It’s time for Ringside Logic to bestow our “Best of the Year” honors. 2021 will go down as an unforgettable year in professional wrestling for both good and bad reasons. Let’s focus on the good aspects of the industry, which consisted of action-packed matches, wild angles, and paradigm-shifting events in and out of the ring. Here is our pick for the 2021 Breakout Star of the Year.
Yes, you read that right. An entire wrestling promotion gets the nod for Breakout Star of the Year. Hear me out on this.
To some, Impact Wrestling still lives in the shadow of its initial incarnation, TNA. While those three letters are damned with faint praise, Impact Wrestling has made great strides to establish its own identity. 2021 Impact’s best year in its current form as wrestlers from promotions worldwide made for unfathomable matches and history-making moments.
Courtesy of the now infamous forbidden door wrestlers from promotions all over the world graced Impact’s ring. AEW’s Kenny Omega won the Impact World Championship while holding AEW’s top prize. The Good Brothers made several appearances on AEW Dynamite as Impact Tag Team Champions.
New Japan Pro Wrestling sent Juice Robinson, David Finlay, Jay White, and Minoru Suzuki. AAA stars Laredo Kid, and Black Taurus turned in some fun performances. Kenny Omega, Matt Hardy, Private Party, and Christian represented AEW inside the Impact Zone.
Impact wrestlers The Good Brothers made regular appearances in AEW while Moose wrestled on some New Japan events. Christian defeated Kenny Omega for Impact’s top prize in the first match on the inaugural episode of AEW Rampage.
Ring of Honor failed to create new stars during their partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling. Impact Wrestling did the opposite by raising the profile of several wrestlers on their roster. Rich Swann raised his stock during his feud with Kenny Omega, Chris Bey joined Bullet Club, and Ace Austin became a name to watch out for.
Canada’s Josh Alexander became Impact’s top babyface as he embarked on his best in-ring year. He won the world title at Impact’s biggest show, Bound for Glory, only to lose it to Moose in a blindside MITB style cash-in. Alexander is now working his way back up the ranks towards another title shot. However, he’s doing it as a spurned, sympathetic good guy this time.
Deonna Purrazzo, Mickie James, Jordynne Grace, and others helped Impact present the best women’s division in North America. Impact instituted the Digital Media Championship to help augment its social media efforts.
Impact produced several “Match of the Year” candidates, including TJP/Alexander Iron Match Match, Omega/Swann, Omega/Callihan, and Purrazzo/James. Impact also made great use of many new names released by WWE. Matt Cardona, Steve Maclin, The Inspiration, Chelsea Green, Jonah, and Mickie James were vital components for Impact’s programming.
Impact made the most of inter-promotional collaboration to improve their product’s quality and image as a whole. The days of Impact being a punchline in the industry are over as they’ve become a welcomed destination for wrestlers and fans alike.
Honorable Mentions: Bron Breakker, Dante Martin, Josh Alexander, Bianca Belair, Serena Deeb, SHO, Carmelo Hayes, Daniel Garcia.