By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
Dot Net readers were allowed a single vote per day for each of the 2019 awards categories. The following are the results of our poll for Best Babyface along with our staff comments. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.
1. Becky Lynch (21 percent)
2. Cody (20 percent)
3. Kofi Kingston (17 percent)
4. Johnny Gargano (10 percent)
5. Jon Moxley (5 percent)
Others (27 percent)
Jeff Lutz’s Thoughts: It’s difficult to earn more popularity than by spearheading the creation of a new promotion that serves fans who have been jaded by WWE’s product in recent years. Cody’s vision helped accomplish that, and he is rightfully the biggest and most-loved star in AEW.
John Moore’s Thoughts: While WWE kinda killed it in October, I can’t help but give this award to Kofi Kingston. One of my longest running disappointments in pro wrestling was Kofi’s squashed main event run all those years ago. The “Stoopid!” incident. Kofi then became a mid carder for life, simple as that. Then, Mustafa Ali gets hurt all of a sudden and Kofi puts in this amazing run in a gauntlet match that captivated the world. Kofi continues this momentum to the Elimination Chamber. He then reaches the peak by beating Earth’s Champion Daniel Bryan to reach the dream once thought to have passed him by. Things didn’t stop there. He became a strong ambassador for WWE for a huge stretch of time as visually shown through those series of video packages in Ghana. Being wholesome is a huge part in being a babyface, and Kofi had that wholesome in spades.
Anish V’s Thoughts: It’s always been impossible to hate Kofi Kingston, this was the year that I think it became impossible not to love him. The hoops that he was made to jump through combined with the chaotic nature of his run to the WWE title just made this one of the best babyface title chases and reigns in recent WWE memory.
Nick Perkins’ Thoughts:It was a heel turn that never should have happened. When Daniel Bryan kicked AJ Styles in the balls en route to winning his fourth world championship, it was an ill-begotten move that led to a few entertaining moments, to be sure, but it never felt real. Daniel Bryan is, simply, too good of a guy to hate. Of course, it didn’t help that the material he was given (or created, to be fair) to be the bad guy wasn’t actually that bad of stuff. Proper eating and taking care of the environment aren’t exactly heel-like opinions (unless you’re Greta Thunberg talking to a room of old, white men). So when Bryan finally embraced the light again and re-instituted the ‘Yes Movement,” fans were thrilled. They were happy to have their hero back which is a role Bryan excels in. Even more than that, though, Daniel Bryan is wrestling’s biggest babyface because of the real-life struggles he has overcome. Bryan Danielson, the person, is wrestling’s greatest triumph which is why Daniel Bryan, the character, is wrestling’s best babyface.
Powell’s Thoughts: One vote separated Lynch and Cody, and strong cases can be made for either one of them getting the nod. AEW didn’t have weekly television until October, but Lynch also had the oddball moments where they played up her relationship with Seth Rollins, and her feud with Lacey Evans was forgettable. Becky Lynch really should feel bigger than she does. I don’t think it’s from lack of effort on WWE’s part as much as it is that they don’t spend enough time building up strong opponents for her. So Cody gets the nod from me thanks in large part to the emotion he brings to his promos and matches. Kofi Kingston is a very likable guy and I enjoyed his title reign. Rey Mysterio had a late year resurgence, and my guess is that Paul Heyman’s rise to power on the Raw creative team had a lot to do with that. Mysterio’s promos have improved dramatically over the years and he had some top notch matches, which is amazing considering the wear and tear he’s put on his body over the years. One vote kept Daniel Bryan out of the top five. He’s in a good place now, but it still infuriates me that WWE blew his comeback to the point that he needed to turn heel before flipping back into a babyface role later in the year. I suspect Bryan will finish higher in the 2020 voting if he remains a featured babyface in 2020.