There have been some truly incredible matches this year and it has been extremely difficult to narrow it down. I ended up with seven as I felt I had to represent Divas and Tag Teams in the list but then couldn’t get down to less than 5 elsewhere. If you have a few hours to spare I recommend you get sat comfortably in front of The Network and watch these in chronological order. They are not listed in chronological order here, I have made the incrediblly painful decision to rank them in order of their brilliance.
7) Paige (w/AJ Lee) vs Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) - WWE RAW (March 23)
After the controversy of a neglected Divas division which resulted in a #givedivasachance Twitter storm, Vince McMahon responded by giving more air time to the female division. In this edition of RAW, Paige challenged Nikki Bella for the Divas title. They were given ten mins wrestling time (an epic by Raw standards) and they made the most compelling case yet for the Divas to be given more attention. It was a great match up which gathered pace and peaked at the finish with several near falls. Allies Paige and AJ who were due to face The Bella Twins at WrestleMania fought at the end after Nikki picked up the win following an accidental elbow from AJ. It was a basic storyline, an old-school storyline, but guess what, it made sense and it was interesting and entertaining, the highlight of the show. WWE creative take note.
6) WWE Tag Team Title Match - Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (w/Natalya) (c) vs The New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (w/Xavier Woods) - Extreme Rules
This was a great match which marked the resurgence of the almost extinct Tag Team division. Given the time they had they could not have done anymore here. Kidd did a lot of great work but Cesaro was simply magnificent and hit an effortless superplex on Kofi from Kofi standing on the apron just as one example, but the rest were not too far behind. All kinds of great stuff was going on including Big E tackling Kidd through the ropes. New Day were over great as heels and both teams traded all kinds of finishers. Cesaro & Kidd did the giant swing into dropkick on Kingston but E saved. After some classic ref distraction from Xavier Woods Kingston used a schoolboy trunk hold to pin Cesaro and win the titles. Despite the result this was all about Cesaro.
5) No. 1 Contender Match (WWE Title at WrestleMania) - Roman Reigns vs Daniel Bryan - Fastlane
There is no doubt that this match was only ever devised after the backlash from the mess that was The Royal Rumble. Despite the poor back story the match was fantastic, the best match the two could have done and proved themselves both to be legitimate main event stars. Bryan showed why he was/is the best worker in WWE and Reigns put in a career best display, much to the annoyance of his detractors. Some of the highlights were Bryan doing two tope's and on a third, Reigns caught him with an overhead belly to belly on the floor. Reigns went for a spear on the floor but crashed into the steps. Bryan then leapt of the top rope into a Superman punch, then Reigns went for a spear which Bryan anticipated and took him into a small package. You get the idea. Reigns eventually won with a spear when Bryan went for the Busaiku knee. An awesome match and exactly why I wish Daniel Bryan a speedy recovery.
4) John Cena vs Kevin Owens - Elimination Chamber
After Owens introduced himself to the world in a moment that made number 2 in my moments of 2015, the two faced off. This was an excellent match with about 20 minutes of kicking out of near falls with both guys throwing everything at each other. Cena had kicked out of a Pop-up powerbomb earlier as well as kicking out of an insult-to-injury AA from Owens. Owens kicked out of the Attitude Adjustment, the leg slice off the top rope as well as the Springboard Stunner and also kicked his way out of the STF. Owens' creativity left people unfamiliar with his work open-mouthed and not only that, he made Cena look like a wrestler. Owens won the match clean after a Pop-up and left his mark in WWE history.
3) John Cena vs Kevin Owens - Money In The Bank
A couple of weeks after their amazing first encounter Cena and Owens did the unthinkable and improved on their first meeting. Here Cena did everything in the world to Owens but he kept kicking out, including the Attitude Adjustment twice as well as an Infrared. Cena also kicked out of the Pop-up power bomb and in an amazing moment a 5 Knuckle Shuffle. The finish saw Cena hit a(terribly executed) stunner and a third Attitude adjustment he won cleanly (well we couldn't have Owens beat him twice now could we!) Owens left looking strong despite the loss as when Cena tried for the "mutual show of respect and handshake" routine straight out of the 80's, he kicked Cena before giving him a powerbomb on the apron and leaving him crumpled. The crowd erupted and Owens left with both the U.S. and NXT belts.
2) WWE Title Match - Brock Lesnar (c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs John Cena vs Seth Rollins (w/Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury) - Royal Rumble
On a night that created much controversy an absolute gem of a match took place. Lesnar destroyed everyone early with his trademark "Suplex City" guided tour before clamping a Kimura lock on Cena. Rollins jumps in and he then works as a team with Cena in an effort to take out "the Beast". Cena does manage to hit an AA and when Rollins then goes for the pin he gets a one count. We get Lesnar hitting Rollins with an F5 and Cena making the save, Cena hitting 3 consecutive AA's on Lesnar and Rollins making the save, Lesnar kicking out from a Curb Stomp and Rollins coming off the top rope with an elbow onto the Spanish table on Lesnar who then gained a broken rib. Back in the ring Cena and Rolllins battled and Seth came back with a curb stomp for a near fall on Cena and then a Phoenix splash. An injured Lesnar ran in with a German suplex on Rollins and then on Cena. Lesnar went for a second but Rollins landed on his feet and nailed him with the briefcase. Lesnar kicked out and Rollins went for another Stomp but Lesnar caught him with the F5 for the pin. What a battle.
1) WWE Title match - Brock Lesnar (c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs Roman Reigns - WrestleMania
The "cash-in" was third in my moments of the year and the match in it's entirity is my favourite the year so far. This is the review I wrote at the time:
"Minutes in to this extremely stiff encounter and Reigns, like Cena before him, had immediately taken a handful of German suplexes and an F5 which had somehow caused Lesnar to be bleeding under his eye. A phrase was then uttered, oddly by a man who has most of his talking done for him, which will I’m sure adorn a million t-shirts in the near future, “Suplex city bitch” indeed!It was mostly Lesnar domination, which many were not expecting after the way WWE had to try to hype Reigns, although Roman did attempt the odd bit of offence in-between taking suplexes.
After he was sent head first into the ring post Lesnar was bleeding Attitude-era amounts of blood and after multiple Superman punches and a couple of spears he eventually went down, as did Reigns after a third F5. Then Rollins’ music kicked in, cash-in happened, triple threat started and the excitement hit new levels. The final segment of Lesnar about to F5 Rollins but being speared by Reigns who was then curb stomped by Rollins was poetry in motion. We then had the WrestleMania rarity of a heel winner in the ‘Mania main event. Lesnar’s monster status is left in tact, Reigns has main event experience and put in a good performance and we have a surprise new champion who has had an amazing year and deserves his place at the top of the card. Not bad, not bad at all."
A deserving winner in my opinion but feel free to let me know your thoughts.