Column: WWE’s Matches of the Year

Here’s a quick break from post-Christmas gaming to have a look at the best WWE matches of the year. Taking into account the story, the entrances, the match itself and the outcome, I came up with a list of 29 matches I felt were the best in the WWE for 2014. I’ll post the final list below, but my choice for winners for best one-on-one, multi-man, tag team and women’s match are as followed:

Best on-on one match:
Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt (Royal Rumble)

2014 was full of ups and downs for Daniel Bryan, ending with an emergency neck surgery, but beginning with the unimaginable popularity he would gain with his simple but effective catchphrase. But despite Bryan’s monstrous popularity, it was the sadistic cult leader Bray Wyatt that held sway over Bryan’s thoughts. After joining the Wyatt Family, and then excommunicating himself in the biggest RAW crowd moment all year (seriously, watch that video and tell me that is not the definition of ‘in the palm of your hand’) it was the one-on-one match between the former disciple, and devious leader, that topped all other matches in WWE in 2014.

The match had high flying action, rib bruising kicks and even Bray Wyatt hitting his finisher onto the barricade after catching Bryan out of mid air. Eventually, it was the crazed Wyatt that came out on top, but it was still not enough to halt the YES movement from Daniel Bryan.

Honourable mentions:
Sheamus vs. Cesaro (United States Championship) (Night of Champions)
Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan  (Wrestlemania XXX)

Best multi-man match:
Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd (Intercontinental Championship) (SmackDown 14 November)

After Dolph Ziggler joined Team Cena, he was placed in match after match after match to defend his title, and far and away the beast of them was a aseemingly throw-away match on SmackDown in mid November. The strength of Cesaro, and the high flying and technical abilities of Tyson Kidd turned what on paper looked to be an above-average-at-best match into the best multi-man match the WWE had all year.

Ziggler did manage to pull out the impressive win despite having to overcome two other competitors, including taking a stiff boot to the face near the middle point of the match. Watch the highlights of the match here (you’ll know the kick when you see it, trust me).

Honourable mentions:
Batista vs. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE World Heavyweight Championship) (Wrestlemania XXX)
Adrian Neville vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Championship) (NXT Takeover II: Fatal Four Way)

Best tag-team match:
The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family (Elimination Chamber)

Anyone that has talked to me about wrestling since Februrary’s Elimination Chamber event will know that nothing was ever going to top this match. The clash of the two biggest factions in recent WWE history promised armageddon, and boy did it deliver. This was akin to the Justice League versus the Avengers… if the JLA was a team of badass, SWAT-gear wearing mercenaries, and the Avengers were a Louisiana swamp cult with untamed, but wholly impressive beards.

After staying away from each other for over a year, the two factions finally came face to face after The Wyatts cost the Shield entrance into the eponymous Elimination Chamber. When the two teams then fought at the event, it was the Wyatts that took control after chasing off Dean Ambrose through the crowd, and slamming Seth Rollins through a table. When the Wyatt Family regrouped it was three-on-one in their favour, and those odds proved too much for Roman Reigns to overcome.

The two teams would actually go on to have two more rematches, both fantastic in their own rights, but it was the first collision between the two teams that cannot be topped.

Honourable mentions:
The Shield vs. Evolution (Extreme Rules)
The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family (2 out of 3 Falls for the Tag Team Championships) (Battleground)

Best women’s match:
Paige vs. Emma (NXT Women’s Championship) (NXT ArRival)

In the days of WWE divas getting five minute, slap-and-hair-pulling fights, it was a rare treat to see two women beat the crap out of each other and show the fans what they can do when they are allowed to let loose. Feisty British anti-diva Paige fought bubbly, dancing, and Australian (!) Emma in the best women’s match all year all int he name of the NXT Women’s Championship.

Even though Emma managed to bust out an absolutely brutal powerbomb it was Paige that won the battle after the debut of her new viscious submission hold the scorpion cross-lock, aptly named the PTO – Paige Tap Out.

Honourable mention:
Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (NXT Women’s Championship) (NXT [R]Evolution)

The final list, in chronological order, ended up looking like this:

1. Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt (Royal Rumble)
2. John Cena vs. Antonio Cesaro (Raw before Elimination Chamber)
3. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family (Elimination Chamber)
4. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan (First Raw of 2014)
5. Sheamus/Christian vs. Real Americans (Jack Swagger and Antonio Cesaro w/ Zeb Coulter)
6. Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn (NXT ArRIVAL)
7. Paige (c) vs. Emma (NXT Women’s Championship) (NXT ArRIVAL)
8. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family II (RAW after Elimination Chamber)
9. Christian vs. Alberto Del Rio vs. Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler (IC Title No 1 Contender Fatal Four Way) (RAW 25 March)
10. John Cena vs. Luke Harper (RAW 25 March)
11. Alberto Del Rio vs. Sheamus vs. Dolph Ziggler (IC Title No 1 Contender Triple Threat) (Main Event 28 March)
12. Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan (Wrestlemania XXX)
13. John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (Wrestlemania XXX)
14. Batista vs. Randy Orton vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE World Heavyweight Championship) (Wrestlemania XXX)
15. The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family III (Main Event 10 March)
16. Evolution vs. The Shield (Extreme Rules)
17. Seth Rollins vs. Kofi Kngston vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Jack Swagger vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Dean Ambrose (Money in the Bank Contract Match) (Money in the Bank)
18. The Usos vs. Luke Harper and Erik Rowan (2 out of 3 Falls for Tag Team Championship) (Battleground)
19. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose (Lumberjack Match) (Summerslam)
20. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose (Falls Count Anywhere) (Raw after Summerslam)
21. Charlotte vs. Bayley (NXT Women’s Championship) (NXT Takeover II: Fatal Four Way)
22. Adrian Neville vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Championship) (NXT Takeover II: Fatal Four Way)
23. Sheamus vs. Cesaro (United States Championship) (Night of Champions)
24. Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Championship) (November 13 NXT)
25. Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd (Intercontinental Championship) (November 14 SmackDown)
26. Team Cena (John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Eric Rowan and Ryback) vs. Team Authority (Seth Rollins, Rusev, Mark Henry, Kane and Luke Harper) (Traditional 5-on-5 Elimination Tag Team Match) (Survivor Series)
27. The Ascension vs. Hideo Itami & Finn Balor (NXT Takeover: [R]evolution)
28. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks (NXT Women’s Championship) (NXT Takeover: [R]evolution)
29. Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Championship) (NXT Takeover: [R]evolution)

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