Over the course of 2015, a number of different stories captured the attention of wrestling fans around the world. Some were shocking, while others were tragic. Some of the stories listed below include scandal and allegations; some feature incredible achievements in wrestling and saw new people thrust to the top of the wrestling world. But many of these stories have little to do within ring achievements. They captured headlines because of silence that may have been broken or threats alleged to have been made. In another year in the wild and wacky world of professional wrestling, these stories took place in ROH, TNA and predominantly the WWE; they did more than enlighten or entertain us, some shocked and amazed us. They often left us shaking our heads wondering what some will do. ‘Did they really do that?' ‘Did he really say that?' 'What were they thinking?'
One of the stories focuses an icon's fall from grace; another, the death of a legend who fans of all ages embraced. The stories include a retirement, the beginning of a revolution, and the WWE's main event scene, including a major blow that leaves them having to restructure their plans for the title moving forward. It was an incredible year that did a great deal to hold your attention and make you keep watching. It made wrestling fans stay tuned in and kept reading. Here are the Top 15 Biggest and Best Stories in Wrestling for 2015.
15 The Tragic Death of Perro Aguayo Jr
The saddest of stories came out of Mexico, as AAA wrestler Perro Aguayo Jr passed away on Saturday, March 21st. Aguayo died at the age of 35 after suffering injuries during a match; Aguayo was working a tag match in Tijuana with partner Manik against Rey Mysterio Jr. and XtremeXtreme Tiger. He was treated in the ring and died later. Aguayo Jr died of trauma to the neck and a cervical fracture, as reported by the state prosecutor's office later that day.
14 Destination American Deal With Ring of Honor
On May 28th, news broke that the Sinclair Broadcasting Group-owned promotion Ring of Honor had signed a deal to run 26 weekly episodes of their programming on cable channel Destination America in the United States. This was notable because there were reports earlier in the month that TNA, who had been on Destination America for a few months, was at risk of being cancelled. As stories continued to filter out, it increased speculation as to the fate of TNA.
13 Reported Pay Issues With TNA Wrestling
In April, it was reported that there were issues within TNA regarding pay. The story was met with differing responses: some refuted the reports, as several performers claimed there was no truth to the story; others remained tight lipped. Anonymously, multiple freelance employees with the promotion, who also take independent bookings, stated that the company is greatly in arrears on paying production staff. As of the April reports, the employees were reportedly still owed money for the pay-per-view tapings that took place in mid-February. The reported standard for payment within the industry is thirty days for employees who work freelance.
12 Scott Steiner Allegedly Threatened to Kill Hulk Hogan
Steiner was investigated for alleged threats to kill Hulk Hogan. He was also banned from the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony and Wrestlemania events. Officers apparently reviewed a surveillance video showing Steiner confronting Jennifer, Hogan's wife.
Here's what Steiner had to say:
"Typical Hogan. He's just a punk. I told her Hulk introducing 'Macho Man' into the Hall of Fame is bs. He hated him. Everyone knew that. I'm not going to dignify [Hogan's] lies. I didn't put my hands-on her. So if she felt her life was threatened, why didn't she talk to the cops? It's not my fault Hulk Hogan is afraid of me."
11 WWE Physician Dr. Chris Amann Sues CM Punk
WWE physician Dr. Amann filed charges against Punk, in response to comments Punk made on a podcast. Soon after, WWE shared video clips from the Royal Rumble, all containing shots of Punk's back. Comments accompanying the video said:
- “CM Punk did not discuss his condition with WWE's team of physicians and trainers or Talent Relations department.”
- “The first time WWE was made aware of this alleged condition was when we received a letter from CM Punk's attorney on August 22, 2014, after WWE terminated his contract.”
- “There is clear video evidence from the 2014 Royal Rumble, which allows all to decide whether there is … a baseball-sized growth on CM Punk's back.”
10 AJ Lee Retires
BREAKING: AJ Lee (April Mendez) has decided to retire from in-ring competition with WWE. We wish AJ the very best.— WWE (@WWE) April 3, 2015
The above tweet sent out by WWE was retweeted over eleven thousand times. The outpouring of shock and surprise at the timing of this unanticipated event was huge. Lee's retirement has also led to a great deal of speculation. At 28 years of age, Lee, whose real name is April Brooks (formerly Mendez), was a prominent Diva within the company. She was the longest reigning Divas champion in the title's existence. However, Brooks is married to former WWE World Champion, and former employee, CM Punk (aka Phil Brooks). Lee's departure has been felt greatly by the company.
9 The Death of 'The American Dream' Dusty Rhodes
On June 11th, the wrestling world was saddened as a wrestling icon passed away. Virgil Runnels, also known as “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, passed away from complications suffered after a fall the previous day. The outpouring of support from family and friends says a lot about the man that meant so much to so many. As a father of four, Rhodes is remembered for his children and grandchildren. Two of Rhodes' children, Dustin “Goldust” Rhodes and Cody “Stardust” Rhodes, have made successful careers in the WWE. Dusty's legacy began in Austin, Texas and will live on worldwide.
8 Daniel Bryan's Future Being In Question
On the May 11th edition of Raw, Bryan relinquished the Intercontinental title, citing medical reasons arising from an MRI as the cause. During his address to the fans, Bryan stated that opinions about his professional future vary and he may be out of action weeks, months, or, in fact, his career may be over. Bryan was unable to compete at the Extreme Rules pay per view and defend his title against Bad News Barrett. Bryan has worked diligently to get back into action, going through daily sessions of physical therapy, but his future remains up in the air.
7 Seth Rollins Wins at WM31
The main event of WrestleMania 31 was supposed to be Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar. Reigns was being met with a mix of reviews and there were real questions about his reception from fans, and how that would translate in front of 76,000 people. It was a brutal match that saw Brock and Roman battered, bruised and bloody. With a few minutes left in the match, out came Seth Rollins with a referee and his Money In The Bank briefcase. Rollins capitalized on the wounded men in the ring and scored a pin on Reigns to win the WWE World Heavyweight championship.
How did this all start? With a simple tweet from Stephanie McMahon:
@StephMcMahon: Thank You @PattyArquette for having the courage to fight for #WomensRights on such a grand platform. #UseYourVoice
AJ Lee questioned a double standard within the company, so she responded to McMahon's tweet about women in Hollywood, suggesting that showing support should also be reflected in the behavior of the company McMahon ran.
@StephMcMahon Your female wrestlers have record selling merchandise&have starred in the highest rated segment of the show several times,
@StephMcMahon And yet they receive a fraction of the wages&screen time of the majority of the male roster.#UseYourVoice
McMahon responded in the most cordial of tweets.
Thank you @WWEAJLee, I appreciate your opinion. #UseYourVoice.
The response neither showed support for change, nor acknowledged any truth to Lee's tweets.
5 Jay Lethal Holds Both Singles Championships in ROH
On Friday June 19th, Ring of Honor Television Champion Jay Lethal defeated Jay Briscoe at the ‘Best in the World' PPV and IPPV to become the new Ring of Honor World Champion. As a result, Lethal held both of the promotion's singles titles, and ended Briscoe's 286 day reign and two-year unbeaten streak simultaneously. It was a remarkable accomplishment for Lethal, who held the Ring of Honor Television championship longer than anyone else, capturing the title in April 2014 and only losing it in October, well over a year later.
4 WWE Champion Seth Rollins Out 6-9 Months
On Wednesday November 4th, it was reported that WWE World Heavyweight champion Seth Rollins was injured in Ireland during a match against ‘Demon' Kane. Video of the injury, recorded by someone in attendance, became widely available soon after. Once people saw the video, the way that Rollins' knee buckled made it clear the injury was more severe than first assumed. The injury will leave Rollins out of action for six to nine months. The move wasn't anything he hasn't attempted before, but this time around he landed awkwardly, causing his knee to buckle, tearing his ACL and meniscus.
3 Seth Rollins and Zahra Schreiber Twitter Fiasco
In February, it appeared as if Seth Rollins' Twitter and Instagram accounts were hacked, as a nude photo of NXT developmental wrestler Zahra Schreiber was posted on Rollins' Instagram and a link to the posted to his Twitter account. His Twitter account immediately was linked to his WWE profile, so the picture showed up in the live feed on Rollins' page on WWE.com. It was clearly an embarrassing moment for Rollins and was only compounded when Rollins' fiancée at the time, Leighla Schultz, posted nude photos of him on her Twitter feed, accompanied by the message ‘zahara?'
2 Bill DeMott Accused of Mistreating Former Talent
On March 5th, allegations arose regarding the mistreatment of several former NXT developmental talents. Former NXT trainee Austin Matelson stated that he has emails from Talent Relations proving they did not do a full investigation of his claims of bullying. After leveling the allegations, he was among the bottom five on the list to be fired. He said he was told that if they (the talent) wanted to tell their story, to call them (Talent Relations) because, “That's what real men do.” Matelson said Talent Relations betrayed his trust and told Head Trainer Bill DeMott of his letter.
1 Hulk Hogan Fired For Using Racial Slurs
In July, WWE released the following statement: “WWE terminated its contract with Terry Bollea (aka Hulk Hogan). WWE is committed to embracing and celebrating individuals from all backgrounds as demonstrated by the diversity of our employees, performers and fans worldwide." This decision came after there was a leak of a video recording where Hogan could be heard making racist statements.
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