Early Front-Runners for Men's and Women's WWE Superstars of the Year for 2019

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2019

Early Front-Runners for Men's and Women's WWE Superstars of the Year for 2019

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    Credit: WWE.com

    In three short months, 2019 will be over, and time is running out for all the WWE Superstars who said this would be their year.

    Thankfully, for some on the roster, the past nine months have been some of the best of their careers.

    Be it through championships, main events, major achievements or any number of other highlights, several Superstars have had such a great runs this year that will be hard for anyone to top.

    Here are six men and women who are front-runners for Superstar of the Year for Raw, SmackDown and NXT.

NXT Women's Superstar of the Year: Shayna Baszler

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    Credit: WWE.com

    In 2019, no champion has been as dominant in NXT as Shayna Baszler, who has held the women's title firm in her grasp since October 28, 2018.

    Her near-yearlong reign is surpassed only by Asuka's, and if it weren't for Kairi Sane's 71 days between Baszler's runs, she would have the most days as champion by now.

    No matter who has stepped up to the challenge her, The Queen of Spades has taken them out. That includes handing Bianca Belair her first loss, besting Io Shirai several times and outlasting Mia Yim and Rhea Ripley.

    Wherever she goes, she strikes fear into the NXT women's division, and any time she seems to have met her match, she wins.

    If she beats Candice LeRae on the October 2 episode of NXT, she will likely pass the full year mark as champion.

NXT Men's Superstar of the Year: Adam Cole or Johnny Gargano

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The men's division of NXT hasn't been as one-sided as the women's, so much so that two Superstars have shared the spotlight, often feuding with each other.

    Both Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano have the right to claim this was their year, as they have competed for the brand's top spot for months.

    At the start of the year, Gargano captured the North American Championship after defeating Ricochet at TakeOver: Phoenix.

    While he dropped the title soon after to Velveteen Dream, he bounced back with some guest shots on Raw and SmackDown alongside Tommaso Ciampa.

    The reformed #DIY made it to the semifinal of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and Gargano had a roaring babyface turn that led to him defeating Cole to win the NXT Championship at TakeOver: New York.

    But Cole started the year with a prophecy that The Undisputed Era would win all the gold, and he was instrumental in facilitating that goal, which came true in September.

    He made it to the semifinal of the Worlds Collide tournament earlier this year and stole Gargano's thunder by taking the NXT Championship from him at TakeOver XXV.

    Proving that was not a fluke, Cole followed up by retaining against Gargano in Toronto, Akira Tozawa in the main event of Evolve's 10th anniversary show and against NXT Breakout Tournament winner Jordan Myles.

    As if they are two sides of the same coin, Gargano and Cole share top spot so tightly that it's hard to judge which one should be considered the better man.

SmackDown Women's Superstar of the Year: Bayley

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The beginning of the year for the SmackDown women's division was put on hold to tell the story of Becky Two Belts at WrestleMania, and Bayley has been the only Superstar to make a dent since that point.

    At the start of 2019, Bayley was floundering. She achieved a major victory when she and Sasha Banks won the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship in the Elimination Chamber.

    Being the first-time champions didn't last long, as The Boss 'n' Hug Connection lost the belts to The IIconics at WrestleMania, but Bayley didn't languish for long.

    In May, she won the Money in the Bank contract and cashed it in to defeat Charlotte Flair the same night to win the SmackDown Women's Championship, which she's held ever since.

    Despite months of speculation that she and Banks were headed toward a split, the best friends remain stronger than ever.

    Bayley has even found a new vigor now that she's turned heel for the first time, which allows her to play a different character, freshen things up and explore new ways of being one of WWE's most entertaining stars in the women's division.

SmackDown Men's Superstar of the Year: Kofi Kingston

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The card is always subject to change—even when it's as big as WrestleMania and should be planned a year in advance. No better example of that is Kofi Kingston's run in 2019.

    By all accounts, there was no plan for Kingston to compete in the Elimination Chamber, let alone become one of the primary focal points for the biggest show of the year.

    But following Ali's injury, Kingston capitalized on an opportunity to strike the WWE Universe in a way he hadn't in more than a decade, kickstarting KofiMania, which led to his first WWE Championship victory at WrestleMania.

    It was one of the biggest feel-good moments WWE has had in a long while—possibly not since Daniel Bryan's title win five years prior.

    Against all the odds, Kingston finally achieved his dream, set a new standard, broke through the glass ceiling and provided an example that has inspired fans across the globe.

    Kingston has also proved himself to not be a fluke champion, either. No matter the obstacle, he's overcome every challenger, including juggernauts like Samoa Joe, multi-time champions like Dolph Ziggler and his biggest doubter, Randy Orton.

    It's likely his run will come to an end when he faces Brock Lesnar on October 4, but that will not diminish the amazing year he has had as the top of the blue brand or his place as a role model in the history books.

Raw Women's Superstar of the Year: Becky Lynch

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    Credit: WWE.com

    There is no discussion as to WWE's top woman this year not just on Raw but in WWE as a whole. Becky Lynch is undoubtedly the answer, as she's arguably the top Superstar—including the men's division.

    The Man proved herself worthy of the moniker by winning the 2019 Royal Rumble and going on to make history as the winner of the first women's WrestleMania main event.

    Several records were broken that night. She became the first woman to beat Ronda Rousey in WWE, win both the Raw and SmackDown women's titles at the same time and even finish a pay-per-view the day after it had originally started because her match didn't end until after midnight local time.

    It's been a whirlwind. She kept that momentum going by becoming the first woman to be on the cover of a WWE 2K game with the upcoming 2K20 release. Lynch even got engaged to Raw's top dog, Seth Rollins.

    Whether she retains the title at Hell in a Cell or drops it in order to move to SmackDown in the draft as the big get for Fox, The Man is the true choice for WWE Superstar of the Year.

Raw Men's Superstar of the Year: Seth Rollins

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Rounding out the list is Monday Night Rollins, who took a catchphrase and made it a reality.

    The first major win for Seth Rollins was the Royal Rumble, which granted him a title shot against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania, which he managed to win. In under three minutes, he became The Beast Slayer in winning the Universal Championship.

    Since then, Rollins has been the benchmark for Raw. The only hiccup along the way was the month he traded the title back to Lesnar, who only won the belt because of the overwhelming odds of the Money in the Bank cash-in after Rollins' grueling Extreme Rules match.

    Rollins regained the title at SummerSlam and then became dual champion for the third time in his career when he and Braun Strowman captured the Raw Tag Team Championship in August.

    Though he lost that gold at Clash of Champions, he is still the universal champion and the undisputed leader of WWE's flagship show and will likely main-event Hell in a Cell on October 6 in the hopes of overcoming The Fiend, retaining the title and going on to represent the red brand at Survivor Series.

                        

    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.