It’s a crazy amount, but at least no one can say they don’t care about tag team wrestling. Some of the best matches in AEW has come out of this division. A few of these pairings would dominate other companies if they weren’t so keen on making it to the top.
Celebrity Cameo: While Mike Tyson’s cameo may have flopped due to a lack of followup, Shaq’s humorous appearance with Brandi Rhodes was reportedly AEW’s highest ever rated segment. Which is enough of a feat to include it here.
High Spot: I cannot think of another high spot which sticks in my mind more than Cody Rhodes’ moonsault from the top of AEW’s first-ever steel cage match. There was another in Stadium Stampede, but I’m remembering this one the most.
Random Moment: When you’re watching a wrestling show… and they suddenly break in to song and dance. I wasn’t sure if I was dreaming or had my drink spiked, but it was a pleasant surprise nonetheless. There were so random moments across these companies, but the sing-a-long with Chris Jericho & MJF is in a whole other class of its own.
Stable: The Undisputed Era suffered this year due to injuries, otherwise they would have got the nod. It was tough to pick, but in the end I settled on The Inner Circle because they had so many cool moments. They might not have always been on the winning side, but every member has done something to remember in 2020. It wasn’t all Chris Jericho.
PPV: AEW Revolution was a complete PPV because the build to the main event between Chris Jericho & Jon Moxley was first class. The tag team match between Kenny Omega & Hangman Page vs. The Young Bucks stole the show. I’m not sure if I would rate it “6 Stars” like Dave Meltzer, but it’s definitely the best tag match of the year.
Orange Cassidy vs. Pac has one of the most viewed YouTube videos for a highlights package of their encounter. It arguably has the biggest audience participation we’ve seen in years. The rest of the show included Nyla Rose defending against Kris Statlander, Jake Hager beating Dustin Rhodes, and Darby Allin getting revenge on Sammy Guevara.
Impact Wrestling – Best Women’s Division / Improved Product / Storytelling / Recovery / Surprise / PPV Hype / Atmosphere
Best Women’s Division: Extremely close between NXT and Impact, but I like the Knockout’s Division more because it is Impact’s biggest draw and is treated as such. NXT probably had better matches, but Knockouts are established characters with story development. If you could combine both it would make the ultimate division in wrestling, but we can’t so I had to pick one.
They made Deonna Purrazzo a star by taking her talent seriously upon signing her. Taya Valkyrie has had a fun year at Rosemary’s side. Sadly, Kylie Rae’s mental health did not allow her to fulfill what we all know is huge potential. Su Yung/Suzie has gone about her business really well. And then there’s Jordynne Grace, the rest, and a Knockouts Tag Team title on the way. It’s a stacked division, which I am sure will find another level in 2021. Tessa Blanchard was the World Champion at the start of the year over the men… that’s how much Impact treats its Knockouts equally.
Improved Product: Something has clicked this year. The roster isn’t stacked like an AEW or a WWE, but they make do with who they have. Management is keeping the flow going, and it doesn’t feel weird that there’s no one stood at ringside. It’s still not everybody’s cup of tea, but from covering the show for the past two years… it has improved a lot. I often look forward to Impact more than others these days, because we don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s going to be entertaining. Add an AEW crossover in to the mix and wow, the sky is the limit. AEW would not be doing this if the product sucked.
Storytelling: A big reason the show has improved is because of its storytelling. Scott D’Amore. Don Callis. D’Lo Brown. Tommy Dreamer. Konnan. Jimmy Jacobs. RD Evans. Madison Rayne.
They are the driving force behind Impact Wrestling’s fun storylines and gimmicks. Promos are better. Angles make sense. The booking isn’t insulting. They work together like a well-oiled machine. It probably won’t sink in from one viewing how good it is. After a month or so you might get an idea. Everyone has a place. They waste no talent. And there are no last-minute revisions or politics. Well done Impact. You get an A+
Recovery: It’s hard to tell if Impact got themselves in to this, or if it was pure bad luck, but they went in to Slammiversary with some surprise drama. First, Tessa Blanchard decided she didn’t want to help management by sending in a video to explain why she wouldn’t be at the PPV to defend the title, so they had to fire her and vacate the World Championship.
Second, the sex allegations blew up, leaving guys like Michael Elgin, Joey Ryan and The Crist Brothers in tough spots. Impact wanted nothing to do with this, so they eventually released them all. They rearranged everything and brought in some surprise returnees to the company, and Slammiversary didn’t end up a total disaster. Nice save.
PPV Hype: Another reason Slammiversary was successful is attributed to the way they hyped it. In video packages, they teased the return of a former World Champion and others who had been released from WWE.
Kurt Angle. Sting. Eric Young. EC3. Rusev. Heath. The Good Brothers… and a few more I may be forgetting. The fact that no one knew who would show up was enough to help sell a PPV which had struggled after the aforementioned struggles with its booking. The buy rate was incredible.
Surprise: One of the biggest surprises of the year was not only Bret Hart and Mick Foley appearing at Bound For Glory in cameos, but Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson also showing up in a pre-taped recording to induct his old rival Ken Shamrock in to the Impact Hall Of Fame. It was surreal, but also very cool. Impact must have been slapping themselves to find out if they were awake.
Atmosphere (Morale): One of the reasons I believe Impact has done so well in 2020 is because the atmosphere is amazing. I’m not talking about the crowd, but the body language of the wrestlers when they interact. There’s a genuine sense of teamwork and enjoying the process.