Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top Five 12/14/15-12/20/15

1) Jay Lethal: Originally, my plan was to put Roman Reigns in this top spot, but the main event of Final Battle changed my mind. Jay Lethal has been the ROH World Champion since June but his reign has honestly been a bit lackluster. His defenses have ended via draw or with him winning through nefarious terms. However, at Final Battle he stepped up against AJ Styles in the biggest match on the indies all year. Not only did they go out and have a tremendous match but Lethal won cleanly. That was AJ's first pinfall loss in ROH since he returned after his TNA run if I recall correctly. This was the kind of match that Lethal needed as champion. After coming off as very legit when he won it from Jay Briscoe, he hasn't had that one big, clean victory that solidifies him as the man. This was it. A win over AJ Styles, especially clean, is massive.

2) Roman Reigns: Seriously, Roman Reigns was incredibly close to winning the vote this week after Monday. After months of being oddly booked and mostly mishandled, Roman Reigns finally had a moment where seemingly everyone rooted for him at the end of TLC. I didn't love the angle but most people seemed to. The same goes for the following night on Raw. I've seen high praise for the episode, but I found it to be mediocre at best. Still, it was capped with the crowning moment for Reigns. He defeated Sheamus to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion for the second time, with this one lasting much longer than the 5:15 of his first reign at Survivor Series. He was also involved in a rare angle with Vince McMahon earlier in the show. The pop that Reigns got for winning the belt in Philadelphia, the city where he was booed out of the building at the Royal Rumble, was a great bookend to his 2015.

3) Finn Balor: "Finn the Ripper" made a special appearance at TakeOver: London. The "Demon" added a new twist to fit the location before his main event match with Samoa Joe. I feel like this match was a letdown. Granted, it was still a good match but it was missing something to be great. It didn't have enough of a personal feel for a match that saw two guys with a backstory of betrayal. Even so, Finn was able to become the first person to beat Samoa Joe in NXT. He retained his NXT Championship and also continued his winning ways on TakeOver specials, as he's unbeaten on them throughout his one year with the company. With a big Midwest tour coming up, Finn is set to be the champion and the top guy heading into those shows.

4) Roderick Strong: Another big match at Final Battle saw Roderick Strong defend the ROH Television Title. He took on Bobby Fish, who came very close to winning the title a few months back when Jay Lethal was champion. The match was solid, but could have been better. After some back and forth, Strong got put in the Fish Hook and tapped out, but did so in a way the referee couldn't see. Fish released the hold, thinking he won. That freed up Roderick to nail a stiff knee that knocked out Fish and retained the gold. It wasn't the cleanest of victories, but he still retained on the biggest show of the year. It also seemed to be the first step in bringing heel Roddy to Ring of Honor, which is a role he's been so good at in other promotions.

5) Amber Gallows: Originally, my plan was to put either War Machine or Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson in this spot. War Machine won the ROH Tag Titles in a quick match, while Dash and Dawson retained the NXT Tag straps at TakeOver: London. However, I ended up going with Amber Gallows. Gallows was able to win the NWA World Women's Championship this past week. Not only was it kind of rare to see her win a title but she did so by beating Santana Garrett. Garrett has made this list several times, because she has held multiple titles throughout the year. The NWA Women's belt was one of the bigger ones that she wore, up until this point. I don't know how long the reign of Gallows will be, but she joins her husband in currently holding titles in the wrestling world.