Well one word you could use to describe professional wrestling in the year of 2022 is… eventful… And with that sadly there has been A LOT of stuff that I don’t really want to go into detail about. But it certainly hasn’t been all bad, indeed quite a lot of wholesome and generally quite cool stuff has happened too. So to cap off the year, I present to you 22 moments from 2022 that really were feel-good. Moments for us all to look back upon and smile. So sit back, grab a drink, and enjoy a chronological look back at the year that was… and what a year it was too!!!
WHAT A KNOCKOUT – Impact Knockouts World Champion Mickie James enters the Royal Rumble Match
It’s not out of the realm of possibility for something like this to happen at the 2023 Royal Rumble, but for a Vince McMahon led WWE to have the champion of another American wrestling promotion appear at one of the WWEs top shows, in a featured spot, wearing that promotions championship, with their own theme music, and to be openly referred to on commentary as such, and for that wrestler to talk about said appearance in the weeks leading up on the other company’s TV show, and for WWE to do the same… This really was ground-breaking stuff. What a moment this was for a woman who I don’t think is too far away at all from being a WWE Hall of Famer.
BUSINESS PICKS UP – Samoa Joe returns at ROH Supercard of Honor
For weeks, Tony Khan had been telling us all not to either leave or switch off from ROH’s WrestleMania weekend show. Despite the NXT show taking place not long or too far away after, those of us who stuck around to see the conclusion of the first ROH show under AEW rule were not disappointed. After Jay Lethal tried to ruin the celebrations of the new Undisputed ROH Champion, he was confronted by his former mentor, and newly inducted member of the Ring Of Honor hall of fame. And given it was a new entrance theme, none of us knew who it was until we physically saw him, and my god what a pop he got!
The Prodigal Son – Cody Rhodes returns to WWE at WrestleMania
Another of those amazing moments that you will remember where you were when you saw it. One of those we all knew was coming, but didn’t really want to believe it cause it seemed too good to be true. For weeks Seth Rollins on WWE TV had been trying to get a spot on the WrestleMania card, and went to all sorts of lengths to do so… before eventually an on air segment saw Mr McMahon tell Seth he had a match, against an opponent he wouldn’t know of until he was in the ring… And just as all this was going on… one of the co-founders of AEW was leaving. Again for different reasons we all couldn’t quite believe it… But in the end it did indeed happen. And as someone who loves AEW, WWE and Cody Rhodes my overriding emotion was I was pleased for him. Pleased he got back to where he wanted, and that he finally got HIS WrestleMania moment.
OH HELL YEAH! – Stone Cold Steve Austin returns to fight Kevin Owens at WrestleMania
I couldn’t not include this really could I? Seeing Stone Cold Steve Austin get to have one last hurrah, and him do it with Kevin Owens, and in the main event of WrestleMania, in Texas, and it to of been a heck of a scrap… it was just about as feel-good as you could get.
The Bron and the brains – Bron Breakker wins the NXT Championship on the Raw after Mania
Say what you want about the 2.0 era of NXT, but I truly believe it’s one last legacy will be this man. He’s got the lot, natural ability, strong character, and time on his side to get better and better. And to see him win back the title he has pretty much owned in recent times, on the biggest Raw of the year, was a heck of a moment!
Best In The World – FTR beat the Young Bucks on AEW Dynamite
Wasn’t quite sure what FTR moment to initially go for, but I’ve gone with this. Beating The Bucks, just days after beating The Briscoes, is some going. A phenomenal 2022 for Dax and Cash, full of titles and great matches and moments, but this one for me was the peak, it was at this moment for me that FTR truly felt like the very best tag team in the world.
AEW makes it Rain – Kazuchika Okada appears on Dynamite
There were rumours that this wasn’t going to happen, but for me the joint AEW-New Japan show just had to have him on the card. The go-home Dynamite for Forbidden Door featured a whole host of surprises ahead of the PPV, topped off by The Rainmaker FINALLY appearing on an All Elite Wrestling programme. “Nobody better in the world than Kazuchika Okada”, the great Jim Ross proclaimed. And if that wasn’t enough, just LISTEN to that POP!
Shibata pops his AEW… Orange… – Katsuyori Shibata appears at AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door
A legend of the game who’s career was seemingly cut short by a horrific injury, but somehow the legendary Shibata has found a way to return. And so on a night of dream matches and moments, we got another when Orange Cassidy was in need of a helping hand after his excellent match with the United Empire’s Will Ospreay.
The Swiss Roll’s into AEW – Claudio Castagnoli is ZSJ’s mystery opponent at AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door
Man this made me SO happy!!! Seeing Claudio, by far the most underrated wrestler in recent WWE history, get this sort of welcome into his new home was so awesome to see. And since then he hasn’t really looked back, and as I write this he’s currently in his second run as ROH Champion. What a wrestler, what a talent, and what a moment this was!
Time to LIV – Liv Morgan successfully cashes in to become the new SmackDown Women’s Champion
Another moment that felt like it was a long time coming for an underutilised talent! Liv Morgan has absolutely busted her ass last couple of years, and so her finally getting her time, for it to come the same night she won the briefcase, and for her to do it against a name like Ronda… magic.
Like father, like son – HOOK wins the FTW Championship
When I thought about putting this list together, this moment immediately came to mind. Such an amazing moment for so many reasons, and I’m sure it wasn’t by accident that Hook was wearing his dad’s colours, with his dad on commentary, to win his dad’s belt. Hook has organically become such an attraction, and if managed by AEW correctly they’ve a HUGE star on their hands. Look may the reign of the cold-hearted handsome devil continue!
The GIRLS are back in town! – Damage CTRL arrive at SummerSlam
The first ppv of the HHH era was always going to be… different… and right off the bat, after a great Mania rematch between Becky and Bianca kicked off SummerSlam, it was the afters that really got people talking. Bayley made her long awaited return to confront Bianca Belair, but she wasn’t alone… Dakota Kai (previously released by WWE) joined her, as did former NXT Women’s Champion Iyo Sky (FKA Io Shirai)… 3 wild moments within a minute or so, and the rest is history!
Time to Clean AGAIN – Kenny Omega returns to AEW
Another of those we knew was coming, but we didn’t care and we all LOVED it. This one was particularly special for a few reasons, mainly because there were times we weren’t sure this was ever going to happen… but for me it was cool because it took place in the early hours (UK time) of my birthday!!! One of the very best was BACK (for now… but we will get on to that…)…
Clash At The Castle in general! – The best WWE PLE of the Year
Hard to pick one moment in particular, but this whole show, the first WWE ple in the UK for over 30 years, was just outstanding. Gunther and Sheamus killing it and the Irishman getting his flowers after, a stadium-round rendition of Edge’s theme song, Broken Dreams getting a cameo during McIntyre’s entrance… what a wonderful occasion this show was!
She has a new house! – Saraya debuts in AEW
The biggest signing to the much-maligned AEW Women’s roster so far debuted at their annual Dynamite show at Arthur Ashe stadium. What a huge pop she got as well, and having since had her first match and a… mixed… run so far, it remains to be seen if AEW really is HER house or not. But as moments go, this was great!
Everybody loves the NEW champions! – The Acclaimed win the AEW Tag Titles
After their brilliant match at the PPV, the organic support for Max Caster, Anthony Bowens and DADDY ASS was reaching its… climax… and so this really felt like one of those magical, right place right time moments… one of the first proper OG AEW acts to be born and bred in the company to win major championship gold. Because really and factually, EVERYBODY loves The Acclaimed!
The White Rabbit… is HERE! – Bray Wyatt returns
What a wonderful chase of the elusive white rabbit this was. A quite unique and captivating multi-media campaign culminated at the end of the Extreme Rules PLE… with the return to WWE of my guy, Bray Wyatt. Not heard a pop for a return, or Holy Shit chants, that loud for a LONG time in WWE. This was glorious.
The Wayward Sons – The Elite return to AEW at Full Gear
So… some stuff happened… and Kenny and The Bucks had to go away for a bit… but at Full Gear, all was made right (ish) once again, as some of the founding fathers of the company came home. It felt very much like a heartfelt sustained roar from an adoring crowd, and a pretty cool entrance as well as the rockstars of AEW came back!
An Emperor meets his Cleaner – Kenny Omega returns to New Japan and challenges Will Ospreay for Wrestle Kingdom
A match made in wrestling dreamland will finally become reality once again in a matter of DAYS, as former IWGP Champion Kenny Omega returns to the land he once conquered, to take on one of his would-be successors. As a match this should speak for itself given it’s two of the best in the world, but the story between the two for those who have followed it has been about as personal as it gets. This one is going to be special.
We are FAMILY – Sami becomes an Uso
Without doubt, the most well told WWE story of 2022 has been that of Sami Zayn and The Bloodline. All the twists and turns along the way, and we aren’t even close to done just yet. But the War Games match with him turning his back officially on Kevin Owens, and the embrace from his longtime doubter Jey Uso after the match, a thing of beauty.
Let’s go Jobber! – Action Andretti beats Chris Jericho
The story here is Jericho saw this guy on AEW Dark some months back, and had a vision. And this was the end result. And to be fair, it got one hell of a pop. A career moment for someone not many of us had heard of prior, all I want to say is well done to the guy, and credit to Jericho for making it happen. This really was the definition of a feel-good moment.
And there you have it, that was the year that was in 2022. One of the more memorable years given the magnitude of events that occurred, but hopefully this look back at the better and happier moments shows you that wrestling can be pretty damn great, and going into 2023, I hope to be able to put together such a list again. Or maybe the year as a whole will be positive enough that I can talk about all the main players without a tinge of sadness or disgust… time will tell… but 2022 as a wrestling fan has been a blast, and here’s to 2023!
And if 2022 is anything to go by… ANYTHING could happen in 2023! …