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Queer Wrestling Index 200: The best LGBTQ pro wrestlers of 2023, Top 20

The 2023 QWI 200 comes to a close as we reveal the number one LGBTQ pro wrestler of the year.

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Max The Impaler
Max The Impaler
Rob Brazier/Head Drop

Nothing can stop this momentum. LGBTQ people are everywhere in wrestling, and we don’t give up ground easily.

The same tenacity buried within us that fuels our continued fight against cultural and political attack is what makes all of what we are seeing in the pro wrestling space possible. The art of queer pro wrestling is crafted by the hundreds of in-ring artists using their bodies to move us. That is why this task gets more difficult every year, and why I welcome it.

It means we’re winning. Welcome to the 2023 Queer Wrestling Index 200.

You can support LGBT In The Ring on Patreon.

Previous Entries:

Day One: 200-171

Day Two: 170-141

Day Three: 140-111

Day Four: 110-81

Day Five: 80-51

Day Six: 50-21

20. Jordan Blade

Jordan Blade ups her game year after year, and more of the U.S. takes notice of her talents. This year, that manifested in Blade getting her first shots on the West Coast with West Coast Pro Wrestling and Kitsune Women’s Wrestling. Blade again reached new heights on the East Coast and in the Midwest. Blade entered the year as Paradigm Pro Wrestling Heavy Hitters champion after defeating Connelly and quickly added the Capital Championship Wrestling Tag Team titles with Scorpio SZN partner Brooke Valentine. The “Submission Sniper” then added the Paradigm Pro Tag Team titles with Death Clutch partners Suge D and Sid Von Engeland and dethroned Masha Slamovich to claim the Combat Fights Unlimited Undisputed championship.

The thing is, though, Blade could’ve easily had even more gold, challenging for the Tokyo Joshi Pro Princess Tag Team titles at Enjoy Wrestling with Trish Adora, the Chocolate City championship in a ladder match and the Paradigm Pro Heavyweight title. She added tag matches with longtime Kings of the District partner Eel O’Neal and won the first clash between the two at Pro Wrestling VIBE Braumatica. Her Canadian debut at C4 showcased her technical prowess to another new audience. With her name growing nationwide, it’ll be interesting to see where her borders will expand in 2024.

19. Ashton Starr

Ashton Starr’s personal campaign for world champion is completely warranted, especially when you run down his CV from 2023. Starr won the inaugural Pride of the Desert tournament, defeating Abigail Warren, Larah Dominatrix, MPR’s Fabuloso Fabricio, Dante King and Gypsy Mac en route to the crown. He challenged for additional gold in the Southeast U.S. battling Adam Priest for the ACTION championship and entering a four-way for Krule’s IWTV Independent Wrestling World title at Southern Honor. He added a Full Queer Lonestar championship match against Ashton Starr in the Bay Area promotion.

Starr turned in spirited performances during WrestleMania weekend at GCW For The Culture and as captain of Team East Coast at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch LA. He stood tall against top independent names like Billy Dixon, Hunter Drake and Mr. Grim in singles bouts and toppled Alex Maze and Pha’Nesse at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch 7. But the match that showcased Starr’s vicious nature and distinct charisma the most was the first and perhaps only Rain On Me match against Allie Katch at Pro Wrestling VIBE’s Braumatica event. Ten years into his career, Ashton Starr has built a legacy few can rival and none can deny.

18. Steph De Lander

It may be a sore subject, but getting released from WWE last year may be the best thing to ever happen to Steph De Lander professionally because she catapulted herself to international superstardom in 2023. The Aussie debuted for IMPACT Wrestling, AEW and Ring of Honor during the year, but her rise came in GCW. Her pairing with Matt Cardona as Deathmatch Royalty caused an eruption of jeers and opportunities for De Lander, including a GCW World title challenge, bouts against BUSSY, Joey Janela, Sawyer Wreck and the team of Nick Gage and Maki Itoh, aka Maki Death Kill.

She made her EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch debut against Sandra Moone, pulled off the best Princess Peach look we’ve seen in a while in Japan’s DDT and captured championships on multiple continents, winning the WSW Women’s title in Australia and the Premier Women’s title in America. De Lander closed out the year with her Major League Wrestling debut alongside Cardona, but there are a vast number of other promotions at which De Lander appeared, proving she is one of the most in-demand stars on the independents today.

17. Sandra Moone

Moone’s profile went beyond subspace after her 2023 campaign. She entered the year as PrideStyle Pro and Underground Wrestling Alliance champion, turning away challenges from Kidd Bandit, Count Noctis, Ziggy Haim and G-Sharpe during those reigns. Her PrideStyle Pro title reign reached 371 days before falling, but she quickly supplanted that loss by interjecting herself into the West Coast Pro Wrestling Women’s title hunt. She reached the finals of the company’s Women’s championship tournament, losing to Masha Slamovich, and challenged Marvelous star Takumi Iroha for the title later in the year.

Moone received her first opportunity to wrestle in Japan with Marvelous, learning from Joshi legend Chigusa Nagayo and tying it up with Japanese stars Unagi Sayaka, Chikayo Nagashima and Ai Houzan. Back stateside, Moone displayed her skills in Prestige Wrestling, Versus Pro, DOA Pro Wrestling, Naptown All-Pro and New Texas Pro Wrestling while going for gold in Hoodslam, Jersey Championship Wrestling and Pandemonium Pro. Her WrestleMania Weekend was GCW-heavy, including her return to EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch. Throw in another AEW appearance and it is easy to understand why her lightning is ready to escape the bottle and light up the night across the pro wrestling landscape.

16. Devon Monroe

Devon Monroe proved himself to be undeniable again this year and graduated from an emerging talent to an in-demand one. “Black Sexcellence” opened the year as F1RST Wrestling Uptown VFW champion, extending his reign to 581 days before falling to Bryan Keith. But that loss was simply the first chapter for Monroe. He came back that same night and won the F1RST Wrestling Wrestlepalooza championship in the main event, becoming the first out LGBTQ wrestler to hold the Northern U.S.’s most prestigious title. He defended it against top-tier talent, including Warhorse, Darin Corbin and Frontman Jah, making it more than 700 straight days that Monroe held gold in the Twin Cities-based promotion.

Outside of F1RST, Monroe earned a Freelance Wrestling Legacy championship match against Keith, wowed fans at GCW For The Culture and EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch LA during WrestleMania weekend and delivered one of the best matches of his entire career against Rico Gonzalez at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch 7 in Chicago. He debuted for Enjoy Wrestling early in the year and traveled north of the border to let Winnipeg Pro Wrestling taste the rainbow. Simply put, Monroe is a game-changing talent ready to break out even more on a national scale. Not even the Mall of America can contain him.

15. Gisele Shaw

Gisele Shaw made history last year, becoming the first out trans female wrestler to sign with IMPACT Wrestling. She repeated that feat this year, becoming the first out trans woman to ever compete on a New Japan Pro Wrestling card at Multiverse United during WrestleMania weekend. She earned her spot on the IMPACT/NJPW co-promoted card by continuing to grow her presence and garnering opportunities in IMPACT. The leader of The Shawntourage snagged multiple shots at the IMPACT Knockouts World championship, facing Mickie James in the U.S. and Deonna Purrazzo during the company’s Australian tour. She added multiple IMPACT Knockouts Tag Team title matches with Savannah Evans later in the year and faced a familiar foe in Alex Windsor during the company’s U.K. tour.

Shaw remained at the top of IMPACT’s Knockouts division throughout the year, securing key wins over Masha Slamovich and Purrazzo, but “The Quintessential Diva” would go on to set history yet again. Shaw became the first out LGBTQ wrestler to challenge for the NJPW Strong Women’s championship and the first out trans woman to challenge for any NJPW title in the company’s 50-plus year history at Multiverse United 2. She added bouts for the Full Queer Princex of Pride and New Texas Pro Wrestling Women’s titles and an appearance at Windsor’s Border City Wrestling, but those felt like icing on the cake in a year where Shaw again achieved historic firsts for herself and the community she continues to advocate for both through IMPACT Wrestling and her very existence.

14. AKIRA

*QWI Debut*

AKIRA already has the appreciation of the deathmatch community. He’s essentially a deathmatch legend in the making, but to focus solely on AKIRA’s contributions to deathmatch is to miss so much more of what makes him a rapidly growing star. His Major League Pro Wrestling debut early in the year quickly gave way to title wins, with AKIRA claiming both the MLW World Middleweight and World Tag Team titles by mid-July. He and The Calling partner Rickey Shane Page defended those belts against names including Masha Slamovich, Manders, Matthew Justice and Dimitri Alexandrov before AKIRA’s ousting from The Calling later in the year. The former “Deathmatch Samurai” would add an IWTV Independent Wrestling World title contest against Matt Tremont at ETU Wrestling.

AKIRA also delivered a stellar contest against “Speedball” Mike Bailey in Prestige Wrestling, and the two would bring in the partners, Masha Slamovich and Veda Scott respectively, for a tag team battle at Garden State Pro Wrestling. But, of course, AKIRA went supernova in deathmatch settings. He won Circle 6’s Sicest of the Six tournament, logged multiple appearances in ICW No Holds Barred and GCW and produced one of the damnedest contests in recent history when he faced Drexl in a No Canvas No Rope Barbed Wire deathmatch at Prestige Wrestling. But all of that pales to him accomplishing his lifelong dream to wrestle in Japan, crossing the Pacific for his first tour with famed Japanese deathmatch promotion Big Japan Wrestling.

13. Sawyer Wreck

*QWI Debut*

Speaking of deathmatch, Sawyer Wreck can make a claim to being the heir to the American queen of the deathmatch crown. The “Matriarch of Mayhem” turned in a banner year with GCW, battling deathmatch icons John Wayne Murdoch and Violento Jack and forming a tag team with Joey Janela that challenged for the GCW Tag Team titles. Her and Janela’s Double Dog Collar match against Charles Mason and Parrow was a sight to behold and she shined in multiple contests with fellow deathmatch goddesses Charli Evans and Rina Yamashita. She brought that same energy to Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling, debuting for the promotion in April and earning TJPW Princess of Princess and Pro Wrestling EVE championship bouts in quick order.

Wreck made her EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch debut during WrestleMania weekend, tearing through Kidd Bandit and producing the most violent yet adorable first date by beating Billy Dixon all over the building at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch 7 in Chicago. After forming the team of Thrunt with EFFY, Allie Katch and Dark Sheik, Wreck made her Hoodslam debut, winning the Best Athlete in the East Bay golden fannypacks and challenging Vipress for the Golden Gig. She added more gold in H2O, won the company’s Angels of Death tournament and extended her Mayhem On Mills title reign to 650-plus days. There is much more that could be listed, including her Scenic City Invitational entry, but there isn’t enough space. It’s apt in a way seeing as Wreck’s potential runs off the charts, and the pro wrestling world could use more strong feminist voices like her’s that will gladly introduce you to the right side of a gusset plate should you undermine cultural advancement.

12. Billy Dixon

Billy Dixon is a free thinker. It’s why he was able to build a pro wrestling promotion as revolutionary and transgressive as Pro Wrestling VIBE over the last three years. VIBE held its final show in February, and while it was bittersweet, it also represented a moment of celebration — a chance to take a step back, fully take in the impact of what he and Lo McGrath created and just dance.

Then came the press release. Only “The Gaytekeeper” Billy Dixon would announce he was turning heel in a press release. And he followed through with it, turning fans against him in Uncanny Attractions, Enjoy Wrestling and Next Up Pro Wrestling. He challenged for the Enjoy Wrestling championship early in the year and battled J Boujii for the Invictus Pro Social Media title. But his most evil moment came when he blindsided Uncanny Attractions Unchampion Edith Surreal, unmasked her and defeated her to become the new Unchampion. Even when being a babyface, Dixon embodied his “Babyface Douchebag” mantra by turning on Charles Mason and forming FOURUSSY at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch LA and personifying problematic thurst at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch 7. But Dixon’s legacy behind the scenes still carries on in him taking a producing role for GCW For The Culture and sharing his desire to keep the Cassandro Cup alive. Babyface douchebags are still babyfaces, and that is Billy Dixon.

11. Edith Surreal

2023 was a year dripped in gold for Edith Surreal, holding a collection of championships that represent her national reach. Surreal entered the year holding Women’s championships for Denver-based Lucha Libre & Laughs and New York-based Invictus Pro Wrestling, tallying more than 270 days as a double champion. Her collection grew when she defeated MV Young for the Enjoy Wrestling championship, cementing her even further as the Keystone of the Pittsburgh-based company in a QWI Match of the Year contender. She logged memorable defenses against Su Yung, Travis Huckabee and Killian McMurphy while adding the Uncanny Attractions Unchampionship down in Austin, again becoming a double champion.

“The Ephemeral Queen” closed the Pro Wrestling VIBE chapter of her career with a supremely cathartic trios match against McMurphy, ending a feud centered on internalized homophobia and transphobia within the queer community with one of the top trans wrestlers in the world on top. She added appearances with C4, Labor of Love, Battle Club Pro, High Tension Wrestling and H2O, challenging for titles in some of those promotions as well. But what Edith Surreal’s year represents overall is a continued commitment to visibility, existence and joy as protest nationally and internationally. No crown is too heavy for our queen.

10. Toni Storm

Toni Storm embraced self-evolution to create multiple engaging versions of herself and reach historic highs within AEW. First came The Outcasts, a faction consisting of Storm, Saraya and Ruby Soho that did their best to destabilize AEW’s women’s division throughout the first half of the year. Storm’s association with the stable resulted in many wins on her way to defeating Jamie Hayter for the AEW Women’s World title at Double or Nothing. The win made her the first wrestler to hold that championship twice in AEW’s short history.

Dissension within the group, losing her title to Hikaru Shida and an odd friendship with RJ City led to the creation of “Timeless” Toni Storm, a persona inspired by Hollywood Golden Age actresses, who enjoy a good portion of camp and are celebrated by queer populations as cultural figures at times. The change led to a delightfully unhinged and humorous version of Storm and another AEW Women’s World title win at Full Gear in November. Whether she knows if her character leans into sections of queer culture or not, Storm’s continued success in AEW provides a wonderful image of queer women succeeding in a major mainstream wrestling company and that is timeless.

9. Trish Adora

On a list full of lengthy title reigns and people who impact the culture of pro wrestling, Trish Adora brings both together in a way unlike anyone else. Her time as Pan-Afrikan World Diaspora World champion saw so much change for “The Afro-Punk,” from a champion crowned by F1ght Club Pro Wrestling to highlight the unapologetically Black population of our nation’s capital and their voices to world champion to feminist in-ring expression in The Iron Match to Ring of Honor star to international recognition. Having that belt around her waist helped define its place in the wider culture of pro wrestling. For 1,338 days, she held that title, and when that reign came to an end and the title found a new home with Suge D, Adora’s legacy with it was completed, left to travel with it through time.

But one title reign doesn’t define Adora. She continues to impress in Ring of Honor and AEW as part of The Infantry and kept up a busy independent schedule, challenging for titles in The Crash, New Texas Pro Wrestling, West Coast Pro Wrestling, Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling and DEFY Wrestling. Adora returned to Hoodslam looking to add the GLAMpionship, helped Edith Surreal squash her issue with The Goons in Pro Wrestling VIBE and shined again at GCW For The Culture. She reached the semifinals of Wrestling Revolver’s Women’s Grand Prix and competed for the IWTV Independent Wrestling World title. In past years, it felt like Adora would never lose the Pan-Afrikan World Diaspora World title, but 2023 proved that one end is just another beginning and one title doesn’t define how you influence the world around you.

8. Veny

It is an understatement to say that Veny deserves her flowers at this point. The modern-day Joshi icon continues to represent an independent and determined spirit that still leaves plenty of room for grace and mischief, and, honestly, what’s more queer than that?

Veny brought that spirit to countless Japanese independent promotions, pushing her SEAdLINNNG Beyond The Sea Tag Team title reign with Las Fresa de Egoistas partner Makoto to 546 days, holding the top title in Sendai Girls for most of the year and defeating three-time AEW Women’s World champion Hikaru Shida for the Pro Wrestling WAVE Regina Di WAVE championship. She made appearances with Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling, DDT, Ice Ribbon and Marvelous while squeezing in a victory over Yurika Oka on Jinsei Shinzaki’s 30th Anniversary show. The year also saw Veny return to the U.S. with GCW and Daikaiju Pro Wrestling, challenging Joey Janela for the GCW Extreme title and defeating two-time TJPW Princess of Princess champion Shoko Nakajima. Hopefully that bodes well for more trips stateside in 2024, but there are plenty of places for fans to find Veny and let her introduce you to the wider world of Joshi throughout Japan.

7. Allie Katch

The Mommy to EFFY’s Daddy in BUSSY and all of its variants (THRUSSY with Dark Sheik, FOURUSSY with Sheik and Billy Dixon, Thrunt with Sheik and Sawyer Wreck, SGSuperCunt with Wreck and Second Gear Crew and Insane Clown BUSSY with Violent J) built her best year to date both alongside those partners and on her own. Katch wrestled all over the world with GCW, producing standout matches with Violence Is Forever, Pheremones, Steph De Lander and Maki Itoh. She appeared in the main event of three EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch events, including the WarGays match in Los Angeles and a QWI Match of the Year contending tag bout against Sonny Kiss and Pimpinela Escarlata in Chicago. Her bloody cage match against Charles Mason stands out as one of the best cage matches of the year.

Beyond GCW, Katch found success in Hoodslam, winning the Best Athlete in the East Bay golden fannypaks and helping end the existential threat of The Fallen. Her Wrestling Revolver pairing with JT Dunn rampaged through the promotion as she earned title matches in DEFY Wrestling, Freelance Wrestling, Blitzkrieg Pro, International Wrestling Syndicate and Glory Pro. Internationally, Katch wrestled for major U.K. promotions TNT Extreme and PROGRESS while adding contests in Japan, Finland, France, Canada and Australia. A big part of that international slate was her entry in TNT Extreme’s DOA deathmatch tournament. Katch additionally added to the infusion of queer culture into pro wrestling via the Reign On Me match at Pro Wrestling VIBE, giving the company quite the sendoff by making Ashton Starr admit that Lady Gaga ate. The year filled out with appearances across the country, but the lasting message is that Katch’s abilities have no limit, unlike her ability to keep EFFY away from attractive opponents.

6. “Speedball” Mike Bailey

I do not understand how “Speedball” Mike Bailey does what he does at such a high level. He wrestled more than 150 matches, again earned the title of WrestleMania weekend MVP after producing ten stellar bouts over three days in LA and won Pro Wrestling Guerilla’s Battle of Los Angeles tournament after wrestling for 76 minutes across four matches in one night. The IMPACT Wrestling star is a machine, turning in Match of the Year contenders with Will Ospreay, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hiromu Takahashi and Kota Ibushi while maintaining a year-long rivalry with Jonathan Gresham in IMPACT.

But Bailey did more than deliver amazing matches — he made pro wrestling history. They became the first gender-diverse wrestler to enter New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Best of the Super Junior tournament, where he won Block A and reached the semifinals, and to challenge for a NJPW title in the company’s 51-year history when he fought for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight championship. Bailey added a short Pandemonium Pro title reign and an IMPACT X-Division championship match while starring at nearly every major independent promotion in the U.S. and Canada, with their match at Hoodslam with Kenny K being one banger of a sleeper option. Bryan Keith, Masha Slamovich, Zack Sabre Jr., El Hijo del Vikingo; there are literally too many top pro wrestling figures that Bailey produced magic with to list. And he does so with a foot in his opponents’ faces and a smile on his.

5. Anthony Bowens

Hopefully your scissor fingers survived 2023 because Anthony Bowens gave fans across North America plenty of reasons to celebrate in acclaimed fashion. Bowens continued to thrive in AEW alongside The Acclaimed partner Max Caster and “Daddy Ass” Billy Gunn, increasing their title count. After entering the year as AEW World Tag Team champions, the trio found themselves in a fight for the AEW World Trios titles against the House of Black throughout the summer. After multiple failed challenges and hints that Gunn might walk away from the ring, The Acclaimed and their favorite scissor party partner defeated their nemeses at All In in Wembley Stadium to claim trios gold.

Being strapped up as a wrestler is always a great feeling and a reflection of your skill and the confidence you engender with leadership, but it meant something different with Bowens. His title reigns propelled him further onto platforms like Vice Sports to speak candidly about LGBTQ advocacy and acceptance within sports. His queerness became a point of connection with AEW audiences, most notably when an entire arena chanted “He’s gay” on national television in an affirming fashion when the same thing would have held malice years ago. Everyone loves The Acclaimed, yes, but Bowens earns a love from audiences all too distinct and unlike anything seen from national television audiences in wrestling’s long relationship with TV. Bowens is one of a kind, but he is making it so that he won’t be in at least one way in wrestling’s future.

4. Dark Sheik

Dark Sheik is a revolutionary. She has been for the 13 years that the promotion she founded, Hoodslam, has turned wrestling on its head and risen to be one of the most influential forces in pro wrestling. But that spirit extends much further than the lifespan of Oakland’s rowdiest Friday night pro wrestling party and continues to do so more than 20 years after she first stepped foot into a ring. Her year-long story of tension and love with The CAUTION (caution) partner Vipress produced another Intergalactic Tag Team title reign but it also fractured the unit itself with the loss of Anton Voorhees to the Boom Gang, providing a light-hearted yet resonant look at toxic relationships through the lens of pro wrestling. Her battles with The Fallen felt like a major comic book event and her match with Sawyer Wreck was one of many showcases of queer love at “The Accidental Phenomenon.”

Dark Sheik came face-to-face with her influence outside of Hoodslam, wrestling across North America and Europe with GCW, representing her queer punk nature during WrestleMania weekend at EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch and beyond, challenging for titles on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border and delivering looks backed up by ferocity at additional Big Gay Brunches. “The Motherbrain” made pro wrestling history with Helen Charlotte Campbell in TNT Extreme, inspired countless souls as one-third of THRUSSY and reigned supreme as the UGWA Champion of Sharks. Despite all of these accomplishments, it is impossible to quantify how significant her presence within pro wrestling truly is. Perhaps it doesn’t need to be. Putting a limit on something so special would be criminal.

3. EFFY

Trying to define EFFY is a fool’s errand because he’ll just introduce a new variant of himself or introduce you to the latest paradigm shift he made while you weren’t paying attention. The GCW icon challenged for titles in Europe, Australia and all over North America, appearing with nearly every major independent promotion while speaking truth to wrestling power. He defeated Ava Lawless for the Top Talent Wrestling championship, adding to his continued mission of queer empowerment. He, Allie Katch and every combination of BUSSY personified queer strength while delivering North America’s only match to date to end as a result of “too much ass eating” against Pheromones.

More importantly, EFFY took his Big Gay Brunch international, holding the first EFFY’s Big Gay Brunch U.K. event and providing a pivotal platform for dozens of out LGBTQ wrestlers across the pond, many of whom are honored on this very list. He brought the BGB atmosphere to the American South, the same region where a younger EFFY cut his teeth as a queer disrupting force, with EFFY’s Big Gay Thanksgiving. All of these points can be broken down in minute detail when focusing on individual matches, but sometimes it is better to take a panoramic view to truly see the majesty of a creation. That is EFFY, or at least one snapshot of him.

2. Alex Kane

Eighteen months after a queer Black man from Atlanta made history as the first out LGBTQ male world champion in pro wrestling history, another one became the second when Alex Kane defeated Hammerstone to become the new Major League Wrestling World Heavyweight champion. The win marked the coronation of Kane after becoming one of the MLW’s top stars just two years after signing with the company. He won the Battle Riot match to earn the title shot, but his work as leader of the Bomaye Fight Club is truly what pushed him to the top, building a truly unique all Black stable that drew inspiration from Muhammed Ali not just in name but in mission as an unfiltered expression of Black and queer strength, community and glory.

And he didn’t stop at simply winning the title. He tallied title defenses against former MLW World champions Tom Lawlor and Jacob Fatu as well as Willie Mack. “The Suplex Assassin” returned to his home region as a celebrated hero at the Scenic City Invitational and got right back to work, challenging for the ACTION Wrestling championship. Kane would pursue titles in other areas of North America and enter tournaments in CZW and Paradigm Pro Wrestling, but his standing as the only out LGBTQ male world champion at the end of 2023, much less for a nationally televised promotion, remains the lasting image of a banner year for the man who now stands beside AC Mack and Che Monet in that club. And that’s on Bomaye.

1. Max The Impaler

“Intimidating” doesn’t begin to describe Max The Impaler’s demeanor when they step into the ring. “The Non-Binary Nightmare” is an imposing force everywhere they go, but 2023 represented something truly special for the ruler of the wasteland. They made pro wrestling history multiple times over through their dominance, beginning with their Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling Princess Tag Team title win with Wasteland War Party partner Heidi Howitzer, becoming the first all-LGBTQ team to hold those belts and making Max the first out non-binary and transmasculine wrestler to ever hold a tag team championship for a major Japanese promotion. They added to that by winning the NWA World Women’s Television championship, becoming the first out non-binary and transmasculine champion in the 75-year history of the promotion. Max would go on to one-up that, returning to Japan to claim the TJPW International Princess championship, becoming the first out non-binary and transmasculine wrestler to hold a singles championship in a major Japanese promotion.

Their accomplishments in two nations with deep historical pro wrestling legacies rang out like a rallying cry to non-binary and trans fans worldwide and added to Max’s growing legacy of breaking pro wrestling’s long-held tradition of gender division along the binary. They did so in both nations, appearing for DDT in Japan and entering the NWA’s Crockett Cup tournament. Building this list of accomplishments as one of the very few transmasculine figures in pro wrestling, a community that barely approaches double digits, adds to their significance. Their time in Japan also showed a different side of Max, letting the juxtaposition of their menacing figure standing beside Pom Harajuku or rampaging through the offices of CyberFight display their sense of humor, revealing further complexities within them. They added title defenses in Pro Wrestling EVE, Enjoy Wrestling and Finland’s FCF Wrestling, but they had already done enough to earn this spot. Max The Impaler sits at the top of the 2023 QWI 200. Let the wasteland rejoice.

Congratulations to all 2023 QWI 200 honorees and all LGBTQ figures in pro wrestling. See you in 2024!

Also check out regular conversations with LGBTQ wrestlers on the LGBT In The Ring podcast.