The final WWE events of 2015 have come to a close and with there being 128 pay-per-view or live special matches in 2015, it’s time to rank the best 50.
This list will include every WWE pay-per-view as well as every NXT Takeover, but will not include Beast in the East or Live at Madison Square Garden as they were technically house shows.
50th: NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder versus Enzo Amore & Colin Cassidy (NXT Takeover: London)
This was a well booked match off the back of a fiery feud, the likes of which we haven’t seen from Enzo & Cass before. Dawson & Wilder retaining clean was smart and it’s probably time for Enzo & Cass to make their way to the main roster.
49th: The Money in the Bank Ladder Match (Money in the Bank)
This year’s briefcase ladder match did not get close to the quality of last year’s match. Having said that, there were still some excellent spots and great swerves in the match with The New Day helping Kofi, and Wyatt attacking Roman adding some much needed chaos. Sheamus winning was rather anti-climactic which hurt the match overall.
48th: United States Championship Match: Rusev versus John Cena (WrestleMania)
This was your classic John Cena beats the odds match and it lead Cena’s brilliant run with the United States Championship. In hindsight, considering they wrestled at the following two pay-per-views, Rusev probably should’ve gone over here.
47th: Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Final: Samoa Joe & Finn Balor versus Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder (NXT Takeover: Respect)
What made this match great was the psychology of it. The way Dawson & Wilder went straight after Finn and then tried to pick him apart showed that they knew they were dealing with two guys above them on the roster, but it showed they had a game plan. Dawson and Wilder, while not flashy, continue to prove how good they are in the ring.
46th: Tag Team Championship Match: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd versus The New Day (Extreme Rules)
This was the beginning of The New Day Era. Cesaro & Kidd were an awesome tag team and along with the New Day, they put on a great match here with The New Day cheating to get the win, setting up what they’d become all about.
45th: Dolph Ziggler versus Sheamus (Payback)
Ziggler and Sheamus’ feud may not have been about much, but they sure did a good job of pounding each other. You could feel the ferocity between the two and they put on a great match, thankfully minus the butt kissing stipulation.
44th: Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns versus Big Show (Extreme Rules)
This match was surprisingly good and by surprisingly good, I mean did anyone expect this to be any good at all? Show and Reigns keep a fast pace and beat each other to a pulp for 15 entertaining minutes. It was the continuation of Roman’s streak of good pay-per-view matches.
43rd: Divas Championship Match: Charlotte versus Nikki Bella (Hell in a Cell)
This was much better than their first encounter and showed that Nikki can hang with the better Divas, if only just. The spot of the night was an Alabama slam on the ring apron.
42nd: NXT Championship Match: Sami Zayn versus Kevin Owens (NXT Takeover: Rival)
This wasn’t actually that great of a match considering the build up to it. However, the finish with Owens beating Zayn to the point where the referee had to stop the match was brilliant and earns it a spot on this list.
41st: Divas Championship Match: Charlotte versus Paige (TLC)
This was a good match storyline wise, showing Charlotte’s continued transformation into a heel. However, it was overdone slightly and the lack of a babyface in this match made it a little odd.
40th: Divas Championship Match: Charlotte versus Paige (Survivor Series)
This was the better of their two matches. They were given close to 15 minutes and despite a really awkward spear off the barricade, the two put on a really good match. If the finish had been a little less abrupt, this would be much higher.
39th: Tyler Breeze versus Finn Balor (NXT Takeover: Unstoppable)
This was originally meant to be a triple threat match involving Hideo Itami, but Itami’s injury forced this into a singles match. It wasn’t anything special, especially by the standards both of these men have set for themselves, but it was a solid match nonetheless. Balor jumping off the titantron was something we hadn’t seen in NXT before.
38th: Tag Team Championship Match: The Prime Time Players versus The New Day versus The Lucha Dragons versus Los Matadores (SummerSlam)
The re-crowning of The New Day as Tag Team Champions was great and had enough interesting spots and near-falls to keep the loud crowd into it. Despite these types of matches usually feeling overcrowded, this was done really well.
37th: Tyler Breeze versus Apollo Crews (NXT Takeover: Respect)
Another match that probably should have been higher on this list considering the quality of the two performers, but it was still an excellent match with Breeze doing a great job of countering a lot of Apollo’s offense. Crews is going to be something special.
36th: Bray Wyatt versus Roman Reigns (Battleground)
Roman and Bray did a great job of making this match the brawl it needed to be. The finish with Luke Harper interfering probably hurt its ranking because this was a good match up to that point.
35th: Becky Lynch versus Sasha Banks (TLC)
How the best two Divas in the WWE are confined to a kickoff show without any build up or storyline is beyond me. What’s worse was the three minute ad in the middle of the match. Despite that, these two did what you would expect from them, putting on a quality match with a finish that made sense and gave Sasha a win in her hometown.
34th: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match: Sheamus versus Roman Reigns (TLC)
Yes, the main-event only just eclipsed the pre-show match and you can put that down to how hard both men worked when it came to some of the more vicious spots of the night. In the long run, the storyline of this match worked out really well and it was about as good as the feud, which no one cared about, was going to get.
33rd: Brock Lesnar versus The Undertaker (SummerSlam)
The more I watch this match, the more I enjoy the finish. It makes perfect sense. If a person is tapping out, that means they are asking for the match to stop because they’re in too much pain and, especially with a move that has broken people’s arms, it was a great idea to have the timekeeper stop the match. From there, Taker stealing a win was genius and set up what would be a far better match at Hell in a Cell.
32rd: Dean Ambrose & Roman Reigns versus Bray Wyatt & Luke Harper (SummerSlam)
This was another match that was exactly what it needed to be. It wasn’t a wrestling clinic, it was more or less four guys who want to beat each other up and these four know exactly how to do that.
31st: Asuka versus Emma (NXT Takeover: London)
They turned what was really just a showcase for Asuka into a match where you could genuinely believe that Emma was going to steal the win. There was just enough shenanigans for it to be exciting and not weigh down the match. Once Asuka starts getting her offense in, there are few wrestlers more fun to watch.
30th: Tag Team Championship Two out of Three Falls Match: The New Day versus Tyson Kidd & Cesaro (Payback)
Despite the finish being a little stupid with the referee not being able to tell apart Kofi and Xavier, this was one of the best tag team matches of the year and was probably the best babyface performance of Tyson Kidd’s WWE career.
29th: NXT Tag Team Championship Match: Blake & Murphy versus The Vaudevillains (NXT Takeover: Brooklyn)
This was just an exciting, fast paced match from start to finish. The usage of Alexa Bliss and Blue Pants made sense and the crazy Brooklyn crowd made this special.
28th: NXT Women’s Championship Match: Bayley versus Nia Jax (NXT Takeover: London)
As far as matches go, there are probably 45 better wrestling spectacles on this list. However, you probably won’t find more than a handful of matches with better storylines. This match was perfectly executed with Jax coming off as a dominant, but inexperienced heel who looked like she was going to batter Bayley until her eventual crowning as champion, but she got cocky and frustrated which lead to the resilient and experienced champion escaping with the win.
27th: Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match (WrestleMania)
This was the perfect way to kick off a great WrestleMania. You had probably three most popular babyfaces on the roster with Ambrose, Ziggler and Bryan, all of whom you could believe would leave with the title and that made for a great match. Harper powerbombing Ambrose through a ladder was awesome and the finish with Dolph and Bryan exchanging headbutts was incredibly unique.
26th: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Fatal 4-Way Match: Seth Rollins versus Roman Reigns versus Dean Ambrose versus Randy Orton (Payback)
This was a great match that just didn’t quite get to the level of some of the other top championship matches this year. The spot of the match and one of the coolest moments of 2015 came when we got our brief Shield reunion with the hounds of justice powerbombing Orton through the announce table.
25th: Hell in a Cell Match: Roman Reigns versus Bray Wyatt (Hell in a Cell)
This match was a weapon-filled car crash of a match that delivered something very different to the other Cell match on the card. While the feud between Bray and Roman was a little lacklustre content wise, their final encounter was worthy of being inside the Cell and they delivered a match befitting it.
24th: United States Championship Match: John Cena versus Kevin Owens (Battleground)
This was the third of three great matches between Cena and Owens. Unfortunately, it had to live up to the outstanding first two matches and it couldn’t quite do it. However, this match Owens look like a star and confirmed that Cena’s run as United States Champion was the best U.S Championship reign of all time.
23rd: Daniel Bryan versus Roman Reigns (Fastlane)
This match was great because the animosity between the two stars felt real which meant the stakes, which was the main-event of WrestleMania, also felt real. As far as telling a story with wrestling goes, there is no one better in the world than Daniel Bryan and that’s exactly what we got here with a powerhouse like Reigns fighting a much smaller grappler like Bryan. This was the beginning of Roman’s streak of excellent pay-per-view matches.
22nd: Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semi-Final: Baron Corbin & Rhyno versus Chad Gable & Jason Jordan (NXT Takeover: Respect)
This instantly became one of those matches you just want to watch over and over. Speaking of over, this match was the arrival of Chad Gable and Jason Jordan who have become the most popular superstars in NXT. Gable hitting a rolling German suplex on Corbin late in the match was one of the coolest moves of 2015. Expect these two to have quite a few matches on this list in 2016.
21st: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Seth Rollins versus Dean Ambrose (Elimination Chamber)
Bloody WWE teasing us with having Ambrose actually win the match before having the title taken off him. It was so unfair and shows that when Ambrose eventually does get his moment, the crowd will go absolutely nuts. Despite the screwy finish, these two did what they’ve done since their days in FCW, deliver a top quality match.
20th: Seth Rollins versus Randy Orton (WrestleMania)
This was the feud that carried Raw for much of the lead up to WrestleMania and the match certainly delivered. Of course, the best part of the match was the finish with Orton countering a curb stomp into an RKO. Seth went on to have one of the greatest WrestleMania moments of all time later in the show, but they did a fantastic job here.
19th: Kevin Owens versus Dean Ambrose (Survivor Series)
This was really the only good match in the WWE World Heavyweight Championship tournament at Survivor Series. The final was too rushed and Del Rio and Reigns was a predictable bore fest. Thankfully we can rely on these two to deliver a quality match no matter the circumstances.
18th: Kevin Owens versus Cesaro (SummerSlam)
It’s amazing how Cesaro seems to deliver a quality match every single time he is on a pay-per-view. It’s like he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world or something and deserves to be showcased more often. These two had a great little feud which culminated in a much needed win for Owens.
17th: United States Championship Match: Seth Rollins versus John Cena (Night of Champions)
While this one didn’t quite reach the heights of their SummerSlam encounter, Cena and Rollins once again demonstrated the incredible chemistry they have in the ring together. The subtle storyline of Rollins knowing he had to face Sting immediately after this match added a lot of depth to the match as well.
16th: Intercontinental Championship Match: Kevin Owens versus Dean Ambrose (TLC)
A great back and forth wrestling match on a card filled with stipulations that had an unexpected but awesome ending. Ambrose pinning Owens the way he did also leaves the feud open to continue on into 2016. Expect these two to steal the show again in the future.
15th: NXT Championship Ladder Match: Finn Balor versus Kevin Owens (NXT Takeover: Brooklyn)
There’s a lot of Kevin Owens in this top 20… and you people didn’t vote him as the Breakout Star of the Year? This was a brilliant ladder match that varied from the usual style of there being tonnes of ladders everywhere. These two had only two or three to play with and they made the most of it. Finn hitting his finisher off the top of the ladder onto Owens was only topped by Owens pinning Balor with a ladder, sprinting at him, slowing down, and punching him in the face. Only Kevin Owens could make that look cool.
14th: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match: Seth Rollins versus Dean Ambrose (Money in the Bank)
This one just pips the above ladder match due to the way Seth and Dean constructed their match. The match probably was a little longer than it needed to be and that cost it from being higher up the list, but everything from Rollins burying Dean under ladders to the title slipping through Ambrose’s fingertips at the end made this a great match.
13th: NXT Championship Match: Finn Balor versus Samoa Joe (NXT Takeover: London)
This represented everything a big championship main-event should look like. Joe dominated the match, but Finn was still able to get in the high intensity offense that makes him so good to watch. What added to this match was that you could make a strong case for both men to win, leaving everyone on their toes for the near falls. Balor retained, but this certainly won’t be the last title match between the two foes.
12th: NXT Women’s Championship Fatal 4-Way Match: Charlotte versus Sasha Banks versus Bayley versus Becky Lynch (NXT Takeover: Rival)
This was the match that started the rise of the Four Horsewomen who would soon become the faces of the WWE’s women’s division. They put on a match that stole the show and worked the fatal 4-way stipulation to perfection. All four girls got a chance to shine and putting the title on Sasha was the best result they could’ve chosen. Give this match a lot of credit for the #GiveDivasAChance movement.
11th: John Cena versus Kevin Owens (Elimination Chamber)
This was a brilliant match between two polar opposites of the wrestling world that had an ending that drove people everywhere out of their seats. Owens pinning Cena clean elevated Owens and lead to where we see Owens today. The spot of this match was Owens reversing a Superplex from Cena into one of his own. It’s a move that is very rarely if ever seen in a WWE ring and little things like that made this match feel important.
10th: Triple Threat Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: The New Day versus The Usos versus The Lucha Dragons (TLC)
This match speaks for itself. Every spot was amazing, from Big E bench-pressing a ladder with two people on it to Sin Cara diving onto a ladder outside the ring to the jaw dropping Salida Del Sol from Kalisto off a ladder through a ladder. Well done to all three teams for putting on an incredible ladder match. Xavier Woods on commentary was also a very nice touch.
9th: Title For Title Match: Seth Rollins versus John Cena (SummerSlam)
If Seth had pinned Cena without interference, this would have been in the top three, that’s how good this match was. Rollins and Cena pulled out all the stops on the big stage and Cena highlighted just how much he’s improved in 2015 by keeping up with Rollins and putting on an outstanding match. There were so many highlights in this match that it’s impossible to narrow them down, but Rollins hitting a Superplex before rolling back up and hitting another one was amazing. The interference involving Jon Stewart was a little overdone and hampered what was otherwise a match of the year candidate.
8th: Adrian Neville versus Finn Balor (NXT Takeover: Rival)
You won’t see a match with better near falls than this one. The final five minutes of this match were a whirlwind filled with awesome moves and highly entertaining counters. Finn was always going to win this one which counts against it slightly, but that doesn’t change how awesome it was. It might also have been the best commentated match of 2015… if that’s a thing.
7th: NXT Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks versus Becky Lynch (NXT Takeover: Unstoppable)
This was the second major NXT Women’s Championship defence of 2015 and to that stage, it was the best of them. This was Becky Lynch’s breakout match and her first chance to show just how good she is. The best thing you can say about this match is the crowd started the match chanting for Sasha, the heel, but finished cheering for Becky because she had won them over with her spectacular performance. Full credit to Sasha too, once again showing that no one, past or present, can touch her.
6th: Kevin Owens versus John Cena (Money in the Bank)
Honestly, I don’t know why this match doesn’t get the credit it deserves. Of the three encounters, this was easily their best match up. The crowd was electric from start to finish, the two raised the bar move set wise and Cena winning made sense to set up the rubber match. They delivered an excellent story and Owens attacking Cena post-match was true to character and exactly how the match needed to finish.
5th: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat Match: Brock Lesnar versus Roman Reigns versus Seth Rollins (WrestleMania)
Titling this one was difficult, because before Seth made his way down to the ring, Lesnar and Reigns were doing a fantastic job of putting on a classic match anyway, but it was Seth that took this match into the top five. Starting with Lesnar and Reigns, the two beat the absolute hell out of each other for 15 minutes with Lesnar not being able to keep Roman down no matter how hard he hit him. That led to Lesnar making a mistake, opening the door for Reigns who capitalized. They fought to a stalemate before the new ultimate opportunist scooted down, stole the win and created one of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history.
4th: NXT Women’s Championship 30 Minute Ironman Match: Bayley versus Sasha Banks (NXT Takeover: Respect)
This was not only the first ever women’s ‘pay-per-view’ main-event in WWE history, but it was also the longest women’s match in WWE history – by a very, very long way. With that came the task of keeping the audience invested for half an hour and these two did that with ease. You could tell they were nervous early on and that hampered the match slightly, but once they got going, these two told the best story of 2015. No match tops this one in terms of the story told during the match. Everything from Bayley attacking Sasha’s hand as payback for Brooklyn, inadvertently making it difficult for Sasha to lock in the Bank Statement to Sasha Banks, literally, making a little girl cry by stealing her headband was executed brilliantly and kept the crowd hot for 30 full minutes. The final five minutes in particular stood out as just a brilliant series of counters, locked at two falls apiece.
3rd: Hell in a Cell Match: Brock Lesnar versus The Undertaker (Hell in a Cell)
This was one of those matches that just reminds you why pro-wrestling is awesome. The fact that The Undertaker, at 50 years of age, can still produce matches of this quality is insane. Not to mention the beating his body took from Brock throughout this awesome match. Of course, the best part of the match was Lesnar ripping up the canvas to expose the wooden floorboards before taking a chokeslam onto the exposed floor. It was a genius match and Brock winning after the low blow that brought this whole rivalry full circle, was outstanding.
2nd: WWE World Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat Match: Brock Lesnar versus John Cena versus Seth Rollins (Royal Rumble)
Think about it this way, this match saved the 2015 Royal Rumble from being the worst pay-per-view of all time. Lesnar, Cena and Rollins gave us arguably the best triple threat championship match in WWE history and part of that was because all three men could have left with the title. Rollins’ briefcase possibly coming into play also made things that much more exciting. The best part of the match was a tie between Rollins breaking Lesnar through the table and Rollins hitting a phoenix splash on Cena, before Brock rose like the aforementioned bird, tearing the house down and retaining his title.
1st: NXT Women’s Championship Match: Sasha Banks versus Bayley (NXT Takeover: Brooklyn)
This match was perfect from start to finish. Sasha and Bayley tore the house down showing what women’s wrestling can be when you give it the spotlight. Sasha Banks and Bayley had the best rivalry of 2015, with this match being months in the making. The match itself had everything, but the highlight of the match was without a doubt the finish with Bayley hitting a reverse hurricanrana into the Bayley to Belly for the win. The Brooklyn crowd was rabidly behind both girls and the place exploded when Bayley won. The curtain call post-match with all four Horsewomen standing in an NXT ring together for the last time was one of the best moments of 2015 and this match gave Triple H and NXT officials no choice but to put the rematch in the main-event of the next Takeover.