We’ve got so many wrestlers to be thankful for this year that one column just wasn’t enough! If you missed 10-6, go ahead and check that out, then come back here and finish the list. Here are the wrestlers I’ve been most thankful in 2019…
5. Chris Jericho
Is Jericho in the conversation for Greatest of All Time? All I know for sure is that he’s an entertaining SOB wherever he goes. He’s left WWE behind and now he’s the youngest champion in AEW history. Sure, AEW would probably be just fine without him, but just think of all the things he’s contributed since coming on board:
-A little bit of the bubbly
-Losing the AEW title belt at an Outback Steakhouse
-The Spanish God
-Killing the We the People chant
-Name-dropping Juventud Guerrera to MJF
I know I’m forgetting like eleventy billion things, but Jericho has been on fire in 2019. AEW’s willingness to let him do whatever has led to brilliance that we can all be thankful for.
4. Kofi Kingston
The problem when you do really good things at the beginning of the year: nobody remembers them at the end of the year when it’s time for awards. Kofi’s year definitely peaked early on. Mustafa Ali was supposed to get the big push but got hurt, so Kofi was inserted into the Elimination Chamber match. That was when everybody decided that they wanted Kofi Kingston to be WWE Champion. WWE, to their credit, went with it and made us watch Kofi in multiple gauntlet matches so we could get behind him. Whether the whole story was lucked into or not, it was still one of the best stories in WWE in recent memory.
The title reign itself…eh, what can ya do. Maybe not job him out to Brock in 5 seconds and make him run back to the tag ranks like a scalded dog afterwards. Nevertheless, I am thankful to have witnessed the build to Kofi’s title win, and the match itself. WWE actually gave the fans what they really wanted.
3. Rhea Ripley
There are few things I’m more thankful for than when I’m actually right about something. I told you all just about a year ago that Rhea was going to be a pretty big deal. In fact, I said she would be the NXT Man. Twelve months later, she’s on pace to be exactly that.
After a successful run as NXT UK’s Women’s Champion, Ripley made the move to Orlando and immediately became one of the top contenders to Shayna Baszler’s title. Few people have seemed like a believable contender since Shayna won the strap, but Rhea’s stood out since the moment she arrived. Baszler couldn’t beat her the one time they met in Full Sail, and Ripley almost single-handedly defeated Team Baszler at War Games. So much for that idea of everybody jockeying for position to be the top contender. Rhea’s claimed that for herself. I figure she’ll continue to prove me right in the weeks & months to come.
2. Jon Moxley
— Jon Moxley (@JonMoxley) May 1, 2019
Who has become more interesting over the past year? Maybe you were really interested in that Seth Rollins/Dean Ambrose feud last year that nobody involved really cared about, but we’ve all learned throughout the course of 2019 that WWE were the worst possible people to have Mox’s career in their hands. He wants to do more than they will allow. Dean Ambrose never lived up to our desires. He was supposed to change the game in WWE, but he never did.
Maybe what we need is Jon Moxley to push the boundaries. He went to New Japan to prove himself, and he certainly did that. Now he’s with All Elite Wrestling, and I can’t imagine anybody within that leadership asking him to tone it down. He certainly hasn’t. People like Darby Allin that end up losing to him can’t complain, he’s getting everybody associated with him more over than they were before.
What will Jon Moxley do in 2020? I’m thankful that we get to wonder just how far he will go.
Honorable Mention: Tony Schiavone
Uh, it’s more like a LATE life crisis 😀😉 https://t.co/s1MA5QXzrM
— Tony Schiavone (@tonyschiavone24) November 7, 2019
Tony wasn’t involved in pro wrestling for over fifteen years. People spent most of those years crapping on his WCW work and rating him pretty low as an announcer. Bobby Heenan buried him as a person and we were willing to take his word for it. Tony was doing other things in college sports & minor league baseball & seemed to have left wrestling in the rear view mirror. Then he started doing a podcast about wrestling & got the bug again.
AEW’s commentary was a work in progress, and still is in a lot of ways. The chemistry wasn’t really there with Jim Ross, Excalibur & Alex Marvez, but adding Tony to the mix made it ten times better. It’s a completely different Tony than we became accustomed to in late-period WCW. This guy is super excited about everything and his excitement is contagious. This isn’t a guy just there to get a paycheck. He loves Cody, tope suicidas, hardcore weapons, basically everything that AEW is becoming known for. It’s been great to see Schiavone flip the script on his reputation.
1. The Rhodes Family
Pro wrestling feels a lot more exciting than it has over the past couple of years. Regardless of where you come down on the whole “Wednesday Night War” thing, whether you’re pro-NXT or pro-AEW, love both or hate both (HOW CAN YOU HATE BOTH?), whether TV ratings are a dying metric or not, you can’t deny that the past two months of Wednesdays have injected some serious life into pro wrestling fandom. Sure, a lot of the arguments are pretty stupid, but it’s more fun than the arguments over whether Raw was good or bad that particular week that we were having throughout 2018.
With all due respect to Kenny Omega, Nick & Matt Jackson, who have done just as much behind the scenes, Cody has become the face of All Elite Wrestling to the general public. It’s a great story. The son of a son of a plumber following in his father’s footsteps and helping run a company hoping to be competition to the McMahons. The type of fan drawn to AEW is bound to get behind somebody like that, and Cody has become arguably the most popular wrestler in the company. His feuds have been among the highlights of AEW programming, and I expect no different from his upcoming dispute with the sinister MJF.
I gotta give the rest of the Rhodes some love too. Always great to see Dustin doing his thing, he certainly looks like he’s got a lot left in the tank. And of course Brandi always provides us with a lot to be thankful for.
Don’t touch me (I’m a real live wire) 🥀🖤 pic.twitter.com/eot3AKrnot
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) October 28, 2019