Since 2020 has finally FINALLY come to a close, we here at Count Out! would like to celebrate the good things that have happened in the world of professional wrestling. This year, we have 9 awards, each of which exemplifies the best from WWE to GCW, and everything in between.
Along with Year-End Award polls, here are the Count Out! Family's Picks on who they believe should be the winners of 2020.
THESE ARE NOT THE 2020 YEAR-END AWARD WINNERS
Male Wrestler of the Year
Ryan Neitzey: Kenny Omega
Omega never stopped this year. Outstanding match vs the Young Bucks, worked hard at the AEW ATL tapings facing Guevara & Angels. Faced nearly every single tag team in AEW during the summer with Page. Then turned singles/heel and has set himself up for an even better 2021, after winning the AEW Title from Moxley and opening the forbidden window to Impact.
Zach Batista: Roman Reigns
He successfully reinvented himself as a character, and when you compare it to his character from before, there is no contest that this iteration of Reigns is far superior. He is such a good heel in every sense and I look forward to see what he is going to do each and every week.
Mikey Manfredi: Adam Page
I chose Adam Page here because he has been consistently one of my favorite Wrestlers in AEW since AEW started not just this year. However, this year, Adam Page showed us how immaculate of a storyteller he is, and has had the most memorable storylines of the year. His performance in and out of the ring has been A+ and he stands out as the best male wrestler of 2020.
Female Wrestler of the Year
Loren Rosenberg: Sasha Banks
Sasha has been a joy to watch for someone that doesn’t watch much WWE anymore. Her matches always brings out the best in women’s wrestling and her feud with Bayley was a shot in the arm for WWE. She truly represents the best in women’s wrestling.
Sean Laraway: Io Shirai
Shirai is honestly the one female wrestler WWE hasn't messed up...yet. Her title run as always been interesting and compelling.
Mikey Manfredi: Io Shirai
Io Shirai has been on top of NXT for months now and every match she has she shows us why. From the Triple Threat with Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley, to her match with Candice LeRae, and her performance in the 2020 War Games match, Io Shirai has stood out to me as the best women’s wrestler of 2020
Tag Team of the Year
Sean Laraway: Omega & Page
Hangman & Omega will go down as one of the best tag teams in AEW. They are both fantastic together. They made the AEW tag titles mean something
Ryan Neitzey: Dangerous Tekkers (Sabre, Taichi)
New Japan's heavyweight tag team divison has been pretty crappy for years now. That is, until Dangerous Tekkers breathed life into it in 2020. After 2 outstanding matches against the Golden Ace team of Tanahashi and Ibushi, Tekkers shined bright in their title defenses and World Tag League. They brought a much needed importance to the Tag Team Titles and have become the team you can FINALLY build a division.
Mikey Manfredi: FTR
FTR have impressed me in everything that they have been a part of since stepping on the scene this year in All Elite Wrestling. They put their heart and soul into every storyline they were given and proved that they had what it takes to be the best team in AEW. Their love for the business is never in question and as long as they are lacing up the boots, they’re going to be elevating the Wrestling Game.
Independent Wrestler of the Year
Ryan Neitzey: Fred Yehi
Fred Yehi sneakly had his greatest year in professional wrestling. Every match I've seen Yehi in is at least really good and at most a MOTY contender. He had an amazing match with ACH in AAW and then had a certified classic with Wyatt in a 60-Minute Iron Man Match after 4 months off. Finally, he etched his name as a Pure wrestling by competing in the ROH Pure Title Tournament.
Loren Rosenberg: Rickey Shane Page
If you were to ask me how to summarize the Indies with one name, it would be RSP. The deathmatch wrestler has stood the test of time and cemented his 2020 as the reigning and defending (somewhat) GCW world champion. He isn’t just a deathmatch wrestler looking for some recognition, he’s one of the best at making every match he does matter. His storytelling is superb and somewhat a lost art in the independents and has enjoyed the best years of his career as the Heel leader of the 44OH. His match with Matt Tremont was truly the stuff of legend.
Mikey Manfredi: WARHORSE
I chose WARHORSE here because he is a workhorse! He’s showing up in almost every promotion on the Indy scene and working the crap out of every match he’s in. It doesn’t matter if he’s doing more comedic stuff with Danhausen or if he’s having hard hitting marathons with Jake Something. No matter what Warhorse does, he’s going to put his all into it and show us why he got to face Cody in AEW. His twitter game is also fire.
Promotion of the Year
Zach Batista: All Elite Wrestling
Very simply put, AEW has changed the game on mainstream pro wrestling and, to me, has shown how consistently well booked a show and company can be that is not WWE. It has provided an alternative to the norm of mainstream wrestling and has showed how much better things can be.
Mikey Manfredi: All Elite Wrestling
AEW has proven to be the best promotion of 2020 over and over again. Constantly booking amazing PPVs and having amazing matches on Dynamite and Dark consistently. Their storylines are almost outmatched and they are geniuses when it comes to most things. That Brodie Lee tribute episode also made me cry like a baby.
Ryan Neitzey: New Japan Pro-Wrestling
Ok, I'll play outsider here. NJPW has been the promtion of the year because they did the resposible thing and closed down shop during the beginning of the pandemic and paid their wrestlers and employees. Pre-COVID, they ended a decade long story with Naito winning both belts at Wrestle Kingdom. Mid-COVID, NJPW contiuned putting on MOTY contenders and raised the level of some of their wrestlers.
Match of the Year from a Major Promotion
Ryan Neitzey: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kota Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight Title at Wrestle Kingdom 14, Night 1
Trust me, I get it. Everyone else liked the Naito match more because of the historical and storyline signfigance, and I will admit to you that I loved that match. However, Ibushi's my guy. And his match against Okada had me literally standing in my living room. Each move, each bump, each close fall was better than the last. It was a match classic that is overshadowed by the significance of the Naito match. It's a match you show people to get into New Japan. The athelicism was the 2020 peak for Okada and the start of Ibushi's attempted god run in New Japan.
It is the gold standard and the foundation for the many cinematic matches that we see today during a COVID era of wrestling and for good reason. In my opinion, it has opened the door for the appeal of these matches and the creativity and flexibility that they provide to the industry as a whole.
Loren Rosenberg: WALTER vs. Ilja Dragunov at NXT: UK
If I had to describe this match in 3 words: Brutal, Entertaining, Fantastic. This match was just 20 plus minutes of what European wrestling is. Walter being the dominant champion he was vs Dragunov's valiant challenger. It was brutal but beautiful in every sense of the word. Truly one of the best WWE-esque matches in years.
Match of the Year from a Minor/Independent Promotion
Zach Batista: ACH vs. Lio Rush at Joey Janela's Spring Break 4
I loved everything about this match. From its incredibly impressive athleticism, to the beautiful story told by two wrestlers who had rocky pasts in WWE and have come out the other side as better people.
Mikey Manfredi: ACH vs. Lio Rush at Joey Janela's Spring Break 4
Lio Rush vs. ACH from JJSB4 was an amazing match. The story these two told in the ring was immaculate and the wrestling and athleticism were unmatched. Rush and ACH are two people who are very very good at what they do and when they got put together, we all knew we were in for something special.
Loren Rosenberg: Lee Moriarty vs. Jonathan Gresham at Joey Janela's Spring Break 4
As a deathmatch fan, RSP vs Tremont comes a very close 2nd but no wrestling match in the indies have I watched more times than Gresham vs Moriarty. This is a pure wrestling classic. Both men brought their end game to one of the biggest indie shows of the year and it was, no pun intended, “pure”. From bell to bell, truly, this was a wrestling fans delight.
Breakout Star of the Year
Loren Rosenberg: Blake Christian
No man has worked as hard and deserving of this award as much as Blake Christian. Even though he proved his worth in 2019, Christian made 2020 his year with his truly acrobatic matches and his evolution as a wrestler with his matches elsewhere. He's only going to get better and I promise you that. Buckle up for 2021 with him, folks.
Sean Laraway: Orange Cassidy
Orange Cassidy beat Chris Jericho twice and never lost his stock. He finally came into his own against Pac and Brodie.
Ryan Neitzey: Mr. Brodie Lee
Brodie Lee's 2020 was what everyone wanted it to be. For years, people like Lee, Cesaro, Black, Gable have all recieved the same treatment. The fans love them and they are uber talented, except no one will give them the push. AEW gave Brodie Lee the push we all dreamed and it became a reality. Lee exploded at the start of the year debuting as the long awaited Exhalted One of the Dark Order, challenging Moxley for the AEW Title. He then went on and destroyed Cody and fiercly took the TNT Title, ending in an outstanding Dog Collar Match. Brodie Lee broke out of the shackles and proved his worth to the world. He will always be remembered. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.
The Lemonade Award
"When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade". This award goes to the wrestler, promotion, whatever that was handed something awful and turned it into something amazing.
Zach Batista: Sasha Banks and Bayley's carrying the WWE Women's Divison during the Summer
In my eyes, she and Sasha took a shit situation, COVID, and basically carried the women's division of WWE through its early stages of dealing with it. They brought entertainment wherever they showed up and it definitely made watching WWE, at the time, much more bearable.
Sean Laraway: The Dark Order's Rise to Prominence
The Dark Order went from the worst thing in wrestling to the best thing in wrestling. RIP Mr. Brodie. We miss you so much.
Loren Rosenberg: Eddie Kingston's ICW Promo/Potential Retirement to TNT Title Shot to AEW Contract
To think that earlier this year, Eddie Kingston could have walked away from wrestling due to this pandemic and now is a regular on our TV screens Wednesday Nights truly makes me smile. The pandemic forced many to rethink their careers but Eddie Kingston persevered and was able to make just one promo and boom!! He winds up on AEW. As the saying goes, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Eddie Kingston was the best lemonade you could have asked for in wrestling.