This is the sixth category of the first annual HOWIE Awards – celebrating the very best in wrestling in 2020. Read our writers picks and vote on an overall winner in our poll at the end of this story.
For today’s award we have asked our team to create a shortlist for the breakout star of the year.
Over the rest of December we will be presenting our staff writers choices for ten different awards. At the same time we will offer you, our readers, the chance to vote on your pick from our shortlist. As well as that, why don’t you offer your alternatives via Twitter? Join the conversation by tagging us on @HO_Wrestling and using the hashtag #HOWIES20.
You can see the already announced categories to review and vote HERE. We will announce the overall reader voted winners on New Years Day.
Paul Benson, Hooked On Wrestling Tribal Chief
Shortlist Pick: Drew McIntyre
It is hard to go anywhere else other than the Sexy Scotsman for this one. His journey is by now well documented so I won’t bother recapping it. That said, he was just starting to lose the momentum he came back to WWE with this year and it is to his immense credit that as soon as the powers that be gave him the ball he ran with it, got the touchdown, grabbed the ball, converted it himself and then did it all over again.
The biggest compliment I can pay him is that from the first moment of his push, back at the Royal Rumble, McIntyre felt like he was in the main event. Not an experiment, not a stop gap but a genuine top of the card, name on the marquee star. It will be fascinating to see what heights he reaches once fans get chance to cheer him in the flesh.
Cameron Bennett, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist: The Fans
So, this is an odd one, I know you’re all expecting Orange Cassidy or Drew McIntyre again but no, I’m gonna have to go with you, me, all of us.
The fans, because if this year has taught me anything about wrestling it’s just not as fun when I’m not sharing it with friends, be it the people in the pub (there’s that cheap plug again) friends round to my house for WrestleMania or even the people in the arena. So, when this is all over, everyone round to mine for the next show. Stay safe out there and I’ll hopefully see you all soon!
Chris Napier, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist: Eddie Kingston
It’s been a good year for elevation, with the likes of Keith Lee and Rhea Ripley stepping up in WWE as well as Darby Allin and Hangman Page continuing their rise in AEW. However the real breakout story for me is Eddie Kingston. A long time peripatetic veteran, Kingston competed for numerous promotions in the pre-lockdown part of the year before his ‘one time deal’ against Cody Rhodes in July.
One promo, one awesome match and suddenly Kingston seemed like the hottest property in wrestling. Parlaying his awesome promo skills and willingness to endure pain into a compelling world title feud with Jon Moxley and guidance of a prominent stable. Kingston has gone from indy journeyman to key player in a top company in 2020.
Chris Hatch, Hooked On Wrestling Editor
Shortlist Pick: Orange Cassidy
He may be marmite, but I’m an absolute sucker for the fun side of the wrestling business. Not only has he brought that, but through careful management he’s slowly built up his repertoire making him more than a one trick pony as many expected he would be.
To make your character and merchandise so popular takes something special, and whilst he will have to change even more to be a top of the card guy he has solidified himself as a mainstay this year.
Liam Happe, Hooked On Wrestling Features Editor
Shortlist Pick: Orange Cassidy
The mainstream debut of his gimmick in AEW went down a treat with live audiences, while everyone else saw endless opportunity. To some, the opportunity came in the form of marketing him and slowly building him up in a gradual, believable way as a very capable performer.
To others, the opportunity came in slagging him off every week in order to drive traffic to a podcast, due to actual wrestling work drying up in a completely self-inflicted manner. Whichever way everyone went about it, they all gravitated to Cassidy, who has been a great wrestler in a number of roles for a number of years and now has the chance to truly make a name for himself in a, ahem, ‘fresh’ way for national wrestling TV.
Ash Rose, Editor, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist Pick: Shotzi Blackheart
A bit of a left-field choice maybe, but from the moment she eliminated Shayna Baszler in an NXT Battle Royal in January, the year has got bigger and better for Shotzi, culminating in being the captain of a War Games team ahead of the NXT Women’s Champion and Rhea Ripley.
Her unique look and character saw her become the face of NXT Halloween Havoc and it’s surely only a matter of time before she becomes THE legit threat to Io Shari’s title reign.
James Dee, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist Pick: Dominik Mysterio
This was a tight race between Pat McAfee and Dominik Mysterio and while Pat McAfee has shined as the slimy Million Dollar Man for the new age, Dominik edges him out by virtue of having more matches at a higher level.
Getting a program with “The Monday Night Messiah” Seth Rollins as your first feud is as good as gold dust these days. Not only that but it turns out Dominik could go in the ring too (his ‘Papi’ being legendary Mexican wrestler Eddie Guerrero will have something to do with that, naturally…) and he more than held his own against Rollins and Murphy. The young Mysterio has more than shown that he has a lot to offer in the business in the coming years.
Justin Czerwonka, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist Pick: Hangman Page
When Page received an AEW title shot on their very first PPV, I thought it was too early for him. I questioned putting someone with little character like Page in the main event. Over the last year, Page has easily become my favourite wrestler in AEW.
He took the spotlight from Kenny Omega in their tag team and his ‘no craps given’ drinking character was must see TV every week. He went from a guy I thought squandered his potential to a guy who I think might have the most potential to be the next big star in all of pro wrestling.
Gary Tait, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist Pick: Jey Uso
I know he has been in WWE for multiple years as a tag team wrestler and when the Usos turned heel a few years back, it really made them stand out and become possibly one of the best tag teams in the last 10 years. With that Said, Jey Uso, for me, has been the breakout star of 2020. Without him, the Reigns angle doesn’t work as quickly as it has. He has been an important cog in that wheel and put on some stellar matches. He wins it for me.
Lewis Brown, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor
Shortlist Pick: Orange Cassidy
This one was an incredibly tough choice. From options such as Leon Ruff, Shotzi Blackheart and even John Silver but none have really proven themselves and silenced the haters more than Orange Cassidy. Starting all the way back in February, his match against PAC at AEW Revolution stood out on a show that was already fantastic.
Fast forward a few months and we see him in a great feud, holding his own both in-ring and on promo with 30-year veteran Chris Jericho (a feud that he won no less) and there is no one else for me that broke through barriers more than Cassidy