Dot Net readers voted on a variety of 2015 awards throughout the month of January. The following are the results of our poll for Best Pro Wrestler. Thanks to everyone who took part in the voting.
(1) Seth Rollins (32 percent)
(2) AJ Styles (14 percent)
(3) Sasha Banks (7 percent)
(4) Kevin Owens (7 percent)
(5) Bayley (6 percent)
Others: 44 percent
Will Pruett’s Thoughts: No one put forth the body of work, in the United States and internationally, A.J. Styles did. Styles was consistently great in major New Japan Pro Wrestling matches, including battles with Ibushi, Tanahashi and Okada. His work in the U.K. for Revolution Pro was delightful. His Ring of Honor matches included some super fun spotfests and a very dramatic Final Battle encounter with Jay Lethal. Styles was terrific for the entirety of 2015 and should be the clear winner here.
Darren Gutteridge’s Thoughts: Jay Lethal. This was another category with two or three worthy options. But ultimately, on top of the sense that Lethal needed to win something for being the best booked champion on TV, he was also arguably the most consistent in the ring. When Lethal turned up, you watched. Seth Rollins had to contend with the likes of Kane from time to time. ROH’s reduced schedule meant that Lethal could be saved from having to wrestle every week, meaning the quality of his matches remained consistently high. Rollins may have had two or three better matches in 2015, but Lethal’s output was outstanding all year long.
Jake Barnett’s Thoughts: Kazuchika Okada was the best wrestler of 2015. From heartbreak at WrestleKingdom 9 all the way until the build for WrestleKingdom 10, it’s hard to find a bad Okada match from this past year. His performance in the G1 this was remarkable and his matches with Styles, Nakamura, and Tanahashi have solidified him as the future of NJPW.
Zack Zimmerman’s Thoughts: Shinsuke Nakamura. This was a great year for a lot of guys. I can’t make arguments against AJ Styles, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Seth Rollins, Jay Lethal, or Roderick Strong. But I can say something about Nakamura that I can’t say about the others, and that is that I’m more intrigued, entertained, and invested when he is on my screen. Like my MOTY winner, Nakamura may not hit the pacing or moves that others might, but every movement he makes is entertaining and compelling. Every match he’s in has a sense of believability to it. The guy carries such a unique charisma and presence and work style that he stands out to me as my favorite wrestler to watch, which in conjunction with a stellar list of performances earns him my wrestler of the year award.
Haydn Gleed’s Thoughts: Another nod for Rollins here. From the wonderful triple threat match at Royal Rumble 2015, to the memorable show ending moment at WrestleMania to the superb match against John Cena at SummerSlam, he has been the most consistent wrestler in the big matches of 2015.
John Moore’s Thoughts: I’m assuming that my pick won’t be the Internet’s most favorable pick for best wrestler, but if there was one year in this guy’s life where he would have gotten this award, 2015 would be it. My pick for 2015 Wrestler of the year, is the 2015 workrate hero of the world; John Cena! Not only did the guy take over the internet by becoming 2015’s biggest internet meme, John Cena took it to task to become a “symbol of excellence”, a symbol of pure wrestling and competition which is something that Cena haters throughout the years don’t associate with WWE’s poster boy. People call Cena a glory hog, but the moment he showed vulnerability during that amazing Triple Threat at the Rumble, was the moment where he started putting on a wrestling clinic week after week. John Cena’s wrestling clinic, also known as the US Open Challenge, allowed both Cena and many average to great wrestlers to take center stage and be elevated in the heat of competition. Cena built up a ton of equity and that equity was utilized well in a feud with Kevin Owens that might have been the feud of the year. I can see the argument for Seth Rollins, but I see them more better suited for the best heel category. The Super Cena of the past, he was very formulaic. John Cena of 2015, made WWE Raw must watch every week to see a simple, well-fought battle between two gladiators.
Jason Powell’s Thoughts: Styles suffered from lack of exposure to the majority of our readers. They simply saw more of Rollins in the ring and thus gave him the nod. It would have been interesting to see how the readers would have voted if both men had a similar platform. I’m thrilled to see Sasha Banks and Bayley crack the top five. However, I’m not so thrilled to see Brock Lesnar land outside the top five. He may not have worked a full-time schedule, but he delivers big time matches whenever he’s given the right opponent. John Cena earned a good showing, but I can’t say I agree with John Moore’s take that he was the best wrestler in 2015. He worked with a lot of great opponents and I respect the fact that he didn’t have to work the style he did at this point in his career, but I feel he had a top ten year rather than a top five year.
The Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ring of Honor's PJ Black discussing the ROH Pure Title tournament beginning on ROH Wrestling TV this weekend, ROH's COVID-19 safety precautions, his run in WWE as Justin Gabriel with The Nexus, wrestling as The Bunny, and more...