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Welcome to the annual Wrestling Headlines End of Year Awards where we celebrate the best of the year in pro wrestling. We received nearly 1000 votes this year, so I think it is fair to say that the results reflect a very broad consensus across the site’s fan base.
Thanks to everyone who voted, these would not be possible without you and it is always great to see who you guys choose. I love that there are always a few results that surprise me and go against what seems to be the dominant point of view in the community. As you will see as you read through every single vote counted and some big awards were decided by only a handful of votes.
If you’d like to hear some more in-depth analysis of the results then check out the podcast where Imp and I announced the winners. You can find it here:
Wrestler of the Year Awards
WWE Wrestler of the Year
1st: Drew McIntyre (39%)
2nd: Roman Reigns (10.8%)
3rd: Bray Wyatt/The Fiend (7.9%)
Sam’s Pick: Drew McIntyre
There wasn’t much that Drew McIntyre didn’t win in 2020, he started with the Royal Rumble, beat Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, ran roughshod over Raw and now ends the year as Wrestling Headlines Wrestler of the Year, earning nearly 40% of the vote. Drew’s win Behind him was Roman Reigns who seems to have finally got his character right and earnt enormous praise as The Tribal Chief and in third, the ever divisive Bray Wyatt who had massive creative highs and lows in 2020.
WWE Tag Team of the Year
1st: The Street Profits (26.8%)
2nd: Bayley & Sasha Banks (23.4%)
3rd: The Hurt Business (13.7%)
Sam’s Pick: Bayley & Sasha Banks
An award for sheer darn consistency for The Street Profits. While they may not have had the most high profile, critically acclaimed or talked about matches in 2020, week in, week out they were a joy to watch. They deserve special mention for bringing life and charm to the often lifeless Performance Center in the early months of empty arena wrestling. Following them was my personal pick Bayley & Sasha Banks who took the women’s division on their back and carried it through most of the year in both singles competition and tag team.
WWE Non-Wrestling Personality of the Year
1st: Paul Heyman (43.9%)
2nd: William Regal (9.8%)
3rd: Wade Barrett (7.9%)
Sam’s Pick: Paul Heyman
For the three years I have been running these awards every year I have wondered if Paul Heyman would pick it up, the guy has an act that fans love to emulate and is well known and loved in the wrestling world. Well in 2020 the addition of Heyman to Roman Reigns as the manager of The Tribal Chief has been the secret sauce to both freshen up his act and push him to a dominant win here.
WWE Rookie of the Year
1st: Karion Kross (28.5%)
2nd: Pat McAfee (23.9%)
3rd: Dominik Mysterio (23.3%)
Sam’s Pick: Dominik Mysterio
One of the more competitive categories this year was the WWE Rookie of the Year, with 95% of all votes split fairly evenly between the top four. In the end, it was the incredible packaging and instant elevation of Karion Kross in NXT that took out the award. While Kross was great, for me it was second and third places that were the surprise packages of the year, both came from relative obscurity wrestling wise, neither have any recorded matches at the start of the year and yet both managed to more than hold their own in very high profile matches and feuds.
AEW Wrestler of the Year
1st: Jon Moxley (46.7%)
2nd: Kenny Omega (13.1%)
3rd: Chris Jericho (7.6%)
Sam’s Pick: Jon Moxley
It has been a career year for Jon Moxley, he picked up the AEW World Championship at Revolution in February and held it until December. Mox’s championship run started slowly but picked up steam and finished in barnstorming fashion with programs opposite MJF, Eddie Kingston and Kenny Omega. Be it in the ring or on the mic, Moxley was able to perform all year at the absolute highest level. The new AEW Champion Kenny Omega came in second and would have to be in the box seat to take out the award in 2021, just as third-place Chris Jericho did in 2019.
AEW Tag Team of the Year
1st: Adam Page & Kenny Omega (28%)
2nd: F.T.R. (25.6%)
3rd: The Young Bucks (20.5%)
Sam’s Pick: Adam Page & Kenny Omega
Pairing two singles wrestlers together is a trope that has too often devalued tag team divisions, for every Yokozuna and Owen Hart or JeriShow there are countless ShowMizs or MVP & Mark Henrys. I think it is safe to say that the union of Hangman Page and Kenny Omega in 2020 falls into the first category of partnerships with how they bolstered and elevated the AEW tag team division for the majority of the year, putting on a pile of blockbuster matches and also progressing their own character arcs in the company. A close second was the former Revival who debuted in May, making good on the promise they showed in NXT and subsequently talked once free.
AEW Non-Wrestling Personality of the Year
1st: Tazz (25%)
2nd: Jim Ross (16.6%)
3rd: Tony Schivone (15.2%)
Sam’s Pick: Tony Schivone
When it comes to guys with the gift of gab AEW is somewhat loaded, however, in 2020 it was Tazz that climbed above all others, putting together his own stable of killers and featuring weekly on Dynamite as a constant threat to the likes of Jon Moxley, Cody Rhodes and Darby Allin. The great thing about his work has been that it is always in the service of elevating others, be it his own team or the opposition he is about to fight. In second and third are the commentary team of Jim Ross & Tony Schiavone. While good ol’ J.R. has had his share of audible gaffes he still brings gravitas to the biggest moments in AEW and Schivone’s unbridled enthusiasm has made him one of the most likeable men in all wrestling.
The Brodie Lee AEW Rookie of the Year
1st: Brodie Lee (23.4%)
2nd: Eddie Kingston (16.3%)
3rd: F.T.R. (9.5%)
Sam’s Pick: Brodie Lee
While you would hardly call Brodie Lee a rookie, it is undeniable that he took AEW by storm after he debuted in March. He was part of high profile angles and matches with Jon Moxley and Cody Rhodes and almost single-handedly rejuvenated The Dark Order. Even though it seemed he was just getting started he sadly passed away on December 26, 2020. As a tribute, not just to his work by himself and in elevating and mentoring other lesser-known wrestlers such as Jon Silver and Anna Jay but also for all the years of entertainment he gave us, we have renamed this award after him.
Global/Indy Wrestler of the Year
1st: Will Ospreay (10.6%)
2nd: Nick Aldis (10.2%)
3rd: Kota Ibushi (9.3%)
Sam’s Pick: Shingo Takagi
One of the closes of all the categories with only a handful of votes separating the entire top four and thirty-nine wrestlers receiving votes in the category. When voting finally closed it was the spectacular output of Will Ospreay that won the day from some big-name competitors. Ospreay started 2020 with a pair of match of the year candidates for New Japan and Rev-Pro and despite an enforced break due to COVID-19, he returned to action in the NJPW G1 with a new direction, entering into a feud with the company’s biggest name Kazuchika Okada. Like Ospreay, Nick Aldis had an interrupted year but still garnered votes for how he carries himself as NWA Champion, arguably carrying the entire brand at the end of the year after several high profile departures.
Global/Indy Tag Team of the Year
1st: Motor City Machine Guns (23.3%)
2nd: The Good Brothers (21.4%)
3rd: The North (16.6%)
Sam’s Pick: Dangerous Tekkers
IMPACT Wrestling wins big in this category, sweeping the top three positions with their stable of veterans tag teams that have combined to create one of the hidden gems of 2020. Truthfully I haven’t watched much of their work this year but I am very pleased to see The Motor City Machine Guns take out this award, something of a lifetime achievement award.
Global/Indy Non-Wrestling Personality of the Year
1st: Don Callis (45.7%)
2nd: Josh Matthews (15.4%)
3rd: Kevin Kelly (7.8%)
Sam’s Pick: Kevin Kelly
The Invisible Hand dominates the field in 2020 with his work as the colour commentator for IMPACT topped off with he scored in bringing Kenny Omega to IMPACT in December making a strong case for him here. Jon Moxley got it right when he said Callis gives off the vibe of a used car salesman but there is no doubt that his partnership with The AEW Champion has proved very entertaining on both AEW and IMPACT. Coming in second and third are the long term IMPACT and New Japan play-by-play guys who more than earnt their keep trying to create excitement and atmosphere in the era of empty arena wrestling.
Match & Feud of the Year Awards
WWE Singles Match of the Year
1st: AJ Styles v The Undertaker, Boneyard Match – Wrestlemania (20.8%)
2nd: WALTER v Ilja Dragunov – NXT UK (12.1%)
3rd: Finn Balor v Kyle O’Riley – NXT TakeOver 31 (8.5%)
Sam’s Pick: Men’s Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble
In the era of empty arena wrestling, promotions came up with a number of different ways to combat the lack of a crowd to create atmosphere. Two of the more successful methods are represented in the top two WWE singles matches for 2020. The cinematic matchup of AJ Styles & The Undertaker used cinematic camera shots, lighting and editing combined with special effects and a soundtrack to create a unique retirement match for The Undertaker at Wrestlemania. While on NXT UK WALTER & Ilja Dragonv simply used raw violence laid bare to create an unsettling claustrophobic masterpiece.
WWE Tag Team Match of the Year
1st: The Undisputed Era v Pat McAfee, Pete Dunne, Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan – NXT TakeOver War Games (35.8%)
2nd: Kabuki Warriors v The Golden Role Models – SmackDown
#DIY v Moustache Mountain – Worlds Collide
Candice LeRae, Dakota Kai, Raquel González & Toni Storm v Shotzi Blackheart, Ember Moon, Rhea Ripley & Io Shirai – NXT TakeOver War Games
(8.4% – tie)
Sam’s Pick: The Broser-Weights v Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster – NXT
For the third year in a row, the Men’s War Games match has taken out the WWE Tag Team Match of the Year category. It is hardly surprising too, there is always a buzz around the IWC when it gets to November and William Regal screams, “WAR GAMES!” Year after year the wrestlers involved continue to come up with new ways of brutalising each other in one of the most violent matchups of the year. In second, we have a three-way tie of two more traditional tag matches and some representation from the Women’s War Game match as well.
WWE Feud of the Year
1st: Bayley v Sasha Banks (24.1%)
2nd: Roman Reigns v Jey Uso (14.4%)
3rd: Randy Orton v Edge (13%)
Sam’s Pick: Roman Reigns v Jey Uso
For many years a main roster Sasha Banks and Bayley feud has felt to be just a match away from happening, well in 2020 WWE finally pulled the trigger on the long time frenemies. The masterstroke of this particular feud was that the WWE took their time with the two as a team, dropping hints here and there but giving them a chance to establish themselves in the heart of the audience before splitting them up. While it would have been nice to see a longer program of matches there is no denying that the Hell in a Cell match they did have was one of the most entertaining matches of the year. In second place was the inspired pairing of Roman Reigns and Jey Uso, while we have always known that Roman could make a hell of a heel, I don’t think anyone would have picked Jey Uso to be one of the breakout singles stars of the year opposite him.
AEW Singles Match of the Year
1st: Jon Moxley v Kenny Omega – Dynamite: Winter Is Coming (16.1%)
2nd: Jon Moxley v Chris Jericho – Revolution (14.3%)
3rd: Kenny Omega v PAC, Iron Man Match – Dynamite (11.4%)
Sam’s Pick: Jon Moxley v Brodie Lee – Double or Nothing
A very even spread across the AEW Singles Match of the Year award with the big four of AEW, Jon Moxley, Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega and Cody Rhodes featuring prominently. The top prize goes to the main event of the biggest Dynamite of the Year, Winter Is Coming between the company’s top two wrestlers of the year. While opinion at the time was divided on the match the final match of Mox’s title reign took enough votes to push it over the match where he originally won it.
AEW Tag Team Match of the Year
1st: Adam Page & Kenny Omega v The Young Bucks – Revolution (27.7%)
2nd: F.T.R. v The Young Bucks – Full Gear (18%)
3rd: The Inner Circle v The Elite, Stadium Stampede – Double or Nothing (15.8%)
Sam’s Pick: Adam Page & Kenny Omega v The Young Bucks – Revolution
Going into this category it felt like there was only ever going to be one winner. The tag match between The Young Bucks and Kenny & Hangman was everything that makes pro wrestling great: incredible action, the progression of a long term story and a molten hot crowd. It shows the strength of the AEW tag team division that did well against such a strong winner. Both earning over 15% of the vote was the love letter to tag team wrestling that was The Bucks v F.T.R. and the third-placed, cinematic, Double or Nothing Main Event between The Elite and The Inner Circle.
AEW Feud of the Year
1st: Chris Jericho v Orange Cassidy (14.7%)
2nd: Jon Moxley v Chris Jericho (12.4%)
3rd: Jon Moxley v Eddie Kingston (10.2%)
Sam’s Pick: Jon Moxley v Chris Jericho
A true upset here in a very strong category with breakout star Orange Cassidy’s three-match program opposite Chris Jericho beating out Jon Moxley title feuds, drama in The Elite and the emotional Cody Rhodes v M.J.F. program at the start of the year. While he had a high profile match with PAC at Revolution, the Cassidy/Jericho feud did a lot of work in fleshing out Orange Cassidy’s character as more than a comedy gimmick and while he certainly has his haters, those that love him are all in on his schtick. Special mention to Chris Jericho here who took out the top two spots and also Jon Moxley who filled out 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 8th.
Global/Indy Singles Match of the Year
1st: Kazuchika Okada v Kota Ibushi – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom (12.7%)
2nd: Hiroshi Tanahashi v Chris Jericho – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom (10.9%)
3rd: Will Ospreay v Hiromu Takahashi – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom (10.3%)
Sam’s Pick: Kazuchika Okada v Tetsuya Naito – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom
Over forty matches received votes in this very competitive category. New Japan has well and truly maintained its stranglehold on this award though with their wrestlers taking out all of the top five spots, with four of them coming just from Wrestle Kingdom. The top pick of Kota Ibushi v Kazuchika Okada was the classic New Japan big main event match that saw two of the biggest stars in the promotion empty their tank over thirty-nine minutes in an incredibly physical match. Outside of New Japan, the highest placing match was Sammi Callihan v Tess Blanchard from IMPACT, Hard to Kill which received 6.3% of the votes.
Global/Indy Tag Team Match of the Year
1st: Motor City Machine Guns v The North – IMPACT (26.5%)
2nd: Motor City Machine Guns v The North, IMPACT Bound for Glory (20.9%)
3rd: Dangerous Tekkers v The Golden Aces – NJPW Dominion (12.1%)
Sam’s Pick: Dangerous Tekkers v The Golden Aces – NJPW Dominion
As much as New Japan Pro Wrestling dominated the singles votes, it was IMPACT that took the lion’s share of the votes for the Tag Team Match of the Year award with their double shot of matches pitting the Motor City Machine Guns and The North against each other, with The Good Brothers and Ace Austin & Madman Fulton joining in for the second go around. IMPACT deserves serious praise for their work in the tag division with the two matches taking nearly half of all the votes cast and beating out the star power of Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi v Zack Sabre Jr. & TAICHI.
Global/Indy Feud of the Year
1st: Will Ospreay v Kazuchika Okada (19.3%)
2nd: Eric Young v Rich Swann (15.6%)
3rd: Jay White v Kota Ibushi (11.9%)
Sam’s Pick: Shingo Takagi v Minoru Suzuki
Despite their blow-off match being in 2021, Will Ospreay’s shocking betrayal of long term stable leader Kazuchika Okada did enough to take out the feud of the year. It is somewhat unsurprising given how big of a deal the formation of a new stable is in New Japan, where progress often happens at quite a slow rate. In second was a surprise packet of a feud in Eric Young and Rich Swann who have defied the odds to create a truly engaging IMPACT main event feud in 2020. The strength of IMPACT is also shown in their women coming in fourth despite the departure of Tessa Blanchard early in the year.
Cinematic Match of the Year
1st: The Undertaker v AJ Styles, Boneyard Match – WWE Wrestlemania (50.9%)
2nd: The Elite v The Inner Circle, Stadium Stampede – Double or Nothing (21.3%)
3rd: Bray Wyatt v John Cena, Firefly Fun House Match – WWE Wrestlemania (10%)
Sam’s Pick: The Elite v The Inner Circle, Stadium Stampede – Double or Nothing
With Cinematic Matches becoming such a feature of pro wrestling in 2020 we thought we would have a once-off special award for this year. While all of the matches took on very different forms of matches but when the votes were tallied the landslide winner was the match that played it the most serious when it came to comedic elements and special effects. It seems to me that the domination of just three matches across the whole field shows how the quality of the genre proved to be quite hit and miss as the year went on.
Brand of the Year
1st: All Elite Wrestling (61.5%)
2nd: World Wrestling Entertainment (28.2%)
3rd: New Japan Pro Wrestling (4.4%)
Sam’s Pick: All Elite Wrestling
All Elite Wrestling has had a triumphant first full year of operation, picking up votes from both NJPW and 2019 winner WWE on the way to taking out Brand of the Year. While they still have a long way to go in catching up with WWE’s widespread popularity but their dedication to booking consistency and in-ring action has seen them capture the heart’s of die-hard wrestling fans across the wrestling community. It was sad to see the impacts of COVID on international and smaller organisations with the likes of NJPW, NWA and Ring of Honour among the organisations losing votes in this category.
Show of the Year
1st: WWE Royal Rumble (13.6%)
2nd: AEW Revolution (10%)
3rd: AEW Winter Is Coming (8.7%)
Sam’s Pick: AEW Revolution
Despite missing out on the brand of the year award, when it comes to putting on a big show no one quite does it like the WWE and the Royal Rumble was perfect evidence of that. On an epic stadium-sized scale the WWE put on fantastic matches such as Becky Lynch v Asuka and Daniel Bryan v The Fiend as well as two very well booked Royal Rumble matches. A deserving winner for the show of the year. Not to be outdone, AEW nabbed 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th place with a string of consistently excellent shows on PPV and TV special events.
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.