From top-to-bottom, any wrestling match is only as good as the card it’s on, and when it comes to quality lineups, 2014 was full of them. Could Ring of Honor pull the upset with fantastic PPV outings? Did Impact Wrestling have an ace in the hole? Was NXT ready to strike it big? What was the best overall show of the year? Read on to find out…
Brian Fritz (@BrianFritz): I really want to say WWE Money in the Bank but I just can’t … it’s WrestleMania XXX. Both the ladder matches at MITB were excellent, filled with suspense as the heel Seth Rollins found a way to get the Money in the Bank briefcase while John Cena won the vacant WWE Championship. Plus, the Usos and Wyatt Family started off the show with a great tag-team match. But I cannot minimize the story that WrestleMania told this year Daniel Bryan defying the odds — both in real life and in storyline — to end the night with the WWE World Heavyweight Championship around his waist. The show had a little of everything with returning legends to kick off the show (The Rock, Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan who even thought he was in the Silverdome which the crowd had some fun with), the streak coming to an end which left everyone stunned and is now a “where were you when this happened” moment. But nothing could top Bryan having two excellent matches and finally climbing to the top of the mountain.
Michael A. Wiseman (@therealwiseman): Wrestlemania 30. I could hem and haw and try to convince myself that another show – maybe ROH: Final Battle, or one of the NXT special events – did it better… but I’d be lying. WWE does the “big event” better than anybody else. Heck, they invented the dang thing. And fortunately, WWE had a killer story to tell coming in to this year’s ‘Mania, with Daniel Bryan finally conquering the odds and scaling sports entertainment’s mountain. Not only that, they padded it out with some interesting developments (The Streak ending?!), legendary guests, and very entertaining mid-card work. Was it perfect? No wrestling card ever is. Still, WWE gave fans exactly what they wanted with this year’s WrestleMania, and I can’t praise it enough.
Dan Ryno (@DanRyno): I wanted to allow the smarky fan inside me to pick ROH: Best in the World as the top show of the year, but despite the fact that the event actually kept my interest for the entire three hours (something difficult to do in today’s pro wrestling landscape), I can’t ignore the glory of Wrestlemania 30. The opening act saw Hulk Hogan, The Rock, and Steve Austin sharing a ring for the first time, in a moment that will ingrained in my memory for years. Later, in one of the most shocking moments in pro wrestling history, Brock Lesnar toppled The Undertaker’s 21-year undefeated streak, after a third F-5. The annual Showcase of the Immortals featured the culmination of Daniel Bryan’s near-yearlong climb to the WWE Title, with 75000 fans chanting ‘Yes!’ in unison. And while most wrestlers just hope to be in the discussion for match-of-the-year for one of their performances, Bryan had two entries on the same card, defeating Triple H in the opening bout, and winning the title in a triple-threat match to close the show. Amazing.
Nathan McCarter (@McCarterN): I wanted to say WrestleMania XXX, but aside from Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H and the shock of The Streak ending it wasn’t really that great of a show. Even the triple threat main event was hit or miss as most triple threats are. The show of 2014 may have been Wrestle Kingdom 8 which was stellar from top to bottom, but New Japan Pro Wrestling topped themselves with the greatest tournament in professional wrestling history – the G-1 Climax. Every day was special, but perhaps none more than Day 7. Togi Makabe vs. Tetsuya Naito was outstanding, but it gets overshadowed by the hard-hitting contests between Yuji Nagata vs. Katsuyori Shibata and Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Tomohiro Ishii. Those three alone could have it vying for the top spot, but above all those matches is potentially the Match of the Year – AJ Styles vs. Minoru Suzuki. Wow. Just wow. All 12 days of the G-1 Climax could be a Show of the Year, but Day 7 stands out thanks to having one of the best bouts all year long.
Justin Kendall (@JustinDKendall): NXT R Evolution: Top to bottom, the seven-match show was a thoroughly enjoyable night of pro wrestling. The culmination of the Sami Zayn vs. Adrien Neville feud told a story: Zayn refusing to cheat to win the title, winning on his own. Charlotte and Sasha Banks showed that women’s wrestling doesn’t have to bring a crowd down before a main event. Finn Balor’s entrance was a thing of beauty — so was his ring work with Hideo Itami in a win over the disappointing Ascension. The undercard matches worked. And Kevin Owens’ debut was bloody perfect, and his turn on Zayn predictable but expertly timed.
What was your favorite wrestling show of 2014? Did our staff get it right? Tell us in the comments below, then look back with our entire Best of 2014 series!