Based primarily on his three WWE World heavyweight title victories, Roman Reigns topped Pro Wrestling Illustrated's 26th annual "PWI 500."

Reigns won the tournament to fill the vacant World title at Survivor Series in November 2015 by defeating both Alberto Del Rio and Dean Ambrose. Though his celebration was cut short by Sheamus cashing in his Money in the Bank contract and taking the title, Reigns reclaimed it during the December 14 edition of Raw. The odds were stacked against him at the Royal Rumble, with the prize going to the Rumble winner, Triple H. Reigns, however, shined under the WrestleMania lights, beating Triple H with his signature spear to begin his third title run. Reigns also beat Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose in a triple-threat at Fastlane in February and also AJ Styles in a no-DQ match at Extreme Rules in May.

All of these accomplishments fell within the "PWI 500's" evaluation period, July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016.

Reigns was thrilled when he was informed of the selection by PWI Senior Writer Dan Murphy.

"Thank you, man. It's crazy. Last year, was I what, three or four? To just remain in that same company, to be in that class with those guys, it's world class," he said. "It's a great honor and it goes with a lot of hard work. It's very flattering. It just shows that if you keep your head down and stick to your day-to-day, you grind it out and take the long road, good things happen. It's a great achievement and another great accolade."

Reigns is a polarizing figure and PWI Publisher Stu Saks anticipates some backlash from fans over the choice.

"Our cover headline comes right out and states it: 'Half of You Will Hate This! Roman Reigns Is No. 1.' Reigns is certainly not the sexy choice, but based on what he accomplished during the time frame for evaluation, we think he's the right choice," Saks said.

The entire Reigns podcast interview can be found at the iTunes Store and The print and digital edition of the "PWI 500" magazine can be obtained at that website.

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