Friday, January 2, 2015

Top 10 Wrestlers of the Year

10) Bray Wyatt: Near the start of 2014, I completely expected Bray Wyatt to blossom into the next big thing in the WWE. He started the year embroiled in a red hot feud with Daniel
Bryan that led to him being one of, if not, the only person to cleanly pin Bryan in a one on one match this year. He followed that by pinning Roman Reigns at Elimination Chamber in a six man tag that was my choice for match of the year. Things took a turn for the worse on the Road to WrestleMania though. Bray moved into a feud with John Cena that did way more harm than good. He looked terrible in the feud, only winning the middle match and needing tons of help to do so. After that, he moved into a feud with Chris Jericho for no reason. Literally, no reason why this happened at all. At least he won that series of matches before disappearing for a bit. When he returned at Hell in a Cell, he targeted Dean Ambrose, leading to a damn good series of matches, but an overall disappointing feud. While he has been winning out in that, the year has been a huge disappointment after the way it began.

9) Randy Orton: The Viper began the year in good position. He had just unified the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships and then, in the first PPV of 2014, retained it successfully against John Cena at the Royal Rumble. He would also retain in the Elimination Chamber before losing the belt without getting pinned or made submit in the main event of WrestleMania. He never got his rematch though as he moved into the great Evolution/Shield rivalry. The biggest issue for him was that Seth Rollins turned on the Shield and instantly became the top heel in the company. That forced Randy to take a backseat. At Money in the Bank and Battelground, he failed to regain the title in multi-man matches before losing to Roman Reigns at SummerSlam. After a meaningless win over Chris Jericho at Night of Champions, he lost a number one contender's match to John Cena before turning face and being taken out. He has yet to return from that, putting his  year in the same category as Bray Wyatt. Something that started strong, but had the wheels fall off around WrestleMania.

8) Adrian Neville: Adrian Neville might have had the best winning percentage of anyone
in the WWE in 2014, and that includes Rusev. Mind you, Rusev and Roman Reigns just barely missed out on this list. Neville won the NXT Championship at the first NXT Special, NXT ArRival in the main event. From February until December, nobody could touch Neville. He turned back tons of challengers. Tyler Breeze, Tyson Kidd, Bo Dallas, Titus O'Neil,
Brodus Clay, Sami Zayn and others all fell to the "Man that Gravity Forgot." He had the most impressive championship reign of anybody all year and consistently put on good to great matches week in and week out. Adrian Neville will most likely move to the main roster in 2015 and I expect mid-card title run for him somewhere down the road. Regardless of how I see his future, 2014 was a great year for the former "PAC".

7) Dean Ambrose: Before the Shield split everyone expected Roman Reigns to be the star and Dean Ambrose to become a loose cannon heel. Instead, Seth Rollins got the heel turn, while Roman still had the rocket strapped to his back so it seemed that maybe Dean would be the forgotten one. He stayed face and ended up catching fire with the fans who absolutely love him. His loose cannon character works as a face. Success wise, his 2014 left some to be desired for sure. After winning at WrestleMania, the Shield was successful against Evolution in two huge matches before they split. This is where Dean's wins started to disintegrate. He lost at Money in the Bank and then in two high profile matches with Seth Rollins at SummerSlam and Hell in a Cell. He moved into a rivalry with Bray Wyatt, where he has lost the three biggest matches there as well. So why is he so high on the list you ask? It's quite simple. Dean has caught on and become one of the company's top faces despite all of this. He loses and doesn't get the big Roman push, but is still more popular than Roman and a lot of guys. Something about Dean just screams big star and I expect more wins in 2015, but no WWE World Heavyweight Title runs just yet.

6) John Cena: I may not be a John Cena fan, but I respect the man's ability in the ring. 2014 proved to be another successful year for Cena, though I don't think it was really supposed to be. I fully believe that the original plan was for Daniel Bryan to carry the WWE World Heavyweight Championship into SummerSlam and get annihilated by Brock Lesnar. Instead, Bryan got hurt and the WWE scrambled for a main event, leading to Cena winning his 15th World Championship at Money in the Bank. His other highlights of the year featured him beating Bray Wyatt at WrestleMania and Payback as well as a win over Randy Orton inside Hell in a Cell. He had a successful title defense in a Fatal Four Way match at Battleground and, while he was eliminated at Survivor Series, his team won and he beat Seth Rollins at TLC. Overall, a winning year, as usual for John Cena and he could very well win that coveted 16th World Title in 2015.

5) Dolph Ziggler: If you would have asked me to make a top ten wrestlers of 2014 list back in July, Dolph Ziggler would not have even been considered. He was doing a lot of nothing at the start of year, even being thrown into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania. He would also be absent from doing anything of note at Extreme Rules and
Payback. Things would change when Battleground rolled around though. as Dolph eliminated perennial favorite Sheamus in the battle royal to determine the new Intercontinental Champion after Wade Barrett had to vacate it. Everyone thought he won, but the Miz snuck in to get rid of him. After that, Dolph would win the Intercontinental Title from Miz in the opening match at SummerSlam. He would lose it at Night of Champions before regaining it within 24 hours. However, Dolph was just getting warmed up. After sweeping Cesaro in a 2 out of 3 Falls match at Hell in a Cell, Dolph joined Team Cena at Survivor Series. Down 3-1 after John Cena and Big Show got eliminated, Dolph staged a 2003 Shawn Michaels like comeback. He got rid of Luke Harper and Kane before some assistance from Sting allowed him to be the sole survivor that ended the Authority. He would win his third IC Title of the year from Harper in a great Ladder match that I saw live at TLC. From out of nowhere, Dolph Ziggler became the hottest thing in the WWE and is set for a big 2015.

4) Brock Lesnar: From a kayfabe standpoint nobody had a better year than Brock Lesnar. It started at the Royal Rumble, where Brock destroyed Big Show in mere minutes. Don't get me wrong, I disagree with the idea of wasting a Brock match on Show, but still. Brock moved on to WrestleMania, where he did the unthinkable. He beat the Undertaker at WrestleMania to conquer the 21 year streak. It is still surreal and is still the biggest win of the year. Brock was granted a WWE Title shot and proceeded to destroy John Cena to win the title at SummerSlam. 16 GERMAN SUPLEXES! In his only other match in 2014, he lost to John Cena via disqualification at Night of Champions. Brock is possibly leaving back to UFC in 2015, but his 2014 was a historic one for sure.

3) Daniel Bryan: He's like, the opposite of Dolph Ziggler. If I made this list in June, Daniel would have topped it. After a hot 2013, he opened 2014 embroiled in a feud with Bray Wyatt. Being as over as he was, he was able to lose cleanly to Bray and lose no momentum. Whether what happened next was because of CM Punk walking out or not is irrelevant. Bryan was thrust into the main event of WrestleMania. He did something impressive by beating Triple H to open the show and then winning the title against Randy Orton and Batista to close it out. Nobody else has opened and closed Mania with victories. However, this story did not have a happy ending. After marrying Brie Bella days later, things took a turn for the worse. Bryan's dad died and then, after a better than expected title defense against Kane, Bryan was injured and had to forfeit the title. He did just announce that he's returning at the Royal Rumble, so hopefully 2015 is better for my favorite wrestler than 2014 ended up being.

2) Seth Rollins: Seth Rollins is quite possibly, my favorite member of the Shield. Dean Ambrose has moved up, but I've liked Seth since his Tyler Black days. His year began in the same vein as Ambrose; losing to the Wyatts before winning at WrestleMania and sweeping Evolution. Once he struck Roman Reigns in the back with a steel chair, everything changed. Seth overtook Randy Orton as the company's top heel and has done way better in that role than I ever imagined. He picked up a huge win when he retrieved the Money in the Bank briefcase before besting Dean Ambrose on two Pay-Per-Views. While he lost a Tables Match at TLC to John Cena, he evened the score with a Steel Cage win the following night. Lately, he's been less successful, but 2014 was the year that Seth Rollins broke out and 2015 should be the year he wins his first WWE World Heavyweight Title. Believe that.

1) Sami Zayn: How could I put an NXT guy at number one? Well, have you seen him perform? Nobody was more consistent or enjoyable in 2014 than Sami Zayn. It started at NXT ArRival, when he lost in a phenomenal effort against Cesaro, who was in the midst of a big main roster push. At TakeOver, he lost another great match to Tyler Breeze before coming up just shy of winning the NXT Championship at TakeOver: Fatal 4 Way. Sami Zayn may have been struggling to win on the live specials, but was consistently winning on NXT television and putting on a great show each time out. His "Road to Redemption" storyline that led to his R Evolution title shot was well done as he picked up some important wins. Finally, he won the belt at R Evolution, closing out the best show of the year on top. That is, until Kevin Owens attacked him. This leads me, and everyone else, to believe that we're headed towards Owens/Zayn in 2015, which could mean an even more impressive 2015 for Sami than 2014. Simply put, nobody in pro wrestling was a better performer throughout the year and Sami delivered at every turn. On Raw, Main Event and NXT, Sami Zayn was the best.

NXT Report 1/1/15

I admit that I'm a big pressed for time, so instead of writing yet another NXT report, I'll just leave the link to one that I've already written.