Unlike with NXT, where one match very clearly stood out above the rest, your favorite Editors here at Cageside Seats cannot come to a consensus on the "Match of the Year" in WWE in 2015. In fact, we all have a different opinion, though you'll see all the same guys.
Here you go.
Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins, Royal Rumble
This is, at least in part, a mark pick.
This here blog is run on our passion for pro wrestling as fans. We're fans first, and that's the spirit I try to maintain at all times. So, then, when I look back on the year that was, I can't say if this is the best match by pro wrestling standards, but I can say that it was my favorite match and the one that entertained me most.
That's good enough for "Match of the Year" to me.
Lesnar matches are always special because he is an anomaly. Here, there was added intrigue because of what was going on behind-the-scenes with Brock's contract coming due and his possible departure looming large. The match itself was the perfect mix of booking, moves, and a finish I couldn't have saw coming.
I was really, really tempted to go with Lesnar vs. Reigns from WrestleMania because of the story there -- story, for me, is above all -- but I watched both again before making this decision and came away more entertained, as a fan, by the triple threat.
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (vs. Seth Rollins), WrestleMania 31
It's been such a long year. Do you realize how long a year is in WWE terms? The year started off with what we thought was the all-time worst build to a WrestleMania, ever. Then Mania 31 came along and was a stone-cold, all-time classic (in my humble opinion, anyway). John Cena tore up the universe with the United States Open Challenge. Daniel Bryan won and surrendered the Intercontinental Championship. Sami Zayn debuted and got injured. The Divas Revolution happened. Nikki Bella set a longevity record. AJ Lee left. Alberto Del Rio came back. SummerSlam felt like another WrestleMania weekend. Undertaker and Brock Lesnar had two massive matches. The world title got vacated and we had a great tournament. Roman Reigns finally ascended again (for real this time). Oh yeah, and THE NEW DAY rose to power.
So yeah, it's been a really long year. A long year of terrific matches and hard-to-watch RAWs and pay-per-views that far exceeded expectations. My runners-up for WWE match of the Year included Cena vs. Cesaro, the Lesnar/Cena/Rollins triple threat at the Rumble (probably most people's pick for MOTY), two of the Cena vs. Owens matches and Rollins vs. Cena at SummerSlam. But ultimately I realized the main event of WrestleMania 31 had what was, for me, the best possible combination of great match and important match. Brock Lesnar, of course, can basically do no wrong, and each of his matches feel like an important event just by virtue of him being involved. But no one expected Reigns to step it up like this. No one expected the match to be as hard-hitting, brutal, suspenseful, or emotional as it was. And few people expected it to result in the paradigm shift was that Rollins' title win.
It's still a match that holds up at the end of a WrestleMania that is among the very best all-time. Rollins-Cena-Lesnar from Royal Rumble is a very close second, but ultimately it will be remembered as a great match and little more. The main event of WrestleMania 31 is just as good and it's important, which goes a long way when I rank my Match of the Year each year.
Seth Rollins vs. John Cena, SummerSlam
Had a much tougher time with this one than NXT, where there was one contest that was far and away my favorite. On the main roster, there were four or five that were all neck-in-neck. When Geno first asked me, this one was toward the bottom of that list. The more I kicked it around in the old noggin, however, the more I realized how this one was the best example of everything I love about WWE.
What most will knock it down for - the Jon Stewart interference ending - is something I adore. This is a company that put Mr. T in the main event of the most important show in their history. WWE gonna WWE. I don't want their brand of pro wrestling...excuse me, sports entertainment...all the time, but no one else can do it like they do. Now, if I had the book, it would have been the only schmoz finish of Rollins' run. I understand and even subscribe to Stewart's "turn" as evidence of the basic problem with the title scene from April - November. In and of itself, though, this one felt big, it felt surprising (not that there were shenanigans, but from whence they came) and the surprise made sense when it was explained. Your mileage may vary, and probably does, but for this J-Stew mark, it worked in a major way.
Everything else about the match is pretty unassailable. It featured John doing the kind of things he'd done since winning the United States title - the kind of things that made him an unlikely internet darling. For the course of the evening, we got the Rollins that was an internet darling until he started working chicken shit heel. If you claim to not have popped when Seth hit the AA, or when Cena had him in the Figure Four, you're either lying or should just stop watching WWE.
Bottom line, this champion versus champion match pretty much summed up the majority of what we got from Vince & team in 2015...good, bad, f*** this and what the s*** was that? It's a match that I enjoyed a great deal, and that I'll think back on when I think about this year in pro wrestling.
What was your WWE "Match of the Year" in 2015?