The year 2020 brought some great wrestling matches and pay-per-views, but who was the best wrestler?
Wrestling has been without crowds for most of the year, but despite the pandemic, promotions have continued to operate.
WWE moved to their ‘Thunderdome’ set with onlooking fans through live video, while AEW taped recordings ahead and moved live shows to Jacksonville Jaguars' stadium.
In the year that brought us Undertaker’s ‘Boneyard’ match and a ‘Stadium Stampede’ match in AEW, there have been many unique moments.
Some stand out performances and breakthrough stars from different promotions are mentioned in the rankings, put together by Sports Illustrated.
Wrestlers have been compiled using different factors that contribute to their overall ranking, including in-ring work, attention they brought and overall impact on the business they work for.
The top 10 list includes their best matches of the year along with their reasoning for making the elite list, so let’s take a look.
10. Eddie Kingston (AEW)
With 18 years on the independent circuit to his name, Kingston joined All Elite Wrestling after calling out Cody Rhodes. His promo work makes him one of the best in the business in that regard, and he main-evented a pay-per-view, coming up short against Jon Moxley.
Top three matches: RevPro High Stakes vs. LA Park; Dynamite vs. Cody Rhodes; Full Gear vs. Jon Moxley (‘I quit’ match).
9. Roman Reigns (WWE)
Reigns returned to the WWE ring six months into 2020, following his four-month hiatus due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, now paired with Paul Heyman, The Big Dog has put together some great, fresh promos as well as returning to the top, reclaiming the WWE SmackDown title.
Top three matches: Hell in a Cell vs. Jey Uso; Survivor Series vs. Drew McIntyre; TLC vs. Kevin Owens.
8. Kota Ibushi (NJPW)
The first appearance from the New Japan Pro Wrestling company, Ibushi has featured in some masterpiece matches, including a classic storyline back-and-forth feud with Kazuchika Okada. One of the best in-ring performers in the whole of wrestling.
Top three matches: Wrestle Kingdom 14 vs. Kazuchika Okada; G1 Climax vs. Minoru Suzuki; G1 Climax vs. Tomohiro Ishii.
7. Io Shirai (NXT)
After missing the first couple of months of the year due to an injury, Shirai returned to win a no.1 contender ladder match, and proceeded to defeat Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair in a triple-threat match to become NXT champion. Since, Shirai has established her championship status, looking almost unbeatable.
Top three matches: Takeover: In Your House vs. Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley; Great American Bash vs. Sasha Banks; NXT ‘Tables, Ladders & Scares’ match vs. Candice LeRae.
6. Bayley (WWE)
A long run as SmackDown women’s champion, along with a well-told storyline with former tag-team partner Sasha Banks, is just one of many reasons why Bayley makes this list. A heel-turn and some classic matches, Bayley had a massive year in 2020.
Top three matches: Extreme Rules vs. Nikki Cross; SummerSlam vs. Asuka; Hell in a Cell vs. Sasha Banks.
5. Kenny Omega (AEW)
Included in two of the best matches of 2020, Kenny Omega has ended the year as AEW world champion, dethroning Jon Moxley. Along with his tag-team run with ‘Hangman’ Adam Page – pairing two of wrestling’s best singles competitors together – Omega has travelled to different promotions also, with an appearance in AAA’s TripleMania where he was victorious over Laredo Kid.
Top three matches: Full Gear vs. Adam Page; Dynamite vs. Jon Moxley; TripleMania vs. Laredo Kid.
4. Tetsuya Naito (NJPW)
Described as carrying the New Japan product through 2020’s struggles, Naito has been the face of the promotion for the past 12 months. Featured in classic pay-per-view matches against the likes of Okada and Kenta, Naito is another great in-ring performer.
Top three matches: Wrestle Kingdom 14 vs. Kazuchika Okada; Wrestle Kingdom 14 vs. Jay White; G1 Climax vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi.
3. Drew McIntyre (WWE)
After Vince McMahon described McIntyre as ‘WWE’s next big thing’, what followed was exactly that. The RAW world champion has had a monumental 12 months, slaying ‘The Beast’ Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania following their feud. Other great fights towards the end of the year proves McIntyre is one of the best.
Top three matches: Money in the Bank vs. Seth Rollins; Hell in a Cell vs. Randy Orton; TLC ladder match vs. AJ Styles & The Miz.
2. Jon Moxley (AEW)
At the start of the year, Moxley was a star in both AEW and NJPW. Becoming AEW’s second-ever world champion, Jon Moxley was the face of the promotion, with classic fights against title challengers that included Omega, MJF and Eddie Kingston. His world-title run just shows how good Jon Moxley is.
Top three matches: New Beginning in Osaka vs. Minoru Suzuki; Revolution vs. Chris Jericho; Full Gear vs. Eddie Kingston (‘I quit’ match).
1. Sasha Banks (WWE)
The top wrestler of the year. Working across all three WWE brands over the 12 months, Sasha Banks was the defining star in WWE. Along with great feuds with the likes of Asuka and former tag-team partner Bayley, Banks was pinnacle in driving the women’s division in WWE. With many highlights throughout the year, it looked like Banks went from strength to strength, and her in-ring performances are second-to-none.
Top three matches: Great American Bash vs. Io Shirai; Extreme Rules vs. Asuka; Hell in a Cell vs. Bayley.News Now - Sport News