Wow, what a weird year, huh?
Due to the ongoing pandemic, live crowds stopped going to wrestling shows when Ring Of Honor was forced to cancel their Anniversary Show at the very last minute back in March. The world held its breath to see if the mighty WWE would blink and follow suit, and sure enough, Wrestlemania 36 was held without an audience in the tiny WWE Performance Center. Meanwhile, the Raymond James Stadium sat empty 90 minutes away in Tampa.
That’s not to say the pandemic ended wrestling. Far from it – many companies like WWE and AEW chose to just keep fighting, figuring out their way around the limitations. From empty arenas to theatrical matches to crowds made up of other wrestlers to THE THUNDERDOME, promotions found new ways to present wrestling.
And in those new presentations, a bunch of wrestlers had an amazing year. Heck, some of them had the greatest year of their career!
So let’s take a look at our by the numbers ranking of 2020’s top performers.
Note: Rankings were calculated based on “Big Event” (PPV/iPPV/Special Show) appearances and main events and titles held. Emphasis was placed on larger organizations over smaller organizations based on Google analytics for each organization.
- Defeated PCO & Mark Haskins for his 2nd ROH World Title at Gateway To Honor (with help from the NWA’s Nick Aldis).
- Successfully defended the title against Brody King (with help from his dad, La Bestia del Ring) at Final Battle 2020.
- Did not compete for most of the year, but his La Faccion Ingobernable is in position to rule Ring of Honor in 2021. Unless The Foundation has something to say about it.
#20 SASHA BANKS
- Spent the first couple of months out due to injury, but returned to help BFF Bayley continue her reign as Smackdown Women’s Champion. The pair would briefly regain the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles in June, but their friendship began to erode.
- Won the Raw Women’s Championship for a record 5th time from Asuka, thanks to some help from Bayley. Asuka won the title back at Summerslam.
- The Boss & Hug Connection exploded in September when Bayley turned on Sasha. Banks defeated Bayley for the Smackdown Women’s Title in the Hell In A Cell, a match that was held as one of WWE’s top matches of the year.
- Hit a DDT on Boba Fett.
#19 KING CORBIN
- After beating Roman Reigns at TLC 2019, lost an incredible Falls Count Anywhere match to the Big Dog at the Royal Rumble, followed by a feud-ending Steel Cage Match defeat at Super Show Down.
- Nearly won the 2020 Men’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match, but fumbled the ball to Otis of all people.
- Got a win over Matt Riddle early in Riddle’s main roster career, but Riddle pinned Corbin in Team Raw’s clean sweep of Team Smackdown during the Men’s Survivor Series match.
#18 CHRIS JERICHO
- Defeated the legendary Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom 14.
- Le Champion held the AEW World Title at the beginning of the year, but lost to Jon Moxley in the AEW Revolution main event.
- Led his Inner Circle to victory over The Elite in a hellacious Stadium Stampede match at Double or Nothing.
#17 ADAM COLE
- Became the longest reigning NXT Champion (403 days) thanks to victories like his win over Tommaso Ciampa in the main event of NXT Takeover: Portland.
- Lost the NXT Title to Keith Lee during the main event of NXT’s Great American Bash special.
- Turned face and led the Undisputed Era to success over cocky Pat McAfee’s team in a violent War Games Match at Takeover: WarGames.
#16 THE NEW DAY
- Though the group was plagued by injuries this year, the team managed to win their 5th, 6th, and 7th Smackdown Tag Team Championships.
- Found themselves split up for the first time in 6 years when Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods were sent to Raw during the WWE Draft, leaving Big E for a singles run on Smackdown.
- On the Christmas episode of Smackdown, Big E defeated Sami Zayn in a Lumberjack Match to win his 2nd Intercontinental Championship.
#15 ADAM PAGE
- With Kenny Omega, defeated SoCal Uncensored to win the AEW World Tag Team Titles in January.
- Part of the wild Stadium Stampede Match main event at Double or Nothing, though he and The Elite came out on the losing end.
- Around the time of All Out, was axed from The Elite, lost the tag team titles, and saw his team with Kenny Omega dissolve. Lost to Omega at Full Gear in the finals of an AEW World Title #1 Contender Tournament.
#14 RICH SWANN
- Perhaps wrestling’s 2020 Comeback of the Year, spent over half of 2020 sidelined with a knee injury.
- Returned at Slammiversary only to enter a bitter feud with Eric Young that nearly saw Swann retire due to a reaggravated knee injury.
- Defeated Young at Bound For Glory to capture his first Impact World Title. Has since defeated Sami Callihan and Chris Bey to hold on to the gold.
#13 ROMAN REIGNS
- After dominating King Corbin at the Royal Rumble, was the last person eliminated from the Rumble match by Drew McIntyre.
- Pulled out of a marquee match with Goldberg at Wrestlemania 36 due to covid concerns. Spent the next several months off of WWE TV.
- Returned at Summerslam with a new attitude, the heel turned he’s been destined for for years. Quickly won the Universal Title and has remained at the Head of the Table thanks to help from manager Paul Heyman and his cousin Jey Uso.
- Began a record 4th NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Title run with Bushi and Shingo Takagi at Wrestle Kingdom 14.
- Returned from hiatus at the New Japan Cup, displaying a new attitude. Went on to defeat Kazuchika Okada in finals, thanks to his shocking turn on Los Ingobernables de Japon to join the Bullet Club.
- Defeated Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP World Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships at Dominion. Held the titles for 48 days before dropping them back to Naito at Summer Struggle.
#11 RANDY ORTON
- The Viper’s feud with the returning Edge was a highlight of 2020, including a vicious Falls Count Anywhere match at Wrestlemania 36 and “The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever” at Backlash.
- Spent the latter part of 2020 feuding with WWE Champion Drew McIntyre, which saw him capture his 14th world title.
- Currently in a mind-bending feud with The Fiend Bray Wyatt that has brought out Orton’s sadistic side (even more?).
#10 AJ STYLES
- According the The Last Ride documentary, The Undertaker personally asked AJ Styles to be his final match, knowing that if anyone could make it memorable, it would be the Phenomenal One. Although AJ ended Wrestlemania 36’s Boneyard Match on his back, the innovative cinematic match will forever be a career highlight for AJ and a fitting sendoff to Taker. Also WWE’s Top Match of 2020.
- Was traded twice in 2020. Spent his time on Smackdown chasing and defending the Intercontinental Championship – one of the few titles AJ had never won before.
- Competed in 2 of WWE’s Top 10 Matches of 2020 – the IC Title Tournament Finals vs Daniel Bryan and the Triple Threat IC Title Ladder Match at Clash of Champions.
- Captained the Raw Men’s Survivor Series team to a clean sweep over Team Smackdown.
- With his giant bodygaurd Omos, 2021 is already looking up for AJ Styles.
#9 THE FIEND BRAY WYATT
- Lost some early momentum when he lost the Universal Title to Goldberg in the Super Show Down main event.
- Bounced back to “defeat” John Cena in the cerebral Firefly Funhouse match at Wrestlemania.
- Brought the devil out in Braun Strowman in a series of marquee Universal Title matches, ultimately winning his 2nd Universal Title at Summerslam.
- Lost the title to the returning Roman Reigns at Payback, but gained himself a new follower in the twisted Alexa Bliss.
- Ended the year being burned alive by Randy Orton in TLC’s Inferno Match, but don’t think that a little thing like melting will stop The Fiend.
#8 KENNY OMEGA
- With Adam Page, defeated SoCal Uncensored to win the AEW World Tag Team Titles in January. Would go on to hold those titles for 228 days.
- Key part of the Double or Nothing Stadium Stampede main, but he and The Elite would ultimately fall to The Inner Circle.
- Ended his team with Page and defeated his former partner in an AEW Title #1 Contender Tournament.
- Defeated Jon Moxley for the AEW Title at the Winter Is Coming special, thanks to a heel turn and his new manager Don Callis – setting off a cross-promotional bid to reunite his old Bullet Club buddies.
- Those who have been wondering when Omega would finally step into the AEW spotlight can finally stop wondering.
#7 SETH ROLLINS
- Won his sixth Raw Tag Team Championship (a record) with Murphy by defeating the Viking Raiders back in January.
- Came out on the losing end of his feud with Kevin Owens after a show-stealing match at Wrestlemania.
- Feuded with Drew McIntyre over the WWE Title, but came up short in a spectacular match at Money In The Bank.
- Spent most of the year in a bitter feud with Rey Mysterio, which saw Rollins constantly getting the better of Rey and his son Dominik. Took out Rey’s eye in a “memorable” Eye For An Eye match at Extreme Rules.
- Lost his disciple Murphy and has been on the shelf since “sacrificing himself” in the Men’s Survivor Series match.
- Began the year in an unsuccessful feud with Becky Lynch over the Raw Women’s Title.
- With Kairi Sane, the Kabuki Warriors lost the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles to Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross at Wrestlemania, ending a 181 reign.
- With Kairi Sane leaving WWE, Asuka refocused on her singles career. Won the Money In The Bank Briefcase, but was later handed the Raw Women’s Title by Becky Lynch, as Lynch would go off on maternity leave. This move turned Asuka face and made her the second ever women’s Grand Slam Champion.
- Competed for both the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championships at Summerslam, defeating Sasha Banks for the former.
- Surprised the WWE Universe at TLC with mystery partner Charlotte Flair. Asuka and Charlotte defeated Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler for the Tag Team Titles, sending Asuka into 2021 as a double champion.
#5 TETSUYA NAITO
- Kicked off 2020 by winning the historic Double Gold Dash at Wrestle Kingdom 14, defeating Jay White for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship and Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP World Championship to become a Dual Champion.
- Defeated KENTA at The New Beginning in Osaka to hang on to the titles.
- Lost both championships to New Japan Cup winner Evil at Dominion, but managed to reclaim them a few weeks later at Summer Struggle in Jingu. The win made him a record-setting 6-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion.
- Fared well in the G1 Climax tournament, scoring 12 points in the B Block, which was ultimately won by Sanada.
- Lost the World and IC titles to G1 Climax Winner Kota Ibushi, which happened just at the dawn of 2021 at Wrestle Kingdom 15. Unclear where Naito now stands in the title picture, but he is never far from the championship.
#4 BRAUN STROWMAN
- Kicked off 2020 with a short Intercontinental Title reign.
- Was a last second replacement for Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania 36, where he defeated Goldberg for the Universal Title.
- Entered into a violent feud with his former Wyatt Family mentor Bray Wyatt. Braun defeated Wyatt at Money In The Bank, but lost a non-title Swamp Fight in the main event of The Horror Show at Extreme Rules. Main evented Summerslam, where he lost the title to The Fiend and was subsequently attacked by Roman Reigns. Turned heel somewhere along the way.
- Failed to regain the title in a triple threat match with Reigns and The Fiend at Payback.
- Moved to Raw where he appeared briefly on Raw Underground and feuded with newcomer Keith Lee. Helped Team Raw earn their clean sweep victory over Team Smackdown in the Men’s Survivor Series Match.
- Currently on indefinite suspension after headbutting a WWE official.
#3 JON MOXLEY
- Defeated Lance Archer in a Texas Deathmatch at Wrestle Kingdom 14 to capture his second IWGP United States Championship, which he still holds.
- Ended Chris Jericho’s reign as AEW World Champion at the Revolution PPV, kicking off a title run that would last most of the rest of 2020.
- Defeated Mr. Brodie Lee at the Double or Nothing PPV, then Brian Cage in the main event at Fight For The Fallen.
- Fought off a disingenuous MJF, who felt AEW fans deserved a better world champion. Mox came out victorious in the main event of All Out. Followed that up with a brutal victory in an I Quit Match over Eddie Kingston at Full Gear.
- Dropped the AEW Title to Kenny Omega at the Winter Is Coming special.
- A constant and entertaining presence on WWE TV, 2020 has been a banner year for the Role Model, who is relishing her run as a heel.
- As part of her incredible 380-day reign as Smackdown Women’s Champion, scored PPV wins over the likes of Lacey Evans, Naomi, Tamina, and Nikki Cross.
- Managed to retain the title in a Fatal 5-Way match at Wrestlemania 36.
- Teamed with BFF Sasha Banks to capture the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles for a second time, beating the team of Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss.
- Lost the tag titles as her alliance with Sasha began to decline. Ultimately lost the Women’s Title to Banks in a truly memorable Hell In A Cell match, which was ranked as WWE’s #2 Match of 2020.
#1 DREW MCINTYRE
- After years of determination, finally broke into the upper echelon in 2020.
- Won the Men’s Royal Rumble match, tossing Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns along the way.
- Defeated Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title in a hard hitting main event at Wrestlemania 36.
- Successfully defended the title against the likes of Seth Rollins and The Big Show.
- A long feud with Randy Orton resulted in a classic Ambulance Match at Clash Of Champions.
- Though McIntyre would lose the WWE Title to Orton at Hell In A Cell, Drew would reclaim the title and go on to face Universal Champion Roman Reigns at Survivor Series that would turn out to be another highlight performance.
- Defeated AJ Styles and The Miz in a TLC match to hang on to his championship.
Below, check out our entire Top 100 for 2020.
|9||The Fiend Bray Wyatt|
|16||The New Day|
|25||The Street Profits|
|26||Zack Sabre Jr.|
|29||The Young Bucks|
|49||The Miz & John Morrison|