When it came down to determining what were the Best Live Pro Wrestling Matches of the Year this was a list where I could shine a spotlight on some of the best bouts I saw live and in person. This also meant I could include some of my favorite local wrestling organizations that might not make any of my previous lists (i.e., Best WWE and Non-WWE Matches of the Year). This was the year that not only the blossoming of one of the local wrestling promotions, but the first time I was able to watch an NXT and Ring of Honor live and in person. With all that said and done, here are the Best Live Pro Wrestling Matches of 2015.
10) Scott Dawson vs. Tye Dillinger – NXT Live: Miami 7/24/15
There is a big chance you don’t think of these two underrated pro wrestlers when you think of NXT. However, there are not be underestimated because Scott Dawson and Tye Dillinger almost stole the show with their bout in Miami. These guys put on a technical showcase that also featured some humorous moments with Dillinger showing off that he is “The Perfect 10” to one half of the current NXT Tag Team Champions. In the end, Dawson picked up the win after hard and decisive battle in which the Miami crowd gave both men a standing ovation.
9) Jesse Sorensen vs. Donovan in a ladder match: Ronin Championship – Ronin 8 9/26/15
In the main event, Ronin Heavyweight Champion Donovan defended his title against Sorensen in an epic, manic and bloody ladder match. The bloodletting began when the ladders were utilized in the bout as Sorensen sent Donovan headfirst into the ladder. With Donovan donning a crimson mask, Sorensen continued to nail him over and over again on his wound. The champ evened things up when he smashed a steel chair on the head of the challenger, resulting in Sorensen looking like he just got out of car accident. After that, all hell broke loose as constant interference was bound to happen and did happen. Sorensen’s squad of Jeff Boom, Alex Chamberlain and Su Yang try to gain the number advantage, but Monster Tarver and Leva Bates even things out for Donovan. Looking as though was the challenger was going to win, Daniel Puder knocked him silly after enduring some harsh words before the bout. After retaining the title, Donovan’s victory was cut short by Shawn Prime, who assaulted the champion and Bates after the match.
9) Team Lucha vs. TECH – Ronin 7 7/25/15
The best match of Ronin 7 featured some high-flying action from some of the best luchadors Ronin had to offer. In the opening bout, Cruz and Rios, aka Team Lucha took on T.E.C.H. with their manager Jim Sherbert at their side. It started out fast and quick with Cruz and Rios hitting all kinds of maneuvers inside and outside of the ring. However, Mike Monroe and TC Read recovered from Team Lucha’s attack and grounded Cruz and Rios as they did their best to put them away. Unfortunately for T.E.C.H., they ended up on the losing end of the stick after Cruz hit a Swanton Bomb on Monroe to put themselves in the win column.
7) Legion of Wolves vs. Team Lucha vs. TECH – Ronin 8 9/26/15
Contested under “Lucha Libre” rules, it was a tag team warfare between the Legion of Wolves (Aron Agony and Gabriel Black), T.E.C.H. (Mike Monroe and T.C. Read) and Team Lucha (Cruz & Rios). Things started off with Agony and Rios as they both took displaying their amazing agility against one another. When T.E.C.H. hit the ring, they were immediately sent to the outside where Monroe, Read and their manager Jim Sherbert were taken out with a Tope Suicida from Agony, suicide dives from Gabriel and Cruz and a moonsault from Rios. T.E.C.H and Cruz & Rios took turns punishing each other in the squared circle including a devastating “Canadian Destroyer” delivered by Rios to Monroe. The Legion of Wolves were able to get some offense in with Gabriel hitting Monroe with a german suplex and Agony nailing a top-rope enzuguri kick to Monroe. However, Agony found himself on the receiving end of a Swanton Bomb from Cruz as Cruz landed on Gabriel with a suicide dive to the outside. It looked as though Team Lucha would walk away with win until Agony moved out of the way as Rios was performing a 450 splash. This allowed T.E.C.H. to garner the pinfall and walk away victorious. After the match, Cruz & Rios showed respect to the Legion of Wolves after their performance and shook hands.
6) Chris Hero vs. Mikaze – Ronin 6 5/9/15
An excellent story was told throughout the match-up between “The Knockout Artist” Chris Hero and “The American Sasuke” Mikaze, in what would be Mikaze’s last match in Ronin Pro Wrestling. It was basically David vs. Goliath as Hero utilized the strength and height advantage over Mikaze to dominate his opponent. It mostly a one-sided affair that was reminiscent of WWE matches like Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena at SummerSlam 2014 or Kevin Owen vs. Sami Zayn at NXT Takeover: Rival. Hero really took it to Mikaze with a series of devastating strikes and hits meant to keep the high-flying Mikaze grounded. Mikaze uses a brief burst of energy to make a comeback with a couple of kicks and flying top rope knee drop. Hero lived up to his nickname as he served up a Tombstone Piledriver, some Big Boots to the face and an elbow KO and tried to pin his fallen foe, but Mikaze kicked out a the last second. Angry and pissed off, Mikaze went on a rampage that ended quickly with Hero hits back-to-back elbows to the head and scoring the pinfall victory.
5) The House of Truth (Jay Lethal & Donovan Dijak) vs. The Young Bucks – Ring of Honor: Road to the Final Battle in Fort Lauderdale 12/5/15
Some days before Jay Lethal was going to war against AJ Styles for the ROH Championship at Final Battle, Lethal teamed up with Donovan Dijack to take on Styles’ Bullet Club companions, The Young Bucks. To say this match was the epitome of insanity is understatement. There were superkicks, suicide dives and killer tag team combinations that gave the Bucks an early advantage. However, Lethal broke More Bang for Your Buck to make it less of a one-sided affair. This match was easily the best match on this card and there was never a dull moment. There was even a moment where Taeler Hendrix received a superkick in the middle of the bout. The Young Bucks won the match after delivering More Bang for Your Buck on Dijak to walk away victorious.
4) Hideo Itami vs. Tyler Breeze – NXT Live: San Jose 3/27/15
It was a historic night as 5,000 wrestling fans were jam-packed inside the San Jose State Event Center when NXT performed their first show outside of WrestleMania Axxess during WrestleMania Weekend. The opening match-up for this card was a great way to kickoff bout the festivities as Hideo Itami (FKA Kenta) took on “Prince Pretty” Tyler Breeze. Things started off with some humor at Breeze’s expense as Itami mocked his opponent by posing the same way “The Gorgeous One” does before every one of his matches. Soon, they began to hit each other with quick and hard-hitting kicks and strikes. It was a back-and-forth affair as these competitors elevated their game for this special. The biggest pop of the night had to go to Itami for finally delivering the GTS after months of teasing it on television as everybody literally jumped out of their seats after that. Just like what the finisher says, Breeze found himself in Sleepytown as Itami get the pinfall victory and started things off with a bang.
3) Adrian Neville vs. Finn Balor – NXT Live: San Jose 3/27/15
Back in March, both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn found themselves injured so they were unable to compete during WrestleMania weekend. However, they did make an appearance and they were cutting promos on one another. Anyways, let’s get back to the matter at hand. Just like their encounter at NXT TakeOver: Rival, Adrian Neville and Finn Balor (who came out with his “Demon” paint on) tore the house down. Both Balor and Neville tried to pull off their top-rope finishers, but each competitor were able to knock their opponent any way they could to keep one another from pulling the proverbial trigger. After Neville had the chance to end it all, Balor ducked “Red Arrow” and use his “Coup de Grace” finisher to end the match and the whole night. Despite their differences, Balor and Neville hugged it out and raised each other’s hands.
2) Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe: NXT Championship Match – NXT Live: Miami 7/24/15
Before they faced each other a couple of weeks at NXT TakeOver London, Finn Balor wrestled Samoa Joe for the very first time in the Magic City as the NXT Championship was on the line. It was a meshing of different styles as Balor used his athleticism against Joe’s submission style and it was quite a sight to behold. Joe did everything he could to prevent Balor from using high-risk manuevers by grounding with several devastating submissions. However, the champion was not going to give up that easily as he managed to make it to the ropes several times. It seemed Joe was frustrated that he could put his opponents, but Balor turned the tables on by hitting with a Pele Kick, a corner dropkick, followed by the “Coup de Grace” that allowed Balor to walk away with the gold.
1) Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks: NXT Women’s Championship Match – NXT Live: San Jose 3/27/15
Something happens whenever “The Flair of NXT” and “The Boss of NXT” enters the squared circle. There’s a certain kinetic energy when these ladies lace up their boots and wrestle their hearts out, especially against each other and I love it. Their match last year at NXT Takeover: R-Evolution was my number three on my list of the best matches of 2014. This time around, Banks was the defending NXT Women’s Champion when she faced Charlotte in the best match of the NXT San Jose event. These fantastic workers pulled out every trick in their book as they tried to put each other away with hard hits, several submission holds and tons of near-falls. Charlotte tried to end things by adding in her own twist on her father’s finisher, which she dubs “The Figure Eight.” However, Banks got out of it and ultimately nailed the challenger with “The Bank Statement” to retain her title.