The year is coming to a close, so that means it is time to reflect on the best of 2023. Impact is getting the party started by revealing the nominees for Wrestler of the Year, Match of the Year, and so on. Voting is open here.
Let’s run through the list.
Male Wrestler of the Year: Alex Shelley, Bully Ray, Eddie Edwards, Eric Young, Frankie Kazarian, Joe Hendry, Jonathan Gresham, Josh Alexander, Moose, PCO, Rich Swann, Steve Maclin
I’m picking Alex Shelley. He has carried the Impact World Championship for 163 days and counting. In that period, Shelley made the championship his own. We have to remember that there was a cloud over the world title scene for much of the year due to Josh Alexander vacating the throne via injury. Alexander was still viewed as the real champ, but that changed when Shelley beat him clean upon return.
Knockout of the Year: Alisha Edwards, Dani Luna, Deonna Purrazzo, Gisele Shaw, Killer Kelly, KiLynn King, Masha Slamovich, Mickie James, Jody Threat, Jordynne Grace, Tasha Steelz, Trinity
Trinity gets the nods from me. She went straight to the top after a surprise signing, and it wasn’t long before the Knockouts Championship was in her possession.
Men’s Tag Team of the Year: ABC, Kenny King and Sheldon Jean, Motor City Machine Guns, SUBCULTURE, The Design, The Good Hands, The Most Professional Wrestling Gods, The Rascalz
The ABC connection of Ace Austin and Chris Bey put on bangers consistently. They are on their second tag title reign this year in Impact for a cumulative total of 165 days and counting.
Knockout Tag Team of the Year: Death Dollz, MK Ultra, The Coven, The SHAWntourage
This was the easiest choice. Masha Slamovich and Killer Kelly are a perfect pairing of badass killers in the ring. They have held the Knockouts Tag Team Championship for 127 days and counting, and I don’t want to see them ever lose.
X-Division Star of the Year: Alan Angels, Black Taurus, Chris Sabin, Kevin Knight, Laredo Kid, Lio Rush, Mike Bailey, Trey Miguel
Tough call between Chris Sabin and Mike Bailey. I’m leaning with Sabin, because his matches are more classified as X-Division contests. The Motor City Machine Gun earned his ninth and tenth title reigns this year. Bailey could be argued as the man with the best résumé of matches in general for the year, however, the focus has been on excellent wrestling overall rather than specifically the X-Division.
One to Watch in 2024: Alan Angels, Bhupinder Gujjar, Jake Something, Jai Vidal, Jody Threat, KiLynn King, Leon Slater, Sheldon Jean
When looking at this list, one name stands out above the rest as championship material in 2024. That would be KiLynn King. She was in the tag team division for much of the year, but now she is rolling solo. King has already shown that she can thrive in the spotlight for marquee matches when she wrestled Kamille for the NWA Women’s World Championship in 2022.
Match of the Year (choose up to 3):
Josh Alexander vs. Bully Ray - Full Metal Mayhem (Hard To Kill 2023)
Mickie James vs. Jordynne Grace (Hard To Kill 2023)
Kenny King vs. Mike Bailey - Pit Fight (IMPACT January 19, 2023)
Trey Miguel vs. Crazzy Steve - Monster’s Ball (IMPACT February 23, 2023)
ABC vs. Motor City Machine Guns (IMPACT March 2, 2023)
Miyu Yamashita vs. Killer Kelly (IMPACT March 30, 2023)
Deonna Purrazzo vs. Jordynne Grace (Rebellion 2023)
Steve Maclin vs. KUSHIDA (Rebellion 2023)
Chris Sabin vs. Mike Bailey (IMPACT May 25, 2023)
PCO vs. Steve Maclin - No DQ (Under Siege 2023)
Alex Shelley vs. Steve Maclin (Against All Odds 2023)
Gisele Shaw vs. Deonna Purrazzo (Down Under Tour Night 2)
Trinity vs. Deonna Purrazzo (Slammiversary 2023)
Scott D’Amore and Eric Young vs. Bully Ray and Deaner (Slammiversary 2023)
SUBCULTURE vs. The Rascalz (Emergence 2023)
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Alex Shelley (Multiverse United 2)
Deonna Purrazzo vs. Jordynne Grace (Victory Road 2023)
Steve Maclin vs. Josh Alexander (Victory Road 2023)
Chris Sabin vs. Lio Rush (IMPACT 1000)
Gail Kim, Awesome Kong, Jordynne Grace, Mickie James and Trinity vs. Angelina Love, Deonna Purrazzo, Gisele Shaw, Savannah Evans and Tasha Steelz (IMPACT 1000)
Eddie Edwards vs. Frankie Kazarian - Killer IMPACT (IMPACT October 12, 2023)
ABC vs. The Rascalz (Bound For Glory 2023)
Mike Bailey vs. Will Ospreay (Bound For Glory 2023)
Alex Shelley vs. Josh Alexander (Bound For Glory 2023)
Eddie Edwards vs. Will Ospreay (Turning Point 2023)
Jonathan Gresham vs. Alex Shelley (IMPACT November 9, 2023)
Will Ospreay vs. Josh Alexander (IMPACT November 16, 2023)
Judging this off the top of my head, since it would take a week to rewatch all those matches. Cheers for Will Ospreay versus Mike Bailey, bruv. There’s no debate that their match is on the short list of contenders. Impact allows three picks in this category, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Billy GOAT versus Speedball was selected on 99% of the ballots. The athleticism was off the charts. I’m rounding out my top three with Alex Shelley versus Josh Alexander and PCO versus Steve Maclin. Those wins were signature moments in the careers of Shelley and Maclin to elevate them to a higher status. Plus, both matches kicked ass for satisfying entertainment.
Moment of the Year:
The Last Rodeo ends with Mickie James winning Knockouts World Title (Hard To Kill 2023)
Santino Marella debuts (Hard To Kill 2023)
Tara makes surprise appearance as Gisele Shaw’s partner (IMPACT Jan 26, 2023)
Josh Alexander forced to relinquish World Title (IMPACT April 6, 2023)
Trinity debuts in IMPACT (IMPACT May 4, 2023)
Bully Ray powerbombs Scott D’Amore through a flaming table (Under Siege 2023)
Alex Shelley wins the World Title (Against All Odds 2023)
Eric Young returns at Slammiversary (Slammiversary 2023)
Chris Sabin wins X-Division Title for 10th Time (IMPACT 1000)
Knockouts Legends Return for IMPACT 1000 (IMPACT 1000)
Team 3D return to the Ring at IMPACT 1000 (IMPACT 1000)
The return of TNA announced at Bound For Glory (Bound For Glory 2023)
Another tough choice with so many fun moments throughout the year in Impact. I’m riding with Mickie James winning the Knockouts Championship. It was the culmination of long story with the veteran risking retirement in every match along the way.
Share your picks for Impact’s 2023 awards.