Brass Ring Awards 2015 Day 3

Day 3

(Warning: All wrestling highlight videos include terrible music. Sorry, it is what it is.)

Most Improved - Tetsuya Naito

(written by @milkman)

Tetsuya Naito has struggled his entire career to belong in New Japan. Constantly attempting to enter the upper echelon of wrestlers with Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada and Shinsuke Nakamura, he was never able to garner enough fan support to be seen as any of their equals. This is all culminated at Wrestle Kingdom 8 where Naito suffered his biggest embarrassment, losing his main spot at the Tokyo Dome via a fan poll. This year, however, Naito fully embraced his inability to fit in. After a Mexican summer excursion in CMLL, Naito returned to New Japan with a new persona, attitude and rallying cry, LOS INGOBERNABLES. Complete with a slow trot to the ring that would make Undertaker say “jeez, dude really?”, Naito seemingly became the master of Bored Style as he seemed generally disinterested with beating up his opponents or getting his ass kicked himself. In 2015, no referee, camera man or young boy was safe from Naito as he became arguably the most entertaining aspect of a relatively disappointing second half of the year for New Japan. With the help of his stablemates EVIL and Bushi, he silenced all detractors who said that he would only ever be a vanilla B-tier level babyface by rejecting everything and everyone that gotten him to this point in his career. LOS INGOBERNABLES

Runner Ups: Roderick Strong, Xavier Woods, Baron Corbin, Samoa Joe's Theme Music

Tag Team of the Year - New Day

(written by @turboman)

At the beginning of the year, New Day was a new group that was failing miserably. Kofi has not been involved in anything in years, Xavier Woods never had a chance to impress anybody, and Big E's stock was plummeting after a pretty good debut year in 2014. The crowd shortly turned on New Day (it honestly never had a chance) and it was honestly borderline offensive at times.

WWE was forced to turn The New Day heel. Most teams would probably flounder right here, but Xavier/Kofi/Big E took the ball and completely ran with it. Every week would have a New Day promo that was more upsurd than the week before. Xavier Woods' trash talk throughout matches was incredible, Kofi finally showed life as a character, and we finally got to see Big E's comedic chops come through on TV after years of showing it on his Twitter accounts.

Then they bought a trombone at some point... And then they started to sell Unicorn Horns as WWE Merchandise... at some point Xavier Woods gained magical powers?

Honestly, the only reason to watch WWE for the majority of this year was because of The New Day. That is not a lie or an exageration. The only watchable thing on WWE television was this Tag Team. That's why no other tag team was close in 2015 for this catagory.

Runner Ups: Young Bucks, Chad Gable & Jason Jordan, Unlikely Trio, Enzo & Big Cass

PPV/Show of the Year - Ultima Lucha

(written by @recspec)

It has been said many times, but Lucha Underground transcended wrestling this year. It wasn't only a great wrestling show, it was a great television show. Ultima Lucha is Lucha Underground's big finale (so big it was aired over two weeks, but because it was recorded as one show live we are counting it as one show). The in-ring stuff was amazing from start to finish. What everyone thought would be a ho-hum starting match between The Mack and Cage turned into a brutal war that ended with someone being curbstomped through a cinder block, at that point everyone knew that this show was going to be something special, even for Lucha Underground. Aside from a short dull match with Blue Demon Jr (which still pushed a story forward), every match was great, and covered a variety of matches. One of the biggest highlights was the Cero Miedo match between Pentagon Jr and Vampiro, which was probably the hardest to watch because of the pure violence in the card. Light tubes got used as weapons and someone got lit on fire, stuff normally tucked away into the shady side of the internet was on television for all to witness.

Great ring action aside, the major thing about Ultima Lucha is that it the end of a lot of stories that have been told all season. What's up with that monster that killed a guy? Who is Pentagon Jr's master? Can the champion Prince Puma defeat Mil Muertes, the personification of death? Even though this show is the best of the year, a major reason this won was because it was the end of an amazing journey. Watching this show on it's own would still be great, but would be the equivalent of watching a season finale of Breaking Bad or 24. Speaking of endings, the cinematic montage that ended Lucha Underground was a perfect ending to this amazing season. Fortunately we are getting a second season, but if we didn't. That would have been a beautiful goodbye.

Runner Ups: NJPW WrestleKingdom 9, NJPW Dominion 2015, NXT Takeover Brooklyn, PWG BOLA Night 2

Best Female Wrestler - Sasha Banks

(written by @milkman)

No wrestler, male or female, ruled 2015 more than Sasha Banks. There was no story among fans bigger than the rise of NXT’s women’s division this year and the one constant name in the middle of the discussion all year was The Boss. After winning the NXT Women’s Championship on February 11 at NXT Takeover: Rival, Banks began a reign that would re-write what it means to be a women’s wrestler in the WWE. Starting at Rival, the women of NXT stole the show at just about every single Takeover the rest of the year until NXT had no choice but let them main event and Banks was every step of the way. Whether it was alongside Becky Lynch in her star making performance at Takeover: Unstoppable or playing the villain to Bayley’s years long championship odyssey at Takeover: Brooklyn or finally, in her NXT swan song at Takeover: Respect, where her and Bayley became not only the first women to have an Iron Man match in WWE but also the first women to main event a WWE PPV event. The Boss did it all in 2015 and even though her call-up to the main roster is worrying to say the least, at just 23 years old, you have to believe that she’s just getting started.

Runner Ups: Kairi Hojo, Bayley, Io Shirai, Asuka

Best Male Wrestler - AJ Styles

If you were to describe AJ Styles in 2015 in one word, it’d be “consistent”. Whether he was at the packed Tokyo Dome for Wrestle Kingdom or in front of a couple hundred people during Chikara’s King of Trios tournament, Styles reliably delivered fantastic matches throughout the year. The first half of the year saw him putting on amazing singles matches against the likes of Okada, Tanahashi, and Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight title, as well as traveling all over the world to defend the title in other independent promotions. After losing the title back to Okada in July, he proceeded to have an awesome run in the G1 Climax tournament, as well as put on completely bonkers tag matches alongside the Young Bucks in both Chikara and Ring of Honor.

With reports of back issues starting to catch up to him, as well as past interviews saying he’d like to stop once he hits 40, it’s entirely possible that AJ will be completely done within a couple of years. If that’s the case, he’ll be going out on a truly great run and this past year he’s proven that he deserves his nickname “Phenomenal”

Runner Ups: John Cena, Zack Sabre Jr, Chris Hero, Roderick Strong

Start the Conversation