What does it take to be wrestler of the year? Is main-eventing Wrestlemania enough, or does it take other intangibles? Can a breakout star earn top honors in the same year? Read on to see who we think was the best of 2014…
Brian Fritz (@BrianFritz): This is a tough choice and comes down to one factor for me: it’s wrestler of the year. Daniel Bryan had an awesome start to the year which came to an end in May with his neck surgery and now he is fighting through rehab in hopes to get healthy and return. Still, he was very close to being my pick with everything he had done at the start of the year and winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania XXX which was the feel good moment of the year. But the best wrestler of the entire year for me goes to Seth Rollins. The guy has been a workhorse from his time with The Shield and as a singles star since their breakup. The guy has great match after great match from wrestling Dean Ambrose to John Cena and whoever else he gets in the ring with. We can wonder where the WWE would be without John Cena who is still the top star but where would they be performance-wise without Rollins? He is the MVP of the company right now and in many ways the glue holding things together. And I expect an even better 2015 for Rollins which will include him winning the world title.
Michael A. Wiseman (@therealwiseman): This is a tough one… Should I award it to Daniel Bryan, even though he was M.I.A. for 2/3rds of the year? Does Seth Rollins deserve both “Breakout Star of the Year” and “Wrestler of the Year”? Did Dolphy Ziggler do enough to earn top honors? No, no, and no… my “Best Wrestler of 2014” is Randy Orton. In a sea full of change, Orton proved to be a constant that WWE couldn’t have done without. He carried the belt, had some standout matches (a few with John Cena, no less), and showed sparks of that Randy Orton from years past. Plus, his gradual face-turn might be the story of 2015. Runner ups: Seth Rollins, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan.
Josh Lopez (@JoshLopezCSR): Seth Rollins
Danny Bixby (@DannyJBixby): John Cena…and now I feel dirty all over. Let’s be real here, 2014 wrestling sucked for a lot of reasons. One of which is the over-exposure of John Cena. But that isn’t his fault. CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, all being taken out for various reasons at (or near) the height of their popularity…the show must go on, people!! So the responsibility gets put onto Cena’s shoulders. He went on last at 7 PPV’s this year and was in a secondary main event in the other 5. Nobody else can boast that. He is a friggin work horse! WWE asks him to carry the load, and he does it. Even when we get absolutely sick of seeing him on Raw for 90 minutes an episode.
Dan Ryno (@DanRyno): Daniel Bryan. Despite the career-threatening injury that has kept him out of action since May, I can’t think of a better choice than Daniel Bryan. Many will say that my choice isn’t fair, given the fact that Bryan did not compete for the majority of the year. However, his fan-fueled ascension to Wrestlemania’s main event (a card on which Bryan competed in, not one, but two match-of-the-year candidates) culminated in 75,000 pairs of raised arms, with voices chanting in unison. The ‘Yes! Movement’ forced the WWE’s hand, altering the main event of the company’s premiere PPV just weeks before the show, while the raised fingers and ‘Yes!’ chants crossed-over to rock shows and mainstream sports & media, causing one of the biggest pro wrestling impacts since ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. Not to mention that Bryan vs. Wyatt at the Royal Rumble is a sleeper pick for match-of-the-year.
Do you agree with our picks? Tell us in the comments below. Then look back at all our picks for Best of 2014!