For the third straight year, I’m proud to present the Wrestling Omakase Year End Awards.
Introduced at the end of 2017, 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 the end of 2019 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 those from outside the website and in the order of their first appearance on the show this past year.
VOW Contributors: Jack Beckmann, Robin Reid, Michael Spears, Kevin Chiat, Sean Sedor, Kevin Hare, Taylor Maimbourg, Thomas Fischbeck, Damon McDonald, Suit Williams, Andy LaBarre, Andrew Rich, Gerard Di Trolio, Aaron Bentley, Paul Volsch, Kelly Harrass, Lawson Leong, Jeremy Sexton, August Baker, Rich Kraetsch, Garrett Kidney, Joel Abarham, Joe Lanza
Outside VOW: Kevin Brown, Bryan Quinlan, Skylar, TJ, MassRefTer, Emily Pratt, Kevin Kelly, Albert, Hayley Weber, Jeff, Craig, Jamie O’Doherty
Here are our 2019 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 was 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)
2018 Top 3: Masashi Takeda (58), Hiroshi Tanahashi (54), LA Park (50)
1. Will Ospreay- 63 (9)
2. Kazuchika Okada- 60 (7)
3. Kento Miyahara- 44 (5)
4. Chris Jericho- 40 (5)
5. Tetsuya Naito- 22 (2)
6. Kota Ibushi- 18 (2)
7. Cody- 15
8. Jon Moxley- 14 (2)
9. Sareee- 12 (2)
10. PAC- 11
Honorable Mention: David Starr (10)
Will Ospreay picks up our closest win yet for Wrestler of the Year, barely edging out the 2017 champion by just 3 points. It was a close race between the two of them virtually wire-to-wire. Last year’s winner Masashi Takeda unfortunately not only failed to repeat, but actually didn’t receive a single vote at all this time around.
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)
2018 Top 3: Will Ospreay (64), WALTER (48), Kota Ibushi (43)
1. Will Ospreay- 116 (21)
2. Shingo Takagi- 51 (2)
3. Tomohiro Ishii- 25 (2)
4. Kento Miyahara- 23 (2)
5. Kota Ibushi- 22
6. Yuji Okabayashi- 13 (2)
7. Momo Watanabe- 10 (2)
8. Tetsuya Naito- 9
9 (tie). Sareee- 8 (1)
9 (tie). Tetsuya Endo- 8 (1)
Honorable Mentions: Kazuchika Okada (7), Arisa Hoshiki (6)
Ospreay wins his second straight Most Outstanding Wrestler award, this time by a much more comfortable margin than last year. In doing so he becomes the second wrestler to win WOTY and Most Outstanding in the same year, after Okada did the same in 2017. Elsewhere on the list, Shingo took 2nd place easily but then just 3 points separated 3rd through 5th. NJPW dominated this list, with 4 of the top 5, 6 of the top 10, and 7 of the top 12 coming from the promotion.
Tag Team of the Year
The best tag team of the year for 2019.
2017 Top 3: The Usos (62), Young Bucks (20), Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi (19)
2018 Top 3: The Young Bucks (62), Golden☆Lovers (42), Lucha Bros (31)
1. AXIZ (Go Shiozaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima)- 54 (7)
2. Lucha Bros. (Pentagon & Fenix)- 52 (8)
3. Violent Giants (Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa)- 26 (4)
4. Undisputed Era (Strong, Fish & O’Reilly)- 26 (3)
5. Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson)- 25 (3)
6. Birds of Prey (Will Ospreay & Robbie Eagles)- 24 (1)
7. Proud n Powerful/LAX (Santana & Ortiz)- 22 (1)
8. Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH)- 19 (1)
9. Daisuke Sasaki & Soma Takao- 10 (1)
10. El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori- 8 (1)
Honorable Mention: NEO Biishiki-gun (6)
AXIZ is the first full-time Japanese tag team to take this award after The Usos from WWE and the Young Bucks from ROH (with some NJPW dates) last year took the crown. This one came down to one of the very last votes received, but one final first-place award leapfrogged them over the Lucha Bros (who finished 3rd last year and almost took the crown here) and into the victory. Here we see a ridiculously close poll below those two, as 3rd to 7th is separated by just 4 points, and 3rd to 8th by just 7.
Match of the Year
The best match to occur in 2019.
2017 Top 3: Okada vs. Shibata 4/9 Tokyo (55), Okada vs. Omega 1/4 Tokyo (25), Naito vs. Omega 8/13 Tokyo (20)
2018 Top 3: Okada vs. Omega 6/9 Osaka (63), Tanahashi vs. Ibushi 8/12 Tokyo (47), Almas vs. Gargano 1/27 Philadelphia (36)
1. BOSJ Final: Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi, NJPW 6/5 Tokyo- 71 (12)
2. IWGP Heavyweight: Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, NJPW 1/4 Tokyo- 22 (3)
3. G1 Climax: Tetsuya Naito vs. Shingo Takagi, NJPW 8/4 Osaka- 20 (1)
4. Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes, AEW 5/25 Las Vegas- 19
5. KO-D Openweight: Tetsuya Endo vs. Konosuke Takeshita, DDT 7/15 Tokyo- 18 (3)
6. OTT World: Jordan Devlin vs. David Starr, OTT 10/26 Dublin- 17 (2)
7. Blue Demon Jr. vs. Dr. Wagner Jr, AAA 8/3 Mexico City- 15 (3)
8. G1 Climax: Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay, NJPW 7/20 Tokyo- 12 (1)
9. IWGP Intercontinental: Kota Ibushi vs. Tetsuya Naito, NJPW 6/9 Osaka- 12
10. Meiko Satomura vs. Sareee, Sendai Girls 4/16 Tokyo- 11 (1)
Honorable Mentions: Cole vs. Gargano WWE NXT 4/5 NYC (8), Moxley vs. Omega AEW 11/9 Baltimore (8), Naito vs. Ibushi NJPW 4/6 NYC (7), Nakajima vs. Takahashi SEAd 11/2 Kawasaki (7)
This category has been something of a runaway in all three years so far, but this year was the biggest one yet, as the BOSJ final between Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi utterly decimated the competition. After that things were very close for the rest of the list, with just 11 points separating 2nd from 10th. 49 different matches received at least a single vote. NJPW accounted for half the top 10, but the rest was a pretty decent mix: US (AEW), non-NJPW puro (DDT), Europe (OTT), lucha (AAA) and joshi (Sendai). Meanwhile, after finishing with our MOTY in each of our first two years of awards, Okada’s best match finished all the way down in 8th this time around. Kenny Omega did continue his streak of finishing in the top 2 for all three years, however.
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)
2018 Top 3: LA Park vs. Rush (51), Mustache Mountain/BSS vs. Undisputed Era (29), Miyahara vs. Zeus (25)
1. Jordan Devlin vs. David Starr, OTT- 54 (10)
2. Tetsuya Naito vs. Kota Ibushi, NJPW- 41 (4)
3. Minoru Suzuki vs. Jushin Thunder Liger, NJPW- 20 (1)
4. Cody vs. Chris Jericho, AEW- 19 (1)
5. Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes, AEW- 15 (3)
6. Tetsuya Naito vs. Taichi, NJPW- 15 (2)
7 (tie). Dr. Wagner Jr. vs. Blue Demon Jr, AAA- 12 (2)
7 (tie). Jay White vs. Tetsuya Naito, NJPW- 12 (2)
9. Yuji Okabayashi vs. Takuya Nomura, BJW- 10 (2)
10. Will Ospreay vs. El Phantasmo vs. Robbie Eagles, NJPW- 8 (1)
Honorable Mentions: Lucha Bros vs. Young Bucks AAA/AEW (6), Brandon Thurston vs. Jay Freddie Beyond (6)
A lot of the MOTY list appears again here in Best Feud, which isn’t too surprising really. Devlin-Starr ran away with first place votes to take it despite not appearing on many other lists, so you either loved that one or didn’t care about it I guess. Naito gets the most appearances of anyone in the top 10 with 3 different feuds of his showing up, and Cody is the only other wrestler to get multiple feuds (two).
The best wrestling promotion of the year for 2019. 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)
2018 Top 3: NJPW (131), DDT (77), NOAH (41)
1. NJPW- 126 (22)
2. AEW- 49 (1)
3. DDT- 42 (5)
4. AAA- 27 (4)
5. OTT- 19 (1)
6. AJPW- 19
7. NOAH- 17 (1)
8. STARDOM- 15 (1)
9. GCW- 10 (1)
10. DG- 9
Honorable Mention: Wrestle-1 (6)
NJPW doesn’t just win their third straight Best Promotion award, but they run away with it by their biggest margin ever, topping the identical 54-point margins they put up in the last two years with an even bigger 77-point win. DDT fails to repeat in 2nd place for the third straight year thanks to newcomer AEW, who made up for a lack of 1st place votes by cleaning up in 2nd- and 3rd-place votes from a lot of the NJPW voters. Meanwhile, AAA improves on CMLL’s fifth place ranking from last year for the new highest finish from any lucha promotion (CMLL did not receive a single vote this year). And AJPW continues to slip, going from 3rd in 2017 to 4th last year and now 6th in 2019.
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)
2018 Top 3: NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12 1/4 Tokyo Dome (94), NJPW Dominion 6/9 Osaka Jo Hall (87), DDT Peter Pan 10/21 Sumo Hall (33)
1. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13, 1/4 Tokyo Dome- 46 (5)
2. AEW Double or Nothing, 5/25 MGM Grand Garden Arena- 42 (5)
3. NJPW Best of the Super Juniors Night 15 (Final), 6/5 Sumo Hall- 40 (5)
4. DDT Wrestle Peter Pan, 7/15 Ota Ward Gymnasium- 29 (4)
5. DDT is Coming to America, 4/4 La Boom- 29 (3)
6. DDT Ultimate Party, 11/3 Sumo Hall- 27 (2)
7. WWE NXT TakeOver: New York, 4/5 Barclays Center- 19 (2)
8. AAA TripleMania XXVII, 8/3 Arena Ciudad de México- 14 (1)
9. NJPW Dominion, 6/9 Osaka Jo Hall- 13 (1)
10. DG Kobe Pro Wrestling Festival, 7/21 Kobe World Hall- 13
Honorable Mentions: NJPW/ROH G1 Supercard 4/6 MSG (10), NJPW G1 Climax Night 1 7/6 American Airlines Center (10)
Wrestle Kingdom 13 trailed for a long time in this award, with the BOSJ finals looking like it was going to unseat it for a while, but a late rally managed to make it the third straight Wrestle Kingdom victory for Best Major Show. Another late rally by Double or Nothing even saw it pass the BOSJ finals and drop them into 3rd after it had lead most of the way. Meanwhile, DDT fails to crack the top 3 for the first time ever but they end up tying NJPW for the most shows in the top 10 overall, with three of their shows all right around the same score. Dominion also falls hard this year, from 2nd place in the last two years all the way down to 9th.
Category B Awards
For these awards, voters only chose 1 winner per category and I generally just listed whatever finished with more than 1 vote. We added a lot of Category B awards in 2018 if you’re wondering why a bunch of these don’t have 2017 listed.
Best Weekly TV Show
Anything that aired weekly during 2019 was eligible, even if it was internet-only (BtE/NWA) or limited run (AEW Road to, etc.).
2018 Top 3 (Number of Votes): DDT Maji Manji (17), WWE 205 Live (9), MLW Fusion (4)
1. AEW Dynamite- 25
2 (tie). Beyond Uncharted Territory- 3
2 (tie). NWA Powerrr- 3
4. NJPW on AXS- 2
Honorable Mentions: AEW Road To (1), DG Infinity (1), Death to American Wrestling (1)
Even with some of the well-publicized recent problems Dynamite still ran away with this award, taking over 69% (nice) of all votes cast. All the other votes are listed here, and I swear “Death to American Wrestling” was not me.
Worst Match of the Year
The Worst Match of 2019.
2018 Top 3: Kenny Omega vs. Cody 7/7 San Francisco (3), Carmella vs. Asuka 7/15 Pittsburgh (3), Triple H vs. The Undertaker 10/6 Melbourne (3)
1. Universal Hell in a Cell: Seth Rollins vs. The Fiend Bray Wyatt, WWE 10/6 Sacramento- 14
2. Bray Wyatt vs. The Miz, WWE 12/15 Minneapolis- 3
3. Tracy Smothers vs. Su Yung, Joey Ryan’s Penis Party 4/5 NYC- 2
Well, I guess this one was obvious. Really nothing was going to touch Seth vs. The Fiend, not even another horrifically bad Bray Wyatt match. A lot of other matches did get a single vote, too many to list here.
Again voters were encouraged to consider in-ring as well as other factors like interviews and angles if they so desired.
2018 Top 3: BULLET CLUB Elite vs. BULLET CLUB OGs (8), Ciampa vs. Gargano (5), Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (5)
1. Seth Rollins vs. The Fiend Bray Wyatt, WWE- 15
2. Rusev vs. Lashley, WWE- 2
Another runaway Seth-Fiend victory, with nothing else other than Rusev-Lashley even getting more than a single vote.
Just like with Best Promotion sub-brands were not eligible and must instead be considered as part of the parent promotion.
2017 Top 3: WWE (11), AAA (5), Tie: NOAH/Impact (2 each)
2018 Top 3: WWE (34), ROH (4), NJPW (3)
1. WWE- 24
2. ROH- 7
Honorable Mentions: DG (1), NWA (1), CMLL (1), Zona 23 (1)
WWE can’t quite recreate their 30-point margin of victory from last year, as ROH rallies with a few more votes. Everything that got at least one vote is listed above.
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)
2018 Top 3: WWE Crown Jewel 11/2 Riyadh (15), WWE Backlash 5/6 Newark (8), WWE Extreme Rules 7/15 Pittsburgh (7)
1. WWE Hell in a Cell, 10/6 Golden 1 Center- 7
2 (tie). WWE Crown Jewel, 10/31 King Fahd International Stadium- 5
2 (tie). WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs, 12/15 Target Center- 5
4. WWE Super Showdown, 6/7 King Abdullah Sports City Stadium- 4
5 (tie). wXw America Ist Wunderbar, 4/4 La Boom- 2
5 (tie). ROH’s Half of G1 Supercard, 4/6 Madison Square Garden- 2
5 (tie). WWE WrestleMania 35, 4/7 MetLife Stadium- 2
5 (tie). WWE Stomping Grounds, 6/23 Tacoma Dome- 2
Congratulations are in order for World Wrestling Entertainment, with a staggering six different shows getting more than one vote. If I add one single vote for the Royal Rumble that someone submitted, they got 26 votes total, or over 72% of all votes cast. Great job guys! You nailed it!
Worst Weekly TV Show
Once again anything that aired weekly during 2019 was eligible, even if it was internet-only or limited run.
2018 Top 3: WWE RAW (32), Being the Elite (7), WWE Smackdown Live! (2)
1. WWE RAW- 17
2. WWE Smackdown- 10
3. NWA Powerrr- 4
4. Ring of Honor- 2
Honorable Mentions: WWC Superestrellas de la Lucha Libre (1), Being the Elite (1)
RAW had opened up a big lead early but Smackdown really came on late to try and make a run for the crown, but alas they just fell a little short in the end. Still a big improvement on their 2 votes from last year though, so something for them to build on in 2020 for sure.
We hope you enjoyed this year’s Wrestling Omakase Year End Awards! Please be sure to listen to our 2019 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 2020!
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