Brock’s 2019 Year End Awards

Thanks to Robyn Goding/Beyond Gorilla for the header image.

Hey, uh, sorry to let everyone down but there are almost no big writeups this year for my year end lists! If you’ve been following along with these lists at all for the last few years you’ll know that I’ve shared a fairly dour view of the world of wrestling of late. In a variety of different ways 2019 was the absolute nadir of that. I found so much of what the year had to offer depressing and anxiety-inducing, so much so that I seriously considered skipping all of this year end hoopla altogether.

my idols are dead and my enemies are in power 2

I didn’t, as you can see, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give this awful, insufferable year any more time and attention than it deserves. I just don’t have any willingness to do that, not for a year that left me feeling so defeated. Instead, I’ve put together a pair of lists that are nothing more than that, no cute blurbs or detailed essays or anything. Thankfully if you’re looking for something a little more than just the vague recommendation of a person or match, I can point you to a few things. Each of the matches listed here have a corresponding review on the blog that I’ve linked to and if you want even more than that, you can check out the Psychology is Dead Top 100 Matches of 2019 podcast. Should you want more on some of these individual wrestlers, check out my friend Simon’s year end list over on his blog. I don’t agree with everything he says there but we line up in many ways  and he’s fairly well-reasoned on where we differ.

And again, I am absolutely not sorry about the way I feel but if you’re somehow let down by the fact that I couldn’t force myself to do more for this thing, I really am sorry about that. Hopefully we’ll all feel better about 2020. Or maybe we’ll all be dead by then. Who knows.

Match of the Year:

jay white hiroshi tanahashi bosj

Jay White vs Hiroshi Tanahashi from NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXVI Day 15, scientifically proven to be the 101st best match of 2019

Hey look, it’s a list of the least-bad matches that took place in 2019! Tell your friends and family! Alert the news media! Phone the president! Tell him to fuck off and die!

100. “Warhorse” Jake Parnell vs O’Shay Edwards vs Daniel Makabe vs AC Mack – Scenic City Invitational 2019 Day 2

99. Ariya Daivari vs Oney Lorcan – WWE 205 Live (07/09/2019)

98. Chihiro Hashimoto vs Sareee – Sendai Girls (taped 01/06/2019, aired 01/14/2019)

97. Gary Jay vs Craig Mitchell – IWTV Midwest Mixtape

craig mitchell gary jay midwest mixtape Basil Mahmud Beezzzzy

Credit: Basil Mahmud (@Beezzzzy)

96. John Silver vs Leyla Hirsch – Beyond Wrestling Uncharted Territory Episode 16

95. Dragon Lee vs Barbaro Cavernario – CMLL Super Viernes (01/04/2019)

94. WALTER vs Eddie Kingston – PROGRESS Chapter 91

93. Becky Lynch vs Sasha Banks – WWE Hell in a Cell 2019

becky lynch sasha banks hiac

92. Ethan Allen vs Luke Jacobs – TETSUJIN IS FUCKING DEAD

91. Daniel Makabe vs Dominic Garrini – wXw AMBITION Wildcard Edition

90. Hiroshi Tanahashi vs KUSHIDA – NJPW Road to the New Beginning 2019 Day 3

tanahashi kushida january 2019 NAPP0Nx_x_x

Credit: @NAPP0Nx_x_x

89. Jordynne Grace vs Meiko Satomura – PROGRESS Chapter 95

88. Jeff Cobb vs Will Ospreay – ROH/NJPW G1 Supercard

87. Kris Statlander vs Nick Gage – Beyond Wrestling Uncharted Territory Episode 19

kris statlander nick gage Jon Washer

Credit: Jon Washer (@jonwasherphotos)

86. The Velveteen Dream vs Matt Riddle – NXT TakeOver: New York

85. The Legit Yoots (Leyla Hirsch & Wheeler YUTA) vs AC Mack & Fred Yehi – Beyond Wrestling Uncharted Territory Episode 29

84. Beauty Bear (Chihiro Hashimoto & Mika Iwata) vs Hiroyo Matsumoto & Sareee – Sendai Girls (taped 02/03/2019, aired 02/19/2019)

83. Jushin Liger vs Minoru Suzuki – NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling 2019

minoru suzuki jushin liger october 2019 NAPP0Nx_x_x

Credit: @NAPP0Nx_x_x

82. Oney Lorcan vs Akira Tozawa vs Drew Gulak vs Humberto Carillo – WWE 205 Live (06/11/2019)

81. David Starr vs Kris Statlander – Beyond Wrestling Treasure Hunt

80. Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton vs Cesaro vs Samoa Joe vs Erick Rowan vs Sheamus vs Daniel Bryan – WWE Smackdown (03/19/2019)

79. Jon Moxley vs Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW G1 Climax 29 Day 6

jon moxley tomohiro ishii july 2019 NAPP0Nx_x_x

Credit: @NAPP0Nx_x_x

78. El Desperado vs Jun Kasai – Taka & Taichi Produce TakaTaichiMania II

77. Sid Scala vs Kassius Ohno – NXT UK (taped 09/01/2019, 09/18/2019)

76. Fuminori Abe vs Takuya Nomura – BJW To Was Gat Early 2019 (taped 01/13/2019, aired 01/20/2019)

75. Soberano Jr vs Negro Casas – CMLL Domingo Arena Mexico (06/02/2019)

74. Gary Jay vs Thomas Shire – St. Louis Anarchy No Church in the Wild

gary jay thomas shire Brett Vann brettvaa

Credit: Brett Vann (@brettvaa)

73. David Starr vs Terry Thatcher – OTT Contenders 13

72. Moonlight Express (MAO & “Speedball” Mike Bailey) vs HARASHIMA & Shinya Aoki – DDT Road to Wrestle Peter Pan 2019

71. Drew Gulak vs Isaiah Scott – WWE 205 Live (07/23/2019)

70. Rey Mysterio vs Andrade Almas – WWE Smackdown (01/22/2019)

rey mysterio andrade almas

69. Brett Ison vs O’Shay Edwards – SUP What Could Possibly Go Right?

68. Zack Sabre Jr vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – ROH/NJPW G1 Supercard

67. Mercedes Martinez vs Kylie Rae – RISE 12: ROW on the RISE

66. Kento Miyahara vs Yuji Okabayashi – AJPW Champion Carnival 2019 Day 16

kento miyahara yuji okabayashi megrix_megrix

Credit: @megrix_megrix

65. Finn Balor vs Drew McIntyre vs Mustafa Ali vs Baron Corbin vs Andrade Almas vs Randy Orton vs Ricochet vs Brock Lesnar – WWE Money in the Bank 2019

64. Timothy Thatcher vs Jonathan Gresham – wXw World Tag Team Festival 2019 Day 3

63. Orange Cassidy vs Kris Statlander – IWTV Midwest Mixtape

Orange Cassidy Kris Statlander Basil Mahmud Beezzzzy

Credit: Basil Mahmud (@Beezzzzy)

62. Jack Gallagher vs Kassius Ohno – NXT UK (taped 04/20/2019, aired 05/29/2019)

61. Barbaro Cavernario vs Soberano Jr – NJPW Fantasticamania 2019 Day 6

60. Ciclope vs Miedo Extremo – LLV (06/02/2019)

59. Brett Ison vs AC Mack – SUP You’re Next

brett ison ac mack Robert Bellamy Mouse3911

Credit: Robert Bellamy (@Mouse3911)

58. Jonathan Gresham vs Daniel Makabe – 3-2-1 BATTLE! Battlemania 2019

57. Sareee vs DASH Chisako – Sendai Girls (taped 07/07/2019, aired 07/14/2019)

56. Soberano Jr vs Templario – CMLL Domingo Arena Mexico (10/06/2019)

55. Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins – WWE WrestleMania 35

54. Hideki Suzuki & Akira Hyodo vs Yuji Okabayashi & Takuho Kato – BJW (08/24/2019)

suzuki hyodo okabayashi kato august 2019 NAPP0Nx_x_x

Credit: @NAPP0Nx_x_x

53. The Colony (Fire Ant, Green Ant (II), & Thief Ant) vs Quack Attack (Mike Quackenbush, Rob Killjoy, & Lance Lude) – Chikara King of Trios 2019 Day 1

52. Timothy Thatcher vs El Lindaman vs The Rotation vs Emil Sitoci vs Ilja Dragunov vs Absolute Andy vs Maggot vs WALTER vs Alpha Kevin vs Mike Schwarz vs Jay Skillet vs Kyle Fletcher vs Norman Harras vs T-Hawk vs Ivan Kiev vs David Starr vs Oliver Carter vs Sha Samuels vs Chris Brookes vs Marius Al-Ani vs Francis Kaspin vs Jurn Simmons vs Prince Ahura vs Levaniel vs Mark Davis vs Vinny Vortex vs Julian Pace vs Shigehiro Irie vs Avalanche vs Leon van Gasteren – wXw Shortcut to the Top 2019

51. Jordon Breaks vs Daniel Makabe – Riptide Wrestling Brighton Spirit 2019 Show 2

50. Barbaro Cavernario vs Titan – CMLL Super Viernes (02/22/2019)

barbaro cavernario titan november 2019 cmll

Credit: Alexis Salazar

49. Jordan Devlin vs David Starr – OTT Fifth Year Anniversary

48. Shayna Baszler vs Dakota Kai – NXT (11/06/2019)

47. Dominic Garrini vs Joshua Bishop – AIW Slumber Party Massacre

46. Zack Sabre Jr vs James Mason – RPW Live at the Cockpit 40

zack sabre jr james mason march 2019 BackBodyDrop

Credit: Back Body Drop

45. Shinya Aoki vs HARASHIMA – DDT Judgment 2019

44. Drew Gulak vs Oney Lorcan – WWE SummerSlam 2019

43. Kassius Ohno vs Timothy Thatcher – PROGRESS Chapter 99

thatcher ohno

42. Jonathan Gresham & Jushin Liger vs Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & Robbie Eagles) – ROH Honor Rising 2019 Day 1

41. They Might Be Giants (Cabana Man Dan & Marko Stunt) vs Violence is Forever (Dominic Garrini & Kevin Ku) – SUP Those Who Fear Tomorrow

40. Yuji Okabayashi vs Takuya Nomura – BJW Osaka Surprise 42 ~ Strong World 2019

yuji okabayashi september 2019 NAPP0Nx_x_x

Credit: @NAPP0Nx_x_x

39. Shayna Baszler vs Io Shirai – NXT (taped 06/12/2019, aired 06/26/2019)

38. Ultimo Guerrero vs Jonathan Gresham – ROH Unauthorized

37. Chihiro Hashimoto vs Sareee – Sendai Girls Women’s Pro Wrestling Big Show in Niigata 2019

chihiro hashimoto sareee june 2019 rain_maker_ti

Credit: @rain_maker_ti

36. Daniel Makabe vs Timothy Thatcher – wXw AMBITION 11

35. Takashi Sugiura & Kazushi Sakuraba vs Kazuyuki Fujita & Hideki Suzuki – NOAH Sugiura-gun Produce “All Dogs Gather! Bark at Korakuen”

34. Mistico vs Barbaro Cavernario – CMLL Super Viernes (05/24/2019)

barbaro cavernario mistico may 2019 alexis salazar

Credit: Alexis Salazar

33. Kassius Ohno vs Matt Riddle – NXT TakeOver: Phoenix

32. Hideki Suzuki vs Timothy Thatcher – GCW Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport

timothy thatcher hideki suzuki april 2019 chris grasso kingkameraman 2

Credit: Chris Grasso (@kingkameraman)

31. Thomas Shire vs Gary Jay – St. Louis Anarchy Hog Wild

30. Jonathan Gresham vs Robbie Eagles – PWG The Hand of Doom

29. Juice Robinson vs Jon Moxley – NJPW Best of the Super Juniors XXVI Day 15

juice robinson jon moxley june 2019 Pw_photo2mass

Credit: @Pw_photo2mass

28. Drew Gulak vs Oney Lorcan – WWE 205 Live (08/13/2019)

27. Tyler Bate vs Kassius Ohno – NXT UK (taped 10/05/2019, aired 11/13/2019)

26. Johnny Kidd vs Darrell Allen – Pro Wrestling SOUL

25. Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13

kenny omega hiroshi tanahashi koito_pr

Credit: @koito_pr

24. Lio Rush vs Oney Lorcan – NXT (09/18/2019)

23. Eddie Kingston vs Thomas Shire – Heavy Metal Wrestling Fight Fire With Fire

22. Templario vs Soberano Jr – CMLL Super Viernes (10/04/2019)

soberano jr templario

Credit: Alexis Salazar

21. Yuki Ishikawa vs Timothy Thatcher – wXw AMBITION 10

20. WALTER vs Jordan Devlin – OTT Scrappermania 5

walter jordan devlin march 2019 mattdagger

Credit: @mattdagger

19. Jay Lethal & Jonathan Gresham vs Lifeblood (“Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams & Mark Haskins) – ROH Masters of the Craft 2019

18. Dasher Hatfield vs Boomer Hatfield – Chikara Aniversario: Scotch Mist

17. Yuki Nakai & Minoru Suzuki vs Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Yuki Kondo – Hard Hit Tsuki ni Naru Otoko Tachi

Screenshot from 2020-01-16 11-41-06

16. Timothy Thatcher vs Oney Lorcan – wXw AMBITION Wildcard Edition

15. Cabana Man Dan vs Dominic Garrini – SUP What Could Possibly Go Right?

14. Brock Lesnar vs Finn Balor – WWE Royal Rumble 2019

balor lesnar

13. Ultimo Guerrero vs Caifan – WWCI XMW (02/16/2019)

12. Jonathan Gresham vs Masashi Takeda – GCW Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport

11. Jon Moxley vs Juice Robinson – NJPW G1 Climax 29 Day 18

jon moxley juice robinon august 2019 etsuo hara

Credit: Etsuo Hara

10. Timothy Thatcher vs Daniel Makabe – 3-2-1 BATTLE! Wet Hot Seattle Summer 3

timothy thatcher daniel makabe july 2019 David Horvitz Vitz Media

Credit: David Horvitz/Vitz Media

9. Meiko Satomura vs Sareee – Sendai Girls (taped 04/16/2019, aired 04/27/2019)

satomura saree

Credit: @sar25go

8. Ezekiel James vs Oswald Project – Pizza Party Wrestling

7. Billy Roc vs Mike Quackenbush – Bizarro Lucha Endless Waltz

mike quackenbush september 2019 Mouse3911 Mouse's Wrestling Adventure

Credit: Robert Bellamy (@Mouse3911)

6. Daniel Bryan vs Kofi Kingston – WWE WrestleMania 35

460_WM35_04072019cm_4061--cb632aea887caed30e0d6f399e9b5a3c

5. Jordan Devlin vs David Starr – OTT Homecoming 2

4. Eddie Kingston vs Jonathan Gresham – PROGRESS Chapter 92

3. Daniel Bryan vs Kofi Kingston vs Samoa Joe vs Randy Orton vs Jeff Hardy vs AJ Styles – WWE Elimination Chamber 2019

228_ELIM_02172019cm_5130--a44537139431679dc9a5c2038b283fe4

2. Dr. Wagner Jr vs Blue Demon Jr – AAA TripleMania XXVII

wagner blue august 2019 miguel ponton

Credit: Miguel Ponton

1. Virus vs Metalico – CMLL Super Viernes – El Juicio Final 2019

virus metalico


Wrestler of the Year:

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The 101st best wrestler of 2019, Mustafa Ali, ranked 64 in 2018 (-37)

Against all odds, roughly 100 wrestlers managed to have a halfway decent 2019. Here they are, listed in order for your reading pleasure.

100. Rush
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

99. Still Life with Apricots and Pears
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

98. Bayley
ranked 85 in 2018 (-13)
no matches in my top 100

97. Aramis
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

aramis-joven-luchador-independiente-foto

96. The Miz
ranked 45 in 2018 (-51)
no matches in my top 100

95. Alex Zayne
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

94. Low Ki
ranked 75 in 2018 (-19)
no matches in my top 100

93. Mark Davis
ranked 42 in 2018 (-51)
1 match in my top 100 (52)

92. Travis Huckabee
ranked 38 in 2018 (-54)
no matches in my top 100

91. Artemis Spencer
ranked 70 in 2018 (-21)
no matches in my top 100

90. EM Demorest
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

89. Jun Kasai
ranked 57 in 2018 (-32)
1 match in my top 100 (78)

88. “Speedball” Mike Bailey
ranked 23 in 2018 (-65)
1 match in my top 100 (72)

speedball mike bailey july 2019 Wrestlinshadows

Credit: @Wrestlinshadows

87. Samoa Joe
ranked 25 in 2018 (-62)
2 matches in my top 100 (3, 80)

86. Terry Thatcher
ranked 82 in 2018 (-4)
1 match in my top 100 (73)

85. Tetsuya Endo
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

84. Kyle Fletcher
ranked 24 in 2018 (-60)
1 match in my top 100 (52)

83. Roderick Strong
ranked 58 in 2018 (-25)
no matches in my top 100

82. Daniel Garcia
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

81. Fred Yehi
ranked 44 in 2018 (-37)
1 match in my top 100 (85)

80. Bianca Belair
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

bianca belair april 2019 Gina LeVay

79. Big E Langston
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

78. Taurus
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

77. Lio Rush
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (24)

76. Craig Mitchell
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (97)

75. WALTER
ranked too high in 2018 (-40)
3 matches in my top 100 (20, 52, 94)

74. Fuminori Abe
ranked 34 in 2018 (-40)
1 match in my top 100 (76)

73. T-Hawk
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

72. Nick Gage
ranked 86 in 2018 (+14)
1 match in my top 100 (87)

nick gage april 2019

Credit: Esther Lin (@allelbows), I thiiiiiiink?

71. Dakota Kai
ranked 21 in 2018 (-50)
1 match in my top 100 (48)

70. Christian Casanova
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

69. Jay White
ranked 47 in 2018 (-22)
1 match in my top 101 (101)

68. Thomas Santell
not ranked in 2018
no matches in my top 100

67. Blue Demon Jr
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (2)

66. Becky Lynch
ranked 32 in 2018 (-34)
1 match in my top 100 (93)

65. Leyla Hirsch
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (85, 96)

64. Oswald Project
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (8)

Oswald Project Harry Aaron

Credit: Harry Aaron (@harryaaron)

I love my bendy son.

63. Tomohiro Ishii
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (79)

62. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams
ranked 20 in 2018 (-42)
1 match in my top 100 (19)

61. Jushin Liger
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (42, 83)

60. Kylie Rae
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (67)

59. Boomer Hatfield
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (18)

58. Shinya Aoki
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (45, 72)

57. Metalico
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (1)

56. Chris Brookes
ranked 19 in 2018 (-37)
1 match in my top 100 (52)

chris brookes january 2019 tobi_102

55. Jack Gallagher
ranked 46 in 2018 (-9)
1 match in my top 100 (62)

54. DASH Chisako
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (57)

53. Kevin Ku
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (41)

52. Mercedes Martinez
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (67)

51. Io Shirai
ranked 76 in 2018 (+25)
1 match in my top 100 (39)

50. Andrade Almas
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (65, 70)

49. John Silver
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (96)

48. AC Mack
not ranked in 2018
3 matches in my top 100 (59, 85, 100)

47. Masashi Takeda
ranked 12 in 2018 (-35)
1 match in my top 100 (12)

46. Gary Jay
not ranked in 2018
3 matches in my top 100 (31, 74, 97)

45. Zack Sabre Jr
ranked 13 in 2018 (-32)
2 matches in my top 100 (46, 68)

zack sabre jr august 2019 NAPP0Nx_x_x

Credit: @NAPP0Nx_x_x

44. Jordynne Grace
ranked 73 in 2018 (+29)
1 match in my top 100 (89)

43. Minoru Suzuki
ranked 16 in 2018 (-27)
2 matches in my top 100 (17, 83)

42. Templario
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (22, 56)

templario

41. Wheeler YUTA
ranked 26 in 2018 (-15)
1 match in my top 100 (85)

40. Virus
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (1)

39. Matt Riddle
ranked 79 in 2018 (+40)
2 matches in my top 100 (33, 86)

38. Takuya Nomura
ranked 8 in 2018 (-30)
2 matches in my top 100 (40, 76)

takuya nomura december 2019 ThingsBrokenIn

Credit: @ThingsBrokenIn

37. Finn Balor
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (14, 65)

36. O’Shay Edwards
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (69, 100)

o'shay edwards ReanaMK december 2019

Credit: @ReanaMK

35. HARASHIMA
ranked 14 in 2018 (-21)
2 matches in my top 100 (45, 72)

34. Hideki Suzuki
ranked 61 in 2018 (+27)
3 matches in my top 100 (32, 35, 54)

33. Brett Ison
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (59, 69)

32. Robbie Eagles
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (30, 42)

robbie eagles september 2019 NAPP0Nx_x_x

Credit: @NAPP0Nx_x_x

31. Shayna Baszler
ranked 5 in 2018 (-26)
2 matches in my top 100 (39, 48)

30. Orange Cassidy
ranked 10 in 2018 (-20)
1 match in my top 100 (63)

Orange Cassidy Jon Washer

Credit: Jon Washer (@jonwasherphotos)

29. Dasher Hatfield
ranked 93 in 2018 (+64)
1 match in my top 100 (18)

28. Brock Lesnar
ranked 65 in 2018 (+37)
3 matches in my top 100 (14, 55, 65)

https3a2f2fblogs-images.forbes.com2falfredkonuwa2ffiles2f20192f052fbrock-party-1200x675-1

27. Mike Quackenbush
ranked 28 in 2018 (+1)
2 matches in my top 100 (7, 53)

26. Ultimo Guerrero
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (13, 38)

ultimo guerrero november 2019 CMLL

Credit: Alexis Salazar

25. Juice Robinson
ranked 59 in 2018 (+34)
2 matches in my top 100 (11, 29)

24. Dr. Wagner Jr
not ranked in 2018
1 match in my top 100 (2)

Dr.-Wagner

23. Meiko Satomura
ranked 15 in 2018 (-8)
2 matches in my top 100 (9, 89)

22. Thomas Shire
not ranked in 2018
3 matches in my top 100 (23, 31, 74)

21. Jordan Devlin
ranked 27 in 2018 (+6)
3 matches in my top 100 (5, 20, 49)

jordan devlin october 2019 1 John Morrissey WhiplashJ

Credit: John Morrissey (@WhiplashJ)

20. Hiroshi Tanahashi
ranked 1 in 2018 (-19)
4 matches in my top 101 (25, 68, 90, 101)

19. Kris Statlander
not ranked in 2018
3 matches in my top 100 (63, 81, 87)

Kris Statlander v AG-3-L

Credit: Jon Washer (@jonwasherphotos)

18. Jon Moxley
not ranked in 2018
3 matches in my top 100 (11, 29, 79)

jon moxley june 2019 NAPP0Nx_x_x

Credit: @NAPP0Nx_x_x

17. Kofi Kingston
not ranked in 2018
3 matches in my top 100 (3, 6, 80)

16. Cabana Man Dan
not ranked in 2018
2 matches in my top 100 (15, 41)

15. Chihiro Hashimoto
ranked 71 in 2018 (+56)
3 matches in my top 100 (37, 84, 98)

14. Drew Gulak
ranked 40 in 2018 (+26)
4 matches in my top 100 (28, 44, 71, 82)

13. Yuji Okabayashi
not ranked in 2018
3 matches in my top 100 (40, 54, 66)

yuji okabayashi january 2019 dggppw

Credit: @dggppw

12. Daniel Bryan
ranked 9 in 2018 (-3)
3 matches in my top 100 (3, 6, 80)

11. Eddie Kingston
ranked 29 in 2018 (+18)
3 matches in my top 100 (4, 23, 94)

10. Barbaro Cavernario
ranked 36 in 2018 (+26)
4 matches in my top 100 (34, 50, 61, 95)

barbaro cavernario november 2019 cmll

Credit:

9. Oney Lorcan
not ranked in 2018
6 matches in my top 100 (16, 24, 28, 44, 82, 99)

wXwWTTFD2-5024-L

Credit: Gunther Daniel (@GDPhotographyDE)

8. Kassius Ohno
not ranked in 2018
5 matches in my top 100 (27, 33, 43, 62, 77)

23_KassiusOhno_Evolve--3d66c4b43b9849c429e74ac85d31ae73

Credit: Mary Poulos

7. Soberano Jr
ranked 54 in 2018 (+47)
4 matches in my top 100 (22, 52, 61, 75)

soberano jr november 2019 CMLL 2

Credit: Alexis Salazar

6. Dominic Garrini
not ranked in 2018
4 matches in my top 100 (15, 41, 47, 91)

EK1WsjzXkAEggq2

Credit: @grenwail

5. Daniel Makabe
ranked 6 in 2018 (+1)
7 matches in my top 100 (10, 36, 51, 54, 58, 91, 100)

daniel makabe july 19 Francesca Crocker missmonomyth

Credit: Francesca Crocker (@missmonomyth)

4. Timothy Thatcher
ranked 2 in 2018 (-2)
8 matches in my top 100 (10, 16, 21, 32, 36, 43, 52, 64)

timothy thatcher april 2019 ryan loco

Credit: Ryan Loco

3. Sareee
not ranked in 2018
5 matches in my top 100 (9, 37, 57, 84, 98)

sareee june 2019 __________bomb_ 2

Credit: @__________bomb_

Alright, I guess I’ll write a little something here at the end.

The next two people on this list—and if you’re at all paying attention to my reviews, you’ll know who they are—were really the only two contenders for wrestler of the year by the end. Barbaro Cavernario and Sareee started strong but, through no fault of their own, really, fell off as the year rolled on. Reliable favorites like Timothy Thatcher, Daniel Makabe, and Yuji Okabayashi all made their cases known but never quite hit that high end match that I think should anchor a WOTY résumé. A pair of WWE C-show guys did a great job of elevating their respective brands but also disappeared for months at a time. Guys like Soberano Jr and Dominic Garrini made major advancements but even if I flirted with the idea, neither of them seemed like a surefire pick for the top spot.

And that’s sort of the thing: nobody quite seemed like a surefire pick. I hated 2019 in wrestling for a variety of reasons and not least among them was the fact that it was hard to point to a single person and go “yeah, this here, this is the one”. For most of the year I was convinced that person was David Starr, someone who’s always finished high on my WOTY lists. Following a series of overzealous and ill-conceived high profile matches stretching from August to December, it became harder and harder to believe that he’d finally achieve #1. I could reasonably point out how poor writing from demonstrably shitty bookers or awful work from some of the world’s most braindead wrestlers had a hand in this stretch of matches but at the end of the day it was still one guy repeatedly stooping to the level of shit that I think is well beneath him.

Things didn’t get any easier as I started to compile these lists. My MOTY list is often the biggest indicator of how my WOTY list is going to shake out and as it took form, Starr seemed to be slipping further and further down the top ten. Along with all the aforementioned names, Jonathan Gresham emerged as a major contender. He was tied for the most matches in my top 100 and edged out Thatcher for the highest average ranking among those matches. Unlike Thatcher he also wrestled a full year and didn’t drop the ball in some notable matches with legendary opponents. As December drew to a close, I found it harder to justify why I’d rank Starr above Gresham or just about anyone else.

Toward the end of the month my friends and I had a particular discussion in our infamous Slack chat. It stemmed from my pal Quentin’s baffling assertion that Adam Cole was the 38th best wrestler of the year, a ranking that put him ahead of a longtime favorite of his by the name of Zack Sabre Jr. I’ve archived the whole conversation on imgur and would encourage you to read it but I’ll post the last part here too:

10

2019 was not a fun year for me. Most of that is thanks to events and occurances outside of the ring, of course, but for our purposes it was a bad year in wrestling as well. After Tanahashi’s miraculous win on January 4th it seemed like nothing but a cavalcade of inescapable mediocrity and occasional tragedy followed. No matter where I looked, nothing went right and nothing felt good.

Still, there’s that old saying about how you learn more from defeat than victory, and if there’s one thing that being beaten down for 365 days straight taught me, it’s to cling to what little I have left. In 2019 that was David Starr. The guy was not nearly perfect and even on his best days he found pernicious little ways to let me down but no one else was delivering the sort of stuff I want out of wrestling at the level he was doing it. He was the emotional core of my favorite feud in years. He brought the best out of lower level babyfaces the world over. He made the biggest dummies in the world shit themselves in public again and again and again. He won the big one, maybe not in the ‘right’ way but when I needed it most. It was never pretty and it was never anything I could back up with hard numbers but I don’t know why I ever convinced myself it had to be. I had way more fun just saying “fuck it” and enjoying the ride. I think I’m gonna try to do that more, moving forward.

2. Jonathan Gresham
ranked 4 in 2018 (+2)
8 matches in my top 100 (4, 12, 19, 30, 38, 42, 58, 64)

jonathan gresham octopus

1. David Starr
ranked 3 in 2018 (+2)
5 matches in my top 100 (5, 49, 52, 73, 81)

david starr october 2019 1 John Morrissey WhiplashJ

Credit: John Morrissey (@WhiplashJ)