By The SportsTalkFeed’s Pro Wrestling Department
The year of pro wrestling in 2015 is dwindling down upon us and we move forward to what pro wrestling has to offer us in 2016. Professional wrestling in 2015, mainly mainstream, has been an rocky and emotional roller coaster. With the surprising returns, fantastic and history making matches, the pool of potential talent, ground-breaking specials, numerous injuries, disappointing storylines and characters; overall, it has been a crazy year for professional wrestling. Here at SportsTalkFeed, we’ll look back and celebrate the accomplishments from the very best and worst of what pro wrestling has offered us in 2015. We’ll give our opinions of the very best and worst this year. With that in mind, we present to you the first ever Pro Wrestling Awards of 2015 by the SportsTalkFeed Pro Wrestling Department.
PPV/Special Event of the Year
Patrick: Wrestlemania 31
Let’s face it, Wrestlemania is always the best. Even if they make the mistake of having it in California outside. But there were too many amazing moments. The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was awesome. John Cena beating Rusev for the US Title was exciting to watch. Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton was intense. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns was great, even when Rollins cashed in. But the two highlights were definitely Sting vs. Triple HHH and the Rock and Ronda Rousey. While the Sting match didn’t end the way it should have, seeing the return of DX was awesome. However, it was outdone by the return of the NWO! Now that was unbelievable. And the confrontation of the Rock and Triple HHH and Stephanie McMahon was incredible. Then you throw Ronda Rousey into the mix, and it goes to a whole new level. Yeah, there were a few low lights, but they are forgotten when you look at the grand scheme of things. This year’s Wrestlemania was great to watch.
Anabelle: Wrestlemania 31
Wrestlemania was amazing. The biggest story of course was with Roman Reigns and Brock and who would win. Seth cashing in his money in the bank was honestly a surprise and it closed Wrestlemania out wonderfully.
Colin: Ultima Lucha
My Favorite show of the year was part 1 and part 2 of Ultima Lucha. If you are not familiar with this show it is the WrestleMania of a new promotion called Lucha Underground. Lucha Underground each week was better than Raw has been in the last two years. Culminating in this show it saw feuds ending and future ones ready to be started on season two. if i had to pick my favorite moment from the show it was when Vampiro was revealed as Pentagon Juniors master.
Justin S: Summerslam 2015
Personally, I think picking Wrestlemania as the top show is cheating. It is supposed to be the biggest each year. Summerslam did it all for me. This started WWE’s relationship with ESPN (which was squandered by poor content so far). The match between Rollins & Cena shocked me, the use of Jon Stewart was just a cherry on top. Lesnar vs. taker had me on the edge of my seat the whole time plus, the New Day won their second tag team titles. Can’t beat that.
Justin F: NXT Takeover Respect & Ultima Lucha
NXT Takeover: Respect and parts 1 & 2 of Ultima Lucha were two shows that I enjoyed watching this year. Sure with all of the NXT specials that were produced this year, NXT Brooklyn had a better card with a phenomenal women’s match between Sasha Banks and Bayley. But, just watching NXT Respect felt like a good show in my opinion. This event was dedicated to the passing of Dusty Rhodes by having the semi final and finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. Also this event was the first time a women’s match headlined a major WWE event featuring Bayley and Sasha Banks in a 30-minute IronMan/”Woman” match for the NXT Women’s Championship. Everything from top to bottom was good overall. Ultima Lucha is Lucha Underground’s Season Finale where feuds were come to an end while future feuds and characters are being set up for season two. Two matches that I liked was Vampiro vs Pentagon Jr. in Cero Miedo match and Prince Puma vs Mil Muertues for the Lucha Underground Championship.
Worst PPV Event of the Year
Justin F (moderator): Survivor Series 2015
My cohosts all agree that Survivor Series 2015 was the worst PPV of the year. Lackluster, unannounced Survivor Series matches that were dull and thrown at the last minute, a predictable Money in the Bank cash-in by Sheamus to end the show, and just a predictable show overall that made this event worthless. Even before going into the show, you could already expect it to be bad. The only good things that my co-horts liked about this show was The Undertaker’s entrance, the semifinals and finals matches in that tournament to crown a new WWE Champion.
Fan Favorite Moment of the Year
Justin F: Kevin Owens defeating John Cena clean
There were several moments to scream for as a fan this year, but Kevin Owens defeating John Cena clean was one moment to be excited for. Going on a hot streak in NXT in the beginning of the year, Owens made his presence known when he confronted John Cena on Raw. Then at the Elimination Chamber PPV, he defeated the company’s standard bearer in the middle of the ring with no excuses, no shenanigans. Owens defeating Cena was one of those rare occasions where John Cena lost a match clean on PPV and should happen more often when the situation calls for Cena to lose.
Worst Storyline / Mistake of the Year
Patrick: Sheamus being Mr. Money in the Bank
Nobody likes Sheamus anymore. So making him Mr. Money in the Bank is a terrible idea. It makes sense only because it will help Reigns get over with the crowd. However, because that won’t happen until the Royal Rumble if we’re lucky, we have to put up with
him for two months. This is not okay. There were many bad decisions made in wrestling this year, but this was the absolute worst.
Anabelle: Dolph Ziggler and Rusev
That whole Ziggler and Rusev feud with Lana and Summer Rae was a disaster. Rusev was coming off of being the undefeated Bulgarian Brute feuding with Cena to this. Dolph Ziggler is way too good to have to work this. This didn’t make sense from the jump and when you look at where Rusev, Lana and Summer Rae are now, it was a calamity.
Colin: Damien Sandow/Adam Rose
My vote for worst/disappointing mistake of the year is a tie. Earlier in the year ESPN did an E:60 special on three NXT Superstars. they were Xavier Woods, Corey Graves, and Adam Rose. The only person when this was released not doing something was Adam Rose. this was WWE’s chance to do something with him. If you didn’t see the special it was a very emotional thing for Adam Rose. You couldn’t help but feel sorry for the guy after watching it and this was WWE’s chance to do something but what do they do? Not a damn thing. My other vote is Damien Sandow. When Damien Sandow was paired with the Miz after getting over by himself i thought he was screwed but i was wrong. Sandow became one of if not the most over person in the WWE at the time while teaming with The Miz. When he finally turned on The Miz at Wrestlemania 31 there was not a person who didn’t like Damien Sandow. After that he went on Raw and gave an emotional speech on his career and where he goes from here and what did WWE do with him after that? Not a damn thing.
Justin S: Sheamus cashing in without a build
I understand the circumstances due to the untimely injury to The Architect. But they had about a month to get Sheamus over & failed. No one viewed him as a credible champion and many still don’t. WWE is in a weird flux period between eras. The number of dependable stars is dwindling, time to start making new mega stars now.
Justin F.: Divas Revolution
Dolph Ziggler vs Rusev was a waste of time, but my disappointment in this so called “Divas revolution” is right up there as one of the worst that the WWE has ever come up with. What should of been re-emergence of women’s wrestling taken seriously (no joke) in the WWE again with promise ended the year with nonsense and no genuine change in how women in the WWE are presented. Meaningless matches and feuds that lead no where or no one cares about, Divas still being catty and unlikable, there piss poor management of the Divas this year made this entire “revolution” non-existent. They praise a lot about Ronda Rousey but have no slight understanding what made her a star in the first place. I want to say that I’ll give this revolution another chance, but why #GiveDivasAChance and this “revolution” if the WWE won’t give me a reason to.
Headline of the Year
Patrick: Death of Dusty Rhodes
It was a surprise that it happened. We all knew he was old, but he still had many years left. He leaves behind two great sons. While they have been lackluster lately, it’s hard to ignore the legacy they have to follow. R.I.P. Dusty!
Colin: Death of Roddy Piper
Much like the death of Dusty Rhodes what came as an even bigger shock to me was the death of the Hot Rod Roddy Piper. Being part scottish myself I had always loved when Roddy Piper would come back to Tv. I had loved his matches in the past and I had loved just seeing him when he would make appearances and when i got home one day and my friend had messaged me saying he ad died my heart sank. Roddy Piper will always be a legend R.I.P. Hot Rod
Justin S: Deaths of both Dusty Rhodes & Rowdy Roddy Piper
Both these guys with forever transcend wrestling history. Dusty was one of the most charismatic personalities ever in the squared circle (wish I was alive during his in-ring days). He was also one of the most influential beings in the development side of things. If you listen to any podcast from a WWE superstar who has been through the developmental system, you will hear it all from gimmick ideas, move suggestions, catch phrases & the illustrious Dusty Rhodes promo class. You cannot forget the endless impressions of him. Roddy Piper had a pipe bomb before it was cool. First edgy superstar I remember seeing. He even had some great acting roles, most notable (to me at least) as The Maniac. Rest in peace to both of these legendary megastars.
Justin F.: Hulk Hogan’s racial tirade
Click this link to the article that I did this year about Hulk Hogan. You’ll see how exactly how I felt about this situation and their hypocrisy over black and non white performers.
Worst Television Announcer(s)
Justin F (moderator): JBL
“Look Maggle! It’s John Cena!” In all seriousness, my cohosts all agree that JBL has been the worst nonsensical commentator this year. Heck, commentary as a whole has not been very good. Speaking for myself, Corey Graves is way better then all three commentators on Raw when he’s playing the heel commentator without actually burying people, unlike some loud and obnoxious Texan on RAW, and is very sharp, knowledgeable and quick witted. However, Graves is no Jim Ross.
Best Weekly Wrestling Program
Let’s be honest, this is the apex of weekly wrestling programming. This is the show fans tune in to watch more than any other. And yes, while NXT is way better, it is only on the WWE Network. If it was on cable, it would be the best. However, Raw is the oldest and the best to watch. Though I do prefer NXT, but not everyone watches it.
NXT is amazing. The storylines, characters, action in the ring is what RAW is supposed to be like. The excitement around NXT is what makes it truly great.
Colin: Lucha Underground & NXT
I’m going to have to agree with Justin F. on saying that LU and NXT were the best weekly shows. I always look forward to watching them and they never have a dull moment.
Justin S: Raw
I give Monday night Raw the benefit of the doubt. So much content has to go out that it’s difficult to consistently put out amazing content. Three hours is a lot of time to fill, change needs to happen but won’t happen over night. Too much incoming money plus contracts will prevent it for a while. But Raw is the flagship show, when you think about pro wrestling the first thing you think of is Raw.
Justin F: WWE NXT & Lucha Underground
Honestly, both NXT and Lucha Underground have been very good this year. NXT gives me something to look forward to every week. Their current crop of fun to watch talent like Enzo & Amore, Dana Brooke, Emma, Jordan & Gable, Nia Jax, Asuka, Bayley, and this reinvigorating Samoa Joe keeps me watching more of NXT. Lucha Underground deserves praise this year as it brings lucha libre, sports and entertainment into their realm that it doesn’t seem as hokey as similar to what WWE tends to be. I did an article of why Lucha Underground needs to return for a second season by clicking this link. I’m looking forward to what Lucha Underground has to offer at season 2.
Worst Wrestling Program of the Year
Patrick: Impact Wrestling
Impact Wrestling, formerly known as TNA, is a sinking ship. It’s not on Spike TV anymore, but rather a channel that not everyone gets, and those who do get it probably don’t even know or care about it. Ring of Honor is also on a channel like this, however it is a much better watch. They try to hard to be the WWE and fail constantly. It is definitely the low point of wrestling programming. Not even Hulk Hogan, Eric Bischoff, Ric Flair, or Sting could make it any better.
Raw has been absolutely horrible. (TNA is expected to be garbage). I hold Raw to a higher standard and it’s just been dismal. The storylines don’t make any sense, there’s nothing cohesive about it. They don’t use their roster and with the situation they have now, they shot themselves in the foot. Raw should be way better than it is.
What Anabelle said.
Justin S: Smackdown
I cannot remember the last time I watched Smackdown. It’s usually the same thing seen on Raw but with a blue theme color. Also with pre-taped shows spoilers tend to prevail. Plus anything notable is shown on Monday. Smackdown is easily skipped.
Justin F: Monday Night Raw
Monday Night Raw to me has been nothing but hot garbage. The bipolar storylines, the inability of creating new stars, no reason care about characters or finding a reason to tune in next week at all. TNA is easy to criticize for how terrible they have been, but Raw is something else. The ratings dropping is a reflection of how Raw is. Watching Raw feels like a chore to watch and it’s becoming harder and harder to watch. “Hopefully” the format of the show needs to change drastically heading into 2016.
Feud of the Year
Patrick: John Cena vs. Kevin Owens
This was a great feud. It introduced those of us who don’t watch NXT to Kevin Owens. And we all learned fairly quickly that Owens is legit. His feud with John Cena elevated both of them to new heights. All of the matches they were in were great to watch. Cena always brings his A game, and Owens showed us that he does too. I truly hope they revisit this rivalry before Cena retires.
Justin S.: Daniel Bryan vs WWE Doctors
He’s fought them tooth & nail all year for his clearance to return to the ring. Bryan has gone to personal neurologists and been cleared by two of them. He’s still waiting for the most important doctors (WWE employed doctors) to clear him, but it doesn’t seem like that will happen. A common conspiracy theory among fans is that this all a work & Bryan will be back at any moment. I believe we have seen the end of Daniel Bryan in a WWE ring.
Justin F: Sasha Banks vs Bayley (honorable mention: John Cena vs Kevin Owens)
This one was tough to choose, but I’m giving Sasha Banks vs Bayley feud of the year. Granted, I liked John Cena and Kevin Owens feuding, but Sasha Banks vs Bayley felt so natural and compelling. The favorable underdog in Bayley facing off against this brash cocky heel in Sasha Banks is a natural rivalry that’s easy to unfold. Their incredible matches at Brooklyn and Respect to their narrative of both girls growing as little kids wanted not only to become women’s wrestlers but to be in spot that headlines a major show, this feud worked on every level. Both delivered in this feud, especially when their rivalry cumulated in the biggest spot women have ever been placed in WWE history, main eventing a major show in a IronMan match.
Tag Team of the Year
Patrick: PrimeTime Players
Titus O’Neil and Darren Young are electric as a tag team. While the New Day is exciting to watch, I feel like the Primetime Players did it first and did it better. They have great mic skills, amazing in ring talent, and have so much charisma. They shouldn’t have been pushed to the side after losing the Tag Titles. I really hope that in 2016 they make their presence felt again. Millions of dollars!
Anabelle: New Day
New Day completely took a 180 and turned themselves around. They didn’t get any traction at first but once they went heel, they were allowed to really their talents. Xavier Woods, Big E and Kofi are phenomenal together. As of the last couple weeks, any segment New Day is a part of is sometimes the best spot on Raw.
Colin: Enzo Amore and Colin Cassidy
They’re the certified G’s and Bona Fide studs so how can I not?
Justin S: New Day
IT’S A NEW DAY, YES IT IS! Most entertaining act in the WWE this year. It’s an easy choice. #SlammysLie
Justin F: New Day
All I have to say is…NEW.DAY ROCKS. NEW.DAY ROCKS!!! The most entertaining act in wrestling deserves tag team of the year. They took something that was stereotypical to begin with and made it completely work. Their segments every Raw is always something to look forward to.
While he has been getting a great push lately, for the longest time he was an underused talent. He had great mic skills and in ring talent. While names like Ziggler and Becky Lynch might come to mind, Cesaro has been reaching for the brass ring for years now. Now the WWE is starting to realize what a talent they have in Cesaro. However, this is something wrestling fans have known for a long time. Cesaro is legit, and he needs to be treated as such. He needs a World Title run!
Stardust is an amazing character. Cody Rhodes play the hell out of that part and it’s WWE creative can’t do anything with him. He’s technically sound in the ring, he can carry his own and has a good move set. If Stardust is utilized, there can be great storylines with him. Perhaps one with him and Bray………
Colin: Luke Harper
An odd choice maybe but to me Luke Harper is a very underrated guy. He can wrestle and he can talk. He has the right look so Luke Harper gets my Vote.
Justin S: Neville
With the current status of the WWE product where high spots are as common as a wrist lock, it is very unusual Neville doesn’t have a bigger role on the card. He is the only true high flyer on the roster. Give him some good storylines against guys that can make him look amazing (I.E The Miz, Dolph, Ambrose, to name a few) and you can get him to the next level very simply.
Justin F: Cesaro
Cesaro is an amazing performer in the ring. Hopefully he finds that niche and making the higher ups realize that he’s a star capable of main eventing major shows in the future.
Breakout Star of the Year
Justin F (moderator): Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens from the beginning of the year til now has definitely made an impact on the WWE scene. Winning the NXT title two months in the beginning of the year to feuding with a top guy of John Cena, Owens has made an impression this year. His mannerisms, trash talk, ability to move in the ring for his size, Owens has main event player written all over him. I expect Owens to move up in the ranks next year, even fight for the WWEWHC.
Match of the Year
Colin: Pentagon Jr. vs. Vampiro (Ultima Lucha Part 2)
I can’t tell you how much I loved this match. It lasted all of about 10-15 minutes but in that time they told a great story and nearly killed each other. It was one of if not the most extreme matches of 2015 and it has my vote for Match of the Year.
Justin S: Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins vs Roman Reigns (WrestleMania 31)
Wrestlemania 31 was one hell of a night for Seth Rollins. He had maybe the most memorable moment of the year against Randy Orton (the curbstomp into an RKO). Brock and Roman were having a strong, physical match, told a good story and the addition of Rollins set it over the top. When his music hit, I just about lost it.
Justin F: Sasha Banks vs Bayley (NXT Takeover: Brooklyn)
The triple threat match between Cena, Lesnar, and Rollins for the WWEWHC was fantastic, but the one match that stood out to me was Sasha Banks vs Bayley at NXT Brooklyn. 15,000 people in Barclays Center and the people watching on the WWE Network witness two women put on a phenomenal, compelling performance and saw Bayley finally win the big one. The intensity and storytelling in the match was great. Sasha being vicious every step that she took and Bayley showing heart, resilience, and never say die attitude that defined her character. Moments in the match where Sasha kept working the injured hand of Bayley to an insane top rope Frankensteiner to Sasha that ends with a Bayley-to-Belly to win the match. Both worked their hardest to have match of the year, which they already have in my books.
Worst Match of the Year
Patrick: The Royal Rumble 2015 Match
Not the entire PPV. I mean the actual Royal Rumble match. We all pretty much knew Reigns would win, and nobody really wanted it to happen. We were all hoping for Daniel Bryan to come back, and we didn’t get it. It wasn’t as much fun as it usually is. Granted, last year’s wasn’t any better since we all knew Batista would win. But this is one of the four big PPVs the WWE has, and it’s main event kind of feel flat on it’s face.
Justin S: The Ascension defeated The Mega Powers (Axelmania vs Macho Mandow)
At the time, nostalgia reigned supreme and i actually enjoyed this. Looking back I cannot actually believe this match happened especially with The Ascension going over! Waste of everyone’s time, luckily it was only three minutes.
Justin F: Royal Rumble 2015 Match
When I thought that last year’s Royal Rumble match pissed me off as a fan, this year’s Royal Rumble match is on my list as one of the worst Rumble matches I’ve seen. I wasn’t upset that Roman Reigns won, which we all knew he was gonna win it anyways. The issue is how horrendous the Rumble was booked this year. The fan favorite Daniel Bryan entered into this Rumble match and quickly eliminated early in the match, and Big Show and Kane booked strong to eliminate everyone was not compelling. The main goal was obviously to get Roman Reigns over and it colossally failed because how poorly it was booked, Even The Rock got booed when Reigns won it. This Rumble definitely did not entertained.
Women’s Wrestler of the Year
Patrick: Sasha Bank and Bayley
It is hard to choose between these two. In my opinion, I believe that they had the best year in women’s wrestling. Their two phenomenal matches on NXT back this point up. While Sasha is up on the main roster, Bayley is not far behind. But these two definitely showed everyone what women’s wrestling is all about. Nonstop action and edge of your seat excitement.
Anabelle: Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks has been the best women’s wrestler this year. Everything from in the ring to character to outside the ring she’s excelled at. She makes the crowd react. Her matches this year have been top notch. She’s really at the top of her game and she has so much time left.
Justin S: Sasha Banks
There is not much competition here. Her ceiling is through the roof. Those matches in NXT are some the best, kudos to the other women involved.
Justin F: Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks without a doubt is the best women’s wrestler of the year. Her charisma, character and in-ring work has been amazing this year. 23 years old she has already made a name for herself in NXT and arriving on the main roster. Hopefully in 2016, she will be one step closer to becoming Divas Champion or perhaps becoming Women’s Champion if the company decides to bring it back.
Wrestler of the Year
Patrick: Seth Rollins
For all that has happened this year, Seth Rollins had the best. He cashed in at Wrestlemania to become the new World Heavyweight Champion. He had phenomenal matches with the likes of Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Roman Reigns, and Sting. He was the ultimate heel. And, he was the White Power Ranger! How can you top that? Seth Rollins had a great year leading up to his unfortunate injury. But, when he comes back, he will show that he hasn’t lost a step and will be back on top again!
Anabelle: Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins had arguably the biggest cash in, in WWE history. Just he deserved to be champion and has had an incredible year.
Colin: Seth Rollins
Can you find anybody who has had a better year?
Justin S: Seth Rollins
Like Annabelle said, he had the best MITB cash-in in history. His in-ring work & mic skills have been on another level compared to the rest of the roster. He was heavily criticized for the direction of his character but now that he is gone fans across the world realize his value.
Justin F: Sasha Banks
Trust me, this was very tough to choose between either Seth Rollins and Sasha Banks. But I choose Sasha Banks as Wrestler of the Year. Both are great performers in the ring and I’ve would of picked Seth Rollins over Sasha Banks due the impact that Rollins made this year. However, from a character standpoint, Banks brought more to the table as a character then Rollins when he was champion. People like Steve Austin and Chris Jericho were putting over her Takeover matches hugely, with Jericho even going as far to compare them to the quality of women’s matches in the 90s. Her charisma, her character, and her in-ring skills, Sasha has played a huge part of how women should be presented in professional wrestling. Look at any of her Takeover matches that she was in and see how stayed on point with in character and doing everything she could to win. This might be a controversial choice that I made, but she deserves some praise and hopefully down the road that women can be on the same level as the men. Sasha’s historical importance and in-ring wrestling makes her worthy of being Wrestler of the Year.
What do you think? What are your choices of the categories that were listed? Let us know by commenting or reach out to our Twitter handle @SportsTalkFeed, reach out to me or our cohosts on your thoughts.
Justin F (moderator): @Fitchett_is_law
Justin S: @JmSzabo