Promotion Of The Year – HOWIE Awards 2020

For the next HOWIE award of 2020 we asked our panel to give us their wrestling promotion of the year. Will they go for WWE, AEW, Impact, NXT, NJPW or something else?

This is the fifth 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 promotion of the year.

Over December we will be presenting our staff writers choices for ten different awards in association with Wrestle Merch Central. At the same time we will offer you, our readers, the chance to vote on your pick from our shortlist. At the same time, we hope 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: All Elite Wrestling

FTR & Tully Blanchard
Credit: AEW

This year more than any other, every promotion on the planet, big and small, deserves immense credit for how they have adapted their business models to meet the challenge of the pandemic.

Every single one worked hard to put out as exciting a product as possible in the face of challenges that would previously have been impossible to foresee and even harder to work through. Everyone involved should be extremely proud.

Having to pick one though, I am going with AEW. Simply because it feels like they have been a slight step ahead of most in the innovations they have implemented to keep their train moving. It is hard to believe they had been in business mere months before they had to shut out fans.

Sure they have the advantages and resources of an owner ever richer than Vince McMahon but money is no good without strategy and grit. And AEW displayed that in spades whilst putting out a compelling weekly product, building new stars and bringing a freshness to pro-wrestling storytelling that feels like it is here to stay.

On This Day In Wrestling History… July 31st

A brilliant first full calendar year but it is so hard not to just cop out and say ‘Every single damn one of them’ to answer this question.

Cameron Bennett, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist: NXT

Keith Lee - NXT Champion
Credit: WWE

It was a toss up for me between both of the Wednesday Night brands. Both have been on fire pushing each other to one up and go one better but I’ve been an NXT guy since their best promo guy was Sylvester LeFort so only through pure favouritism, NXT is my choice.

Chris Napier, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist: All Elite Wrestling

Sting And Darby Allin
Credit: AEW

It feels like a marky thing to say, but even when the product is spotty and some angles are hit & miss, and even with the clear disruption to long term stories caused by the pandemic, AEW are the promotion that most made wrestling fun for me in 2020.

Sure, WWE have the most content, NJPW brought the workrate and crowds, but of any promotion, AEW had me the most invested in their characters and angles. Stadium Stampede, Moxley as champ, the awkward run of Omega & Hangman, the rise of Eddie Kingston, Darby Allin & Orange Cassidy, Jericho & MJF trying to out heel each other, the Dark Order actually becoming compelling and arguably the best tag division in wrestling.

Sure, there are missteps and the women’s division is in a lamentable state but AEW almost always make me smile, and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

Chris Hatch, Hooked On Wrestling Editor

Shortlist Pick: All Elite Wrestling

Jon Moxley
Credit: All Out

My take on this is probably going to be from a different angle to many.

Both AEW and WWE have done incredible work to keep producing television the way they have during such a trying year. What puts Khan’s men over the line for me is the logic behind having AEW Dark.

Whilst many in wrestling have been struggling for work, they created a format that created additional low cost content whilst providing independent wrestlers with an additional source of income. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone, and along with enjoyable programming has made them my favourite company over the last 12 months.

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Liam Happe, Hooked On Wrestling Features Editor

Shortlist Pick: New Japan Pro Wrestling

Credit NJPW

WWE and AEW offered plenty of great stuff, even despite the circumstances. However they also both scored numerous PR own goals and squandered their fair share of opportunities. NJPW, meanwhile, recovered faster from the pandemic (albeit thanks partly to not having the same Government as the two American promotions), delivered consistency in their shows and also managed to cleverly branch their US-based talent into a different entity under the same umbrella.

Ash Rose, Editor, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: WWE

Edge Royal Rumble Return
Credit: WWE

I admit I’m biased, but for all they do ‘wrong’ there’s no company that gives me ‘the feels’ like WWE. On Raw you’ve had Drew’s emergence as a superstar and the delightful resurgence of MVP and his Hurt Business. SmackDown has showcased Roman’s return and some of the best ring work we’ve seen on TV this year and then there’s NXT, which continues to deliver quality TakeOver after TakeOver on such a ridiculously high and consistent basis. It’s still the best because when it delivers, it delivers like no other company on earth.

James Dee, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: All Elite Wrestling

The Young Bucks
Credit: AEW

AEW Wins this hands down, I don’t really watch it aside from dipping in and out but the fact that they managed to set up a whole company, then go through a pandemic with no fans and still come out swinging on the other side of it is something to be admired without even considering the rightful acclaim they’ve earned with the product itself.

They tried to box with God and while they didn’t hit the knock-out they definitely bloodied his nose and that deserves celebrating.

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Justin Czerwonka, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: All Elite Wrestling

Mike Tyson & Chris Jericho
Photo Credit: AEW

I tend to be more critical of AEW than others. I think people aren’t willing to criticise them for stuff as much as they should. But there is no doubt to me that AEW created the most buzz in pro wrestling over the last year. They have put on the best shows consistently from TV to PPVs. And they adapted quicker to the changes because of the pandemic than the WWE.

Gary Tait, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Impact Wrestling

Eric Young
Credit: Impact Wrestling

The most consistent show of the year has been Impact Wrestling. It’s having its best year and will end it strong with the partnership with AEW. It’s coming up roses for the former TNA Wrestling nowadays.

Lewis Brown, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: All Elite Wrestling

Kenny Omega With Don Callis
Credit: AEW

I mean did you really expect me to pick any other? AEW this year have passed their “it’s cool because it’s new” phase and has been constantly topping the key demographic on Wednesday nights, as Chris Jericho will happily tell you. Not only the product itself, but the stars it is creating, the AEW action figures that sold out worldwide, and their newly announced AEW games that are being released soon, they have just been on the ball with everything this year and with Sting now debuting, they have really ended the year strong.

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What was the wrestling promotion of 2020?

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