Pro Wrestling

The 10 Absolute Best WWE Wrestlers of 2015 Source:

It’s now time to celebrate the very best of the best in WWE. With this list, we intend to honor the Superstars who shone above the rest in the past year, through a combination of wrestling skills, great matches, and just pure entertainment, in various combinations. Every single one of these wrestlers, male and female, worked hard to entertain wrestling fans all year long, and deserve every accolade we can bestow upon them for their work in 2015. But in another crazy year for WWE, which Superstar do we think stood head and shoulders above the rest, as our Wrestler of the Year? You’ll have to read on to find out!

10. Cesaro

Think of Cesaro as the Energizer Bunny of WWE. No matter how many times things go badly, he just keeps going and going. Being thrown into a tag team with Tyson Kidd seemed like a classic “well, we have absolutely no plans for either of you, so go wrestle together” strategy, but they owned their admittedly unusual team and turned it into one of the hottest acts in the company, resulting in a surprising run as Tag Team Champions and exposing Cesaro’s under-rated charisma when playing off the similarly over-looked Kidd. After a devastating injury sidelined Kidd, and after having his abilities publicly questioned by Vince McMahon on a live edition of the Stone Cold Podcast which aired on WWE Network, Cesaro spent the summer and fall working his way into the hearts of the audience through his ability to put on spectacular matches, combined with a bit of a “Screw you” edge that made him look like a scrappy underdog in the eyes of the fans, working hard against a company that just didn’t see him as a star for some reason, and led to the rise of “Cesaro Section” signs that increased on a weekly basis. Even being used as a stepping stone for Big Show didn’t dampen Cesaro’s spirits, and while an injury may have sidelined him late in the year, he’s positioned himself well for a big return in the New Year. Source:

9. Dean Ambrose

Ambrose didn’t have some sort of ridiculously successful year from a pure “wins and losses” perspective, but he wrestled in quality matches, and he took part in matches for the WWE World Heavyweight Title on Pay Per View, including an under-rated match against Seth Rollins at Money in the Bank. He also is probably the former Shield member who most connected with the audience, going from the guy we all figured would have to turn heel post-Shield because he’s just so creepy, into a genuine fan favorite through his hard work and endearingly charming lunatic character. Ambrose especially shone when it came to his promos, where he would ramble about seemingly unrelated thoughts, but ultimately tie everything together in some truly masterful performances. While he didn’t reach the top of the mountain in 2015, he definitely gave WWE a lot to think about in regards to his future as a potential WWE World champion, and was ultimately rewarded for his efforts over the year with an Intercontinental title reign. Source:

8. Roman Reigns

This might shock some people, but it probably shouldn’t. Roman Reigns was the wrong choice to win the Royal Rumble and WWE made the right decision not to put the WWE World Heavyweight Title on him at WrestleMania. He also cuts ridiculously horrible promos. But he’s not a bad wrestler, and in 2015, he improved a great deal. He’s probably never going to be the guy who has five star matches and cuts electrifying promos, and he probably isn’t going to be the guy who carries WWE to a new age of higher ratings and record profits. But he’s a good wrestler who can have decent matches, he’s worked hard in the face of overwhelming fan apathy, and if nothing else, he earned the massively positive fan reaction he got at TLC and the night after, and he deserved the WWE World Heavyweight title when he won it on Raw. Hopefully he’ll continue to improve going forward, but Roman Reigns accomplished enough in 2015 that he should have a spot on this Top 10. Source:

7. The New Day

We had to give this spot to the entire group as a unit, because separating would be doing them a disservice, and that’s #Booty. Basically, everything The New Day touched in 2015 turned to gold. They took a dead-end gimmick and made it a guaranteed spot of entertainment each and every week, becoming two-time WWE Tag Team champions in the process. Along the way, they managed to get over such crazy gimmicks as a trombone, unicorn horns, and the ridiculous #SavetheTables campaign. Plus, we got to see Xavier Woods turn into one of the best talkers in the business, Kofi Kingston in something other than the smiling good guy he’s been since his WWE debut, and Big E reaching that potential everyone saw when he got his start in NXT. The New Day are a perfect example of what could happen if WWE just lets their performers cut lose with their own ideas. Sure, there might be some disasters along the way, but when there’s a chance you could find an act half as entertaining as The New Day, isn’t it worth the risk?;jsessionid=AE08381E6070706A1976EDC15D9DBC7C?r30_r1_r1:page=14 Source:

6. Brock Lesnar

The fact that he’s not on top of the list suggests that we don’t think he’s going to read it. Nobody in wrestling legitimately scared us more than Brock Lesnar, who was an unstoppable Beast that basically destroyed everything in his path again in 2015. Surprisingly, his won-loss ratio wasn’t actually very good, as he only really won two of the five matches he wrestled in 2015, a Triple Threat match at the Royal Rumble and his Hell in a Cell match with The Undertaker. In between those decisive victories, he lost the WWE World Heavyweight title at WrestleMania to a surprise Money in the Bank cash-in (although he was never pinned), failed to win back the title from Seth Rollins due to The Undertaker’s interference (technically, he did win by disqualification, but it wasn’t really a victory), and a terribly-booked loss to The Undertaker at SummerSlam that violated like six different levels of suspension of disbelief. At all times, however, Brock was ridiculously dominant, less a wrestler than a force of nature. His most memorable moment was probably the rage fit he threw the day after WrestleMania, where he won the hearts and minds of fans everywhere by destroying Michael Cole with an F-5. If only Brock were ever interested in being a full-time wrestler, he’d likely be one of the best. But even in small doses, his actions are more than impressive enough to make this list. Source:

5. Sasha Banks

In case fans haven’t made it clear since she made the jump to the main roster, we want Sasha. And the reason for wanting Sasha is that she became one of the best wrestlers in the world in 2015, and was a big part of elevating the cause of women’s wrestling in North America. We gave three of her matches spots on our list of Top 10 WWE Matches of 2015, and there were at least three or four that would have made an expanded list. From a pure wrestling standpoint, Sasha was one of the best in the company. So why is she this low on the list (relatively), and why isn’t she even the top female wrestler (we’ll get to her, don’t worry)? Frankly, it’s WWE’s fault for bringing her up to the main roster and doing absolutely nothing interesting with her for most of the second half of the year. She’s won matches and done great work with what little she’s been given, of course, and her NXT work is flawless, but her whole body of work for the year is missing a big chunk of time where she was barely even seen on Raw. With that said, had she been granted the same opportunities on the main roster that she earned in NXT, it’s unlikely that anyone on this list could have matched up with her. Source:

4. Bayley

We just gave a whole lot of credit to Sasha Banks, so imagine how much that must mean we love Bayley. While Sasha’s character is great, and she was a big part of many great matches (including some of the absolute best matches) in 2015, Bayley was just the tiniest bit better. Frankly, if we were in the mood to give ties, we might have been tempted to do so here. But the ultimate tiebreaker that puts Bayley over the top is that she made us care about her matches. While Sasha may be technically the better wrestler (and believe us, it’s a close call), Bayley fills whatever small gaps might exist in her wrestling with genuine emotion, which makes her possibly the most complete character in WWE. The best examples of Bayley’s superior skills at making the crowd care were her title defenses against Eve Marie and Nia Jax, two wrestlers who are nowhere near the high level of wrestling ability that we’ve grown used to over the last year from NXT’s women. Neither match is a good wrestling match from a technical perspective, but from an emotional, storytelling perspective, they’re among the best we’ve seen in a long time, and the lion’s share of the credit has to go to Bayley playing her underdog role, even as champion, to perfection. Fans care so much about Bayley that seeing her struggle evokes actual emotion while watching matches, no matter the opposition. Anyone can have great matches with the Horsewomen, but it takes a supremely talented wrestler to have matches with bad or inexperienced wrestlers and make them seem great, and that’s what Bayley did in 2015. Source:

3. Seth Rollins

If anyone was shocked that Seth Rollins won the Slammy Award for Superstar of the Year, they shouldn’t be. All Seth Rollins did for 2015 was put on spectacular matches each and every month. And he was WWE World Heavyweight Champion for most of that time! Yes, the booking of Rollins’ character was deplorable, and he got saddled in a lengthy feud with Kane for some reason, but when the bell rang, there were few better than Rollins in the ring this year. He had excellent matches with a long list of WWE’s top talents: John Cena, Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, Dean Ambrose, and even got a pretty good match out of the mostly-retired Sting, which was far more than anyone had expected. If not for the unfortunate knee injury which cut short both his title reign and his wrestling activities in November, Rollins could have had one of the best full years of wrestling, from an in-ring quality standpoint, of anyone in professional wrestling. Source:

2. John Cena

You don’t have to like how he’s booked to know that John Cena went all out in 2015. After winning the United States title in a good match that had the unfortunate side effect of killing Rusev’s career path, Cena announced that he’d be putting the championship up for grabs each and every week, against whomever answered the call first. And thus began the John Cena United States Open Challenge, where Cena would have long TV matches with random lower card workers, showing off his ability to have good-to-great matches with just about everyone, before ultimately emerging victorious. Along the way, Cena’s challenge saw the debuts of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, a near-30 minute instant classic with the under-appreciated Cesaro, and an under-rated “Title vs Title” bout at SummerSlam against WWE World Heavyweight Champion Seth Rollins. While the US Open Challenge never really fulfilled its ultimate promise of building up someone new to take the title from Cena and become a big star in the process, it did give us months and months of regularly fantastic matches, as Cena had his working boots on for all of 2015. Source:

1. Kevin Owens

The only thing Kevin Owens didn’t do in 2015 was win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, and frankly, that seems like it’s only going to be a matter of time. As 2014 drew to a close, Kevin Owens was only just making his debut…in NXT, at TakeOver: R-Evolution. He did so with authority, destroying CJ Parker despite breaking his nose mid-way through the match, then ending the night with a shocking betrayal of his closest friend and new NXT Champion, Sami Zayn. Two months later, Owens became NXT Champion, by beating Zayn so badly that the match was stopped. By May, while still holding the NXT Title, Owens had debuted on Raw, and immediately embroiled himself in a feud with top dog and United States Champion John Cena. At the Elimination Chamber Pay Per View, to the surprise of many, Owens cleanly pinned Cena, and established his spot on the main roster permanently. While Owens would never unseat Cena as US Champion, the two would have a pair of excellent re-matches to conclude their feud. Owens would finish up the year by winning the Intercontinental title at Night of Champions, capping off one of the most impressive debut years in WWE in quite some time. In between his title wins, Owens also found the time to have excellent matches with a wide variety of opponents, and delivered some of the best promos of the year, in the ring, in backstage segments, and even on his hugely popular Twitter account. In 2015, nobody burst onto the scene so effectively or rose more quickly than Kevin Owens, and for all the reasons we’ve just listed, Kevin Owens is without a doubt the Best WWE Wrestler of the Year. Source:
Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.