WWE and AEW Stars Who Had the Best and Worst Summer in 2020

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 2, 2020

WWE and AEW Stars Who Had the Best and Worst Summer in 2020

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    Credit: WWE.com

    With September comes the end of summer, which has been total chaos in both WWE and All Elite Wrestling.

    Championships changed hands, Retribution started their attacks, the ThunderDome was opened, The Elite lost one of its members, and many more changes to the landscape have shaped the past few months.

    For some wrestlers, it's been a great summer; others haven't been so lucky and have had a terrible run.

    Let's reassess everything that has happened from June onward and break down the AEW and WWE Superstars who have had the best and worst summers of 2020.

Honorable Mentions for Best

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Karrion Kross was having an amazing summer, which started when he squashed Tommaso Ciampa at TakeOver: In Your House on June 7 and then winning the NXT Championship from Keith Lee at TakeOver XXX.

    Unfortunately, he also injured his shoulder, which forced him to relinquish the title. Now, he'll be on the shelf for an indeterminate amount of time, which is an awful way to end three great months.

    Apollo Crews was also off to a good start on May 25 when he won the United States Championship from Andrade. While that was the biggest thing he had done in his career, he also missed an event and several weeks of action due to injuries and dropped the title at Sunday's Payback to Bobby Lashley.

    Shelton Benjamin has won the 24/7 Championship multiple times and is now part of a prominent faction, The Hurt Business. For the first time in years, he's not just sitting around waiting to lose to someone. If this trend continues, he could win more gold soon enough.

    Bronson Reed is another wrestler who has only had positives. He's taken a major step up in his career, going from someone mostly on the sidelines to a true NXT North American title contender.

    With AEW, kudos goes to Ivelisse and Diamante. They haven't been officially announced as members of the roster, but it seems guaranteed at this point since they managed to win the Women's Tag Team Tournament together.

    Matt Cardona is another with reasons to smile. After years of feeling undervalued in WWE, he was released and found himself a new home as part of the AEW roster. While he hasn't done much yet, he seems more passionate than he's been in a long while.

Best: Keith Lee

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Keith Lee entered the summer as one of the brightest prospects for NXT and walked out of it as a main event star on WWE's flagship show.

    On the July 8 edition of NXT's Great American Bash, The Limitless One defeated Adam Cole to win the NXT Championship and make history as the brand's first to hold two singles titles at the same time.

    No one beat Lee for the North American Championship, as he subsequently vacated the title to allow for others to get more opportunities.

    While he suffered a loss by dropping the NXT Championship so quickly to Karrion Kross, he bounced back two nights later by making his Raw debut, where he was immediately inserted into the WWE Championship hunt.

    It's a shame to see he's lost his old ring gear and entrance music, but if that's the sacrifice for beating Randy Orton at Payback, it's still a net positive.

    Lee's career skipped ahead several months, if not years, by going from NXT's top guy to almost immediately someone we can assume will win a world title within a year if his current trajectory holds.

Best and Now Worst: Bayley and Sasha Banks

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Up until these past two weeks, Bayley and Sasha Banks were dominating the summer in a way no others in the women's division could come close to.

    On June 5, The Golden Role Models won the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship from Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross.

    Since Bayley has also held the SmackDown Women's Championship since May 2019 (minus five days when she traded it back and forth with Charlotte Flair), the duo had nearly all the titles and set their sights on the Raw Women's Championship.

    Surprisingly, The Legit Boss defeated Asuka to capture that title, too, meaning Banks and Bayley held every possible championship they could on the main roster at the same time.

    They were sitting pretty, going between all shows with their belts as the definitive top tier of the division, until SummerSlam. There, The Empress of Tomorrow regained her Raw women's title from Banks.

    One week later at Payback, The Golden Role Models were dethroned as tag team champions, dropping the belts to Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler.

    Their summer was a wild ride that ended with a crash, and their friendship now seems doomed.

Best: Dark Order

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    Things have really picked up for The Dark Order in just the past few weeks alone.

    Mr. Brodie Lee destroyed Cody and took his TNT Championship on August 22. After pulling off that impressive feat, he and his crew decimated The Nightmare Family in an act of dominance hitherto unseen from the group.

    They also continue to gain new members, after recruiting Colt Cabana and Tay Conti to their ranks this summer.

    Conti and Anna Jay weren't able to win the Women's Tag Team Tournament, but they did make it past one round, which has boosted their stock and given them more notoriety.

    It's extremely likely The Dark Order will be victorious in their match at Saturday's All Out, as they'll be a more vicious and united front compared to their disjointed retribution-seeking opponents.

Best: Jeff Hardy

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Jeff Hardy accomplished two major things during this summer that put him firmly in our "best" column.

    First, he got the Sheamus monkey off his back when he defeated him in a Bar Fight on the July 24 episode of SmackDown. Winning that alone was a feat, but doing so in that environment was an added bonus for the character.

    In theory, it acts as a symbolic gesture that he's also taken another step toward conquering his addictions, which would be the biggest positive of all.

    To follow that up, The Charismatic Enigma won the Intercontinental Championship on August 21 for the fifth time when he defeated AJ Styles.

Best: Eddie Kingston

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    On the July 16 edition of AEW Dynamite, Eddie Kingston made his debut in a No Disqualification match for the TNT Championship.

    He came up short but impressed enough that he was granted a contract and became a new member of the AEW roster. That is a huge step up from being on the indies during these uncertain times.

    Now, Kingston has formed a faction with four of his friends and will be competing in the Casino Battle Royale match at Saturday's All Out.

    To go from not wrestling for several months to getting title opportunities, a stable job, leading a group and wrestling on AEW's biggest show of the year is a whirlwind of positives in just one month.

Best: Breezango

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    Credit: WWE.com

    On June 3, Fandango returned to action after many months on the shelf from two separate injuries. While he and Tyler Breeze have had some losses since then, it's been a largely wonderful three months.

    The biggest positive, of course, is that they've managed to win their first titles after a decade in WWE. On August 26, they defeated Imperium to claim the NXT Tag Team Championship.

    Their run has just started, so let's hope their fall is even better than their great end to the summer.

Best: Damian Priest

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Damian Priest had one of his most important matches ever at TakeOver: In Your House against Finn Balor. While he came up short, it turned his career around.

    His performance there was a game-changer and facilitated his babyface turn. Coming out of that, he started getting booked as a fan favorite with his head out of the clouds and his eyes on the prize.

    That prize was obtained when he became the new NXT North American champion at TakeOver XXX on August 22.

Honorable Mentions for Worst

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    Credit: WWE.com

    While Dominik Mysterio signed his contract to become a WWE Superstar and even scored his first victory, he, Rey Mysterio, Kevin Owens, Aleister Black and Humberto Carrillo have spent most of the summer in pain from attacks by Seth Rollins and Murphy.

    Mickie James returned from injury after a year, only to be treated like an afterthought. She received no entrance for her first match back, which took place in the background out of focus and ended with her losing.

    Ric Flair needs to be mentioned here. He was smiling wide when he and Randy Orton were taking out Christian and Big Show, but things went south when The Legend Killer turned his sights on The Nature Boy.

    Dexter Lumis was gaining momentum and heading toward the North American Championship ladder match, but he suffered an injury and was taken out of the contest. There's no telling when he'll be back or if he'll be able to regain that push.

    Robert Stone has also had a rough ride—quite literally—after being run over multiple times by Shotzi Blackheart's tank. Still, he signed a fantastic client in Mercedes Martinez, so it's not all been bad.

    On the AEW side, Chris Jericho lost to Orange Cassidy and had a $7,000 jacket ruined during the course of their feud.

    Darby Allin was taken out of commission at Double or Nothing in May and has spent the summer on the sidelines and trying to get back at Brian Cage and Ricky Starks...and failing.

Worst: Matt Hardy

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    What is going on with Matt Hardy lately? In the past month in particular, he's totally lost his mojo.

    AEW appears to have dropped his partnership with Private Party, as it doesn't seem to be a focus right now.

    He's no longer doing his multiple personas, either. Perhaps his heart isn't in it or it just isn't fun without an audience responding to it. In any case, he's just plain old Matt Hardy again, which feels like a step down.

    His feud with Sammy Guevara was sidelined for a bit, but now that it's returned, Hardy's taken a brutal chair to the head and lost a tables match.

    He may be able to turn things around at All Out when he fights Guevara in a Broken Rules match, but he will have to leave AEW forever if he loses that. If that happens, it will surely be the worst end to a rough summer.

Worst: Alexa Bliss and Braun Strowman

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Braun Strowman has been haunted by Bray Wyatt ever since winning the Universal Championship at WrestleMania 36.

    At first, he was able to defeat his former mentor, but it was clear they hadn't moved on from one another once the summer kicked in.

    On the second go-around, The Monster Among Men lost the Wyatt Swamp Fight after being psychologically  tortured and thrown into the water.

    He emerged from the dark depths a twisted version of himself that is more enraged than ever and managed to lose his friend, Alexa Bliss, in the process, before dropping the Universal Championship and taking another pin at Payback.

    Bliss has also had a bad go-around. She was pushed aside by Nikki Cross and left vulnerable to an attack from The Fiend, which has seemingly played with her mind.

    Now, she's not only lost Strowman as an ally, but she's also started pushing Cross away and is getting more twisted with each show.

Worst: The Forgotten Sons

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Just as The Forgotten Sons were building momentum as newcomers to the SmackDown roster, one tweet from Jaxson Ryker on June 1 seemed to put an end to it.

    Right after that, WWE pulled the trio from television and stopped filming their vignettes that were hyping them up to potentially be the next big thing in the blue brand's tag team division.

    They haven't been seen or referenced since. Not even Steve Cutler or Wesley Blake have made appearances, even after expressing their disagreement with Ryker's viewpoint.

    Truly, they have become Forgotten Sons once again, as the longer this goes on, the less likely anyone will remember who they are. Whenever they return—if it happens at all—they'll essentially have to start all over again.

Worst: Sonya Deville

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    Credit: WWE.com

    In her storyline, Sonya Deville's hatred of Mandy Rose drove her to the point where she was so sick of seeing her that she put her career in WWE on the line in a Loser Leaves WWE match at SummerSlam.

    For her character, her defeat at The Biggest Party of the Summer was the worst-case scenario. Instead of taking down Rose and putting her in her place to show how superior she is, all she did was lose her own job.

    The storylines pale in comparison to the truth behind that storyline, though.

    Daria Berenato was the subject of an attempted kidnapping, which was the reason her storyline shifted. Originally, she had been scheduled to just lose her hair, but the plans were changed.

    Had this not happened, it's unlikely her character would be on a leave of absence right now, as she was just starting to tap into some of her best character work yet.

    Hopefully, there are much brighter days ahead for Berenato in and out of WWE soon enough.

Worst: The Elite

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    Credit: All Elite Wrestling

    The Elite just lost one of its members when The Young Bucks were screwed out of a potential title opportunity at All Out after "Hangman" Adam Page interfered and cost them their match.

    Following that, Matt and Nick Jackson were justifiably confused and angry, so they excommunicated Page from the group.

    This will undoubtedly create even more tension between him and his tag team partner, Kenny Omega, which hasn't been the most stable foundation anyway. Things started rough for them months ago and they've been getting rockier over time.

    Omega has been going overboard attacking people, and he's likely to lose the tag titles this weekend when Page either fully turns on his former friends or is conflicted enough to not be able to perform well enough to overcome FTR.

    Also, if you count Cody as still being in The Elite—at least as an ally—he's currently out of action after losing the TNT Championship and being humiliated and demolished by The Dark Order.

    Between all the in-fighting and the championships slipping from their fingers, it hasn't been a good summer for The Elite.

             

    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.