It’s that time of year again for me to submit my picks for the New York 50 – that is, my top 50 WWE Wrestlers for the year 2020. If you want to see my lists for 2018 and 2019, they’re here. Now this year was really wacky because of how COVID turned everything upside down. The injury bug also did a number on things as several people missed significant time in 2020. As a result there was a lot of roster turmoil which will be reflected here. NXT people did better than ever on my ballot; going full time on live TV for the whole year will do that. But anyhow, let me run through how I determined my list for this year. I gave a grade for each pay per view match, NXT takeover match or NXT special episode match. I averaged those grades, and then gave five more points for everyone who worked nine or more Raw/SD PPV matches or 6 NXT PPV or special episode matches. And then I gave a grade for TV match performances. The final score was the total PPV grade + TV grade. But I didn’t stop there. I looked at the final tally and then applied a common sense filter. Randy Orton was a top 10 performer in the company by any measure in 2020 but his grades didn’t add up to that so I made a judgement call. I also had to consider how to account for injuries because some people scored higher for six months than others did for twelve but I’ve always erred towards people who work more in the past because the nature of the WWE schedule means some people are working significantly more than others and quite frankly working at a B+ level for 140 dates is harder than an A- level for 30.
50. Mandy Rose 49. Baron Corbin 48. Liv Morgan 47. Nia Jax 46. Dakota Kai
45. Alaister Black 44. Santos Escobar 43. Apollo Crews 42. Miz 41. John Morrison
40. Braun Strowman 39. Dolph Ziggler 38. Sheamus 37. Otis 36. Riddle 35. Big E
34. Bobby Lashley 33. Damian Priest 32. Sami Zayn 31. Nikki Cross 30. Street Profits
29. Naomi 28. Kofi 27. Shayna Baszler 26. Alexa Bliss 25. Cesaro 24. Shotzi Blackheart
23. Candace LeRae 22. Andrade 21. Kevin Owens 20. AJ Styles 19. Kyle O’Reilly
18. Johnny Gargano 17. Bianca Belair 16. Jey Uso 15. AJ Styles 14. Finn Balor
13. Daniel Bryan 12. Charlotte Flair 11. Io Shirai 10. Rhea Ripley 9. Adam Cole 8. Keith Lee
7. Randy Orton 6. Seth Rollins 5. Asuka 4. Sasha Banks 3. Roman Reigns 2. Bayley
1. Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre is your new number one! Of everyone there he had the highest combination of volume + level of performance. Bayley was consistently very good to great all year, but Drew had more matches that got the highest grades from me. Roman Reigns’ absence from early April to Summerslam hurt his grade but he was so good the rest of the way that he almost won it anyway. Sasha Banks didn’t really get much work in before WrestleMania but was great the rest of the year. Asuka got stuck after Summerslam with a depleted division on Raw and just didn’t have the opportunities to keep putting on top tier performances in the ring but did top notch character work all yeah round. She was never bad or mediocre at any point, though.
Some other notables: Baron Corbin fell far from last year, and it was entirely because he went from working with Rollins and Reigns to midcard guys most of the year. Charlotte stayed around where she was last year despite missing six months because the first half of the year was that strong in my opinion. Kofi dropped to 28 after finishing first last year because as expected he went from World title programs back to tag stuff. Kyle O’Reilly made the leap as a solo act based on the back half of 2020; we’ll see how that holds up.
As for 2021? I’m expecting a huge leap for Bianca Belair as she moves into full time title contender status and works more pay per view matches. Same with Big E. Damien Priest will be on TV more after moving to Raw and has a chance to make some noise. Bayley may ripe for a big drop if she transitions away from title programs and doesn’t get as many pay per view matches this year. Should be interesting either way.
UPDATE: The final tally has been counted and here are the results:
My number one was the same as as the final vote. There were several others where I was off by one place. In my top 3 I had Bayley and Roman swapped with the final tally.