Female Wrestler Of The Year – HOWIE Awards 2020

In today’s entry in the HOWIE awards we asked our team for their nomination for Female Wrestler Of The Year. Who will you pick in our vote?

This is the fourth category of the first annual HOWIE Awards – celebrating the very best in wrestling in 2020. Read our writers picks and vote on an overall winner in our poll at the end of this story.

For our fourth award we have asked our team to create a shortlist for the female wrestler of the year.

Over the next 20 days we will be presenting our staff writers choices for ten different awards. At the same time we will offer you, our readers, the chance to vote on your pick from our shortlist. At the same time, we hope you offer your alternatives via Twitter. Join the conversation by tagging us on @HO_Wrestling and using the hashtag #HOWIES20.

You can see the already announced categories to review and vote HERE. We will announce the overall reader voted winners on New Years Day.

Paul Benson, Hooked On Wrestling Tribal Chief

Shortlist Pick: Sasha Banks

Sasha Banks vs Asuka
Photo Credit: WWE

In truth, it was incredibly difficult to separate Banks and her former Golden Role Models partner, Bayley. So intrinsic were they both in one of the best storylines in wrestling that it feels cruel to pick just one of them. But pick I must and I am going Banks, simply due to the fact that it feels like she truly rediscovered her love for wrestling this year and channeled all her frustrations into being the best version of her character that she could be.

The tensions that simmered with Bayley from WrestleMania onwards were played just perfectly and her matches this year with the likes of Bayley and Asuka were also fantastic.

She has the potential to be WWE’s top female star and has gone a long way to filling the enormous hole left by The Man and The Queen over the last few months.

Cameron Bennett, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Io Shirai

Io Shirai

I had a few options for the Male wrestler of the year but my winner here had no competition. Io has been on a tear this year. Every match she’s had has been at the very very least good, most have been great and a large amount have been incredible. Every time she defends the NXT Women’s Championship it feels like a big deal and she always delivers no matter who her dance partner is. All hail Queen Io.

Chris Napier, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Sasha Banks

Edging out Asuka, Banks has had a great year, winning and losing the women’s tag team titles and RAW Women’s title en route to the long awaited main roster feud with Bayley and her first taste of the SmackDown title. It’s that feud and its blow-off Hell in a Cell match that nudges her ahead of Asuka, who was the standout personality on WWE TV in the early weeks of the lockdown era as well as holding the RAW & tag belts and winning TLC but was booked inconsistently along the way.


Chris Hatch, Hooked On Wrestling Editor

Shortlist Pick: Bayley

Bayley
Photo Credit: WWE

I’m assuming I won’t be alone with this pick, but there’s just too much going for it to pick anyone else. The slow burn on her feud with Sasha leading to her doubling down on her heel status in a way it will now be almost impossible to come back from just made it an incredible year for Bayley. Her ‘Dos Straps’ work brought a highly entertaining factor whilst still keeping the seriousness of her being the villain. More of the same in 2021 please!


Liam Happe, Hooked On Wrestling Features Editor

Shortlist Pick: Thunder Rosa

Thunder Rosa

Much of WWE’s stacked women’s division basically rotated in various matches and programs during the COVID-19 era, with only Sasha Banks vs Bayley getting past second gear (and even then, the whole program could have been so much better). AEW, meanwhile, has struggled to do much at all when it comes to the ladies in their sophomore year. That is, until the eyebrow-raising arrival of the NWA’s Thunder Rosa, who has made almost everything she is involved with that much better. Surely even bigger things await in 2021.


Ash Rose, Editor, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Io Shirai

Sasha and Bayley have dominated a lot of WWE TV in 2020 and rightfully so, but something that has gone somewhat uncredited is the ‘Genius Of The Sky’s ascent to the top of the NXT’s incredibly talented women’s division. There isn’t a better moonsault in the game than Io’s and we’ve seen that in full effect in matches with Candice La Rae, Dakota Kai and most recently Rhea Ripley. After Auska and Shayna Baszler I didn’t think I’d see another dominant champion as good as them, but Io is doing all she can to potentially outdo them both.


James Dee, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Bayley

Criminy this was difficult. If you’d have asked me this just after WrestleMania, I would’ve given it to Rhea Ripley. Her work From Survivor series 2019 to WrestleMania 2020 was absolutely stellar and her challenge to and subsequent feud with Charlotte Flair after the Royal Rumble elevated the NXT Women’s Title to new heights. However post-WrestleMania has been the Year of the Role Model. Bayley has taken her entitled “get me your manager” role and has made it work wonders, her alliance with Sasha Banks as the Golden Role-Models (PWI’s 3rd best tag team of the year regardless of gender, btw) turned her into Bayley “Dos Straps” a wonderful poke in the eye to Becky “Two Belts” and then there was the break-up – a natural build where Bayley said she wasn’t at fault for betraying Banks before The Boss had the chance to betray her, which to anyone that has seen Sasha on TV for more than 5 minutes would anticipate a million miles away. She looked smart, she was great in the ring and her comeuppance felt honest and earned. Honestly I could wax lyrical for hours about that feud.


Justin Czerwonka, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Io Shirai

Is it possible to give this award to two people? This was the hardest decision of all the HOWIEs for me. I really wanted to give this to Sasha Banks, but Io Shirai’s string of great matches since becoming Champion cannot be over looked: the triple threat with Rhea Ripely and Charlotte Flair where she won the title, her recent defence against Rhea and two title defences against Candice LeRae, as well as TV matches with Dakota Kai, Tegan Nox and Shotzi Blackheart. Sasha may have a better character, but there are too many good Io matches that you cannot overlook them.


Gary Tait, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Thunder Rosa

It would be easy to follow the PWI list here and go with Bayley or Sasha, but I am going with Thunder Rosa. Rosa has had a good year, holding the NWA women’s title and then going to arguably make the AEW women’s division watchable (not a knock on the talent, more a knock on who runs the promotion).


Lewis Brown, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Asuka

Asuka

Another toss-up for me here between Asuka and Io Sharai. Asuka however, takes the cake for me, simply because this year has really felt like her year. So far, Asuka’s run on the main roster was always held back. She felt like a secondary character to other storylines and stars. This year however, she really came into her own on Raw. Since Money in the Bank, she has been treated, rightfully, as the top star of Raw’s women’s division, only losing due to nefarious circumstances. Also, with her joining the commentary team and dancing about the entrance ramp, I’ve never found her more entertaining than I have over the course of 2020.


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Who was the best female wrestler of 2020?

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