Looking back at this year in WWE and AEW
Between the numerous weekly shows, PPVs, online content, and more, 2019 was a great year to be a wrestling fan. AEW debuted its weekly series on TNT and WWE’s NXT brand began airing on USA to kick off the Wednesday Night Wars. There is a lot of content for wrestling fans to take in every year.
Because of all this content, it can be hard to nail down just what the biggest moments from the past year were. Is it the return of a familiar face, a great match, or wrestlers being trapped in another country?
GameSpot is looking back at a year of great wrestling to figure out what were the 10 biggest moments of 2019, the ones that captured our attention and imagination like none other this past year. So check them all out below, presented in no particular order.
For a better look into entertainment for 2019, make sure to check out the best and worst reviewed movies of 2019. And if you’re looking ahead to 2020, check out our looks at the Biggest Movies, TV shows, and Anime to watch next year.
10. Seth Rollins Pins Brock Lesnar Clean
A clean 1-on-1 win against Brock Lesnar–no cheating, no distractions, no special, lopsided stipulations–is rare. You can count the number of times it’s happened on one hand. So booking Seth Rollins to do so at Summerslam was exceptional. He had previously beaten the Beast at Wrestlemania earlier in the year, but he needed a clandestine low blow to get the job done. This time, the victory was all his, and it felt like a passing of the torch. The clean loss signaled that the last remnants of the Ruthless Aggression era, which Brock Lesnar embodied, were on a downward trajectory, and a new era, with Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, and Roman Reigns at its helm, had hit its stride. – Kevin Wong
9. NXT Invades Survivor Series
Survivor Series is great…when there’s a story to care about. This year, WWE did something perfect for the PPV: They threw NXT into the mix. Long-considered “developmental talent,” the involvement of this WWE brand was a breath of fresh air to one of WWE’s oldest PPVs. It added new talent to the show, and for the first time at any major WWE PPV, we got to see the NXT Championship be defended on the card. 2019 was the year that WWE embraced the awesomeness of NXT and put it on the same platform as the rest of its brands, and that’s saying a lot. Involving NXT in Survivor Series was a smart move on WWE’s part and something they should continue doing in the future. – Mat Elfring
8. The Best/Worst Storyline Of The Year
Stay with us for a second. The beginning of this storyline, where Lana leaves Rusev to start dating Bobby Lashley is one of the most awkward, dumbest stories in wrestling in 2019. However, it quickly became one of those moments we tuned into just to see what dumb thing was happening next. Rusev was served a restraining order one night, but later in the show, after Rusev violated said restraining order, Lashley and Lana were arrested? Why? I have no clue, but it sure was funny. Most recently, Lashley proposed to Lana–and it was her idea. This storyline is a car wreck, and I can’t turn away. But that is saying something because I’m invested. This story is supposed to make me root for Rusev and hate Lashley and Lana–no matter how cheesy or dumb I think it is–and it’s doing that incredibly well. I want to see what’s next, and I can’t think of a time in recent history where a story has been this silly and I’ve been so invested. – Mat Elfring
7. Bayley Heel Turn
The squeakiest clean superstar on the roster, after serving for years as WWE’s resident hug giver and goodwill ambassador, turned heel, by allying herself with Sasha Banks and beating Becky Lynch with a steel chair. It was a turn of events that should have happened a lot sooner. For a couple of weeks, Bayley didn’t do a full heel turn; she simply said she was sticking up for her friend, Banks. But on October 12, Bayley came out with a shorter haircut and a scowl, and she proceeded to stab her on-ramp “Bayley Buddies” until they stopped their wacky waving ways. Adults gasped. Children cried. When she finally turns face again (hopefully not too soon), the fans will end up loving her twice as much. – Kevin Wong
6. Chris Jericho’s Belt Gets Stolen
On August 31, AEW returned to the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois for the event All Out. There, Chris Jericho beat Adam Page to become the inaugural AEW Champion. Then, he lost the belt–or it got stolen. What actually happened gets a bit foggy there. But what it led to was a new turn for Jericho’s character, as he posted a video of him relaxing in his jacuzzi where he first told the world he was going to “drink a little bit of the bubbly.” This was the next evolution for Jericho as Le Champion, a pompous wrestler with a lust for life that eventually had his own group of yes men surrounding him–the Inner Circle. But as weird as it seems, where Jericho is at now originates from this video where he told the world his title had been stolen. – Mat Elfring
5. CM Punk Returns In The Most Fitting Way
Ever since CM Punk left the WWE back in early 2014, fans have been clamoring for his return, mainly by chanting his name–ad nauseum–at live events. After a five year absence, in November, Punk made a surprise appearance on the FS1/WWE weekly series Backstage–which is actually a fantastic show–as an analyst and has made numerous appearances since. He’s not contracted to WWE, and he is brutally honest about the product, both the good and bad. This role is perfect for the Straight-Edge Savior as he doesn’t have to answer to the sports entertainment giant if he says anything critical about the company. – Mat Elfring
4. Kofi Kingston wins WWE Championship at Mania
Everyone loves a good underdog story, and for this year’s Wrestlemania, New Day member Kofi Kingston climbed the mountain to become the WWE Champion after months of being belittled by Vince McMahon, saying Kofi wasn’t championship material. This was followed by Kingston being placed in unfair matches–which Kofi won–leading to a match against current champion Daniel Bryan. After beating Bryan, Kingston’s kids joined him in the ring, and it was an emotional celebration for the WWE superstar, his family, and his fans. It was one of the most satisfying moments in WWE for 2019. – Mat Elfring
3. Bray Wyatt’s Reinvention
For years, Bray Wyatt was a charismatic cult leader who coasted along the mid-card, never really reaching his potential, and eventually, it got stale. In April of this past year, Wyatt returned as a host of children’s show Firefly Fun House, wearing a sweater and speaking in a friendly manner. As the character progressed, we learned there was something dark and disturbing just underneath the surface: The Fiend. It was a stark contrast to the fun, compassionate kid’s show host, and The Fiend was legitimately terrifying, taking down his opponents, one by one, and eventually winning the WWE Championship. What makes this new gimmick work so well is that it’s an evolution of Wyatt, building on everything he’s done as a performer over the years, and fans can’t wait to see where it goes next. – Mat Elfring
2. AEW Begins
A new major wrestling promotion debuted this year, created and run by wrestlers–and a guy who co-owns an NFL team. All Elite Wrestling began 2019 with a large press conference, followed by a few PPVs over the year–some of which were free to stream–and a weekly TNT show that began in the fall. This is such a big deal because WWE hasn’t had real competition in years, and competition tends to bring out the best in everyone–like during the Monday Night Wars between WWE and WCW. The first few months of AEW and the TNT series Dynamite have been explosive thus far, and it’s great to see that wrestling fans finally have a choice for a product that airs on cable television that offers up something a bit different that what people are used to. – Mat Elfring
1. Becky Lynch vs Charlotte vs Ronda Rousey headlining Wrestlemania
Women headlined a Wrestlemania for the first time in 2019, and that is truly a historical moment for WWE. Better yet, the match lived up to the hype and was an exceptional amount of fun as Lynch, Charlotte, and Rousey all faced each other in a match for both the Smackdown and Raw Women’s Championship titles, which ended with Lynch becoming the champion of both Raw and Smackdown. Separating the match from the moment and the PPV, it was the perfect conclusion to one of the best storylines of late ’18/early ’19 and one of the greatest moments in WWE history. – Mat Elfring
Source: Game Spot Mashup