Throughout December we asked our Hooked On Wrestling team to nominate the best in 2020 across various categories.
We then asked you, our readers, to vote on the shortlist and with that, we decide our ten winners.
So without further ado, here is the definitive list of what the Hooked On Wrestling collective believes to be the best of 2020.
Title Change Of The Year
Winner: Drew McIntyre Wins The WWE Title At WrestleMania 36
Runner Up: Kenny Omega Defeats Jon Moxley At AEW Dynamite: Winter Is Coming
An incredibly tight contest with just two votes separating the top two! Your nod went to Drew McIntyre’s big night at WrestleMania 36. Whilst the event is hands down the most surreal WWE have ever produced, seeing McIntyre fulfil his boyhood dream still managed to warm our hearts just as we were heading into the abyss that was a 12 week lockdown in the UK. The fact that McIntyre has proved himself a worthy champion since has no doubt helped solidify this result.
A worthy second place goes to only the second AEW World Heavyweight Championship. It was the right guy winning the title at the right time and in a way that had repercussions well beyond the world title scene. Well beyond the company in fact.
Angle Of The Year
Winner: Roman Reigns – Head Of The Table
Runner Up: Firefly Funhouse Match
2020 will go down for many as the year that Roman Reigns emerged as the most badass heel in wrestling. We all thought he took time out shielding from the pandemic but clearly he was in his cocoon metamorphosing from an under-loved caterpillar into the world’s most heinous butterfly. This angle has never been less than engrossing and it promises to run for some time.
The runner-up, whilst technically a match, was clearly an angle and a superb one at that if you enjoy your wrestling with a side order of considered thought. This angle looked absurd on the surface but it was in actual fact a well considered deconstruction of John Cena’s entire character and his place in the wrestling pantheon. Bold, ambitious and daring. We loved it.
Feud Of The Year
Winner: Roman Reigns vs. Jey Uso
Runner Up: Sasha Banks vs. Bayley
Another win for Roman Reigns. Amazing what difference 12 months makes, right? Wasn’t he dumping King Corbin in dog food this time last year?
This feud hit all the buttons for you guys to vote it into the top spot. Deeply personal, organic, fresh and realistic. It was the absolute perfect way to build on Reigns’ heel turn and made Jey Uso into a legitimate singles star.
Our runner-up was maybe the favourite to win here and you can understand why. A feud that burned slowly and effectively from WrestleMania until it hit full throttle in the late Summer. These two were the absolute highlight of North American women’s wrestling this year and arguably the most valuable talents in WWE during the ‘Performance Center’ months. The rehabilitation of Sasha Banks is complete.
Female Wrestler Of The Year
Winner: Io Shirai
Runner Up: Bayley
The winner of this award went to the woman who has been NXT Champion since TakeOver: In Your House in May. Whilst arguably lacking a signature feud, Shirai has put on great bout after great bout and really made the NXT Women’s Championship a belt that can be defined, in part, by her holding it. Do not underestimate how tall an order that is based on some of the incredible reigns in the recent past.
Second place was Bayley and it was richly deserved. Similar to Roman Reigns’ transformation in 2020, Bayley made that move the year prior and it has been the making of her. Who would have thought The Hugger could make such an effective bastard?
Promotion Of The Year
Winner: All Elite Wrestling
Runner Up: NXT
The goodwill that AEW has deservedly built up this year has been on the back of a lot of fantastic promotional moves. Presenting fresh, exciting talents mixed with motivated veterans in logical, well planned, well paced storylines has given them more credibility in just over a year than any company launched in wrestling history. Couple that with a succession of fantastic matches and an agenda putting fans to the fore of what they do and this prize was always likely going to be theirs in 2020. The fact that the Dynamite tribute show to Brodie Lee was so fantastically well done and so recent puts that cherry on top.
NXT also deserves credit this year with some incredible booking to ensure they, less than any other brand, felt the effects of the lack of fans in the pandemic era. They found an incredible mix of very good matches, nostalgia and simple storytelling that led to a year to be proud of for all to be concerned. Despite the constant and natural turnover of top talent, the brand goes from strength to strength. Remarkable.
Breakout Star Of The Year
Winner: Tie – Eddie Kingston and Orange Cassidy
Runner Up: N/A
Our only dead heat came in this category and it came between two very different AEW talents.
Eddie Kingston wasn’t supposed to be on this list. He was brought in as a one week opponent for Cody Rhodes to defend his TNT Championship against. The impression he made was so impressive that he not only became a full time talent, not only got given his own stable but ended up main eventing a PPV against Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship in an utterly brutal encounter. A true breakout star in every sense of the word.
Orange Cassidy is maybe a little less surprising. He was clearly being groomed to make a move up the card as fans started to respond to his unique character this time last year. However, what put him over the top was by coming out as the victor in a feud with Chris Jericho. There will not be many that do that in AEW and it shows the total faith management have in him to become a big time star in the promotion.
Tag Team Of The Year
Winner: The Golden Role Models
Runner Up: FTR
Fantastic to see Sasha Banks and Bayley take the win here in a fiercely competitive section. Richly deserved to. As said previously, their team was the backbone of WWE’s most compelling storylines from spring into summer. You love to see it.
FTR as the runners up feels right to us also. Coming to AEW with huge hype but also massive expectations, they had a lot riding on their ability to show they were as good as they said they were. Boy were they?! Amazing matches, most notably with The Young Bucks, a solid title reign and the addition of Tully Blanchard to the team made them one of the most important teams on the planets. Bonus points for channeling ‘Nitro Debut’ Scott Hall with their double denim garb for their first Dynamite appearance.
Major Event Of The Year
Winner: WWE Royal Rumble
Runner Up: NXT vs. NXT UK: World’s Collide
In a year ravaged by the pandemic and most notable for lack of fans, it seems almost unfair to run this award as the contrast between events with and without fans is stark. With that in mind, it is no shock that two events with ‘proper’ crowds won out here. The Royal Rumble is an obvious choice. A genuinely fantastic Royal Rumble match, an energised crowd and a good supporting card makes this a worthy winner, albeit one that might have faced stiffer competition in a normal year.
Worlds Collide was a sleeper that, on reflection, fully deserves its positioning here. NXT UK came alive as a brand both with Jordan Devlin’s exciting Cruiserweight title win but also two fantastic tag team bouts. Moustache Mountain faced DIY in a genuinely dream match that lived up to its billing. In the main event, The Undisputed Era tangled with Imperium in a match that any followers of the brand were gagging to see. This card delivered in spades!
Male Wrestler Of The Year
Winner: Drew McIntyre
Runner Up: Chris Jericho
This category saw our biggest winning margin – by far. McIntyre took over 90% of the votes in a contest with only two rivals, showcasing just how dominant he has been over the year. In truth, there was no other choice. McIntyre has emerged as a genuine main event star. From the moment he won the Rumble you could tell this wasn’t a push on a whim. This was WWE crowning their next top guy. Despite the desperate pity of having no fans to cheer him on his journey, he has lived up to his billing and some.
Jericho also deserves the recognition here for his work just below the main event in AEW. His presence and ability has formed a splendid pivot around which the upper midcard and main event of the company can pivot. His continued high level of work, creativity and on screen selflessness and ensured he has been as valuable as any individual to the meteoric growth of the brand in 2020.
Match Of The Year
Winner: Men’s Royal Rumble Match
Runner Up: WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov (NXT UK Championship Match)
It is a double win for the Royal Rumble as fans recognise this as the best Rumble match in years. The only question is, was it the best in 18 years or 28 years?
With Brock Lesnar mowing through the field before being tested more and more with every entrant, the booking built up fans’ desperation for Lesnar’s elimination but also got some of his rivals over in the micro, most notably Keith Lee. When the elimination did come, Drew McIntyre was a made man with one Claymore Kick, and paved the way for his star making win. Not only that, but we got a nice surprise in MVP as well as an utterly ground shaking one in Edge. It truly was an exceptional match.
On the other end of the scale, WALTER vs. Dragunov was a wonderful clash of two hard hitting pros coming together to put together a masterpiece that grabbed your attention from the first bell to the last. These two WORKED for all the praise that was heaped on them and between them, they shook NXT UK out from it’s pandemic induced dormant state in grand fashion.
That’s it for the 2020 HOWIE Awards. Agree with our picks? Disagree? Let us know on Twitter at @HO_Wrestling.
Thanks to everyone that voted, all our contributors and to our sponsors, Wrestle Merch Central.