Everyone has their “Top Lists of 2015” when it comes to pro-wrestling, or sports entertainment, whether it be top matches, greatest returns, etc. This list happens to be a collection of my own personal favorites that I experienced during the year of 2015. The typical “Best Match” or “Best Promo” won’t necessarily be found on here although some of those things may exist within it, but quite simply, these are just awesome moments I was able to take part in either as a fan or other.
Without further ado, in no particular rank, but in calendar order here are my top moments of 2015.
- Johnny Gargano – There’s a lot to this than just his name. At the beginning of February I had the opportunity to sit down and talk to Johnny about all things wrestling on This Is Awesome Wrestling Show. The interview also resulted in a fun relationship throughout the year with Cleveland’s AIW indie promotion and owner John Thorne. Johnny has long been one of the best on the indie scene and in 2015 it was great to see him get his chance in NXT.
- Grado – If you’ve never heard of Grado then do yourself a favor and search #SayYesMadonna and it will provide you with entertainment. A Scottish comedic wrestler, Grado came to Cleveland via AIW early in 2015 and then ended up with a huge year even appearing on TNA, but no word yet if he’s received the free sandwich from MELT he tried to plead for during our interview.
- WWE NXT at the Agora in Cleveland – In March 2015 NXT finally began doing house shows across the country and Cleveland was one of the very first stops. The brand was exploding and making all sorts of noise, no longer being just a “developmental brand” for WWE. Sasha Banks threatened to slap me during our interview as a I probed for The Boss to come out because she was just being too darn nice (one of my favorite people to have met in 2015) and Kevin Owens sat down for an interview foreshadowing his 2015 as he discussed wanting to wrestle John Cena. To top it off, Adrian Neville had an off record chat for about fifteen minutes as he enjoyed being a previous guest over the phone on This Is Awesome Wrestling Show. It should be noted one of the top matches seen in person was this night during a Fatal Four Way of the NXT women.
- Evolve in California – During Wrestlemania 31 weekend in the San Jose area, indie promotion Evolve held a few shows. On one of their biggest, my cohost and I, along with friend and Miami television personality Chris Van Vliet, headed to support Cleveland’s own Johnny Gargano. On the same show we would see Uhaa Nation, now known as Apollo Crews in NXT, in one of his last indie matches. The big highlight was Johnny’s tag team partner, Rich Swann singing all of Lionel Richie’s All Night Long as his entrance. The show also had rapper Wale in attendance.
- Wrestlemania 31 Weekend Experience – Aside from Evolve the entire weekend was a blast. It’s become a yearly tradition with friends, but had a small business aspect this year to get interview for the podcast. Having the opportunity to be at WWE Axxess as press was rather great and of course there was the improv show put on by Dolph Ziggler and former WWE star John Morrison. The event itself was spectacular, getting to see Sting for the first time in a match in person, Seth Rollins cashing in for the title and taking part earlier in the night with my favorite RKO ever when Randy Orton turned a Curb Stomp attempt into an RKO.
- First Samoa Joe Interview (non-WWE) after NXT appearance – In May rumors were swirling that former TNA superstar Samoa Joe was NXT bound, but no one could prove it. Then he showed up on NXT programming just two days before being in Cleveland for an AIW show. We got to sit down with him and were the first interview to hit the web with Joe after that NXT appearance, aside from the WWE site. Samoa Joe ended up being one of my favorite people to see and just talk with during 2015 as he showed up a couple more times at AIW until he was NXT full time.
- Calling Scott Steiner – Back during Wrestlemania weekend I randomly ran into Scott Steiner at my hotel, that same weekend I also ended up with his phone number from a source not to be named. Since then This Is Awesome Wrestling Show has called him almost every week and it’s been fun, but we’ve yet to get an answer, though some people have left him fun voicemails including Cleveland comedian Mike Polk Jr and wrestler Ethan Page.
- Reminiscing with Lilian Garcia – During Wrestlemania 30 weekend in New Orleans, my friends and I had a brief run-in with Lilian Garcia. There was a minor misunderstanding, things were set straight and she ended up being a complete sweetheart. In June of 2015 I got the chance to tell her that memory when interviewing her for the podcast and she very much remembered which made it even more fun.
- AIW’s Absolution X – In July of 2015 AIW had their yearly show Absolution now in it’s 10th carnation. For lack of a better comparison it’s this indie’s version of Wrestlemania. The show was unbelievable and had a crowd of over 600 packed into a masonic temple on Cleveland’s west side. The show featured one of the best bumps taken all year, given to Candice LeRae by Cedric Alexander, plus a Vader appearance. The Main Event had stars who have appeared in or are currently in ROH, TNA, NXT and Lucha Underground highlighted by Ethan Carter III, Samoa Joe and The Young Bucks it was the most entertaining match I saw in person this year.
- Eddie Kingston becomes unofficial This Is Awesome Wrestling Show cohost – There’s a solid list of non-Cleveland performers that come to AIW each month, two have become awesome people I’ve gotten to know and have had a blast hanging out with in 2015, Ethan Page and Eddie Kingston. Eddie would always talk to us while we interviewed others and eventually it was Eddie’s turn to be interviewed. Then, Eddie decided for the rest of the year if we interviewed people in the AIW locker room, he also would sit in on the interview. Just listen to the show with Leva Bates, aka Blue Pants for a great example. If you’re unfamiliar with Eddie, look him up, in an era where there are very few fantastic heels in sports entertainment, Eddie keeps real heat alive.
- Meeting Terry Funk – There aren’t too many people out there still performing beyond the age of 70, but Terry Funk, a hardcore wrestling legend, still was in 2015 and made an appearance at AIW. Terry is also one of the few old school wrestlers who transitioned successfully between film and wrestling well before the Rock was breaking box office records. He happened to be in two of my all-time favorites, Over the Top with Sylvester Stallone and Roadhouse with Patrick Swayze. On one weekend in 2015 though, Terry declared war on Eddie Kingston, his AIW ring manager the Duke, and well, the AIW concession stand and it was magnificent. You can see part of what I’m talking about in the trailer for the DVD and there’s also this fun clip (NSFW due to profanity) of Terry finding out Ronda Rousey is starring in a remake of Roadhouse.
- Meeting Scott Hall – At the final AIW show of 2015, Scott Hall made an appearance and I was able to meet him in the locker room. As a huge Razor Ramon fan growing up it was a dream to one day tell Hall my story of giving away a Bret Hart bookmark to a girl when left with the decision between a Razor or Hart bookmark to give away. To which he grinned and replied, “Thatta boy!”
- Ring announcing for AIW – Also at the final AIW show in 2015, I stepped in as guest ring announcer due to the regular announcer being unable to attend. It was a last minute occurrence and was an insanely fun experience. Ending the year by standing in the ring with performers I got to know over the year and introducing them was by far my favorite experience. Sure there are thirteen things on this list, but we’ll end on one that made me feel pretty lucky as a guy who grew up just being a kid who loved wrestling.
So that was 2015 and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2016. It can already be said that you’ll have to stay tuned for a review of attending the Royal Rumble live at the end of January from Orlando, FL. Raise your glass for a toast to the past 12 months and cheers to the year ahead, welcome to 2016.
Human Centipede – AIW Absolution X
Steve Guy with Kevin Owens
Also making the list was meeting Kevin Owens during NXT in Cleveland.
Steve Guy with Sasha Banks
Meeting Sasha Banks and finding out why she’s “The Boss” was a lot of fun. Do NOT call her ratchet.