It was not a great start to the year for WWE with the controversy of the Royal Rumble, Tag Team and Intercontinental titles that had been badly used to the point they had been almost rendered meaningless, and then a poor and badly thought out build up to WrestleMania. Thankfully WrestleMania delivered big time on the night and since there have been some jaw dropping moments since. In part two of my review of the year so far I'm going to count down the moments that would make my highlight reel and you should watch again on the WWE Network.
6) Raw Is Sting
March 16 Raw, Randy Orton, recently exiled from The Authority, made his way to the ring to face Seth Rollins. Only "Mr Money In The Bank" took to the mic at the top of the ramp to proclaim he had completely outsmarted "The Viper" and then appeared the rest of The Authority including Triple H, Kane and The Big Show. Realising this was not going to be a straight one vs one Orton quickly grabbed a chair in anticipation of the now handicap bout. The Authority surrounded the ring and it looked like a severe beating was inevitable. Then as the group entered the ring from all sides suddenly the lights went out. Five seconds later the lights came back on and there was Sting stood side by side with a confused looking "Viper". The two quickly took out the mob with their chair and baseball bat respectively and the crowd went wild. Sting looked lean, mean and fired up I had goosebumps and was immediately more excited for 'Mania.
5) DX vs NWO
At WrestleMania Sting faced Triple H and I have major issues with the build up, the confusion around who was the face and who was the heel, the fact Triple H won, the ridiculous handshake at the end and the fact it has killed off any potential future for Sting in WWE. However the match did deliver a fantastic piece of nostalgia. Just as Sting applied The Scorpion Deathlock DX came running down the ramp. Triple H then collected his trademark sledgehammer when The NWO suddenly appeared.
It was straight out of the Vince Russo guide to booking as it made absolutely no sense (Sting spent '96-'98 trying to take the NWO down after-all and if there is life on Mars they will know Triple H is best buddies with Hall and Nash) but as a moment of pure escapism and nostalgia it was great fun. I just wish we had then got a DX vs NWO match at the next PPV which could have delivered Sting's revenge for the defeat at the hands of Hunter's sledgehammer.
4) The (Brief) Return Of Shield
A Shield reunion has been, and still is, much rumoured and here it was teased and did indeed happen at Payback, if only for a short time. Rollins, Ambrose and Reigns all teamed up to beat down Randy Orton and then Reigns called for a triple powerbomb. Ambrose and Rollins picked up Orton for Reigns to put Orton through the announcer’s table. Rollins puts his arms around Reigns and Ambrose and was all ready for the gang to be back together. Unfortunately for Rollins they weren't in a forgiving mood and instead after Kane got involved in proceedings, powerbombed Kane onto Rollins who was by this time flat out on the announce table. When the table didn't break the crowd chanted for "one more time" and Ambrose and Reigns did the honourable thing and indeed did put Kane through Rollins and the Spanish announce table. Reigns and Ambrose then discussed what would happen next, decided the loser would buy the beers, and got in the ring to have their own singles match. It was pure WWE magic.
3) The Cash-In
Again at WrestleMania, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns were in the midst of a brutal battle for the WWE title. It was already a great match, Lesnar had served up his usual three courses of brutality, pain and punishment but was shocked by the resilience of the young pretender. Then, like a classic Rocky film, after taking a huge amount of punishment Reigns finally took down a bloodied Lesnar with a triple Superman Punch and then followed with a double spear. "The Beast Incarnate" was actually looking vulnerable, the match was well and truly on. After Lesnar responded with an F5 and both lay on the mat Seth Rollins cashed in his Money In the Bank contract and in a moment a great match suddenly went off the chart. A triple threat match was announced to an astonished crowd and Rollins took the victory by pinning former Shield comrade Reigns. The best WrestleMania main event ever in my opinion.
2) Owens Arrives
John Cena had been doing his US title open challenges for weeks without ever being in real danger, until May 18 Raw when in the style of Scott Hall's WCW entrance, Kevin Owens made his WWE TV debut to confront Cena. After a heated confrontation Owens announced his arrival in the main roster by leaving Cena in a crumpled heap after a Pop-up powerbomb before stamping on Cena's US belt. That is how you make an entrance.
1) Raw Is Lesnar
On two occasions this year Raw has been the Brock show. Bringing with him disarming displays of unbridled ferocity the programmes belonged to Lesnar. The former WWE champion has demonstrated exactly why Vince McMahon battled to keep him, quite simply WWE do not have another star on his level at the moment and when he appears it is, to quote Paul Heyman, a must-see event.
19 January Raw, the show started with an angry Lesnar wanting to get his hands on the "weasely ass" of Seth Rollins. We had to wait until the end of the show for it to happen but when it did, oh my. It was the sort of smash-mouth intense moment that Raw did regularly at it's best, an "out of your seat" moment. Despite having Big Show and Kane either side of him Seth Rollins was in the sights of "The Beast" who ran into the ring and speared him to the mat. It took both Kane and Show to get him off but Lesnar like a wild animal delivered an F5 to Kane, another spear on Rollins and then an F5 to the Big Show. Absolute carnage as Raw goes off the air, how it should be.
30 March Raw and Lesnar is cashing in his right to a rematch after WrestleMania. Rollins decided that he was too jet-lagged and tried to leave. Lesnar dragged him in the ring but Rollins finally managed to escape with help from his security team. Brock goes crazy, annihilates Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble, turns the announce desk over on Booker T, smashed up property and delivers an F5 to Michael Cole to a massive pop. When just about to F5 a cameraman Stephanie McMahon came out to warn him but he did it anyway. She then tells Brock he is suspended so what does he do, F5 the cameraman again of course to chants of "Lesnar". The show went downhill as soon as he departed the screen.
The drawback to the part-time era is here on full display, after stealing the show and displaying exactly why he is worth the multi-million dollar contracts, he disappears for weeks or months.
Let me know your thoughts below. In the next part of my review I will rank the best matches of 2015 so far.