Every performer needs a pat on the back! So do our WWE superstars.
In the festive spirit during the holiday season, every year WWE hosts Slammy Awards to recognize the hard work, excellent performances and entertainment that the superstars bestow on their fans.
It is a fantastic way to look back on all the great matches, heated rivalries and crazy moments.
The 21st December episode of Monday Night RAW will host the annual fan-voted Slammy Awards for this year. Even if the format of the ceremony says fan-voted, there are quite a few predictions that can be made judging on the accolades achieved by a few superstars throughout 2015.
There are several categories for the awards, but this slideshow predicates the top 5 categories from the award list.
#1 NXT Superstar of the year: Finn Bálor
Recognized for his extensive work in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Finn was signed up for the WWE developmental territory, NXT in 2014.
He quickly established himself as a standout superstar on the show with his signature body paint and a name derived from Irish mythological figures. His comic book character approach stands out making him an instant hit.
In his initial days, Finn participated in tag matches teaming up with Hideo Itami. In his debut match, the duo defeated Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd. Following the victory, they started a feud against The Ascension.
At NXT TakeOver: R Evolution, Finn and Hideo once again proved they are in sync by winning against the Ascension and ending the feud.
Moving forward and breaking away from the tag-team matches, Finn started to make a name for himself in singles competition. In a number one contender’s match for the NXT championship, he defeated Curtis Axel in the first round and entered the semi-finals against his old tag-team partner, Hideo.
After defeating Hideo, Finn went on to enter the finals at the NXT TakeOver: Rival and once again stood undefeated against Adrian Neville. Unfortunately, his winning streak came to an end when he faced Kevin Owens for the championship. However, it didn’t stop Finn from chasing the gold.
At NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable, Finn wrestled Tyler Breeze and earned the number one contender’s position for the championship. Kevin Owens had already jumped to the main roster and it was evident that the title would change hands soon.
WWE Universe knew Finn was ready to hold the gold and he seemed the appropriate fit for the spot. During the hyped ‘Beast in the East’ event in Tokyo, Japan, Finn was crowned as the NXT Champion for the first time after he defeated Kevin Owens.
Following his victory, Finn successfully defended his title against Kevin in an exhilarant ladder match at NXT TakeOver. He has already surpassed Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, and Kevin Owen’s title reign by holding the NXT title for 150 days as of November 2015.
To honor the memory of WWE Hall of Famer and longtime NXT trainer, Dusty Rhodes, a tournament named “Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic” was held where 16 teams competed against each other.
Finn teamed up with Samoa Joe and the duo defeat four teams – The Lucha Dragons, Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady, The Mechanics and finally Baron Corbin and Rhyno to win the coveted tournament.
With all the breakout performances, victories and fan appreciation, it won’t be too long that we will see Finn make the switch to the main roster. He was the rising star this year and has certainly established a name for himself in NXT.
#2 Breakout star of the year – Kevin Owen
Kevin Owen debuted in NXT during the December of 2014. He wasted no time in letting the audience know what his intentions and reasons were for coming to the big league.
Kevin quickly picked up a fed with the NXT Champion, Sami Zayn. February 2015, during NXT Take Over: Rival, Zayn’s reign came to a brutal halt as Kevin picked up the victory to become the new NXT champion.
He also made a mark for himself by viciously power-bombing Zayn five consecutive times. Following that Kevin had successful title defenses against Finn Balor, Sami Zayn and Samoa Joe.
Moving forward, Kevin made his big move to Raw during May 2015. He sent a loud message to the United States Champion John Cena by attacking and initiating another notable rivalry.
Much to the surprise of the WWE Universe, Kevin beat Cena in his very first WWE PPV appearance at the Elimination Chamber match.
Their feud continued and by the next PPV – Money in the Bank – the two put on a wrestling clinic. This time around, Cena picked up the victory but fell a victim to a resounding power-bomb through the ring apron.
During the Beast in the East event in Tokyo, Japan, Kevin defended his NXT championship against Finn Bálor. Kevin had yet another upset and lost to Finn, ending his reign at 143 days. This was just a sign that Kevin was done with NXT and now it was time for him to focus on the bigger picture.
Kevin went on to defeat Cesaro in a singles match at Summer Slam. He continued his winning streak at the next PPV and went on to win his first title in the WWE. At the Night of Champions, Owens defeated Ryback and became the new Intercontinental Championship.
Adding another name to the list, Kevin wrestled a match against the wrestling veteran, Chris Jericho in a special event held at the Madison Square Garden. He once again exhibited tremendous talent by defeating yet another top-carder.
Kevin is a veteran in pro wrestling circles, as he has toiled hard in the indies for years – which shines through in his performance until now. His latest title defense was yet another PPV match at Hell in a Cell where he successfully defended his championship in a rematch against Ryback.
#3 WWE Tag-team of the year: The New Day
At the beginning of the year, what seemed like a team that is doomed to fail, surprisingly changed their demeanor and became the most entertaining act of the roster.
In the November of 2014, three mid-card wrestlers created a stable consisting of Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods. They called themselves The New Day. With a not so flattering name, the trio marched out every night as baby-faced wrestlers generating lackluster performances week after week.
Despite all the victories, the crowd was reluctant to these advancements and started voicing it with the “New Day Sucks” chants. This gave an opportunity for the stable to turn heel and change their stale character into something impressive.
The New Day morphed into an energetic goofy trio. They danced their way to the ring. Xavier Wood played the trombone during their matches. It wasn’t just their comical gimmick that was getting them connect with fans, but the in-ring performances also showed improvement.
The harsh chants slowly turned into the “New Day Rocks” cheers.
At Extreme Rules, The New Day defeated Tyson Kidd and Cesaro to capture the WWE Tag Team Championship. Under the Freebird rule, WWE recognized all three members as champions.
In June, during Money in the Bank PPV the team lost their title to the Prime Time Players. In two months’ time, The New Day reclaimed their prize at Summer Slam by competing in a tag team fatal 4-way match. Cementing their popularity, The New Day defeated the returning Dudley Boyz on the following episode of Raw.
The two times Tag Team champions have not only impressed the fans but also their peers. Here is what other superstars had to say about the amusing tag-team on social media
Dolph Ziggler wrote the following on his official twitter @HEELZiggler
“No one in this generation has taken the ball & ran with it, more than new day.congratulations, jerks #RAW #NewDayRocks”
Mick Foley wrote on his Facebook page:
“The New Day had seen better days before the P.O.P. (Power of Positivity) chased those blues away. As one of the most entertaining groups in the WWE, New Day is looking to become 2-time Tag Champs at Battleground. New…Day Rocks!”
JR shared his opinion on his website, http://www.jrsbarbq.com/
“Very entertaining trio and I feel that they will soon be getting cheered. Good guys nonetheless who I wish the best for whether heel or face.”
With so many compliments, claps, and the ‘New Day Rocks’ chants, it is obvious that these guys will take home the award for the best tag-team.
#4 WWE Diva of the year: Nikki Bella
It all began at Survivor Series, November 2014 when the fan favorite Diva’s champion, AJ Lee fell for the Twin Magic and lost her title to Nikki Bella.
Since then, Nikki was not only holding the Diva’s title for most of this year but she also became the new longest reigning Divas Champion in history. staying undefeated for 301 days, she was an unstoppable force until NXT Divas came along and changed the landscape of women’s wrestling.
Criticized largely for defending her title sporadically, Nikki had successful title defenses against AJ Lee, Paige, Naomi, Tamina and Charlotte during her reign. Most of her victories were a result of Brie’s interference.
This contributed in establishing Nikki’s Heel character stronger than the previous year. 2015 was a struggling year for the divas as the fans revolted with #GiveDivasaChance campaign and some might argue that lack of real competition made Nikki’s long reign appear dull and boring.
Contrary to the critics, Nikka Bella has certainly shown improvement this year with her talking and wrestling abilities. Was she the most entertaining Diva’s champion? Maybe not, but that does not rule out the fact that she has come a long way and put in efforts to detach her image from being just another Diva Search contestant.
Even with all the improvements, the award isn’t necessarily handed to Nikki for her great efforts. Most of the fans believe it is WWE’s way of getting back to AJ Lee – who before walking out on the company, held the title for a record time.
Anyone remembers what AJ Lee said last year in her acceptance speech at the Slammy Awards? In a rebellious, non-scripted speech, AJ said that she hoped to see the likes of Bayley, Charlotte, and Paige step up and carry the baton in 2015.
This was AJ’s way of hinting the audience that she would soon be gone and the division will lack the goods thereafter unless NXT’s talent takes over. Just to prove AJ wrong, WWE booked Nikki strongly for a year.
She was the chosen one to snatch it all from AJ – the title, the longest reign record and now the Diva of the Year award.
#5 WWE superstar of the year – Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins’s career has only escalated since his departure from The Shield. It is safe to say that he is the most successful member of the team and 2015 was so far the best year of his professional career.
At the grandest stage of them all – WrestleMania, Seth cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase by challenging Brock Lesner and Roman Reigns in a triple threat match. At the time, Brock held the championship with pride.
By pinning Roman in the match, Seth became WWE World Heavyweight Champion for the first time. He also became the only wrestler to cash in a Money in the Bank contract at WrestleMania.
Holding the championship since March, Seth successfully defended the title against Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, Brock Lesner, Neville, John Cena, Sting and Kane.
With greed to want more, Seth competed against the United States Champion, John Cena at the Summer Slam in a ‘Winner Takes All’ match. By defeating Cena, he went to become the first wrester to simultaneously hold the United States Championship and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at the same time.
Aligning himself with The Authority, Seth was often quoted as ‘Best for Business’ or simply put – ‘The Man’.
He received a steady spot as the main eventer throughout the year. He main evented and won in seven PPVs during 2015, including WrestleMania, Extreme Rules, Payback, Elimination Chamber, Money in the Bank, Battleground, and Night of Champions.
Besides his in-ring victories, Seth also capitalized on his verbal skills. He delivered several promos that cemented his heel character. One of the examples being, Seth demanded a statue of his to be commissioned in his honor at the WWE headquarters.
He claimed he deserved a spot with the legends like Andre the Giant and Ultimate Warrior.
Unfortunately, Seth suffered an untimely knee injury and needed some time off for it to heal. He was therefore forced to vacate his spot, ending his undefeated reign of 221 days as the World Heavyweight Champion.
Seth is on a hiatus for now, but when he comes back he will be hotter than ever. A face Rollins and a shot at the title are the most likely scenarios on his return.