For the second straight year, I’m proud to present the Wrestling Omakase Year End Awards. Introduced last year, the Omakase awards are a closed poll open to all the Wrestling Omakase guests who appeared on the show in the calendar year. All guests from the beginning of January through shows at the end of 2018 were invited to participate. This should give our panel a decent cross-section (though obviously with a strong puro bias) of some of the most hardcore wrestling fans out there, featuring both VOW contributors and other followers of wrestling as well. The awards are set up to be very similar in format to the Wrestling Observer year-end awards, so it might be interesting for you to compare and contrast the results.
Please see below for a list of all who participated, separated into VOW contributors and outsiders and in the order of their first appearance on the show this past year.
2018 Awards Panel
VOW Contributors: John Carroll, Joe Lanza, Lawson Leong, Sean Sedor, Michael Spears, JR Goldberg, Taylor Maimbourg, Suit Williams, Kevin Hare, Andrew Rich, Rich Kraetsch, Alex Wendland, Andy LaBarre, Kelly Harrass, Joe Gagne, Jack Beckmann, Aaron Taube, Aaron Bentley, Paul Volsch, Joel Abraham, August Baker
Outside VOW: Connor Dunphy, Dylan Harris, Jesse, Kevin Brown, Kara, Aaron Wrotkowski, Josh Robinson, Tara Wrist, Bryan Quinlan, Jamie O’Doherty, Brian Quinby, Jahmale, Eyean, Brennan Patrick, Tanner, Gran Akuma, Jake, Nate, Arrum, Emily Pratt, Skylar, Joey Bay, Hannah, Jasmine, Luke Healy, Nathan, Richie
Here are our 2018 Wrestling Omakase award winners!
Category A Awards
Voters chose a top 3 for every Category A award, with points awarded on a 5-3-2 basis.
In cases of ties the number of first-place votes were used as a tiebreaker, when applicable. First place votes are listed next to the point total.
Wrestler of the Year
Also known as the Flair-Thesz.
Criteria based on a mix of in-ring, drawing power, star power, importance to the home promotion (“MVP” quality), and other intangible factors.
2017 Top 3 (Point Total): Kazuchika Okada (80), Tetsuya Naito (73), Kenny Omega (28)
1. Masashi Takeda- 58 (9)
2. Hiroshi Tanahashi- 54 (9)
3. LA Park- 50 (6)
4. Kenny Omega- 49 (8)
5. Kazuchika Okada- 28 (1)
6. Kento Miyahara- 22 (3)
7. WALTER- 22 (2)
8. Takashi Sugiura- 19 (1)
9. Tetsuya Naito- 15
10. CIMA- 14 (1)
Honorable Mentions: Rush 13, Hiromu Takahashi 13
Takeda walks away with Wrestler of the Year honors, a pretty extraordinary feat given where he works. The entire Top 3 from last year failed to repeat there, though all did make the Top 10. Only one WWE main roster male wrestler received a single vote (a 3rd place vote for Roman Reigns), and no one from the promotion at all made the top 12 unless you count late UK signing WALTER.
Most Outstanding Wrestler
The best wrestler of the year from an in-ring, bell-to-bell standpoint only, with no other factors considered.
2017 Top 3: Kazuchika Okada (44), Kenny Omega (29), Tetsuya Naito (28)
1. Will Ospreay- 64 (8)
2. WALTER- 48 (6)
3. Kota Ibushi- 43 (4)
4. Zack Sabre Jr- 34 (4)
5. Masashi Takeda- 31 (2)
6. Tomohiro Ishii- 20 (2)
7. Momo Watanabe- 16 (1)
8. Kento Miyahara- 15 (2)
9. Hiroshi Tanahashi- 15 (1)
10. Hiromu Takahashi- 14 (2)
Honorable Mentions: LA Park 13, Shuji Ishikawa 13, Kenny Omega 13
The top 4 in this race were all really close for a long time but Ospreay opened up a big lead late in balloting. Last year we had the same Top 3 in Wrestler of the Year & Most Outstanding which was not the case this time; winner Takeda finished 5th, and 3rd place LA Park didn’t even make the Top 10. Also notable that last year’s Top 3 did far worse in this award than they did in WOTY, with all 3 of them dropping out of the Top 10 entirely.
Tag Team of the Year
The best tag team of the year for 2018.
2017 Top 3: The Usos (62), Young Bucks (20), Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi (19)
1. Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson)- 62 (9)
2. Golden☆Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi)- 42 (4)
3. Lucha Bros (Fenix & Pentagon Jr)- 31 (2)
4. Violent Giants (Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa)- 30 (4)
5. LAX (Santana & Ortiz)- 29 (2)
6. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)- 28 (2)
7. Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong)- 24 (3)
8. EVIL & SANADA- 21 (2)
9. Ringkampf (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher)- 16 (2)
10. La Nueva Generacion Dinamitas (El Cuatero & Sanson & Forastero)- 15 (2)
Honorable Mentions: Moonlight Express 12, Mustache Mountain 11, Undisputed Era 11, Daisuke Sekimoto & Kazusada Higuchi 10
The Young Bucks lead this award pretty much from start to finish, with their lead becoming very wide in the middle; only a late push by the Golden Lovers, with 3 of their 4 1st place votes coming in the last 9 ballots, even made it this close. Notable is the tiny gap in the middle, with just 3 points separating 3rd place from 6th (and only 7 points from 3rd to 7th). Also note that the Undisputed Era are the only team to place twice, with the second combination of O’Reilly/Fish/Cole picking up an honorable mention and nearly making the top 10.
Match of the Year
The best match to occur in 2018.
2017 Top 3: Okada vs. Shibata 4/9 Sumo Hall (55), Okada vs. Omega 1/4 Tokyo Dome (25), Naito vs. Omega 8/13 Sumo Hall (20)
1. IWGP Heavyweight Title 2 out of 3 Falls No Time Limit: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega, NJPW 6/9 Osaka Jo Hall- 63 (11)
2. G1 Climax Final: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kota Ibushi, NJPW 8/12 Sumo Hall- 47 (6)
3. NXT Title: Andrade “Cien” Almas vs. Johnny Gargano, WWE 1/27 Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia)- 36 (2)
4. BJW Deathmatch Heavyweight Title: Masashi Takeda vs. Isami Kodaka, BJW 6/20 Korakuen Hall- 33 (4)
5. BOSJ Final: Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori, NJPW 6/4 Korakuen Hall- 26 (3)
6. Champion Carnival Final: Kento Miyahara vs. Naomichi Marufuji, AJPW 4/30 Korakuen Hall- 16 (2)
7. G1 Climax Block B: Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW 8/4 EDION Arena Osaka- 15 (1)
8. Triple Crown Title: Zeus vs. Kento Miyahara, AJPW 10/21 Yokohama Bunka Gymnasium- 13 (2)
9. Golden☆Lovers (Kenny Omega & Kota Ibushi) vs. Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson), NJPW 3/25 Walter Pyramid (Long Beach)- 12 (2)
10. GCW Heavyweight Title: Nick Gage vs. David Arquette, GCW 11/16 The Hi Hat (Los Angeles)- 12 (1)
Honorable Mentions: Okada vs. Tanahashi NJPW 9/23 Kobe 11, Riddle vs. Ospreay WWN 4/6 New Orleans 11, Mochizuki vs. Kzy DG 2/7 Tokyo 10
Okada is fast becoming the Omakase Best Bout Machine, picking up his 2nd straight Match of the Year. Also worth noting that last year our pick ended up being the same one as what ultimately won the (far bigger) VOW Match of the Year poll, so we’ll see if that turns out to be the case again this time. The race for 3rd ended up being very close but Almas-Gargano just managed to hold off Takeda-Kodaka despite a late charge there. The bottom 5 as you can see was super close, with just 4 points separating 6th to 10th. 60 different matches received at least a single vote, so there was great variety from our voters.
The best feud of the year, either strictly in-ring or also weighing other factors like angles & interviews at the voters’ discretion.
2017 Top 3: Okada vs. Omega (59), Naito vs. Tanahashi (39), New Day vs. Usos (34)
1. LA Park vs. Rush, CMLL/Indies- 51 (8)
2. Mustache Mountain/BSS vs. Undisputed Era, WWE (NXT)- 29 (4)
3. Kento Miyahara vs. Zeus, AJPW- 25 (4)
4. LAX vs. OGz, Impact- 22 (1)
5. WALTER vs. Jordan Devlin, OTT- 19 (2)
6. Kazuchika Okada vs. Jay White, NJPW- 14 (2)
7. Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado, NJPW- 14 (1)
8. #STRONGHEARTS vs. Wrestle-1- 14
9 (tie). Io Shirai vs. Momo Watanabe, STARDOM- 13 (2)
9 (tie). Joey Janela vs. David Starr, Beyond- 13 (2)
Honorable Mentions: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair WWE 13, Pentagon Jr. vs. Sami Callahan Impact 10
Park vs. Rush for Best Feud was one of the biggest runaways we had in the entire awards, as it put together a huge lead early on and it just kept growing for the most part. Interesting to note that only one person involved in a Top 3 feud last year made it into the Top 10 at all, and that was Okada in 6th. And again, the bottom half was extremely close, with only 1 point (!) separating 6th from a tie for 9th and Becky-Charlotte missing the Top 10 based only on the first place votes tiebreaker. An amazing 74 different feuds received votes, so our voters were even more spread out on what the Best Feuds were than they were on MOTY.
The best wrestling promotion of the year for 2018. Business considerations are allowed but not required for this category.
Sub-brands such as NXT or Tokyo Joshi are to be considered as part of their main promotion and may not be voted on separately.
2017 Top 3: NJPW (88), DDT (34), AJPW (20)
1. NJPW- 131 (22)
2. DDT- 77 (12)
3. NOAH- 41 (3)
4. AJPW- 36 (3)
5. CMLL- 24 (3)
6 (tie). STARDOM- 18 (1)
6 (tie). OTT- 18 (1)
8 (tie). BJW- 16 (1)
8 (tie). GCW- 16 (1)
10. Impact- 12
Our Top 2 repeat, and neither was ever really in doubt as NJPW separated from DDT early and DDT quickly separated from everyone else as well. NOAH over AJPW to prevent a full Top 3 repeat might count as a bit of an upset, though it was only by 5 points. And no honorable mentions because no one else cracked double digits for points, though MLW came close with 9. I suppose mentioning that here is kind of like giving them an honorable mention anyway. If anyone is wondering, even with the disclaimer about counting sub-brands as well as the main roster, WWE received exactly two third place votes and that was all.
Best Major Show
Anything other than an episode of a weekly TV show is eligible for this award.
2017 Top 3: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 11 1/4 Tokyo Dome (69), NJPW Dominion 6/11 Osaka Jo Hall (32), DDT Judgment 3/20 Saitama Super Arena (18)
1. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, 1/4 Tokyo Dome- 94 (11)
2. NJPW Dominion, 6/9 Osaka Jo Hall- 87 (12)
3. DDT Peter Pan, 10/21 Sumo Hall- 33 (5)
4. WWE NXT Takeover: New Orleans, 4/7 Smoothie King Center- 26 (2)
5. All In, 9/1 Sears Centre (Chicago)- 17 (1)
6. AAA TripleMania XXVI, 8/25 Arena Ciudad de Mexico- 15 (2)
7. GCW Joey Janela’s Spring Break 2, 4/6 Pontchartrain Convention & Civic Center (New Orleans)- 15 (1)
8. AJPW Champion Carnival Night 15 (Finals), 4/30 Korakuen Hall- 12 (1)
9. Impact Slammiversary XVI, 7/22 Rebel Entertainment Complex (Toronto)- 11
10. WWE NXT Takeover: Wargames 2, 11/17 Staples Center (LA)- 10 (1)
This ended up being WWE’s best category (well, there’s some ones coming up they did well in I guess….) as they nearly snuck into a Top 3 finish late but Peter Pan was able to hold on. The Top 3 ended up being very close to the same, with WK & Dominion repeating in the same order but with DDT’s other big show of the year replacing Judgment for third. The biggest shocker to me personally here was All In, which I honestly expected to do a lot better than just barely finishing 5th by 2 points. And again, nothing else cracked double digits, with our voters spreading their votes among 54 different shows.
Category B Awards
For these awards, voters only chose 1 winner per category. We added many new Category B awards this year. For these awards I generally just listed whatever finished with more than 1 vote. A decent number of people abstained from the Worst categories which brought the totals down.
Best Weekly TV Show
Anything that aired weekly during 2018 was eligible, even if it was internet only (Maji Manji/BtE/various WWE Network shows) or limited run (Mae Young Classic).
This was a new category.
1. DDT Maji Manji- 17
2. WWE 205 Live- 9
3. MLW Fusion- 4
4 (tie). Being the Elite- 3
4 (tie). WWE NXT- 3
The only show in this category I actually watched every week takes the award by a pretty decent margin, and I may just name it the Maji Manji Memorial Weekly TV Award in its honor next year (RIP). 205 Live cleaned up with its target demographic, people who cover wrestling on the internet and did quite well in 2nd. A few people abstained from this category, presumably because they don’t watch any weekly TV at all.
Worst Match of the Year
The Worst Match of 2018.
This was a new category.
1 (tie). IWGP Heavyweight Title: Kenny Omega vs. Cody, NJPW 7/7 Cow Palace- 3
1 (tie). WWE Smackdown Women’s Title: Carmella vs. Asuka, WWE 7/15 PPG Paints Arena (Pittsburgh)- 3
1 (tie). Triple H vs. The Undertaker, WWE 10/6 Melbourne Cricket Ground- 3
4 (tie). Holocausto vs. Shalom, IWRG 8/12 Arena Naucalpan- 2
4 (tie). World Cup Final: Dolph Ziggler vs. Shane McMahon, WWE 11/2 King Saud University Stadium (Riyadh)- 2
4 (tie). WWE Smackdown Women’s Title: Carmella vs. Charlotte Flair, WWE 5/6 Prudential Center (Newark)- 2
I hate just looking at this category, with a three-way tie for first and a three-way tie for fourth, but apparently, no one could agree on the worst match this year. 35 different matches received at least a vote, which is pretty incredible when you keep in mind that it’s only 1 vote per person and a bunch of people abstained. WWE cleaned up with 4 out of the 6.
Again voters were encouraged to consider in-ring as well as other factors like interviews and angles if they so desired.
This was a new category.
1. BULLET CLUB Elite vs. BULLET CLUB OGs, NJPW- 8
2 (tie). Tommaso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano, WWE (NXT)- 5
2 (tie). Bayley vs. Sasha Banks, WWE- 5
4. Asuka vs. Carmella, WWE- 4
Boy did people really hate that BULLET CLUB feud, and I can’t really blame them. Bayley-Sasha made a late charge for some reason as it was behind the other two WWE feuds but cleaned up in late ballots to push into a tie for 2nd. 27 different feuds got at least a vote, and a special round of applause for Baron Corbin for being the only person to get 3 different votes for 3 different feuds (“Baron Corbin vs. RAW Babyfaces”, “Baron Corbin vs. TV Ratings”, and my favorite, “What’s Baron Corbin Up to These Days?”).
Just like with Best Promotion sub-brands were not eligible and must instead be considered as part of the parent promotion.
2017 Top 3 (Number of Votes): WWE (11), AAA (5), Tie: NOAH/Impact (2 each)
1. WWE- 34
2. ROH- 4
3. NJPW- 3
Really didn’t have much doubt that WWE would clean up (again even with my specific warning that you had to consider all shows, not just the main roster) but the sheer size of their win is still something to behold. Only 4 other promotions got a vote at all (and 1 joke vote for “Anything Omega Is In”, which I guess you could count as a +1 for both ROH & NJPW if you want), and let’s just list ’em why not: ICW in Scotland, PROGRESS, Dragon Gate & Lucha Underground.
Worst Major Show
Anything other than an episode of a weekly TV show was eligible.
2017 Top 3: WWE WrestleMania 33 4/2 Orlando (7), Tie: NJPW Destruction in Fukushima 9/10, WWE Backlash 5/21 Chicago, WWE Battleground 7/23 Philadelphia (3 each)
1. WWE Crown Jewel, 11/2 King Saud University Stadium (Riyadh)- 15
2. WWE Backlash, 5/6 Prudential Center (NJ)- 8
3. WWE Extreme Rules, 7/15 PPG Paints Arena (Pittsburgh)- 7
4 (tie). WWE WrestleMania 34, 4/8 Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans)- 3
4 (tie). WWE Greatest Royal Rumble, 4/27 King Abdullah Sports City (Jeddah)- 3
The big wins for the ‘ol fed just keep piling up, this time with the entire top 5 (and only shows to get more than 1 vote) for Worst Major Show. Backlash made a late run to grab 2nd, as it was behind Extreme Rules most of the way but got a bunch of last-minute votes to push it over the top. Congratulations, you piece of crap show! Nothing could top the Ode to Dismemberment for 1st though, presumably receiving some votes from people who didn’t even see it and just wanted to register their displeasure with the whole thing (although it was supposedly quite bad anyway).
Worst Weekly TV Show
Once again anything that aired weekly during 2018 was eligible, even if it was internet only or limited run.
This was a new category.
1. WWE RAW- 32
2. Being the Elite- 7
3. WWE Smackdown Live!- 2
Another runaway WWE win. For a long time, the number of votes for WWE in worst promotion & RAW for worst TV show was exactly the same, but they finally diverged at the very end. Being the Elite is the only show of the 3 to also appear on the Best list, although it received 4 more votes for Worst. Neither RAW nor Smackdown received even a single vote for Best.
We hope you enjoyed this year’s Wrestling Omakase Year End Awards! Please be sure to listen to our 2018 Year End Awards episode, which featured some of our panelists discussing their own picks. Thank you and we hope you’ll continue tuning in to the show in 2019!