“This is the best. You get to spend the whole show just putting everyone over.”

This may be my favorite moment of the year. While sitting doing commentary, we had one of the young local wrestlers turn to us and express that amazing energy that is infectious in the Minnesota pro wrestling scene: We’re all in this together. He appears on this year’s #MNDIY50 as part of a groundswell of talent emerging from and returning to The Academy: School of Professional Wrestling and is one of fourteen new faces on the 2018 #MNDIY50.

The year the Minnesota scene saw recently started promotions such as Showtime Championship Wrestling and Midwest All-Star Wrestling continue to grow and emerge as new places for talent to ply their trade. It saw the established brands including AWF, MIW, Pro Wrestling Battleground, Steel Domain Wrestling, and others continue to provide top notch monthly entertainment as well as promotions that operate on different scales take big steps such as Heavy On Wrestling’s Fortunebaynia and F1rst Wrestling’s expansion to fill out a quarterly calendar at the VFW in Uptown to complement their already wildly successful bi-annual Wrestlepaloozas at First Avenue as well as a number of shows throughout the year at festivals and events. All in all, you can look at our scene and see the vibrancy and energy radiating out as promotions ran new venues, returned to classic venues, and saw crowds that were excited by the products being produced.

While we couldn’t be there to see every show, we did our best to get you informed about all the opportunities to find flavors of wrestling that you loved this year. We’d like to do better and hope that we can achieve or goal of being a one stop shop for people to find shows, venues, wrestler’s information, and connect to podcasts, information, and history. With the gradual retirement of contributors to the Minnesota scene like Razzlin Rick, we’ll need more help from everyone who enjoys professional wrestling to get it accomplished, but we’re optimistic about supporting and continuing to grow the Minnesota scene together.

So we’re going to start this year like we started last year with a look at an amalgam of different viewpoints from across the Land of 10,000 Lakes with 32 ballots filled with thoughts, rankings, and reflections of where the MNDIY scene is. If you’re familiar with the PWI 500, we take a similar approach with voters drawn from promoters, bookers, podcasters, and other support roles. The idea in expanding to 32 ballots (aside from echoing our State’s place as the 32nd to join the Union) is to take advantage of a cross-section of viewpoints from voters that will be both myopic in terms of promotions representing their preferences as well as multivalent from voters that attend a variety of different shows from promoters across Minnesota. Those that submitted ballots and comments will remain anonymous but I want to thank them all from the Rock Bottom of my Stone Cold Heart for giving their time and effort to make this happen.

You will see through the results that often wrestlers that are being seen by a lot of different audiences tend to be ranked higher due to the appearing on the ballots of a wide breadth of voters. That’s not meant as a value judgement by MNDIY or as a popularity vote, but rather a reflection that our wrestlers are expanding not only who they’re working for locally but seeing many people travel across one border if not many borders, regionally and nationally, sharing their talents with other fans and promotions. This year we had talent compete in almost half of the United States and in some of the biggest tournaments in professional wrestling as well as appearing on WWE including 205 Live, NXT, RAW and Smackdown. That has meant also enticing talents from other states and around the World to come and wrestle in Minnesota which brings the level of talent working shows across the board to a higher level. This included having belts defended in local promotions here from around the World as well as from the most hallowed histories of our domestic scene including the top men’s and women’s titles from the National Wrestling Alliance.

As we look back, I once again want to identify The Academy and personally thank all the coaches that have contributed to the surge of graduates this year as well as the reinvigoration and continued learning the School provides to other wrestlers on our scene including seminars from Billy Gunn, Shane Helms, Mike Quackenbush, and Kevin Nash. We would be remiss if we didn’t send out hearty congratulations to the 13 graduates of The Academy this year, many of whom appear on this year’s #MNDIY50: James Tapia, Referee Clark Feldman, ESQ IV, JDX, Rylie Jackson, Referee James Durden, Valentin Bravo, Kara Noia, Angel Dorado, Sebastian Taylor, Andrew Wilson, Levy Cruise, and Devon Monroe. We’ve seen these graduates as well as the first class of four make their coaches proud with what they’ve accomplished over the course of 2018.

That said, there’s a lot of amazing talent that doesn’t appear on this list. There were 128 different wrestlers that received votes this year from our 32 ballots. As stated earlier, 14 new wrestlers appeared on the list this year and that means that there are favorites that you won’t see appear. But that’s the thing about wrestling: there are so many flavors out there on our local scene. Get out to all the shows coming up and find the wrestlers, promotions, and people that you want to support as we continue to grow and support the MNDIY wrestling scene TOGETHER.

We’ll see you tomorrow morning for numbers 50-41 and follow up in the afternoon with 40-31 then 30-21 Thursday morning with 20-11 in the afternoon then count down the Top 10 all day on Friday wrapping up before the Wrestle Weekend kicks off. Thank you again to all those who voted, contributed comments and thoughts, and to everyone who has interacted with MNDIY throughout the year who make our State’s wrestling scene a great place to enjoy for everyone.


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