To declare that 2019 was one of the most action-packed and historic years in the history of professional wrestling may actually be an understatement. As we here at CBS Sports were enveloped in the voting process and recalling the snapshots from the best moments of the year that are still etched in our memory banks, none stood out more than the emotional scene that captured our hearts as well as the 2019 Moment of the Year: Kofi Kingston capping an 11-year journey to the top prize in the industry in front of a packed MetLife Stadium at WrestleMania 35.
Kingston, flanked by New Day brethren Big E and Xavier Woods at ringside, connected with the most important Trouble in Paradise of his career and subsequently pinned Daniel Bryan for the prestigious WWE championship. A native of Ghana, West Africa, the moment was significant in that it marked the first time a native of Africa held the WWE championship while it also served as a lifelong dream come true for the decorated superstar.
"We could have a hour-long discussion on how serendipitous winning the WWE championship was," Kingston said on the CBS Sports "State of Combat" podcast. "It was just crazy ... to be able to achieve my childhood dream, No. 1. There's so many people on this planet who have dreams as kids, and when we become adults we jut cast those dreams by the wayside for whatever reason.
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"When I was fantasizing about being a WWE superstar, I would always fantasize about matches at WrestleMania for the WWE title. So that was my exact dream, and that actually came true."
From the cultural impact to a defining WrestleMania moment for the ages, it was near impossible to argue against Kingston realizing his dream standing out as the Moment of the Year in pro wrestling from the past 12 months.
Our CBS Sports experts handed out a plethora of awards aside from the Moment of the Year, recognizing outstanding efforts from stars representing not only WWE but the upstart All Elite Wrestling and New Japan Pro-Wrestling as well. You can view the complete awards list below, and be sure to listen to the special year-end awards edition of "State of Combat."
2019 CBS Sports Wrestling Awards
- Wrestler of the Year:
- Match of the Year: Johnny Gargano def. Adam Cole in a 2-out-of-3 falls match (NXT TakeOver: New York)
- Best Moment/Angle of the Year: Kofi Kingston wins the WWE title at WrestleMania 35 (WWE)
- Worst Moment/Angle of the Year: Wild Card Rule (WWE)
- Comeback Wrestler of the Year: Bray Wyatt (WWE)
- Breakthrough Wrestler of the Year: Rhea Ripley (NXT)
- Rookie of the Year: MJF (AEW)
- Tag Team of the Year: Lucha Bros. (AEW)
- Commentator of the Year: Mauro Ranallo (NXT)
- Feud of the Year: Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano (NXT)
- Best Pay-Per-View of the Year: WrestleKingdom 13 (NJPW)
- Promo of the Year: Cody "silver spoon" (AEW)
- Smack Talker of the Year: Cody (AEW)