Wardlow is definitely one of the more popular homegrown stars in AEW today. With him being the current TNT Champion and being on Dynamite regularly, it should be a matter of time before he’s AEW’s World Heavyweight Champion. With this year’s PWI rankings, on the other hand, he wanted to be placed in a popular number.
Wardlow was a guest on this week’s Extreme Life of Matt Hardy podcast, and the two men and co-host Jon Alba spoke about the 2022 Pro Wrestling Illustrated 500 list. Alba explained that Wardlow is 67 on this year’s list with #69 going to Tom Lawlor.
Hardy believes some wrestlers focus too much on their respective ranking. However, they should focus on a different number that comes more than once a year.
Hardy said, “I told these people earlier, I said a lot of people get so focused, and they really zone in and have tunnel vision on these PWI numbers. They’re worried about the wrong numbers, brother! The numbers you should be worried about is your paycheck every other week,” and Wardlow had to agree.
“Now, I will say this, I agree. But as somebody growing up buying the PWI magazine, that is very cool to hear. And you just told me — I didn’t know that [where I ranked this year]. Last year I was like 390-something [he was actually 218 in 2021, 397 in 2020], so to go from [that] to a year later and I’m 67? 69 would have been great, but 67’s nice.”
Matt then gives some opinions on why Wardlow has been able to connect with fans along with going up the ranks in AEW and Pro Wrestling Illustrated.
“He’s very relatable. I think also, long-time wrestling fans would probably look at him from his physical appearance and go, ‘Oh, he’s a ‘Goldberg’ guy, he’s a muscle guy.’ He’s not going to come off the top rope, he’s not going to be super athletic, but he’s the total package when it comes to doing all of that. At the end of the day, he’s just a cool motherfucker, man. He’s a cool dude. You hang around him and you just witness his actions and his body language, the way he speaks and looks, he’s just super cool.”
“He’s young, he’s healthy, he’s super athletic and he gets it. When people have all of those things together, that’s the recipe for success. Obviously, on AEW programming, people have really got behind him and he started to catch fire, and I’m almost a little sad that it slowed down a little bit after the whole deal with MJF. But he’ll get back there, I’m very confident and I know he’s got a big fan and supporter in Tony Khan, which is one of the most important things. It’s going to be good. When it’s all said and done, he’s going to be a huge, huge star.
Hardy is correct on Wardlow being the total package in a big, possible crossover star in AEW. It’s only a matter of time. Who knows if Wardlow will land the popular 69 spots next year if he doesn’t move up?
What do you think of all of this? Sound off in the comments!