As a whole, 2015 will not be a year WWE fondly remembers. Injuries, record low ratings and record low attendance numbers will sadly enter the annals of history as WWE closes out the year. Thankfully, at Kultureshocked, the story is much different.
We've experienced a huge amount of growth across all facets of the website and here at the Three Count, the story is much the same. New writers, new features and new promotions are all in the pipe for Three Count as we continue our journey to a brighter, more prosperous future. I must thank you, dear reader for your support as we grow.
I say this from the bottom of my heart; even if there is only one person out there reading my articles, its a dream come true. For every fan, every like and every retweet, a sense of disbelief overcomes my being. This has been an incredible experience and I look forward to the path ahead. The road we are traveling may not be the easiest, but it leads to a better place.
Thank you so very much.
I, Kultureshocked.com Senior Writer Marc Hall am proud to present The Kulture Shocked 2015 Wrestling Awards: The Counties!
Wrestler of the Year
Chris Stachiw (Editor in Chief): John Cena
Now bear with me here, I know it might seem like the overtly troll pick. However, Vince’s Golden Child has done more for the US Title in the last year than any champion had in the last ten years since, well, Cena. Along with being a still solid ring performer and reliable talker, Cena helped elevate performers who wouldn’t have had a chance, like Stardust, along with taking a backseat to the main title, at least for a little while.
Marc Hall (Senior Editor): Seth Rollins
No wrestler on the roster has shown more growth in terms of both an in ring talent and behind the mic in the last decade than Seth Rollins. Since the break-up of the Shield it was clear who the real star of the trio was and the future has proven all of us right. Throughout the year, Rollins seemed incapable of having a bad match. From his amazing high risk maneuvers to impressive ground strikes, Rollins is a true joy to watch in the ring. Unfortunately, a poorly timed knee injury and some questionable booking may tarnish his short term star power, but the second iteration of HHH is an easy lock for the Wrestler of the Year.
Zach Wickwire (Senior Editor): Seth Rollins
Undoubtedly one of the best wrestlers on WWE’s payroll, Seth Rollins sadly had an amazing year ground to a halt due to a knee injuries, at a house show of all things, but it’s hard to argue that Rollins hasn’t had an amazing 2015. Winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania 31, to becoming the first WWE superstar to hold both the World Heavyweight Title and the United States title concurrently. Looking back at some of his matches, he’s had some great matches with victories over John Cena, Dean Ambrose, Kevin Owens, and he is now the only Superstar to have beat Sting clean in his nearly 30 years with WCW and WWE. I look forward to what 2016 holds for Rollins upon his WWE return, I can’t wait to see him reclaim the title and become the face of the company.
Male Wrestler of the Year
Chris: Kevin Owens
Bottom line, he’s still my favorite thing that WWE has going for it, and that pool of things is slowly dwindling. He’s dynamic on the mic and in the ring along with having a killer character that gives as little fucks about civility as possible. He’s also not the stereotypical build that Vince elevates which worries me in the long run, but as a wrestler, he’s second to none.
Marc: Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens is a unique talent, one that doesn’t come along very often. Those in the WWE Ivory Tower seem to hurl constant roadblocks in his way in an effort to keep Vince’s dream of the perfect wrestler alive. Despite comments critical of his weight, his tattoos or his appearance, Owens laughs in their face and proves them wrong night after night.
Zach: Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens is an amazing talent and is, without a doubt, a future champion. His amazing skills on the mic have ensure that he can get amazing heat from a crowd without resorting to cheap heat (i.e. insult the local sports team) and he can back up his trash talk in the ring, making him a true threat. Seeing Owens become the Intercontinental Championship gave me a lot of hope that WWE isn't simply going to give up on him, especially since he seemed to lose his way for a while after losing his feud against John Cena.
Female Wrestler of the Year
Go watch her matches with Sasha Banks, it speaks for itself. She was barely edged out by Cena for wrestler of the year.
Her journey to capturing the NXT Women’s Championship captivated audiences throughout the wrestling world and her matches with Sasha Banks will go down as some of the best in the history of wrestling. I predict Bayley winning multiple Wrestler of the Year awards in her future.
Zach: Nikki Bella
If you haven’t already completely skipped over this segment after reading that name, or I haven’t been completely discredited and banned from writing for The Three Count, I would like to give you my reasons for choosing Ms. Bella over the likes of Sasha Banks, Charlotte, or even Bayley. Well, without a doubt the three women I previously mentioned are all fantastic workers, but we’ve know that from watching them in NXT, and to be frank, the transition of Banks and Charlotte to the main roster has been painful to watch. On the other hand, Nikka has had a fantastic year in 2015, not only did she become the longest reigning Diva’s Champion with a reign of 301 days, though it can be argued that she didn’t defend the title as much as she could have.
My second reason for giving Nikki the nod over the rest of the division is simply that she has shown the most improvement in her in-ring ability over the past year, and have actually had some pretty good matches agains the likes of AJ Lee and Paige. I believe that Nikki has had a better year in 2015 than any of the other women in WWE and I hope that she gets back soon and continues on the path she started.
Feud of the Year
Not only did it make the mid-year PPVs totally worth watching even when there was little going on to get excited about (looking at you Sheamus and the briefcase). Owens pinned Cena clean the first time in an absolute classic of a match, but would go on to lose twice in a row after. They pushed each other to the limit in a way that hadn’t been seen with Cena in a long time. I wasn’t happy about those two losses, but the clean win was such a great match it almost overshadowed it. Hopefully these two will have another rivalry in the future as there is still ground that can be covered with the two.
While this feud certainly didn’t end in the way many of us would have preferred, Owens’ surprise appearance and subsequent clean win alerted us to the fact that we were in store for some very special television. I’m still uneasy about the image of his foot stomping on the United States Championship. Creating lasting impressions like that is a tough sell in the current state of this industry.
Kevin Owens going over John Cena in his first match on the main roster was something that no one saw coming. While the feud's ending was obvious and, in my humble opinion, a huge mistake, the feud gave us some of the best matches and easily the best story telling in 2015. This is a feud that I hope we see revisited someday, as these two have great in ring chemistry and I can't wait to see them mix is up again.
Tag Team of the Year
Chris: The New Day
Jesus, eight months ago I’d never have thought I’d be as in love with the New Day as I am now, but holy shit, are they amazing or what? Not only are they, along with Owens, the best thing on the roster right now, but they infuse a frenetic amount of genuine humor into a product whose comedic stylings always feels forced. From the unicorn horns to the trombone, the New Day are here to stay and the day they disband will be a truly sad day.
Marc: The Brass Ring Club
After the attempted burial of Cesaro by way of Vince McMahon’s colossal ego, Cesaro found himself in a predicament. Thankfully, one Tyson Kidd was in a similar pickle. Alone, they were vulnerable and powerless, however, together they formed one of the most dynamic and entertaining teams of the year. Sadly, the attempted murder of Tyson Kidd by way of one Samoa Joe would cause a (hopefully) temporary break up of the Tag Team of the Year.
Zach: The New Day
It’s hard to argue that The New Day as a team has had an amazing year. They started out with a gimmick that appeared to be dead in the water and turned it into the hottest thing on WWE TV. The trio are no two time tag team champions, and all three have shown substantial improvement both in and out of the ring. Unless WWE really screws up in 2016, I imagine that these three all of have the potential to be break out singles stars in the future.
Match of the Year
Chris: Cena vs. Owens, Elimination Chamber 2015
Just watch it. Seriously.
Marc: The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar, Hell in a Cell
Anybody, ‘Smark or otherwise who claims that Undertaker’s time has long passed was proven outrageously wrong after Hell in a Cell’s main event. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen strikes and chair shots that hit with such force and anger. It was a violent, gritty and emotional twenty minutes… everything I want from a Match of the Year.
Zach: Cena vs. Owens, Elimination Chamber 2015
Without a doubt the match of the year, Kevin Owens’ debut at Elimination Chamber was a sight to behold. I actually rewatched the match prior to making my pick, and it was an amazing match. Not to mention the fact KO went over Owens clean in his debut against John Cena. There really isn’t much I can say about this match, just go watch the match on the WWE Network, or however you can watch it, and see this match again (or even or the first time).
Freddie Blassie Memorial Award: Manager of the Year
Chris: Paul Heyman
There will never be a better manager than Paul Heyman, and he may be the best of all time. Every promo is an expertly crafted piece of work, and coupled with Heyman’s rabid dog-like delivery, he’s the best, bar none.
Marc: Paul Heyman
As long as Paul Heyman is on WWE television, its highly unlikely that anybody else stands a chance to win this award. His ability to transition his character and style to the current age of PC is a testament to his talent.
Zach: Paul Heyman
In a landslide victory, Paul Heyman was above and beyond everyone else this year/decade/century. While there were others I considered for the role, no one is near the level of the advocate for the beast, Brock Lesnar. Heyman is amazing on the stick and can even work well outside of the ring, not to mention that I could listen to him introduce himself as the “advocate for the reigning, defending, WWE World Heavyweight Championship” all day.
Best In-Ring Worker
I said in my pick for Wrestler of the Year that Seth Rollins was one of the best workers on WWE’s payroll, but Cesaro is right up there with him in terms of his in ring ability. Cesaro has put on some amazing matches in 2015 against opponents like John Cena, The New Day, and even a great effort against Seth Rollins on SmackDown (A match that I had the privilege to see live). Sadly, Cesaro was sidelined toward the end of the year after suffering a shoulder injury, but Cesaro had an amazing year in 2015 and one can only hope that he jumps right back on the horse when he returns to action in 2016.
Easily the most technically sound and exciting wrestler on the roster. Cesaro exhibits seemingly superhuman levels of strength and legendary level talent and experience in the ring.
Best “Stick Man”
Chris: Kevin Owens
Marc: Kevin Owens
Not only is Owens the champ behind the stick, of anyone on the roster, there’s no one better at Twitter than Owens. Perhaps with time he will dethrone the legendary Iron Sheik.
Zach: Bray Wyatt
Even though much of the appeal of Bray Wyatt has been washed away, due in large part to horrible booking, he can still cut a promo like no one else. Wyatt is capable of mesmerizing an audience by merely picking up a mic, even if the people in attendance (or at home) can’t understand a thing he’s saying. Wyatt has a great presence about him and he is pure magic on the mic, I can only hope that WWE begins using him a little better, because he has the talent to go a long way in this business.
Babyface of the Year
Chris: Dean Ambrose
Underutilized and left in the shadow of the Roman Empire, Ambrose is awesome. He hasn’t had much to do in a while aside from a surprisingly good match with Owens, but when he was challenging Rollins for the title, it was gold. I still can’t wait to see him win his first WWE championship as he is the final Shield member to not get it, and that day may never come. Until it does, Ambrose will be a fan favorite and a personal favorite.
Marc: John Cena
Zach: John Cena
Love him or hate him, John Cena not only had a fantastic year in 2015, but he also managed to elevate the United States title from its pointless existence into a highly sought after midcard title. Cena put on great matches week after week and even had some great programs with guys like Rusev and Kevin Owens. I’m not sure what the future holds for Cena, but he won’t be able to stay on top forever, so it’d be more interesting to move him to more of a gatekeeper role from his current main event role.
The Roddy Piper Memorial Award: Heel of the Year
Fuck if injuries weren’t the biggest heel of 2015. Tyson Kidd, Hideo Itami, Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins, Nikki Bella, Nattie and Cesaro; losing any of these names alone is terrible, but all at the same time? This has been the year of audibles and injuries, some worse than others, but still awful on the whole. They’ve also accelerated and fully changed plans for big PPVs moving forward. It has been quite devastating to say the year.
This iteration of Sheamus is without a doubt the best we’ve seen in his long career. Crude, violent and crass, Sheamus has never sounded or looked better. We hated it when he won Money in the Bank. Most of us jeered when he cashed in on Roman Reigns and he took out the fan favorite Daniel Bryan.
Zach: Kevin Owens
Owens is the most standout heel on the roster today. With his excellent mic skills and his ability to work a crowd, he has the potential to easily be the top heel on the roster, if only WWE would be willing to take a risk on him. We’ll see if Owens can hold on to his moment in 2016 and perhaps he can do for the Intercontinental title for Cena did for the US title last year.
Gimmick of the Year
Chris: Brock Lesnar as a Face
Lesnar faced a heel Taker twice this year. That’s right, I’m sticking with it as Taker being a heel because he totally was. Hitting Lesnar in the balls, winning by shenanigans; he was a heel. It was refreshing to see Lesnar as a face, and if the future bookings are any hint, we may get to see more of good guy Lesnar moving forward.
In a land where face paint and over the top acting is seemingly dead, Stardust stands as a lone beacon of character and imagination. Taking a character that defies explanation and executing it in a truly epic fashion plays wonderful homage to his lineage and lives up to what we expect from the Rhodes bloodline.
Zach: Curtis Axel
One of the greatest gimmicks of the modern era, Curtis Axel’s gimmick from the 2015 Royal Rumble until the time that he went full “Hulk Hogan” with his Axelmania gimmick was easily the greatest thing on WWE television on the Road to Wrestlemania last year. Great angles, great writing, and a real opportunity to showcase just how talented Axel really is.
NXT Wrestler of the Year
She is one of the best wrestlers and gimmicks that the WWE has had in any division in the last ten years.
Marc: Tie: Bayley/Sasha Banks
Now that you've woken up from that coma, you can familiarize yourself with the two women who are saving the house that HHH built. One that the NXT live audience is trying so hard to destroy.
This lady can wrestle, and if WWE can turn there women’s division around then Bayley could be huge. Not only can Bayley work in the ring, she’s solid on the mic, and she has a great connection with fans, especially the younger ones. Hopefully WWE doesn’t drop the ball with her and she has a long and eventful career.
NXT Match of the Year
Chris: Bayley vs Sasha Banks at NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn
There is a reason the three of us picked the same match. Check it out for yourself.
Marc: Bayley vs Sasha Banks at NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn
Zach: Bayley vs Sasha Banks at NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn
The first ever women’s iron man match, this was one for the ages. I never caught it live, but I went back and watched it after hearing how great the match was from others, and this one was a classic in every sense of the word. Easily a match of the year candidate, this is one of the absolute best WWE has had in recent memory and one of the best women’s matches WWE has put on since the days of Trish Stratus and Lita. This is one everyone should see, this is even a match I would show to a nonwrestling fan to turn them onto the sport.
Worst Wrestler of the Year
Chris: Roman Reigns
While they may have finally started with change minds recently with Reigns taking the title off lowly Sheamus, Reigns is the worst of the year. It’s not entirely his fault since management felt it necessary to shove him down our throats earlier in the year. He got booed out of the house when he won the Rumble, even with the Rock at his side raising his hand, which caused him to miss the title at Mania. Vince was most likely afraid that Reigns would get booed out of the stadium, and he was right. Reigns is also stale as a character and in some interviews, comes off as self-righteous and arrogant.
Marc: Eva Marie
While I'd love to praddle on about Roman Reigns and how he doesn't deserve half of the opportunities due to his arrogance and general malaise towards the business. I'd love to go on about Reigns knocking out a referee, going for the pin and then getting pissed off that said referee was knocked out and unable to count the pin... twice. However, believe it or not, there is another. There is a creature, a big red monster residing in a place so black and heartless that any who dare cross her path face at best, six minutes of the most embarrassing wrestling of their life. At worst: a likely injury during said contest. That black, bottomless pit of despair is Florida and that creature is Eva Marie.
Zach: The Big Show
You can’t really discount all of the things that The Big Show has done over his twenty year career, like how WWE likes to remind us that he won the World Heavyweight Title in his debut match in 1995, but that’s a far cry from Big Show in 2015. In 2015, Big Show still managed to find himself in main event feuds and even won the second annual Andre the Giant battle royal, last eliminating the crowd favorite Damien Sandow. At this point in his career though, Big Show should really be putting over younger talents, and not winning battle royals and spending a chunk of the year in a go nowhere feud with Roman Reigns, not to mention that Big Show has had so many face and heel turns in the last few years that he’s basically lost all credibility. The Big Show has had a great career, but at this point in his career he should have retirement on his mind and he should be limiting his involvement in the ring, and he certainly shouldn’t be involved in the main event scene.
"Minus Five Stars!" Award: Worst Match of the Year
Chris Stachiw: Taker/Kane v. The Wyatts, Survivor Series 2015
Simple squash match that served to show that the Brothers of Destruction are still huge dudes who can bury upcoming talent. It was a waste of everyone involved especially the Wyatts who can’t seem to be booked strong even if they legitimately murdered contenders in the ring.
Zach: Ryback, The Usos, and The Lucha Dragons vs. The New Day, Sheamus, and King Barrett, Survivor Series 2015
The traditional Survivor Series match this year was an absolute joke, there was no build up to the match due to Seth Rollins being injured and the World Heavyweight Title being vacated. The fact that the line up for the match was never announced prior to the match starting and the match made Sheamus, who would end up leaving Survivor Series as the champion, look terrible. The ultimate slap in the face would come in the form of the New Day simply walking out of the match after Big E was eliminated. The Survivor Series match is a WWE tradition, and this year they shit all over this long standing tradition to match the show about a stupid tournament and an underwhelming Undertaker match.
Marc Hall: Intercontinental Championship Elimination Chamber Match, Elimination Chamber
It would take several pages to dictate everything wrong with this shitshow of a match. If you haven't previously seen it and require a tad more incentive to youtube this amateurish garbage consider the following: At one point during the match, after things clearly had gone off the rails, Dolph Ziggler beings shouting spots to the match (after Henry had stopped someone else's pin during an elimination match) With four men in four different corners, Ziggler shouts spots to everyone, including the ref. After everyone has their cue, he shouts go and all four start attacking, all while the announcers laugh away.
Most Overrated Performer of the Year
Chris: Roman Reigns
Suffering succotash, nuff said.
Marc: Roman Reigns
Zach: Roman Reigns
I understand that Vince wants Reigns to be over, but the way that they continually shoved Reigns down the fans throats throughout 2015 was simply disgusting. No offense to Reigns, I am sure that had he been allowed to get over in his own way that this wouldn’t be a problem, but the idea that the WWE was willing to throw anyone under the bus in order to get Reigns over. It’s sad that Reigns is looked at as a star, yet Daniel Bryan was merely a “B+ Player”.
Worst Worked Program of the Year
Chris: Cena vs. Rusev
Marc Hall: Survivor Series 2015
Yeah The Whole Thing
Zach: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs 2015
Despite a stellar opening match and a solid ladder match between Shemus and Reigns, the bulk of this show was garbage. The ultimate problem with an event like TLC in the PG era is that most of the stuff fans are going to expect aren’t going to happen, for example Buh-Buh Dudley spraying lighter fluid on a table. The show devolves into little more than a cocktease and I hope that the event goes away after this horrible show.
Worst Feud of the Year
Chris: Ziggler vs. Rusev
Marc: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
Like two spoiled kids fighting over a toy...
Zach: Dolph Ziggler vs. Rusev
The entire storyline involving Ziggler and Rusev was problematic from start with Rusev being an abusive ex and Lana saying she doesn’t need a man in her life, and then she runs to another man, because you know, women can’t function without a man. Then we go to a cheating angle, where Ziggler slept with Summer Rae, who at this point was with Rusev, and thankfully the whole thing went away when Lana and Rusev’s real life engagement was announced online.
Most Mismanaged Talent of the Year
Chris: Dolph Ziggler
I don't know if Ziggler will ever be managed correctly even after last year's mini push at Survivor Series.
Marc: Adam Rose
How does a man with the best in ring entrance in the last decade, and who by at least my account is the most technically sound and gifted in ring performer on the roster become delegated to tag teaming with some guy in a rabbit costume? Rose's character sold itself and there were some great things destined for Adam Rose. One of the biggest shames in wrestling creative history.
Zach: Damien Sandow
Sandow gained a huge amount of momentum in 2014 when he became Miz’s stunt double, Damien Mizdow, and this all came to a head at Wrestlemania when Sandow finally turned on Miz, but sadly failed to capitalize and win the Andre the Giant battle royal. Sandow disappeared for a few days before returning and cutting a promo thanking the fans, and he ultimately ended up teaming with Curtis Axel as the a parody of the Mega Powers, this sadly ended abruptly due to Hulk Hogan’s racist comments that were uncovered earlier this year.
Sandow then disappeared from television for four months until he returned with his “Intellectual Savior of the Masses” gimmick, effectively nullifying any progress that was made during Sandow’s run with The Miz.
Mike Adamle Award: Worst Announcer of the Year
That’s right Maggle, I won the worst of the year Maggle. I’m Vince McMahon’s mouthpiece Maggle and I’m fed some of the most banal, inane lines in the WWE
That’s Not Sting that’s a picture of Sting!
Zach: Jimmy Uso
In the current WWE landscape it’s pretty hard to stand out as the worst announcer, especially when you watch the product on a weekly basis and have to listen to JBL have horrible scripted back and forths with “Maggle”, and let’s face it, Jerry Lawler is a far cry from the commentator who used to sit alongside the greatest to ever call WWE’s product, Jim Ross. Jimmy Uso takes the cake for for the worst commentator in 2015. He ended up behind the SmackDown desk after his brother was injured early in the year. Throwing him behind the desk seemed like a waste, as he could have continued to compete in the ring alongside other partners or even as a singles wrestler, but instead we had to be tortured by his awful attempt at commentary each week. Sadly, this ultimately culminated in him winning the Slammy for Tag Team of the year, alongside his brother, despite the two not being in Tag Team contention for a majority of 2015.
Gobbledy Gooker Award: Worst Gimmick of the Year
Chris: Sheamus as an Irish Asskicker
God, I figured once he turned heel he’d be interesting but he’s gotten astoundingly one dimensional. Along with his ridiculous attire, Sheamus as a heel is not believable outside of the fact he decommissioned Daniel Bryan for possibly the final time. That’s the real heel maneuver of the year, and he did it by accident.
Marc: The Bunny
Justin Gabriel wrestling in a cheap rabbit costume... later on said rabbit would air hump at the top of the entrance ramp. God, I can't imagine why that didn't get over.
Zach: Rusev, Abusive Boyfriend
Leading up to Wrestlemania this year, Rusev has been booked as a monster heel and while his gimmick was pretty boring, since it was just an overdone foreign heel. After losing to John Cena at Wrestlemania, despite having one of the best entrances of the night, he began arguing with Lana. When the two split a few weeks later, WWE began portraying Rusev as an abusive boyfriend who kept Lana under his thumb. This, of course, led to the horrible feud between Rusev and Ziggler which ultimately killed the momentum of both men and also ended up hurting Lana’s credibility