Brass Ring Awards 2015 Day 4

Day 4 - The Top Ten Matches of 2015

Today, we will be taking a look at the top ten matches of 2015. This includes all matches from all promotions and all genders. Because I don't want to break any of the rules set by Giant Bomb, I am not going to post the matches in here. Most of the matches on this list except for three are pretty easy to watch legally for pretty cheap. WWE Network is $9.99 a month and NJPW World is a little bit cheaper when you convert Yen to Dollars. Here is an easy guide to follow to subscribe to NJPW World and have access to their library.

Of course, there's also a lot of wrestling that has been uploaded through the internet via common streaming services. So there's that option if you want to go to that route.

Anyways, here's our top ten matches of 2015. It's been a blast to make this list and I want to thank everybody who was involved.

If you'd like to join in on our discussions on this thread, please feel free with your favorite matches of this year.

10. WWE - Royal Rumble - Brock Lesnar (c) vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins

(written by @recspec)

The important thing to understand about this match from Royal Rumble 2015 is that Brock Lesnar was a monster from an old hollywood movie. He ended the streak at Wrestlemania last year and absolutely dominated John Cena. Two things we thought we would never see, both accomplished by the same person. Naturally, a triple threat makes sense for him to lose the belt, because he can lose without being pinned. The big question is how do you remove the beast from the equation? In the end we get a triple threat match between three of the best people in the company, and it was a lot of fun.

Because of how insanely dominant Brock Lesnar was, we get to see a bunch of goofy stuff that we would call ridiculous if someone else did it. We bemoan the amount of finishers that get kicked out of in PPV matches, but when Brock does it, we are okay with that. Kicking out of an AA at 1? Sure. Kicking out of three AAs in a row and a curb stomp? Okay, sure. That sounds really dumb on paper, but it worked at the time. The only thing that slowed him down was getting hit by the stairs, and getting destroyed by an insane diving elbow from the top rope through the spanish announce table by Rollins. That is how you kill a monster.

Cena and Rollins have decent match for awhile after that, making the most of triple threat rules. J&J Security (remember them?) help Rollins escape the STF, and they triple-powerbomb Cena, only for Cena to be Cena and overcome the odds. A particularly neat spot has him giving the AA to both Mercury and Noble at the same time. Eventually we get to our ending, which is amazing.

Rollins hits Cena with the Curb Stomp, Cena kicks out at 2. So what does Rollins do next? Gets on the top rope and lands a goddamn phoenix splash. It was his old finisher in Ring of Honor, and the first time we see him land one. But before you can even process what just happened, Brock appears out of nowhere and suplexes Rollins. When you think Brock is going to end it there, Rollins continues to surprise, hitting Brock with the MITB briefcase twice, and goes for a curb stomp on top of it. Brock rises again! Catches him in midair, ballgame.

This match wasn't the most technical masterpiece out there, but it was a lot of fun. Brock being a movie monster is goofy as hell, but it works. Rollins gets to look like a star for maybe the first time since The Shield broke up. Cena gets to be there making you worried the whole time because Cena can always win. This match was a blast.

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9. Stardom - 5★Grand Prix 2015 Finals - Io Shirai & Mayu Iwatani Vs. DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko

(written by @aronleon)

Tag Team matches were plentiful this year from the Young Bucks to The New Day there were a lot to pick from but one match rise above them all, Stardom is one of the top Joshi promotions in Japan, house to some of the best and upcoming talent, Thunder Rocks (Io and Mayu) had been on a roll since winning the tag titles early in the year making it clear they were the team to beat but their biggest match was to come. The Jumonji sisters(Chisako and Sachiko) were taking every tag title available (JWP,Sendai,WWWD) and soon Stardom was next, they manage to beat Thunder Rocks on a house show so a match for the titles was to follow.

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The match shows the best of each team, from the amazing tag moves the sisters make to Io and Mayu aerial moves, each team has something to prove, Io shows why she is the Ace of the company while Mayu reminds us that she is only getting better, the sisters prove they are not to the be taken lightly with move that are made to be seen over and over, start to finish this match had everything and more to make to number 9.

8. Dragon Gate - Gate of Destiny - Shingo Takagi vs. Masaaki Mochizuki

(written by @milkman)

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When Shingo Takagi captured his third Open the Dream Gate Championship in August, he turned his back on his Monster Express stablemates and made it his mission to purge who he thought was the weak members of the Dragon Gate roster. Part of this was putting the old guard of the promotion out to pasture so this meant setting his sights on one of the oldest members of the Dragon Gate roster, Masaaki Mochizuki. Nearly 46 years old, Mochizuki is one of the few remaining members of the Dragon Gate roster who wrestled in Toryumon, the original promotion founded by Ultimo Dragon that would eventually become Dragon Gate. For Mochizuki, it was one last shot on the big stage to prove that he could still hang with the aces of the company. For Takagi, it was his chance to take Mochizuki behind the woodshed and put him out of his misery.

In the end, Takagi was simply too young and too strong, defeating the old timer but not before Mochizuki put on one of the most amazing displays of heart and fighting spirit that the company (and wrestling as a whole) has ever seen. Wrestling a man nearly 13 years his junior, Mochizuki went blow for blow with Takagi every step of the way, taking an unbelievable amount of punishment but continuing to fight back relentlessly to the bitter end. On this night, age was truly just a number as Mochizuki turned back the clock with the performance of his career in what will likely be his final one-on-one main event shot in Dragon Gate. Time takes us all one day but for one night, Masaaki Mochizuki was truly immortal.

7. NJPW - Best of the Super Jr. Final - KUSHIDA vs. Kyle O'Reilly

(written by @drdarkstryfe)

Different promotions approach wrestling from different angles. Companies like WWE and Chikara choose to promote the story aspect of the industry and the strugle of good guys and bad guys. For New Japan Pro Wrestling, they approach wrestling as if it is a sport and competition.

A way they do this is with annual tournaments and events that highlight different segments of their roster. One of the tournaments is the Battle of the Super Junior's; a showcase of the talant that competes in the Junior Heavyweight divsion of NJPW. The structure of the compeition has two blocks of wrestlers competing. The winner of the blocks face off in the finals, with the victor earning a spot to compete for the IWGP Jr Heavyweight title.

This year's final for the Battle of the Super Jr. was between KUSHIDA vs Kyle O'Reilly.

The thirty minute match was a clinic on in-match storytelling and was told in three parts.

The first part of the story was a back and forth that showed off the wide variety of mat wrestling talent the two men have. KUSHIDA and O'Reilly began the match exchanged holds and moves as they attempted to gain an upper hand. The two showed off an impressive and constant barrage of locks and reversals at a blazing pace.

The second part of the match saw O'Reilly gain the significant advantage when he was able to injure KUSHIDA's left arm on a top rope move. This slower paced poriton of the match showed off O'Reilly's wide variety of submission moves, and KUSHIDA's ability to make the impact of the moves look real and brutal.

The final part of our story is KUSHIDA regaining control of the match, and throwing everything he can to finish off O'Reilly. Regaining the advantage with a brutal suplex on the edge of the ring, momentum shifted back to KUSHIDA as he did everything he could to win the match. He hit Kyle O'Reilly with both his tag team parter Alex Shelley's finisher the Sliced Bread #2, and his own finisher the Corkscrew Moonsault, only for O'Reilly to kick out of both. It took KUSHIDA to reverse a move into a Kimura armlock to finally get O'Reilly to tap out and earn a show at the champion Kenny Omega.

Incredible athleticism and the ability for the two men to tell a story through their actions help make this match stand out as one of the best matches of 2015.

6. NJPW - Wrestle Kingdom 9 - Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada

(written by @milkman)

It’s a story as old as wrestling itself. There’s a top guy in a company and there’s countless other wrestlers trying to take that spot. 99% of them fail before they even get close but once in a while, another guy comes along who threatens to take the throne away. Hiroshi Tanahashi is the undeniable top ace of New Japan Pro Wrestling and it’s been that way for a long time. Going into Wrestle Kingdom 9, Tanahashi had not only main evented the Tokyo Dome four years in a row but he had won the match every year. Enter Kazuchika Okada, the fastest rising star in Japan who at just 27 years old was already a two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Okada is undoubtedly the biggest threat to Tanahashi’s reign as the true ace of New Japan. Tanahashi had already successfully defended his IWGP Heavyweight Championship against Okada two years prior at Wrestle Kingdom 7 but after winning the G1 Climax for a second time, Okada found himself face to face with Tanahashi yet again in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom 9. This was Okada’s chance. Defeating Tanahashi in the Tokyo Dome would mean that New Japan was now his company.

Don't cry Okada, you'll get another chance to beat that Tanahashi jerk at next year's Wrestle Kingdom.
Don't cry Okada, you'll get another chance to beat that Tanahashi jerk at next year's Wrestle Kingdom.

In the early goings of the match, it looked like Okada would do just that, controlling the bout hitting a hanging DDT the floor as well as connecting with Heavy Rain on the entrance ramp. Momentum shifted as Tanahashi injured Okada’s leg with a dragon screw legwhip and then after using Okada’s own Tombstone piledriver against him before hitting two High Fly Flows, his finishing maneuver. Under normal circumstances, that would have been the end of the match but on this night, it wasn’t enough. Okada kicked out of the second High Fly Flow as doubt began to seep into the mind of Tanahashi that this guy really could be the one who would finally take his spot. From there, Okada would attempt to hit his own finisher move, the Rainmaker, four different times but Tanahashi was there to counter it every single time. Three High Fly Flows later and the match was over. Tanahashi successfully retained his IWGP Heavyweight Championship and perhaps more importantly, retained his status as the true ace of New Japan. After the match, Tanahashi reminded Okada of what he surely already knew, that this was still his company and Okada was still far from taking it from him. A broken, weeping Rainmaker retreated having lost the battle but not the war. The story continues in just a few days at Wrestle Kingdom 10 where Tanahashi and Okada will again face off in the main event at the Tokyo Dome, however, this time with Tanahashi as the challenger and Okada as the champion in what likely be their final battle on this stage and potentially the official passing of the torch.

5. NJPW - Power Struggle - Tomoaki Honma vs. Tomohiro Ishii

(written by @turboman)

Do you like Head-Butts? If you do, you'll like this match. There's 32 of them here. I know because I counted them.

Before being a regular in NJPW, Tomoaki Honma used to be involved in death matches. Tomohiri Ishii looks like he might have killed a man once in his life. Both of these guys are tough motherfuckers. 80% of the match is stiff forarms to the head or head-butts, but whenever one of these guys do hit a move it's usually done in the most grand way possible. For example there's a moment where both of these guys are struggling to lift each other up for a suplex, and Honma is able to deadlift Ishii into a suplex. Ishii hits Honma with a delayed superplex that looks impressive as hell. Honma headbuts Ishii and knocks him out of the ring and proceeds to do a diving head-butt from the top turnbuckle to the floor because Honma is a CRAZY MAN.

Both of these guys head-butt/forearm/clothesline/chop the hell out of each other and it's a thrill to watch. Japanese crowds also get hype as hell whenever these two match up because they know that they're in for something special every single time and this was no different.

4. Stardom - Galaxy Stars - Kairi Hojo (c) vs. Meiko Satomura

(written by @aronleon)

Stardom had its ups and downs in 2015 but one of the best things was the rise of Kairi Hojo, before she was mainly known as a tag wrestler but once the main title was up for grabs she never looked back, there was the question if she was good enough to fill the shoes of past champions like Io Shirai and Nanae Takashi, seeing how you are reading this now I think you know the answer. Every good champion needs a good rival what better way to test the new champ than industry veteran Meiko Satomura. To describe this match the word that comes to mind is War, this start hard and only keeps turning up the volume, Satomura is know for her kicks but Hojo will be known for her backfists, seeing both give their all is nothing short of amazing from Hojo´s beautifull Diving Elbow Drop to Satomura´s fantastic Death Valley Bomb I could say more but words can only go so far, this match will keep you on the edge of your seat for that reason and many more its our pic for number 4.

3. Lucha Underground - Grave Consequences - Mil Muertes vs. Fenix

(written by @turboman)

Lucha Underground had a handful of great matches this year, but there's only one that stands above the rest. After weeks of Dario Cueto hyping up this match by just saying "GRAVE CONSEQUENCES" and not exactly explaining what the hell that even means, we're finally introduced to the match with several people dressed up as skeletons carrying a casket to the ring with roses on top (and a sick skull face painted on the front).

What happened after was a brutal ending to the first chunk of Fenix vs. Mil Muertes' feud. The match starts off quick with dives and planchas over the top rope to the outside, and the pace abruptly turns into a brawl once Mil Muertes hits Fenix with the casket as Fenix attempts a suicide dive. Fenix is busted up and in one of the grossest things I've ever seen in wrestling Mil Muertes starts to rip off Fenix's mask, bites the wound, and then spits out Fenix's blood. Mil continues his assault while Vampiro is talking about his time in Vampire cults on commentary (which by the way is a real thing that Vampiro is into in real life).

In fact, here's a couple of excellent lines from Vampiro on commentary during this match:

  • "Shit!"
  • "God Damn!"
  • "He's Gonna Kill Him!"
  • "Oh Shit!"

The match continues as Mil continues to attack the wound with bites and chair shots while Fenix gets spurts of offense through dives and moonsaults off of the fan guard rail. There's a ton of big moves that happens throughout the Lucha Underground Temple as well as slams that happen on top of the coffin that dents it. The only problem that I have with this match is its sudden finish that doesn't have a great build up (it's the reason it's not higher on this list), but the whole match is just a fun ride to sit through and it makes me happy to see the feud continue as we head into Season 2 of Lucha Underground.

2. NJPW - Wrestle Kingdom 9 - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi

(written by @recspec)

A year ago, I only watched the main program of WWE and some of NXT, pretty safe stuff. I've heard people talk about New Japan before but never felt compelled to watch it myself. Fortunately New Japan worked out a deal with Jeff Jarrett to have an english friendly version of Wrestle Kingdom 9, and I decided that was good enough for me to take the plunge. The overall show was okay, some really good matches, but nothing really hooked me personally. Then this match happened.

The first thing that blew my mind was Shinsuke Nakamura's entrance. Amazing stuff that gave me chills the first time I watched it. The actual match tells the story of the young guy trying to claw into the upper tier of the company against the veteran, and was a brawl with both wrestlers disrespecting each other. Ibushi doesn't want to wait until his turn in the spotlight, he wants it right now. He stole Nakamura's pose during the match. He stole his finisher! he was just plain disrespectful, and it was cool as hell. Nakamura is the King of Strong Style for a reason though, and he fought back. For major parts of the match Ibushi and Nakamura were just slugging each other, and it was captivating. You could feel the disdain these two had for each other.

There are some amazing spots in this match. Ibushi made everyone's jaw drop when he stood on the top rope and suplexed Nakamura over. Nakamura's last Boma Ye to Ibushi to put him away for good was savage, overall a brilliant technical match. Shinsuke Nakamura instantly became my favorite wrestler in NJPW, and Ibushi looked to have a bright future (sadly as of this writing he is injured). I do not have the years of experience that other wrestling fans in the thread do when it comes to NJPW, but at a time where the only thing I watched was WWE, that match spoke to me in a way wrestling hasn't since I was in high school. Two wrestlers giving it everything they had and stealing the show. Easily my favorite match of the year.

1. NXT - Takeover: Brooklyn - Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bayley

(written by @milkman)

For years, the WWE audience has been conditioned to see women’s wrestling as bathroom breaks and cool downs. That thing you stick on the card that no one really cares about to let the crowd catch its breath before they get back to the stuff that really matters. In 2015, that changed. Though the treatment of the women’s division on the WWE main roster was very far from perfect, the conversation was no longer “why are we wasting time with these wannabe models pretending they’re wrestlers?” Instead, it was “why are these clearly talented wrestlers not getting the treatment they deserve?” Fans knew now what these women actually deserved and what they’re capable of because in NXT, they got it. Women’s wrestling in NXT was not treated as a side show or an excuse to see some girls roll around in their underwear. These are wrestlers and they’re damn good ones too. Where the “Divas Revolution” of the main roster told you to care without giving you any good reason to, NXT’s women’s revolution showed you why you should care. It wasn’t a switch that got flipped at some point, it was a process and it was earned. And if there was one moment, one match, that defined this “revolution”, it was this.

Sasha Banks had won the NXT Women’s Championship in February at NXT Takeover: Rival in the first match where the women of NXT really stole the show, establishing what would then become the norm for NXT events. As champion, Banks quickly established herself as not just the best women’s wrestler in the history of NXT but perhaps one of the best to ever wrestle in WWE. As arrogant as she is talented, The Boss truly came into her own at the top of the NXT women’s division. On the flip side, there was Bayley. Forever just happy to be here, Bayley had been taken advantage of and deceived by seemingly everyone in NXT. When the time came for the women of NXT to make their debuts on Raw, Banks, Charlotte and Becky Lynch were all there while Bayley stayed in Full Sail. While Sasha rattled off title defenses, Bayley languished in irrelevancy with a string of loses and a hand injury that put her out of action for two months. Feeling left behind by her other three “horsewomen”, Bayley was determined to finally prove that she belonged, declaring her championship aspirations and then defeating both Charlotte and Lynch to earn a title shot at NXT’s biggest event ever, Takeover: Brooklyn.

In the Barclays Center, Sasha Banks vs. Bayley was not the last match of the night but it was the main event. The electricity from the opening bell was undeniable and unprecedented for a match involving two women in the WWE. Banks spent much of the earlier portions of the match, toying with and mocking Bayley, clearly still not taking her as a serious threat and still treating her as the little sister of the Four Horsewomen. There is a certain technical brutality to Banks’ offense that was first showcased in her match earlier in the year with Becky Lynch and is certainly on display here as well. Ripping off the brace and working over the previously injured hand of Bayley, Banks is meticulous and surgical showcasing her in control, detached style that got her the championship. In contrast, Bayley wrestles with pure emotion, complete with Dusty Rhodes tribute bands on her wrist, feeding off the energy of the crowd and willing herself through the pain. The turning point of match comes when Banks has the Banks

Statement locked on in the center of the ring and while Bayley desperately reaches out for the rope break, Banks viciously stomps on the injured hand of Bayley. Still refusing to give in, Bayley again reaches for the ropes when Banks decides to instead use the ropes to roll her back in the middle of the ring to reapply the submission hold. In this split second, Bayley counters, flipping the hold into a submission of her own. With a desperate champion now out of options, the momentum clearly shifts in favor of the challenger. A jaw dropping top rope reverse hurricanrana followed by a Belly to Bayley is what finally ends Bayley’s two year long championship journey, proving to everyone that not only does she belong but so does women’s wrestling.

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