B/R Staff's Mid-Year WWE Awards for Top Stars, Matches, PPV and More

The Doctor Chris Mueller@@BR_DoctorFeatured ColumnistJuly 2, 2020

B/R Staff's Mid-Year WWE Awards for Top Stars, Matches, PPV and More

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    Randy Orton

    After passing the midpoint of 2020, we here at Bleacher Report felt it was time to reflect and present some WWE awards to celebrate the best and brightest of the year so far.

    NXT Superstars have gotten to look forward to year-end awards since 2015, but the Superstars on Raw and SmackDown haven't received any non-title accolades since the Slammys came to an end five years ago.

                

    The B/R WWE writers were given 13 categories to vote on:

    • Men's Superstar of the Year
    • Women's Superstar of the Year
    • Men's Match of the Year
    • Women's Match of the Year
    • Men's Rising Star
    • Women's Rising Star
    • Best Pay-Per-View
    • Most Memorable Moment
    • Best Feud
    • Best Heel/Face Turn
    • Most Extreme Moment
    • Best Promo
    • Biggest Surprise

    Here is the lineup of people who voted on each category:

Men's Superstar of the Year: Drew McIntyre

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    When you look at the first six months of 2020, there are only a handful of full-time WWE wrestlers who could be considered for Male Superstar of the Year.

    After his big win at the Royal Rumble and decisive victory over Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 36, it should come as no surprise to find out Drew McIntyre won by an overwhelming margin.

    The Scot has been putting on great matches and won over a lot of WWE fans after spending the majority of his career as a villain.

    His babyface turn was a natural progression as more people began cheering for him. It wasn't like he made the turn overnight, though. WWE management made the decision after it became clear the crowd was starting to like him.

    The only problem McIntyre has now is finding opponents who pose a real threat to the man who beat The Beast in less than five minutes.

    Other Superstars who received votes:

Women's Superstar of the Year: Asuka

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    When it comes to the women's division in WWE, several Superstars could have won this category and nobody would have been surprised. 

    When it came time to vote, half of our panel went with Asuka and it's easy to see why. She is one of the most engaging stars on the entire roster.

    Not only is The Empress of Tomorrow a joy to watch in non-wrestling segments, but she is also one of the most talented grapplers WWE has in any division. She can fly high, throw strikes and tap people out whenever she wants.

    She is one of only a handful of women to hold the NXT, Raw, SmackDown and Women's Tag Team Championships, making her one of the most decorated titleholders in the locker room.

    On top of those accolades, she has also won the Royal Rumble, Money in the Bank and Mixed Match Challenge. 

    Others who received votes:

    • Bayley
    • Charlotte Flair
    • Sasha Banks

Men's Match of the Year: Edge vs. Randy Orton, Backlash

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    Edge and Randy Orton met for two matches at WrestleMania 36 and Backlash. While their first showdown had its moments, their second meeting is what ended up winning our Men's Match of the Year.

    The buildup for this bout was ridiculous. WWE kept using the tagline "Greatest Wrestling Match Ever," and fans made fun of it for the entire feud. Even Edge and Orton joined in on social media.

    However, when they showed up at Backlash, they were out to prove to everyone that they could steal the show without a million flips, superkicks and dives. They worked a steady pace and told a complete story from bell to bell.

    The skill on display was incredible, and it reminded a lot of people why The Viper and The Rated-R Superstar are two of the most successful WWE Superstars in history.

    Other matches that received votes:

    • Boneyard match
    • Firefly Fun House match
    • Daniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles
    • Daniel Bryan vs. Drew Gulak

Women's Match of the Year: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair

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    The WWE women's division has never been stronger than it is right now. It has Superstars who are powerhouses, high-flyers, technicians and brawlers. It has just as much variety as the men's division for the first time in history.

    That kind of diversity has led to many incredible matches on pay-per-view and weekly television shows, but the one that stood out most to our voters was Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley at WrestleMania 36.

    This was Ripley's first opportunity to show the world what she was capable of, and she knocked it out of the park against a woman who has made a career out of stealing the show.

    This is the kind of feud WWE can revisit time and again in the future and it will keep producing results because they have so much chemistry.

    Other matches that received votes:

    • Ripley vs. Charlotte vs. Io Shirai
    • Becky Lynch vs. Asuka (Royal Rumble)
    • Women's Elimination Chamber

Men's Rising Star: Angel Garza

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    WWE has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to future stars, but the man who received the most votes in this category was Angel Garza.

    The second-generation Superstar has been nothing short of phenomenal every time he has stepped into the ring. He has been so impressive that WWE felt he only needed 10 months in NXT before being brought to Raw as part of Zelina Vega's stable.

    According to Alex McCarthy of TalkSport, Vince McMahon is a huge fan of Garza and has equated him to being a young Eddie Guerrero, which is high praise indeed.

    Guerrero is widely considered to be one of the best wrestlers of all time, so any comparison to him would be flattering for a young star. 

    One of Garza's biggest assets is his charisma, which management has been using as part of his character since the start. His budding romance with Charly Caruso has been surprisingly fun to watch unfold because WWE isn't rushing it.

    The future looks bright for the former cruiserweight champion.

    Other Superstars who received votes:

    • Otis
    • Cameron Grimes
    • Santos Escobar
    • Aleister Black

Women's Rising Star: Sonya Deville

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    This category saw several wrestlers receive votes, but the woman who ended up with the most to win our Women's Rising Star award is Sonya Deville.

    The former MMA fighter has only recently been given a chance to shine on her own after being in a tag team with Mandy Rose for her entire WWE career until they broke up in April.

    Deville has not only been showing more aggression in the ring, but she has also stepped up her game in the promo department, especially in recent weeks.

    She first gained attention as a contestant on Tough Enough in 2015 and was signed to a contract almost immediately after being the third person eliminated from the show.

    With the way things have been going for her and the level she is performing at, it wouldn't be surprising to see Deville challenging for the SmackDown women's title before the end of the year. 

    Other Superstars who received votes:

    • Io Shirai
    • Nikki Cross
    • Shotzi Blackheart
    • Zelina Vega

Best Pay-Per-View: The Royal Rumble

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    WWE has held several pay-per-views in 2020 but only two received votes from our panel, and WrestleMania 36 came in second to the overwhelming first-place pick, the Royal Rumble.

    Drew McIntyre and Charlotte Flair won the titular Battle Royals, but the night also featured four title matches that were all entertaining in their own ways.

    Becky Lynch and Bayley retained their Raw and SmackDown Women's Championships against Asuka and Lacey Evans, respectively, in two fun encounters that bookended Bray Wyatt retaining the universal title against Daniel Bryan in a Strap match.

    We also saw Andrade retain the United States title against Humberto Carrillo, Sheamus defeat Chad Gable in the pre-show and Roman Reigns overcome King Corbin in a Falls Count Anywhere match.

    Not only was it a fun show, but WWE also didn't stretch it out longer than needed as it has been known to do with some of its bigger PPVs. 

Most Memorable Moment: Edge Returns at the Royal Rumble

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    When Edge retired from pro wrestling in 2011 due to a serious neck injury, nobody thought he would return to the ring again. We were all wrong.

    The Rated-R Superstar worked hard to defy doctors and get himself cleared to return to part-time action. Somehow, WWE managed to keep this a secret from almost everybody until he returned at the 2020 Royal Rumble in January.

    The pop Edge received from the crowd when his music hit was louder than anything else we heard that night. It is one of those moments every single person in attendance will remember. 

    WWE can rarely keep big moments under wraps these days, so being able to genuinely surprise the fans is likely what helped this moment clinch the win.

    Other moments that received votes:

    • The Undertaker rides off into retirement.
    • Otis wins Money in the Bank.
    • The first WWE show without fans in attendance.

Best Feud: Edge vs. Randy Orton

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    We have seen some great feuds in WWE this year, but only two storylines in this category received votes and one of them blew the other out of the water.

    The Undertaker and AJ Styles received one vote while everyone else picked Randy Orton vs. Edge as the best feud of the year so far.

    This was a unique story for WWE because one of the people involved can only get physical occasionally, so it relied on promos, video packages and verbal exchanges to build the program between matches.

    Their Last Man Standing bout at WrestleMania 36 may have gone a little longer than necessary, but they more than made up for it with their stellar performance at Backlash.

    It was built up as the "greatest wrestling match ever," and while that will always be debatable, The Viper and The Rated-R Superstar exceeded all expectations to steal the show. 

Best Heel/Face Turn: Randy Orton

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    Randy Orton is a versatile performer who can be used against any kind of opponent, so WWE tends to turn him heel or babyface more often than a lot of others.

    He went into the Royal Rumble as a babyface but after delivering an RKO to Edge the following night on Raw, he became the biggest villain in the company.

    The Viper claimed he attacked his friend to keep him safe from somebody who would do worse to him given the opportunity, but that explanation did nothing to reduce Edge's anger.

    The way Orton has played this character has been different from his previous runs as a heel. He used to be an outright evil person who enjoyed being bad, but now he is playing the part of a bad guy who doesn't think he is the villain in this story. 

    The only other person to receive a vote in this category was Mandy Rose for her babyface turn as her relationship with Otis unfolded. 

Most Extreme Moment: Kevin Owens' WrestleMania Dive

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    Every so often, a WWE Superstar does something no normal person would ever consider even under the safest of circumstances. At WrestleMania 36, Kevin Owens had one of those moments.

    As he and Seth Rollins fought at ringside, KO put his opponent on top of the announce table and proceeded to climb to the top of the WrestleMania sign in the background.

    After talking a little trash like only he can, he threw himself off of the set to hit an elbow drop that drove The Monday Night Messiah through the table.

    It was one of the most memorable spots from the first night of The Show of Shows and a reminder that Owens is one of the best Superstars in WWE today.

    Other moments that received votes:

    • Shayna Baszler bites Becky Lynch's neck.
    • Lince Dorado's Elimination Chamber dive.
    • John Cena in the NWO during the Firefly Fun House match.

Best Promo/Verbal Exchange: Randy Orton and Beth Phoenix

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    Randy Orton and Edge have received a lot of attention for their work together, but the two people who won our Best Promo award are The Viper and Beth Phoenix.

    After Orton attacked her husband, Phoenix confronted him in a memorable segment that ended with The Glamazon taking the RKO.

    The emotion both displayed in this segment was outstanding. They were as convincing as anyone could be with a storyline like this, and it helped make the entire program better.

    This moment also solidified Orton as the villain. Even though Phoenix took the first shot, The Viper taking her out with his finisher turned everyone against him.

    Unlike the other categories with Orton and Edge, this one had more variety in the votes. Here is what else was nominated:

    • AJ Styles shoots on The Undertaker and Michelle McCool.
    • Sonya Deville from SmackDown on April 17.
    • Becky Lynch from Raw on January 13.
    • The Undertaker's return promo.

Biggest Surprise: Becky Lynch Is Pregnant

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    Some of the moments that received votes for Biggest Surprise were Edge's Royal Rumble return, Paul Heyman being removed as Raw executive director and Roman Reigns pulling out of WrestleMania 36.

    The moment that won the most votes, though, was the night after Money in the Bank when Becky Lynch announced Asuka had actually won the Raw Women's Championship at the PPV and not just a title shot.

    The Man also announced she was pregnant with her first child. She told Asuka to go be a warrior while she becomes a mother.

    For once, a champion was being forced to relinquish a title for a happy reason instead of an injury. The only person who didn't seem happy for her was Shayna Baszler, who delivered a scathing promo directed at Lynch following the news.

    While we will all miss The Irish Lass Kicker during her time away, we shouldn't expect this to be the last we hear from her. Lynch will return at some point to claim the title she never lost. 


    Who would you have voted for in each category? Share your thoughts in the comment section.