This wasn’t titled ‘Quick Hits’ for nothing – there’s a lot of ground to cover when reviewing the year that was in WWE, so let’s jump right in…..quickly.
Top 5 Tag Teams of the Year
5. The Mechanics – Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder had a breakout year in NXT, defeating the incredibly popular Vaudevillains for the NXT Tag Team Championship. Their in-ring work is among the elite in tag team wrestling today.
4. The Usos – Though Jey was sidelined for most of the year due to injury, these two are still the most popular fan favorite duo of the last decade. They appear to be back on track to reclaiming the top spot in 2016.
3. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd – These two seemed like an oddball pairing at first – as if the WWE was desperate to fill the tag team division and these were drowning in the mid-card anyway, so why not? But, Cesaro & Kidd took the opportunity and became one of the finest duos in the entire wrestling landscape. They continually put on great matches and had a quirky chemistry that quickly endeared them to the fans, and earned them a nice run as WWE Tag Team Champions.
2. Enzo Amore & Big Cass – “The Realest Guys in the Room” are so insanely over in NXT, that it’s only a matter of time before they get the call-up to the main roster. Enzo Amore could very well be the most charismatic man in wrestling today, and both have made tremendous strides in the ring. A WrestleMania feud with the New Day, please!
1. The New Day – As if any team could take this top spot! Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods are head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. This trio exemplifies how to seize the brass ring and excel under any circumstances. If allowed to stay together, this could become one of the greatest tag teams of all time.
Top 5 Divas of the Year
5. Paige – While her merchandise sells better than any other divas, her 2015 was subpar after an electrifying rookie year in 2014. She lost to Nikki Bella one too many times to be considered among the elite. Still, her heel turn and series of matches with Charlotte keep her ahead of the likes of Naomi, Dana Brooke, and The Bella Twins.
4. Becky Lynch – “Maiden Ireland” was an unforeseen success in 2015. Prior to her show-stealer against Sasha Banks at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, she was used as little more than enhancement talent in NXT. Thankfully, she was given an opportunity to show us all exactly who she is: the Lass Kicker.
3. Charlotte – The daughter of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair may be the most athletically gifted woman in WWE’s Divas division. Her matches certainly back up the pedigree, and without even being a year into her main roster run, she’s already capture the WWE Divas Championship.
2. Bayley – Bayley really could become the female version of John Cena. That’s not a stretch at all. She’s a positive role model, sells a tremendous amount of merchandise (not even being on the main roster yet, mind you), and can work with anyone in the world.
1. Sasha Banks – There’s a reason fans chant “We want Sasha!” in arenas all over the country. She’s “The Boss,” and the unquestioned greatest women’s wrestler in the world today.
Top 5 Events of the Year
5. NXT TakeOver: London – Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe for 18+ minutes? Sign me up. This was a solid show featuring five straight matches given 11-18 minutes each – a shining example of what these “special events” should strive to be.
4. Beast in the East – Who knew watching Brock Lesnar destroy the New Day would be so fun? A surprisingly entertaining event highlight by instant classics Finn Balor vs. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho vs. Neville.
3. SummerSlam – SummerSlam wasn’t so well-received by a lot of people but WWE hit their mark on trying to make this feel like a second WrestleMania. Undertaker/Brock Lesnar and John Cena/Seth Rollins made the event feel as enormous as ‘Mania.
2. WrestleMania 31 – This year’s ‘Mania had the classic moment of Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase to win the WWE World Championship, but even without that, this was still a solid show. Reigns/Lesnar delivered, Sting/HHH was fun (though hideously overbooked), Rollins/Orton stole the show, and Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, and Dean Ambrose made the Intercontinental Championship look extremely important.
1. NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn – It just doesn’t get any better than this in 2015. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley, a ladder match between Finn Balor and Kevin Owens, Apollo Crews’ debut, The Vaudevillains winning the NXT Tag Team Championship, Jushin Thunder Liger’s special appearance opposite of Tyler Breeze, and a surprisingly strong, physical contest between Samoa Joe and Baron Corbin. The electric crowd made this hands-down the greatest show of the year.
5 Most Head-Scratching Moments of the Year
5. Ryback promos – Poor guy – Ryback wasn’t dealt a fair hand in terms of gimmick. He looks like he jumped right out of a 1990’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. One particular showdown with Kevin Owens comes to mind, when Ryback referred to himself as “The Master of the Feed Me More.” What does that even mean? I’d love to see what a non-wrestling fan makes of that statement.
4. Rusev presents Lana with a fish on Raw – “It’s a fish.” Need I say more? This was the only highlight to come out of the odd love triangle between these two and Dolph Ziggler.
3. Eva Marie forgets to kick out – Brutal. Just brutal. YouTube it, folks. You won’t be disappointed.
2. Jon Stewart costs John Cena the WWE Title at SummerSlam – Hey – whatever it takes to keep Cena from breaking Ric Flair’s record. Desperate times call for desperate measures. At least he was on hand the following night on Raw to take his beating like a man.
1. Undertaker’s laugh at SummerSlam – Probably the funniest, most bizarre, and greatest moment all in one.
Top 5 Rivalries of the Year
5. Seth Rollins vs. Kane – Kane is far too old and travelled to be competing for the WWE Championship. Still, I have to give credit where credit is due. He’s found a way to stick around, remain relevant, and still contribute to a solid storyline.
4. Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt – Wyatt deserves a lot of credit for helping develop Reigns into the eventual WWE Champion. This program carried Reigns through the summer while WWE played patient with his career. It certainly didn’t feel like filler, though, as the two put on real quality matches that culminated in one of the best Hell in a Cell matches in years.
3. Sasha Banks vs. Bayley – this was a classic program of the elite champion succumbing to the ultimate underdog. It’s tried and true, and we as fans, eat it up every time it works. This program was spot on.
2. Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar – No, these two didn’t appear on weekly WWE programming regularly, but they really told one of the greatest stories of competition in their two encounters in 2015.
1. John Cena vs. Kevin Owens – it’s simple: this program produced the most consistently great matches, and really showed Owens has chops as a main event heel.
Top 5 Moments of the Year
5. Sting returns on Raw – After the match with Triple H, Sting’s next opponent was a bit of a murky idea. So, when he returned to the WWE after SummerSlam to challenge Seth Rollins for the WWE Championship, it was a pleasant surprise. When Rollins’ statue was unveiled to actually be Sting, a special moment in Raw history was created.
4. The Rock & Ronda Rousey – WrestleMania had to have some sort of filler. I get that – it happens every year. But, how cool was it to see The Rock come down to confront The Authority and see none other than Ronda Rousey have his back?
3. Roman Reigns wins the WWE Championship on Raw – How can you not root for Reigns? The guy went from being booed out of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia in January to being cheered there as WWE Champion in December. The fact that he won the title on an episode of Raw was special as well, as that hadn’t happened in four years prior to that night.
2. Owens pins Cena clean – When Kevin Owens vs. John Cena was announced for May’s Elimination Chamber event, many thought it was simply a manner of gaining exposure for the NXT brand. Then, Owens shockingly pinned Cena clean. It’s very rare that wrestling fans are truly surprised anymore, but this was one of those moments.
1. Seth Rollins’ cash-in – The call to have Rollins cash in at WrestleMania 31 was one of the best decisions WWE has made in a long time. Not only did it create a surreal moment in wrestling history, it safely got the WWE Championship off of Brock Lesnar without damaging him or Roman Reigns’ credibility.
Stoney Keeley covers the WWE for WrestlingNews.co, is a Featured Analyst for Pro Football Spot, and is the Editor for The SoBros Network. Follow on Twitter at @StoneyKeeley, @pfspot, and @SoBrosNetwork.