Thursday, June 25, 2015

Wrestlers of the Half-Year (20-11)

20) Daniel Bryan: If it wasn't for the injury he sustained, again, Daniel Bryan would have ended up higher on this list most likely. He returned shortly before the Royal Rumble and had a disappointing showing there. However, after that he was pretty great. He worked a 45 minute turmoil match on Smackdown before putting on one of the best matches of the year against Roman Reigns at FastLane. Following that, he captured the Intercontinental Championship in a multi-man ladder match at WrestleMania. There was also a rather good match against Dolph Ziggler the night after WrestleMania and one where he got busted open by Sheamus. His year didn't last much longer than that though as he was forced to relinquish the belt due to injury, but for the time he was actually around, Bryan was his usual great self.

19) Ryback: From the standpoint of just match quality, I wouldn't put Ryback here. I can't think of one really good to great match that he's had all year, but he was able to win the Intercontinental Title at Elimination Chamber, which is a career highlight. Hell, even the match he won the title in was one I would consider the absolute worst Elimination Chamber match in history. Despite this, Ryback was a favorite to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, before moving into a feud with Bray Wyatt. While neither of these led to wins, his early year work and Intercontinental Title victory put him on this list.

18) Tyson Kidd and Cesaro: When Tyson Kidd and Cesaro were randomly paired up, I expected it to be a short lived team. Instead, they managed to gel together, showing off a chemistry that heavily impressed me. After a win on the Royal Rumble Kickoff Show, they moved into a feud with the Usos. They earned a title shot at FastLane and surprised myself and many others by winning those belts. They became one of the best acts on the entire roster and successfully retained the belts at WrestleMania. After that, things went downhill though as they dropped the belts and Tyson Kidd suffered an injury that will keep him out of action for nearly a year. Still though, their performance throughout the year was an absolute blast and the injury came at the worst time considering Kidd had the most momentum of his career. Kidd and Cesaro should remain a team when Kidd eventually returns as they are too damn good at it.

17) Shinsuke Nakamura: It is very possible that he would place higher if I saw more of him. I don't get to watch as much NJPW as I'd like to, but when I do see it, Shinsuke Nakamura is the one I look forward to the most. His match at Wrestle Kingdom 9 against Kota Ibushi is still my favorite match of 2015 and it happened only four days in. I also got to see him defend the title against Yuji Nagata as well as his loss to Goto. Besides that, I witnessed some of his matches outside of NJPW, like a really good one against Roderick Strong in Ring of Honor. The guy is highly entertaining and one of the best in the world, but I can't bring myself to put him higher since I didn't see enough of him. Yes, that's my fault but still.

16) Ethan Carter III: For a long time now, Ethan Carter III has been the best thing about TNA Wrestling. In 2015, he had my favorite match in TNA all year against Rockstar Spud. He's another guy that I think could have placed higher if it wasn't for injury. He spent a good chunk of the year out of action, while still maintaining his character due to his ability to cut solid promos. He staked his claim to become the next TNA World Heavyweight Champion, and should absolutely win that but the time hasn't come for the match just yet. EC3 continues to be undefeated since the start of his tenure in TNA and not losing in 2015 has to count for something.

          15) The New Day: When the New Day debuted in late 2014, they were kind of a bust. Their lack of character development and bland face run hurt. The fans turned on them, but once they took that and ran with it, the New Day became must see television. Their run as heels who believe they should be loved makes them enjoyable as hell. They won the Tag Team Titles at Extreme Rules and held them for about two months. During that time they were one of the best things about WWE week in and week out. Hell, they even beat Randy Orton and Roman Reigns and now, Kofi is set up to wrestle Brock in Japan. While the match against Brock will most likely be a squash, it's still a big deal to work him. IT'S A NEW DAY, YES IT IS!

14) Dean Ambrose: Following a terrible second half of 2014, Dean Ambrose has rebounded nicely in 2015. He competed in the Intercontinental Title ladder match at WrestleMania but lost. After that it was pretty good stuff though. He won his first singles PPV match since 2013 against Luke Harper before earning a spot in the WWE Title picture. At Elimination Chamber, he won, only to have the decision overturned. It went a long to show that Ambrose has loads of potential as a future WWE Champion even though some people, including me, didn't see that a few months ago.

           13) Brock Lesnar: There is no bigger special attraction in pro wrestling right now. It's hard to place Brock Lesnar higher because he isn't around very often. At the Royal Rumble, he had my second favorite match of the year and retained against Seth Rollins and John Cena. At WrestleMania, he had another great bout against Roman Reigns. The night after Mania, he stole the show by destroying commentary and cameramen. He just returned this past week and it was once again, another fun performance until the end. Brock Lensar is must see television and a game changer for wrestling. Every single time I see him, I feel like it's worth it.

12) John Cena/Finn Balor: Some people may not like me putting John Cena out of the top ten but hear me out. This is mostly nothing against Cena. I've enjoyed him more this year than most others. He had a match of the year candidate against Seth and Brock at the Rumble before putting over Rusev at FastLane. My biggest issue with his year comes here. After FastLane, everything against Rusev was either disappointing (Mania) or flat out awful (Extreme Rules and Payback). Despite this, his Open Challenge for the US Title was a weekly highlight that gave us really good matches against Sami Zayn, Neville, Dean Ambrose, Stardust and more. Coming out of that, he's had the best things he's done all year, which is the rivalry with Kevin Owens. This produced the two best Cena matches all year, but I'll get more into those a bit later on. It's odd to have a tie here but I didn't know who to place higher. Finn Balor has been good in big matches (against Owens, Neville and Breeze), but his weekly TV performances haven't been all that great. Regardless, he's fun and one of the very top guys in all of NXT.

11) Kurt Angle: I've been outspoken about how I don't think that Angle should TNA Champ. I still stand by that, but it doesn't change how good he's been in the ring. Kurt Angle is able to have good matches with just about anyone. He and Bobby Lashley had some great matches early in the year, leading to Angle winning the title. He's defended it against the likes of Rockstar Spud, Austin Aries, Eric Young and more. He's been champion for a few months and deserves a spot on this list. If he drops the title to EC3, which he absolutely should, I'll have a bit more respect for him. Angle has become TNA's go to guy, and while I don't prefer it, I can see why.