7. Edge vs. Randy Orton (Backlash, June 14)
Edge and Randy Orton’s match at Backlash was considered The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever ahead of time. Although not the best match of 2020, it did live up to expectation. Randy and Edge performed maneuvers that paid tribute to icons of the wrestling industry. It went a little too long (40 minutes), but that Punt from Orton completed this poetic justice.
It was a good match, not the best damn ever.
6. Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher – Cage Fight (NXT, May 27)
When the first-ever NXT Fight Pit was advertised, I had no idea what to expect. But what we saw was a one-of-a-kind, sports-entertainment display that was just as innovative as it was pitiless.
Thatcher and The Original Bro presented highlights aplenty in this memorable encounter, from both Superstars trading strikes high above the mat while teetering the high scaffolding, to Riddle flying through the air with the Floating Bro from several feet above. And let’s not forget Riddle’s showtime kick — Thatcher absolutely won’t after losing his teeth.
But Thatcher emerged victorious, instantly establishing himself as one of NXT’s most savage competitors and treating fans to memory they wouldn’t soon forget.
5. Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair – NXT Women’s Championship (WrestleMania 36, April 5)
For the first time in wrestling history, we saw a Royal Rumble Winner opting to challenge an NXT Champion. Happy to say, they stole the show. Ripley shimmered like the Superstar she is, bringing the fight to one of the arguably best female Superstars in WWE history. But despite The Nightmare’s power, Charlotte Flair showed why she could lay claim to the title “Ms. WrestleMania.”
4. Men’s Royal Rumble Match (Royal Rumble, January 26, 2020)
The Royal Rumble is all about the wilderness, those images that are permanently implanted into your mind, and this year’s over-the-top spectacle was chockful of them.
Brock Lesnar’s dominance continued until he was met with the ice-cold stare and impressive figure of Drew McIntyre, who eventually took The Beast out of competition with a cathartic Claymore Kick that sent Lesnar swinging over the top rope to the floor. Royal rumble saw the return of ‘EDGE.’ The Rated-R Superstar made his jaw-dropping return from what was considered to be a career-ending neck injury 9 years ago. After nearly Spearing Dolph Ziggler out of his boots, Edge struggled for more than 23 exhausting minutes and almost pulled off a miraculous win, as he was one of the final 3 Superstars in the ring.
However, the King of Claymore Country commanded the victory, and it put the Scotsman on the path to accomplish his journey from air-guitaring in 3MB to slaying The Beast and winning the WWE Championship in WrestleMania’s main event.
3. Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley vs. Io Shirai – NXT Women’s Championship (NXT TakeOver: In Your House, June 7)
Io Shirai lived through hell. Three of WWE’s best women stars came together to fight over the NXT Women’s Title, and they put each other through trial — from Charlotte Flair throwing Shirai through a window to Rhea Ripley’s top-rope Riptide.
The conclusion fit the entire bout’s back-and-forth action, with Shirai breaking up the Figure-Eight Leglock with a picture-perfect moonsault to steal the win and the NXT Women’s Title in remarkable fashion.
2. Undertaker vs. AJ Styles – Boneyard Match (WrestleMania 36, April 4)
Talk about unexpected treats; this was probably the best cinematic match of all time. From the first hit of the drums in Metallica’s “Now That We’re Dead,” the Undertaker scene riding towards the battlefield on a motorcycle immediately had everyone jumping for joy everywhere. The instant nostalgia coupled with the intensely personal nature of this rivalry made for WrestleMania magic in a way that nobody anticipated initially.
1. Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles – Intercontinental Championship (SmackDown, June 12)
The WWE Universe was animated throughout this past year with matches in the boneyard, even swamps. But at the end of the day, nothing compares to the real spectacle of good, old-fashioned pro-wrestling. When AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan got involved in a marathon battle for the Intercontinental Title, the sport’s highest skill was on exhibition.
The match crossed nearly half of SmackDown on June 12, but there was never a minute you could take your eyes off the game. Like any great dramatic display, there was no lost motion. Each man attacked his opponent, as Bryan used various submissions while Styles found counters at the most timely moments. The Intercontinental Championship is often deemed “The Working Man’s Title,” and the work paid off this night. It was terrific; it was Phenomenal; it was wrestling — in the most real sense of the word.