Welcome to the annual Lords of Pain End of Year Awards where we celebrate the best of the year and decade in pro wrestling. Nearly 1000 of your votes have been tallied so the results reflect a very broad consensus across the site’s fan base.
Also thanks must be given to Tim Rose for this spiffy title image, Mizfan for helping me flesh out the Global/Indy categories suggestions and also Rey Cash for similar help with the WWE match options.
If you would like to listen to the official announcement podcast then you can find my in depth discussion with The Implications on LOP Radio.
WWE Wrestler of The Year
1st: Adam Cole (28.3%)
2nd: The Fiend (17.1%)
3rd: Becky Lynch (11.3%)
Sam’s Pick: Daniel Bryan
In NXT’s first year on broadcast TV it is somewhat fitting that the man who has been the cetrepiece of the brand for most of the year takes out top spot. Cole also managed to grasp the majority of the critical consensus as you will see in the match and feud of the year voting so is a well deserved winner. Coming in behind him is the incredibly creative return of Bray Wyatt as The Fiend, while his matches had their ups and downs there is no disputing the way so many WWE fans embraced the act. Coming in third is last year’s wrestler of the year, Becky Lynch, who was unable to maintain the red hot run she entered the year on but completely justified her position at the top of the company with a number of great matches and typically colourful work on the mic.
WWE Tag Team of The Year
1st: The Undisputed Era (30.6%)
2nd: The New Day (18.2%)
3rd: The Kabuki Warriors (13.2%)
Sam’s Pick: The Revival
Kyle O’Riley & Bobby Fish complete a golden year for The Undisputed Era, taking out the Tag Team of the Year off the back of another year of spectacular tag team matches that managed to push the WWE’s in ring style athletically but also tell some great stories. Tag team stalwarts The New Day flew under the radar in the tag division at the start of the year but after Kofi lost the WWE Title were once again helming the division, putting on great performances like their Ladder Match with The Revival at TLC. In third, beating out The Revival by just five votes, were Asuka and Kairi Sane who found a great niche and received the most regular TV time either has since perhaps Asuka’s original run on the main roster.
WWE Non-Wrestling Personality of The Year
1st: Mauro Ranallo (24.3%)
2nd: Paul Heyman (20.1%)
3rd: Renee Young (13.5%)
Sam’s Pick: Nigel McGuiness
MAMA MIA! The voice of NXT Mauro Ranallo comes in first place. While some call him over the top there is no doubting Ranallo gives NXT a very special feel with his enthusiastic ‘big game’ calling style. The advocate for Brock Lesnar comes in second with his well loved pronouncements of terror to The Beast’s victims. Finally, while her time on commentary received a mixed response, Renee Young is the premiere WWE interviewer for a reason and well and truly earns her third place votes.
WWE Rookie of The Year
1st: WALTER (53.7%)
2nd: Humberto Carrillo (20.3%)
3rd: Angel Garza (7%)
Sam’s Pick: WALTER
There was never a doubt in this result with WALTER sweeping the pool and picking up the most dominant result of the voting. He well and truly earnt it too, reigning at the top of NXT UK all year and getting a spotlight on NXT and the main roster as well. The highlight for me was his brutal TakeOver New York performance opposite Pete Dunne which I declared match of the weekend at the time. Coming in a clear second is Humberto Carrillo who went from 205 Live to opposite AJ Syles for the US Title in just six months and is certainly a high flyer to watch in the future.
WWE Single Match of The Year
1st: Kofi Kingston v Daniel Bryan – Wrestlemania (16.9%)
2nd: Adam Cole v Johnny Gargano – TakeOver New York (13.8%)
3rd: Adam Cold v Johnny Gargano – TakeOver Toronto (12.5%)
Sam’s Pick: Kofi Kingston v Daniel Bryan – Wrestlemania
One of the delights as a wrestling fan this year was the incredible build to Wrestlemania for Kofi Kingston. The long serving vet ended up in the title picture completely by accident but to the WWE’s credit when they saw the crowd getting behind him they went all in. The climax was a fantastic Wrestlemania Championship match that left many watching in tears when Kofi hoisted the title above his head. That said, Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole will have to consider themselves unlucky to miss out in this category, with no consensus ‘best’ match, the pair ended up with over a third of all the votes but split across their high octane trilogy. Personally I would pick Kofi v Bryan for its historic nature but there is no doubting the crowd pleasing nature of the Gargano v Cole matches.
WWE Tag Team Match of the Year
1st: The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Riley, Bobby Fish & Roddy Strong) v Tommaso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic & Kevin Owens – TakeOver War Games 3 (25.1%)
2nd: Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox & Dakota Kai v Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai & Kay Lee Ray – TakeOver War Games 3 (15.5%)
3rd: The Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) v Aleister Black & Ricochet – TakeOver New York (8%)
Sam’s Pick: The Shield v Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley & Baron Corbin (Fastlane)
For the second year in a row War Games sweeps the Tag Team Match of the Year category. While they always seem to feel a tad overblown for my taste, there is no doubting the excitement that accompanies William Regal’s now annual pronouncement. The surprise entrance of Kevin Owens and brutal finish edged out the more story and character oriented women’s match for the honours in 2019. Beyond them The Viking Raiders and Aleister Black & Ricochet take the honour of the highest voted traditional tag match of the year with their farewell effort at TakeOver New York.
WWE Feud of the Year
1st: Adam Cole v Johnny Gargano (31%)
2nd: NXT v Smackdown v Raw – Survivor Series Build (17.8%)
3rd: Becky Lynch v Ronda Rousey v Charlotte Flair (17.1%)
Sam’s Pick: Kofi Kingston v Daniel Bryan
No surprise here, in match of the year Cole and Gargano picked up 34% of the vote between their matches and they have managed to carry the majority of the votes across here. The Survivor Series build was the surprise packet of the year with a delayed flight back from Saudi Arabia and NXT injecting some much needed freshness into the well worn brand warfare storyline. Special mention must also go to the women’s three way that culminated in the first every women’s Wrestlemania main event, despite the convoluted story it ended up telling there is no doubting the incredible historic moment it created.
AEW Wrestler of the Year
1st: Chris Jericho (45.7%)
2nd: Jon Moxley (20.7%)
3rd: Cody (12%)
Sam’s Pick: Jon Moxley
Le Champion takes home the AEW Wrestler of the Year with a handy margin, time to break out a little bit of the bubbly! No surprise here, while there were some who raised their eyebrow at Jericho being made the first ever AEW Champion he has more than held up his end of the bargain, sculpting hot main event feuds opposite Kenny Omega, Cody and Jon Moxley and also giving the rub to a few up and comers on the way in Darby Allin and Jungle Boy. Second is the wild man Jon Moxley who has made the most of his new lease on life, as has the highest rated EVP Cody.
AEW Tag Team of the Year
1st: S.C.U. (27.8%)
2nd: Lucha Brothers (25.8%)
3rd: The Young Bucks (19.7%)
Sam’s Pick: S.C.U.
This was one of the closest results in the voting with the top three exchanging the lead at different points in time but in the end it was the inaugural AEW Tag Team Champions that pipped the rest at the post. For me this is well deserved, while other teams have potentially had more high profile matches, from the first AEW show S.C.U. have been the anchor the tag division has been built around. They did face stiff competition from the Lucha Bros who have really exploded out of the indies this year, with both men also ready to break out as singles wrestlers too. It is interesting to see that in both wrestler of the year polls, the EVPs and founders of the company missed out on the top two spots.
AEW Non-Wrestling Personality of the Year
1st: Jim Ross (36.3%)
2nd: Tony Schivone (13.9%)
3rd: Jake Hager (13.7%)
Sam’s Pick: Aubery Edwards
A handy win here for Good Ol’ J.R. whose presence at the AEW commentary table has given the new company a big time feel. While Ross has copped his share of criticism at times this year, when the main event has rolled around he has always delivered as only he can. Second to fourth place was only split by 8 votes with Ross’ partner in crime Tony Schivone just beating out the former Jake Swagger and now Chris Jericho heater Jake Hager. In fourth was my pick Aubery Edwards who has quickly rose to being the best ref in the game, handling the AEW main events with aplomb.
AEW Singles Match of the Year
1st: Cody v Dustin Rhodes – Double or Nothing (44.7%)
2nd: Kenny Omega v Jon Moxley – Full Gear (23.5%)
3rd: Chris Jericho v Kenny Omega – Double or Nothing(7.2%)
Sam’s Pick: Cody v Dustin Rhodes – Double or Nothing
The Rhodes brothers pick up a well deserved win with their emotional roller coaster of a story of two brothers who needed to beat each other until they remembered the blood they shared. As with so many of his matches Cody’s emotional performance drove things but Dustin deserves special praise for getting into amazing shape and pushing through a hellacious blade job that only added to the match. Coming in second is the divisive but no doubt jaw dropping unsanctioned epic between Moxley and Omega, followed by the very first AEW main event.
AEW Tag Team Match of the Year
1st: The Lucha Brothers v The Young Bucks – Double or Nothing (30.2%)
2nd: The Lucha Brothers v The Young Bucks – All Out (17.8%)
3rd: The Young Bucks v Cody & Dustin Rhodes – Fight for the Fallen (13.9%)
Sam’s Pick: S.C.U. v The Lucha Brothers (Dynamite)
This category was dominated by the pre-Dynamite offerings from The Young Bucks and The Lucha Brothers and for good reason, when it comes to the athletic, spot heavy style it doesn’t get much better than these two. In the end their ‘traditional’ tag match beat out the death defying ladder match at All Out. The Bucks may not have taken out the ‘tag team of the year honours’ but when it comes to match of the year they dominated, picking up four of the top five overall.
AEW Feud of the Year
1st: Cody v Chris Jericho (38.2%)
2nd: Jon Moxley v Kenny Omega (35.2%)
3rd: Cody v Dustin Rhodes (10.2%)
Sam’s Pick: Cody v Chris Jericho
With AEW only starting weekly TV it was always going to be hard for the feuds from earlier in the year to compete here and the two major feuds heading into their first post-TV PPV swept the field. In the end it was the classic face challenger v heel champion story that got the nod over the badass but decidedly more modern Omega v Moxley feud. Both Jericho and Cody deserve praise for for their work on the mic in the lead up which really built to an emotional fever pitch even before the match started.
Global/Indy Wrestler of the Year
1st: Jon Moxley (24.8%)
2nd: Will Ospreay (11.9%)
3rd: Tessa Blanchard (9.4%)
Sam’s Pick: Shingo Takagi
A controversial win for Moxley here (and that’s coming from one of his biggest fans) but there really is no doubting the impact Moxley had on wrestling this year after leaving the WWE, turning up in New Japan to carry their US Heavyweight Championship through the G1 and even making apperances at a number of indy shows around the US too. Will Ospreay comes in second on the back of one of the greatest pure in-ring years of all time followed by Tessa Blanchard who has become the face of IMPACT wrestling over 2019.
Global/Indy Tag Team of the Year
1st: The Briscoes (26.5%)
2nd: Guerrillas of Destiny (16.7%)
3rd: Villain Enterprise (14.1%)
Sam’s Pick: Birds of Prey
The only category dominated by Ring Of Honor talent with The Briscoes picking up a well earnt thank you for years of hard work. Not that they didn’t have a great year, having a number of high profile matches against the Guerrillas of Destiny and also appearing in the G1 Supercard match at MSG with three of the others teams on this list.
Global/Indy Non-Wrestling Personality of the Year
1st: Jim Cornette (25.3%)
2nd: Don Callis (16.9%)
3rd: Josh Matthews (11.3%)
Sam’s Pick: Kevin Kelly
No matter what you think of him as a person Jim Cornette remains one of the greatest colour commentators in the business and reminded everyone of that this year with his work in NWA and MLW. It is sad that he is so set in his ways and so unable to apologise for the disgusting things he has said that he finds himself unable to find a job in any major wrestling promotion. This is a fan vote so the will of the people stands however I really hope in 2020 his name is on everyone’s lips for positive reasons, not negative ones.
Global/Indy Singles Match of the Year
1st: Tetsuya Naito v Chris Jericho – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom (9.9%)
2nd: Hiroshi Tanahashi v Kenny Omega – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom (7.8%)
2nd (tie) Tessa Blanchard v Sammi Callihan – IMPACT Slammiversary (7.8%)
Sam’s Pick: Jon Moxley v Juice Robinson – NJPW Best of Super Juniors Final
Amazing to see so much representation in this category with over 30 matches receiving votes and things being split very evenly across an extremely diverse range of performers and match types. Taking top spot was the blow off brawl for the Tetsuya Naito and Chris Jericho feud at Wrestle Kingdom 13 that left Naito’s head imprint on the commentary table after one particularly viscous DDT. It was followed by a tie between the more traditional Wrestle Kingdom main event between Kenny Omega and Hiroshi Tanahashi and the inter-gender match Tess Blanchard v Sammi Callihan, truly a representation of how incredibly diverse wrestling was in 2019. Special mention to Will Ospreay who had five matches that all got significant ammounts of votes in this category and also PAC and Kzy for getting Dragon Gate on the honour board for the first time since these awards started.
Global/Indy Tag Team Match of the Year
1st: LAX v The Lucha Brothers – IMPACT Homecoming (20.6%)
2nd: The Briscoes v EVIL & SANADA v Guerrillas of Destiny v Villain Enterprise – NJPW & ROH G1 Supercard at MSG (20%)
3rd: The Briscoes v Villain Enterprise – ROH 17th Anniversary (11.3%)
Sam’s Pick: Birds of Prey v E.L.P. & Taji Ishimori (NJPW Destruction)
An extremely tight result that saw LAX and The Lucha Brothers triumph in a typically fast paced and hard hitting offering at IMPACT Homecoming. Only four votes behind (I did say every vote counts) was the four way tag team match at the historic NJPW and ROH joint MSG show, obviously the infamous ending run in by two former WWE wrestlers hasn’t ruined the memories of the match that saw the Guerrillas of Destiny become double champions. Unfortunately nZo and CazXL were not able to be included on the list here.
Global/Indy Feud of the Year
1st: Tessa Blanchard v Sammi Callihan (25.4%)
2nd: The Lucha Brothers v LAX (18%)
3rd: Kazuchika Okada v Jay White (10.4%)
Sam’s Pick: Minoru Suzuki v Jushin Thunder Liger
Very surprising result here with the feud that has turned Tessa Blanchard into one of the biggest faces in IMPACT Wrestling and Sammi Callihan into one of the biggest heels taking out the top prize. Overall it is very smart booking by IMPACT who have successfully avoided having their top heel cheered by having him do the one of the few unforgivable things in western wrestling today. They were followed by the action heavy tag team matchup of of LAX and The Lucha Brothers and then the feud that main evented the NJPW & ROH MSG show Kazuchika Okada v Jay White.
Brand of the Year
1st: World Wrestling Entertainment (42.5%)
2nd: All Elite Wrestling (38.4%)
3rd: New Japan Pro Wrestling (8.6%)
Sam’s Pick: New Japan Pro Wrestling
It was always going to come down to AEW and WWE in this category and the votes seesawed back and forth with both companies spending time in the lead. In the end though the biggest company in the industry came out on top with their smorgasbord approach that offers up a little something for every kind of wrestling fan around. AEW did provide a strong challenge, it will be interesting to see where the votes stack at the end of 2020 when AEW has a full year of TV under its belt. For me though neither can touch the action and consistency of New Japan which I was happy to see coming in a clear third.
Show of the Year
1st: AEW Double or Nothing (15.8%)
2nd: WWE Wrestlemania 35 (14%)
3rd: WWE NXT TakeOver War Games 3 (11.5%)
Sam’s Pick: NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Finals
The very first PPV in All Elite Wrestling’s history takes the Show of the Year for 2019, blending the emotional ride of Cody v Dustin Rhodes, with the epic main event of Kenny Omega v Chris Jericho and the sugar rush of The Young Bucks v The Lucha Brothers into a hugely satisfying historical package. It was followed by the best received Mania in the last four years that gave us the highs of three face champion victories, including the WWE match of the year between Kofi Kingston and Daniel Bryan.
Industry Decade Awards
Wrestler of the Decade
In an incredible field of contenders AJ Styles reigns supreme to take the Wrestler of the Decade honours. He is a man who was just about everywhere in the 2010’s starting out the decade tearing down the house opposite Kurt Angle in the main event of TNA’s first ever Monday night show. He then moved to New Japan where he was immediately put into the championship scene and did as much as anyone at the time to make The Bullet Club a cultural phenomena within wrestling fandom. Finally in 2016 he debuted in the WWE and against all odds and what anyone would have thought possible at the start of the decade, Styles has become one of the undisputed top guys in the company, one of Vince’s most trusted hands. He does stand on the shoulders of giants who came before him and who were also recognised in the voting but given all he has accomplished, inspired and represented AJ Styles is more than deserving of the title Wrestler of the Decade.
The New Day
Tag Team of the Decade
The New Day are the quintessential case of what can happen in wrestling when you bet on yourself. When they formed they were a veteran that had been consigned to midcard for life status, a potentially failed experiment and a guy who didn’t even get that chance to be a failed experiment. Against all odds these three men banded together, fought long and hard for the creative direction they knew would work for them and created something unique, fun and incredibly popular. Leaving the decade they now boast the longest ever WWE Tag Team Championship run, one of the greatest Wresltemania WWE Championship wins ever and along the way have made themselves millionaires by selling truckloads of their colourful merchandise. Ultimately though the thing that sets the New Day apart from so many other teams out there is how they remind us all that at its core wrestling should always be fun, despite everything they have never lose that playful spirit and as a result have always had the crowd on their side.
The Undertaker v Shawn Michaels – Wrestlemania 26
Match of the Decade
In a decade filled with breathtaking matches that expanded what many of us thought was possible in the ring, it is somewhat surprising but still fitting to see these two veterans topping the poll. The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels are two of the most beloved wrestlers and wrestling characters in the history of the industry and also two wrestlers uniquely skilled in being able to draw the crowd into every little nuance they put into their performance. In many ways their epic at Wresltemania 25 the year before set the tone for what wrestling would become this decade and the follow up at Wrestlemania 26 ended up being just as special. This match was very much a squeal to what many say is the greatest Wresltemania match ever however it was given an extra layer of narrative and emotion by the stipulation of Shawn Michaels’ retirement. For me it is that stipulation that elevates this match even above what came before it, giving every move extra weight and every near-fall more meaning, either the great streak of The Undertaker was going to be broken or one of the greatest of all time would be retired. The final sequence of Shawn Michaels taunting and slapping The Undertaker is the perfect defiant tone for him to leave the world of wrestling with and caps off what is now the Lords of Pain Match of the Decade for the 2010s.
Thanks again to everyone who voted, it really is amazing to see so many people showing off their love for this industry in these type of awards. Please let us know who you voted for and what you think of the results in the comments below or you can find me on Twitter @Sir_Samuel.