Hello I'm PwnanObrien and you've clicked on a thread recapping all the things that happened in the world of professional wrestling in 2015. The year saw shocking debuts, injuries, a divas revolution, a watered down rehash of that divas revolution, injuries, tragic passings, John Cena winning back the crowd, Los Ingobernables, injuries and Roman Reigns. Stephen Amell proved it's possible for a celebrity to wrestle a decent match virtually guaranteeing him an entire wing in the WWE Hall of Fame. After months of human rights campaigning on social media Rey Mysterio was released from captivity. At one point WWE debuted Charlotte and Becky Lynch by accidentally advertising a lesbian BDSM website but less exciting than that sounds. Paige even warned them it would happen but then again if Vince McMahon proved anything in 2015 it was that he had no interest in listening to women and the internet. Impact Wrestling went from being one of Spike TV's highest rated shows to airing after Bigfoot Hunters on a reality TV driven extended basic cable network to basically airing in front of less people than will probably attend WrestleMania 33 live.
But I suppose I should stop getting ahead of myself and start where all good years do, January.
As per usual the year was kicked off by New Japan Pro Wrestling who produced WrestleKingdom 9 in front of 36,000 fans in attendance in the Tokyo Dome, people streaming on New Japan World from around the globe and one really confused old man from Oklahoma. The card was highlighted by early match of the year contenders Shinsuke Nakamura defending his IWGP Intercontinental Title against Kota Ibushi and IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi defeating Kazuchika Okada in the main event. The show closed with Tanahashi playing air guitar in the face of a crying Okada and all the children's cancer wards that would have benefited from Okada winning with a rainmaker clothesline, the J-rock knob.
The next night on RAW The Authority returned among celebratory scenes of crowning a new Intercontinental Champion in Bad News Barrett, promoting a concessions stand attendant to Director of Operations and throwing a party in appreciation of John Cena. Later in the month WWE hosted several shows which the internet tells me involved wrestlers from pre-existing scripted feuds or storylines that played out on WWE television. Two of those wrestlers involved in pre-existing scripted feuds or storylines were the newly formed Brass Ring Club of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd who delighted fans with their in-ring prowess and launched a thousand tumblr posts with their out of ring antics.
Lucha Underground crowned it's first champion as Prince Puma won Aztec Warfare, an novel take on the Royal Rumble where entrants are eliminated by pinfall or submission. At the Royal Rumble itself WWE was finally ready to deliver what fans wanted a year ago, which is to say Roman Reigns winning. Yes as the night went on fan favorites like Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler were dumped to the outside by two fat middle aged men like old furniture being chucked out of a house that had been seized by the bank. Once again as fans caught on to the crushing inevitability of what was to transpire they turned on the match and everybody in it. More damning is that at times it turned to a depressed muted jeering like they couldn't give enough of a fuck to boo. The look on The Rock's face says it all as a completely alien feeling of “go the fuck away” washed over him for the first time since 1997. 2015 was shaping up to be a long painful year for WWE.
Promotions that weren't WWE had a pretty good February. New Japan had The New Beginning in Osaka where The Bullet Club won every title that wasn't the NEVER Openweight championship, probably because it takes more than ten people to be a fair fight against Tomohiro Ishii. Heels kept winning later that day in fact as NXT TakeOver Rival saw Sasha Banks win the NXT Women's Title and Kevin Owens powerbomb Sami Zayn out of action for the NXT Championship. In a refreshing change of pace Owens was awarded the win and the title for kicking too much ass.
Back on the main roster WWE was on the Fastlane to making fans sick of Roman Reigns as Daniel Bryan was given a chance to lose to Reigns and tell everybody how awesome he thought Roman was and how we should all cheer for him. It wasn't just Bryan though, no, as legendary orator Paul Heyman got in on the Reigns hype train. Really when Paul Heyman can't convince the crowd to buy into somebody maybe it's time to give up. The most surprising thing about the show was Randy Orton returning to immediately not get revenge on The Authority and instead take part in an overly drawn out uneasy alliance with them that killed his heat faster than Rusev's after losing to Cena.
The first half of March saw Golden Star Independent Genius and Final Fantasy hair model Kota Ibushi come out ahead of 15 other wrestlers to win the New Japan Cup on March 15th. Depressingly the month also saw the tragic in ring death of AAA's Perro Aguayo, Jr. who stumbled into the middle rope trachea first causing a severe whiplash trauma that snapped his neck or as shitheel muckrake TMZ non-journalists put it “killed by Rey Mysterio Jr's deadly 619 finisher.”
Still, as with any March the month be dominated with coverage of the 31st annual WrestleMania Play Button. Against all odds WWE pulled off an amazing show with Tyson Kidd and Cesaro opening the show with a Tag Team Title defense against three other teams. Contrary to common sense the show didn't just end there as Daniel Bryan won a seven corner ladder match to become the Intercontinental Champions. There was even a Old-Timer's Day match booked by your friend who hasn't watched wrestling since 1999 but vaguely remembers WCW and DX. The Undertaker returned to get his revenge by beating up a fat kid who had nothing to do with the streak ending. John Cena won the United States Championship in scenes right out of Rocky IV. The biggest surprise however was saved for the main event between Roman Reigns and champion Brock Lesnar being won by Seth Rollins. Mr. Money in the Bank cashed in on the biggest stage of them all cementing his legacy forever as that guy who can run really fast.
The following night's RAW featured the debut of the Lucha Dragons to save a somehow still face New Day from The Brass Ring Club and the non-threat of The Ascension. Elsewhere Daniel Bryan defended his Intercontinental Championship against Dolph Ziggler before an unwarranted and unwanted return for Sheamus that nobody was asking for reignited the feud that won't die. The most long lasting story coming out of the show however was John Cena's US Title open challenge that would see Cena put on classic matches on both RAW and Smackdown every week with everybody from Stardust to Dean Ambrose to Cesaro. Even Zack Ryder got a chance to...well ok nobody believed he was going to win but he got to be on Monday Night RAW. How exciting for him!
Funny enough for a month named April the longest reigning Divas champion born after the invention of color TV and women's lib AJ Lee retired from WWE admist controversy surrounding WWE's treatment of female performers. This coming after AJ pointed out that despite selling record amounts of merchandise and drawing major ratings the “Divas” in the company received only a fraction of the salary and screen time of their male counterparts. To be fair this was in response to Stephanie McMahon tweeting out praise for Patricia Arquette for advocating women's rights and AJ never starred in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.
Perhaps the worst injury of the year came in mid April as Daniel Bryan was pulled from WWE's European tour as a precautionary measure. It would be later revealed that Bryan's injuries were concussion related and even though he's revived clearance from doctors WWE's actual medical staff has yet to give the green light and it's currently uncertain if he'll ever return, a trend that would become depressingly all too familiar as the year wore on.
In happier, clappier news The New Day came into their own at Extreme Rules 2015 as they captured the Tag Team titles from Brass Ring Club. John Cena and Rusev had a Russian Chain Match so important that you totally remember it happened.
Honestly the best show of the month was New Japan's Invasion Attack which was headlined by AJ Styles and Kota Ibushi daring fate to break one of their necks. Elsewhere Lucha Underground made progressive moves crowning Ivelisse one third of the Lucha Underground Trios champions alongside Angeico and Son of Havoc. In fact, since she broke her leg in the match really you can chalk one up for wrestlers with disabilities as well. Honestly I'm just surprised it wasn't Angelico getting injured.
The eventful month of May began with Hirooki Goto defeating Shisuke Nakamura in front of the thousands in attendance at the Fukuoka Kokusai Center to capture the IWGP Intercontinental Championship for four and a half months before everybody realized it was a bad idea. New Japan had a much more exciting outing later in the month visiting America for two nights of Global Wars against Ring Of Honor providing an excellent showcase of talent for WWE to pilfer in 2016.
The first RAW was highlighted not by Roman Reigns and Randy Orton going to a no contest in the main event or the super memorable Rusev v Fandango match but John Cena's US Title open challenge being accepted by Sami Zayn. In the single most Sami Zayn thing to ever happen the Muslim Canadian ska enthusiast threw out his shoulder happily pumping his arms up and down to hype up the crowd during his entrance. In a characteristically edifying show of guts Zayn wrestled the entire match with his shoulder out of place even having his arm raised post match by Cena the dumbass.
WWE Payback saw an amazing match between the New Day and Brass Ring Club and the brief reunion of The Shield but it was immediately overshadowed by NXT. Against all odds and probably doctor's orders Sami Zayn returned for NXT Takeover Unstoppable in a losing effort to take back the NXT Championship. It wasn't just Sami though as the curse of shoulder injuries took Hideo Itami from Wrestlemania payday to sitting out the rest of the year leaving an opening to his friend Finn Balor. NXT's fifth special was also host to Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch stealing the show as a rising undercurrent of women's wrestling began to officially take hold on the developmental program.
And because of all this upheaval WWE decided the month needed a do-over and put on a second Pay Per View only two weeks after Payback during the shortest month of the year. Fuck learning anything from WCW's failure. Elimination Chamber featured The New Day retaining in what vaguely resembled a too many Goddamn teams Elimination Chamber Match. Dean Ambrose got a satisfying non-win over Seth Rollins by disqualification. Most memorable Kevin Owens defeated John Cena in a champion vs champion non-title match on his first night in the company excluding all those nights he was in NXT actually.
June 1st kicked off with Monday Night RAW featuring Dean Ambrose still AWOL with the WWE Title he stole from Seth Rollins. Ambrose could be seen with the title in WWE crowds, getting food on it at New Orleans restaurants and he even loaned it to a number of sad looking Youtube bloggers unless those are replicas. Speaking of going AWOL, Randy Orton continued his best of 113 series with Sheamus in an attempt to get anyone and everyone else in the history of the wrestling business over. Maybe most depressingly is that the theoretically awesome match of Tyson Kidd taking on Samoa Joe was not only a dark match but ended in Tyson suffering a potential career ending spinal cord injury. Running wrestlers health into the ground with constant physical abuse was a running story throughout 2015, so much so that by December Vince McMahon himself was making a storyline out of it on national television and it was only the second most tasteless promo on RAW that year.
Stupid mohawk'd Sheamus would go on to defeat Neville, Roman Reigns, Randy Orton, Kofi Kingston, Kane and Dolph Ziggler to become Mr. Money in the Bank. It's the one thing wrestling fans didn't want to happen. Elsewhere The Prime Time Players defeated The New Day to become transitional Tag Team Champions and Seth Rollins finally got his title back in a ladder match win over Dean Ambrose. The following night on RAW The Authority announced that the assault weapons ban preventing Brock Lesnar from competing in North America had been lifted officially signing Rollins' public execution for Battleground in July.
More than 11,000 people were I attendance in Osaka Japan to watch The Rainmaker take back the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from AJ Styles in a match of the year contender. This was coming off the previous day's WWE Beast in the East show where Finn Balor defeated Kevin Owens to capture the NXT Championship in what was somehow not the main event.
On July 13th it was time for WWE to finally wring some mainstream success and praise out of this whole women's wrestling revolution thing going on down in Florida and give credit to the woman at the center of it all...Stephanie McMahon. Yes, Becky Lynch Charlotte and a title belt-less Sasha Banks showed up on RAW to spark the sort of social change that comes from establishment authority figures making a big PR stunt of it.
The little clock ticking down over Seth Rollins' head reached zero as Brock Lesnar got his chance to throw The Architect of The Shield on his skull in a legal murder attempt on Pay Per View or the WWE Network if you're not an idiot who doesn't know how money works. Luckily for Seth Rollins he retained his title by losing. That's what happens when an old man returns and kicks your opponent in the dick.
Hey, want to keep talking about old men and dicks? Of course you do because arguably the biggest news story of 2015 happened when over-cooked human foreskin colored hair plug modeler Hulk Hogan's sex tape was leaked to an unlucky few who no doubt died seven day later. In the tapes a drunk Hogan went on racist tirades that were so offensive he was scrubbed from WWE's internet presence in the darkest hours of the night before the story even broke. I bet Kevin Sullivan was kicking himself with the realization that all it would have taken for the Dungeon of Doom to end Hulkamania is gifting Hogan a handheld camera and some Segram's Wine Coolers.
The first half of August was dominated by the final two thirds of the longest G1 Climax in history. All of New Japan's biggest stars put on night after night of amazing matches. The only real outsider of the group was Michael Elgin who finally found his place in the world like some sort of inspiring Pixar movie about a bald man who powerbombs Bullet Club members into each other. In the end Hiroshi Tanahashi stood tall over Shinsuke Nakamura in no small part due to Nakamura's injured left elbow.
Early August also saw the conclusion to Lucha Undergound's first season with Ultima Lucha, a two part three hour finale featuring nine matches. The Trios Championship was up for grabs as was $100,000 in a 10 man battle royal. The inaugural Gift of the Gods Champion was crowned in a seven-way match. In the main event Prince Puma took on Mil Muertes for the Lucha Underrground Championship. I, like a lot of others still haven't seen it so no spoilers.
The New Day recapturing tag gold, Seth Rollins winning John Cena's US Title and a throat choking dick kicking SummerSlam main event between Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker seemed disappointing in comparison to what had taken place just the night before. 15,589 fans packed the Barclays Center for NXT Takes Manhattan, an event so stellar legendary veteran Jushin Thunder Liger making his WWE debut opened it. The Vaudevillains defeated failed Jerry Lynn clones Blake and Murphy to become NXT Tag Champions. Honestly though it must have been hard for the main event of Finn Balor defending his newly won gold against Kevin Owens in a ladder match. It had to follow arguably the most important match of the year as Bayley defeated Sasha Banks in an emotional show stealing feel good moment that changed the landscape of women's wrestling in North America. It was an event so star studded Joshi icon Kana was in attendance even though she had to sit next to a couple old men who probably smelled and fell asleep part way through.
September saw a lot of change. Night of Champions 2015 kicked off with Kevin Owens winning his first main roster title decisively defeating Ryback to claim the Intercontinental Championship. The returning Dudley Boys almost won the Tag Team titles but had to accept a DQ win instead. Charlotte ended the neck back and knees injuring in no way spiteful toward AJ Lee title reign of Nikki Bella. John Cena defeated Seth Rollins to win back the United States Championship so he could put on more entertaining matches to the confusion of everybody who remembers the previous decade or so of John Cena's career.
The cursed orb Vince McMahon stole from an Egyptian tomb wasn't done claiming victims though. Sting, having taken a hard buckle bomb at the age of too fucking old to be taking stiff buckle bombs, suffered a career ending injury. It's perhaps a testament to the old school toughness of a guy like Sting that he finished the match with little sign of just how destroyed his body was.
It wasn't just North American titles changing hands in September though as Shinsuke Nakamura regained the IWGP Intercontinental Title he'd made important enough to headline shows where the Heavyweight Championship was defended. The great Goto experiment had proved to be a bit of a bust. Hell, September had so much going on we even got a sort of post-credits scene on the 30th with Live From Maddison Square Garden, a WWE Network show that featured Kevin Owens retaining the IC title against Chris Jericho, John Cena retaining the US Title against Seth Rollins and Brock Lesnar hunting 300 pounds of Big Show meat but only being able to carry 100 pounds back to his wagon.
2015 was also a year with some major losses to the dwindling roster of WWE Legends who didn't have to be scrubbed from history like an enemy of a fascist state. Roddy Piper passed in July and Dusty Rhodes lost his battle with cancer in June. So it's fitting then that October's NXT Special would be called TakeOver Respect.
The show featured the finals of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, a concept so old school it would fit right in with Dusty's old school territory booking. Sure established tag teams such as The Mechanics, The Vaudvillains, Enzo and Cass, Jordan and Gable and the Lucha Dragons all lost to the experienced tag partners of Finn Balor and Samoa Joe. That said the matches were great and chief among them was the first ever 30-minute Iron Woman match main event featuring Sasha Banks and NXT Women's champion Bayley. It was a show so good WWE basically produced a documentary series covering the lead up to it called Breaking Ground.
Back on the main roster Hell in a Cell featured a bunch of champions retaining and Brock Lesnar beating up somebody's dad. This year did a lot to solidify NXT's superiority. Really the only surprise of the show was Alberto Del Rio returning from enjoying appearances in Ring of Honor and AAA to capture the United States title off John Cena. Cena, of course, was giving up the belt because he was worn down from years of physical abuse. For fuck sake.
Have I mentioned injuries yet? In November WWE suffered another jarring injury as WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins blew his knee out during a hose show match with Kane. Thus WWE partook in their new favorite pastime they're forced into, booking a tournament for a vacant title.
That tournament would conclude at Survivor Series where despite ISIS's smarkiest efforts Roman Reigns was crowned WWE World Heavyweight Champion for about 13 minutes. It's like WWE heard months worth of fans saying the last person they wanted holding the belt was Reigns and thought “Oh yeah? Are you forgetting Sheamus has the Money in the Bank briefcase?”
The following night on RAW saw a major change for the Roman Reigns character though as he stopped cutting awful promos, started punching everybody in the mouth...and then went right back to cutting awful promos. Still, for a week it seemed like Roman was going through interesting changes.
Oh, and this month decide to bookend itself with injuries as fan favorite Cesaro was sidelined with a torn rotator cuff for four to six months. What is it with the shoulders? Specifically shoulders?!? 2015 was getting so depressing that you couldn't even turn to happy go lucky yellow clad Tomoaki Honma without hearing accusations of domestic abuse. It was getting to be too much to take really as the year spiraled down a drain of injuries, controversy and Sheamus matches.
WWE's main roster tried to cap off a disastrous injury filled year with the dumbest possible show. It was like Vince McMahon was waving his dick in the face of hubris. Traditionally Tables Ladders and Chairs is less a match type and more a three ingredient recipe for independent contractors needing health insurance.
The New Day managed to escape 2015 unharmed, throwing a trombone at a somehow not dead Kalisto to retain the Tag titles. Alberto Del Rio took on Jack Swagger's Hitler Youth haircut in a chairs match that just dared the fates to give somebody a concussion. The Wyatt Family took on walking wellness violations in a match the threatened to injure the fans willingness to keep watching. Dean Ambrose beat Kevin Owens in uncharacteristically the safest match of the night. Sheamus even made it out of his TLC match with Roman Reigns still holding his title and all his limbs.
Just like last year WWE needed something to lift fans' spirits and NXT was there to deliver. With 10,079 in attendance at the SSE Arena TakeOver London maintained NXT's flawless record of nine critically acclaimed WWE Network events. The show opened with Japanese legend Asuka destroying Emma in scenes that mirrored NXT's last show on the road. The very personification of everything good in the world of wrestling Bayley barely managed a win over newly debuted monster heel Nia Jax and Finn Balor retained his NXT Championship against Samoa Joe.
And so there you have it, a look back at 2015, a year impossibly full of misfortune. Now let's stop looking at it before something bad happens.