Corrigan’s Corner: Top 10 Matches Of 2015

Sorry, New Japan matches did not make my list.

A new year is around the corner, and as we wind down 2015, it’s time to reflect in the best way possible: LISTS!

10) John Cena vs. Cesaro (WWE Raw, June 29th edition)

The U.S. Title Open Challenge series was perfect because it kept John Cena out of the main event, elevated the championship, guaranteed a good match each week, and offered a much-needed sense of unpredictability as to who would answer the call. Although the first incarnation ended in an unnecessary title vs. title match at SummerSlam, the series remains beloved by fans for those excellent matches with fresh foes for Cena such as Stardust, Sami Zayn, and oh yes, Cesaro.

Interference usually tarnishes a great battle, but this time it made sense because 1. Kevin Owens 2. at least Cesaro didn’t lose.

9) The Kingdom vs. The Bullet Club (ROH War of the Worlds, Night 2)

Experiencing a match live is always better than watching on TV, especially in the era of MAGGLE commentary.

I finally experienced the Young Bucks this year, and although their don’t-blink style isn’t my (high) spot of tea, I love the atmosphere they create. They’re the indy version of Hulkamania. Teaming them up with AJ Styles, who has become this mythical figure of excellence since escaping TNA, and you’ve got a helluva trio taking on perhaps the only legitimate heels in Ring of Honor: The Kingdom.

Here’s a recap of the action.

8) Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens (NXT TakeOver: Rival)

The chemistry that these two friends/rivals have developed over the years was displayed in a great battle for the NXT Championship. Zayn, the consummate hero, vowed to avenge the sneak attack Owens, the consummate villain, dished out on the night K.O. debuted/Zayn won the title. Reminiscent of Brock vs. Cena at SummerSlam 2014, Owens mauled Zayn until the referee had no choice but to stop the brutality and award K.O. with the gold.

7) Kevin Owens vs. John Cena (WWE Elimination Chamber)

Much to Vince Russo’s chagrin, 2015 will go down as Kevin Owens’ breakout year. Hopping from NXT to WWE in record timing, the Steve & Barry’s posterboy aimed his sights on the face of the company: JAWN Cena. It was a nail biter for fans who feared that our bearded hero would succumb to LOLCENAWINZ as had Rusev, Bray Wyatt, NEXUS, Fred Flintstone, and the rest.

However, in a shocker of the year, Owens pinned Cena. CLEAN.

6) Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE Fastlane)

“You’re bigger than me, you’re stronger than me, but the reality is that I am a better WRESTLER than you.”

Daniel Bryan summed up the fans’ feelings on Roman Reigns being positioned for the main event of WrestleMania: It was bullshit because Reigns had the “look,” but D-Bry had the skills, charisma, and tenure. Bryan’s underdog story continued as he faced Reigns in a supposed face vs. face matchup which almost evolved into D-Bry turning heel due to frustration.

Even though we already knew the result going into the match, Bryan and Reigns made us believe that anything was possible. Plus, it has the distinction of being more than likely D-Bry’s last great match in WWE.

5) Brock Lesnar vs. Undertaker (WWE Hell in a Cell)

The rivalry of the year concluded inside the demonic structure as the Beast Incarnate clashed with the Deadman. Despite fighting inside the Cell more than a decade earlier, this time around Brock and Taker pulled off a bloodier, unholier war. Tearing apart the ring, holding nothing back, these titans transcended sports-entertainment and resurrected professional wrestling. If The Streak had to die to get this match, then so be it.

4) Vampiro vs. Pentagon Jr. (Ultima Lucha)

I’ll admit to not following Lucha Underground as religiously as I should have. But the beauty of this match is that I didn’t need to. The story was told inside the ring and more importantly, on commentary, as Matt Striker explained why his retired broadcast partner decided to step back into the squared circle to face the remorseless Pentagon Jr., whose quest to please his unknown Master led to broken arms and battered women. It’s referred to as a “Cero Miedo Match” which translates to zero fear. Truer wrestling advertisements have never been spoken.

3) Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (WWE WrestleMania 31)

Five days before WrestleMania 31, Brock Lesnar fueled more anticipation into the showcase of the year than WWE had in months. Lesnar went on ESPN to announce that he had resigned with the company, immediately adding uncertainty to a match that was a foregone conclusion. Now the questions flooded wrasslin’ chatter: Would Reigns still walk out as champion? Why would Lesnar stay if only to lose? Could Reigns lose without being deemed a failure? Would Paul Heyman betray his beast?

Well, we got our answer after a hellacious battle. An answer NO ONE saw coming.

2) Bayley vs. Sasha Banks (NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn)

It’s unfathomable that I just typed a women’s wrestling match as the second best bout of the year. I’m a child of the Attitude Era when gravy bowls and pillow fights were more frequent than suplexes. Yes, Trish and Lita and Molly and Mickie James revolutionized that, but even they had never brought women’s wrestling to the heights that Charlotte, Becky, Bayley and Sasha have. In large part, the rise of feminism in society as a whole has been responsible for the change, but that doesn’t diminish the talent of the NXT women.

Sasha Banks and Bayley told a story in the ring that was echoed from real life. Banks catapulted from the developmental system to the main roster, delivering incredible matches that fans finally took seriously. She is cocky, brash, aggressive: She’s The Boss. On the other hand, Bayley is a hugger. She’s a peace-loving, family-friendly longtime fan who dreamt of becoming a WWE Superstar and busted her ass to make it happen.

From Banks stomping on Bayley’s hand as she reached for the ropes to Bayley spiking Banks’ head with a reverse hurricanrana off the top rope, these ladies gave everything they had to educate the crowd on why women’s wrestling deserves respect.


1) Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins vs. John Cena (WWE Royal Rumble)

Like I said earlier, being there live trumps watching on TV.

The unstoppable Conqueror defended his WWE World Heavyweight Championship against his unrelenting, arch nemesis John Cena and the smarmy, corporate pet Seth Rollins in front of a raucous Philly crowd. As mentioned on the Christmas edition of the Wrestledelphia podcast, this was Rollins’ coming-of-age moment as he kept up with two larger-than-life stars and added some breathtaking high-flying into a typical big man’s brawlfest. With Brock Lesnar incapacitated on the outside, it seemed like a fair way for the Beast to lose his title without being pinned.

But nobody keeps BROCK LESNAR down because he eats children and fists deer and pisses lava and brutalizes and victimizes and annihilates all that come before him.

Sweet Jesus, 2015 was great.

John Corrigan
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John Corrigan

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John Corrigan
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