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January 25, 2016 Wrestling Observer Newsletter: 2015 Observer Awards Issue

2015 WRESTLING OBSERVER Awards

 

The following are the results of the 36th annual Wrestling Observer Newsletter readership awards, along with a listing of the previous winners in the various categories. On a worldwide basis, these are the most covered mainstream international pro wrestling awards. The awards are based on the time frame from December 1, 2014 through November 30, 2015. Readers are encouraged to send in their comments on the results.

 

"CATEGORY A" AWARDS - WINNERS

 

DETERMINED BY POINTS ON A 5-3-2 BASIS.

 

FIRST PLACE VOTES IN PARENTHESIS

 

LOU THESZ/RIC FLAIR AWARD

(WRESTLER OF THE YEAR)

 

1. A.J. STYLES (299) 2,507

2. Hiroshi Tanahashi (160) 1,674

3. Kazuchika Okada (136) 1,532

4. Shinsuke Nakamura (190) 1,481

5. John Cena (55) 976

6. Brock Lesnar (79) 668

7. Seth Rollins (51) 580

8. Sasha Banks (80) 519

9. La Sombra (35) 228

10. Jay Lethal (21) 214

 

HONORABLE MENTION: Finn Balor 64

 

A.J. Styles, 38-year-old Allan Jones, became the first American to win the Thesz/Flair Award since John Cena in 2010.

Ironically, it took him going to Japan to do so, where he held the IWGP championship, beating Hiroshi Tanahashi on February 11 in Osaka, and losing to Kazuchika Okada on July 5 in New Japan’s biggest Osaka event in more than a decade at a sold out Jo Hall.

Styles was also one of the top stars in ROH and also headlined for a number of promotions in the U.K. During the year, he had some incredible matches with the likes of Tanahashi, Okada, Kota Ibushi, Katsuyori Shibata and Will Ospreay, and headlined the some of the biggest non-WWE shows of the year.

New Japan dominated the voting with the top four finishers, including the winners from the past four years in Tanahashi (2011-2013) and Nakamura (2014).

This was a year without a clear-cut standout for the award. Most of the top place-winners could be reasonably argued to have a shot. With New Japan, Styles was one of the big four, but all of the big four were fantastic wrestlers who successfully headlined major shows. Styles, maybe surprisingly, won by a considerable margin, since it’s hard to find a gap between the four. Styles, Tanahashi and Okada all held the IWGP heavyweight title, while Nakamura headlined a number of shows as IC champion. Okada got most of the Japanese awards, but that’s because he was the one who ended the year as champion, and also was in Genichiro Tenryu’s retirement match, which was one of the year’s biggest events in that country with the sold out crowd and closed circuit throughout the country.

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