Adam Cole, Io Shirai and Pat McAfee: Here Are The Winners of the 2020 WWE NXT Year End Awards

Published 12/31/2020, 12:53 AM EST

The WWE NXT Year End Awards are in the books. As per tradition, winners were declared on the final NXT episode of the year. With the Wednesday Night Wars raging on amidst this horrible global scenario, every NXT superstar deserved an award. However, these are the few lucky men and women who picked up the trophies.


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Adam Cole Bay Bay!


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Former NXT Champion Adam Cole picked up two very important awards. First, Cole held the NXT Championship for most of 2020 which warranted him the NXT Male Competitor of the Year Award.

Also nominated in this category were the NXT UK Champion Walter, NXT’s first double champion Keith Lee, the current NXT Champion Finn Balor, and former champions Gargano and Ciampa.

Second, Cole and Pat McAfee won the NXT Rivalry of the Year award. This comes as no surprise, given how intense and personal their rivalry got.

No other rivalry came close to matching Cole vs McAfee which is a massive feat for the former football player as well. Although his future in WWE is up in the air, he posted a video on Twitter to express how grateful he was upon winning.

Adam Cole was not the only member of the Undisputed Era to win an award. The faction also picked up the award for the best Tag Team ahead of former champions Breezango, Imperium and Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch.

WWE NXT Match of the Year

NXT’s top talent put on some absolutely brilliant matches in 2020. There were fifteen matches in this crucial category but only half of the list actually comprised matches that could be classified as a match of the year candidate. Walter vs Ilja Dragunov was the most obvious choice for this award, but they got the rug pulled out from under them.

Kyle O’Reilly and Finn Balor’s brutal war at NXT Takeover: 31 was declared the NXT Match of the Year. The match was absolutely excellent and was fought at a brisk and enjoyable pace. However, does it really come close to being as great as the blistering match from NXT UK? Is this just a ruse to further the storyline between Kyle and Finn? Could this all just be building to their match at New Year’s Evil?

Which NXT Takeover was the best of 2020?

WWE revived a lot of old PPV concepts for NXT to use. From the Great American Bash to Halloween Havoc, NXT put on some scintillating shows this year.

The Takeovers prior to the pandemic were a thing to behold. Once shows moved to the Performance Center, the PPVs were vastly scaled down. Despite that, NXT Takeover War Games picked up the award for best Takeover.

The event saw some of the most brilliant matches and individual performances in NXT history. Raquel Gonzalez broke out as a future main eventer by pinning Io Shirai to win the Woman’s War Games.

In the men’s match, Pat McAfee and the Kings of NXT tried everything in their power to beat the Undisputed Era. However, Adam Cole and the rest of the faction proved too strong to beat and sent McAfee packing.

The Future of WWE NXT is in excellent hands

Shotzi Blackheart and Austin Theory won the Breakout Star and the Future Star of the Year awards, respectively. Both Superstars have had superb years in NXT.

Theory enjoyed a short stint on the main roster before coming back to NXT. Blackheart has been in fiery form this year, battling the likes of Io Shirai, Dakota Kai, and Raquel Gonzalez in some of the best matches of the year.

While the winners are exceptional, the nominees are quite excellent in their own way. One can’t help but feel optimistic about NXT’s future, knowing that young talent like Shotzi, Austin Theory, Leon Ruff, Jake Atlas, A-Kid and Kayden Carter are going to stick around.

The likes of Damien Priest, Timothy Thatcher and Ilja Dragunov did not win, but each had their break out year in 2020.

The Genius of the Sky


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Io Shirai won the award for best Female Competitor of the Year. The NXT Champion has had a wonderful year, enjoying a long and healthy reign with the championship. She has registered an incredible five title defences against her name while simultaneously putting on classics against Sasha Banks and Shotzi Blackheart.

Shirai was even put through the wringer at Takeover: War Games where she suffered a rare pinfall loss. That loss was a lone blemish on an otherwise brilliant year for Shirai. She was so good in 2020 that she outdid Adam Cole and picked up the Overall Best Competitor of the Year award.


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These awards close out another excellent year for NXT. Despite the circumstances, they put on shows which were consistent in quality. Hats off to NXT and the winners of the Year End Awards for making the most out of 2020.


Nathan Fulgado

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Nathan Fulgado is a WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports. Having published close to 1000 professional wrestling articles, Nathan is currently pursuing his Journalism degree from Xavier's College. He has previously worked at Free Press Journal as a local journalist.