Where did the time go? 2019 is behind us and it’s time for the annual Apostle Awards. We brought back the same categories as last year and asked the Apostles for their opinions. … That was fun. We’re bringing you the best of the best aaaand the worst of the worst. So, put on your finest suit and your best bow tie, grab a little bit of the bubbly and get ready for GHG’s Best Wrestling of 2019!
Do you agree with our selections? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Pissed at anything we missed or marked out to? Let the Apostles know we “Suck” or that we’re “Awesome!” over @GodHatesGeeks on Twitter.
***MATCH OF THE YEAR***
1. Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano (NXT TakeOver: New York)
Who said five-star matches only happen in Japan? Not this guy. Cole and Gargano had a classic feud in 2019 and it all climaxed at TakeOver: New York in a match that was an instant classic. I’m not even a big Gargano fan but this match right here… Wow! Johnny Wrestling BAY BAY!! If you haven’t seen this one yet, shame on you. If you have, go watch it again.
Runner-Up: Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi (NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 26).
***BRAND OF THE YEAR***
Runner up is AEW. This should surprise no one (that it got votes/was nominated). It has a passionate following, great presentation and had a stellar “indie” anti-establishment vibe before it aired. Personally, I watch it when I don’t have anything to watch. I love Jericho and the Lucha Bros.. But I cannot stand Ambrose. Moxley. Whatever. It’s the same stupid character, but ramped up… Which I feel makes it worse, but people love it. And he’s one of the main faces (an Orton or a Reigns, if you will) so he’s featured a lot… Nah for me, I’m good.
The winner is not your kind.
The winner is… N… X… T!
The MOTY and WOTY factory reigns supreme. I cannot say enough good things about them. The men, the women, everyone in NXT constantly outdoes themselves. It’s not uncommon to watch the opening match of a PPV and say out loud “Imagine having to follow that”. No joke, when me and the Apostles were voting for PPV of the year, I simply stated “TakeOver. The one before that one PPV”. Seriously though, if you’re bored right now, just go and watch a TakeOver. Anyone of them will do. That’s the magic of NXT.
Honorable Mention: Impact Wrestling.
***PPV EVENT OF THE YEAR***
1. AEW Double or Nothing
Runner-Up: NXT TakeOver: War Games.
***MOST IMPROVED WRESTLER***
1. Jon Moxley
The most improved wrestler of the year is a category that I don’t really agree with my fellow geeks on. Jon Moxley was the leading vote getter for most improved and I completely agree with that. MOX/Ambrose was finally given the opportunity to shine in AEW and he has delivered at every turn. The 2nd place finisher was Keith Lee and the 3rd place vote getter was Jake Atlas. I am vehemently against these picks. Lee has always been an amazing talent and he had my vote for Breakout Star of the Year but how exactly did he improve? Which brings me to Atlas. How he garnered enough votes to place 3rd is beyond me. He worked a lot more this year and successfully defended the PCW Ultra strap a handful of times; but, despite his recent signing with WWE, nothing about him is jaw dropping or special in any way. I would’ve included Lance Archer in this category. In the last year he went from the big jobber in NJPW tag matches to the United States Champion and a legit star and has a huge title defense at WK against the aforementioned Moxley.
Runner-Up: Keith Lee
Honorable Mention: Jake Atlas
***HEEL OF THE YEAR***
Last year’s top heels Shayna Baszler and Minoru Suzuki get constantly cheered, while the very best heel of 2018, Tommaso Ciampa returned from a near career-ending injury babyface. The only real heel in professional wrestling today is Maxwell Jacob Friedman. He’s better than you, and you know it. Although Cody’s former best friend isn’t exactly lighting up the world of professional wrestling in the squared circle (a place where he’s otherwise as steady as it comes and has improved on TNT’s center stage), there’s no one even close to being as brash, as real, and as intoxicating on the mic as MJF. The man has zero filter, and even his last promo on AEW Dynamite had shades of Ric Flair. I mean, you better be Heel of the F’n Year if I’m comparing your promo work to the Nature Boy. Either way, MJF has become of the rising stars of professional wrestling and 90% through the way we all began watching this sports entertainment in the first place: with his yapper.
Runner-Up: Chris Jericho.
***CRUISERWEIGHT/SUPER JR. OF THE YEAR***
1. Will Ospreay
***COMMENTATOR OF THE YEAR***
1. Mauro Ranallo
Mauro is Top 3 in the business. His preparation is top notch, and he makes you believe that it hurts for real and the passion he expresses on the mic is like no other since JR’s old days. He is what makes NXT flow. Mauro’s voice stands out on PPV and makes you want to watch a match again and again.
Runner-Up: Jim Ross.
***MANAGER OF THE YEAR***
1. Paul Heyman
Manager of the year was hotly contested vote between the only 2 actual managers in professional wrestling. Paul Heyman managed (See what I did there?) to eke out a victory over Zelina Vega, manager of the newly crowned United States champion, Andrade. Personally I would like to see more managers on the scene in the next year so we can actually have some disparity in the votes but until then your 2019 manager of the year is Pauuuuuullllll Heymannnnnnnn!!!
Runner-Up: Zelina Vega.
***FACTION OF THE YEAR***
1. Undisputed Era
Let me start off with the runner up… The Inner Circle, and say : why? The power of fanatism. This baby faction really hasn’t accomplished a hell of a lot together aside from jumping people? The GOAT even had the title already when he formed the faction, so not even that can be attributed to them. I love Jericho as much as any seasoned wrestling fan, and I know AEW is shiny and new, but come the fuck on. Runner up should’ve been the Switchblade’s Bullet Club, or maybe New Day (Kofimania and tag champs again). Or anyone, really.
And the winner is… BOOM!!
The Undisputed Era. No one is as consistent throughout their ranks in matches, as cohesive as a unit, and as entertaining together as the NXT golden boys. Cole never disappoints, putting on clinic after clinic during the grueling survivor series week and consistently putting on MOTY candidates (his Gargano matches, his USA showstealer vs Matt Riddle, etc). O’Reilly and Fish are as fluid as water as a tag team, are two of the best strikers in the business, and are deadly with their submissions. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that they constantly take down bigger opponents. Then there’s the messiah of the backbreaker and Jack of all trades: Roderick Strong. Whether it’s defending the tag titles using the New Day rule (fuck the Freebirds), or defending his North American title against all comers, Strong always show why he’s as valuable as any member of the team… even if his solo entrance is awkward.
Runner-Up: Inner Circle.
***COMEBACK/HEEL TURN OF THE YEAR***
1. MJF Heel Turn
Runner-Up: Finn Balor Returns to NXT.
***WOMAN WRESTLER OF THE YEAR***
1. Shayna Baszler
Sure, Rhea Ripley is the woman of the right now, but Shayna has been The Champion longer than anyone else going today. She ended 2018 with her belt back where it belonged after just a 2 month hiatus. She bested Kairi Sane, Bianca Belair, Mia Yim, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai in singles, multi matches, cage matches, on tv and stepped up on every Takeover. She was the first NXT STAR to show up on SDL and plant the flag for Team NXT to really kick off War Games. She showed up and took Bayley, Flair & Cross’ lunch. She beat both WWE Woman’s Champions at Survivor Series less than 24 hours after a grueling War Games match the night before. With her combined title reign of 548 days with the belt, you can rest assured that she will get her hands back on that gold sooner rather than later. Come 2020 she will make all comers Tap, Nap or Snap just like she’s always done.
Runner-Up: Rhea Ripley.
Honorable Mention: Tessa Blanchard.
***TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR***
1. Lucha Brothers
Runner-Up: Undisputed Era.
***Jobber of the Year***
1. Brandon Cutler
Is there anyone else this could possibly have been? As of this writing, Brandon Cutler has yet to win a single match in AEW. He lost in less than a minute to MJF on the debut episode of Dynamite, a match that would’ve been better served left off the card so the women’s division could get some actual development. His abysmal record has even become a joke in AEW itself—after the Charlotte edition of Dynamite (and Dark) went off the air, Nick Jackson volunteered Cutler to be pinned by a kid in the audience because “your record is already in the toilet.” His FSCW character, Cobra Commander, had a better year in the ring. Maybe 2020 will be better? I doubt it. But, hey, his wife makes some dope gear, so at least he has that.
Runner-Up: Shawn Spears.
***DEBUT OF THE YEAR***
1. Moxley in AEW
I know people hate my comparisons of Moxley to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, but no pro wrestler in 2019 has had the same type of impact, brash persona and drive to be the biggest non-shoot bad-ass than the former Dean Ambrose. MOX put on the mass, went back to his hardcore roots, had a slew of **** or higher matches in both New Japan and AEW, and — best of all — invaded Double Or Nothing, shocking the fucking world, in his best Steve Austin “Raw takeover” impression, minus all the bird flippin’ and beer drinkin’. Funny how Ambrose at his worst caused the original Steve Austin Show to go off the air on the WWE Network. Now, Austin arguably couldn’t have a better guest in the world than Mox on the Broken Skull Sessions. If you need a reminder of how electrifying Las Vegas was the night Mox hit All Elite Wrestling, click the vid above.
Runner-Up: KENTA in NJPW.
***GIMMICK OF THE YEAR***
1. The Fiend
***MOST OVERUSED MOVE OF THE YEAR***
A Super Kick? The extension of your leg hitting your face or jaw is Too Sweet, arguably the most entertaining move in the wrestling business. Some of the best matches of the decade have a superkick involved in them. I always loved the way it flows in the ring and the combatants on the other end. Oh boy..it’s fun to watch! Just a shame we saw about 30 in every match in 2019–and I’m not even just talking matches featuring the Young Bucks! If anything, they toned it down while the rest of the Bizness followed suit. Superkicks 4 Eva, I guess.
Runner-Up: Suicide Dive.
Honorable Mention: Canadian Destroyer.
***BREAKOUT STAR OF THE YEAR***
1. Keith Lee
Wow. What a year for Keith Lee. This kid (well, man.. he’s not too much younger than either you or me) has really made an impact since finally getting an NXT contract. One of the highlights of the Wednesday Night Wars already and do you know what the crazy thing is?? He hasn’t even really gotten started. I can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store for Keith Lee, but whatever it is, I’m sure we will all… BASK IN HIS GLORY!!
***RIVALRY OF THE YEAR***
1. Adam Cole vs. Johhny Gargano
Absolutely nothing I can write would do any justice to how incredible this series of matches was.
Go watch them, even if you’ve already seen them.
***WRESTLER OF THE YEAR***
1. Will Ospreay
Or How An Indie Darling Took On The Universal Champion and Straight Hosed His Ass and Washed Away All The Flames. Will Ospreay may even still not be a household name in the world of professional wrestling and that’s a damn shame. It’s likely the #1 reason why ratings are down (other than the # of subscribers to New Japan World) across the board. The wrestlers who would put asses in seats, who match in and match out put on the most amazing matches, risking their body, head and specifically neck to showcase abilities not ever seen in the history of the sport are only viewed by a smaller portion of the overall pro wrestling audience because.. they aren’t under the wing of Mister McMahon. Let’s hope that changes in 2020…
Word is getting around and fast on how great pro wrestling is over in the Land of the Rising Sun, and no gaijin — or pro wrestler, period (although Kota Ibushi had an awfully close second) — had a more impressive run in Japan and the industry as a whole than Will Ospreay. Funny thing is, the kid can cut a fucking promo too. While NJPW is known far more for their walk than their talk (especially if you aren’t a native to Japan), but Ospreay’s passionate post-match speeches were among the best. Then there’s his run in the Best of the Super Juniors, which includes his classic finale against Shingo; his debut run in the G1, where he even managed to have solid matches against Fale and Yano (and many of other classics; other than those two, he hardly produced anything less than 4.25/5), and an impressive late year tag team run with his fellow Bird of Prey Robbie Eagles. If you calculate star ratings from January 1st to December 31st, nobody else even comes close. Will Ospreay is a star, arguably the BITW, and it’s only a matter of months before the entire world recognizes the Aerial Assassin as so.
Runner-Up: Adam Cole.
1. Adam Cole
Boom! The man who’s meant the most to their promotion is Adam Cole Bay-Bay! From his appearance at the Halftime show for The Super Bowl, to his MOTY bouts against Gargano to leading the Undisputed Era to fulfill the prophecy that they would hold ALL the Gold in NXT, Adam Cole is the Lynch pin. Who showed up at a moment’s notice to SDL and gave The American Dragon the best match he’s been in since his return ? Adam Cole BayBay! Who showed up on RAW and took Seth Rollins to school? Adam Cole BayBay! Who survived War Games, launched a meme that got him name dropped on the competition’s show (and overtook them in the ratings too)? Adam Cole BayBay! Who has a killer contest with Pete Dunn the following night at Survivor series ? Adam Cole BayBay! If he’s on RAW, SDL, NXT, or even on that other show on Wednesday’s — there is no denying that the man who’s name is on everyone’s lips is Adam Cole. Baybay! And That, indeed, is Undisputed.
Runner-Up: Chris Jericho.