RAW Deal: The 2015 year-end awards

Joe 'the Grappler' Marsalis
RAW Deal: The 2015 year-end awards
Who was WWE's rookie of the year? Which moment was the top swerve of 2015? Read on to relive the year's best WWE moments

MINNEAPOLIS, MN—This week’s RAW hosted the annual year-ending Slammy Awards. But since everyone knows the Slammys are just an American Idol-style contrivance that isn’t really reflective of any important opinions, allow me to host my own year-end WWE awards. (For whatever it’s worth.) 

Rookie of the Year: Kevin Owens

Could there be any doubt? Kevin Owens has had such a tremendous 2015—debuting late last year, winning the NXT Championship almost right off the bat, impressing people on his first few outings on RAW, and eventually winning the Intercontinental Championship—that I’m now kind of scared what 2016 holds for him, because the only thing better than this is a main event run. He’s so good at being a modern-day, Reality Era heel that he even throws seemingly-knowledgeable fans for a loop by how he does it. 

The only thing going against him is that there are so many rumors swirling about his appearance and how some people don’t like it, but I’d like to think those qualms were dispelled the moment he won the Intercontinental Championship earlier this year. In a time where the show needs a lot of well-developed characters, Owens is an asset they can’t afford to bungle.

Honorable Mentions: Chad Gable and Apollo Crews from NXT.


Most Improved Wrestler: Roman Reigns

If there’s any better comeback story in wrestling this year than Roman Reigns getting absolutely slaughtered at the hands of the crowd during the Royal Rumble and redeeming himself in front of the same people last week on RAW, I’d love for you to comment down there and tell me all about it. I’ve already gone into detail about all of this last week, so I won’t repeat myself.

Honorable Mentions: Zack Ryder.


Flop of the Year: The Divas Revolution

Here you had 3 budding young women from NXT, wowing crowds with pure passion and athleticism, and they were reduced to a mere artificial story that completely missed the point of the NXT formula. Yes, giving the ladies time to work is an important part, but it also needs to be framed in a story that’s properly told and progresses organically. Ironically, Vince McMahon once famously claimed that they don’t do wrestling for wrestling’s sake—and the Divas Revolution showed the entire WWE Universe exactly why that philosophy is correct.

Honorable Mentions: The Lana/Rusev/Dolph Ziggler/Summer Rae love square, whatever Dolph Ziggler’s career was building up to


Manager of the Year: Paul Heyman

As much as I’d love to give all the credit to Xavier Woods for pretty much holding up the New Day on the mic, until he can start carrying feuds on his own while the other people involved are absent, he can’t have this award. Paul Heyman is taking this back-to-back because he’s just that damn good, and he shows no signs of stopping (if he were left to his own devices, of course). Sometimes it feels like we don’t even need Brock Lesnar or the Undertaker as long as Heyman is around.

Honorable Mentions: Xavier Woods, Lana.


Swerve of the Year: Seth Rollins cashes in Money in the Bank at WrestleMania 31

Here’s the beauty with rules: if you keep playing by them long enough, you’ll end up making a special moment when you do decide to break them (and break them well). Cashing it in this way was never a scenario anyone thought was legal (possible, but not legal) until this happened, and that’s the real definition of a swerve; it’s a thing that’s few and far between now in the advent of the Internet and dirtsheets and round-the-clock rumors and spoilage. Even though it has yet to be used again since, it adds a whole new dimension to how a championship match can be structured. (It also helps a lot that the swerve came in a situation people thought was helpless.)

Honorable Mentions: Jushin Thunder Liger comes to NXT, Roman Reigns wins the WWE World Heavyweight Championship on RAW, Undertaker turning heel against Brock Lesnar at Battleground 2015.



Promo of the Year: Paul Heyman’s “Latin prayer” promo

Don’t you just love it when Heyman gets all fired up and starts speaking in tongues?

Honorable Mentions: Dean Ambrose’s own take of “Hard Times”, New Day singing a modified version of “Empire State of Mind”


Tag Team of the Year: The New Day

Once upon a time, the New Day was a laughingstock in the entire WWE roster—a sincere but misguided representation of Vince McMahon’s out-of-touch narrative sensibilities. The reason why they win the Tag Team of the Year award is because of the insane turnaround they were able to pull off (but the only reason they didn’t win Most Improved is because they were already all solid wrestlers to begin with). Nobody consistently garners as much heat as the New Day (not even Kevin Owens, who still gets love no matter what he tries to do) and that is why they have been made to hold the tag titles twice this year and put in the main event spot more than once. New. Day rocks.

Honorable Mentions: None. There is no one else.


Female Wrestler of the Year: Nikki Bella

Okay, okay. I can hear you. You’re mad at me because the name after the colon doesn’t read “Sasha Banks.”

Listen—for all the flak WWE fans give Nikki for being a model-turned-wrestler, nobody can deny that in 2015, Nikki Bella was arguably the most consistent-performing wrestler in their division. Sure, Banks is an even-better wrestler, especially when she was reigning atop the NXT Women’s division, and Paige has experience and pedigree. But Banks was somewhat diluted upon reaching the main roster and Paige stumbled into her mean streak later in the year—meanwhile, Nikki already knows what kind of wrestler she wanted to be, stuck to it, and has consistenly produced solid matches (especially without the help of a few weeks’ worth of lead time before NXT TakeOvers) all year. In fact, I’d argue that that’s why she’s currently out with an injury.

Don’t worry, haters; I fully believe 2016 will be both Sasha and Charlotte’s years.

Honorable Mentions: Sasha Banks, Bayley.

Male Wrestler of the Year: Seth Rollins

It’s sad that both my Wrestler of the Year picks are out with respective injuries of varying degrees, but I have to point to those injuries as some sort of badge of honor that justifies their status. Seth Rollins was my Wrestler of the Year pick last year, and it doesn’t change now because the man literally needs to get hurt to stop going. (And even then, he’d still try to go.) The man put his life on the line challenging for a championship, defending it as best as he can, winning another one, and then defending both titles on the same night without missing a step. Beyond guys named John Cena, who else can do that?

Honorable Mentions: John Cena, Kevin Owens.

Match of the Year: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar (vs. Seth Rollins) for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, WrestleMania 31

To be honest with you, it’s much harder picking out just one match for Match of the Year. No matter what you think of 2015 story-wise, there’s just so much good wrestling coming out of the WWE that regardless of which way you go with this award, you’re going to do a huge injustice to the others that came out this year.

I’ve already talked about this in the Swerve of the Year award, but let me buttress this argument further by citing just how cathartic the ending was. It also helps that this match was the first milestone of Roman Reigns’s 2015 turnaround, an effort where he finally looked like he was holding up his own (it’s impossible to have a bad match with Daniel Bryan). Brock Lesnar, meanwhile, was Brock Lesnar and that was enough for us. Everything just came together—even the unexpected, which is always a gamble.

Honorable Mentions: The John Cena vs. Cesaro series, Cena vs. Owens series, Sasha Banks vs. Bayley series


What do you think? Awards are rarely ever a totally objective thing, and I’m sure we’re disagreeing in more than a few parts here. Let us know who you think really won. Merry Christmas! –

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.