top of page
2023 Year End Awards

For the ninth straight year, Wrestling Merchandise and Memories presents its Year End Awards, in which we ask our writers to vote in a number of key categories. We've also included how writers previously voted below each category.

Match Of The Year

Adam Zimmerman: Kenny Omega, Adam Page, The Young Bucks and Kota Ibushi vs. Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler Yuta, Konosuke Takeshita and Pac (Blood and Guts): As I mentioned elsewhere, War Games was always my favorite match of the year growing up. Blood and Guts is like an ultra-violent version of War Games that takes to another level so I'll choose that.

The Big RybowskiKenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay (Forbidden Door). Probably a little biased because I got to see this one live. The crowd was completely wild from beginning to end in what was a brutal, bloody, spot-fest. I didn’t love the Don Callis interference near the end (especially because he returned with seemingly no explanation after previously getting kicked out), but I can’t think of a match I enjoyed more this year. It had a special match feel to it and it didn’t disappoint. 

Canadian Bulldog: Kenny Omega vs. Will Ospreay (Forbidden Door). It's not very often I get to see a Match Of The Year live and in person, but that's exactly what happened when AEW and New Japan ventured to Toronto for its first international pay-per-view. For nearly 40 minutes, Omega and Ospreay put on a clinic that mixed incredible technical wrestling with some bloody and brutal spots. Add in the drama of the pro-Omega Canadian crowd, the title change, and the constant interference from Don Callis, and this one became an all-timer for me.

Mike Rickard: MJF vs. Adam Cole (All In). So many good matches this year including Bad Bunny vs Damien Priest, Rhea Ripley vs Charlotte Flair (WrestleMania XXXIX), and many others. However, the match that told an incredible story and was fantastic in the ring was the MJF vs Adam Cole AEW World Championship Match at All In.

Previous Match Of The Year Winners

Male Wrestler Of The Year

Adam Zimmerman: MJF. I'm picking him because even though I don't always tune in nowadays, I see articles and hear about what's happening in the wrestling world. He seems to be at the top of his game right now and I've been a fan since I first saw him. He was cutting a promo on Bret Hart in the ring and this was not long after Hart was attacked at the Hall Of Fame ceremony. When MJF entered the ring and shouted, "Look out! Behind you!" I thought, "Okay, this guy is entertaining. I'm gonna keep my eye on him".

The Big Rybowski: GuntherI might be going WAY off the page with this pick, but my vote goes to the Ring General himself, Gunther. I just really enjoyed what he brought this year both in and out of the ring. It seemed like his matches were the most anticipated at every PLE, with his Wrestlemania match vs. Sheamus and Drew stealing the show. He also was great in this year’s Royal Rumble match. Out of the ring, I thought Gunther did a great job of building his character and emerging as a top star. 


Canadian Bulldog: Seth Freakin' Rollins. Seth Rollins has become the modern-day Bret Hart, proving he can be a fighting champion and having great matches with pretty much anyone on the roster. This year alone, Rollins has had bangers with Logan Paul, AJ Styles, Finn Balor, Drew McIntyre, Shinsuke Nakamura and Jey Uso. Now that he has a World Championship to defend, he can be even more of a top guy.

Mike Rickard: Cody Rhodes. This is a tough choice because several wrestlers stepped up to the plate. MJF in AEW, Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins in the WWE. All three worked hard to carry their companies in respective ways. Seth Rollins brought respectability back to the world title. MJF kept fans on the edge of their seats with his title
defenses and overdelivered on promos as always. Nonetheless, Cody Rhodes did it all, even without a title. His connection with the fans is amazing and his work in the ring is solid.

Previous Male Wrestler Of The Year Winners

Female Wrestler Of The Year

Adam Zimmerman: Thunder Rosa. I'm going with Thunder Rosa because she always really impressed me when I saw her in action in the NWA a couple of years ago and I know she's still actively working so I'm assuming she's still quite impressive in her matches.

The Big Rybowski: Rhea Ripley. Hard to argue against the year Rhea Ripley had. She did a great job taking the top spot and leading the Women’s division for the better part of the year. Her work with Dirty Dom and Judgment Day has also been great. 

Canadian Bulldog: Rhea Ripley. Ever since the Royal Rumble, Rhea Ripley has been on fire (not literally... though that would make for an interesting gimmick, no?). She has turned back literally every challenge that has come her way, while also rounding out her character as an absolutely key component of The Judgment Day's success.

Mike Rickard Rhea Ripley. Iyo SKY really impressed me this year as did Jamie Hayter. Ultimately, Rhea Ripley was my pick because she continues to improve in the ring when she’s already solid and she’s perfected her heel act to the point where she’s a megastar.

Previous Female Wrestler Of The Year Winners

Non-Wrestler Of The Year

Adam ZimmermanBrian Last. I usually pick Jim Cornette for this category but this time I'll go with his cohost, Brian Last. Cornette's podcasts are my favorites and Mr. Last is the one who covers the whole technical aspect of everything and he saved Cornette from having to host his podcast with Alice... whoever tf she was.

The Big Rybowski: Paul Heyman. Although Heyman has been pretty quiet towards the latter half of the year, his role in the Bloodline storyline was fantastic. That was some of the best storytelling we’ve seen in wrestling for quite some time and Heyman was an integral part.  

Canadian Bulldog: Samantha Irvin. I realize this is an unorthodox pick, even for this particular category, but Samantha Irvin has become the best ring announcer in wrestling. She has a sense of fun to her calls (just watch how she announces the likes of Gunther or Chelsea Green), and you can see how much energy and emotion she puts into her introductions. 

Mike Rickard: Don Callis. Don Callis continues to show that there is a place for managers in wrestling. Part-coward, part-snake, and complete scumbag, Callis is the total package when it comes to heel managers and can get anyone over.

Previous Non-Wrestler Of The Year Winners

Rivalry Of The Year

Adam Zimmerman: Billy Corgan vs his own promotion (NWA)I was super excited when the NWA started its resurgence in 2018/2019. Nick Aldis and Cody Rhodes had a couple of great matches, trading the title back and forth. The NWA weekly show was going to be done in a "studio wrestling format" which is what I grew up watching. Jim Cornette was doing color commentary. There were stars like Eli Drake/L.A. Knight on its roster. It just all seemed to go downhill, slowly but surely. Cornette got fired. Joseph Hudson a/k/a Jocephus sadly passed away as his character The Question Mark was quickly becoming the show's highlight for me. Corgan decided to put the coveted "10 Pounds Of Gold" belt on wrestlers that fans felt didn't deserve it and when they complained, Corgan basically said, "It's my promotion. I do What I want". His poor decisions have run off almost all of his top stars. The only two hanging in there now are EC3 and Aaron Stevens. I assume they're still around purely because they have no opportunity to go elsewhere yet. Even up to the most recent, controversial "cocaine spot" that caused them to lose the deal for a show on CW (a spot that Corgan really pushed for); it seems Corgan has been sabotaging the promotion, himself.


The Big RybowskiBloodline vs Bloodline. I can’t imagine going any other way than this pick. The entire storyline with the bloodline turning on Sami Zayn and his eventual reunion with Kevin Owens, conflicted Jey Uso, the Wise Man sucking up to the Tribal Chief, all while Roman continued his title reign was must see tv this year. It’s rare for a story this drawn out to maintain interest and be so satisfying. 

Canadian Bulldog: Sami Zayn vs. Roman Reigns. Although there were several other players involved in this rivalry, it's important to note that it all began with Zayn finally turning on Roman Reigns and The Bloodline. After that happened at the Royal Rumble, Zayn predicted the rest of The Bloodline would crumble... and he wasn't wrong. Plus, I'd like you to find a more electric audience than the one in Montreal that truly hoped they'd see Zayn pull off the upset of the decade and defeat The Tribal Chief

Mike Rickard Swerve Strickland vs “Hangman”Adam Page. There were some good feuds this year but nothing stuck out as special except for Swerve Strickland vs “Hangman” Adam Page. This feud had it all: a feeling things were personal, some brutal beatdowns, and some violent matches (including their gruesome Texas Death Match).

Previous Rivalry Of The Year Winners

Event Of The Year

Adam Zimmerman: Survivor Series. I'm gonna go with Survivor Series here just because, when I was a kid, War Games was always my favorite match and it still delivers today.

The Big RybowskiWrestlemania. I’m giving this one the win strictly based on Night 1 (aside from the Gunther/Sheamus/Drew match, night 2 wasn’t very memorable). Seth Rollins vs. Logan Paul, Rhea Ripley vs Charolette Flair, and  Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio were all great matches. And the main event between KO/Zayn and the Usos actually lived up to the much created hype. 

Canadian Bulldog: SummerSlam. I'll gladly admit that I'm biased as I saw this event live in Detroit; the first time I've gone to a PPV outside my home country, and the first time I've ever attended an event with my wife. But the atmosphere was just insane, even hours before the gates opened. Add to that some tremendous matches (Ricochet vs. Logan Paul, Drew McIntyre vs. Gunther, Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar, Jey Uso vs. Roman Reigns) and you have an event I won't forget any time soon.

Mike Rickard: All In. AEW continues to dominate in the pay-per-view/premium live event area, producing events that are worth the $49.95 (although I wish they’d find a cheaper alternative) and never seem like filler. The WWE had some excellent events but Triple H’s trouble booking more than five to six matches on PLEs and the excess filler made for some uneven events. AEW hit a grand slam with its Wembley Stadium supershow All In, a creative and financial success.

Previous Event Of The Year Winners

Promotion Of The Year

Adam Zimmerman: New Japan Pro Wrestling.  I'll be honest with all of you fine folks out there; I'm a huge fan of pro wrestling. I will always love pro wrestling! The problem for me is; pro wrestling hardly exists anymore. You'll catch glimpses of it sometimes in certain people's matches but as a whole, it's pretty much dead. New Japan most consistently looks and feels like the old, hard-hitting pro wrestling that I loved as a kid so, I'm going with them on this one.


The Big Rybowski: WWE. Wrestling is entertainment and no one comes close to providing the polished finished product that WWE does so well.

Canadian Bulldog: WWE. There have been some instances in recent years where it's been pretty close between AEW and WWE, but I feel as though this year, there was no contest. WWE has reset its formula somewhat, becoming more in-ring driven and more fan-friendly, while still dominating the industry in virtually any category.

Mike Rickard: WWE. 2023 was a mixed bag for AEW for both its wrestling product and its overall business. On the other hand, the WWE couldn’t miss in 2023, despite its ridiculous overbooking of Roman Reigns and refusal to put the title on Cody Rhodes or LA Knight.

Previous Promotion Of The Year Winners

Team Of The Year

As of 2022, we included trios and factions for consideration, in addition to traditional tag teams.

Adam Zimmerman: FTR. They've had a good year and I've always enjoyed their old-school style. I even enjoy that their theme music sounds an awful lot like the old Midnight Express theme.

The Big Rybowski: The BloodlineSee Rivalry of the Year for explanation. No team came close to giving us what The Bloodline did this year.

Canadian Bulldog: The Judgment Day. When Judgment Day first formed, it seemed to be destined for failure; something that would become a Forgotten Faction before long. It seemed to be a temporary vehicle for Edge more than anything else. But in 2023, all of the components seemed to snap into place. Rhea Ripley dominated the women's division and became de facto leader for the group. Damien Priest became Senor Money In The Bank. Finn Balor became a tag team champion and solidified his position as a main event heel. Dirty Dom Mysterio came into his own as the most hated guy on the roster. Even JD McDonagh has some real potential, and R-Truth... well, I don't think he's necessarily a member yet. But the point is, The Judgment Day has accomplished something most groups in wrestling never do; they've legitimized themselves.

Mike Rickard: Finn Balor & Damien Priest. FTR is still going strong while The Acclaimed had another good year. Over in the WWE, several teams stood out, despite the WWE’s refusal to put the titles on them or create a second tag team title. Despite this booking problem, The Judgment Day’s Finn Balor and Damien Priest rose to the occasion, both as challengers and champions.

Previous Team Of The Year Winners

Wrestling Merchandise and Memories Article Of The Year

Adam Zimmerman: I always enjoy when Canadian Bulldog takes a look at old wrestling merch catalogs. That and Card Corner are two things I enjoy reading the most.

The Big RybowskiI’m a big fan of the Bulldog’s Unboxings videos. I guess I’m still a kid at heart; marking out over Action Figures. 


Canadian Bulldog: I've spent a ton of time this year adding video content to Wrestling Merchandise and Memories. Between Bulldog's Unboxings, Card Corner, Top 50 Lists and other features, we're now averaging two to three new videos a week. If I could ask one favor of the Wrestling Merchandise and Memories universe, it would be to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great content!

Mike Rickard:  I love Wrestling Merchandise and Memories because it is a go-to website for wrestling fans who love the various aspects of the squared circle including games, action figures, books, magazines, and everything the title suggests. The articles are always excellent but the one I particularly enjoyed was The Grappling Gamer’s review of the mobile game 80s Wrestling Mania Returns. He summed up the game’s appeal and why it’s a fun fantasy booking game.

Previous Article Of The Year Winners

Thank you so much for reading Wrestling Merchandise and Memories this year!

Be sure to come back on Tuesday, January 2, 2024 for...

Top 50 Wrestling Headlines of 2023

Learn More About Canadian Bulldog

  • Email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
bottom of page