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PWMusing's 2023 AEW Year-End Awards

Updated: Jan 31

Here at the Pro-Wrestling Musings site we have an annual tradition of sending out ballots at the end of each year to our contributors and to friends of the site asking for their input on arriving at a consensus of what was the very best of the year in one of our favorite promotions: All-Elite Wrestling.

Previous Awards: 2022, 2021

Our Balloters and contributors: Abdullah Mamaniyat, Adam of Dragonscrew Pro Wrestling, Akash Merten of FiveStarNetwork, Anarfi of WRESTHINGS, Andy H. Murray of WhatCulture, Anna DeMarco of WrestlePurists, charlie of WrestlePurists, OUR DEAR FOUNDER Craig, Delboy of WRESTHINGS, Dirk Elevation, Gareth, Ibou of WrestlePurists , Joe Hulbert of WrestlePurists, Joe McCaffrey, Joseph Montecillo of, Kieran Sweeden, Lyric Swinton of Maps & Graps, NK of WRESTHINGS, PatrickEireWres, Peter Edge, Sam Brown, Saul Kiloh, Sergei, Shreyas, Tim Morehouse, Top Rope Squishy, Traff of LARIATÉ

There were a total of 27 balloters, and each chose one favorite for each award— except in the category Match of the Year, where we ranked our top 3. Due to the greater detail of data and commentary collected on Best Matches, specifically, I've decided to break AEW MOTY off into its own separate write-up, which you can expect to see later this week.

So, without any further ado:

Danielson absolutely dominated this category, receiving 20 votes!

There are rare feats in wrestling... One of them is being the best wrestler within 3 separate decades. That honour can only go to Bryan Danielson. The year he has had in terms of in-ring work has been exceptional. Bryan Danielson has shown that he can excel in different types of matches, whether it’s a technical wrestling match or a hardcore brawl. He has also worked with a variety of opponents, from young up-and-comers to established veterans. Bryan Danielson has consistently delivered high-quality matches throughout the year. His technical prowess, athleticism, and storytelling ability have made him one of the most exciting workers to watch in AEW. Whether its Okada, ZSJ, MJF, his entire C2 run or teaming with BCC. HE IS THAT GUY!

— Delboy of WRESTHINGS

Meanwhile, runner-up workhorse Orange Cassidy was only selected on four ballots!

No doubt there are other wrestlers who had higher peaks in 2023, but week to week absolutely no one was as reliable and consistent as Orange Cassidy.

—Sam Brown

Kris Statlander was selected as best in-ring in her division on 12 of the ballots...

Kris finally won the TBS belt, after being away due to an injury for months, and waiting for her was immediately proven the right choice. Statlander delivered the best matches of most of her opponents’ career and proved why she’s one of the best in ring talents AEW has—independent of gender.

—Anna DeMarco of WrestlePurists

Emi Sakura and Toni Storm tied for the Silver in this category, having been selected on three ballots each...

Had it not been for Jamie Hayter's injury, she might have deserved first place, but Toni Storm's consistency throughout the year is to be praised.

—Traff (LARIATÉ)

The best women's matches of the year in a AEW ring have come from Emi Sakura

—Peter Edge

"Swerve" absolutely crushed in the category of raising his level, with 23 selections!

Swerve's character and match quality really transformed mid last year, and I clocked it when I was at All In at Wembley, and then onto All Out. He was on fire. I reckon he might get wrestler of the year by the end of 2024.


Runner-up Eddie Kingston, on the other hand, was only on 3 ballots.

Some people might have said Swerve for this, but I think Eddie was the one who really earned this award in 2023. His feud with Claudio was one thing, but his run through the C2 was really something special, and the story he told with Danielson and Mox throughout the year made for one of the best comebacks in recent tournament memory.

—Adam of Dragonscrew Pro Wrestling

For "Best Character," Christian Cage received 17 of our balloters' votes:

Talk about revitalising yourself in the best way possible. The Father of the Year has become a meme and the hardest working professional in AEW simultaneously. What a recipe for success that has been.

Abdullah Mamaniyat

Whereas, the runner-up, the "Timeless" Toni Storm receved just four votes:

It just shouldn’t work. The women’s division has always been two steps forward and one step back, and when things looked like they were hitting a stride with Hayter, they lost her to injury. And then you tell me they’re going to smooth out those bumps by making Toni Storm lose the title and become Norma Desmond? I wouldn’t believe you. And yet somehow it all works.

—Dirk Elevation

"Best Storyline" was one of the least decisive categories in 2023, with four different selections within a vote from one another. The summer feud between Jon Moxley and the Hangman Adam Page tied for honors with Orange Cassidy's reign(s) as International Champion, both receiving 7 votes.

Re Moxley / Page:

This had everything, both men firing in ring and on the mic, fighting tooth and nail just for the right to prove who was best. The series had two genuine match of the year contenders and two promo of the year contenders too.

—Sam Brown

And, re Orange as International Champ:

Orange did something that very few people have managed to do in pro wrestling, and that was elevate a secondary (or possibly even tertiary) title to the main event of a PPV. His first run with the International title was a historic reign and gave us some brilliant matches and over 30 successful defences across multiple AEW and NJPW shows. He was the definition of a workhorse.

—Adam of Dragonscrew Pro Wrestling

The runner-ups for storyline were also tied, with 6 votes apiece. They were the Bromance of the Summer between Adam Cole and Max Friedman, and Eddie Kingston's campaign to win the Continental Classic round-robin tournament.

Some thought about the Bromance:

Even though the storyline has been on the wane since All-In (and injuries haven't helped), they've managed to attract viewers' affection and intrigue for many months.


And from a voter who chose the other runner-up, Kingston's Continental Crown Campaign:

Eddie’s story in the C2 is the best example of “the common man achieving his dream” in modern wrestling. Really, they were building off stories that had already been orchestrated—Eddie finally overcoming Claudio and his title win in NJPW. It was simple, yet incredible storytelling that I hope to see more of.

—charlie of WrestlePurists

Personally, I voted for the Better-Than-You-BAYBAY Bromance, so... I guess I'm fired? So long! Thanks for all the cake!

Anyone who votes the Brochachos is no longer allowed to contribute to the site.


Hangman / Swerve won Best Rivalry with a commanding 18 votes:

This rivalry marked the dawn of the ‘Fight Forever’ theme being attached to both of these wrestlers—much like a Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens type. I’m sure we’ll see these two fight again in 2024, but the sheer aggression, storytelling and charisma both of these men showed during this feud was remarkably well done.

Abdullah Mamaniyat

The runner up was also a Hangman feud, the one with Mox that tied for the lead in the "Storyline" category, but in the "Rivalry" category, it only received 3 votes. Some thoughts from one of our balloters (me!) on Hangman / Moxley:

Both bloody and bloodyminded, passionate and creative, one of the all-timer feuds...


The votes for Best Moment were a bit more spread out than in most categories, but it wasn't as tight as Storyline, for example. Kenny Omega kicking out of the One-Winged-Angel from Will Ospreay after only a one-count, didn't have a commanding lead for this award, but a clear one, with 8 votes.

Here's the moment in question:

We see a lot of 1-count kick-outs in wrestling, and they seem to be more common than ever right now, so it's genuinely rare for one to make me pop, but this one did more than that. I was running around my room at 4am in the morning because of this kick out!


One runner-up for moment is Mark Briscoe's tribute on Dynamite to his brother Jay, which received 5 votes. Here are some words on that moment:

Plenty of strong professional wrestling moments on this list, but no work of fiction can possibly compare to how Mark Briscoe and AEW honoured Jay throughout 2023, but particularly on the 25 Jan episode of Dynamite. Genuinely beautiful.

Andy H. Murray of WhatCulture

The other runner-up is the closing of the Wembley All In show, with the hugging and the confetti and all that. The high point of the Brochacho Bromance received 4 votes in the Moment category. Some thoughts:

It showed that wrestling fandom is less bloodthirsty and more connection-hungry than most people would expect....

—Joe McCaffrey

Bryan Danielson bringing back the dramatic rock theme from when he was small-time enough not to worry about song royalties made a big impression on our balloters, earning 13 votes for Best Entrance.

The return of Final Countdown was an unforgettable and joyous experience. One of those moments that remind you why AEW needs to exist, as acquiring this song was an expensive venture that didn’t need to be done, but was done because it made hardcore fans happy.

—Ibou, of WrestlePurists

Relive it!

The runner up was Ospreay's entrance to a bigger hometown crowd than he may ever have imagined at Wembley stadium, with 7 votes:

Singing Elevated as loud possible at Wembley Stadium... Seeing Ospreay at an indie show in Birmingham in 2016... and then to have this moment, just 7 years later...? It just felt surreal!

—Peter Edge

For Best Show of 2023, two very different shows each received nine votes to tie for the honor. One of these was All In at Wembley stadium, one of the biggest wrestling shows of all time. The other was Revolution which was distinguished by being the only show with TWO serious Match of the Year Contenders in one show, in the main and semi-main.

Re All In:

All In might not have been the best ppv, but it's an experience I will never, ever forget and that is something that I'll forever be grateful for...

—Akash Merten

There was also a tie for runner-up as the two shows All Out and Wrestledream both got 4 votes as well. Re All Out:

All Out was the right show at the right time. AEW was in turmoil, and the existing talent went out and had the best possible matches they could on a card that greatly overachieved.


And Re WrestleDream:

I was at WrestleDream live, nothing is going to top that!

—Tim Morehouse

Best Promo in AEW of 2023 was one of the closest races in the poll this year, being just one vote off from being a four-way tie. But, that one vote of difference gives the #1 promo of the year honor to CM Punk's return promo with 5 votes.

Refresh your memory!

Re Punk's promo:

Punk’s promo was biting, provocative, and inspired conversation for weeks, making it a success.


There was a three-way tie for runner-up, with three different promos each getting 4 votes.

One of these was Swerve Strickland's promo first putting Hangman on notice that he was going after his spot:

Another with 4 votes was Eddie Kingston's promo posted to social media on his upcoming match for the ROH title at Arthur Ashe in his hometown against his career nemesis Claudio Castagnoli:

Re the Eddie promo:

The only problem with Eddie’s promos is that they don’t get the proper spotlight they deserve. Pro wrestling is so much about Pathos, and Eddie is All Elite when it comes to emotional engagement...

—Joe McCaffrey

FInally also earning 4 points was a post-match promo from Jon Moxley during his Hangman blood-feud. I would embed that one, too, but our webhost tells me we need to think of the children! So, if you're an adult follow the link: Moxley can taste it

But if you are a child DON'T LOOK. There's blood.

Re Moxley's promo:

Wrestling's most prolific promo at his absolute best, marrying content with delivery as only he can....

—Joe Hulbert

FTR wins best Tag Team with 13 votes:

FTR is a chalk pick sure but so are Daniel Day-Lewis and Meryl Streep and if you don’t go above and beyond to beat them that’s on you.

—Dirk Elevation

The runner-up is Better Than You BayBay with 5 points:

It worked way better than it had any right to. We ended up with this generation’s Rock N Sock Connection.

—Joe McCaffrey

And also BCG (Switchblade/Juice) with 4 points:

It wasn't the best year for tag team wrestling in AEW, but two men stepped up and not only proved themselves as a tag team, but raised their stock in western fans' eyes after a lot of stigma around them when they came in. Their match with FTR on Collision was the best TV tag team match of all time, and that was really all it took to be the best team in AEW this year.


Best Faction 2023 was another close one, which came within one vote of being a three-way tie. But that one vote brought BCC to 7 votes and the victory. Here are the words on why he voted BCC from the guy who writes our regular AEW Factions Power Rankings at PWM:

They've fallen a bit in my monthly faction rankings, but Blackpool Combat Club are still threats whenever they enter the ring. They have an aura that few can match.

—Tim Morehouse

The tied runners up for the faction of the year are Bullet Club Gold with 6 votes...

Despite being fresh on the scene, you'd think they've been there for years given their chemistry. It's made the Gunns bearable, it lets Robinson's charisma shine and it places a massive spotlight on Jay White. All of which have done a spectacular job in little time.

—Kieran Sweeden

...And Christian Cage's Patriarchy also has 6:

The Patriarchy have had the most interesting storyline developments as a faction. Each member has a clear dynamic with the other faction members and reason for being in the group. They have all been featured well and elevated by being in the faction. Another "W" for Christian Cage....

—Saul Kiloh

In yet another tie, Will Ospreay and Jay White each got 8 votes as AEW's Best New Signing of 2023. Re Ospreay:

Personally speaking, he's the best in-ring wrestler in the world right now. In-ring spectacle will always be a significant part of AEW's identity and Ospreay fits into that like a glove. He'll continue this for many years to come and will undoubtably be the MVP of the company in the next few years.

—Kieran Sweeden

And, re Jay White:

Jay White is not the guy I expected, somebody who only works with a top push. He works at every level—whether winning and gloating or losing and whining...


The runner-up for new signing was Mark Briscoe with 5 votes:

This is tough, there are pros and cons to every new signing so I've let my heart lead and picked Briscoe. It's not pure emotion though: as a midcard act, he has kicked in all sorts of goals and could well be setting himself up for a big 2024.

—Sam Brown

Saturday-night heel color man, Nigel, takes Best Commentary honors with 10 votes:

While noticeably rusty at first, Nigel McGuinness has quickly become one of my favourite things about Collision. The latest in a long line of great heel commentators, McGuinness pairs his analysis with cutting wit, particularly since being paired with Tony Schiavone.

—Joe Hulbert of WrestlePurists

Runner-up was Jon Moxley on Guest Commentary at WrestleDream with 7 votes:



The award for Best Young Wrestler (under the age of 26) goes to Daniel Garcia with 15 votes

An NFL player recorded a sack and then did the Daniel Garcia dance. That is this man’s influence. DG can do everything, and he will.

—Dirk Elevation

The runner-up is House of Black's Julia Hart with 8 votes.

Julia Hart has a presence and mystique very few wrestlers can pull off, regardless of age or experience...


The winner for Best Wrestler Overall in the womens division was the Timeless one, Toni Storm, with a commanding 16 votes!

AEW has consistently had trouble making women’s matches feel important without a title. Not so for Toni. Belt or no belt, if she’s on the screen, it’s appointment television.

—Dirk Elevation

The runners up are Julia Hart and Kris Statlander in a four-vote tie.

In contrast to the Women's division, the race for Best Overall among the men was incredibly close. Swerve and the American Dragon both win in a tie with nine votes apiece.

Re Strickland:

Swerve got over massively in 2023 primarily due to his excellent and effective presentation....


Re Danielson:

Danielson has cut promo of the year contenders that haven’t reached beyond social media distribution, which is a knock against AEW, but moreso one more piece of evidence of how prolific he’s been....

—Joe McCaffrey

The winners were tied AND only two votes ahead of the runner up, Maxwell Jacob Friedman:

There are a lot of amazing performers in AEW, but Max is the one telling stories and putting on matches that are genuinely special and groundbreaking...


In the race for MVP of 2023, on the other hand, nobody touches the Dragon, who takes it away with a commanding 11 votes:

When you fire the biggest star in the company and have to find a last minute replacement for the match on one week’s notice who turns out to actually be a better choice for the match than the big fired star? Everyone else can relax because that’s the MVP for the year.

—Dirk Elevation

The runner up for AEW MVP of 2023 was MJF with 5 votes:

He's arguably the best on the mic in the world right now, he's been at the forefront of the company by holding main title for the whole duration of the year and has frequently put forward the most entertaining segments and matches all year.

—Kieran Sweeden


I hope everyone has enjoyed this presentation of the Best of AEW in 2023. Check back here sometime in the coming week for the seperate Match of the Year portion of our AEW 2023 Year-End balloting results.

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