Last week, we looked at the Month by Month data and the Promotion data for our annual Match of the Year poll.

Today, we take a look at the wrestlers themselves.

Wrestler of the Year

The past couple years, we’ve seen wrestlers blow away the field and be certified Wrestlers of the Year based on the number of matches and points scored in the poll. In 2018, it was Kenny Omega, who blew away the field in every conceivable way outside of sheer number of matches in the poll. In 2019, it was Will Ospreay and Shingo Takagi battling it out streets ahead of everyone else.

This year… it’s a little more complicated.


Matches per Wrestler

When it comes to total number of matches in the poll, Shingo Takagi leads the pack with twelve. Right on his heels are Tomohiro Ishii with eleven and Mayu Iwatani with ten. Despite having the most matches, however, these three did not do very well when it came to points. Shingo managed 276 points from those twelve matches, tied down the list at twenty-eighth place. Big Tom Ishii only had 169 points from his eleven matches. Iwatani outdid both men with 289 points from her ten matches.

This is where this year’s poll is rather strange. There is absolutely no correlation between matches in the poll and points in the poll. I mean, just look at this chart.

Matches vs Points (No Annotation)

I tried to plot a line of best fit. It literally looked like a stick figure shrugging. Matches were not a good predictor at all of point totals in the poll. It’s not entirely uncommon that the person with the most matches would not be the top of the point total, but this year was uncommon even beyond that.

Bear in mind that the number of voters in our poll has gone up consistently year over year and consider the following.

In 2018, there were five wrestlers who had ten or more matches that made our poll.

In 2019, there were four.

This year, only three. Fewer and fewer wrestlers are finding themselves in a high volume of matches that make the list.

Last year, the leader in total matches was Will Ospreay with sixteen! In 2018, believe it or not, the leader was also Will Ospreay… again with sixteen! In 2020, he halved that with “only” eight matches in the poll — good for 690 points. Far fewer than needed to make a splash, as we will see.

One last thing on the match totals. I’m tickled by the performances of Mei Suruga and Yuji Okabayashi, who did very well in terms of total matches but absolutely dreadful when it comes to total points. Suruga’s eight matches put her in the company of Omega, Ospreay, and Minoru Suzuki. However, she only managed fifty-three points, which puts her in the company of Taichi. Similarly, Okabayashi put a very respectable seven matches in the poll, which netted him all of TWENTY-THREE points. For reference, The Fiend was able to use his magic and earn nineteen — and he only needed two matches to do it.


Points per Wrestler

When it comes to total points, Okada takes it comfortably. It’s nothing like the lead we saw Kenny Omega have in 2018, but it was going to be hard for anyone to match Okada’s 1916 points. 1289 of those points come from Wrestle Kingdom alone and if he only had those two matches, he’d still place fifth.

Kenny came in second with 1509, which is very respectable, but still a good distance behind Okada. He’s trailed immediately by Hangman Page and the Young Bucks. Obviously, all three are lifted to their perches on the strength of the Match of the Year.

Let’s take a look at the Matches vs Points chart again, this time with a little annotation. (The chart only has a label for Nick Jackson, but this is because he and Matt share the exact same figures and it just wrote the labels on top of each other.)

Matches vs Points (Annotated)

In the top left corner, we have the folks who we discussed earlier that have a large amount of matches, but few points to show for them. In the bottom right, we have Okada, all by his lonesome with his few matches, but mega points. The box in the top right is that Wrestler of the Year Zone, where you put up a bunch of matches and garner big points for them. Only this year, no one is in that box!

Thankfully, we have some other metrics we can look at to help us crown a Wrestler of the Year.

First Place Votes

First Place Votes per Wrestler

Another way we could measure is by first place votes. How many times did a given wrestler get a vote for Match of the Year? As you can see, Okada destroys everyone else. One out of every three ballots had Okada in the Match of the Year either with Naito or with Kota Ibushi. That’s insane.

By looking at Naito’s number there, we can see how many of Okada’s First Place Votes came from Naito, as the latter only had one match voted Match of the Year on the ballots. That will happen when you spend the year fighting off piano wires married to EVIL.

Also in that cluster, you have Page, Omega, and the Bucks. You would think that this is all from the eventual winner, but in fact the three all had multiple matches get #1 votes, thus their different scores here.

Matches of the Year

Speaking of which, there were seven wrestlers who tied for first with three matches to receive a First Place vote. They are:

  • Kenny Omega
  • Hangman Page
  • Go Shiozaki
  • Santana
  • Ortiz
  • Mayu Iwatani
  • Suwama

It’s a boon to Kenny Omega’s case, for sure, but the rest of that list is very interesting. Santana and Ortiz are the big surprises for me personally. The three matches of theirs that received First Place votes? Stadium Stampede naturally, the parking lot brawl with the Best Friends, and the six-man tag against Hangman Page and the Dark Order on the Brodie Lee Memorial Show.

Kenny’s three? The Match of the Year against the Bucks, Stadium Stampede, and the Iron Man Match with PAC from Dynamite.

Total Votes

Total Votes per Wrestler

When it comes to total votes, Okada grabs another category. He had 241 total votes between all the ballots. That’s an average of 1.4 votes per ballot. That seems pretty good! Behind him was Kenny Omega with 209 votes, followed by the Bucks and Page.


Ballots per Wrestler

Related to total votes, but far more interesting is the raw number of ballots each wrestler appeared on. Okada appeared on nearly 82% of them! Following closely behind was Hangman at 77%, Kenny only one ballot fewer behind him, and the Young Bucks three ballots behind that. Naito begins the secondary pack a bit behind the leaders.

This is in large part due to the big three matches this year. Specifically, the Match of the Year appeared itself on 72% of all ballots. Naito and Okada appeared on 62% of them. Okada and Ibushi appeared on 59% of them. This tells me that consensus was very strong this year. Our voters thought those three matches were very special. No other match even appeared on more than half of the ballots.

Sidenote, how did Naito appear on 110 ballots, but his match with Okada on only 106? Who are these people that liked another Naito match enough to include it on their ballot, but the Wrestle Kingdom didn’t do it for them? (Yes, I could find out. No I’m not going to. Ok, I’m probably going to, but I’m not going to tell you.)

Who is the Wrestler of the Year?

As you can see, this year that’s a complicated question to answer. Okada dominated points, ballots, and votes. Shingo lead matches. Kenny (along with others) lead number of matches to get the First Place nod. None of this is simple to disentangle.

The way I see it, it comes down to two candidates this year: Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega.

WrestlerMatchesPointsAvg PointsFirst PlaceMOTYsTotal Votes# PromotionsBallotsBallot %
Kazuchika Okada41916479532241113981.76
Kenny Omega81509188.625333209213076.47

The Okada case is this: He had the most points, the most votes, and he appeared on the most ballots. It doesn’t matter that he only had four matches in the poll, when you are able to lead those categories by those margins, that’s a Wrestler of the Year performance full stop. Any argument for Kenny is just wiggling around the fact that he’s second place over and over.

The Omega case is this: To be the Wrestler of the Year you have to not just have one great weekend, you have to prolong that greatness over a calendar year. Kenny has year-round greatness from January to December. He did it in two companies and he did it in both singles matches and tag team matches. When you look at the chart, no one is in the top right corner, but you know who’s the closest? The Cleaner. That’s why he’s the Wrestler of the Year.

Matches vs Points (Annotated)

It’s a tough call for me to make personally. I go back and forth. Right now, as I’m putting this to print and have to make a final call — I lean Kenny. For all the reasons I laid out above.

Other Highlights

Hello Ladies

Points per Female Wrestler

The story of women in the poll this year is really the story of Mayu Iwatani who blew all of the other women away. She had ten matches, good for third overall, as well as 289 points more than double Yuka Sakazaki, the second highest female point earner.

Also of note was the eight total matches from Mei Suruga, a big breakout performance from the young star. This is particularly interesting for AEW fans, as The Apple Girl is part of the Japanese field in their upcoming women’s title eliminator tournament. For more on that, do make sure to check out Taylor Maimbourg’s fantastic article outlining the Joshi field.

You may see that the only US/UK wrestlers on that chart are Sasha Banks and Bayley (and Bayley only with one match). While WWE once legitimately had great women’s wrestling, this year you need a search party to find the rest of them. AEW also lags behind, with Riho being on that list, but only twelve of her thirty-two points coming from the promotion.

One Match Wonder

I always enjoy looking at the list of folks who only had one match on the poll. This year there were 236 of them! Aleister Black is on that list (remember him?), John Cena made the list because someone liked the Firefly Fun House, Maki Itoh is on there, but no one tell her or be prepared to get an earful.

The big story, though, is Ilja Dragunov. His one match netted 565 points, which landed him in 12th place overall. He got eight first place votes. The big deal is that his one match had eighty-three votes, just two shy of being on half the ballots. It was a coin flip whether or not you would have Dragunov on your ballot and if you did it was exclusively for this one match. A performance in the poll that reminds me a lot of Dustin Rhodes in 2019.

Wrap Up

With thirty-four more submissions than last year, this year’s poll gave us more data to work with, while 2020 supplied plenty of curveballs that made it unpredictable. I can only imagine what next year will bring, but I look forward to seeing it and breaking it down with all of you. Until then, stay safe out there and keep those notebooks at the ready. You never know when you might just stumble across your Match of the Year.

WrestlerMatchesPointsAvg PointsFirst PlaceMOTYsTotal Votes# PromotionsBallotsBallot %Gender
Kazuchika Okada41916479532241113981.76male
Kenny Omega81509188.62333209213076.47male
Matt Jackson71364194.86322180212774.71male
Nick Jackson71364194.86322180212774.71male
Hangman Page61360226.67343182113177.06male
Kota Ibushi91063118.11202144110762.94male
Tetsuya Naito51050210341131111064.71male
Go Shiozaki6929154.8321312818851.76male
Hiromu Takahashi6929154.8382153110964.12male
Will Ospreay869086.255212149052.94male
Ilja Dragunov1565565818318348.82male
Takashi Sugiura3440146.671115825834.12male
Katsuhiko Nakajima739155.86725824828.24male
El Desperado2344172415615532.35male
Naruki Doi434185.25614913922.94male
Kaito Ishida3318106724513922.94male
Minoru Suzuki829937.38327015934.71male
Mayu Iwatani1028928.9534813118.24female
Susumu Yokosuka328494.67613913822.35male
Dragon Kid2281140.5613813822.35male
HipHop Kikuta2281140.5613813822.35male
SB KENTo2281140.5613813822.35male
Masato Yoshino2280140613813721.76male
Genki Horiguchi1276276613713721.76male
Shingo Takagi1227623117015733.53male
Takumi Iroha419649313522715.88male
Chris Jericho316956.33413012917.06male
Tomohiro Ishii1116915.36114613721.76male
Sammy Guevara216884412912917.06male
Jake Hager216783.5412912917.06male
Matt Hardy1166166412812816.47male
Kento Miyahara516533223813118.24male
Chuck Taylor214773.5113012917.06male
Villano III Jr.1145145212412414.12male
Jon Moxley614023.33213523218.82male
Cash Wheeler211959.5002712514.71male
Dax Harwood211959.5002712514.71male
Cody Rhodes511823.6003112615.29male
Yuka Sakazaki211758.5212022011.76female
Hiroshi Tanahashi211155.5002312212.94male
Zack Sabre Jr.610717.83002722313.53male
Daniel Bryan49824.522191148.24male
Yuki Ishikawa39832.6711153148.24male
Kaito Kiyomiya49423.511181169.41male
Kazuyuki Fujita29346.541141137.65male
Kyle O'Reilly48822002011911.18male
John Silver28140.5211921911.18male
Brodie Lee38026.67002312112.35male
Daisuke Ikeda1808011111116.47male
Alex Reynolds17777211811810.59male
Sasha Banks37023.3321122116.47female
Drew Gulak26733.5229174.12male
Rickey Shane Page26733.511152127.06male
Momo Watanabe56212.400141116.47female
Lee Moriarty55811.600124116.47male
Ryu Lee1585800111116.47male
Mei Suruga8536.621110174.12female
Finn Balor25125.500121127.06male
Laredo Kid1515100101105.88male
The Blade3511711101105.88male
The Butcher3511711101105.88male
AJ Styles45012.500131137.65male
Mike Bailey15050217174.12male
Jungle Kyona24924.5117152.94female
Eddie Kingston44711.750010374.12male
Jeremy Wyatt24723.500111105.88male
Jake Lee34615.3311111105.88male
Orange Cassidy14646119195.29male
Yuna Mizumori44611.5225142.35female
Arisa Nakajima545900121105.88female
Fred Yehi1444400101105.88male
Jay White6447.3300131116.47male
Penta El Zero M34314.3300121116.47male
Rey Fenix34314.3300121116.47male
Keisuke Okuda24221118174.12male
Matt Tremont14242117174.12male
Bobby Fish34113.67009195.29male
Roman Reigns34013.3300101105.88male
El Hijo de Fishman23819115231.76male
Daniel Makabe4379.25115342.35male
Dustin Rhodes13737117174.12male
QT Marshall13737117174.12male
Hideki Suzuki13636007174.12male
Tetsuya Endo23618117174.12male
Roderick Strong33411.33007174.12male
Tam Nakano4348.5116142.35female
Utami Hyashishita5346.8008184.71female
Matt Riddle3331100112116.47male
Shotaro Ashino33311114242.35male
Adam Cole23216006163.53male
Shuji Ishikawa23015224142.35male
Daisuke Sasaki12929114142.35male
Emi Sakura3289.33115142.35female
Fumenori Abe3289.33009295.29male
Nick Gage22814009295.29male
Starlight Kid3289.33114131.76female
Hirooki Goto4276.75009174.12male
Mascara Sagrada Jr.12727113131.76male
Mr. Condor12727113131.76male
Dowie James12626114142.35male
Naomi Yoshimura22613005142.35male
Tyler Bate22613006263.53male
Yuki Ueno22613005142.35male
Alexander Wolfe12525004142.35male
Fabian Aichner12525004142.35male
Jey Uso22512.5006163.53male
Marcel Barthel12525004142.35male
Masato Tanaka4256.25008284.71male
Yuya Aoki22512.5006163.53male
Mayumi Ozaki22412004242.35female
Saori Anou22412004242.35female
Yuji Nagata12424008184.71male
Yuji Okabayashi7233.290010495.29male
Kofi Kingston22211005152.94male
Timothy Thatcher4215.25008163.53male
Abdullah Kobayashi22010004242.35male
Davis Storm2199.5004131.76male
Jun Akiyama11919004142.35male
Konosuke Takeshita11919004142.35male
Randy Orton2199.5005152.94male
The Fiend2199.5007174.12male
Keith Lee3186006263.53male
Oney Lorcan3186005142.35male
Daisuke Sekimoto3175.67007274.12male
Jack Tucker2178.5112110.59male
Jonathan Gresham11717004142.35male
Yuma Aoyagi2178.5114142.35male
Baliyan Akki2168113131.76female
Darby Allin3165.33004142.35male
Deonna Purrazzo2168003131.76female
Johnny Gargano2168003131.76male
Kazusada Higuchi11616003131.76male
Kuma Arashi2168112210.59male
Marcius Pitt11616003131.76male
Pete Dunne2168005152.94male
Toshiyuki Sakuda11616003131.76male
Tsukasa Fujimoto3165.33005252.94female
Yukio Sakaguchi11616003131.76male
Aleister Black11515004142.35male
Big E11515004142.35male
Braun Strowman11515004142.35male
Brock Lesnar11515004142.35male
Dolph Ziggler11515004142.35male
Drew McIntyre11515004142.35male
Erick Rowan11515004142.35male
John Morrison11515004142.35male
Karl Anderson11515004142.35male
Kevin Owens11515004142.35male
King Corbin11515004142.35male
Luke Gallows11515004142.35male
Mei Hoshizuki3155004231.76female
Rey Mysterio11515004142.35male
Robert Roode11515004142.35male
Samoa Joe11515004142.35male
Seth Rollins11515004142.35male
Shelton Benjamin11515004142.35male
Shinsuke Nakamura11515004142.35male
The Miz11515004142.35male
Thunder Rosa4153.75009395.29female
Jordan Devlin11414004142.35male
Jordan Oliver11414111110.59male
Jordynne Grace11414002121.18female
Kevin Ku11414111110.59male
Myron Reed11414111110.59male
Saya Iida11414111110.59female
Eric Young2136.5003131.76male
John Cena11313004142.35male
Masashi Takeda3134.33003331.76male
Soberano Jr.11313003131.76male
Suzu Suzuki3134.33004142.35male
Tommaso Ciampa2136.5003131.76male
Meiko Satomura2126003231.76female
Nyla Rose11212003131.76female
Trent Seven11212002121.18male
Daisuke Harada11111003131.76male
Dick Togo11111003131.76male
Mitsuru Konno2115.5003131.76female
Rhea Ripley3113.67003231.76female
Rich Swann11111002121.18male
Super Dragons11111002121.18male
El Lindaman11010002121.18male
Jungle Boy11010002121.18male
Kaji Tomato2105002121.18male
Priscilla Kelly11010004142.35female
Bea Priestley199002121.18female
Chris Dickinson199002121.18male
Hiroyo Matsumoto294.5002221.18female
Kohei Sato294.5004242.35male
Matt Makowski199002121.18male
Mitch McCarthy199001110.59male
Natsumi Maki199001110.59female
Rip Rielly199001110.59male
Toru Sugiura294.5002121.18male
Ace Perry188001110.59male
Charlotte Flair188001110.59female
Io Shirai482004142.35female
LA Park188002121.18male
Tim Hayden188001110.59male
Aja Kong177001110.59female
Angelo Dawkins177001110.59male
Danny Burch177002121.18male
Ivan Black177001110.59male
Jeff Cobb177003131.76male
Montez Ford177001110.59male
Pat McAfee177002121.18male
Ricky Rembrandt177001110.59male
Ryo Mizunami177001110.59female
The Undertaker177001110.59male
Xavier Woods177001110.59male
Alex Colon166001110.59male
Candice LeRae263002121.18female
Hanako Nakamori166001110.59male
Jay Briscoe263002121.18male
Jules Canan166001110.59male
Kengo Mashimo166001110.59male
Kunio Toshima166001110.59male
Lana Austin166001110.59female
Masaaki Mochizuki166002121.18male
Rin Kadokura166002121.18female
Ritchie Taylor166001110.59male
Suge D166001110.59male
Tank Nagai263002121.18male
Trish Adora166001110.59female
Yuji Hino263003131.76male
AJ Gray155001110.59male
Alex Shelley155001110.59male
Arisa Hoshiki155001110.59female
Ayato Yoshida252.5002221.18male
Daichi Hashimoto252.5002121.18male
Dia Inferno155001110.59male
Jackson Cross155001110.59male
Jake Nova155001110.59male
Takuya Nomura155003131.76male
Tim Kade155001110.59male
Ultimo Dragon155001110.59male
Allysin Kay242004142.35female
Big R Shimizu144001110.59male
Brahman Kei144001110.59male
Brahman Shu144001110.59male
BxB Hulk144001110.59male
El Hijo del Vikingo144002121.18male
Hagane Shinnou144001110.59male
Joey Janela144001110.59male
Judas Icarus144001110.59male
Kaori Yoneyama242003131.76female
Keisuke Ishii144001110.59male
Kimber Lee144001110.59female
Low Ki144001110.59male
Maya Yukihi144001110.59female
Obake no DJ Lee Taro144001110.59male
Skinny D144001110.59male
Taiji Ishimori144001110.59male
Taro Nohashi144001110.59male
The Cockroach144001110.59male
The Great Sasake144001110.59male
Tony Deppen144001110.59male
Ultraman Robin144001110.59male
Yapper Man 1144001110.59male
Yapper Man 2144001110.59male
Zac Reynolds144001110.59male
Asuka (WWE)133001110.59female
Erik Hammer133001110.59male
Gavin McGavin133001110.59male
Grizzly Kal Jak133001110.59male
Hikari Noa231.5002121.18female
Jeff Hardy133001110.59male
Mark Briscoe133001110.59male
Sami Zayn133001110.59male
Shane Taylor133001110.59male
Toru Yano133003131.76male
Yasufumi Nakanoue133001110.59male
Brandon Kirk122001110.59male
Chase Cooper122001110.59male
Dakota Kai122001110.59female
Dark Sheik122001110.59male
Eddie Edwards122001110.59male
Ember Moon122001110.59female
John Wayne Murdoch122001110.59male
Lulu Pencil122001110.59female
Maki Itoh122001110.59female
Nick Aldis122001110.59male
Nina Samuels122001110.59female
Orin Veidt122001110.59male
Raito Shimizu122001110.59male
Raquel Gonzalez122001110.59female
Ricky Starks122001110.59male
Robbie Eagles122002121.18male
Sami Callihan122001110.59male
Shotzi Blackheart122001110.59female
Shuhei Taniguchi122001110.59male
Still Life with Apricots and Pears122001110.59male
Su Yung122001110.59female
Tessa Blanchard122001110.59female
Tom Lawlor122001110.59male
Toni Storm122001110.59female
Yuko Miyamoto122001110.59male
Anthony Greene111001110.59male
Ava Everett111001110.59female
Chigusa Nagayo111001110.59female
Chihiro Hashimoto111001110.59male
Cypress Ueno111001110.59male
DASH Chisako111001110.59female
Dominik Dijakovic111001110.59male
Erick Stevens111001110.59male
Gabriel Kidd111001110.59male
Haruka Umesaki111001110.59female
Hikaru Shida111001110.59female
Isami Kodaka111001110.59male
Jordon Breaks111001110.59male
Kaoru Ito111001110.59female
Kazushi Sakuraba111001110.59male
Koji Iwamoto111001110.59male
Masha Slamovich111001110.59male
Mirai Maiumi111001110.59female
Miyako Matsumoto111001110.59female
Miyuke Takase111001110.59male
Naoya Nomura111001110.59male
Sakura Hirota111001110.59female
Sanshiro Takagi111001110.59male
Saya Kamitani111001110.59female
Shinya Aoki111001110.59male
Spike Trivet111001110.59male
Tomoko Watanabe111001110.59female
Volador Jr.111001110.59male
Yota Tsuji111001110.59male