HIS TACTICS may have been questionable, but his accomplishments were beyond compare. With 62 percent of the vote in his favor, Seth Rollins was the clear choice as 2015’s Wrestler of the Year.
Rollins held the WWE World championship for 221 days during the calendar year, from when he shocked the world and cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot in the middle of the main event of WrestleMania 31, to when he was forced to relinquish the title due to injury on November 5.
As World champion, Rollins managed to turn back challenges from an elite list of challengers, including Randy Orton, Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Kane, and Sting. Though he frequently flouted the rules, relied on The Authority for interference and preferential treatment, and preserved his title through intentional DQs (plus a big, unexpected assist from The Undertaker in his bout against Lesnar at Battleground), those tactics were largely a smokescreen. Rollins was masterful in many matches that were unmarred by outside interference or other shenanigans. He proved to be the most successful, active, and long-lasting WWE champions since CM Punk’s reign in 2012. By the time he vacated the title, even his most vocal critics had to admit that the self-professed “Architect” of The Shield was a worthy World champ.
His impressive WWE title run wasn’t Rollin’s only noteworthy accomplishment in 2015. He defeated Cena to win the U.S. title at SummerSlam, becoming the first wrestler ever to hold those two championships simultaneously. He was named number-one in the 2015 “PWI 500.” He had a rivalry with Jon Stewart that saw him appear on The Daily Show and led to Stewart interfering on his behalf at SummerSlam. He even had a statue commissioned in his honor by The Authority (though Sting saw to it that the statue was never erected at WWE Headquarters).
JAY LETHAL (15%)
Lethal became a double-champion this year, holding both the ROH TV and heavyweight titles. While he has been a respected wrestler for years, this year he proved he can be “The Man” as the standard-bearer for ROH. No one will mistake him for comic relief again.
ROMAN REIGNS (12%)
The road wasn’t easy, but Reigns managed to take it all the way to the WWE World championship. Reigns won the Royal Rumble, headlined WrestleMania, won a tourney for the vacant title, beat the tar out of Triple-H, and recaptured the belt on Raw. Not too shabby!
JOHN CENA (5%)
Cena’s “U.S. Open” series resulted in some of the most exciting matches of the year and elevated the prestige of the U.S. title, making a long-neglected secondary title one the most valued prizes in wrestling. Even without the World title, Cena remained the man to beat in WWE.
VOTES FOR OTHERS (6%)
Some of the other top vote-getters who did not capture a runner-up spot include: Alberto El Patron, Ethan Carter III, Brock Lesnar, Shinsuke Nakamura, Kazuchika Okada, Kevin Owens, Prince Puma, Roderick Strong, and AJ Styles.