The 2021 Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards have been announced, and it’s time to update the all-time rankings of Award Shares. As a refresher on Award Shares, here’s the Wikipedia article and here is my last article regarding these awards that looked at wrestlers’ candidacy for the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame.
Award Shares can help make a strong argument toward a wrestler’s place in the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, though the context of their careers should be considered as well. Vickie Guerrero is a talented performer, but she’s not the fourth-best non-wrestler of the past four decades.
You can view the current all-time standings for the key awards here.
In the WON’s equivalent of the MVP award, Kenny Omega jumped up to sixth all-time in Award Shares. With his second win, he passed John Cena, Keiji Muto, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Jericho. He’s now only behind Ric Flair, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kenta Kobashi, Kazuchika Okada, and Mitsuhara Misawa.
Omega received 69.1% percent of the estimated maximum number of points in the 2021 voting, which is the 14th highest number in the 40 years of the WON Awards. The full top twenty are as follows; there’s a tie for 21st between Omega’s 2017 and Tanahashi’s 2011.
Shingo Takagi and Roman Reigns both jumped up into the top 50 all-time, with Takagi landing at 46th and Reigns at 48th. Reigns placed second in this year’s awards and Takagi third. Both had only previously received significant votes in Thesz/Flair once before, with Reigns placing eighth last year and Takagi seventh in 2008.
With just one year of Flair/Thesz votes, Utami Hayashishita jumped up to 64th all-time and ranks third amongst women. The top two are Manami Toyota (29th) and Akira Hokuto (30th).
Bryan Danielson moved up from 18th to 16th with his fourth-place finish, and CM Punk moved from 16th to 15th with his sixth-place finish. Both passed Kurt Angle, and Danielson also passed Jushin Liger.
Most Outstanding Wrestler
This year’s winner, Shingo Takagi, jumped up from 31st to 21st all-time in this category. He passed Tomohiro Ishii, Tatsumi Fujinami, Shinjiro Otani, Koji Kanemoto, Owen Hart, Shinsuke Nakamura, Ted DiBiase, Finn Balor, and Yuji Nagata.
Shingo received “just” 50.5% of the possible points he could have won. His 2021 point total ranks 24th all-time for single years. The top ten is as follows.
Danielson finished second, which only extends his lead all-time. He’s now 0.597 Award Shares above Kenta Kobashi. That’s comparable to the margin between fourth place Ric Flair and seventh place Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Despite his third-place finish, Kenny Omega only moved up two spots all-time to eighth. He overtook Kurt Angle and AJ Styles. Will Ospreay’s fourth-place garnered him four spots, passing Toshiaki Kawada, Manami Toyota, Davey Richards, and KENTA.
Syuri, in her first year of receiving votes in this category, now ranks 82nd all-time and fourth among women. Ahead of her are Manami Toyota (15th overall), Akira Hokuta (47th), and Chigusa Nagayo (62nd). Kyoko Inoue (100th), Momoe Nakanishi (101st), Io Shirai (103rd), Bull Nakano (109th), Utami Hayashishita (115th), and Meiko Satomura (122nd) round out the top ten women on the list.
Tag Team of the Year
The Young Bucks’ 2021 Award Shares for Tag Team of the Year rank as the third-most ever at 0.875. That’s only behind their 2017 at 0.8791 and the Midnight Express in 1988 at 0.8789. The Bucks also have the sixth, eleventh, twelfth, seventeenth, and eighteenth best years in Award Shares. The only other team to finish in the top 18 twice are the Midnight Express, doing so in 1988 and 1986 (0.785, seventh-best).
The Lucha Bros. jumped up into the top ten all-time, as they moved from 17th to eighth. FTR jumped from 51st to 26th. The Usos were the only other team to move up, going from 42nd to 39th. The Briscoes remained at second all-time, without combining the two versions of the Midnight Express. Once you combine the Midnight Express, they’re about 1.600 Award Shares above the Briscoes.
Best on Interviews
MJF’s winning total was enough to move him into the top 20 all-time, as he pushed into 18th place. Similarly, Eddie Kingston jumped from 28th to 16th. CM Punk moved up two spots to fifth place, passing both Mick Foley and the Rock. Jon Moxley was able to gain one spot as he moved to 22nd, as he passed Michael Hayes, Santino Marella, and Jimmy Hart, but was passed by MJF & Kingston
Britt Baker and Tam Nakano became just the seventh and eighth women to finish with significant votes in this award, after Akira Hokuto, Vickie Guerrero, Stephanie McMahon, Ronda Rousey, Alexa Bliss, and Becky Lynch. Only Lynch and Rousey have received significant votes twice, and only Lynch is in the top fifty all-time.
Match of the Year
Daniel Bryan just moved into eighth place all-time, passing Chris Benoit and Toshiaki Kawada. Kota Ibushi (up one spot to 14th), Shingo Takagi (up nine spots to 21st), The Young Bucks (up 16 spots to 30th), and Will Ospreay (up 12 spots to 32nd) all moved up in the top 50. Adam Page jumped 26 spots to stand at 51st place.
The Lucha Bros. made the biggest jump of anyone this year, gaining 137 spots as they both moved into 113th place. Syuri and Utami Hayashishita both debuted in 191st place all-time.
The top seven spots in this category – Kobashi, Misawa, Okada, Flair, Michaels, Omega, and Tanahashi – remain unchanged.