Another year comes to a close in the world of sports entertainment, and despite the achievements made by numerous WWE superstars, it was a rough one for the promotion.
Not only did the stocks plummet and sales for the WWE Network proved to be lacking, one of WWE’s hottest stars, CM Punk, walked out of the company amidst his frustrations for the way he was being neglected. On top of that, Daniel Bryan had to relinquish his WWE World Heavyweight Championship due to a severe neck injury, which kept him out of action for a few months short of a year. The injury bug wasn’t kind to hot draws like Roman Reigns and Bad News Barrett, either.
Also, it should be mentioned that apart from a handful of decent offerings, Monday Night Raw became a three-hour ad for social media, turning out to be almost unbearable to sit through for the entire evening.
Still, 2014 had its fair share of jaw-dropping moments. Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose catapulted to the main event scene, providing the WWE Universe with some of the best moments of the year. Brock Lesnar not only defeated The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30 and snapped the undefeated streak, he also mauled John Cena at SummerSlam to win his fourth title in the promotion. Maybe the most satisfying moment was seeing Bryan topple Batista and Randy Orton to finally win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 30.
But in the world of pro wrestling, there is never an offseason, which means superstars have the ability to steal the show week in, week out, and get to do so on weekly episodic television shows and high-profile pay-per-view (PPV) offerings. Much like any other year, there was an abundance of good matches in 2014, and even great ones too.
Before the countdown commences, note that these matches focus on wrestling more than anything else. For example, Lesnar conquering The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak was arguably the biggest moment of the year, however, their match was downright awful. It’s more focused on how the competitors performed, and they story they told.
Without further ado, here are the 25 best WWE matches of 2014:
25 John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar (WWE World Heavyweight Championship - SummerSlam)
24 Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (Falls Count Anywhere - Monday Night Raw)
23 The Usos vs. Luke Harper & Erick Rowan (2 Out of 3 Falls Match - Battleground)
22 Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Jack Swagger vs. Kofi Kingston (Money In The Bank Ladder Match for a WWE World Heavyweight Championship Contract - Money In The Bank)
21 John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (Last Man Standing Match - Payback)
20 Paige vs. Emma (NXT Women’s Championship - NXT ArRIVAL)
These two real-life homies delivered one of the best matches on the NXT special episode, with Paige defeating the Australian in a hard-fought battle that showcased what these two up-and-comers were about to bring to the ailing Divas division.
19 The Usos vs. The Wyatt Family (WWE Tag Team Championship - Money In The Bank)
Although The Usos may not even come close to matching the tag teams ruling the scene right now (reDRagon, The Young Bucks, The American Wolves), they’re over when it comes to the WWE Universe, and they deserve credit for trying to make their matches as entertaining as possible.
18 Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro (2 Out Of 3 Falls Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship - Hell in a Cell)
There’s plenty of Ziggler and Cesaro on this list, because quite frankly, they outperform half of their counterparts on every given occasion. This 2 Out Of 3 Falls contest saw Ziggler prevail with two falls to none, further troubling the career of the former ROH, PWG, and Chikara luminary.
17 Team Cena (John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, Big Show, Erick Rowan & Ryback) vs. Team Authority (Seth Rollins, Kane, Rusev, Mark Henry & Luke Harper) (5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Match - Survivor Series)
Despite most of the hype centered on Sting’s memorable WWE debut, this traditional Survivor Series contest was satisfactory, with plenty of spots and happenings that saved a disappointing PPV.
16 Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler (Ladder Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship - TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs)
After “The Showoff” revitalized himself as arguably the hottest face in the company after winning the Intercontinental Championship at SummerSlam (defeating The Miz) and his Survivor Series triumph, Ziggler and Harper embarked on a feud for the company’s second most prestigious singles title, with the bearded monster winning his first title in WWE on an episode of Monday Night Raw weeks prior.
15 Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose (Hell In A Cell Match - Hell In A Cell
This main event certainly had a disappointing finish, seeing how the company could have waited a few more weeks to turn Ambrose’s attention to Wyatt.
14 Sheamus vs. Cesaro (WWE United States Championship - Night of Champions)
13 John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (WrestleMania 30)
While the result of this match was frustrating seeing how the wrong guy went over, the storytelling was exceptional and downright special. “The Eater of Worlds” had swayed the masses by hypnotization, almost earning the biggest victory of his career had it not been for the politics of pro wrestling. In the end, Wyatt came up short, yet his mantra through this whole match cemented him as a main event player.
12 Dolph Ziggler vs. Cesaro vs. Tyson Kidd (Triple Threat Match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship - SmackDown)
11 John Cena vs. Cesaro (Monday Night Raw)
The most polarizing WWE superstar sure gets a lot of flack for his wrestling abilities, but sometimes, the complaints come without conviction. This match proves that with the right opponent, Cena can dazzle audiences, and maybe we should credit Cesaro for stepping up and producing a world-class showing against the most successful WWE superstar of the past decade.
10 Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (Winner Enters the Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship - WrestleMania 30)
The opening contest of WrestleMania 30 featured the underdog Bryan against “The Game,” with the winner advancing to the Triple Threat Match main event, alongside Batista and Orton (with “The Viper’s” championship on the line).
9 Charlotte vs. Natalya (NXT Women’s Championship - NXT Takeover)
With Ric Flair cornering his daughter, and Natalya having Bret Hart in the opposite corner, these two standouts had one hell of a battle, illustrating how to have a perfect match.
8 Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt (Royal Rumble)
It’s easy to forget about the opening contest of the Royal Rumble, since there had been an abundance of other matches since then, factored in with the Bryan-Wyatt feud coming to a close on that same evening.
7 Cesaro vs. Sami Zayn (NXT ArRIVAL)
After their epic 2 out of 3 Falls Match during the summer of 2013, the Indy legends formerly known as Claudio Castagnoli and El Generico squared off one last time on the debut NXT special episode, ArRIVAL, stealing the spotlight and delivering another classic on free television.
6 The Shield vs. Evolution (No Holds Barred Six-Man Tag Match - Payback)
WWE certainly had its hits and misses this year, but six-man tag matches involving The Shield stood apart from all the weak and diluted offerings.
The rivalry between The Shield and Evolution came full circle at Payback this past June, which ultimately served as The Shield’s last match as a faction. The battle was off to a slow start, but improved drastically with announce tables being broken, chairs, stairs, and Kendo sticks serving as deadly weapons, and insane spots, including Rollins’ jump from the top of the entrance way (under the Titantron onto Evolution).
5 Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins (Lumberjack Match - SummerSlam)
After a shocking heel turn by Rollins broke up the hottest faction in WWE for quite some time, many observers were a little turned off when Ambrose had the power to choose any stipulation for a match against his former brethren, and decided to have lumberjacks surround the ring. Why not a TLC Match, a No Holds Barred Match, or better yet, a Hell In The Cell Match?
4 Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan (Triple Threat Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship - WrestleMania 30)
WrestleMania 30 easily goes down as the best WWE PPV of the year, starting off with Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin, and The Rock all in one ring, followed by The Undertaker’s undefeated streak coming to a close, all the way to Bryan capturing the World Heavyweight Championship after a year of unfortunate occurrences halted his ascension to the top.
Not only did the “Yes!” Movement chief wrestle two match-of-the-year candidates in one night, he had to suffer through a lethal combination of a “Batista Bomb”-meets-“RKO” through the announce table, which almost broke Orton’s back after landing awkwardly on a television monitor.
3 Adrian Neville vs. Tyler Breeze vs. Tyson Kidd vs. Sami Zayn (Fatal 4-Way for the NXT Championship - NXT Takeover: Fatal 4 Way)
NXT produced its third television special this past fall, and the young hopefuls have turned this developmental territory into something far greater than just a show featuring the future of WWE.
2 Adrian Neville vs. Sami Zayn (NXT Championship - NXT Takeover: REvolution)
This battle could have very well earned the top spot on anybody's year-end list, given the amount of action, storytelling, and amazement fans were left with after watching the best NXT Championship match in the territory’s existence.
After coming up short on multiple occasions, this was Zayn’s last stride, and his friend, Neville, didn’t make it easy for him. After duping him into thinking he was injured for a quick pin in their latest contest before this tussle, Zayn vowed to show his resiliency, with his morals put into question after an opportunity to cheat while the referee was down. The Montreal-based phenomenon decided to go at it the hard way, winning the bout without cheating and finally overcame Neville to hoist the gold.
1 The Shield vs. The Wyatt Family (Six Man Tag Match - Elimination Chamber)
During a time where Bryan was constantly being overlooked as the best wrestler in the company, one of the upsides to continue watching WWE was the blossoming feud between breakout stables, The Shield and The Wyatt Family.
With a red-hot crowd divided right down the middle, these six competitors treated the WWE Universe to perhaps the greatest six-man tag match in the history of the company, with chaos reigning supreme. Roman Reigns was touted as the company’s next big thing, while Bray Wyatt couldn’t have been more over. Ambrose already proved his worth as the assumed leader of his pack, while Harper and Rowan proved to be big surprises in this contest based on the risks they took.
The match clocked in at just under over 20 minutes, with The Wyatt Family securing the victory after a “Sister Abigail” to Reigns. Maybe there was a singles match that could have given this war a run for its money (look at the No. 2 selection), but when it comes to tag team wrestling, there was no greater match than this one for the Connecticut-based promotion in 2014.
It’s ironic, too, since both these factions have disbanded since this encounter. Like Bryan vs. Wyatt in the Royal Rumble, this match took place early on in the year, but it takes top honors because of how good everyone thought it would be, and these six prospects producing something greater than what was expected.
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