Hey, it’s nearly four full months after the end of 2015, so as good a time as any to put this out, right? It should probably be mentioned that I only decided to start reviewing wrestling back in October of 2015, so I had quite a bit of catching up to do in a very short amount of time, and while I certainly didn’t reach the mark, I’ll definitely be on time for the end of 2016, should you ever choose to meander to my humble corner of the internet again.
Anywho, on to the topic at hand. For my money, 2015 was one of the best years for wrestling in my lifetime, rivaling the likes of 2005, 1998, 1994, and 1992 (though that last one is just barely out of my range). It’s fair to say that never has wrestling been more samey than it is now, and former industry giants and creative strongholds find themselves waning both in revenue and quality. But through it all, the wrestling world put together quite a bit of great wrestling last year. The US indie scene, despite losing stars left and right, continued to thrive as a viable, entertaining alternative to the mainstream with interesting regional varieties, perhaps the closest thing we’ve had to a true territory system in 30+ years. Lucha libre, led by a supercharged, magnetic promotion that put on the best weekly wrestling TV in years, found itself again thrust in the public eye and was able to put out a consistent product despite a weak economy, with CMLL notably doing rather well. The European scene continued to rebuild and revolutionize, forming ever-growing, tight-knit communities of rabid fans in Scotland, England, and Germany. While former legendary promotions like AJPW and NOAH continued to struggle and NJPW was mostly formulaic and lethargic, the puro world was chock full of talent and high-end matches and saw significant growth in the local indie scene, and NJPW took a big step forward with their NJPW World service. A number of already great performers had the best years of their careers, all over the world, and the same can be said for a slew of promotions. Never has wrestling been more accessible, with the most obscure Mexican indies and tiny joshi companies being as close at hand as the WWE Network. On just about every level, performers and promotions alike were firing on all cylinders, and I loved every minute of it. How much did I love it, and who stood atop the pack as the best of the year? Well let’s read on and find out.
Wrestler of the Year:
After years of busting his ass in the blossoming European indie scene, End really broke out in 2015 with several successful US excursions and increased interest back home, resulting in several hard-hitting matches I really love against the likes of Hero, Ciampa, and Strong, and a number of enjoyable tag matches with partner Michael Dante.
17 – “Speedball” Mike Bailey
7 recommended matches, 2 in my top 50 (#12 and 28)
Arguably one of the best babyfaces in wrestling at the moment, few performers were as endearing or sympathetic as Mike Bailey in 2015. Taking the US indie scene by storm with his crooked little smile, unassuming demeanor, and vicious kicks, he had a variety of great matches in PWG, EVOLVE, and CZW, the best of his career thus far, while still being able to entertainingly portray a variety of less-than-likable characters back home in IWS and BATTLEWAR.
If there is such a thing as a utility player in wrestling, Masato Yoshino is it. Winning three of the five titles in Dragon Gate (becoming only the second man in DG history to win all five of the promotion’s titles, after CIMA), he performed any role necessary and excelled at it with a poise and finesse unlike any other. In my mind, 2015 was the year that Yoshino solidified himself as one of the absolute greatest Dragon Gate stars alongside legends like CIMA and Masaaki Mochizuki.
15 – Tommaso Ciampa
7 recommended matches, 2 in my top 50 (#31 and 35)
More so than probably any other wrestler, Ciampa surprised me time and time again in 2015. In seemingly every match I saw, he became more endearing and more ruthless, looking light-years removed from the bleached blonde buffoon I first saw so many years ago. Traveling all over the world, having high-quality matches all the while with opponents of varying levels of experience, skill, and notoriety, Ciampa did nothing but develop his character and improve his wrestling along the way, and quickly became one of my favorites to watch in the US indie scene, someone I went out of my way to see, which is a far bigger compliment than I can give some other men and women on this list. Likewise, he somehow finagled his way into an open-ended NXT contract, which is certainly admirable and benefited everyone involved.
14 – John Cena
8 recommended matches, 1 in my top 50 (#38)
Without a shadow of a doubt, 2015 was the best year of Cena’s career, and wouldn’t you know it, it was achieved by moving him down the card. Having, for probably the first time in his career or at least the first time in a long while, a consistent string of good to great matches throughout the spring and summer, Cena helped to make new stars like Kevin Owens, Adrian Neville, and Sami Zayn become household names for mainstream WWE fans, and he likewise served to legitimize the damaged heavyweight reign of Seth Rollins. While some of his sillier antics in the ring where still present (goddamn that springboard stunner), and his “beat the world” booking was only marginally improved, it’s undeniable that Cena, more often than not, was a joy to watch in 2015 and at the very least one of the best WWE wrestlers of the year.
13 – Naruki Doi
9 recommended matches, 2 in my top 50 (#2 and 6)
Few men ooze evil like Naruki Doi does effortlessly, and the only ones who could simply had fewer great matches than Doi did in 2015, including two of my absolute favorite matches of the year. Playing major roles in both Mad Blankey and VerserK, Doi was one of the top heels in Dragon Gate, wholly coming across as a slimy, self-assured villain in everything he did, including in promos in a language that I barely understand. On top of that, he and YAMATO proved, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are the finest Twin Gate champions ever, with a massive record-breaking reign extending into 2016, and a slew of great title defenses along the way.
11 recommended matches, 1 in my top 50 (#5)
One of the focal points of a fine year of Big Japan, Okabayashi hit as hard as most anyone in 2015 and made his presence felt as a top-tier heavyweight not only in his home promotion, but in DDT as well. Whether he was tagging with trainer and friend Daisuke Sekimoto or standing alone for what is ostensibly the first time in his career, Okabayashi was champion of some kind for all of 2015 aside from the first six weeks of the year. One of the last of a dying breed as wrestlers get smaller and smaller, the bald bruiser had, by my standards, about as many high quality matches as anyone else throughout the year (including one of my top five matches), and did so with an amazing intensity rare in someone his size.
11 – Zack Sabre Jr.
10 recommended matches, 3 in my top 50 (#24, 34, and 46)
More so than anyone else on this list, which includes a few names that I tend to scoff at quite a bit these days, I don’t like Zack Sabre Jr. However, it is undeniable that he was pretty fantastic in 2015. With, by my count, about as many great matches as anyone else, ZSJ hustled around the world from Japan to Germany to the UK to the East and West coasts of the United States, having MOTYCs in almost every one of those countries with a variety of talented opponents. Only one man worked as hard as ZSJ did in 2015 and had better matches, and that man is my wrestler of the year, and I cannot deny that Zack was only a few steps behind him. Is he overpushed? Yes, I’d say so. Overrated? Almost certainly. Inconsistent? Without a doubt. Unskilled? Not a fucking chance.
10 – Shinsuke Nakamura
6 recommended matches, 2 in my top 50 (#14 and 17)
In much the same way as I have issues with the aforementioned ZSJ, Nakamura often finds ways to agitate me, even in his best matches. With a propensity to phone it in, even in main event title matches, and a habit of wrestling increasingly paint-by-numbers bouts that all feel the same, Nakamura did a lot to sully the reputation he’d built up over the last five years or so, at least in my eyes. But there’s no way that I can deny that he had at least two awesome, awesome matches in 2015 that were about as good as any he’s ever had. Somehow topping his previous bout with Kota Ibushi from back in 2013, Nakamura upped the ante by pouring a healthy portion of complete disregard for his opponent’s safety into the broth, and what resulted was a steaming, brutal bowl of Fuck You soup, all of which I devoured heartily. Following that, he embarked on an altogether pointless and overlong, but mostly enjoyable feud with Hirooki Goto for the IWGP Intercontinental title, and while it ended the same way as every feud he has for the title ends, it resulted in a few of my favorite Goto matches to date and was far from the worst series of matches that the so-called King of Strong Style has had. Along the way, he had memorable matches with Roderick Strong and Marty Scurll in RPW that really showed off his unworldly charisma, as did his less memorable bouts in ROH. A somewhat bland G1 Climax run, highlighted by a solid match against CHAOS partner Tomohiro Ishii, was topped off by an incredible bout against longtime rival Hiroshi Tanahashi, in which both men truly lived up to their potential and knocked it out of the park. And finally, all this was topped off by a short, simple singles encounter with none other than Ryusuke Taguchi in December, a match that really illustrated Nakamura’s ability to control a match when he wants to and show off his veteran wiles that are so often hidden beneath a veneer of laziness. Considering his shortcomings (or what I perceive to be shortcomings, at any rate), it’s hard for me to say that Nakamura was truly great in 2015, but he was undoubtedly a part of a few great matches, and that’s just as good.
9 – Brock Lesnar
3 recommended matches, 3 in my top 50 (#15, 21, and 38)
No one on this list did less wrestling than Lesnar did in 2015, by a long shot. With a total of eight matches, clocking in at just 95 minutes and 15 seconds spent in the ring, less than twelve minutes per match, Lesnar, by some standards, barely even wrestled in 2015. But what he lacked in quantity he made up for with quality. Few wrestlers were able to deliver shock and awe by simply walking out from behind a curtain, and Lesnar did so with a fraction of the amount of matches others had during the year. Whether it was in his title defenses as WWE World Heavyweight Champion (among the few truly deserving of such a title and such an honor in recent years), his wars with The Undertaker, or his various frightening squashes against opponents of all shapes and sizes, Lesnar truly felt special in everything he did. The way he flung grown men, professional athletes twice the size of some fans, across the ring with such reckless abandon and ease was truly special. The way he was able to command a crowd with a cold, beady-eyed gaze or a sly smile as his friend and confidant read of his laundry list of accomplishments was truly special. The way he was able to dismantle cars and rings, structures of steel and sweat, with his bare hands was truly special. Literally nothing Lesnar did in 2015 was unmemorable or unimportant. His arrival was cause for celebration and attention, urging even the most uninterested hipster assholes like myself to turn to Monday Night RAW. Lesnar is nothing short of a beast, and a rare one at that, and his few matches, three of which stand as some of the finest of the year, will certainly prove to be as unforgettable in the years to come as his sheer presence.
8 – YAMATO
12 recommended matches, 3 in my top 50 (#2, 6, and 32)
YAMATO sort of sprung up on me here, placing this high in my rankings, much higher than I would have figured a few weeks ago. But when I look at the numbers, I can’t argue with it. He had about as many great matches as the other lads on this list, one of only six or so men to hit double digits in that regard. He was the leader of Mad Blankey and top heel in Dragon Gate for a bit more than half of the year, a cocky, conniving villain, and afterward was the number two guy in VerserK, and therefore the number two baddie in the promotion, for the rest of the year. He was a dominant Twin Gate champion, both with Cyber Kong and then later with BFF/lover Naruki Doi, with whom he was firmly solidified as the single greatest Twin Gate team ever, with a record-breaking reign regarding both length and defenses. Of the 365 days of 2015, YAMATO was Twin Gate champion for 261 of them, over 70% of the year. Two matches in which he played major roles were my number two and number six ranked matches of the year, both tag matches, though he excelled in singles competition in the crazy Dead or Alive cage match as well. Through it all he was entertaining, endearing, and intriguing as a character, a highlight among the already colorful cast of vagabonds in Dragon Gate. Really, the only argument I have against YAMATO is that so many of his high-end matches were tag matches in which he, at best, was simply one of four wrestlers involved, but even then, he had so many great ones that it’s impossible to say that he wasn’t at least partially the cause of such greatness. By the numbers, YAMATO was nothing short of fantastic in 2015, and while he didn’t reach such individual heights as some of the other wrestlers on this list, he was inarguably a major part of a few of the best matches of the year, and you can’t say Steve Kerr wasn’t a great player for being only the third of fourth best guy on the ’96 Bulls.
7 – Hiroshi Tanahashi
5 recommended matches, 3 in my top 50 (#17, 36, and 41)
Like ZSJ and Nakamura before him, I have some problems with Tanahashi, especially insofar as his booking is concerned. New Japan’s stubborn refusal to let anyone else shine aside from him and their new goldenboy Okada bothers me, which is why, here in 2015, that when they finally pumped the brakes a little on the “Ace of the Universe, Once in a Century Talent” hype train, I can honestly say that Tanahashi had one of my favorite years of his career. In staying out of the world title scene for the most part, he was able to change his style up, becoming more aggressive and ground-based in his matches, showing off, dare I say it, a bit of heel work, something he’d only ever displayed in his more desperate bouts against Okada. Nowhere was this more evident than in his excursions to DDT, in which he had a pair of lovely matches with the wickedly talented HARASHIMA and was able to work one of the absolute hottest crowds I’ve seen in wrestling in years and years. This much-needed change of scenery extended to NJPW as well, where he had short, albeit entertaining and memorable, mini-feuds with the likes of Toru Yano and Tetsuya Naito, matchups that forced him to explore his character and change what he brought to the table in matches, and, to a lesser extent, the same can be said for his trips to ROH and RPW. And above all that, he was one of the highlights of a rather ho-hum G1 Climax, especially as the A Block is concerned, and his match with Shinsuke Nakamura in the finals was nothing short of astounding, finally a worthy cap to end off a decade-long rivalry between two greats. I can’t argue that Tanahashi is, without a doubt, one of the finest wrestlers alive today, and one of the top active competitors in the world. It just sometimes takes a year like 2015, in which people stop trying to shove that idea down your throat for even a moment, to make you sit back and realize it.
6 – Timothy Thatcher
8 recommended matches, 3 in my top 50 (#4, 18, and 25)
I’m writing this on April 9th, 2016, well into the new year. A year ago today, I had no clue who Timothy Thatcher was. Today, he is one of my favorites in the world to watch, and a man I honestly believe is among the most talented on the planet. Amazing what a year can do for a man’s career. With his rapid ascension up the ranks in EVOLVE and his Open the Freedom Gate/EVOLVE Championship win out of the blue, Thatcher became a big fucking deal out of nowhere and did well to capitalize on that fame, though not in the way most wrestlers would. Instead of branching out as much as he could, Thatcher doubled down on his style and stuck to promotions he was already familiar with, staying in EVOLVE, PWG, and the Northern California indie scene for the most part, honing his craft until it was an almost foolproof methodology. And perhaps it’s simply the fact that I haven’t been seeing it for years on end, but as of yet, it’s proven to be interesting and unique every time I’ve seen it, even when wrestling the same opponents time and again. Regardless of how I feel about this formula years down the line, here and now, it makes for some damn good wrestling, including one of my top matches of the year, my favorite match in a country that spoke English as its primary language in 2015. More than anything, I think Thatcher has struck me, and much of the wrestling world, in such a wonderful way because he’s different. He’s methodical in what he does, measured in a way only one or two other wrestlers were in 2015, one of whom is my wrestler of the year. And even more so than either of those other men, Thatcher’s intensity is contagious and engrossing, drawing me in to watch his matches with eyes peeled and mind racing, trying to frantically guess what’s coming next. Highlighted by a pair of incredible matches with Chris Hero, perhaps his perfect opponent, Thatcher’s 2015 was surprising on every level, and I cannot wait to see where he goes from here.
5 – Tomohiro Ishii
8 recommended matches, #1 and 26
Ishii’s matches are very formulaic. You can guess what he’s going to do a mile ahead of time, especially in matchups against old rivals. His booking in 2015 was quite stale, with nearly half of his singles matches in New Japan (seven of fifteen) being against either Togi Makabe or Tomoaki Honma, all but one of which were for the NEVER Openweight title. Through it all, though, Ishii stood as, by my count, the best wrestler in the promotion in 2015, shining through the repetitive booking and waning match quality to produce my absolute favorite match of the year, one of my favorite matches ever. He was able to drag the inconsistent, aging Togi Makabe to a few of his finest matches of late, and had a trio of incredible bouts with Tomoaki Honma, helping to elevate the fan favorite Kokeshi underdog into serious title contention. He was one of the highlights of the G1 Climax, with great matches against the aforementioned Honma, as well as Shinsuke Nakamura, Hirooki Goto, and Michael Elgin, the last of which was another one of my favorite matches of the year. One could argue that Ishii did nothing to change up his style or progress or revolutionize what he did in the ring in any way, but as the adage goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, and Ishii’s shtick is far from broken (even if his shoulder seems quite the opposite). With matches held together by top tier selling and striking, accentuated by massive emotional moments that captivate crowds of all sizes, Ishii’s formula is rock solid and makes for undeniably great matches. While this formula alone may not make him the single greatest wrestler of the year, few other performers racked up as many good to great matches as he did, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters and that’s what earns him this spot on my list.
4 – Shingo Takagi
8 recommended matches, 4 in my top 50 (#6, 10, 32, and 45)
After a decade of ups and downs, 2015 was finally the year that Shingo Takagi reached his true potential. Beginning the year as sort of the fourth wheel of Monster Express, he played an entertaining role in the incredible four way trios match on 3/6 before his heated rivalry with Kzy earned him a spot in the Dead or Alive cage match, in which he was finally defeated and humiliated by Dragon Gate’s resident b-boy. His downward spiral only continued into the King of Gate tournament, in which he was defeated in the first round by MX partner and long-time friend Akira Tozawa, and here the facade began to crack. Throughout the summer, Shingo became increasingly agitated and selfish, lashing out against his teammates, until finally enough was enough, and he challenged MX leader Masato Yoshino to a match for his Open the Dream Gate Championship. Defeating Yoshino with aggressive ease, he announced his departure from Monster Express and disdain for the weaklings in the “friendship club”, going on to form the mighty VerserK stable out of the ashes of the recently-disbanded Mad Blankey. From then on, Dragon Gate was all about Shingo Takagi, with nearly every storyline and angle revolving around him and his lackeys. Through it all, he managed to rack up a handful of great Dream Gate title defenses one after the other (with a bit of a diversion with his defense against Gamma, but even then, that’s a fantastic bit of professional wrestling right there), the pinnacle of which was his brutal battle of wills with Masaaki Mochizuki, which is almost certainly the finest match he’s had in his career, or at least his best since that legendary bout with Bryan Danielson. Through it all, Shingo stood as a proud and yet imperfect champion, leading his army of baddies as he steamrolled through Dragon Gate by the skin of his teeth, only barely surviving title matches while carrying himself like the best in the world, which he wasn’t far from by my estimation. After being a fan of Shingo’s for about as long as I’ve been watching wrestling, it was endlessly gratifying to see him finally have THE year in his career, in which he tied (and has since broken, at the time of this writing) the record for most Dream Gate reigns, standing atop the promotion with head held high and the Dream Gate title held higher.
3 – Daisuke Sekimoto
12 recommended matches, 2 in my top 50 (#5 and 34)
Honestly, it shouldn’t be a surprise to me that Sekimoto is this high in my rankings. Who else single-handedly trained half a promotion’s worth of talent and made them into stars? No one. Who else traveled all over the place, having high-quality, high-profile matches for five different promotions during the year? Scant few. In more ways than one, Sekimoto was a rare breed in 2015, the glue holding at least two promotions together and wrestling as perhaps one of the finest heavyweights in the world. Whether it was as the ace of BJW, having trained the variety of young up-and-comers working their way up the ranks as well as the company’s focal point, Yuji Okabayashi, or as one of the top guys of ZERO1 with a lengthy NWA Intercontinental tag title reign, or as a traveling star with memorable matches in DDT, wXw, NOAH, Dragon Gate, and Tenryu Project, Sekimoto excelled on every level throughout the year. Like many of the individuals on this list, 2015 was probably the best year of his career, in which he was firing on all cylinders, and not only in one promotion but several, which is a quality I think very highly of. And speaking of things I think highly of, Sekimoto elevated everyone he worked with, from the young sons of puro and German wrestling legends to veterans with decades of experience under their belts, a feat only accomplished by two or so other wrestlers throughout the year. Before I began constructing this list, I though Ishii or perhaps Shingo was going to end up being my top-ranked Japanese wrestler of the year, and certainly on the higher end of the scale. Likewise, I thought I’d rank Okabayashi higher than Sekimoto due to his memorable Strong World Heavyweight reign and general central presence in BJW. But as I look at the facts, as I weigh the numbers and consider the intangibles, it’s clear to me that there’s no way around the fact that Sekimoto was simply the best worker in Japan in the year of our lord 2015, and worked his ass off to achieve that.
2 – Roderick Strong
11 recommended matches, 4 in my top 50 (#12, 27, 41, and 46)
For most of the year, and up until February or so of 2016, I thought of Roddy as the wrestler of the year. Although I slowly came to realize that he wasn’t quite that, there’s nothing I can say that would indicate otherwise aside from the fact that one other man was just a bit better. As the PWG World Champion for the entire year (what would eventually end up being the second-longest reign in the title’s history) and focal point of the promotion, Roddy was easily one of the best heels of the world of wrestling in 2015, someone that fans genuinely wanted to fuck with and boo at (a rarity these days outside of Mexico and Japan), and Roddy was tremendous in playing off their hate, at least partially because he is legitimately rather thin-skinned and hot-headed. Additionally, he had pretty damn good title matches along the way, all of which were entertaining and interesting (a compliment I can’t give to many champions in 2015), highlighted by one of my favorite US indie matches of the year. The heel antics would bleed over to other promotions like EVOLVE and PROGRESS as well, where he had a variety of great matches and popped crowds thousands of miles apart, a testament to the legwork Roddy put in throughout 2015, working all over the western world as one of the most well-traveled wrestlers of the year. Above all else, though, maybe the most important talking point about Roderick Strong’s 2015 is that he truly improved during the year, having what was easily the best year of his career with consistent, great performances in a variety of promotions, something that, if not absent in previous years of his career, was much rarer before this one. Combine this slew of high-end matches with a pretty fantastic heel run, and it all adds together as a hell of a year for any performer, and what I surmise as just about the best year any wrestler had in 2015.
1 – Chris Hero
23 recommended matches, 6 in my top 50 (#4, 18, 29, 37, 42, and 50)
As you (hopefully) just read in the paragraph before this, for a good while I thought Roderick Strong was the best wrestler of 2015. Here, a full three and a half months after the end of that year, it could not be more clear to me that Chris Hero was instead the absolute best wrestler in the world. More so than any other wrestler throughout the year, Hero elevated everyone he worked with, helping a wide variety of wrestlers to the best, or at least some of the best, matches of their careers, most notably with Timothy Thatcher and JT Dunn, making those two men stars on different levels. Acting as a true veteran, the elder statesman of the US indie scene, he was able to ground his opponents and make them focus on their actions, making every move, every reaction, every moment mean something. In turn, Hero’s own actions were subtle and ingenious, further solidifying his status as a “thinking man’s wrestler”, as lame as that sounds, though the corny sentiment rings true; nothing he does in the squared circle is without thought or logic, and his matches play out like slowly escalating chess matches. Every time I rewatch one of his matches from 2015, I find something new, a new wrinkle, a new little touch or bit of finesse that blows me away, months after the fact. Even when facing the same competitor multiple times during the year, sometimes in matches only weeks apart, Hero was able to bring something new to the table and force his opponent to do the same, having a slew of great bouts with the likes of the aforementioned Thatcher, Zack Sabre Jr, “Speedball” Mike Bailey, Trevor Lee, and the Killer Elite Squad. Few other people on this list were able to accomplish a similar feat, and none did so as well as Hero. While rarely ever the focal point of any promotion, he acted as a major player in a handful of companies like PWG, EVOLVE, NOAH, AAW, Beyond Wrestling, and SMASH, putting on great matches and performing whatever role was required, from tag team specialist to midcard attraction to main event star to surly veteran bruiser, sometimes all within the same promotion. It should also be noted that Hero was one of the most well-traveled wrestlers of the year, and among a select few westerners who were brought out to Japan. Above all else, Hero just had a massive amount of damn fine matches in 2015, nearly twice as many as anyone else by my count (23 recommended matches to Daisuke Sekimoto and YAMATO’s 12). Likewise, no one else had as many matches in my top 50 matches of the year (Hero having 6 and the next runners-up, Roderick Strong and Shingo Takagi, having 4 apiece). As far as match quality was concerned, no one could touch Hero in 2015, bar none. No one was able to elevate a motley crew of opponents with varying levels of skill to greatness time and again like Hero. Few people traveled as much or to as far-off locations as he did. No one was able to add as many layers of intrigue to their matches. No one had as fine a touch. No one was as true a professional. Simply put, no one in the world was as good as Chris Hero in 2015.
Tag Team of the Year:
The New Day (Big E Langston, Kofi Kingston, & Xavier Woods)
1 recommended match
Absolutely no way these lads don’t somehow make it onto this list. While their in-ring prowess mostly took a back seat in 2015 with only one really great match in their triple threat ladder match towards the end of the year, the New Day’s charisma, promos, and general antics were nothing short of incredible and were easily the highlight of WWE programming on a weekly basis.
The Sumerian Death Squad (Tommy End & Michael Dante)
1 recommended match
While undoubtedly carried by Tommy End’s personal resurgence 2015, SDS was a force to reckon with throughout the year, making their presence felt in PROGRESS with a lengthy tag title run as well as regular, enjoyable appearances in wXw and ICW. Aside from one bout against Roderick Strong and Adam Cole in PROGRESS, I can’t say anything they did in 2015 was too spectacular, but SDS was always brutal and fun to watch.
reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish)
4 recommended matches
From samey but solid matches in the New Japan junior tag scene to likewise samey but solid matches in the ROH tag scene to two or three quite compelling matches in the wXw World Tag Team Tournament, reDRagon didn’t innovate or enthrall much in 2015, but stuck to their guns and delivered mostly pleasing performances in matchups we’ve seen a million times before, highlighted by one of their best bouts against the Young Bucks at the G1 Climax finals.
5 – Twin Towers (Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa)
3 recommended matches, 1 in my top 50 (#5)
No, not the Big Boss Man and Akeem, but instead, big, scary-looking Japanese guys who elbow, knee, kick, and slam their opponents hard. HARD. What’s not to love about that? Holding the BJW Tag Team Championship for nearly the entire year, capping off a 500+ day reign with several satisfying matches in the always reliable BJW tag scene, the Twin Towers really came into their own at the end of May with a goddamn incredible match against perennial opponents Strong BJ, and a lesser, but still great, rematch later in the year.
4 – Death by Elbow (Chris Hero & JT Dunn)
4 recommended matches, 2 in my top 50 (#37 and 42)
Unsurprisingly, Chris Hero again finds himself highly ranked on one of my best-of-the-year lists. But what I think brings this team together is the young JT Dunn, the hotheaded, relatively inexperienced striker who Hero coaches and guides through some interesting, thought-provoking matches, most notably against Fourth Gunn and the intriguing team of Eddie Kingston and David Starr. Death by Elbow was easily one of the highlights of an already impressive year for Beyond Wrestling.
3 – Strong BJ (Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi)
4 recommended matches, 1 in my top 50 (#5)
While I myself prefer these two men in singles competition, they do no wrong together and more often than not do a hell of a lot right. Whether it was as KO-D Tag Team Champions for half the year or as the focal point of a stellar year in BJW, Strong BJ were literally and figuratively as big as anyone else in the world of wrestling in 2015, with a handful of pretty good matches and one fantastic match against the aforementioned Twin Towers.
2 – The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson)
6 recommended matches
While I think their shtick is getting a bit stale perhaps, the Bucks continue to have incredibly entertaining matches and are, without a doubt, some of the most sought-after talent in the world, bar none. Love ’em or hate ’em, these brothers are two of the top wrestlers in the world and are treated as such for a reason. While none of their matches throughout the year were truly fantastic, the Bucks’ 2015 was capped off by a pretty damn good match with reDRagon at NJPW’s G1 Climax finals.
1 – DoiYAMA (Naruki Doi & YAMATO)
9 recommended matches, 2 in my top 50 (#2 and 6)
No one touched these lads in 2015, end of story. As two of the biggest big bads in Dragon Gate, they dominated the promotion and solidified themselves as the single best Twin Gate team in the company’s history and two of the best heels in the world of wrestling in 2015. No one had more high-end tag matches than them. No one had better tag matches than them. However you look at it, these two were simply the best in the world at what they do.
Match of the Year:
50 – Chris Hero vs Tommy End – PWG Don’t Sweat the Technique (04/03/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
Two world-class strikers belt the fuck out of each other in front of a loving crowd. Finishing sequence is a bit goofy, but holy cow, what a murderous match with a few big, memorable moments that highlight the best of both men. Something of a star-making performance from End, at least as far as US indies go, which is something Hero makes happen on seemingly a weekly basis.
49 – Jay Briscoe (c) vs Jay Lethal (c) – ROH World Title and ROH World Television Championship – ROH Best in the World 2015 (06/19/2015, Terminal 5, New York City, New York, United States)
As far as “big match feel” bouts in the US indie scene go, this was one of the finest matches of 2015. Jay and Jay come to play and both come across as world-beaters here, true champions among men. Not the finest in-ring match either man has ever had, but the pageantry of it all makes it memorable and exciting, and the feel-good moment at the end transcends traditional the face/heel dichotomy.
48 – Matt Tremont vs Stockade – No Rope Barbed Wire Match – CZW Deja Vu 2015 (03/14/2015, Flyers Skate Zone, Voorhees, New Jersey, United States)
Probably the best match in a lengthy feud between two of the finest deathmatch wrestlers today. A pair of fat lads doing crazy things you’d think them incapable of doing, and a post-match angle that sadly didn’t reach its full conclusion (both here and later on) but leaves you hungry for more.
47 – Kyle O’Reilly vs KUSHIDA – RPW Uprising 2015 (10/02/2015, Bethnal Green, Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
Just a tick behind the more famous BOTSJ bout, this one trades big armwork for big striking and is just about as much fun. These two are magic together and manage to make every interaction unique, and the raucous central London crowd loves it all the way through.
46 – Roderick Strong vs Zack Sabre Jr – EVOLVE 45 (07/10/2015, The Orpheum, Ybor City, Florida, United States)
More grounded than the usual ZSJ match, but this match retains his finer points that work well with an intense, grappling-focused Roddy who brings his A game here. I can’t say I love this as much as others do, but this is mostly a hell of a match with a few really great moments peppered throughout.
45 – Shingo Takagi (c) vs CIMA – Open the Dream Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Final Gate 2015 (12/27/2015, Fukuoka Kokusai Center, Fukuoka, Japan)
Link 1 or Link 2
The main event of Dragon Gate’s big end of the year show, and what a way to close out the awesome year that fed had. CIMA puts in a fantastic performance, perhaps his last great one ever, and Shingo finishes off his best year yet with another rock-solid championship defense.
44 – Biff Busick vs Eddie Edwards – Greatest Rivals Round Robin Tournament Finals – Beyond Wrestling Greatest Rivals Round Robin (09/26/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
Rarely does US indie wrestling make me feel feelings, but boy does this match manage to do it. Long-time rivals clash one last time and have an emotional, exciting match that builds to a frenzy and is a wild ride from start to finish. Check out this post-match crowdsurfing video Beyond put up on their YouTube channel as well.
43 – Meiko Satomura (c) vs Io Shirai – World of Stardom Championship – Stardom Year End Climax 2015 (12/23/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
Link 1 or Link 2
The best joshi wrestler of the last 20 years takes on a younger, faster opponent, and both of them lay it all out here. With callbacks to previous matches (not all of which contained these two) and a few INSANE spots, it’s astounding that this is only the second best joshi match of the year.
42 – Death by Elbow (Chris Hero & JT Dunn) vs David Starr & Eddie Kingston – Beyond Wrestling King of Arts (03/01/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
Uneven teams with metric tons of heat between them have an intelligent and hateful match with awesome character work. All four men come across as incredible talents in different ways and for different reasons, and it comes together to make what amounts to a dream tag team match feel big. It’s not as great as it could be if you maybe took a few years off one man’s career and put it on another man’s career, but it’s still pretty fantastic.
41 – Roderick Strong vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds 2015 Day 2 (05/13/2015, 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States)
A fucking brutal match. Not sure what else to say. Starts slow and simmers for a while until they kick it up a few dozen notches when Roddy gets busted open, adding a wonderful little wrinkle in which everyone except Roddy is trying to stop the match, and he won’t allow it. The sight of a bloody Roderick Strong tossing around grown men like dolls is never a bad thing, and makes for a hell of a bout here. Oh, and Tanahashi is pretty damn good too.
40 – Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi – Two out of Three Falls Lucha de Apuestas – CMLL en Fox Sports – Homenaje a Dos Leyendas 2015 (03/20/2015, aired on 03/28/2015, Arena Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico)
Big things often start small, but holy shit does this amazing feud start big. Mindblowingly fast, maybe to a dangerous degree, but you won’t have time to think with this collection of crazy things that somehow actually tie in together in a logical way. Never has insanity made so much sense and felt so good. This match does well to introduce concepts and spots that would play into much better, more memorable moments in later matches, but concepts and spots that still amaze and astound here.
39 – Kyle O’Reilly vs KUSHIDA – Best of the Super Junior XXII Finals – NJPW Best of the Super Junior XXII Day 13 (06/07/2015, Yoyogi National Stadium Gymnasium #2, Tokyo, Japan)
Link 1 or Link 2
Certain combinations of things just make scientific sense and never disappoint. Peanut butter and chocolate. Eric B. and Rakim. Western imperialism and Middle Eastern unrest. O’Reilly and KUSHIDA are one of those combinations. Whether it’s big, emotional selling or impressive highflying or breathtaking strike exchanges, everything these two do together feels near perfect, and this match might be the pinnacle of their work together. Built to feel big and given plenty of time, this is one of the finer New Japan juniors matches in years and years and years.
38 – Brock Lesnar (c) vs John Cena vs Seth Rollins – WWE World Heavyweight Championship – WWE Royal Rumble 2015 (01/25/2015, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States)
This match isn’t really smart or well constructed or anything along those lines. But hot damn if it isn’t just a ton of fun. Rollins is a wily daredevil with goons to back him up. Lesnar is the absolute monster ready to snap. Cena is the Elmer’s glue holding them both together and preventing it all from flying apart. Sort of a rocky, unevenly paced affair, but that just makes it feel like a wild roller coaster ride that could end at any moment, and it only adds to the craziness.
37 – Death by Elbow (Chris Hero & JT Dunn) vs Biff Busick & Drew Gulak – Beyond Wrestling Hit & Run (01/31/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
Stiff, smart, and surprising more than anything else. The story of the match is clear, with Dunn being the weak link that Fourth Gunn can isolate and big Papa Hero having to make the save and carry his team. Everyone lives up to their potential here, and three of these men have their best performance of the year, or close to it, in this match, and Hero yet again elevates everyone he works with.
36 – Hiroshi Tanahashi & Yohei Komatsu vs HARASHIMA & Ken Ohka – DDT #OhkaEmpire Produce “Muscle Mates 2015” (11/17/2015, aired on 11/26/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
Perhaps more noteworthy for the absolutely crazy crowd here in Korakuen than for the actual wrestling, this is certainly one of the most raucous crowds in recent memory on either side of the planet. Tanahashi continues to be a surly old man, angry that people are having fun in DDT. Komatsu plays his eager young partner ready to show what he can do. HARASHIMA, the ace of the universe, defends the honor of his home. Ohka, somehow still the most popular man in the matchup, plays the scrappy underdog for the big bads to beat down on. A spectacle through and through, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the NJPW vs UWFi feud.
35 – Tommaso Ciampa vs Donovan Dijak – Beyond Wrestling Fete Finale (12/27/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
Two of the most underrated talents in the US indie scene collide in a huge semi-main event. After a swerve in the opening seconds of the match, the obvious face/heel dynamic is switched and toyed with in a fun way, building to some truly awesome high spots and a finishing stretch that got me up and running around the room screaming. A completely slept-on match, this is the sort of match that would make careers had more people seen it.
34 – Big Daddy Walter & Zack Sabre Jr vs Axel Dieter Jr & Daisuke Sekimoto – wXw 15th Anniversary Tour: Oberhausen (12/11/2015, Turbinenhalle 2, Oberhausen, Germany)
Sometimes when four guys just go out there and fuck around in the ring for a long time, it turns into an incredible match. This is one of those times. Not quite a textbook tag match in that it doesn’t follow a single thread all the way through, as it twists and turns in entertaining ways. Grappling is had, size differentials come into play, and everyone is just so goddamn angry at each other that it’s almost painful to watch sometimes. But I’ll be damned if it didn’t have me hooked for nearly 40 minutes.
33 – Jun Kasai (c) vs Masashi Takeda – Death Face Soka Glass Board Deathmatch for the King of FREEDOMS World Championship – FREEDOMS/Jun Kasai Produce Blood X’mas 2015 (12/25/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
It’s hardly surprising that a deathmatch containing both Jun Kasai and Masashi Takeda was good, but holy cow was this ever great. The panes of glass are played with in a fun way, Takeda’s (relatively) new MMA gimmick adds a new wrinkle to an old favorite matchup, and the finishing stretch is as brutal as anything else I saw in 2015 (which is really saying something) or maybe ever (which is saying even more). It’s sort of mindblowing that this didn’t actually end up being my favorite deathmatch of the year.
32 – Shingo Takagi vs T-Hawk vs Kzy vs CIMA vs Ryo “Jimmy” Saito vs YAMATO – Mask vs Hair Steel Cage Survival Double Risk Match – Dragon Gate Dead or Alive 2015 (05/05/2015, Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Nagoya, Japan)
This match is crazy. Just goddamn crazy. The spots are going 100 miles per hour, a magical mix of lucha and puroresu. Various allies outside the ring assault others with confetti cannons, baseballs, and plastic noisemaker hammers. Mochizuki has been brainwashed somehow and has a boxing glove wrapped in barbed wire. This is a supremely Dragon Gate match, providing you with a spectacle unlike any other, and if you can understand the myriad interweaving stories and if you can follow the in-ring action, it’s incredibly entertaining.
31 – Tommaso Ciampa vs Mark Haskins – PROGRESS Chapter 22: Trust, Encouragement, Reward, Loyalty, Satisfaction (10/18/2015, Electric Ballroom, Camden, Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
After a hell of an entertaining, goofy opening, the match turns into a deadly serious affair and these two guys with questionable hair styles do their best to absolutely murder each other. It’s hard to say it overachieved when it contains two guys as talented as this, but this is another awesome match that came at me out of nowhere and exactly zero people are talking about. Stiff and satisfying all the way through.
30 – The Big Guns (The Bodyguard & Zeus) vs Kento Miyahara & Suwama – Real World Tag League 2015 – AJPW Real World Tag League 2015 Day 10 (12/06/2015, Edion Arena, Osaka, Japan)
The Big Guns need to win here to tie with Miyahara and Suwama or they lose the tournament. They’re big and muscley, Miyahara is small and not too muscley, and Suwama is getting old. It’s fucking astounding that this simple story told by two roid freaks, a pudgy-faced youngboy, and the lukewarm scoop of tapioca that is Suwama can be this enthralling, but I was glued to the screen the whole way through. A match that doesn’t waste your time and rewards an open mind, this is one of the best tag team matches I’ve seen in years and years, hearkening back to a bygone era in the glory days of this promotion. If you’ve ever enjoyed classic All Japan, you need to watch this.
29 – Pentagon Jr vs Chris Hero – AAW Pro Wrestling Windy City Classic XI (11/28/2015, Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago, Illinois, United States)
A dream match that delivers on a level few other matches were able to achieve in 2015, but without bone-breaking, career-ending craziness (though there’s a touch of that, too). These two milk an eager Windy City crowd for everything that they’re worth, and in turn give them a hell of a match that I’ll be revisiting for years to come. Ranging from quality grappling to cringe-inducing strikes to charismatic crowd work to a memorable post-match angle, this match has it all and truly lives up to the hype, and maybe even surpasses it, and yet somehow there’s not a lot here at all. This is working a crowd and putting on a show. This is pro wrestling.
28 – Jonathan Gresham vs “Speedball” Mike Bailey – Best of the Best 14 Finals – CZW Best of the Best 14 (04/11/2015, Flyers Skate Zone, Voorhees, New Jersey, United States)
Gresham was perhaps the most underrated wrestler in the world in 2015. Bailey was certainly one of the most endearing wrestlers in the world last year, someone you want to see endure through adversity and succeed. Gresham, in his newfound Octopus persona, is happy to supply said adversity and does his best to prevent Bailey from succeeding. With some really choice legwork and fantastic, smug heel work, Gresham acts as Bailey’s greatest challenge of the year, perhaps ever, and they construct a hell of a match here that was completely slept on.
27 – Jay Lethal (c) vs Roderick Strong – ROH World TV Championship – ROH on SBG #218 (10/23/2015, aired on 11/21/2015, Wings Event Center, Kalamazoo, Michigan, United States)
These two had four singles matches in 2015, and this stands head and shoulders above the rest of those bouts. Both men finally just click together, bringing energy and intensity to this TV main event that builds in a logical way leading to a hell of a finishing run, held together by some of the best selling Lethal’s ever done in his career. Funny that he looks the most like a champion-caliber performer in losing.
26 – Michael Elgin vs Tomohiro Ishii – NJPW G1 Climax 25 Day 18 (08/15/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan)
I’ve never been a fan of Michael Elgin, but I can’t deny that he’s found his niche in New Japan, and this match, more than any, is evidence of that. Smashmouth wrestling from start to finish, with more than your weekly recommended dosage of slams and suplexes, both men are practically mirror images of each other here and yet, being such a fresh matchup, it’s a whole new world of pain that we get to enjoy. They start off hot and waste no time in getting to what they do best; decimating each other. The bombs they throw grow increasingly bigger and bigger until the frenetic energy pervasive throughout the whole match builds to a violent crescendo. I’m a big fan of this kind of “no nonsense dudes hitting each other real hard” matchup, much more so than the overly choreographed dance recitals of other big main event New Japan bouts (not that this isn’t choreographed in its own way, to be fair), and insofar that it’s just a damn good fight, this is a hell of a match.
25 – Timothy Thatcher (c) vs Zack Sabre Jr – EVOLVE Championship – EVOLVE 47 (08/15/2015, La Boom, Woodside, New York, United States)
I’m rarely a fan of ZSJ matches, especially when they’re based around grappling. This, however, is a fantastic ZSJ match, perhaps my favorite of his, and is almost entirely built around grappling. Everything that these men do here is measured and malicious, somehow growing more brutal and breathtaking by the minute until it builds to a finish that makes me and my busted-ass knees weep. Hardly surprised to see Thatcher pull off a match like this, and I’m glad to see ZSJ try and change my opinion of him. If he keeps it up, he’ll become one of my favorites in no time.
24 – Jimmy Havoc (c) vs Dave Mastiff vs Marty Scurll vs Noam Dar vs Paul Robinson vs Will Ospreay – Elimination Match for the PROGRESS Championship – PROGRESS Chapter 18: The Show We Can’t Call PROGRESSleMania for Legal Reasons (03/22/2015, Electric Ballroom, Camden, Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
With a swirl of stories and personalities on display here, this is a wonderful little multi-man main event title match. Everyone feels like a unique character with their own thought processes and abilities, and the slow escalation of the eliminations are very well paced and build to a much better finish than similar title matches at Chapter 17 and 20. A wholly PROGRESS match, the likes of which you wouldn’t quite see anywhere else, with this specific mix of talent in front of this crowd ready to see them fight.
23 – Dragon Lee (c) vs Kamaitachi – Two out of Three Falls Match for the CMLL World Lightweight Championship – CMLL Titanes del Ring (08/30/2015, Arena Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico)
Despite the mindblowing spots and breakneck speed of the match, the real meat of this match is in how it advances the story between these two without ever saying a word, simply allowing the action in the ring to express the narrative. The spots that these two are doing are crazy, but they build one after the other in a logical way and clearly indicate progress from their previous matches. The incredibly enthusiastic Japanese women at ringside cheering for Kamaitachi add a great wrinkle to the affair as well, and all in all this is a step up from their previous barnburners, which is a hell of an achievement.
22 – Joe Doering (c) vs Go Shiozaki – Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship – AJPW New Year Wars 2015 Day 2 (01/03/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
Watching this, you’d never know that it was 2015 and the heyday of 90’s All Japan is long since passed. Doering is as good a monstrous foreigner as any and plays the unbeatable baddie for the fiery Shiozaki to throw everything at in a way I’ve missed dearly all these years. Everything escalates naturally and in an exciting way, building to a pretty bonkers finishing run. A throwback match in nearly every way, this is another completely slept-on match, in no small part due to taking place a day before Wrestle Kingdom, and it’s certainly worth your time and appreciation.
21 – Brock Lesnar (c) vs Roman Reigns (vs Seth Rollins) – WWE World Heavyweight Championship – WWE WrestleMania 31 (03/29/2015, Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California, United States)
Watching this live on the Network was one of the most entertaining experiences I’ve had as a wrestling fan ever. Seeing Lesnar decimate Reigns time and again in such a brutal fashion was great. Reigns’ comeback and finisher spam, for once, was great. Rollins’ cash-in and stealing of the victory was great. Lesnar brings all these elements together with his selling and ability to command an audience. This is a main event-ass WrestleMania main event that feels big and delivers big.
20 – Atlantis vs La Sombra – Two out of Three Falls Lucha de Apuestas – CMLL 82 Aniversario (09/18/2015, Arena Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico)
Few matches can achieve the same kind of spectacle and emotion of an Atlantis lucha de apuestas match at an Aniversario show. A supremely lucha libre match, this number plays to all the tropes and idiosyncrasies of this genre of wrestling in such a way that it’s almost all too much, but not quite. Being a rather new matchup, the entire third fall is unpredictable and exhilarating, building to a picture-perfect finish. The mask-removing ceremony is as emotional as most anything else you’ll see in wrestling these days, and the grandeur of it all is just amazing, the sort of earnestness you rarely see in wrestling, or in real life for that matter.
19 – Sasha Banks (c) vs Bayley – NXT Women’s Championship – NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn (08/22/2015, Barclays Center, New York City, New York, United States)
This match is all about emotion. The grappling isn’t as refined as in matches ranked lower than this. The high spots aren’t as exciting or killer-looking. The spots are sloppier and slower. But goddamn it if these two don’t draw you in and make you care on a level that simply, factually does not happen too often in this line of work. The big moments of this match are tremendous and heart-stopping, some of the most memorable of the year, and it’s because these wrestlers are endearing and know how to connect with an audience as characters, as human beings, and for that, it deserves this spot.
18 – Chris Hero vs Timothy Thatcher – Battle of Los Angeles 2015 First Round Match – PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2015 Day 2 (08/29/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
It’s interesting, revisiting this match after becoming much, much more familiar with Thatcher’s style since my first foray into his work. Hero is somehow even more charismatic here than he usually is, playing with Reseda and toying with Thatcher to get in his head. Thatcher, in turn, is likewise more lively than I’ve ever seen him, showing a bit of humor and playing to the crowd at one point like he’s a real goddamn human being or something. While being somewhat similar to their Mercury Rising match that I adore, this differs in that it’s more of an even fight, a chess match back and forth, with either man getting short flurries of offense out for only a little while before the other fires back with a strike or bit of grappling. The spots are slower yet somehow even more intense, helped along by a crowd that wants to see these men kill each other, and these two play to the raucous reactions they receive. The story of Chris Hero in 2015 (and to some degree every year since leaving the WWE) is a veteran who elevates everyone he works with, and yet in these matches with Thatcher I see two evenly-matched, equally-talented masters of their craft, and nowhere is that more evident than in this match.
17 – Shinsuke Nakamura vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – G1 Climax Finals – NJPW G1 Climax 25 Day 19 (08/16/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan)
In some ways, I feel like this match is way, way, waaaay too over the top. But maybe that’s the point. Here, ten years after headlining the Tokyo Dome together on January 4th, the two stalwart heralds of New Japan collide one last time and have what is clearly their greatest match. They throw everything they have and then some at each other, and while it can easily be viewed as overkill (and I think it is), the emotion and weight behind these blows cannot be overestimated, and if nothing else this is a grand display of heart and will, something that these two excel at displaying. It’s impossible to see this as anything other than their last great singles match together, and part of me is glad that these two men who I’ve watched for years have finally had THE match after so many years of struggling to attain it, and while I have issues all the way through it, this is a hell of a performance from both men and it’s undoubtedly one of the top matches of the year.
16 – Mil Muertes vs Fenix – Grave Consequences Casket Match – Lucha Underground #1.17 – A War Started in Mexico… (01/24/2015, aired on 03/04/2015, Lucha Underground Arena, Boyle Heights, California, United States)
The kicker about this match is that it really does, on some level, feel like two men fighting for their lives. Perhaps it’s the pageantry and production values of Lucha Underground at play, but from the first moment that the druids walk onscreen to when they cart away the corpse of Muertes in the coffin, the atmosphere of this match is heavy and alluring. Death is in the air, and in the minds of these two competitors. They fight in the ring. They fight in the stands. They fight with everything they have, bloodying each other, using the coffin as a weapon, diving off progressively higher surfaces. These two men are fighting tooth and nail to survive in kayfabe, but it’s hard to tell sometimes. The crowd loves every minute of it, cheering on their young firebird hero and likewise sort of cheering on the monster of a man, Muertes. Everything comes to a head with Muertes accidentally attacking Catrina and Fenix stomping him down into the coffin as the crowd roars. A gimmick match turned up to 11, a Lucha Underground match through and through, and a hell of a bout in any case.
15 – Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker – Hell in a Cell Match – WWE Hell in a Cell (10/25/2015, Staples Center, Los Angeles, California, United States)
A full thirteen years after their previous Hell in a Cell match, one of my favorite matches, two crazy old men go at it again and do their best to murder each other. Both Lesnar and Undertaker have had real intense, real dangerous matches in the last few years, but this has to take the cake. Two powerhouses, two institutions in wrestling, two behemoths in stature and status pull off things that men 15, 20 years younger would refuse to do, and they do it with such speed and intensity, it just boggles the mind. I’ll never forget watching this, mouth agape at what these two were doing to each other. I’ll never forget seeing Lesnar shove aside a doctor trying to interrupt the match. I’ll never forget seeing Lesnar ripping apart the ring canvas and padding, exposing the wooden boards below. An insane ride from start to finish, this was a goddamn trip of a match.
14 – Shinsuke Nakamura (c) vs Kota Ibushi – IWGP Intercontinental Championship – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 (01/04/2015, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan)
Some people are just born mean, with meanness in them. Seems like these two are like that. Two years after their previous killer matchup in the 2013 G1 Climax, Ibushi comes in a bit stockier and ten times as aggressive, ready to take it to the champ, and take it he does. At the height of his hubris, Nakamura backs his arrogance up with simple savagery and derision. Only playing up to their similar styles instead of trying to separate themselves, these two just rock each other back and forth for a good long while, somehow with increasing severity. Uncomfortable head kicks and stomps. Finisher stealing and gimmick infringement. A truly gross finishing stretch with more than enough fire to keep you warm in Japan in January. I don’t find this to be a perfect match like many do, but fuck me, it’s great, if hard to watch sometimes.
13 – Pentagon Jr vs Vampiro – Cero Miedo No Disqualification Match – Lucha Underground #1.39 – Ultima Lucha Part 2 (04/19/2015, aired on 08/05/2015, Lucha Underground Arena, Boyle Heights, California, United States)
On paper, a TV deathmatch featuring a semi-retired 47-year old Canadian shouldn’t be good. Against all odds, it’s actually great. The crowd is on fire. Pentagon and Vampiro are feeling it, electricity crackling in their fingers. And as is always the case with Lucha Underground gimmick matches, the gimmick is over the top and thrilling and taken to its logical conclusion, or at least close. The lads cover for their shortcomings (chiefly among them being Vampiro’s old-ass ass) with metric tons of charisma and crowd work, and the action we do get is rock-solid. Much of the what makes this great is in the intangibles as well, such as the exhilaration of seeing light tubes on television, or the look in Pentagon’s eyes as blood pours down his face, or the payoff of the post-match angle that had been built up for weeks and weeks. This isn’t a pretty match. It’s not easy to watch. But whoever said wrestling had to be pretty and easy?
12 – Roderick Strong (c) vs “Speedball” Mike Bailey – PWG World Championship – PWG Mystery Vortex III: Rock and Shock the Nation (06/26/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
Brutalism is the word needed to describe this match. Bailey is lovable and fiery, exciting to watch, the perfect underdog to eat Roddy’s brutal offense. Roddy is an insecure bully and mean as can be, taking out his frustrations on this young Canuck, proving to himself and to the world that he’s the best. He certainly looks it here. These two waste no time, with a match and a half stuffed into 19 minutes that just fly by, taking your breath with it. As you can imagine, they hit each other real fucking hard, building intensity all the way through, helped along by passionate commentary from Excalibur and Hero, who desperately want to see Bailey win. They don’t quite see it happen, sadly, although Bailey’s final hope spot towards the end of this match might be good enough, as it makes my heart skip a beat every time. For most of the year, I considered this the best US indie match from 2015, and it’s still damned close to that and well worth your time if you’ve somehow not already seen it.
11 – Jimmy Havoc vs Paul Robinson – No Disqualification Number One Contender’s Match – PROGRESS Chapter 21: You Know We Don’t Like to Use the Sit Down Gun (09/06/2015, Electric Ballroom, Camden, Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
More so than the savage deathmatch wrestling here (which is great) or the incredible, empathetic crowd (which is also great), this match shines because of the characters. Jimmy Havoc, recently cast down from his role of as PROGRESS Champion/resident dictator, is cornered and precarious, a wounded animal. Robinson, conniving and weaselly to the core, looks to take advantage of his partner’s weakness and grab the brass ring with his bloody, mangled paws. These men are hungry and have been thrust in a situation in which it’s kill or be killed, and they know what they have to do. Any other year, this would be my favorite deathmatch of the year, and while it’s not quite, this match brings with it an intrigue rarely seen in professional wrestling. Characters develop, for better or for worse, before our eyes, and one man has an emotional goodbye here that manages to pluck at my heart strings without tears or retirement or “please don’t go” chants. It’s just two men, two ideologies opposed for so long finally coming to a wordless understanding.
10 – Shingo Takagi (c) vs Masaaki Mochizuki – Open the Dream Gate Championship – Dragon Gate The Gate of Destiny 2015 (11/01/2015, Edion Arena Osaka #1, Osaka, Japan)
In the same vein as Roddy vs Speedball from earlier, this match is all about two men brutalizing each other to achieve their goals. One is an arrogant, self-serving champion, but ultimately afraid of the failure he has felt before with gold on the line. The other is an aging veteran, one of the best around bar none, but his body is beginning to fail him, and a hungry young man more than ten years his junior stands across the ring from him, looking to kill. It’s amazing neither man was actually killed here, because fuck me, do they do some crazy things. They tell a story I’m always sympathetic to, hearkening back, on some level, to the Jumbo/Misawa matches of yore, and I’ll be damned if Mochizuki’s performance here isn’t similarly distressing and emotional. If the entire spot revolving around Shingo hitting the STAY DREAM isn’t the spot of the year, I don’t know what is. Watching these two men struggle with and batter each other is truly breathtaking and almost painful, and we don’t get a happy ending when it’s all over to make it worth it. But sometimes that’s how life is.
9 – Nick Gage vs John Wayne Murdoch – King of the Deathmatch Home Improvement Deathmatch Semi Final Match – IWA Mid-South King of the Deathmatch 2015 Day 2 (06/27/2015, American Legion Post #1199, Charlestown, Indiana, United States)
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking there’s no way Nick Gage and some fat hick you’ve never heard of had a better match than Nakamura vs Ibushi, or Nakamura vs Tanahashi, or any of the other matches above this, or any that I didn’t list. Well, I think you’re downplaying just what these men do with nearly 40 minutes of a deathmatch. It’s hard to describe just what they achieve, and you may not think that they achieve much at all. But the hundred or so people gathered in southern Indiana for this show certainly believe so, and I’m inclined to agree with them. This match is stiff and slow-burning and measured. It fully illustrates Nick Gage’s undeniable ability to mold a crowd in the palm of his hand, keeping them there and working them into a frenzy, and this is a star-making performance for Murdoch, a veteran of the scene who so badly wants to break into the next level. The most that I can say about this match is that it’s worth looking into, if only to form your own opinions of it.
8 – Kairi Hojo (c) vs Meiko Satomura – World of Stardom Championship – Stardom Galaxy Stars 2015 Day 1 (06/14/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
Link 1 or Link 2
More often than not, good art depicts human struggle in a clear and compelling way that surprises and shocks you. So too with wrestling, as this match illustrates. A young champion, with barely more than 100 matches under her belt, does what she can to hold her own against a twenty year veteran and a woman who is ostensibly the final boss of joshi wrestling. For quite a long time, they throw their biggest bombs at each other yet can’t quite keep the other down for three, resorting to increasingly gruesome and inventive ways to keep control. There were two matches in 2015 that made me stop writing while reviewing them and forced me to simply and intently watch them unfold; this is one of them, and the other is coming up next. Emotional and enthralling to the last second, this match is an incredible testament to the power of human will, and is more than deserving of your attention.
7 – Minoru Suzuki (c) vs Takashi Sugiura – GHC Heavyweight Championship – NOAH Great Voyage 2015 in Osaka (09/19/2015, Edion Arena Osaka, Osaka, Japan)
On more than one occasion during this match, I was certain that Suzuki was going to try and murder Sugiura, to rip away at his throat and suck out his blood. There is fear in Sugiura’s eyes; he sees the figure standing in front of him, refusing to give up, and he knows he’ll have to put this man down for good to survive, like Mendoza in Ashita no Joe. This is less a match and more a gladiatorial contest, and if you’ve seen this match, you’ll understand that this analogy isn’t as goofy as it sounds. Ayumi Nakamura performs “Kaze ni Nare” live. The ring is covered in blood before either man steps in it. This is no normal wrestling match. It is a guttural, primal war that needs to be seen to be believed. Hanging onto every passing moment like the last life preserver as the ship is going down, watching this was one of my favorite experiences ever in all my years of being a wrestling fan. Make sure to see this if you haven’t.
6 – Monster Express (Masato Yoshino, Shingo Takagi, & Akira Tozawa) vs Dia.Hearts (BxB Hulk, Big R Shimizu, & Kzy) vs Jimmyz (Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy Kagetora, & Jimmy Kanda) vs Mad Blankey (Naruki Doi, YAMATO, & Cyber Kong) – Four Way 12 Man Tag Team Elimination Match – Dragon Gate Glorious Gate 2015 Day 2 (03/06/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
In this writer’s humble opinion, the four-way trios match is the greatest of all Dragon Gate innovations and is the best thing suited to illustrating the finer points of the lightning-fast lucharesu style. Long, action-packed from front to back, and chock full of interesting storyline implications and references to feuds and alliances from years long since passed, there is so goddamn much going on in this match, too much for all but the most ardent superfan to grasp. I can’t claim to understand every last bit of lore present here, but I don’t need to in order to enjoy this match, as it’s an absolutely incredible bit of tag team high spot wrestling without all that. In some ways, I could say that this is the finest Dragon Gate match since the famous Verano Peligroso four-way trios match back in August 2003, a match very similar to this and actually containing two of the men in this match. If nothing else, this is a tremendously energetic match that showcases the personalities and styles of twelve distinctly different wrestlers, and in that sense, it’s an astounding feat.
5 – Twin Towers (Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa) (c) vs Strong BJ (Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi) – BJW Tag Team Championship – BJW (05/28/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
Link 1 or Link 2
For a while now, alongside a small but passionate contingent of internet puro smarks, I’ve been claiming that the BJW heavyweight scene is the finest in the world today and the closest thing we have to classic 90’s King’s Road AJPW-style wrestling. Nowhere is that more evident than in this match. Four thick, tough men among men beat the ever-loving fuck out of each other to prove their superiority to the other team and to their opponents for the upcoming Ryogokutan, BJW’s biggest show of the year. For a considerable amount of time, these lads who know each other so well throw and reverse their biggest bombs at each other, innovating new ones at some points, with increasing lethality until they simply can’t do it anymore. It’s nothing short of amazing how enthralling this is all the way through, as most matches that go this long can’t manage to do it half as well as these four men did. Absolutely must-see matchup here.
4 – Chris Hero vs Timothy Thatcher – WWNLive Supershow – Mercury Rising 2015 (03/28/2015, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose, California, United States)
Simply put, this is one of the smartest matches I’ve ever seen, and it’s certainly one of the hardest-hitting matches I’ve ever seen as well. A star-making performance for Thatcher and the best example of Hero being the best wrestler in the world today. Methodical, deep, and interesting every step of the way, it’s hard for me to say much else about this match without just giving the whole thing away or espousing praise to the point of embarrassment. This is a really, truly fantastic match, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t watch it.
3 – Dragon Lee (c) vs Kamaitachi – Two out of Three Falls Match for the CMLL Super Lightweight Championship – CMLL Super Viernes (12/04/2015, Arena Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico)
It’s hard to overstate how much I love this match. From a glance, it would appear that this is simply a bunch of highspots done at a blistering pace by two young men who don’t give a fuck about their bodies (and hey, you’d be mostly right), but there’s so much more going on here. Calling back to previous spots in previous matches, reversing reversals from previous matches, upping the ante in literally every manner possible, with little of the direct spot repetition that their second and third matches suffered from. The high spots are higher than you could imagine, and defy belief more often than not, with a few truly awe-inspiring moments that will last with me for years to come. The first and second finish to the match are incredible and dramatic in a way that can’t fail to draw the viewer in and cap off a year-long story that I never realized I needed the conclusion to. If a match ever delivered everything I wanted and more, it was this one.
2 – Mad Blankey (Naruki Doi, YAMATO, K-Ness, Cyber Kong, & Mondai Ryu) vs Jimmyz (Ryo “Jimmy” Saito, Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!, Jimmy Susumu, Jimmy Kanda, & Mr. Quu Quu Tanizaki Naoki Toyonaka Dolphin) – 5 vs. 5 Losing Unit Disbands Survival Elimination Match – Dragon Gate Dangerous Gate 2015 (08/16/2015, Ota Ward Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan)
Now, I have a strong emotional bond to Dragon Gate and the colorful cast of characters on its roster. It’s hard for me to be partial sometimes regarding Dragon Gate, but I can say with complete certainty that this is one of the most emotional and draining matches of 2015, topped only by one other match. As far as action-packed highspot wrestling goes, nothing touches this. As far as building to huge, emotional nearfalls goes, only one match can touch this. As far as playing to character traits and long-running storylines goes, nothing touches this. As far as swerves go, nothing touches this. For most of the year, I thought of this as the match of the year, and while I slowly changed my mind as time went on, this is nothing short of a enormous, marvelous match that deserves your attention, and hopefully your appreciation.
1 – Tomohiro Ishii vs Tomoaki Honma – NEVER Openweight Championship – NJPW New Beginning in Sendai (02/14/2015, Sendai Sun Plaza, Sendai, Japan)
Honestly, there’s nothing more I can say about this match that I haven’t said already. The emotions are raw and real. The hope spots and nearfalls make my heart skip a beat every single time I watch them, even on my dozenth or so viewing. This might be the only match in years and years that I think of as a five star match, and I’m glad that it received such a distinction from Big Dave. If, somehow, someway, you haven’t gotten around to seeing this, go watch it right now. You need to.
Show of the Year:
PROGRESS Chapter 22 (10/18/2015)
While it doesn’t reach the same heights as other shows on this list, I feel that this card is just impeccably put together, with every single match being enjoyable in different ways and without feeling too over the top. Sometimes you need just a fun show that doesn’t try to be the single greatest show ever, and in trying to just be a good time at the wrestlin’, this show comes across as very charming and gratifying, with a solid MOTYC in Haskins vs Ciampa.
PWG All Star Weekend 11 Day 2 (12/12/2015)
I’m incredibly appreciative of variety on cards, and boy howdy does this have variety. Great comedy, great technical wrestling, some enjoyable big silly tag and highflying matches, and an over-booked, brawly main event that manages to advance storylines and come across as a lot of fun at the same time. Doesn’t quite have the variety of BOLA Night 2, but it comes together to create a more fluid show with repercussions for the future.
Dragon Gate Kobe Pro-Wresting Festival 2015 (07/20/2015)
Most any other year, this probably would have been the best Dragon Gate show of the year. The main event and Twin Gate matches are some of the best matches the promotion had to offer in 2015, and the Brave Gate and Dangan Hawk vs Dia.Hearts numbers are as good as any midcard match they’ve put on. It doesn’t quite reach the same heights or mean as much as Dangerous Gate, but it’s quite a good show just the same.
NJPW G1 Climax 25 Day 19 (08/16/2015)
It’s mitigated by some nothing multi-man tags, but this show is highlighted by a fun gaijin vs midcard singles match, a pair of quite good junior heavyweight matches in the age of mostly ho hum junior matches, and a main event with two great wrestlers finally having the match they always had the potential to pull off. In a sea of New Japan cards I had little to no interest in, this stands out as a fairly great show that I was at least relatively excited for, quite an accomplishment.
Beyond Wrestling Fete Finale (12/27/2015)
While Beyond had a number of real good shows in 2015, none was as stacked as this one. With a fun-ass Fans Bring the Weapons opener, a neat worked shoot tag, pair of solid-as-hell midcard singles matches, a tag match no one ever expected to see in 2015, the best wrestler in the world facing off against his son, two underrated as hell workers putting on a MOTYC, and a serviceable storyline main event. Awesome stuff up and down the card, save for the eight man tag.
5 – PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2015 Day 2 (08/29/2015)
As I said before, I quite enjoy variety on my wrestling cards, and no show in the world had the variety that this show had, bar none. Highlighted by a wonderful Hero vs Thatcher match, a lucha tag that’s fun through and through, yet another fantastic Mike Bailey underdog bout, and a big, dumb, if a tad underwhelming Guerrilla Warfare main event, this card had it all, and while it was overstuffed and overlong, I can’t deny that this show ruled.
4 – RPW Summer Sizzler 2015 (06/14/2015)
Three great matches, all of which feel distinct and memorable, peppered between a cooldown comedy match that’s quite a bit of fun, an Ishii vs Damo match that doesn’t rule but is far from bad, and a short, serviceable tag match with local talent that know their role and do it well. Doesn’t overstay its welcome and supplies a couple world-class matches with a few world-class talents. Wrestling could use more shows like this.
3 – PWG Mystery Vortex III: Rock and Shock the Nation (06/26/2016)
In a year of pretty stacked PWG supercards, this stands out to me as the best of the bunch. Pals Ciampa and Johnboy have an overlong but enjoyable opener before the World’s Cutest Tag Team and Monster Mafia have a hell of a fun tag match. We then transition into a short, memorable grapplefuck bout and one of my favorite US indie matches of the year, followed by a goofy size differential match and a nasty, nasty technical bout between Hero and ZSJ. The main event isn’t the best, I think, but it sets up a huge story for the future in the reunion of Mount Rushmore, which brings this all together into a hell of a show.
2 – Dragon Gate Dangerous Gate 2015 (08/16/2015)
With a fun comedy tag team match, a solid albeit short Brave Gate defense, and a good Dia.Hearts showcase tag match, we have your typical Dragon Gate undercard. But then things kick into high gear with one of the absolute best matches of the year, a big, emotional unit disband match, a staple in DG, followed by a very good Dream Gate match that kicks off a new age in the promotion. This show is a major turning point in Dragon Gate in 2015 and one of their finest shows in years.
1 – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 (01/04/2015)
Really hard to pick anything other than this for show of the year. I have problems with the length (despite being shorter than normal due to being on PPV) and the sameness of much of it (a complaint I have about NJPW in general), but there’s no denying that this is the largest concentration of good to great matches on one card this year, and that’s the bottom line. I’d only call one of these matches a MOTYC, but most everything else is close enough behind that the average match quality here is tremendously high.
Promotion of the Year:
While the vast majority of EVOLVE matches, and more than a few of their shows, didn’t interest me at all, Gabe somehow manages to put together one or two matches per card, on average, that interest me and generally end up being good to fantastic. An inconsistent product, but one with just enough talent and ability that they deserve an honorable mention, and I’m eager to see what they do in 2016 following a trio of fantastic shows in the new year.
Simply put, PROGRESS is just a lot of fun. With a nice, varied, charismatic roster of talent, simple and interesting storylines, and easy access with their on demand service, they stand out as probably the finest European promotion at the moment. While I’m no fan of Ospreay, the Havoc/Ospreay feud was quite entertaining and led to Havoc’s memorable departure, and likewise featured the wonderful Jim Smallman, easily the best authority figure in wrestling at the moment. Chapters 19 and 22 stand out as some of the best shows of the year, though every card they put out was worth a watch.
Having fun cards with a variety of both local and more well-known talent on a monthly basis (and sometimes more), Beyond both gave some of my favorite New England wrestlers a platform on which to shine and served as a place that turned my opinion of certain wrestlers around. Rarely does the promotion ever put on a show as good as, say, PWG, but that’s not necessarily what they’re going for, and they act as a very enjoyable alternative, which is something you need in wresting. This was their best year yet and I’m excited to see where they go from here.
5 – BJW
I watched roughly 20 BJW shows from 2015 throughout the year, and not a single one disappointed me and made me feel like I wasted my time. PWG is maybe the only other promotion that accomplished a similar feat, and even then they had a fraction of the amount of shows that BJW did. With the rock-solid heavyweight division, the reliably entertaining deathmatch division that no longer dominates the promotion, and an undercard featuring a slew of talent in various shapes and sizes, BJW gave me everything I could ask for in 2015 and saw a respectable increase in popularity, helped along by their presence on Tenryu’s retirement show.
4 – Lucha Underground
Standing out in this list as the only promotion built around weekly television, Lucha Underground stormed the wrestling world as a completely new concept and one that quite a large amount of people immediately bought into. While it rarely reached the same heights in match quality as other promotions on this list, the average show was so entertaining both in and out of the ring that you didn’t mind, and it came together to create a hell of a TV show. Charming as hell, Lucha Underground stands out in more ways the one and won’t soon be forgotten.
3 – NJPW
I’ve got a lot of problems with NJPW (refusal to push talent outside of the top four, rehashing storylines and feuds endlessly, booking title matches few and far between, overloading the vast majority of cards with matches no one cares about, etc.), but through it all, they continue to make good wrestling happen more often than not, including my match of the year. Wrestle Kingdom and the G1 Climax, despite perhaps being weaker than past years, delivered big matches that will be remembered for years to come.
2 – PWG
Continuing their trend of being an indie supercard fed, PWG racks up another awesome year with a multitude of great matches spread across a multitude of entertaining shows, two or three of which were simply fantastic. Even their weakest show of the year, DDT4, had enough fresh matchups to draw me in and intrigue me most of the way through. Even after losing more top(ish) wrestlers like O’Reilly, Cole, and Biff for various amounts of time, they were able to bring in new talent seamlessly and turn them into top stars in no time. These guys know what they’re doing and do it as well as most any promotion ever, with a wondrous quality over quantity mission statement.
1 – Dragon Gate
It’s hard to be objective here, in that Dragon Gate is far and away my favorite promotion at the moment, but I honestly do believe no company had a better 2015. They had more high-end matches than any other promotion according to my scale and about the same amount of great shows as anyone else. With tons of shows, more than just about any other fed in the world, they created long-running, memorable, compelling storylines that got me up at 4:00 AM to watch shows live, which is more than I can say for most any other promotion. Their cards had variety and their characters were endearing. Long-running factions were forced to disband and were replaced by stronger ones. Three or four top talents had arguably the best year of their career, as singles and tag team wrestlers. Attendance was (reportedly, keep in mind) up, and the big shows were as big as ever. Up and down the card, in just about every aspect, Dragon Gate thrived where other promotions didn’t and went above and beyond to create what was probably my single favorite year in the company’s history yet.
Feud of the Year:
5 – Dalton Castle vs Silas Young
Highlighted by a few serviceable matches between two rock-solid workers, more than anything this feud was noteworthy simply for the clash of characters coming together and creating the sort of spectacle you don’t see much in wrestling these days. Fun through and through, which is often absent in ROH.
4 – Jimmy Havoc vs Will Ospreay
A feud that started back in 2014 but really came together here in 2015. I can’t say I loved two of the three matches these two had with each other this year, but I’ll be damned if the promos and angles surrounding this feud weren’t stellar, and the people of PROGRESS were fucking all about it. Few villains have felt as real and intriguing as Havoc did here.
3 – Matt Tremont vs Stockade
I can’t think of the last time I enjoyed a deathmatch feud this much. Probably not since the days of Drake vs Vortekz or maybe even Havoc vs Callihan. Regardless, these two had a series of matches stretching back into 2014 across multiple promotions that were some of the best of the year, most notably their NRBW match in CZW and their casket match in Beyond.
2 – Matt Sydal vs ACH
Easily the highlight of ROH in 2015 for me. I was able to watch four of the bouts in their best of five series, and three of them were great, all in distinct, memorable ways, and even more so than that, the tensions between both men built well throughout the year, culminating with this series towards the end of 2015. Sydal elevates many of the young highfliers he works with, and this is certainly the case here with ACH, pulling out some of my favorite matches from the young Texan.
1 – Dragon Lee vs Kamaitachi
Nothing touched this. Nothing, period, full stop, end of discussion. Nothing since Tanahashi vs Okada has even been close to this good, I doubt anything will achieve these heights for years to come, and we are so #blessed that this feud is continuing into 2016.
Champion of the Year:
1 recommended title match, 1 in my top 50 (#24)
While I can really only recommend one of Havoc’s PROGRESS World Championship defenses in 2015 as being worth your time, Havoc truly shines as an interesting and shocking character more than anything. A former deathmatch wrestler trying to prove to the world that he belongs, that he’s skilled, no matter what drastic measures it takes, Havoc’s rise and fall in PROGRESS started long before 2015 but came to quite an enjoyable close here in this year. And aside from the pretty damn good six-man match from Chapter 18, both of Havoc’s defenses against Ospreay are serviceable as well.
1 recommended title match
Much in the same way as Havoc was better as a character than a wrestler in PROGRESS, Kingston’s desperate chase of and desperate struggle to retain the AAW Heavyweight Championship was a thrill to watch. Only one of his title matches was really great, but every one of his personal character performances and every promo (of which there were many) were among the best of the year. Kingston’s best moments are when his character is on full display, and his presence in the AAW title scene in 2015 was certainly indication of that.
4 recommended title matches
Reminding me quite a bit of Shinsuke Nakamura, Tozawa has a propensity to phone it in and have basic, typical matches, choosing not to change it up or turn up the heat even in title matches on big shows. But goddamn it, he’s so fun in the ring, even if he’s doing the same old thing again and again. It was far from the best thing in the promotion throughout the year, but Tozawa’s lengthy Open the Brave Gate Championship run was more often than not a joy to watch and made for a few pretty fiery finishing stretches in a few of his matches.
1 recommended title match, 1 in my top 50 (#12)
Due to how PWG runs only a handful of shows throughout the year, and due to how they book these shows, Roddy didn’t have a lot of PWG World Championship defenses in 2015, and only one of them was really fantastic as one of my top matches of the year. But man, was he just a wonderfully hate-able heel champion, one of the highlights of the promotion in 2015. Even if his defenses against Lee, ZSJ, and Sydal weren’t stellar, they were varying degrees of great and Roddy was really great in them, being an arrogant, insecure bully of a champion more than willing to take a cheap shot or bend the rules to retain his title.
5 – DoiYAMA (Naruki Doi & YAMATO)
4 recommended title matches
2015 was the year that DoiYAMA became the greatest Open the Twin Gate champions ever, bar none. With eight title defenses, four of them being pretty great and none of them being anything less than good, they broke the record for most Twin Gate defenses and early in 2016 broke the record for longest reign with the belts. Whether it was against long-time rivals or fresh faces, DoiYAMA beat them all and were the most consistently great team in the world.
4 – Minoru Suzuki
4 recommended title matches, 1 in my top 50 (#7)
With a sly smirk and evil in his eyes, Suzuki as GHC Heavyweight Champion was far and away the most engrossing and entertaining thing about NOAH since the company’s heyday a full decade ago. From dragging Naomichi Marufuji to two (or perhaps three, though I don’t like their Destiny match much) of his best matches in years, to a bloody, brutal title defense against frenemy Yoshihiro Takayama and a somehow even more brutal title defense against Takashi Sugiura, Suzuki’s rampage through NOAH made for some great matches and one of Suzuki’s best years of his career.
3 – John Cena
5 recommended title matches
Speaking of best years of a career, John Cena as WWE United States Champion was surprisingly incredible. I’ve only listed five of his defenses here as recommended matches, but just about every bout Cena had for the title in 2015 was worth your time, including some of the best RAW matches of the year. By moving him down the card and giving him a variety of opponents to work with, many of whom he’d never wrestled before, the WWE gave Cena room to run and Cena ran like hell, having the greatest number of high-end matches of any year of his career since 2007.
2 – Jay Lethal
5 recommended title matches, 2 in my top 50 (#27 and 49)
Easily the best thing about ROH in yet another ho-hum year in the promotion’s history, Lethal’s run as both ROH World Champion and ROH World Television Champion was a bit up and down, but definitely more of the former. From TV title bouts with Jushin Liger and Tommaso Ciampa that narrowly avoided being in my top 50 matches of the year to a big, theatrical world title win over Jay Briscoe to my absolute favorite TV match of the year anywhere in the world against Roderick Strong, Lethal defended his titles against all comers and, aside from a stinker of a sixty minute draw against Roddy and a slew of forgettable TV title matches, looked pretty fucking fantastic through it all. Hell of a year for this young man.
1 – Shingo Takagi
5 recommended title matches, 2 in my top 50 (#10 and 45)
No surprises here. Being the focal point of Dragon Gate for the latter half of the year, Shingo selfishly turning his back on his long-time partners and clawing his way to the top was emotional, interesting, and made for a couple of the best matches of the year. As the powerful yet vulnerable Open the Dream Gate Champion, barely able to retain his title against storied veterans of the promotion while arrogantly asserting that he didn’t even break a sweat, Shingo’s reign was interesting and unconventional, probably the best one in the title’s history since CIMA’s career-defining reign that, strangely enough, Shingo himself ended back in 2013. Funny how that works out sometimes.
Technical Wrestler of the Year:
4 recommended matches
While he doesn’t reach the same heights as anyone else on this list, Williams had a solid year under this new name, with noteworthy angles in EVOLVE, Beyond, and AIW, and entertaining bouts that highlighted his aggressive grappling style, and only looks to improve and innovate in 2016.
23 recommended matches, 6 in my top 50 (#4, 18, 29, 37, 42, and 50)
Despite being far and away my top wrestler of the year, Hero only finds himself an honorable mention in this category because he’s primarily a striker. Still, with his matches against Thatcher, Gulak, and ZSJ, he showed an incredible amount of technical skill and was able to control matchups and guide them with this experience and wisdom.
7 recommended matches, 1 in my top 50 (#24)
While prone to gimmickry and style over substance, Scurll was immensely fun to watch in 2015, utilizing his technical know-how to outsmart and outmaneuver opponents while injecting his personal flair and style in with it. A silly character through and through, but a character that can break your fingers as well as anyone.
5 – Zack Sabre Jr.
10 recommended matches, 3 in my top 50 (#25, 34, and 46)
ZSJ being labeled “the best technical wrestler in the world” two years in a row by some circles is a point of contention with me. I mean, the dude is obviously, painfully talented, and he’s had a myriad of great matches throughout his career, and 2015 was no exception to that trend. As you can easily see in all three of his matches in my top fifty, at times he’s focused and deliberate and tight in everything he does, looking like the decade plus veteran that he is. But so often he’s loose and unmotivated, doing the same old series of sloppy spots again and again, even in fairly big matches against big names. It’s bizarre how inconsistent he is, fluctuating between truly great and nothing special for seemingly no reason, reminding me quite a bit of Shinsuke Nakamura. What’s more, and this is a much sillier complaint, the amount of people singing his praises is baffling. Complaining that a performer is becoming popular or that people like them is nothing short of moronic, nor does it truly have any impact on their actual performances, but I can only see people endlessly praise a ho-hum ZSJ match so many times before it becomes a factor every time I sit down to watch the man wrestle. Still, at the end of the day, few wrestlers had more high-end matches than ZSJ in 2015, and at his best he WAS a truly great technical wrestler, and that earns him a spot on this list.
4 – Minoru Suzuki
6 recommended matches, 1 in my top 50 (#7)
With one of the best years of his career in recent memory, Suzuki continued to add great technical displays to his already storied grappling career. Whether it was by grounding the flips-and-kicks messiah Naomichi Marufuji, chopping down the giant Yoshihiro Takayama with pointed legwork and sleepers, or going toe-to-toe with the accomplished judoka Takashi Sugiura, Suzuki stuck to what he knew in 2015 and did it about as well as anyone else in the world.
3 – Drew Gulak
7 recommended matches, 1 in my top 50 (#37)
Gulak’s hardly the kind of wrestler to have a slew of fantastic singles performances, but what he excels in being, and what he finally grew into in 2015, is a ring general. Being the most experienced person in the ring way more often than not, Gulak was able to guide younger wrestlers, sell well for them, make their movements and actions mean something, and elevate them to his level, much in the same way Chris Hero did in the same circles as the Legal Eagle. 2015, I feel, is the year Gulak really came into his own, and I’m hungry for more.
2 – Timothy Thatcher
8 recommended matches, 3 in my top 50 (#4, 18, and 25)
I deliberated long and hard over whether or not Thatcher was the best technical wrestler of the year. Eventually it came down to the fact that Thatcher basically only wrestles one kind of match, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a pretty fantastic kind of match. Dramatic, realistic, gripping, Thatcher’s particular brand of technical wrestling was close to the finest of the year, and while his worst moments were a bit repetitive and fell flat, his best moments were certainly more than enough to make up for it.
1 – Jonathan Gresham
7 recommended matches, 1 in my top 50 (#28)
For all intents and purposes, Thatcher is probably a better overall wrestler than Gresham. Individually, he certainly achieves higher quality matches than the Octopus, and more of them by my count. What sets Gresham apart is his versatility. Whereas Thatcher has practically one kind of match and one kind of performance in his repertoire, Gresham has a variety, playing a multitude of different roles against a sundry collection of opponents, many of whom were not nearly so technically gifted as he. All the while, he retained the same basic character of “diminutive veteran with more than enough grappling experience to break your arm, and the bad attitude to want to do it”, and watching this character interact with crowds and opponents of varying size and temperament was interesting, to say the least. At his best, the Octopus was immensely intriguing in not only how he inflicted pain on his opponents, but why and in response to what, and at his worst, he was simply just a top-tier technical wrestler, which puts him on top of this list.
High Flier of the Year:
4 recommended matches
While perhaps lacking a spectacular performance or two such as he had during his run as NXT Champion for most of 2014, Neville was measured and consistent in 2015, highlighting his more-often-than-not good matches with big, yet refined flips and dives, showing his growth as a veteran high flier.
Dragon Lee & Kamaitachi
4 recommended matches, 3 in my top 50 (#3, 23, and 40)
It’s hard to separate these two, especially as far as their high flying is concerned, as their best moments were with each other. Both of these young men created breathtaking spots and unforgettable, if career-shortening, moments, and even if takes years of their livelihoods down the line, it certainly earns them a nod in this category.
5 – AR Fox
4 recommended matches
It should be noted that I’ve never been an AR Fox fan. Since I first saw him six years ago or so, he’s always come across as a nonsensical, spotty backyarder. But I’ll be damned if he didn’t impress me this year. With two noteworthy matches in Beyond, two more in CZW, and a fun little feud with Tracy Williams back in Beyond, Fox surprised me time and again with how much he’s grown recently, and although he remains prone to silliness, he’s definitely still an incredible high flier.
4 – Ricochet/Prince Puma
6 recommended matches
While his 2014 was inarguably better and will probably end up being the best year of his career, Ricochet continued to amaze and impress in 2015. With goofy charisma nearly reaching the same heights as his high flying, his flips and dives, only increasing in precision and smoothness as time goes on, took him all over the world and earned him the top spot on the best new wrestling show around.
3 – KUSHIDA
6 recommended matches, 2 in my top 50 (#39 and 47)
It’s almost not fair, calling KUSHIDA a high flier, considering how much of his offense is technically-based and strike-based. But what he does do in the realm of high flying, he does well, and how so. With high-end matches up and down the NJPW junior scene, highlighted by a pair of MOTYCs with Kyle O’Reilly, KUSHIDA brings a gravitas and pointed nature to what he does, and it’s a thrill to watch him perform.
2 – Fenix
6 recommended matches, 1 in my top 50 (#16)
What Fenix excels in is being a risk-taking underdog, and Lucha Underground was the perfect place for him to show off his wares. From his bloody, memorable feud with Mil Muertes that extends even now into 2016, to his brief, entertaining escapades in PWG and Chikara, Fenix took the world by storm with his natural, cartoonish charisma and his incredible acrobatic ability.
1 – Matt Sydal
8 recommended matches
In many ways, Matt Sydal reminded me a lot of Chris Hero in 2015. With 15 years of experience under his belt, Sydal slowed down and became methodical in what he did, making his already impressive aerial maneuvers all the more exciting when they were teased and built to. Likewise, he worked extensively with the likes of Ricochet, ACH, and Will Ospreay on both sides of the ring, clearly imparting wisdom and elevating all of those men to a few of their best matches in recent memory.
Year of the Year:
5 – c. 2000 BCE
The Biblical Abram/Abraham founds Judaism, which later will blossom into Christianity and Islam, three of the largest and most wide-spread religions in human history. An ancient Sumerian tale, the Epic of Gilgamesh, is set down in writing, and stands today as the earliest great work of writing.
4 – 1945 CE
After being the first nation to weaponize nuclear fission, America drops a pair of atomic bombs on Japan, ending the second World War and establishing itself as the greatest world power. Though the Cold War doesn’t officially start until British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s “Iron Curtain” speech a year later, tensions here are high and the seeds are sown for the events of the remainder of the millennium.
3 – 387 BCE
Plato founds the Academy in Athens, an institution devoted to the research and instruction of both science and philosophy, where he teaches until his death in 347 BCE. For centuries, it stands as the finest school on the planet and starts a golden age of knowledge and innovation in Greece and later Rome, the foundation of the Western World.
2 – c. 600 CE
Book printing is innovated by the Chinese. Taking elements of Indian and Greek thought, the Arab world begins to discuss these findings and contribute their own innovations to the fields of mathematics and science, most notably the use of zero in decimal place value notation. Germanic and Slavic people in central and northern Europe see their population grow rapidly and colonize much of the northern half of the continent, joined by the arrival of smallpox in Western Europe.
1 – 1066 CE
In this writer’s humble opinion, human history can be separated into two categories: before 1066 CE and after 1066 CE. With King Harold II’s defeat and death at the Battle of Hastings, the Norman Conquest of England begins. With it comes the evolution of English as a language, the first introduction of foreign culture to what would later become one of the most influential cultures in the world’s history, and the first rumblings of the might British Empire and the transition of the capital of the overall human empire from the Near East and Mediterranean to the Western World. While this view is more than a little ethnocentrically Occidental, the great moving changes of the next thousand years after 1066 CE were spurred on by the Western World, of which England, more often than not, found itself as the crown jewel, and here, with William the Conqueror’s capture of England, was where that all began.
I was initially going to do a full list of names here, but seriously, no one improved more in 2015 than Sasha Banks. She wins this, hands down.
Various Other Recommended Matches:
A note or two about this list: while I curated a working list of “Match of the Year Contenders” that aided in the development and distribution of these awards, and while many of those MOTYCs are in this list, not all of these matches are what I, or many people, would call anything close to a match of the year. Instead, I find these to be all interesting matches or matches that serve to illustrate a specific wrestler’s or team’s skills and overall performance in 2015, and above all else, I find them to be entertaining on one level or another.
Some of them have links where you can watch them (none of which are my own links, Nate Glass, I swear), so hopefully they still work. Of these matches, the ones I’ve marked in bold are the ones closest to making it on my aforementioned top 50 matches of the year, and are perhaps those most deserving of attention.
- reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) (c) vs The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov & Rocky Romero) vs Time Splitters (Alex Shelley & KUSHIDA) – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 (01/04/2015, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan)
- Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs Togi Makabe – NEVER Openweight Championship – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 (01/04/2015, Tokyo Dome, Tokyo, Japan)
- Ethan Carter III vs Rockstar Spud – Hair vs Hair Match – TNA IMPACT (01/31/2015, aired 03/13/2015, Wembley Arena, London, England, United Kingdom) – Link
- Shuji Ishikawa (c) vs Yuji Okabayashi – BJW Strong World Championship – BJW (02/02/2015, aired on 02/19/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Mad Blankey (CIMA, Gamma, & YAMATO) vs Millenials (T-Hawk, Eita, & Kotoka) vs Dia.Hearts (Masaaki Mochizuki, Dragon Kid, & Kzy) – Three-Way Trios Elimination Match – Dragon Gate Truth Gate 2015 Day 2 (02/05/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- BxB Hulk (c) vs Jimmy Susumu – Open the Dream Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Truth Gate 2015 Day 2 (02/05/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Perro Aguayo Jr vs Myzteziz – AAA Sin Limite (02/08/2015, Centro Civico de Ecatepec, Ecatepec de Morelos, Mexico) – Link
- Adrian Neville vs Finn Balor – Number One Contender’s Tournament Finals – NXT TakeOver: Rival (02/11/2015, Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida, United States)
- Charlotte (c) vs Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch vs Bayley – NXT Women’s Championship – NXT TakeOver: Rival (02/11/2015, Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida, United States)
- Prince Puma (c) vs Drago – Lucha Underground Championship vs Lucha Underground Career – Lucha Underground #1.25 – The Way of the Drago (02/21/2015, aired on 04/29/2015, Lucha Underground Arena, Boyle Heights, California, United States) – Link
- Cage vs Fenix vs Killshot vs King Cuerno vs Pentagon Jr vs Sexy Star vs The Mack – Aztec Medallion Seven Way Match – Lucha Underground #1.27 – Ancient Medallions (02/22/2015, aired on 05/13/2015, Lucha Underground Arena, Boyle Heights, California, United States)
- Chris Hero vs Drew Gulak – PWG From Out of Nowhere (02/27/2015, American Legion #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Matt Sydal vs Ricochet – PWG From Out of Nowhere (02/27/2015, American Legion #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Shynron (c) vs AR Fox – Ladder Match for the CLL International All Star Championship – Beyond Wrestling King of Arts (03/01/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Mad Blankey (Cyber Kong & YAMATO) (c) vs Amigo Tag (Masato Yoshino & Shachihoko Boy) – Open the Twin Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Champion Gate in Osaka 2015 Day 2 (03/01/2015, Bodymaker Coliseum #2, Osaka, Japan)
- BxB Hulk (c) vs Uhaa Nation – Open the Dream Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Champion Gate in Osaka 2015 Day 2 (03/01/2015, Bodymaker Coliseum #2, Osaka, Japan) – Link
- Naomichi Marufuji (c) vs Minoru Suzuki – GHC Heavyweight Championship – NOAH Great Voyage 2015 in Tokyo (03/15/2015, aired on 03/19/2015, Ariake Colosseum, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Akira Tozawa (c) vs Flamita – Open the Brave Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Glorious Gate 2015 Day 10 (03/24/2015, Kobe Sambo Hall, Kobe, Japan)
- Drew Gulak vs Timothy Thatcher – EVOLVE 39 (03/26/2015, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose, California, United States)
- Timothy Thatcher vs Tommy End – EVOLVE 40 (03/27/2015, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose, California, United States)
- Biff Busick vs Chris Hero – EVOLVE 40 (03/27/2015, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, San Jose, California, United States)
- Sasha Banks (c) vs Charlotte – NXT Women’s Championship – NXT Live (03/27/2015, San Jose University Event Center, San Jose, California, United States)
- Jay Lethal (c) vs Jushin Liger – ROH World Television Championship – ROH Supercard of Honor IX (03/27/2015, Sports House, Redwood City, California, United States)
- Kairi Hojo vs Io Shirai – World of Stardom Title Tournament Finals and World of Stardom Championship (vacant) – Stardom The Highest 2015 (03/29/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Shuji Ishikawa (c) vs Daisuke Sekimoto – BJW Strong World Heavyweight Championship – BJW Ikkitousen Death Match Survivor 2015 Day 6 (03/31/2015, aired 04/12/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Jay Lethal (c) vs Tommaso Ciampa – ROH World Television Championship – ROH on SBG #189 (04/04/2015, aired 05/02/2015, San Antonio Shrine Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas, United States) – Link
- AJ Styles (c) vs Kota Ibushi – IWGP Heavyweight Championship – NJPW Invasion Attack 2015 (04/05/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan)
- Amigo Tag (Masato Yoshino & Shachihoko Boy) (c) vs Jimmyz (Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy Kagetora) – Open the Twin Gate Championship – Dragon Gate The Gate of Passion 2015 Day 4 (04/09/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Tommy End vs Tommaso Ciampa – AAW Hell Hath No Fury (04/10/2015, Berwyn Eagles Club, Berwyn, Illinois, United States) – Link
- Jonathan Gresham vs Tracy Williams vs Trevor Lee – Best of the Best 14 First Round Three Way Elimination Match – CZW Best of the Best 14 (04/11/2015, Flyers Skate Zone, Voorhees, New Jersey, United States)
- Jonathan Gresham vs Tommy End – Best of the Best 14 Semi Final Match – CZW Best of the Best 14 (04/11/2015, Flyers Skate Zone, Voorhees, New Jersey, United States)
- Roderick Strong vs Timothy Thatcher – Number One Contender’s Two out of Three Falls Match – EVOLVE 41 (04/17/2015, The Orpheum, Ybor City, Florida, United States)
- Prince Puma (c) vs Mil Muertes – Lucha Underground Championship – Lucha Underground #1.39 – Ultima Lucha Part 2 (04/19/2015, aired on 08/05/2015, Lucha Underground Arena, Boyle Heights, California, United States)
- HARASHIMA, Kota Ibushi, & KUDO vs Kazusada Higuchi, Shigehiro Irie, & Konosuke Takeshita – DDT Arigato Teisen! Sayonara Teisen!! ~DDT Yori Ai To Kansha O Koma Te (04/24/2015, Sapporo Teisen Hall, Sapporo, Japan)
- Nick Gage vs Chris Dickinson – Anything Goes – Beyond Wrestling When Satan Rules His World (04/26/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Big Daddy Walter, Yoshihiro Takayama, & John Klinger vs Karsten Beck, Tyler Bate, & Mason Ryan – wXw Superstars of Wrestling II Day 1 (05/02/2015, Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany)
- Akira Tozawa (c) vs Dragon Kid – Open the Brave Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Dead or Alive 2015 (05/05/2015, Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium, Nagoya, Japan)
- Shingo Takagi vs Akira Tozawa – King of Gate 2015 First Round – Dragon Gate King of Gate 2015 Day 1 (05/08/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- AJ Styles vs Jimmy Rave – PSW (05/08/2015, some venue in Piedmont, Alabama, United States) – Link
- Minoru Suzuki (c) vs Naomichi Marufuji – GHC Heavyweight Championship – NOAH Great Voyage 2015 in Yokohama (05/10/2015, Yokohama Cultural Gymnasium, Yokohama, Kanegawa, Japan) – Link
- Roderick Strong vs KUSHIDA – ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds 2015 Day 1 (05/12/2015, 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States)
- Kyle O’Reilly vs Tetsuya Naito – ROH/NJPW War of the Worlds 2015 Day 2 (05/13/2015, 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States)
- Mistico vs Dragon Lee vs Fuego vs Virus vs Barbaro Cavernario vs Kamaitachi vs Luciferno vs Mephisto vs Niebla Roja vs The Panther vs Titan vs Volador Jr. – Leyenda de Plata 2015 Semi Final Torneo Cibernetico Match – CMLL Super Viernes (05/15/2015, aired 05/30/2015, Arena Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico) – Link
- KUDO vs Daisuke Sasaki vs Kazusada Higuchi – DDT Friendship, Effort, Victory in Nagoya (05/17/2015, aired 05/24/2015, Nagoya International Conference Hall, Nagoya, Japan)
- Strong BJ (Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi) (c) vs Smile Squash (HARASHIMA & Yasu Urano) – KO-D Tag Team Championship – DDT Friendship, Effort, Victory in Nagoya (05/17/2015, aired 05/24/2015, Nagoya International Conference Hall, Nagoya, Japan)
- Akito (c) vs Shigehiro Irie – Last Man Standing Match for the DDT Extreme Championship – DDT Friendship, Effort, Victory in Nagoya (05/17/2015, aired 05/24/2015, Nagoya International Conference Hall, Nagoya, Japan)
- Sasha Banks (c) vs Becky Lynch – NXT Women’s Championship – NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable (05/20/2015, Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida, United States) – Link
- ACH, Brian Cage, & Moose vs El Hijo de Fantasma, El Texano Jr, & Psycho Clown – Victoria Lucha Libre World Cup Quarter Finals – AAA Victoria Lucha Libre World Cup (05/24/2015, Palacio de los Deportes de Mexico City, Mexico City, Mexico) – Link
- HARASHIMA (c) vs Kazusada Higuchi – KO-D Openweight Championship – DDT Road to Ryogoku in Sapporo ~ Dramatic Dream Clock Tower ~ (05/24/2015, Sapporo Teisen Hall, Sapporo, Japan)
- Roderick Strong vs Tommy End – Super Strong Style 16 Tournament First Round – PROGRESS Chapter 19: Super Strong Style 16 Tournament Edition 2015 Day 1 (05/24/2015, Electric Ballroom, Camden, Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
- Marty Scurll vs Zack Sabre Jr – Super Strong Style 16 Tournament Semifinals – PROGRESS Chapter 19: Super Strong Style 16 Tournament Edition 2015 Day 2 (05/25/2015, Electric Ballroom, Camden, Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
- Death by Elbow (Chris Hero & JT Dunn) vs Team Tremendous (Bill Carr & Dan Barry) – Beyond Wrestling The Real Thing (05/31/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- John Cena vs Kevin Owens – WWE Elimination Chamber 2015 (05/31/2015, American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, Texas, United States)
- Seth Rollins (c) vs Dean Ambrose – WWE World Heavyweight Championship – WWE Elimination Chamber 2015 (05/31/2015, American Bank Center, Corpus Christi, Texas, United States)
- Danny Havoc vs Rickey Shane Page – Light Tube Bundles & Ultraviolent Boards Match and Tournament of Death 14 First Round Match – CZW Tournament of Death 14 (06/13/2015, Ultraviolent Underground, Townsend, Delaware, United States)
- Matt Tremont vs Danny Havoc – Carcinogenic Carnage and Tournament of Death 14 Semi-Finals – CZW Tournament of Death 14 (06/13/2015, Ultraviolent Underground, Townsend, Delaware, United States)
- BxB Hulk (c) vs Masato Yoshino – Open the Dream Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Champion Gate in Hakata 2015 Day 2 (06/14/2015, Hakata Star Lane, Fukuoka, Japan) – Link
- Tomohiro Ishii vs Big Damo – RPW Summer Sizzler 2015 (06/14/2015, Bethnal Green, Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
- Roderick Strong vs Shinsuke Nakamura – RPW Summer Sizzler 2015 (06/14/2015, Bethnal Green, Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
- Will Ospreay (c) vs Matt Sydal – Two out of Three Falls Match for the RPW British Cruiserweight Championship – RPW Summer Sizzler 2015 (06/14/2015, Bethnal Green, Greater London, England, United Kingdom) – Link
- Marty Scurll (c) vs AJ Styles – RPW British Heavyweight Championship – RPW Summer Sizzler 2015 (06/14/2015, Bethnal Green, Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
- John Cena vs Kevin Owens – WWE Money in the Bank 2015 (06/14/2015, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio, United States)
- Seth Rollins (c) vs Dean Ambrose – Ladder Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship – WWE Money in the Bank (06/14/2015, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio, United States)
- Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer) (c) vs Big in USA (Chris Hero & Colt Cabana) – GHC Tag Team Championship – NOAH Mitsuharu Misawa Memorial Tour 2015 Day 5 (06/19/2015, aired 06/28/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Daisuke Sekimoto & Twin Towers (Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa) vs Hideyoshi Kamitani, Ryuichi Kawakami, & Yuji Okabayashi – BJW (06/22/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Biff Busick vs Timothy Thatcher – PWG Mystery Vortex III: Rock and Shock the Nation (06/26/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Chris Hero vs Zack Sabre Jr – PWG Mystery Vortex III: Rock and Shock the Nation (06/26/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Donovan Dijak vs Biff Busick – Beyond Wrestling Life Sucks and Then You Die (06/28/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Yukio Sakaguchi vs Kazusada Higuchi – King of DDT 2015 Semi-Final Match – DDT King of DDT 2015 Tokyo (06/28/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- John Cena (c) vs Cesaro – WWE United States Championship – WWE RAW (06/29/2015, Verizon Center, Washington, District of Columbia, United States) – Link
- Daisuke Sekimoto & Dangan Yankees (Masato Tanaka & Takashi Sugiura) vs HARASHIMA, Yuji Hino, & Yuji Okabayashi – BJW Sapporo Teisen Hall Pro-Wrestling Last Match ~ Sapporo Limelight (06/30/2015, Sapporo Teisen Hall, Sapporo, Japan) – Link
- Mad Blankey (Naruki Doi & YAMATO) & Masato Yoshino vs Spiked Mohicans (CIMA & Ricochet) & Matt Sydal – Dragon Gate Rainbow Gate 2015 Day 1 ~ The Generation Gate (07/02/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Adrian Neville vs Chris Jericho – WWE Live from Tokyo: The Beast in the East (07/04/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan)
- Katsuyori Shibata vs Kazushi Sakuraba – NJPW Dominion 7.5 in Osaka-Jo Hall (07/05/2015, Osaka-Jo Hall, Osaka, Japan)
- Kenny Omega (c) vs KUSHIDA – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship – NJPW Dominion 7.5 in Osaka-Jo Hall (07/05/2015, Osaka-Jo Hall, Osaka, Japan)
- John Cena (c) vs Cesaro – WWE United States Championship – WWE RAW (07/06/2015, Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois, United States)
- Chris Hero vs Trevor Lee – EVOLVE 45 (07/10/2015, The Orpheum, Ybor City, Florida, United States)
- Zack Sabre Jr vs TJ Perkins – EVOLVE 46 (07/11/2015, Barnett Park Gymnasium, Florida, United States)
- Tommaso Ciampa vs Chris Hero – AAW United We Stand 2015 (07/17/2015, 115 Bourbon Street, Merrionette Park, Illinois, United States)
- Minoru Suzuki (c) vs Yoshihiro Takayama – GHC Heavyweight Championship – NOAH Summer Navigation 2015 Day 1 ~ Pro Wrestling NOAH Business Launch 15th Anniversary Show Vol. 1 (07/18/2015, aired 07/25/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- John Cena (c) vs Kevin Owens – WWE United States Championship – WWE Battleground 2015 (07/19/2015, Scottrade Center, St. Louis, Missouri, United States)
- Abdullah Kobayashi (c) vs Ryuji Ito – 20th Anniversary 20 Items Deathmatch for the BJW Death Match Heavyweight Championship – BJW Ryogokutan (07/20/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Daisuke Sekimoto (c) vs Yuji Okabayashi – BJW Strong World Heavyweight Championship – BJW Ryogokutan (07/20/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Akira Tozawa (c) vs Eita – Open the Brave Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Kobe Pro-Wrestling Festival 2015 (07/20/2015, Kobe World Hall, Kobe, Japan) – Link
- Dangan Hawk (Shingo Takagi & Masato Tanaka) vs Dia.Hearts (BxB Hulk & Big R Shimizu) – Dragon Gate Kobe Pro-Wrestling Festival 2015 (07/20/2015, Kobe World Hall, Kobe, Japan)
- Mad Blankey (Naruki Doi & YAMATO) (c) vs Matt Sydal & Ricochet – Open the Twin Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Kobe Pro-Wrestling Festival 2015 (07/20/2015, Kobe World Hall, Kobe, Japan)
- Masato Yoshino (c) vs T-Hawk – Open the Dream Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Kobe Pro-Wrestling Festival 2015 (07/20/2015, Kobe World Hall, Kobe, Japan)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi – NJPW G1 Climax 25 Day 1 (07/20/2015, Hokkaido Prefectural Sports Center, Sapporo, Japan) – Link
- Chris Hero vs “Speedball” Mike Bailey – PWG Threemendous IV (07/24/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- David Starr vs Johnny Gargano – Beyond Wrestling Americanrana 2015 (07/26/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Matt Tremont vs Stockade – Casket Match – Beyond Wrestling Americanrana 2015 (07/26/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Death by Elbow (Chris Hero & JT Dunn) vs The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) – Beyond Wrestling Americanrana 2015 (07/26/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Kairi Hojo (c) vs Meiko Satomura – World of Stardom Championship – Stardom X Stardom 2015 Day 1 (07/26/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- John Cena (c) vs Seth Rollins – WWE United States Championship – WWE RAW (07/27/2015, Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, United States)
- Katsuyori Shibata vs Kota Ibushi – NJPW G1 Climax 25 Day 7 (07/29/2015, Fukuoka International Center, Fukuoka, Japan) – Link
- Tomohiro Ishii vs Shinsuke Nakamura – G1 Climax Block B Match – NJPW G1 Climax 25 Day 8 (08/01/2015, Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, Osaka, Japan)
- Seth Rollins (c) vs Adrian Neville – WWE World Heavyweight Championship – WWE RAW (08/03/2015, SAP Center, San Jose, California, United States)
- Mad Blankey (Naruki Doi, YAMATO, & Cyber Kong) vs Millenials (T-Hawk, Eita, & Flamita) vs Jimmyz (Genki Horiguchi H.A.Gee.Mee!!, Ryo “Jimmy” Saito, & Jimmy Susumu) – Losing Unit Disbands Nine Man Tag Team Three Way Elimination Match – Dragon Gate Scandal Gate in Tokyo (08/06/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii – G1 Climax Block B Match – NJPW G1 Climax 25 Day 14 (08/09/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Chris Hero vs Tyler Bate – 30 Minute Iron Man Match – SWE Retribution 6 (08/09/2015, Priory Centre, St. Neots, England, United Kingdom)
- Tomohiro Ishii vs Tomoaki Honma – G1 Climax Block B Match – NJPW G1 Climax 25 Day 16 (08/12/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Biff Busick vs Tracy Williams – EVOLVE 47 (08/15/2015, La Boom, Woodside, New York, United States)
- Chris Hero vs “Speedball” Mike Bailey – EVOLVE 47 (08/15/2015, La Boom, Woodside, New York, United States)
- Ryuji Ito vs Daisuke Sekimoto – Fluorescent Light Tube Deathmatch – BJW (08/16/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Masato Yoshino (c) vs Shingo Takagi – Open the Dream Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Dangerous Gate 2015 (08/16/2015, Ota Ward Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) (c) vs reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championship – NJPW G1 Climax 25 Day 19 (08/16/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan)
- KUSHIDA (c) vs Ricochet – IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship – NJPW G1 Climax 25 Day 19 (08/16/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Genichiro Tenryu, Saki Akai, & Sanshiro Takagi vs Shuji Ishikawa, Meiko Satomura, & Kazusada Higuchi – DDT Ryogoku Peter Pan 2015 ~From DDT With Love~ (08/23/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan)
- Strong BJ (Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi) (c) vs Golden Storm Riders (Kota Ibushi & Daisuke Sasaki) – KO-D Tag Team Championship – DDT Ryogoku Peter Pan 2015 ~From DDT With Love~ (08/23/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi vs HARASHIMA – DDT Ryogoku Peter Pan 2015 ~From DDT With Love~ (08/23/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- KUDO (c) vs Yukio Sakaguchi – KO-D Openweight Championship – DDT Ryogoku Peter Pan 2015 ~From DDT With Love~ (08/23/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Seth Rollins (c) vs John Cena (c) – WWE World Heavyweight and WWE United States Championship – WWE SummerSlam 2015 (08/23/2015, Barclays Center, New York City, New York, United States)
- Matt Sydal vs Fenix – Battle of Los Angeles 2015 First Round Match – PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2015 Day 1 (08/28/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Mount Rushmore 2.0 (Roderick Strong, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson) vs Eurotrash (Zack Sabre Jr, Marty Scurll, & Tommy End) – PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2015 Day 1 (08/28/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Aero Star & Fenix vs Drago & Pentagon Jr – PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2015 Day 2 (08/29/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Jonathan Gresham vs AR Fox – Beyond Wrestling Battle of New England Returns (08/30/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Zack Sabre Jr vs Marty Scurll – Battle of Los Angeles 2015 Semi Final Round Match – PWG Battle of Los Angeles 2015 Day 3 (08/30/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Genichiro Tenryu & Katsuyori Shibata vs Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki & Takashi Iizuka) – Tenryu Project Genichiro Tenryu Retirement ~ Revolution Final Tour in Korakuen (09/02/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Team AAA (Aero Star, Drago, & Fenix) vs The Gentleman’s Club (Chuck Taylor, Drew Gulak, & Swamp Monster) – King of Trios 2015 First Round Match – Chikara King of Trios 2015 Day 1 (09/04/2015, The Palmer Center, Easton, Pennsylvania, United States)
- The Gentleman’s Club (Chuck Taylor, Drew Gulak, Orange Cassidy, & Swamp Monster) vs Crown & Court (Princess Kimberlee, Jervis Cottonbelly, El Hijo del Ice Cream, & Ice Cream Jr) – Challenge of the Immortals Match – Chikara King of Trios 2015 Day 3 (09/06/2015, The Palmer Center, Easton, Pennsylvania, United States)
- The Bullet Club (AJ Styles, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson) vs Team AAA (Aero Star, Drago, & Fenix) – King of Trios 2015 Finals – Chikara King of Trios 2015 Day 3 (09/06/2015, The Palmer Center, Easton, Pennsylvania, United States)
- The Sumerian Death Squad (Tommy End & Michael Dante) (c) vs Roderick Strong & Adam Cole – PROGRESS Tag Team Championship – PROGRESS Chapter 21: You Know We Don’t Like to Use the Sit Down Gun (09/06/2015, Electric Ballroom, Camden, Greater London, England, United Kingdom)
- Silas Young vs Kyle O’Reilly – ROH Reloaded Tour (09/11/2015, Ford Community & Performance Art Center, Dearborn, Michigan, United States)
- ACH vs Matt Sydal – Best of Five Series Match 1 – ROH Reloaded Tour (09/11/2015, Ford Community & Performance Art Center, Dearborn, Michigan, United States)
- “Speedball” Mike Bailey vs AR Fox – Chri$ Ca$h Memorial Ladder Match for the Best of the Best 14 Trophy – CZW Down With the Sickness 2015 (09/12/2015, Flyers Skate Zone, Voorhees, New Jersey, United States)
- ACH vs Matt Sydal – Best of Five Series Match 3 – ROH All Star Extravaganza VII (09/18/2015, San Antonio Shrine Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas, United States)
- ACH vs Matt Sydal – Best of Five Series Match 4 – ROH on SBG #212 (09/19/2015, aired either 10/10/2015 or 10/14/2015, San Antonio Shrine Auditorium, San Antonio, Texas, United States)
- Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Kazusada Higuchi – DDT DNA9 (09/22/2015, Shinjuku FACE, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Io Shirai & Mayu Iwatani (c) vs DASH Chisako & Sendai Sachiko – Goddesses of Stardom Championship – Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix 2015 Day 8 (09/23/2015, aired 10/01/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Drew Gulak vs Eddie Edwards – Greatest Rivals Round Robin Tournament Match – Beyond Wrestling Greatest Rivals Round Robin (09/26/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- VerserK (Naruki Doi & YAMATO) vs Jimmyz (Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy K-ness JKS) – Summer Adventure Tag League 2015 Finals – Dragon Gate Summer Adventure Tag League 2015 Day 13 (09/27/2015, Kobe Sambo Hall, Kobe, Japan) – Link
- Marty Scurll vs Shinsuke Nakamura – RPW Global Wars UK (10/03/2015, Rivermead Leisure Complex, Reading, England, United Kingdom)
- reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) vs ACH & Tommaso Ciampa – World Tag Team Tournament First Round – wXw World Tag Team Tournament 2015 Day 2 (10/03/2015, Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany)
- VerserK (Naruki Doi & YAMATO) (c) vs Jimmyz (Jimmy Susumu & Jimmy K-ness JKS) – Open the Twin Gate Championship – Dragon Gate The Gate of Victory 2015 Day 2 (10/04/2015, Hakata Star Lane, Fukuoka, Japan) – Link
- Big Daddy Walter & Zack Sabre Jr vs Calamari Catch Kings (Jonathan Gresham & Chris Brookes) – World Tag Team Tournament Semi Final Match – wXw World Tag Team Tournament 2015 Day 3 (10/04/2015, Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany) – Link
- Big Daddy Walter & Zack Sabre Jr vs reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) – World Tag Team Tournament Finals – wXw World Tag Team Tournament 2015 Day 3 (10/04/2015, Turbinenhalle, Oberhausen, Germany) – Link
- Bayley (c) vs Sasha Banks – 30 Minute Iron Man Match for the NXT Women’s Championship – NXT TakeOver: Respect (10/07/2015, Full Sail University, Winter Park, Florida, United States) – Link
- Katsuhiko Nakajima & Kazusada Higuchi vs Yukio Sakaguchi & Kota Umeda – DDT DNA10 (10/12/2015, Kitazawa Town Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- VerserK (Naruki Doi & YAMATO) (c) vs Dia.Hearts (Dragon Kid & Flamita) – Open the Twin Gate Championship – Dragon Gate The Gate of Victory 2015 Day 8 (10/17/2015, aired 10/30/2015, Kobe Sambo Hall, Kobe, Japan)
- Chris Hero vs Takashi Sugiura – Global League 2015 Block A – NOAH Global League 2015 Day 4 (10/22/2015, Kokurakita Gymnasium, Kitakyushu, Japan)
- Jonathan Gresham vs Donovan Dijak – Beyond Wrestling Gratitude Era (10/25/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Yukio Sakaguchi (c) vs HARASHIMA – KO-D Openweight Championship – DDT DDT Special (10/25/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Chris Hero vs Masato Tanaka – Global League 2015 Block A – NOAH Global League 2015 Day 8 (10/26/2015, Hiroshima Industrial Hall, Hiroshima, Japan)
- Twin Towers (Kohei Sato & Shuji Ishikawa) (c) vs Strong BJ (Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi) – Saikyou Tag League 2015 Finals – BJW Saikyou Tag League 2015 Day 8 (10/29/2015, aired 11/08/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Akira Tozawa (c) vs Kotoka vs Naoki Tanizaki – Open the Brave Gate Championship – Dragon Gate The Gate of Destiny 2015 (11/01/2015, Edion Arena Osaka #1, Osaka, Japan)
- VerserK (Naruki Doi & YAMATO) (c) vs Monster Express (Masato Yoshino & T-Hawk) – Open the Twin Gate Championship – Dragon Gate The Gate of Destiny 2015 (11/01/2015, Edion Arena Osaka #1, Osaka, Japan)
- Tracy Williams vs Matt Riddle – EVOLVE 52 (11/07/2015, Barnett Park Gymnasium, Orlando, Florida, United States)
- Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs Tomoaki Honma – NEVER Openweight Championship – NJPW Power Struggle (11/07/2015, Edion Arena Osaka, Osaka, Japan) – Link
- Kazusada Higuchi vs Daisuke Sasaki – DDT DNA11 (11/11/2015, Kitazawa Town Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- La Sombra vs Rush – Two out of Three Falls Match – CMLL Super Viernes (11/13/2015, Arena Mexico, Mexico City, Mexico) – Link
- Jimmy Rave vs David Starr – GWC Championship (vacant) – AWE House Party 5 (11/15/2015, The Quad, Atlanta, Georgia, United States)
- Yoshiaki Fujiwara & Yoshihiro Takayama vs Kazunari Murakami & Minoru Suzuki – Tenryu Project Genichiro Tenryu Retirement ~ Revolution FINAL (11/15/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan)
- Daisuke Sekimoto & Kazuyuki Fujita vs Suwama & Yuji Okabayashi – Tenryu Project Genichiro Tenryu Retirement ~ Revolution FINAL (11/15/2015, Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo, Japan)
- Kevin Owens vs Adrian Neville – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Quarter Final Match – WWE RAW (11/16/2015, Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, South Carolina, United States)
- Cesaro vs Roman Reigns – WWE World Heavyweight Championship Tournament Quarter Final Match – WWE RAW (11/16/2015, Bon Secours Wellness Arena, Greenville, South Carolina, United States) – Link
- Samoa Joe vs Tommaso Ciampa – NXT Taping for NXT 12/02 (11/19/2015, aired on 12/02/2015, Full Sail University, Orlando, Florida, United States)
- Ethan Page (c) vs Eddie Kingston vs Trevor Lee – Elimination Match for the AAW Heavyweight Championship – AAW Windy City Classic XI (11/28/2015, Logan Square Auditorium, Chicago, Illinois, United States)
- Donovan Dijak vs Chris Hero – Beyond Wrestling Tournament for Tomorrow 4 Day 2 (11/29/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Matt Riddle, Chuck O’Neil, & Eric Spicely vs The Amazing Gulaks (Drew Gulak & Rory Gulak) & Tracy Williams – Beyond Wrestling Tournament for Tomorrow 4 Day 2 (11/29/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Shingo Takagi (c) vs Gamma – Open the Dream Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Fantastic Gate 2015 Day 1 (12/03/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Grado vs Tracy Smothers – AIW No Sleep Till Brooklyn (12/05/2015, Dr. Martin Luther Church, Brooklyn, Ohio, United States)
- Fire Ant vs Soldier Ant – Chikara Top Banana (12/05/2015, 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States)
- The Devastation Corporation (Flex Rumblecrunch, Max Smashmaster, & Blaster McMassive) & Jaka vs Crown & Court (Princess KimberLee, Jervis Cottonbelly, El Hijo del Ice Cream, & Ice Cream Jr) – Challenge of the Immortals Finals – Chikara Top Banana (12/05/2015, 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States) – Link
- Jonathan Gresham vs Lio Rush – Legacy Wrestling Dangerous Encounters (12/05/2015, Spooky Nook Sports, Manheim, Pennsylvania, United States) – Link
- Big Guns (The Bodyguard & Zeus) vs Kento Miyahara & Suwama – Real World Tag League 2015 Finals – AJPW Real World Tag League 2015 Day 10 (12/06/2015, Edion Arena, Osaka, Japan) – Link
- The Great Sasuke, Brahman Shu, Brahman Kei, Ultraman Robin, & Master E.T. vs Darth Vader GAINA, Donglin Yoda, Superman Kinya, C-3PO #1, and R2-D2 #2 – Great Space Wars – Michinoku Pro Destiny (12/10/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link 1 or Link 2
- Kenny Omega vs “Speedball” Mike Bailey – PWG All Star Weekend 11 Day 1 (12/11/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Joey Janela (c) vs Lio Rush – CZW Wired TV Championship – CZW Cage of Death XVII (12/12/2015, Flyers Skate Zone, Voorhees, New Jersey, United States)
- Danny Havoc vs Rickey Shane Page – Deathmatch – CZW Cage of Death XVII (12/12/2015, Flyers Skate Zone, Voorhees, New Jersey, United States)
- Sami Callihan vs David Starr – CZW Cage of Death XVII (12/12/2015, Flyers Skate Zone, Voorhees, New Jersey, United States) – Link
- Matt Tremont (c) vs MASADA vs Devon Moore vs AR Fox – Cage of Death Match for the CZW World Heavyweight Championship – CZW Cage of Death XVII (12/12/2015, Flyers Skate Zone, Voorhees, New Jersey, United States)
- Chuck Taylor vs Kikutaro – PWG All Star Weekend 11 Day 2 (12/12/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Timothy Thatcher vs Marty Scurll – PWG All Star Weekend 11 Day 2 (12/12/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- Chris Hero, “Speedball” Mike Bailey, & The World’s Cutest Tag Team (Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae) vs Mount Rushmore 2.0 (Roderick Strong, Adam Cole, Matt Jackson, & Nick Jackson) – Eight-Man Tag Team Guerrilla Warfare – PWG All Star Weekend 11 Day 2 (12/12/2015, American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States)
- The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) (c) vs The Lucha Dragons (Sin Cara & Kalisto) vs The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) – Triple Threat Tag Team Ladder Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship – WWE TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs 2015 (12/13/2015, TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts, United States)
- Masaaki Mochizuki vs Yosuke Santa Maria – Dragon Gate Fantastic Gate 2015 Day 8 (12/16/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Shinsuke Nakamura vs Ryusuke Taguchi – NJPW Road to Tokyo Dome 2016 Day 5 (12/18/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan)
- Jay Lethal (c) vs AJ Styles – ROH World Heavyweight Championship – ROH Final Battle (12/18/2015, 2300 Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States) – Link
- Yuji Okabayashi (c) vs Hideyoshi Kamitani – BJW Strong World Heavyweight Championship – BJW Big Japan Death Vegas 2015 (12/20/2015, Yokohama Bunka Gymnasium, Yokohama, Japan) – Link
- Killer Elite Squad (Davey Boy Smith Jr & Lance Archer) (c) vs Big in USA (Chris Hero & Colt Cabana) – GHC Tag Team Championship – NOAH Destiny 2015 (12/23/2015, aired 12/27/2015, Ota Ward Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Chris Hero vs JT Dunn – Pick Your Poison – Beyond Wrestling Fete Finale (12/27/2015, Fete Music, Providence, Rhode Island, United States)
- Kotoka (c) vs Eita – Open the Brave Gate Championship – Dragon Gate Final Gate 2015 (12/27/2015, Fukuoka Kokusai Center, Fukuoka, Japan)
- Abdullah Kobayashi vs Masashi Takeda – Fluorescent Light Tubes Death Match – BJW (12/30/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link
- Strong BJ (Daisuke Sekimoto & Yuji Okabayashi) (c) vs Ryota Hama & Hideyoshi Kamitani – BJW Tag Team Championship – BJW (12/30/2015, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, Japan) – Link