conversations in professional wrestling. Regardless of if the promotion in discourse is the WWE, AEW, NJPW, or another – having a diverse roster that is included is a benefit to everyone involved and the fans watching around the world. When fans see individuals that look like them such as Hit Row, Io Shirai, Legado del Fantasma, or Thunder Rosa there’s an increased opportunity for engagement among those fans, which impacts the bottom line for the promotion in question.

The same is said for individuals like Jake Atlas, Nyla Rose, Sonny Kiss, and many others that represent the strong presence of LGBTQ performers in wrestling. Everyone can talk about target demos until they are blue in the face, but the reality is that professional wrestling at all levels is much more diverse than what is frequently seen on television and computer screens.

Therefore, lists like the BWI 500 are important to this industry. The 2021 edition of the BWI 500 starts off with a bang, with Trish Adora coming in at number one. If you only follow mainstream wrestling her name may not jump off the page like a Sasha Banks or Jade Cargill, but Adora’s 566-day run as the Pan-Afrikan World Diaspora Wrestling World Champion has been one of the best runs in the industry. She’s currently a favorite to win the ROH women’s championship tournament and that is just scratching the surface about what has made her such an enjoyable aspect of wrestling in recent years.

But beyond Adora, this list includes many of the top names that wrestling fans will know. Bobby Lashley, Powerhouse Hobbs, Big E, Isaiah “Swerve” Scott, and others are grouped in with names like Lee Moriarty, AJ Gray, Jonathan Gresham, Fred Yehi, Darius Lockhart, and many more.

This is the perfect list for wrestling fans that are looking to find new talent to watch outside of AEW or WWE. In fact, it completely debunks the idea that all the top Black and Brown wrestling talent are already signed. If a promotion wants to truly call itself one that embraces diversity and inclusion, the available talent is there and this list shows that from top to bottom. That tired excuse will not work today as everyone is much more connected and can watch professional wrestling from all around the world.

While this piece focuses on the BWI 500, there is a need for content creators to develop the same style of lists for other minority groups. Let wrestling fans know that there are performers out there that have lived in and understand many of the same aspects of life as those people sitting in the crowd. The PWI 500 led to the women’s list which is slowly growing in volume. The same can be said about the BWI 500 if it inspires other lists for minority groups.

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Professional wrestling should be a space that is welcoming to all. While that is still not seen at the highest of levels, there’s a place for the work that was done to highlight 500 of the most talented Black and Brown performers in the industry today.