FANFYTE END OF THE YEAR

2020 Was the Year Wrestling Went Quiet

For the better part of a year, I have been an advocate for watching wrestling that’s from any era that isn’t what we’re destined to call “the COVID-19 Era.” It’s not that wrestling in 2020 wasn’t fun (okay, it mostly wasn’t), but watching wrestling in 2020 meant getting through an…

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2020 in Wrestling: Tetsuya Naito Is NJPW’s Wrestler of the Year

New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s Tetsuya Naito kicked off 2020 with the biggest accomplishment of his career, then got handed some of the worst possible circumstances in which to follow it up. He became the first person to hold the IWGP Heavyweight and Intercontinental Championships simultaneously, then was tasked with being…

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2020 in Wrestling: NJPW’s Okada vs. Naito Is Match of the Year

On January 5, 2020, the second night of New Japan Pro Wrestling‘s Wrestle Kingdom 14, Kazuchika Okada and Tetsuya Naito had the best match of the year. A winner-take-all battle between IWGP Heavyweight Champion Okada and IWGP Intercontinental Champion Naito to become the first man to hold both belts simultaneously,…

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2020 in Wrestling: Sasha Banks and Bayley Are WWE’s Wrestlers of the Year

Wrestling has been difficult to enjoy in 2020, and often WWE most of all. The efforts of the company’s talented roster have been frequently overshadowed by the company’s layoffs, political ties, handling of #SpeakingOut allegations, and general response to the coronavirus pandemic. And just from an entertainment standpoint, WWE’s no-crowds…

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2019 in Wrestling: The Universal Comedy of a DDT Campsite Match

DDT Pro Wrestling is an independent Japanese promotion famous for high concept matches and providing audiences with unique wrestling experiences. Maybe you’re already a fan. Maybe you’ve only ever seen clips from that time Kota Ibushi wrestled a blow-up doll or Minoru Suzuki wrestled in the middle of an empty Tokyo Dome. The company…

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2019 in Wrestling: The Resuscitation of Jon Moxley, Wrestler of the Year

Dean Ambrose was one of the reasons I got into wrestling. I don’t even remember how I found him specifically, because I know it wasn’t in a match, but I have a very distinct memory of watching him cut a promo back in 2016 with greasy bangs and a leather…

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2019 in Wrestling: Invisible Man vs Invisible Stan at Joey Janela’s Spring Break 3

Marking Out As A Form Of Religious Ecstasy For all its creativity, the main purpose of professional wrestling has always been to part as many rubes as possible from their money. Wrestling is not compelling despite this goal, but because of it: it’s a form of entertainment that has evolved…

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2019 in Wrestling: Nick Gage is the Best Professional Wrestler in the World

I was more anxious for a wrestling show than I thought I had any right to be when I walked into the Basement East in Nashville, Tennessee this summer. My primary concern on that July afternoon was that I may have been underdressed. I was dressed for an indie wrestling…

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2019 in Wrestling: Antonio Honda is Wrestler of the Year

On February 16 this year, Antonio Honda headlined Ryogoku Sumo Hall for the first time. He faced DJ Nilla in the hilarious but surprisingly emotional conclusion to Musclemania 2019, a sprawling four hour epic from the (in)famously unorthodox DDT’s most galaxy-brained offshoot of all. In a PowerPoint presentation before the…

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2019 in Wrestling: Blue Demon Jr. vs Dr. Wagner Jr. at Triplemania XXVII

You know you’re in for a treat when a match starts with two 50 year old men in masks breaking through the floor on cherry picker lifts to the dulcet tones of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bon Jovi. Earlier this year, the siren song of Jeff Jerrett’s guitar…

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Katsuyori Shibata Is the Wrestler of the Decade

Let’s start at the end: On April 9, 2017, Katsuyori Shibata wrestled Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship in the main event of Sakura Genesis. He hasn’t wrestled since. After the match, he collapsed backstage and was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent surgery for a subdermal hematoma,…

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2019 in Wrestling: New Japan’s MVP Tomohiro Ishii

The tragedy of Tomohiro Ishii is that he works in a field uniquely unsuited to rewarding his talents. Wrestling is an industry of spectacle, flash, high drama and camp. Ishii is a squat, short, middle aged man of few words and fewer flashy moves. If he stands out, it’s only…

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2019 In Wrestling: Orange Cassidy is Wrestler of the Year

At the start of 2019, it already felt like the year of Orange Cassidy. As billions of people around the world celebrated another year of barely staving off global cataclysm, many thousands of wrestling fans celebrated the crowning of our new freshly squeezed king. Moments before the clock struck midnight,…

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