Pro Wrestling

10 Things Wrestling Fans Can Be Thankful For In 2015 Source:

We’re not going to lie, 2015 has been a rough year for wrestling fans. At every turn, it seems like WWE is doing the things that make us question whether they really care if anyone ever watches their programming again, marginalizing the wrestlers we like while relentlessly getting behind the ones we don’t particularly care for. By the end of the year, WWE has begun setting records for lowest Raw viewership of the last two decades, and things don’t seem to be turning around the way we’d like. But it wasn’t all bad in 2015, was it? Good things happened, didn’t they? With that in mind, we scoured out memories of the last year to find some things that you might remember fondly when the book is closed on this calendar year in wrestling.

10. The Legacy of Dusty Rhodes

It’s a shame that it took his untimely death to learn the true extent of the effect Dusty Rhodes will have on the future of professional wrestling. Certainly, his legacy will be remembered for his spectacular promos and his polka dots, and lives on through his accomplished sons, Dustin and Cody. But the passing of Dusty Rhodes hit the hardest in NXT, WWE’s developmental promotion, where every single wrestler had a story about something that Dusty had taught them that helped them become a better performer. It wasn’t just inside the ring, but his actions as a father figure outside the ring, if the photos of Dusty and Finn Balor teaching Hideo Itami how to drive so he could get his license is any indication. Over the next few years, when the current roster of NXT eventually makes its way to the main roster, each and every one of them will have had Dusty Rhodes as a primary influence in what got them to that point. We can’t think of any greater legacy in pro wrestling than the knowledge that your teachings will live on in an entire generation of future Superstars. Source:

9. Cesaro

We’re not quite sure how to tell you this, but Cesaro’s going to be okay. Sure, 2015 wasn’t a banner year for the Swiss Superstar. Despite Cesaro being what everyone thought was a living, breathing example of everything Vince McMahon would love in a wrestler, with chiseled features, an old-school style, and an international personality that could be marketed all over the world, the Chairman of WWE went on the Stone Cold Podcast and singled him out as someone who Vince saw as “missing something”. If that wasn’t enough, Cesaro’s tag team partner and friend Tyson Kidd suffered a tragic and serious accidental injury that might see the premature end of Kidd’s wrestling career. But Cesaro being given another chance as a single wrestler lit a fire under both the wrestler and the WWE Universe, as he put on some of the best matches of his WWE career, and the fans embraced him as an underdog hero, with “Cesaro Section” signs propagating at a huge rate. An unfortunate injury may have sidelined him to end the year, but when you’ve got other wrestlers, starting with John Cena and Steve Austin and going down the line from there, telling the world that Cesaro is the greatest thing since sliced bread, that’s the kind of support that makes you think that maybe, just maybe, there’s a bright future for Cesaro. Source:

8. Jon Stewart

It was no secret, during his time on The Daily Show, that Jon Stewart was an unabashed wrestling fan. And while it’s always expected to see athletes and rock musicians and actors with shows on USA Network in attendance at Monday Night Raw, for some reason it was always odd to see this older comedian, who spent most of his career as a respected fake journalist shining the light on the idiocy of America’s political climate, as a staunch and dedicated wrestling fan. But when Jon Stewart’s first public appearance after his retirement from television was to be a guest host of SummerSlam, you could see the wrestling fan in him. Every moment that Jon Stewart was involved in WWE, from his feud with Seth Rollins that crossed over onto his own show, to the moment he bravely took an AA from John Cena on Raw the night after screwing Cena over at SummerSlam, you could tell that he was having the time of his life, and living out the dream of someone who had spent his lifetime loving professional wrestling. Jon Stewart is the wrestling fan we all wish we could get to be someday. Source:

7. Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens is an incredible professional wrestler. Not because he’s a highly skilled wrestler, although he is, but because he knows exactly what his role is, and goes out every week and does everything he can to sell that role to the audience. He is probably the best pure heel that has existed in WWE for years, and by that, we mean a guy who isn’t trying to be “edgy” and get cheers while he does morally questionable things. Kevin Owens is playing a bad guy, and to that end, everything he does reminds you of that fact. He belittles everyone he talks to, he acts like he’s above everyone, and when the going gets tough, he walks out of a match and claims a moral victory. Kevin Owens is such a good heel that to cheer him for being entertaining seems disrespectful to the work he’s put into being hated. You want to boo Kevin Owens, and he wants you to boo him. That’s his job as a heel, and right now, there is nobody better than him at doing that job. Source:

6. The New Day

We hear they rock.

But seriously, if ever there was an example of an act getting over simply because WWE said “screw it” and let three guys run with their own crazy ideas on a weekly basis, and the best reason why WWE should let their talent do that more often, it would be The New Day. Originally rumored to be a re-tread of the old Nation of Domination, fans were surprised and disappointed when The New Day debuted as a lame take on Southern gospel preachers, actively turning on the alleged stable of good guys. It was clear that WWE had given up on the stable shortly after its disappointing debut, and the three men involved took the opportunity to start doing their own thing, since nobody seemed to care. One year later, they’re probably the best and most consistent act in WWE, two-time WWE Tag Team Champions, and something to look forward to each and every week. It can’t last forever…but what if it could? Source:

5. Lucha Underground

Wrestling fans searching for an alternative to WWE, and disillusioned with the prospect of the floundering TNA promotion ever providing a serious challenge, found their answer with fledgling promotion Lucha Underground. Created in late 2014 as a darker off-shoot to Mexican promotion AAA, with acclaimed producers Robert Rodriguez and Mark Burnett on board, Lucha Underground used a fast-paced, unique style and extraordinarily creative writing to establish itself as one of the most entertaining wrestling products to hit television screens. Lucha Underground combined young, rising lucha stars with established free agents like Alberto Del Rio and John Morrison to create a wrestling product that provided us with some of the best non-WWE matches of the year in North American pro wrestling, and wrapped it in a complex and fun story line that built over the entire first season, culminating in the season-ending Ultimate Lucha show. After spending several months in limbo due to financial concerns, Lucha Underground announced that it would be returning for a second season in early 2016, and wrestling fans around the world rejoiced. Source:

4. The US Open Challenge

Say what you will about how he won the title by destroying Rusev, but it’s very hard to complain about how John Cena defended the United States title. Nearly every week that he held the title, he put on a showcase of why he is actually one of the best wrestlers on the planet, by putting on highly competitive and lengthy matches against challengers from up and down the roster, facing off against a variety of vastly different opponents and having great matches on a regular basis. In the process, Cena put over NXT wrestlers Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, and even though he ultimately won out, allowed Owens to establish himself in WWE for the long-term (and likely would have done the same for Zayn, if not for an unfortunate injury). There were a few clunkers along the way, and in the end, it got sidetracked by bad booking and an indifferent Alberto Del Rio, but the positives of Cena’s US Title reign far outweighed the negative. Source:

3. Seth Rollins

As poorly as Seth Rollins’ character has been treated ever since he became the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and top goon of The Authority (and make no mistake, it’s been bad), the wrestler Seth Rollins has been on fire all year. He kicked off the year as part of an early Match of the Year contender when he faced off against both Brock Lesnar and John Cena at the Royal Rumble, had a good little match against Randy Orton at WrestleMania before winning the title later than night, did credibly well for himself against Brock, knocked it out of the park against Cena at both SummerSlam and Night of Champions, and even carried Sting to a far better match than anyone expected. In between, of course, he was treated like a whiny jerk by the Authority and booked to be outfoxed repeatedly by Kane for some reason, but if not for the serious knee injury which prematurely ended his title reign, 2015 could have been Seth Rollins’ best year ever. Source:

2. The 4 Horsewomen

We could have just gone with NXT in general, but while the entire developmental brand reached new heights as a whole, it was four particular women who grabbed the wrestling world by the throat and made us all take notice. Across twelve months of televised shows and a handful of TakeOver specials, the talents of Bayley, Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Sasha Banks have been on display for everyone to see, and what we’ve seen has been nothing short of spectacular. These four wrestlers, united in a desire to have women’s wrestling not only taken seriously, but seen as an equal level of quality to the male side, raised the bar every time they faced each other. And every time, they succeeded beyond our wildest dreams. While the Divas Revolution on Raw hasn’t quite gone according to our wishes, we’ll still have the incredible work the Horsewomen did over the last year (and looking forward to a new crop of talent in the future) to keep us happy for a while. Source:

1. WWE Network

When all else fails, at least we’ve got the WWE Network. When it started life as a terrible dubstep commercial all those years ago, and then spent a very long time looking like nothing more than a pipe dream, it was understandable that we might have become cynical about it. But now that it’s up and running, there isn’t a better resource in the world for watching North American pro wrestling. And this year, WWE managed to expand their original programming library beyond the joke that was Legends House. Shows like Table for 3, Breaking Ground, and Unfiltered with Renee Young gave hardcore fans the window into the people behind the personalities that they’ve always desired, and looking at some of the shows WWE is promising going forward, it looks like there will be more of that ilk coming down the pipe. Plus, we got special events like the Japan and MSG house shows, attempts at Network-only specials like the King of the Ring finals, and we haven’t even mentioned NXT yet. For ten dollars a month, there is no better value for a wrestling fan. 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.