There was plenty of good in the WWE this year — with stars finally debuting on the main roster, the women taking a big step forward and even a stunning title change on the biggest stage. But with the good almost certainly comes the bad — with everything from injuries to wacky segments and strange booking decisions — but we’ll save those for now.
10. Brock Lesnar goes nuts after WrestleMania 31
One of the best things about Brock Lesnar is the level of realism he brings to the table in what is a scripted form of entertainment. You feel like he could literally rip someone apart, especially when he’s in a foul mood. That was the case on "Raw" the night after WrestleMania 31, upset that he was no longer the WWE World Heavyweight Champion with Seth Rollins’ timely cash-in of his "Money in the Bank" briefcase to take the title. Lesnar wanted his rematch immediately and when Rollins denied it, "The Beast" went on a rampage and no one at ringside was safe.
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9. Kalisto connects with Solida Del Sol using ladders
It was both breathtaking and terrifying when Kalisto hit the "Solida Del Sol" on Jey Uso from the top of the ladder onto another ladder at the "TLC" pay-per-view. In a match filled with crazy maneuvers between the Lucha Dragons, The Usos and The New Day, this move was eye-popping — to say the least. It was the most dangerous, gorgeous, flat-out crazy move of the year.
8. Sting makes his WWE in-ring debut
Wrestling fans wondered for more than two decades if Sting would ever have a match in the WWE. The WCW icon had come close to joining the promotion on several occasions, but it never happened. So it was understandable that the crowd went nuts when the Stinger made a surprise appearance at the 2014 Survivor Series to confront Triple H. After so many years, he finally fulfilled the fans’ dream — and his — when the two squared off in the ring at WrestleMania 31.
7. Cesaro answers John Cena’s U.S. Open Challenge
Throughout the summer, John Cena excited fans week after week by issuing an open challenge for his United States Championship. You never knew who would answer the call — from the likes of Neville to Dean Ambrose and even NXT standout Sami Zayn. When fan-favorite Cesaro took his turn on the June 29 edition of "Raw," the audience ate it up. The two had an instant classic, with the Swiss Superman nearly winning the title before Kevin Owens interfered. Luckily, they had a sensational re-match the following week.
6. Roman Reigns finally wins the WWE Championship
This was supposed to be the year of Roman Reigns, but when the fans didn’t get behind him the way WWE brass hoped, the plan changed. Instead, the year was spent on earning that support and building him up into a top star. When he did win the tournament at Survivor Series to become the WWE World Heavyweight Champion, it felt good, but not good enough. That’s why WWE had Sheamus cash in his "Money in the Bank" case and immediately take the title from him. Weeks later, Reigns won the audience over as he fought off Sheamus, his League of Nations buddies and even the hated Mr. McMahon to finally take the championship.
5. Kevin Owens makes statement in debut
When Kevin Owens surprisingly appeared on the May 18 edition of "Raw" to confront John Cena, you could hear the shrieks of excitement from diehard fans. Many were worried that the former Ring of Honor champion and internet-darling would never get a fair chance on the main roster considering his less-than-chiseled body. But there he was, trading barbs with the company’s top star and then flattening Cena with his signature pop-up powerbomb in a sensational debut, one that few people ever get.
4. The Rock gets a helping hand from Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania
WWE always tries to create WrestleMania moments and this was one as The Rock found himself in a verbal standoff against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. While "The Great One" wouldn’t put his hands on a woman, he knew someone who would be more than happy to. That would turn out to be his good friend Ronda Rousey, who was sitting in the front row. It was electrifying when things did get physical with the now-former UFC women’s champion tossing Triple H and nearly ripping Stephanie’s arm off. Unfortunately, it’s not leading to a match at next year’s event, but Rousey has vowed to return to the WWE ring.
3. Bayley wins the NXT Women’s Championship
When Bayley squared off against Sasha Banks at the NXT: Brooklyn event in August, the women tore the house down in arguably the greatest women’s match of all time and proving they were as good as anyone in the world — male or female. It was already quite the scene afterward when Bayley achieved her dream, holding the championship proudly over her head. There was more to come as Becky Lynch, Charlotte and even Banks celebrated with the new champ in the emotional curtain call.
2. Women main event special
When the decision was made to have Bayley rematch against Sasha Banks at the "NXT TakeOver: Respect" event, it had to be more than just another match between the female stars, coming off their epic match in Brooklyn. It wasn’t just a 30-minute Iron Man match; no, it was the main event. The women earned the spot with their fantastic in-ring work and producing one of the best rivalries of the year. The match once again delivered, with Bayley retaining her championship and further showing that the women in NXT can bring it as much as the men.
1. Seth Rollins cashes in at WrestleMania to win championship
Never had someone cashed in a "Money in the Bank" briefcase at the biggest stage of them all. But when Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns were lying on the mat after exchanging finishing moves, Seth Rollins pounced on the opportunity. The crowd was instantly buzzing when his music hit and he sprinted to the ring. Just minutes later, Rollins spoiled Roman Reigns’ moment with a curb stomp and with it the WWE World Heavyweight Champion in a brilliant WrestleMania moment.