Ranking the Top 25 Best WWE Matches of 2015

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistDecember 25, 2015

Ranking the Top 25 Best WWE Matches of 2015

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    John Cena and Kevin Owens contested a classic series of matches over the summer.
    John Cena and Kevin Owens contested a classic series of matches over the summer.Credit: WWE.com

    Putting the last few months aside, it's hard to say 2015 wasn't a great year for WWE, especially from an in-ring standpoint.

    It became apparent at January's Royal Rumble pay-per-view that we were in for a strong year of in-ring action when we witnessed a tremendous Triple Threat match between Brock Lesnar, John Cena and Seth Rollins. From there, the bar had been set for any contest that could be considered a Match of the Year candidate.

    The rise of Rollins, Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens in 2015 undoubtedly attributed to the surplus of stellar WWE matchups. Cena's very well-received U.S. Open Challenge, which you will see appear several times on this list, also played a major factor in making Raw as entertaining as it was from WrestleMania through SummerSlam.

    Please note that this list will take into consideration only WWE matches as an article counting down the very best bouts in NXT this year can be its own entity.

    Criteria for the rankings include the match's build, storytelling, finish, aftermath, lasting impact, overall execution and other factors.

    That being said, let's reflect on the highlights of what's being considered one of the better years in terms of fast-paced, suspenseful, solid wrestling.

25. Rollins vs. Reigns vs. Orton vs. Ambrose (Payback: May 17, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The original main event at WWE Payback was supposed to see Seth Rollins defend the WWE World Heavyweight Championship against Roman Reigns and Randy Orton in a Triple Threat match. But Dean Ambrose earned entry into the match after beating Rollins on the May 4 edition of Raw, making it a Fatal 4-Way at the pay-per-view.

    Once Ambrose was added into the equation, the matchup became ten times more interesting.

    The biggest question on everyone's mind was whether there would be a Shield reunion and if Reigns and Ambrose would reveal to be in cahoots with The Authority. Ultimately, they did reform albeit for a few seconds.

    Regardless, Ambrose, Rollins and Reigns banding together for the first time in almost a year was an unbelievable sight. It got an expected roar from the crowd and was the most memorable moment from the match, but the rest of the match was extremely entertaining as well.

    Rollins did what he did best and survived by pinning Orton to retain his title. This exciting affair gave fans a preview of what to expect when the former Shield members inevitably face off in a Triple Threat match down the line.

24. John Cena vs. Neville (Raw: May 11, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Neville has been reduced to an enhancement-caliber competitor in recent months, but when he initially arrived in WWE, he was only going up against elite competition.

    Following a strong showing against then-WWE world heavyweight champion Seth Rollins in April, Neville shifted his sights to another top Superstar in John Cena. He accepted his U.S. Open Challenge on the May 11 edition of Raw and took The Champ to his absolute limit.

    It was an interesting clash of styles that showcased the skills of The Man That Gravity Forgot in a major way. He was even able to kick out of the Attitude Adjustment, which almost solidified him as a star on the spot.

    Neville came close to clinching the United States Championship when he connected with the Red Arrow on Cena, but before he could score the pinfall victory, Rusev interfered and caused the match to be thrown out.

    It was a brilliant booking technique because it kept the belt on Cena while leaving viewers wondering whether he would have kicked out or not had Rusev not gotten involved. Perhaps that means a rematch is in order.

23. Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Rusev (Raw: July 13, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    For whatever reason, multi-man (and multi-woman) matches were quite the craze in WWE in 2015, especially on Raw. This Triple Threat between Kevin Owens, Rusev and Cesaro from the July 13 edition was only the first of many that would leave the audience in awe.

    Owens was already scheduled to go one-on-one with Cena that Sunday at Battleground for the United States Championship, but he decided he wanted to win the belt beforehand. Cesaro and Rusev also had a claim to the championship, so a No. 1 Contender's Triple Threat match was made right then and there.

    Cesaro had come up short against Cena twice before, but this was his time to shine. He busted out every signature maneuver in his arsenal to put his adversaries away but to no avail.

    Owens and Rusev had impressive outings themselves, but to the surprise of fans, it was the Bulgarian Brute who secured the victory. The subsequent title match between Cena and Rusev wasn't nearly as special, however, as the drained Rusev battled a fresh Cena, so the dynamic was way off.

    Again, Owens interfered, cost Rusev the match and sent the message that if anyone was going to take Cena's title, it was going to be him.

22. Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns (Raw: Dec. 14, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Let's be honest: Roman Reigns versus Sheamus matchups have never had the greatest in-ring chemistry. Their five-minute Raw match from November was forgettable, and their TLC match, despite a strong effort, was largely underwhelming.

    Thus, their gem of a match just recently on the Dec. 14 edition of Raw came as a pleasant surprise. That tends to be the case when the stars align; the story is right, and the crowd is electric.

    Reigns had already failed to regain the gold on two separate occasions, but Mr. McMahon gave him one last chance to prove himself, otherwise he was fired. The odds were in Sheamus' favor, but Reigns fed off the pressure.

    With no help from The Usos or Dean Ambrose, Reigns fended off The League of Nations in addition to knocking McMahon out cold. It looked as if Sheamus had won the won, but the crowd came alive when Reigns kicked out of the Brogue Kick.

    Before The Celtic Warrior could hit a second, he was met with a scintillating spear from The Big Dog, who covered him for the three-count to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Granted, it was more about the moment than it was the match itself, but I'd be remiss not to include the contest that featured the first WWE title change on Raw in over four-and-a-half years.

21. Paige vs. Sasha Banks vs. Brie Bella vs. Becky Lynch (Raw: Nov. 2, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The ladies of NXT revolutionized women's wrestling this year. Meanwhile, there was a Divas movement of sorts happening on the main roster, but it has yet to lead to any breakout performances.

    That said, there was one women's match that stole the show on the Nov. 2 edition of Raw. It featured Paige, Brie Bella, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks battling for a Divas Championship match at Survivor Series.

    Although the match outcome was never in doubt, Paige's inevitable win was put in doubt at several points. Banks, who had been cast aside since coming to the main roster, showed the masses what made her so special in NXT, while Lynch came close to coming out on top on a few occasions as well.

    There was a larger margin of error with more women involved, but they all just clicked on that night. One after another, every competitor was taking full advantage of their opportunity to shine.

    Paige emerged victorious in the end, but only after tossing The Boss from the ring and pinning a downed Lynch. If we could get more matches like that from the main roster women, the Divas division would be in better shape.

20. Cesaro and Tyson Kidd vs. The New Day (Extreme Rules)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The New Day is every bit as great in the ring as it is on the microphone. The stable without a doubt is the most entertaining act in all of WWE—and it has been for the better part of the year—but when push comes to shove, it can flat out go in the ring.

    For the first few months of 2015, The New Day was an afterthought in the tag team division. Its awful babyface shtick wasn't getting it noticed, and after it was booed out of the building the night after WrestleMania, it was evident it was time for the stable to make a change.

    It began teasing a heel turn shortly before Extreme Rules when it cheated to beat The Lucha Dragons. The members appeared to be easy opponents for Cesaro and Tyson Kidd to steamroll at Extreme Rules, but that was far from the case.

    Instead, The New Day brought its A-game and contested an exciting affair with the WWE Tag Team champions. The near-falls down the stretch were suspenseful, and once The New Day scored the victory, the Chicago crowd booed in protest.

    Little did the WWE Universe know at the time the team would turn into the tremendous tandem it is today.

19. John Cena vs. Sami Zayn (Raw: May 4, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    One month into Cena's U.S. Open Challenge, it became known as the proving ground for any up-and-coming WWE Superstars. Bad News Barrett, Stardust and Dean Ambrose all gave Cena their everything, but it wasn't enough for him to relinquish his title.

    On a very special Raw in Montreal on May 4, Cena issued the open challenge as he did every week, but he was interrupted by one Bret Hart, taking the Canadian crowd by surprise. He wasn't there to vie for the championship but rather introduce Cena's actual opponent.

    When Sami Zayn's music hit, the Bell Centre came unglued. There was hope among fans that Zayn would make his official main roster debut that night in his hometown, and when it came to fruition, it made for a magical moment.

    It wasn't known until afterward that Zayn legitimately hurt his shoulder while making his entrance, but the casual viewer would have never known he was working injured. He had an incredible outing with Cena, at one point powering out of an Attitude Adjustment.

    He may have fallen short of winning the star-spangled prize, but earning Cena's respect was much more valuable. The former NXT champion has yet to resurface on the flagship show, but it's merely a matter of time.

18. John Cena vs. Dean Ambrose (Raw: March 30, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Fans had zero idea what to expect from Cena as the United States champion when he won the title at WrestleMania 31. Sure, he would instantly bring prestige back to the belt because of his main event level status, but it remained unknown whether it would remain a prop or if he would actually do something of note with it.

    It didn't take long for Cena to prove he was in fact a fighting champion. Less than 24 hours removed from his title victory, he issued an open challenge to anyone in the back who was willing to contend for the championship.

    Despite Byron Saxton repeatedly claiming Rusev would come out, it was Dean Ambrose who accepted the invitation. He was still reeling from being put through a ladder the night prior, but that didn't hinder his performance in the slightest.

    The two traded finishers and gave the viewing audience an excellent matchup. It marked the first time the United States title had felt relevant in seemingly ages as if it was the most coveted championship in the entire company.

    Cena reigned supreme versus The Lunatic Fringe that unforgettable evening, setting the stage for his weekly U.S. Open Challenge that would run through October and be one of the best parts of Raw all year.

17. Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match (WrestleMania 31)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    As soon as Dolph Ziggler started to build momentum as Intercontinental champion at the tail end of 2014, he had the title taken from him by Bad News Barrett on the premier episode of Raw in the new year. Not only was it too soon for Ziggler to drop the belt, but Barrett also did next to nothing with it during his reign.

    Barrett, as well as the championship, became a joke by the time WrestleMania rolled around as he was losing every match he took part in. Luckily, he had a long list of challengers waiting to challenge for the championship on the grand stage and take it to new heights.

    For the first time in many years, the Intercontinental Championship was defended in a seven-man Ladder match at WrestleMania featuring Barrett, Stardust, R-Truth, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose and Daniel Bryan. All seven Superstars worked well together and set the standard for future Ladder matches.

    Just about every combatant took some sort of risk, whether it was jumping from a ladder or putting someone else through one. Yes, it could have been considered a glorified "spot fest," but the action was so entertaining and so intense that it's difficult to criticize.

    As an opener to WrestleMania, it worked perfectly in kicking off the event on a high note, literally. Bryan capturing the belt one year removed from winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of The Show of Shows was also a great touch.

16. Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro (Raw: Nov. 16, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Obviously, Seth Rollins having to vacate the WWE World Heavyweight Championship due to injury was unfortunate, but on the bright side, it gave us a tournament filled with great matches.

    The tourney's first round was a treat, but the Superstars who advanced raised the bar big time in the quarterfinals, including Cesaro and Roman Reigns. This marked the first time they had ever met one-on-one, and fans knew ahead of time they would contest a classic.

    It was pretty predictable from the tournament's onset that Reigns would win, but that didn't mean he couldn't have a handful of stellar matches along the way. Cesaro was the biggest obstacle he had faced up to that point, but not even the Cesaro Swing was going to prevent him from attaining his goal of becoming champion.

    Meanwhile, Cesaro's resilience was simply unfathomable. He kicked out of everything Reigns dished out, but all it took was one spear to put the Swiss Superman down for the count.

    It would be foolish to say Rollins getting hurt was worth it just so we would have this match, but if there was ever a positive to come out of the situation, it was this instant classic.

15. Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Who would have thought Undertaker was holding a grudge against Brock Lesnar for 15 months after he broke his 21-0 undefeated streak at WrestleMania 30?

    All right, so it was likely a case of WWE Creative bringing Undertaker back into the fold this summer in a major way because he was healthy and not because a rematch with Lesnar had been the plan the entire time. Some things have a weird way of working out, however, and rekindling their rivalry became the best part of the summer for WWE.

    The build to their SummerSlam bout kicked off with their epic brawl on the July 20 edition of Raw. At that moment, it was virtually guaranteed that their pending matchup would supersede anything we witnessed during their disappointing encounter at WrestleMania 30.

    Before the bell even rang, Undertaker and Lesnar immediately took the fight to each other, setting the tone for what would be a very hard-hitting contest. The Deadman also endured more punishment than he has in recent years, including suffering a vicious F5 through the commentary table.

    The controversial finish that saw Undertaker tap out behind the referee's back only to force The Beast Incarnate to pass out wasn't well-received by fans, but if nothing else, it planted the seeds for their highly anticipated Hell in a Cell rubber match months later.

14. Roman Reigns vs. Bray Wyatt (Hell in a Cell)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Roman Reigns' road to regaining the WWE World Heavyweight Championship wasn't without its obstacles. When Reigns vied to become Mr. Money in the Bank at the June pay-per-view, one Bray Wyatt, who took issue with him being "the one," thwarted his plans.

    In the months that followed, the two traded victories at the Battleground, SummerSlam and Night of Champions events, leading to one final battle inside Hell in a Cell in October. With the steel structure surrounding the ring, it ensured no members from The Wyatt Family would play a factor in the finish.

    Up to that point, Reigns and Wyatt had yet to deliver that classic contest fans knew they were capable of. But there was something about the cell that brought the best out of both competitors.

    Reigns and Wyatt battered each other with kendo sticks and gave fans one of the better cage matches in the history of the event. Although Reigns emerged victorious following a valiant effort, Wyatt was made to look strong even in defeat.

    For far too long, Hell in a Cell has served as a placeholder for programs, but on this occasion, it was where Reigns and Wyatt decided to blow off their ruthless rivalry once and for all.

13. Reigns vs. Owens vs. Del Rio vs. Ziggler (Raw: Oct. 26, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    One night removed from the Hell in a Cell pay-per-view, Seth Rollins was in need of a new No. 1 contender to his WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Thus, a mini tournament was announced to determine Rollins' new challenger with the winners of four qualifying matches advancing to a Fatal 4-Way main event on Raw.

    Among the main event competitors were Roman Reigns, Kevin Owens, Alberto Del Rio and Dolph Ziggler, all of whom were riding high following their respective victories at Hell in a Cell. Now they had their sights set on challenging for the business' most prestigious prize.

    Putting four excellent workers in one ring together had the makings of a great match, but no one knew how remarkable of a match they would produce until the action was underway.

    Throughout the chaos that ensued with the four hungry Superstars battling it out, there never seemed to be a dull moment. There was always someone who had the upper hand, and the crowd was on its feet the entire time.

    After a fantastic flurry of finishers, Reigns reversed Owens' Pop-up Powerbomb into a Superman punch to secure the win. The faceoff between him and Rollins afterward set the stage for their epic encounter at Survivor Series, but sadly Rollins was injured before the bout could come to fruition.

12. Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose (Money in the Bank)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins had a strong series of matches throughout the summer of 2014, but their Hell in a Cell encounter was far from the final time they'd clash. They continued to cross paths throughout the remainder of the year before officially rekindling their rivalry this past spring.

    Although Ambrose failed to capture the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Payback, when he beat Rollins by disqualification at Elimination Chamber, he was given one last title shot. This time, however, they'd face off in a Ladder match for the ages.

    It was poetic justice in a way seeing as how it was at Money in the Bank one year earlier that Rollins cost Ambrose the Money in the Bank briefcase. Rollins also demanded The Authority not interfere on his behalf, despite there being no disqualifications to prove to them he could win on his own.

    For nearly 35 minutes, the momentum constantly shifted between the former Shield members, battering each other with stiff ladder shots and doing everything in their power to come out on top with the title in tow. Ambrose showed true resilience, while Rollins brought out his aggressive side for the first time in a long while.

    Both men had possession of the prestigious prize while falling far from the ladder, but Rollins was declared the victor when he had the belt in his grasp.

11. John Cena vs. Cesaro (Raw: July 6, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    As you could probably tell from reading this list, John Cena's U.S. Open Challenge gave us some of the best bouts of 2015. He only faced elite competition throughout the course of the year, including a game Cesaro on the July 6 edition of Raw.

    The two first went one-on-one the week prior, but due to a vehement Kevin Owens' interference, the match was thrown out. What made the rematch special was that not only was the United States Championship up for grabs, but it took place in the main event of the flagship show that night.

    The matchup was reminiscent of Cena's clash with Shawn Michaels in April 2007 that also exceeded 30 minutes. To say the two put on an absolute clinic would be understatement as they went above and beyond in deliver one of the greatest Raw main events in recent memory.

    It was Cesaro's first true test to see if he could hang with the franchise player, and the answer was a resounding "yes." It took an Attitude Adjustment from the top rope to put the Swiss Superman away, but even in defeat, Cesaro proved his worth as a world champion-caliber competitor.

    With a raucous Chicago crowd to boot, you can't go wrong with this outstanding outing between two of WWE's finest in-ring athletes. When Cesaro ultimately takes his rightful place in the main event scene, fans will look back at this bout as the turning point in his career.

10. Seth Rollins vs. Neville (Raw: Aug. 3, 2015)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    John Cena versus Cesaro might be considered the best Raw match of the year to some, but those same fans are forgetting about the exceptional WWE World Heavyweight Championship match that took place on the Aug. 3 edition of Raw.

    Spirits weren't at an all-time high going into the episode. Cena had the night off to recover from his broken nose, and a tribute to the late, great "Rowdy" Roddy Piper aired at the start of the show.

    From there, Seth Rollins swerved viewers by agreeing to put his title on the line in that night's opening contest, but only against an individual under 200 pounds. That all but confirmed he would be defending against El Torito, but he was shocked to see Neville accept the open invitation instead.

    As good as their April encounter was, this championship match was on an entirely different level with the gold up for grabs. The two jelled extremely well, but it was the fantastic finishing sequence that made the match so monumental.

    Moments after hitting the Red Arrow, Neville covered Rollins for the three-count with the crowd thinking he had the match won, only to realize Rollins' foot was on the rope. With The Man That Gravity Forgot taking too much time questioning the official, Rollins capitalized and hit a beautiful-looking Pedigree for the clean win.

9. Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE Fastlane)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Needless to say, not everyone agreed with WWE's decision to have Roman Reigns win the 2015 Royal Rumble match. He was deemed "not ready" to main-event WrestleMania by many. Many also felt he had yet to prove himself at a main event level.

    Part of fans' frustration stemmed from Daniel Bryan getting eliminated earlier than he should have. For the second straight year, officials listened to the WWE Universe, changed their plans and inserted Bryan back into the title picture.

    Technically, Bryan still had his WWE World Heavyweight Championship rematch, so it was logical for him to state he deserved the WrestleMania main event every bit as much as Reigns did. Thus, a match was made between the two for Fastlane with the winner advancing to 'Mania to face Brock Lesnar.

    Reigns was nearly considered a lock to contend for the championship, but there was definitely doubt, which is what made this match so suspenseful. There also isn't much question that Bryan gave Reigns the best singles match of his career up to that point.

    They wrestled a hard-fought matchup, but in the end, the multi-generational star reigned supreme and punched his ticket to The Show of Shows. Along with his impressive performance, he was one step closer to winning over the fans with a show of respect from Bryan afterward.

8. Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (WrestleMania 31)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    When Seth Rollins put Randy Orton out of commission in November 2014, it wasn't a matter of if but when The Apex Predator was headed back to WWE TV to exact revenge. By February, it almost became a running gag among fans that he wasn't returning—until he finally did at the Fastlane pay-per-view.

    WWE dropped the ball with the ready-made rivalry for a few weeks by having Orton oddly rejoin The Authority, but thankfully it righted that wrong by mid-March, making their match official for WrestleMania.

    It had been several years since we had an undercard match of this caliber at WrestleMania that had the potential to steal the show, and with the exception of the main event, an argument can be made that it did.

    Despite having not worked much against each other in the past, Orton and Rollins instantly found in-ring chemistry and worked a very well-wrestled matchup. J&J Security provided just enough interference at ringside to prevent an overbearing feel.

    After each competitor kicked out of the other's finisher, Rollins looked to finish off his adversary with a Curb Stomp, but Orton instead launched Rollins into the air and connected with one of the most remarkable RKOs of all time. If that isn't a 'Mania moment, I don't know what is.

7. The New Day vs. The Usos vs. The Lucha Dragons (WWE TLC)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WWE didn't do an effective job going into TLC of giving viewers the impression that the pay-per-view was going to be anything more than mediocre. The build was less than stellar, and most of the match outcomes felt predictable.

    That said, the event shattered all expectations as soon as the opening contest concluded.

    Fans knew they were in for an early Christmas treat with the Triple Threat Tag Team Ladder match pitting WWE Tag Team champions The New Day against The Usos and The Lucha Dragons. But no one knew they would deliver as insane a match as they ultimately did.

    The three teams set out to revolutionize tag team wrestling, and they did just that. All seven Superstars (including Xavier Woods, who wasn't an official member of the match) took countless high risks that paid off in the end, culminating in a sea of carnage.

    Through all the excitement, Kalisto's Salida del Sol off the top of the ladder and through another stood out as one of those moments you'll remember where you were when you saw it. And to think it ended with Kalisto getting hit with a trombone to the back, leading to The New Day retaining the titles.

6. Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (Hell in a Cell)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Undertaker and Brock Lesnar had one heck of a match at SummerSlam, but the polarizing finish was hit-or-miss for most fans. Worse yet, it appeared as if we wouldn't get the third and final encounter until WrestleMania 32, but thankfully, plans changed, and it was held at Hell in a Cell instead.

    And what a perfect venue for a feud to culminate. Not just any feud, mind you, but one that dates back as far as 2002 when Lesnar first arrived on the scene and looked to make a name for himself by facing 'Taker inside—you guessed it—Hell in a Cell.

    But that was a different time—a time when blood wasn't frowned upon and the competitors could get away with so much. That didn't stop Undertaker and Lesnar from taking each other to hell and back, however, including getting busted open.

    Undertaker looked as good in the ring as he ever had, holding his own against The Beast Incarnate. Lesnar nearly put his longtime rival away at several points with two F5s, but it wasn't enough to keep The Phenom down for the three-count.

    With nothing left to turn to, they were forced to resort to desperate measures to emerge victorious. Undertaker pulled back the canvas to expose the hard wooden exterior of the ring, though the tactic backfired on him as Lesnar used it to his advantage and planted him with one final F5 for the win.

5. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins (SummerSlam)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    It's safe to say John Cena and Seth Rollins have had no less than a dozen matches over the course of 2015, but the funny thing is, all of them have been excellent. After feuding late last year, they rekindled their rivalry during the summer—this time over the WWE World Heavyweight and United States Championships.

    While Cena valiantly defended his star-spangled prize each and every week, Rollins was barely holding on to his title by the skin of his teeth. Cena decided to put Rollins' morals as champion to the test by challenging him to an unprecedented title for title match at SummerSlam.

    On the grand stage of SummerSlam, Cena and Rollins busted out a variety of new maneuvers and reversals fans hadn't seen from either of them, including Rollins' beautifully executed frog splash.

    It was a straightforward masterpiece of a matchup until the referee got knocked out. That opening allowed the night's guest host Jon Stewart to enter the fray and seemingly cost his rival Rollins the victory.

    However, in the swerve of the century (or at least the evening), Stewart struck Cena with the chair and ran from the ring as he watched the "self-proclaimed future of WWE" hit him with a Pedigree to clinch the United States title. Had it not been for the fluky finish, perhaps the bout would have ranked slightly higher on the list.

4. John Cena vs. Kevin Owens (Money in the Bank)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    WrestleMania 31 and SummerSlam are widely recognized by fans as WWE's top two best pay-per-views of 2015, but Money in the Bank in June was an unexpected gem. From a fun Money in the Bank Ladder match to a great WWE World Heavyweight Championship match to The Prime Time Players finally winning the WWE Tag Team Championship, it was a historic night that has yet to get the props it deserves.

    Of course, nothing came close to topping the phenomenal match from John Cena vs. Kevin Owens.

    They faced the tough task of following up their first faceoff from the Elimination Chamber, and they did so just wonderfully. It was a rare instance where a rematch between two competitors felt more like a sequel than it did the same match done over again.

    Owens brought the intensity, and Cena brought his signature resilience. No titles were on the line, and none needed to be; they were fighting for personal pride and WWE's top spot.

    Lightning didn't strike twice for the then-NXT champion when he failed to beat Cena a second time, coming up short after having his attitude adjusted three times. He may not have won the battle that night, but he left a lasting impression by ambushing Cena afterward and putting him out of action for eight days.

3. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (WrestleMania 31)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Despite a strong showing against Daniel Bryan at Fastlane in February, fans remained skeptical about Roman Reigns going after the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the main event of WrestleMania 31. To make matters worse, it was fairly obvious he was winning the belt with Brock Lesnar reportedly on his way out.

    All that changed in the week leading up to WrestleMania when Lesnar announced he had re-signed with WWE for several more years. That one announcement put the outcome of WWE's biggest show of the year into doubt and made the match infinitely more interesting.

    It also remained to be seen how well they would work together, but they silenced the critics by producing one of the most brutal brawls all year. Reigns did everything in his power to take down The Beast Incarnate, but regardless of what he did, Lesnar refused to leave his feet.

    It was an exciting atmosphere to be a part of, especially after Lesnar reversed a second spear from Reigns into an F5—his fourth in the match. But before he could cover The Big Dog, Rollins' music blasted throughout Levi's Stadium, signaling he was choosing that particular moment to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase.

    And even then, Rollins was almost unsuccessful when both Reigns and Lesnar attempted their finishing maneuvers. The crafty competitor proceeded to lay out Reigns and pin him to win his first world title, ending one of the most brilliantly booked WrestleMania main events of all time.

2. John Cena vs. Kevin Owens (Elimination Chamber)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    As soon as Kevin Owens signed with WWE in 2014, the one dream match that came to the minds of many was Owens versus John Cena. The chances of that match coming to fruition at long last were a lot likelier, but Owens first had to work his way up the ladder in NXT.

    It didn't take him long to make a mark in the developmental brand, beating Sami Zayn in decisive fashion for the NXT Championship within two months of his debut. He annihilated everyone who stepped foot in his path of destruction, but his long list of victims wasn't limited to NXT.

    To the shock of fans—and even Cena—he accepted the U.S. Open Challenge on the May 18 edition of Raw, but didn't desire to contend for the championship. Instead, he wanted to prove to Cena he wasn't the rookie he thought he was, setting up their first official match at Elimination Chamber.

    With no gold up for grabs, fans didn't need to worry about who was taking what title. They could simply sit back and enjoy what was a near-five star extraordinary matchup between two of the very best in the business.

    Cena once again proved his naysayers wrong with an awesome outing, while Owens pulled everything out of his arsenal—and then some—to put Cena away. Yet, all it took was one Pop-up Powerbomb for him to score the victory in his premier match as a member of the main roster.

    Few Superstars can say they've had that historic of a debut, much less against Cena.

1. Brock Lesnar vs. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins (Royal Rumble)

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Truth be told, you could rearrange the top two choices on this list, and you wouldn't wrong. But the circumstances surrounding this match, to me, made it the greatest WWE match of 2015.

    Cena had earned another opportunity to vie for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship many months prior to the Royal Rumble, which meant we would have yet another encounter between him and Lesnar. That would have been their fourth match in three years, so it was essential that WWE switched it up by adding Rollins into the equation.

    Granted, he already had a title shot at any time and place of his choosing in the form of the Money in the Bank contract, but that was the beauty of this bout. Even if he lost, he could still choose to cash in on the winner afterward.

    With that in mind, Lesnar and Cena fought like hell, going to great lengths to ensure Rollins didn't walk away with the title in tow. This included Rollins collapsing on Lesnar's ribs as he crashed through a commentator's table and Cena hit a double Attitude Adjustment on J&J Security.

    Rollins was on the verge of becoming world champion for the first time in his career when he planted Lesnar with two briefcase shots to the skull, but Lesnar battled back with an F5 out of nowhere to get the three-count and to cement his spot in the WrestleMania 31 main event.

    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is a journalism major at Endicott College. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.