Title Change Of The Year – HOWIE Awards 2020

Our HOWIE end of year awards are here to showcase the best in WWE, NXT, AEW and beyond. First up is Title Change Of The Year. Check out our shortlist and vote for your pick.

HOWIE Title Change Of The Year

As we roll towards the end of the most challenging year in wrestling history, it is time to recognise some of the excellent performers and moments over the last 12 months. Whilst it is easy to dismiss a year that took place in front of the backdrop of a global pandemic rather than fans, if you dig a little deeper you will find some incredible performances worth celebrating.

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: Kenny Omega beats Jon Moxley – AEW Dynamite: Winter Is Coming, December 2nd 2020

If WrestleMania had happened in front of 80,000 people as planned, this award would be a no-brainer. McIntryre over Lesnar would win it in a landslide. As it was, it was pre-recorded and met with total silence in those early days of WWE trying manically to get content out there despite pandemic restrictions.

Instead I am going to go with Kenny Omega over Jon Moxley for the AEW World Championship. While not quite being a classic match, it felt like an epic moment. Omega truly cemented himself as a heel by first goading Mox into keeping the match sportsmanlike before resorting to a bit of good old fashioned cheating to win himself.

Moxley has been fantastic this year and Omega has been doing great work but this is the moment that The Cleaner truly arrived in AEW.

Chris Hatch, Hooked On Wrestling Editor

Shortlist Pick: Drew McIntyre beats Brock Lesnar – WrestleMania 36

Credit: WWE

A fairly standard pick, but only because it was a hallmark of the early days of an era which wasn’t anywhere near standard. Many were still adapting to the new, empty surroundings for WrestleMania and it often felt like that. When it came to Drew, you didn’t just believe that there was a crowd in attendance but you were part of it. He had a physical encounter which more importantly was believable and engaging. ‘The Beast Incarnate’ did no more or less than was expected, but that didn’t matter. It was McIntyre’s night, he made it feel special and ran with the proverbial ball for the rest of the year.

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Liam Happe, Hooked On Wrestling Features Editor

Shortlist Pick: Keith Lee wins the NXT Championship at NXT Great American Bash Week 2

Keith Lee
Credit: WWE

A big match with a big feel sees a big reign end, followed by a big moment for the new champ (who happens to be quite the big lad himself). Lee’s reign and loss of the title obviously couldn’t match this, but with his call-up inevitable for a long time that was never on the cards. That crowning moment was everything great about wrestling, at least.

Cameron Bennett, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Leon Ruff defeats Johnny Gargano – NXT, November 11th 2020

It’s Razor Ramon Vs The 1-2-3 Kid in the age of spoilers and it was a total and utter shock! In a year where pretty much every title change has been well telegraphed this one took everyone by surprise and I absolutely loved it.

Chris Napier, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Drew McIntyre beats Brock Lesnar – WrestleMania 36

Not just because I’m Scottish, but McIntyre’s whole story of going from his release to WWE champion is just beautiful. I so dearly wish that his big win had come in front of a full Mania crowd in a non-pandemic year, but I’m sure he’ll get the chance to hold the belt in front of paying fans soon enough.

Ash Rose, Editor, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Kenny Omega beats Jon Moxley – AEW Dynamite: Winter Is Coming, December 2nd 2020

I’m not a big AEW guy, but there’s two reasons I think this title change was the game changer of 2020. Firstly it got the belt off Jon Moxley, who’s title reign has been just as vanilla as pretty much everything Dean Ambrose did in WWE. It was time the belt came off him. Secondly, it was the on-screen catalyst for the potentially groundbreaking link-up between AEW and Impact. How or why this combination came about we don’t yet know, but it’s got me hooked and intrigued to see what role Omega, Callis and everyone else plays in the story.

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James Dee, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Asuka awarded Raw Women’s Title

This title change was something special, Asuka went through a completely insane Money in the Bank match starting at the ground floor of WWE’s corporate headquarters and won the thing by pulling down the briefcase off a rig set up on the roof (there’s a lot of fun in that match check it out if you missed it).

The next night on Raw, Becky Lynch is in the ring, she reveals the MITB briefcase on a podium, Lynch beckons Asuka to the ring. When Lynch unlocks the case it contains the Raw Women’s Championship. Lynch tells Asuka that she couldn’t be champion anymore and that the Ladder match was actually for the title, Asuka goes crazy dancing around the ring, meanwhile we all fear the worst, Becky is relinquishing the title without a fight, it’s Edge and Daniel Bryan all over again.

But The Lass Kicker throws a curveball, Becky’s pregnant and it’s something that judging by Asuka’s reaction she didn’t know and that moment a genuine warmth and happiness from one friend to another was worth any amount of 3 counts. I’m not ashamed to admit it when Becky said “You go be a warrior, because I’m going to go be a mother” it brought a tear to my eye, it made my partner full on ugly cry with happiness.

I can hear you typing now “BUT IT WASN’T A MATCH! IT DOESN’T COUNT! GO BACK AND PICK OMEGA WINNING THE AEW TITLE LIKE YOU SHOULD’VE!!!”. First of all, turn off your caps lock, it makes you look like an idiot. Secondly, look at that headline it says Title CHANGE of the year and no title switch changed the landscape of a division and brought the feels like this one did.

Making babies is 5* (6* in the Tokyo Dome).

Justin Czerwonka, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Tetsuya Naito wins the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 14

Credit: NJPW

This one was easy for me. When I first started watching New Japan Pro Wrestling a few years ago, Naito became my favorite character. I was disappointed beyond belief when he lost to Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 12. So seeing him capture both titles in the Tokyo Dome popped me. I celebrated watching at 6 in the morning, and it washed away the sting of the Buffalo Bills Playoff loss the day before. It was a great crowning moment for Naito after all of these years, and a reward for his most loyal fans.

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Gary Tait, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Roman Reigns wins WWE Universal Championship at SummerSlam

This is the one. I am giving it to Roman Reigns winning the universal title. It has kicked of arguably the best heel run in years and promoted Reigns to the top talent tier he was destined to be.

Lewis Brown, Hooked On Wrestling Contributor

Shortlist Pick: Keith Lee wins the NXT Championship at NXT Great American Bash Week 2

This was just the ultimate feel-good title win of the year to be honest. Keith Lee, who had made a massive name for himself last year at Survivor Series, then went on to win the North American Championship and really it was only a matter of time until he got his chance at the NXT title.

Something that people may not have seen coming however, is Lee defeating Cole for the NXT title while still being North American champion to become the first NXT double-champion. He subsequently forfeited the North American title and lost the NXT title only to be called up to Raw and has since had a somewhat dominant run.

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What was the best title change of 2020?

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