What makes wrestling tick? There’s the actual in-ring product, the athletic competition between two (or more) giants who turn hammer-locks and chain-grappling into a dance. There’s the driving story behind the match. Why are these titans fighting? Why should we care? That’s where rivalries come in… they gives us, as fans, that emotional investment. Here are our picks for ‘Feud of the Year.’
Brian Fritz (@BrianFritz): I’ll give credit to Bully Ray and Dixie Carter in making their feud mean something even though Carter really shouldn’t be on TV. But the two made the most of the evil boss trying to push buttons and Bully vowing that he would powerbomb her through a table and finally coming through with the promise. But the best story of the year is Daniel Bryan overcoming The Authority and all the odds to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania 30. At the start of the year, this is what the fans wanted and while there was a feud, it was going to get derailed by the man calling the shots in the WWE. But between the fans rallying behind Bryan and CM Punk leaving the company, the stars aligned to make this happen. In the end, their program, which had already been ongoing for months, got taken to another level culminating on the biggest stage with Bryan getting his WrestleMania moment and the championship to a huge ovation. It also tells you something that a feud which ended within the first half of the year also happened to be — in my mind — the best of the year.
Michael A. Wiseman (@therealwiseman): Without a doubt, the Bella twins feud… (j/k). Of COURSE Daniel Bryan vs The Authority stole the show throughout the first half of 2014 – but, and perhaps more importantly, the Daniel Bryan vs Triple H dynamic was all that and a bag of chips. The way Bryan goaded Triple H into a match at WrestleMania was fantastic. The way Triple H seethed hatred for Bryan was both believable and entertaining. And the story these two told in the ring at WrestleMania 30 – in the opening contest no less – caped off what I consider the Best Feud of 2014. Classic wrestling storytelling at its finest.
Danny Bixby (@DannyJBixby): My pick is Daniel Bryan vs the Authority. This feud kicked off at SummerSlam 2013 and ended after Survivor Series 2014. That’s a long friggin’ time. It involved Bryan, Kane, Triple, Stephanie McMahon, Brie and Nikki Bella, John Cena, Randy Orton and more…but at the center was always Daniel Bryan. It gave Daniel Bryan the focus he deserved and the title he earned. It also gave us an incredible match of DB vs HHH at Mania and a surprisingly good match of Steph McMahon vs Brie at SummerSlam. The back and forth feud finally ended with Daniel Bryan being the guest GM to send off HHH and Steph the night after Survivor Series. A fitting end to a 15 month program.
Dan Rhyno (@DanRhyno): I may just be going with the flow here, but I can’t ignore Daniel Bryan vs. the Authority. What began in the summer of 2013, culminated with an MVP performance by Bryan at Wrestlemania 30, scoring victories over all three Evolution members to become the undisputed WWE champion. In this case, the WWE’s stubbornness paid off, as the millions of fans who begged for Bryan to be the ‘face of the company’ had to endure a painfully (by today’s standards) long build before the championship payoff. The company’s initial unwillingness to put the machine behind Bryan actually built anticipation to a fever-pitch, and the final scene to close out Wrestlemania will tough to top.
Justin Kendall (@JustinDKendall): Daniel Bryan vs. the Authority. WWE did give fans what they wanted — a Daniel Bryan WWE Championship victory at WrestleMania. The happy ending that WWE fans were clamoring for seemed out of reach after the Royal Rumble. The organization that claims to listen to its fans seemed to be deaf to the “Yes” chants. But with CM Punk MIA and Batista’s run flopping, WWE decided to give Bryan a chance — a match with Triple H for a chance to get into the Batista-Randy Orton title fight. Bryan’s match with Triple H elevated him, and just when Bryan’s shot at a happy ending seemed to be within reach, he did a main-event stretcher job. But Bryan proved even more super than Cena in his rally to take the title. It wasn’t a perfect story, but it was definitely what was best for business.
Do you agree with our nomination? Who do you think told the best story in 2014? Tell us in the comments below! Then, catch up with all of our Best of 2014: Professional Wrestling picks!