We’re almost far enough into the new year that we’ve seen most of the “best of” lists from the previous one at this point. But Sports Illustrated just dropped their “Top 10 wrestlers of 2020” list yesterday (Jan. 7), and between the publication’s high profile and the ranking itself, it’s worth some examination.
Justin Barrasso doesn’t segregate his list by performer gender, which would have been newsworthy in and of itself a few years ago. It’s a testament to how far we’ve come that not only is it not, but the fact a woman is number one, doesn’t surprise.
Does the list surprise, or the wrestler at the top of it? Check it out and let’s discuss:
10. Eddie Kingston
9. Roman Reigns
8. Kota Ibushi
7. Io Shirai
5. Kenny Omega
4. Tetsuya Naito
3. Drew McIntyre
2. Jon Moxley
1. Sasha Banks
The article includes Barrasso’s arguments for his picks, including singles matches that defined each wrestler’s year. They’re well thought out, but they’re subjective, so there’s always going to be cause to quibble.
My main one would be putting Banks so far ahead of Bayley. You can pretty much say everything about one that you would about the other in 2020 in terms of how WWE relied on them and how their work was central to Raw & SmackDown while also allowed their opponents to shine. Giving the nod to The Boss comes down to her having won their feud in kayfabe, and having the edge in overall charisma/”it” factor (star power is also a factor that’s come up in the debate about Sasha’s lead in the current edition of Cageside’s community rankings, The S3).
Even if they’re one and two, though, arguments could also be made for McIntyre or Moxley being more entertaining. That’s personal preference, but a slightly more objective measure might be, were they more important to the show they’re on than Mox or Drew.
Then there’s a question of how the size of the brand should factor into an analysis like this. SI is clearly trying to balance WWE, AEW and New Japan in their Top 10. Should they? Or does a performance deserve more weight if more people saw it?
A case can also be made for many of those Barrasso gives “honorable mention” to: Cody Rhodes, Asuka, Finn Bálor, MJF, Keith Lee, Asuka, Adam Cole, Shingo Takagi, Minoru Suzuki, Thunder Rosa, Go Shiozaki, Mayu Iwatani, Hiromu Takahashi, Jay White, and Kazuchika Okada. And probably a few more besides. Bray Wyatt? Darby Allin? Deonna Purrazzo?
Everyone is going to have their own take, which is of course the fun of these exercises.
So jump in the comments below and give us yours!