Good day to you all! We’re getting close to Christmas and I hope you all have an enjoyable time. As a counter to my latest piece, let’s cheer things up with something more positive. Today, I’ll sharing my personal special awards to wrestlers and shows for the first time. Only for WWE, AEW and Impact though, as they are the only products I have seen. Who is the Best Wrestler of 2020? Read on to find out.
It has been a rough time no matter where you live. Here in the UK, we have spent much of the year in lockdowns or with added restrictions to our daily lives. All for the commendable fight of slowing the spread of the virus to help the NHS. And one of the biggest things which helped me through one of the toughest years of my life (even before the pandemic) has been wrestling.
When the virus hit, I was furious it was going ahead uninterrupted. Part of me was selfish, because I knew it meant that the site would keep on covering the news and I’d have something to do. But the other side of me wished they would pack everything up and go on a break. I feared for the wrestlers and their families well-being. WWE getting named an “essential business” was laughable, but not in a good way. And it was the same for AEW, I wanted them to close up too. To run empty shows was ludicrous. Were they really that desperate? And then the layoffs happened, and it became clear that if wrestling didn’t keep on keeping on, then it would affect many of their livelihoods.
And boy, was it strange watching those first empty arena shows. Through the sheer lack of audience participation, we came to appreciate the lack thereof. To this day, wrestling without fans popping still doesn’t feel right. But through this struggle, WWE, AEW, Impact Wrestling and others have entertained us in their own way. The coronavirus has made this year one of the most memorable. Everyone had to pull together and do things we never would have imagined. It wasn’t perfect, but we cannot deny that the business has done all that it can to keep us entertained.
WWE – Best Match / Feud / Production / Cinematics / Documentary / Entrance
I know what some of you are thinking… WWE gets this many awards? Yeah, so I may be critical of Vinnie Mac’s baby more than others, but it’s only because I know it can do better. Speaking of which, I think WWE has improved over the previous year because it has had no choice but to deliver a product that would keep us tuning in.
Production: I’m not a big fan of the ‘Thunderdome’ concept, but I get why it’s there. It serves a purpose. WWE gets the production award for going all in with that, although I hate how it’s done. I’m probably more annoyed by the piped in chants than the screens. Shows felt pretty empty before they introduced it, so there’s a positive for you.
Match: I wonder how many witnessed the brutality of Walter vs. Ilja Dragunov? It was a total barnburner and the best match I have seen anywhere. Stiff and dangerous as hell, it was akin to a proper fight. The NXT UK Championship bout had been a long time coming, because lockdowns in the United Kingdom meant they couldn’t run shows for half a year. Dragunov sat impatiently on the sidelines as the #1 contender. So when they finally locked horns, the many months of waiting was unleashed in a highly recommended encounter.
Feud: At the start of the year, no one expected to see Edge make his triumphant return to the squared circle at the Royal Rumble. They teased us with a reunion of Team Rated RKO, but the story quickly shifted to something more personal between Edge and Randy Orton. And what a feud it was! Not only did it reintroduce Edge in the best way it possible, it rejuvenated Orton’s career. There’s a lot we can say about their cinematic fight and “Greatest Wrestling Match Ever”, but Edge vs. Randy Orton is the greatest altercation we never expected this year.
Cinematics: It may not have been the way we wanted to see him go, but The Boneyard match between The Undertaker & AJ Styles is considered the best cinematic match of the year. While Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena had a mixed reception, I loved the psychological drama and broke it down in an extremely detailed way (“It’s such good shit!”):
I enjoyed some of AEW’s cinematics, especially the Stadium Stampede match, but nothing could hold a candle to the Boneyard match. There was Wrestle House in Impact Wrestling, but it was too hit-and-miss from week-to-week. They also had some of the worst cinematic matches, including The Battle at The Deaner Compound. My impression is that it was ribbing how bad cinematics can be… but it turned out to be so unfunny it backfired.
Documentary: The Undertaker’s Last Ride documentary was one of the best things I have watched anywhere all year. It was so incredibly genuine and brave of Mark Calaway to open up about his life, and share his unrivaled passion for the business. WWE’s strength is in its documentary series, but the emotion we experience in them rarely translates to their regular products.
Nevertheless, I think Last Ride is a must-see piece of television for any wrestling fans young, old, and new. The Undertaker is a once in a lifetime character who deserves all the respect in the world for doing all he could for his fans. When I think back to his character’s last days, I will always think about this documentary… while doing my best to forget his less than stellar “Final Farewell”. RIP
Entrance: Karrion Kross & Scarlett have taken over The Undertaker’s mantle of having the best entrance in wrestling. It still gives me goosebumps. Tick-tock!
AEW – Best Tag Team Division / Celebrity Cameo / High Spot / Random Moment / Stable / PPV
Best Tag Team Division: All Elite Wrestling has by far the deepest and most talented tag team division in the game today. Young Bucks. FTR. Kenny Omega & Hangman Page. Jurassic Express. Best Friends. Private Party. Dark Order. SCU. Hybrid2. Butcher & The Blade. The Lucha Brothers. Proud N’ Powerful. Joey Janela & Sonny Kiss. Kip Sabian & Miro. The Acclaimed. The Natural Nightmares. And I’m sure there’s more!