There’s no need to recap why 2020 was such a messed-up year, and there was certainly enough awful stuff happening off-screen that could qualify as “the worst in wrestling”. This past year was no doubt the strangest in wrestling history, with wrestling promotions having to figure out ways to run shows without a live audience.
Some of their ideas were innovative.
Others were just dull.
And at least ten were worthy of taking home this year’s Gooker Award.
Eye for an Eye
A basic rule for wrestling promoters is never to promise something you can’t deliver. It was therefore a major unforced error for WWE to build Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins’s feud around a match that could only end when one man lost an eyeball, which no one believed for a second would actually happen. In the end, it was Rey-Rey who lost his eye, which WWE’s effects department simulated with state-of-the-art technology: a googly eye. Doctors were later able to pop his peeper back in its socket.
When WWE signed former football great and giant goofball Rob Gronkowski, it made news on sports outlets around the country – even ones WWE didn’t leak it to! His first duty in the company was to serve the dubious role of “host” of the first-ever Wrestlemania with no live audience. Two months later, he ditched his WWE gig to return to the NFL. Despite the massive hype, Gronk’s run will be remembered solely for winning the 24/7 title and for making an elderly Vince McMahon jump off a balcony.
Jeff Hardy, drunk driver
In perhaps WWE’s most tasteless angle since the time in 2008 when Jeff Hardy was found unconscious, Jeff Hardy was found unconscious… again. This time, he was in a parking lot reeking of alcohol, having apparently run over Elias. This led to months of accusations from Sheamus, who mocked Jeff Hardy’s real-life history of alcohol abuse and DUI charges, culminating in a match held in a bar. Along the way, Jeff splashed his own piss in Sheamus’s face in a scene lifted verbatim from 2006.
Lana vs. Tables
After inexplicably transforming into the most self-centered, one-dimensional character imaginable (for which she nearly won last year’s Gooker Award), it was time for Lana to turn babyface and become a huge star. That meant playing up her lack of wrestling skill, winning a Survivor Series match by default, and being put through the announce table every single week for months by Nia Jax. The pay-off? A fluke win by Lana on Raw, followed by yet another table bump.
Matt Hardy vs. Sammy Guevara
In what may be a WrestleCrap first, two brothers are each nominated for the Gooker Award, with both Hardy Boys up for the honor this year. The most cursed feud of 2020 saw Matt Hardy and Sammy Guevara take turns bleeding buckets from errant chair shots. The program “peaked” with a last man standing match, where Matt Hardy fell ten feet and bounced his head off concrete, knocking him out. As if the situation weren’t bad enough, Hardy had vowed to leave AEW forever if he lost, leading to one of the most suspect medical decisions in wrestling history as Matt Hardy was allowed to finish the match.
Money in the Bank
How could WWE make the Money in the Bank match stand out from the other ten or so ladder matches of 2020? With ha-ha-larity, of course! Set at Titan Tower, the men’s and women’s matches were contested simultaneously and didn’t make a lick of sense. As WWE’s answer to a Friedberg-Seltzer film, the “action” was frequently interrupted by pointless cameos from the likes of Brother Love and some dork in Doink makeup. Other “highlights” included a 10-minute elevator ride, a mad scavenger hunt for a briefcase that was always supposed to be on the roof, and the apparent deaths of two superstars chucked off the top of the building. Even Otis’s surprise victory would be nullified later in the year.
Over the past decade or two, WWE had definitely lost its edge (as well as most of its viewers). What Raw needed to pop big ratings and break up the monotony of its three-hour broadcasts was something new, something cool, something modern and groundbreaking to appeal to the youth of today. That something was Shane McMahon, who presented Raw Underground, where a group of unknowns worked MMA matches in a warehouse with hip-hop beats dubbed in at all times. It might have actually looked “underground” had Kevin Dunn not stationed five cameras in there. The giant Dabba-Kato emerged as the star of the short-lived segments before getting knocked out by Braun Strowman.
A thinly-veiled Antifa analogue, this supposedly terrifying new faction arrived in the summer of 2020 to set some small fires, cut up the ring ropes, and wreak acceptable amounts of hell. Despite sporting dumb names and even dumber masks, the faction’s true identities were obvious to anyone who watched NXT. Slapjack, T-BAR, and the rest of the revolutionaries were dead set on destroying WWE, so it was just a bit odd that the company signed them to contracts. The well-behaved band of rioters remained exclusive to the Raw brand, where they lost almost every single match.
The Swamp Fight
It took less than four months for WWE’s cinematic matches to wear out their welcome. For the main event of “The Horrow Show at Extreme Rules”, WWE threw in every horror cliché known to man. For starters, Braun Strowman was attacked by… himself… and woke up chained to a chair, where he suffered the most terrible fate of all: a five minute monologue from Bray Wyatt. After fending off fake members of the Wyatt Family and hallucinations of the Mixed Match Challenge, Braun succumbed to Bray himself, who emerged from the lake (ahem) reincarnated as The Fiend. The “match” ended when the Universal Champion drowned in knee-deep water. Fortunately for him, his title was not on the line.
Viking Raiders vs. Street Profits
The Viking Raiders wanted the Street Profits’ tag team titles so badly, they challenged them to every sport under the sun: golf, bowling, basketball, and, I think, wrestling. The two rival teams were so pumped for their title match at Backlash, they got into a desperately wacky fifteen-minute backstage brawl before it could even start. After nut-shots, three flashbacks, and a run-in by ninjas for absolutely no reason, the brawl ended in a dumpster full of garbage (symbolic) and a tentacle monster (not symbolic).
Which of these embarrassments earns the title of The Worst in Wrestling for 2020? You decide. Voting is open until Friday, January 15…so get to crackin’! (You know, like an egg.)