Pro wrestling's masquerading encyclopedia, otherwise known as Pro Wrestling Illustrated's PWI 500, was released this past week. Among the sea of irrelevance—irrelevance in the context of a hierarchical list—stood an undersized overachiever buried amidst the debris of inexplicably ranked wrestlers you've never heard of.
The literary overkill that has been sanctimoniously celebrated by PWI's highbrow brass had to end somewhere. Mercifully, Brian Hardy—ranked 500th—served as the bookend to WWE Champion CM Punk's top ranking. This was the ninth time in 10 years that a WWE superstar has achieved such an, er, honor on what purists want you to believe is a pure wrestling pecking order.
If the PWI 500 were the NFL draft, aside from it being 14 weeks long, Hardy would be what analysts almost affectionately refer to as Mr. Irrelevant, or he who is picked last.
Despite sporting a prepubescent look, a look that was so appealing to WWE scouts he was fed to Ryback during a June episode of SmackDown, Hardy actually wrestles a grown-man game.
He put his skills on display in what was a better-than-it-should-have-been match against TNA's Robbie E., who carried the showmanship aspect of the contest while Hardy carried the wrestling, before Robbie E. (then known as Rob Eckos) scored a tainted victory.
The real star of the match, however, had to be Robbie E's perpetual fist pumps and refusal to stop air-thrusting.
As the son of the well-traveled Barry Hardy, top-500 talent seems to be a ingrained in the Hardy gene pool. Mr. Hardy was recognized as the 488th-best wrestler in the world by PWI in 2010.
Like his father, Brian is currently cutting his teeth on the Maryland wrestling circuit. In fact, Hardy was listed as the MWF Heavyweight Champion as recently as May of 2012 and is still featured on the site proudly adorning the very colorful belt.
Of course, Hardy's squash loss against Ryback was hardly the first time he rubbed elbows with a mainstream WWE name. The Maryland product has participated in angles at independent shows alongside Jerry "the King" Lawler.
The profile picture for Hardy's dormant Facebook page shows Hardy offering his hand to Lawler for what appears to be a truce of some sort.
King just stares coldly, as if to say, "You'll be lucky to crack PWI's top 500 someday, kid."
Turns out, the hypothetical Lawler was right.