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The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

Pro Wrestling

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

While every year in wrestling feels insane in its own right, 2022 has had a news cycle so chock-full of nonsense that it’s hard to keep up with it all.

While every year in wrestling feels insane in its own right, 2022 has had a news cycle so chock-full of nonsense that it’s hard to keep up with it all. Sure, you remember the CEOs that stepped down and the biggest backstage fights, but what about the inter-family drama that came from the fallout of the 2022 Royal Rumble? How about the failed promotion started by former WWE stars (and I don’t mean Control Your Narrative)?

And what other year can you say one of the biggest draws in wrestling history came out of retirement after over a decade in a high-profile match that was awesome and then promptly got swept up in a sea of other news?

It took a whole team of AIPT writers to compile even a cursory glance at the whiplash-inducing year that was 2022, with huge swerves, lengthy title reigns, and hirings and firings aplenty. We’ve done the work, though, and now we are proud to bring you over fifty abridged news stories that will cover some of the wildest events in one of the wildest years in wrestling history.

The year of Sami Zayn (All of 2022)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

WWE

Sami Zayn has been the best thing in all of professional wrestling this year. Everything this man touches has been gold.

Zayn started the year feuding with Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame which led to an underrated gem of a match at WrestleMania 38. On a weekend that had matches like Cody Rhodes vs. Seth Rollins, Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch, and the in-ring return of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Zayn’s match with Knoxville stands out as a highlight.

Shortly after WrestleMania, the wrestling gods decided to bring Sami Zayn into the Bloodline. Serving as the fifth member of the Bloodline, the “Honorary Uce” has been the most entertaining member of the most entertaining (and Ucey) storyline in all of professional wrestling. Sami has injected a much needed comedic edge to the stable, garnering some of the biggest pops of the year both in the ring and on the mic.

Sami has earned the respect of each member of the Bloodline and had undeniable chemistry with each member. He has even gained the respect of one of the greatest minds to ever bless sports entertainment in Paul Heyman.

Even though the Bloodline storyline has been going on for the better part of two years at this point, it could easily continue for another two. Even though we can all see the Bloodline eventually betraying Sami Zayn, and no matter how heart-wrenching it will be, adding Sami to the Bloodline was a great decision and has seriously helped Sami have one of the best if not the best year in professional wrestling. – Shane Martin

Tony Khan buries Big Swole on New Year’s Eve (December 31)

AEW ended their relatively harmonious 2021 and began their ultimately tumultuous 2022 with a bang (or a White Claw) as Big Swole told Fightful that a lack of diversity lead to her not finding a spot in AEW. Tony Khan shot back on Twitter, stating plainly that Big Swole was out of AEW not because of her race or gender, but because she’s not a good wrestler. This led to a lot of discontent in the AEW locker room, mostly from the mouth of one angry Lio Rush, and it was a bad omen for what would be AEW’s most controversial year. – Darius Melton

Roman gets COVID, leading to Big E losing his title to Brock Lesnar, leading to Undisputed Title; Big E Breaks Neck (January 1)

This was probably the wildest, real-time, butterfly effect phenomenon I’ve ever seen play out. Roman Reigns testing positive for COVID led to Big E losing his title and breaking his neck, which led to the return of the WWE Undisputed Championship.

Our tragedy begins on New Year’s Day. Big E was enjoying his first run as WWE Champion and was going into a new PLE named Day 1 to defend his title against Bobby Lashley, Seth Rollins, and Kevin Owens. He was not only heavily favored to win, but also likely to hold the title going into WrestleMania. Everything was coming up aces for the beloved grappler. Then Roman Reigns got COVID.

Roman Reigns had previously been feuding with Brock Lesnar over The Universal Championship and was scheduled to face Lesnar at that same event with all signs pointing to the match being inconclusive to prolong their feud to WrestleMania. However, because Reigns tested positive for COVID, the powers that be shuffled the deck and added Lesnar to the WWE Championship match, which he won by pinning Big E, creating calamity within the sacred timeline.

Lesnar’s win made a Title vs. Title match between him and Roman inevitable, which did in fact happen. Roman won the match and unified the titles to become the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. But in the interim, Big E was directionless and the creative team, rather haphazardly, put him back into the tag-team division with his long time tag partner, Kofi Kingston, which then led to a fateful match that involved him getting tossed onto his head by Ridge Holland and broke his C1 vertebra.

So, to recap: Big E had the worst New Year’s of all of us. Roman Reigns getting COVID led to him losing his title, getting shunted down the card, and breaking his neck in a match that probably would have never happened otherwise. Thankfully, Big E is recovering very well and is in great spirits. We hope he will be back in the ring very soon and much love to him from all of us here at AIPT. – Jay Barrett

Fenix dislocates his elbow on Dynamite (January 5)

In one of the more gruesome displays in wrestling this year, Rey Fenix dislocated his elbow during his final AEW World Tag Team Championship defense alongside brother Penta El 0M as he got chokeslammed through a table by Luchasaurus. This wasn’t the first injury Fenix sustained in AEW, but it was certainly the most brutal to watch live, and it was hard to believe that it was “just” a dislocated elbow when the slow-motion replay happened. – DM

Roman Reigns becomes the longest reigning Universal Champion (January 16)

831 days. As of this writing, this is how long Roman Reigns has been WWE Universal Champion, surpassing Brock Lesnar’s previous record of 503 days. With no real signs of his reign ending anytime soon, Reigns has had seven title defenses in 2022, defending his title against Seth Rollins, Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Matt Riddle, Drew McIntyre, and Logan Paul. Long live the Tribal Chief. – SM

Mickie James wears Impact Knockouts Championship at WWE Royal Rumble (January 29)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

WWE

Though the common sentiment is that the wrestling world is divided between WWE and everyone else, WWE made a shocking move during the Vince McMahon era by bringing back Mickie James for the 2022 women’s Royal Rumble match and allowing her to wear her Knockouts Championship to the show. She wore the belt, she got the chyron, she had her Impact theme music, the whole shebang. Not only was it cool to see Mickie James and WWE make amends after her less-than-stellar trash bag-related departure, but it was also a step in the right direction for WWE and their historically self-contained universe. – DM

Shane McMahon returns to WWE; is promptly fired (January 29)

Shane McMahon is typically seen as “the good one,” not having the on-screen invincibility of his sister, the backstage insanity of his father, or the boringness of his mother. Yet, January’s Royal Rumble event tested this label as Shane reportedly tried to derail the whole men’s Royal Rumble for the sake of his image. After his squabbles with Randy Orton and apparently even Brock Lesnar, Shane was promptly let go by his father after the show, with Vince stating that Shane would never get a pop again in WWE as long as Vince is in charge. Well, at least that door is open now, Shane! – DM

205 Live Dies (February 11)

205 Live was an offshoot WWE brand that featured cruiserweights ever since its debut in 2016. Building off the momentum from the Cruiserweight Classic tournament in 2016, it was part of Triple H’s vision to bring light-heavyweight, lucha-libre style back to prominence in WWE. And though they tried valiantly by giving them dedicated time on Raw and a one-hour, live show every week, WWE fans couldn’t be bothered. It was a shame, because out of that show we got a rejuvenated Neville (now known as PAC in AEW), Mustafa Ali, Cedric Alexander, and Buddy Murphy, and the brand did have a great, six year run. Unfortunately, its death came in 2022 when it was rebranded as NXT: Level Up which is NXT’s NXT. Yeesh. – JB

Cody Rhodes leaves AEW (February 15)

Many folks wondered who the first big defector from AEW to WWE would be, but certainly no one would have assumed that it would be a member of the Elite. Then-executive vice president of AEW Cody Rhodes was wrestling without a contract in early 2022, his contract having expired at the end of 2021. As he was TNT Champion and a member of the Elite (if a distant one), most people figured it was only a matter of time before he and wife Brandi re-signed and got their rivalry with American Top Team off the ground. Yet, on February 15, Tony Khan and the Rhodes family announced that they’d gone their separate ways, and the going rumor was that Cody was WWE-bound. It would be less than two months before we got closure on that front. – DM

Gabriel Kidd goes on sabbatical from NJPW (February 23)

Mental health is something to be taken seriously not just in wrestling, but in life in general, which is why it was so worrying to see recent young lion graduate Gabriel Kidd’s Twitter meltdown in February of this year. Thankfully, Will Ospreay quickly stepped in to tell fans and wrestlers alike not to interact with Kidd, leading to Kidd taking a month away from wrestling and eight months away from New Japan. The 25-year-old grappler has a bright future ahead of him, so it’s nice to see him get the support he needs from his locker mates. – DM

Tony Khan buys Ring of Honor (March 2)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

Ring of Honor shocked the wrestling industry by announcing a post-Final Battle hiatus last year, and many people wrote them off as good as dead, even as they started announcing a card for their WrestleMania-weekend show, Supercard of Honor. However, new hope was found in the brand back in March when AEW president Tony Khan announced that he had bought the rights to Ring of Honor. The tape library, the championships, and the upcoming April show were all now Tony Khan’s to play with, and though the Ring of Honor presence on AEW TV has been a little iffy, all three ROH pay-per-views this year have been stellar. – DM

Control Your Narrative has its debut show (March 6)

It’s hard to believe that this was in 2022, but EC3’s Control Your Narrative — a Fight Club-inspired independent promotion following the mixed success of his Free Your Narrative pay-per-views in 2020 — caused quite a stir when it was announced earlier this year. Led by EC3, Braun Strowman, Karrion Kross, and most controversially Austin Aries, CYN had their debut show in March, got panned for it, and kind of left the spotlight until they invaded NWA in August. – DM

Scott Hall dies (March 14)

………Hey yo. The wrestling world lost one of its most influential members in March, when Scott Hall, aka Razor Ramon, passed away at age 63. After cutting his teeth in WCW as the Diamond Studd, Hall found great success in the WWF as Razor Ramon, the Scarface-influenced Cubano who oozed machismo. After that, Hall went on to revolutionize the industry as a founding member of the New World Order alongside fellow Kliq member Kevin Nash and “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. The nWo has influenced wrestling more than perhaps any other entity in the sport’s history, and a lot of that comes down to Hall’s effortless cool factor.

Hall’s struggles later in life with drugs and alcohol were well documented, and while he made great strides toward fighting his demons, those demons ultimately did him in. But like Hall said at his Hall of Fame acceptance speech in 2014: “Hard work pays off. Dreams come true. Bad times don’t last, but bad guys do.” Rest in peace, chico. – Patrick Ross

MJF Saga Pt. 1: The Ariel Helwani Interview (March 24)

Back in March, it was reported that Tony Khan and MJF had gotten into a heated argument over MJF taking an interview with Ariel Helwani that had not been cleared with AEW’s PR team. Though it was seen as a mountain-out-of-a-molehill moment at the time (the interview’s only real problem being MJF’s various WWE references, all of which he’d made on AEW TV regularly), it ended up being the first of many arguments the two parties would have throughout the spring. Soon enough, one interview argument turned into serious discussions about pay raises and early contract signings. – DM

The Great O-Khan saves teenage girl from abduction (March 29)

On the eve of March 29, NJPW’s Great O-Khan spotted a “drunk pervert” grabbing a teenage girl by the shoulders near the JR Musashi Kosugi Station in Kawasaki city. O-Khan stepped in, separated the two, and offered the young girl pancakes in hopes it’d make her feel better. When asked what he wanted in return, he asked her to please check out New Japan. What a pleasant hero, that Great O-Khan! – DM

Cody Rhodes joins WWE (April 2)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

WWE

When I think of surreal wrestling moments, nothing in recent memory will top hearing “Wrestling has more than one royal family…” on the loudspeaker at AT&T Stadium at WrestleMania 38. Cody Rhodes had just left the company he helped found in AEW just a couple of months prior, and while rumors swirled that he was headed home, it still felt impossible. I mean, Cody literally started the only viable competition to WWE since they purchased WCW, the house his father helped build, in 2001! How would Vince welcome him back after that? Well, time (and money on the table) heals all wounds, and Cody Rhodes – the AEW version of Cody Rhodes, Downstait theme, bleached-blond hair, atrocious neck tattoo and all – took a ride up the Codyvator to one of the most deafening pops in wrestling history. – PR

Logan Paul is actually really good at wrestling (April 2)

When it was first announced, WWE bringing in the prince of YouTubers-turned-athletes Logan Paul seemed like just the latest entry into its ever-growing canon of forgettable celebrity wrestlers. Hidden in a tag match with The Miz against the Mysterios, it seemed like even the brass at WWE were prepared to sweep this mess under the rug, and then he came out. Clad in ostentatious yellow with a million dollar Pokemon card hanging from his neck, Paul was every bit the heat magnet he needed to be as a member of the heel team.

But then he got in the ring and like….WTF? Logan Paul is like, a really good wrestler. Dude was acrobatic and smooth, his motions and emoting were on point; hell, he even hit a frog splash that would make Montez Ford say “SIR!” Barring the transparent attempt to turn him face for a Miz program, this was easily the best celebrity performance in WWE history (Apologies to Stephen Amell, Bad Bunny, and Snooki). Paul even one-upped that performance months later in a banger against Roman Reigns in Saudi Arabia! He was electric in the ring, even managing to hit a better Buckshot Lariat than “Hangman” Adam Page en route to a loss. It’s honestly a shame he’s on the shelf with a leg injury, because I’m interested to see what he and his brother could do against the Usos. – Jason Segarra

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin wrestles a match at age 57 (April 2)

I don’t think anybody had “Stone Cold” Steve Austin coming out of retirement on their bingo card at the beginning of this year, but it actually happened when Austin took on Kevin Owens in the main event of WrestleMania 38 Night 1. Despite a pretty lackluster build that relied on Kevin Owens carrying the entire feud by regularly insulting the state of Texas – both the home of the Rattlesnake and the site of WrestleMania – it was awesome. Owens invited Austin to be a guest on the “Kevin Owens Show”, but rumors swirled that WWE was planning on a lot more. Once it was known that the KO Show was serving as the main event of WrestleMania 38 Night 1, it became clear where this was headed – Austin was going to stomp a mudhole in Owens and walk it dry.

The 57 year-old Austin wrestled his first match since 2003, and honestly looked pretty good, even taking a gross suplex on the concrete floor at one point. Good enough for another match or two in the future, perhaps? Oh hell yeah. – PR

Nash Carter fired from WWE while champion (April 6)

Nash Carter (otherwise known as Zachary Wentz) of MSK was riding high when he and Wes Lee won the NXT Tag Team Championships at NXT Stand and Deliver on WrestleMania weekend. Then, four days after becoming champion, his wife, Kimber Lee, leaked past photos of Nash Carter imitating Adolf Hitler amidst domestic abuse allegations. Though it’s unclear how the allegations affected his release, the Hitler photos certainly led to Carter being released from WWE, vacating his championship, and being removed from an upcoming pack of WWE 2K22 DLC. – DM

Tessa Blanchard has falling out with WOW (May 6)

Despite the women’s wrestling promotion being focused around Tessa upon its second revival, Tessa Blanchard and Women of Wrestling had a reported falling out in May of this year, four months prior to the TV return of their weekly show. It wasn’t shocking news that Tessa Blanchard and a wrestling company had fallen out, but since the only other major push WOW got this time around was AJ Mendez’s (behind the scenes) return to wrestling, Tessa’s departure was a major blow — if an inevitable one — for the promotion. – DM

Kota Ibushi vs New Japan Pro Wrestling (May 10)

Years after Kota Ibushi announced that he was sticking by New Japan for the rest of his (allegedly) mortal life, 2022 saw Ibushi try his hardest to burn that bridge by announcing in May that he vowed to expose “Cheaters-gun” and the “sexually harassing bosses” he’d been dealing with, calling out not only “the company president,” but Tokyo Sports and TV Asahi as well. While the talk of Ibushi exposing NJPW upon his contract expiration is still an ongoing fear within New Japan to this day, all we know at this point is that the company allegedly tried to push him to come back early from injury and that Ibushi has been talking about running his own company. – DM

Sasha Banks and Naomi walk out of WWE (May 16)

Sasha Banks and Naomi were the WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions when the pair abruptly left the site of a Raw taping back in May over creative differences, and they haven’t been seen on WWE television since. This left the WWE women’s division, the Women’s Tag Team Championships, and wrestling at large in a state of flux – the biggest attraction in women’s wrestling has taken her ball and gone home! It doesn’t seem like we’ll have to wait long for The Boss to appear in a wrestling ring again, as she’s reportedly set to appear at NJPW’s Wrestle Kingdom 17, but WWE’s women’s division will always feel like it’s missing something without Boss and Glow around. – PR

MJF Saga Pt. 2: The Meet & Greet (May 28)

MJF and Wardlow were arguably the hottest double act in AEW heading into this year’s Double or Nothing, where the former associates were set to have their big old grudge match. It should have been the talk of the weekend, but when it was announced that MJF no-showed a DON weekend meet and greet (not for traffic reasons or double-bookings like the Hardys and Samoa Joe) and got into yet another argument with Tony Khan that led to a one-way plane ticket getting booked for Mr. Friedman, fans were starting to wonder if MJF and Wardlow would even fight, let alone steal the show. Thankfully, MJF and TK got it together just long enough for MJF to take his powerbombs on Sunday and cut a scathing promo on Wednesday prior to his months-long hiatus. – DM

CM Punk relinquishes the AEW Championship (June 3)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

AEW

Much like WWE in 2015, 2022 was an injury-heavy year for AEW. Though then-AEW Tag Team Champion Fenix’s injury in January came from a match that the Lucha Brothers were already losing, it was CM Punk’s broken foot in May that put a real halt to AEW’s momentum and led to the much-maligned Interim Champion saga. It’s a good thing this was the only time a champion had to relinquish their belt, right? Or, at least, the only time CM Punk did. Right? – DM

Cody Rhodes defeats Seth Rollins in all-time classic with a torn pectoral (June 5)

Cody Rhodes returned to WWE to feud with Seth Rollins, and unfortunately, that’s really all he had the ability to do before he was put on the shelf with a torn pectoral after a weightlifting accident. However, before taking time off for surgery and recovery, Cody “Gigachad” Rhodes decided to go through with the scheduled Hell in a Cell match against Rollins with said injury. It was a gnarly scene, as Cody’s pec was completely black and he seemingly had no use of that arm, but he came through with both the victory and the highest-rated main-roster WWE match in some time by Dave Meltzer. – PR

Jeff Hardy AEW run cut short by DUI (June 13)

Welp, so much for the excitement around Jeff Hardy’s All Elite run. Hardy, who had recently been released from his WWE contract for refusing mandatory rehab for what was viewed as erratic behavior, joined his brother in AEW to a lot of fanfare. There was a lot of interest in rekindling the feud between a reunited Hardy Boyz and the Young Bucks, and dream matches against FTR, the Lucha Bros, Jurassic Express, and more seemed to be on the horizon.

And yet…as they so often do with Jeffrey Nero Hardy, things fell apart when he got popped for DUI in Volusia County, Florida – his third DUI arrest in 10 years, and a third-degree felony. Jeff was immediately pulled from TV, sent to rehab, and hasn’t been seen since. His brother has been spinning his wheels on AEW’s C and D shows ever since, with no sign of a Jeff return in sight. What at first seemed so promising as “one final run” for the Hardys fizzled out before it could even get started. – JS

Kazuchika Okada finally debuts in AEW (June 22)

For as long as AEW has existed, people have been wondering when Okada would arrive. He was a featured attraction at All In, and he’s friends with the Young Bucks, so it had to only be a matter of time before the coins drop, or at least that was the hope. Thankfully, those fans wishing to see “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada on AEW Dynamite got their wish fulfilled back in June when he made his TBS debut on the go-home show before AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door. Speaking of… – DM

AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door (June 26)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

The “Forbidden Door” concept was created by NJPW’s Hiroshi Tanahashi as a term to hype up his attempt at winning Chris Jericho’s AEW World Championship at Wrestle Kingdom 14, basically saying that, even though Moxley and Jericho (and later Rocky Romero and Lance Archer) regularly appeared for both companies, there was still a barrier between both companies. That barrier was crossed on June 26, 2022, when the two companies held their first co-produced event since the Elite split from New Japan. With the debut of the AEW All-Atlantic Championship and matches like Jon Moxley vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Orange Cassidy vs. Will Ospreay, and the four-way IWGP World Championship match between Jay White, Hangman Page, Adam Cole, and Kazuchika Okada, this was arguably the best work rate-focused show of the year. – DM

Everybody Loved Buff Bagwell (Until July)

Remember that brief time period where Buff Bagwell was suddenly everyone’s favorite WCW wrestler because he was posting easily retweetable cold takes like a top hat-wearing, six-pack-sporting Wendy’s clone? It was a fun ride, but it all fell apart back in July when not only did Buff get caught lying about running the account himself, but the man who actually was running his account got outed as an alleged sex offender. That’s not the Stuff. – DM

The Authors of Pain can’t run a wrestling promotion (July 7)

The bulk of early 2022 saw various attempts by Gzim Selmani and Sunny Dhisna of the Legion of Pain (formerly Authors of Pain) to start their own wrestling promotion, World Entertainment Series. WES was supposed to have their debut show on July 7 in Nottingham, but their grift fell apart when wrestlers like Matt “Aiden English” Rehwoldt and Lina “Nia Jax” Fanene publicly called them out for mismanagement or otherwise falsely advertising their appearances. After the show’s cancellation, wrestlers actually booked for the show like Moose and Eric Young were reportedly paid, but Jax got back half the money she was promised, and the Pain boys ran off to sell NFTs. – DM

Vince McMahon retires (July 22)

A day that many WWE fans never thought would come. On Friday, July 22nd, 2022 WWE Chairman and CEO Vincent Kennedy McMahon officially retired amid an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct. McMahon has been the chairman of WWE since purchasing the company from his father 40 years ago in 1982. Under Vince’s control, the WWE grew from one of many different territories operating in the United States to a global powerhouse of sports entertainment.

Vince’s daughter, Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan have since been named co-CEOs of World Wrestling Entertainment. – SM

Jonathan Gresham vs Tony Khan (July 23)

Tony Khan’s problems with talent didn’t just stop with Big Swole and MJF, as Jonathan Gresham had his own bone to pick with TK surrounding July’s ROH Death Before Dishonor event. Though Gresham appeared on April’s Battle of the Belts card, he didn’t appear in AEW again until a handful of matches on Rampage and Dark in July right before he was told he was losing the belt to Claudio Castagnoli. Gresham and the AEW/ROH president exchanged words about Khan’s lack of communication, and though the biggest topic of discussion among fans afterwards was Gresham’s alleged use of his PWI 500 ranking as an argument for why he should be treated better, this was still another black mark on Tony Khan’s year of disgruntled workers. – DM

Triple H is named head of creative for WWE (July 25)

Immediately after the shocking retirement of Vince McMahon was the announcement that Paul “Triple H” Levesque would be taking over as Chief Content Officer and Head of Creative for WWE.

Since being promoted in July, Triple H has implemented several changes in WWE, some more major than others:

  • Given several talents like Riddle and Ciampa their first names back.
  • Eliminated the fluff and filler for longer television matches.
  • More creative freedom and room for improvisation amongst talent.
  • Greater focus on US and Intercontinental Championships.
  • Focus on long term storytelling.
  • Bringing back countless previously released talent.

There is no argument that Vince McMahon brought WWE to heights it had never seen before, but at the same time had seriously lost touch over the past two decades. And while everything that Triple H has done since taking over as head of creative hasn’t always been a home run, WWE has been more entertaining in the last several months than it had been in a long, long time. – SM

Ric Flair’s Last Match (July 31)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

Early in 2022, Ric Flair began posting clips of practice matches against Jay Lethal that looked pretty fun as a spare time activity for a retired wrestler. Then, Ric decided he wanted a true, final wrestling match main event, partnering with son-in-law Conrad Thompson to promote the pay-per-view event Ric Flair’s Last Match. RFLM ended up being a pretty crazy super card of independent talents with support from all corners of the wrestling world, but of course, the big talking point was Ric Flair and other son-in-law Andrade El Idolo vs. Jay Lethal and Jeff Jarrett. The match was hard to watch, and Ric’s worked heart attack spot was frighteningly realistic, but the Nature Boy thankfully didn’t go out like The Wrestler, and he’s yet to go back on his promise of ending his career that night. – DM

Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Karrion Kross, Johnny Gargano, Candice LeRae, Dexter Lumis, Mia Yim, Dakota Kai, and Hit Row come back to WWE (August)

Triple H very, very quickly went to work to right the wrongs of the McMahon regime. He almost immediately brought back the likes of Dakota Kai, Hit Row (sans Swerve), Karrion Kross, Scarlett, Braun Strowman, Dexter Lumis, and Bray Wyatt back into the fold. He was also able to bring back Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae, who had their contracts expire and were biding their time to find a company of best fit. The returns have been of differential success/impact as of this writing but overall, net positive I’d say. – JB

AEW’s backstage issues change the narrative on the company (August)

This is a bit of a catch-all headline that, more or less, sums up the tumultuous year that AEW has had. Ever since their founding in 2019, AEW has been portrayed by nearly everyone affiliated as having a wonderful, collaborative environment that set the new standard for wrestling workplaces. That reputation was mired to a degree in 2022. Considering numerous backstage fiascos that involves Sammy Guevara getting beat up several times for being Sammy Guevara, MJF having an interesting time in Vegas before the Double or Nothing PPV, Tony Khan clearly showing wear as a booker and having difficulty communicating well with his talent, allegations of certain performers playing “hard-ball” during performances, and something about people getting bitten after a PPV, I think it’s fair to say AEW is going through some growing pains. They seem to have rebounded very well since September, though, and the ship seems to be back on track. Here’s hoping to smoother sailing in 2023. – JB

Kevin Owens returns as “The Prize Fighter” (August 15)

Kevin Owens is the pizza of professional wrestling. No matter how many times you see him, no matter how many times he’s been reheated, and even if it seems like he isn’t doing much – it’s still pizza. You’re always happy to see him and he’s always great. That’s why fans rejoiced when Papa H saw fit to give him a soft-reboot as “The Prizefighter” as a signal to fans that, “hey, we’re bringing him back to his roots to grow him back to prominence. Jump on the train” and it’s been great ever since. – JB

Thunder Rosa relinquishes the AEW Women’s Championship (August 24)

A few weeks before Thunder Rosa could defend her championship against Toni Storm at AEW All Out, Rosa cut a backstage promo on Dynamite explaining that she’d have to drop the Women’s Championship due to her injuries. Though nagging injuries had been a regularly accepted explanation for Rosa’s matches since spring, lots of people in and outside of AEW subtly (or very blatantly) accused Rosa of faking her injuries since she was losing the belt soon. Though no one has confirmed anything of the sort, the latest news we have on Thunder Rosa is that her injuries have worsened and the Interim AEW Women’s Championship reigns since Rosa’s departure are all now legitimate reigns. So, congrats to Toni Storm and Jamie Hayter. Get well soon, Thunder Rosa. – DM

NXT UK dies (September 4)

Like Ring of Honor in 2021, NXT UK’s death is actually more of a rebirth, but the words “NXT UK” are functionally dead as of September 2022. NXT UK Men’s and Women’s Champions Tyler Bate and Meiko Satomura, respectively, lost their championships to Bron Breakker and Mandy Rose at Worlds Collide and got their belts assimilated into NXT prime, while NXT UK’s Pretty Deadly won both brands’ Tag Team Championships to unify them. Though the upcoming rebrand into NXT Europe should be a light at the end of the tunnel, it doesn’t help that 21 wrestlers got released in August, including former NXT UK and NXT proper Tag Team Champion Trent Seven. – DM

Sammy Guevara gets beat up by Eddie Kingston; Sammy Guevara also gets beat up by Andrade El Idolo (September 4)

No one had a more punchable face in all of pro wrestling than Sammy Guevara, and punched it was in 2022. Sammy was involved in two separate backstage alterations this past year where his face was likely punched several times. The first was with Eddie Kingston, the pride of Yonkers, who beat up Sammy for going off script and making fun of his weight on a taped version of Rampage that could have been edited out. The second was with Andrade El Idolo over some vague comments Sammy made towards Andrade that not many people read/registered. Anyway, Sammy got got, and Eddie and Andrade were suspended. Eddie came back and they had a great match at Grand Slam; meanwhile, you just remembered that Andrade has not been around the past few months. – JB

MJF Saga Pt. 3: All Out (September 4)

All Out is developing a reputation for ending with a bang, and this year’s followed up the 2021 debuts of Adam Cole and Bryan Danielson by bringing in the hottest missing act in AEW, Maxwell Jacob Friedman. Though the introduction of the Firm and their interference in the opening Casino Ladder Match were both weird missteps, the Tony Khan voicemail that played in Chicago as MJF made his return on the KhanTron was great, and the arena erupted for the man’s return. You can say a lot about his behavior outside of the ring, but MJF makes for compelling TV. – DM

CM Punk’s Gripebomb (September 4)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

CM Punk’s return to AEW started off weird when he called out Hangman Page for (seemingly) no reason, lost to Jon Moxley in 3 minutes, and got the F-word yelled at him by Ace Steel before winning the AEW Championship back at All Out — a match in which Punk also got injured for a second time. Hurt, old, and working with children, Punk went on a post-show rant about his relationship with Colt Cabana, “empty-headed f—king dumb f—k” Hangman Page, and EVPs too incompetent to run a Target. He challenged anyone who had a problem with him in the locker room to come talk to him like a man, and unfortunately, three men did. – DM

Brawl Out and its Fall Out (September 4)

Allegedly, the Elite “kicked” CM Punk’s door down, Punk punched a Young Buck in the face, Ace Steel bit Kenny Omega, Larry the Dog may have been injured, and a chair was thrown Boondocks style as a result of Punk’s post-All Out media scrum. Afterwards, Ace Steel was fired; CM Punk and the Elite were suspended and had to lose all of the championships they’d won at All Out, including the inaugural AEW Trios Championships; and Brandon Cutler, Michael Nakazawa, Christopher Daniels, and Pat Buck were all suspended due to their own involvement with the brawl, though this last group came back to the road not too long afterward. The story has changed various times, and legal action has been threatened, but as of right now, all we’re getting is coy comments from Punk at MMA events, the Elite in their trios matches, and the uninvolved MJF basically every week. – DM

Saraya fka Paige returns to wrestling (September 21)

Following in the footsteps of other wrestling legends who ostensibly had their careers cut short by similar neck injuries only to make dramatic returns that would have seemed impossible five years ago like Daniel “Bryan” Danielson, Edge, and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Saraya, better known as WWE’s Paige, made a shocking appearance at AEW Grand Slam on September 21. Though her role was unclear for a few weeks, it wouldn’t be long until we saw Saraya taking bumps – and beating Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. – at Full Gear less than two months later. – PR

Antonio Inoki dies at 79 (October 1)

One of the most interesting men in wrestling history, Antonio Inoki — founder of New Japan Pro Wrestling, former member of the Japanese House of Councillors (who negotiated the release of 36 hostage with Suddam Hussein), a WWE Hall of Famer, and a former opponent of Muhammed Ali — died from systemic transthyretin amyloidosis on October 1, 2022 at age 79. He leaves behind an incredible legacy and some hilarious Spider-Man-related prank videos. – DM

Katsuya Kitamura dies at 36 (October 12)

Katsuya Kitamura was the Wrestling Monster, a young lion so huge that it was believable he could beat anyone on the roster even when he had black trunks and a Boston crab finisher. His team with Tomoyuki Oka — now known as the Great O-Khan — had a bright future, though Kitamura’s career was cut short when he left NJPW in 2019 after a slew of injuries, leaving behind a class of students that would go on to bring us O-Khan, Master Wato, “Shooter” Umino, and Ren Narita. Late this year, Kitamura was rushed to the hospital, but he unfortunately passed away on October 12, 2022 of unknown causes. He was 36 years old. – DM

Jake Hager likes his hat (October 7)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

Jake Hager recently was gifted a purple bucket hat and he likes it. In fact, he may love it, as he is constantly posting about it. It is the most relevant thing he has done since winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Chris Jericho in 2010. – JB

Karl Anderson debuts in WWE while champion in NJPW (October 10)

Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows returned this past fall to reunite with AJ Styles to reboot The OC. However, Karl Anderson was the NEVER Openweight champion for NJPW at the time of his return (and as of this writing, still is), which caused quite the controversy among NJPW fans, and Twitter was ablaze with questions. How could this have happened? Did Triple H know? Did NJPW know? The answers to these questions weren’t and aren’t important because, as MJF assures us, NJPW isn’t relevant and we should stop pretending it is. – JB

Hangman Page suffers a concussion on Dynamite (October 19)

In a dreadfully scary moment, a seemingly routine clothesline from Jon Moxley rung Hangman’s bell during the main event on episode of Dynamite and we all feared that Hangman had broken his neck. Hangman appeared to be completely unconscious, forcing AEW to scramble their medical services to ensure Hangman’s safety. Cameras panned away from the ring and the commentators were forced to comment upon the hushed silence in the arena with a visibly emotional Taz. Thankfully, it was shown that Hangman had only suffered a concussion in lieu of a broken neck and has already returned to television. – JB

Katsuyori Shibata vs Orange Cassidy on AEW Rampage (November 4)

Katsuyori Shibata has had three matches since returning from his life-threatening injury in 2017. One of those matches was against Orange Cassidy for the AEW All Atlantic Championship. Though this probably wasn’t anyone’s dream match aside from Orange Cassidy himself, the match was really fun, and it didn’t look like Shibata was holding back. It was great to see The Wrestler on American TV with AEW’s wackiest top star. – DM

Shota “Shooter” Umino returns to NJPW (November 5)

It’s always fun when young lions return from excursion to prove themselves as big time NJPW stars, especially when they made such an impression in their early days. Jon Moxley’s “Shooter” already had an All-Atlantic Championship match with PAC, an appearance at Forbidden Door, and numerous NJPW America/Strong appearances this year, but his big return came in November when he faced off with Will Ospreay in a 23-minute IWGP United States Championship match. Time will tell how Umino Jr. bounces back from that loss and makes his mark in New Japan. – DM

Nick Aldis tries to leave NWA (November 6)

NWA has been having “a year,” and apparently, even their ride-or-die top guy Nick Aldis wants out. In November, Aldis announced on a since-deleted Instagram video that he had given NWA his notice due to creative differences, not specifying if this was about his career or the company direction at large. Whatever the case, his departure in January will end a six-year run as the face of the company, leaving the company with Billy Corgan and NWA Champion Tyrus. – DM

The Death of the 24/7 Championship (November 7)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

Another of the welcome changes coming in the early days of Triple H’s run as head of creative is the death of the comedy jobber belt that changed hands at least four times every segment, the 24/7 Champion. It will not be missed by anyone other than Dana Brooke and R-Truth. The irony, of course, is that after Nikki Cross won the thing in dominant fashion, she attempted to dump it in the garbage can and missed but didn’t bother to look back. Frankly, it was a fitting end to a title that existed solely to make Vince laugh and be won and lost at house shows. – JS

Tyrus becomes NWA Champion (November 12)

Tyrus became NWA World Champion in 2022. That is a very weird sentence. I mean, yes, there is a subject, a predicate, and a verb, so it is certainly a sentence, but Tyrus (née Brodus Clay) became NWA World Champion. Other sentences regarding this topic also include: Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Sting, Kurt Angle, and Tyrus have held the NWA World Championship. Yeah, the NWA has seen better days. – JB

The Usos become the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions (November 14)

Just last month, Jimmy and Jey Uso surpassed the New Day’s record of 483 days to become the longest reigning WWE Tag Team Champions in history. Defeating the former record holders in a great match on SmackDown, the Usos have held the championships for 503 days and counting, ensuring the Bloodline continues to dominate the world of sports entertainment. – SM

Scotty 2 Hotty and Intergender/Transgender Wrestling (November 16)

Every few years, the internet wrestling community reignites the argument about whether or not intergender wrestling is kosher. This year’s Twitter war was started by Scott “Scotty 2 Hotty” Garland, who requested that promoters stop trying to book him in intergender matches since he’s against portraying violence against women as a father. It wasn’t the most inflammatory tweet, but it was enough to get Scotty the “Twitter Bean Dad” treatment of becoming everyone’s punching bag. Many were just saying that they were for intergender wrestling and moving on, but enough vitriol came Mr. 2 Hotty’s way that he ended up deactivating his Twitter. – DM

KAIRI becomes inaugural IWGP Women’s Champion (November 20)

The 60 wildest wrestling stories of 2022

Kairi Hojo (better known to western fans as Kairi Sane) made her return to her old stomping grounds, World Wonder Ring Stardom, back in February and had her pick of the litter since she’s a special attraction now. After settling into Stardom, KAIRI (all caps when you spell the woman’s name) started gunning for the brand new IWGP Women’s Championship, winning the title in the main event of NJPW’s Historic X-Over event in November over former Threedom partner Mayu Iwatani to become the face of joshi wrestling in New Japan. – DM

William Regal leaves AEW (November 30)

Though William Regal signed a multi-year deal with AEW, it was announced in early December that Regal would not be staying with the company going into 2023 now that old buddy Triple H is in charge of creative over at WWE. Regal also wants to be close with his son, and for that reason, Tony Khan opted not to renew Regal’s contract despite the weird spot that puts AEW TV in, seeing as Regal just betrayed Jon Moxley at November’s Full Gear event. – DM

Sasha Banks agrees to appear at Wrestle Kingdom 17, becomes highest paid wrestler in the company (December 8)

Numerous sources have indicated that Sasha Banks has indeed left WWE and will be working some dates for NJPW for a whooping $100,000 per appearance. While this has yet to be announced officially, it is in line with several rumors regarding her ability to take wrestling-oriented bookings. The question is then, will Sasha Banks prove to be a needle mover for NJPW? I’d like to think that she will, but it will certainly be a test of her appeal outside of WWE as fans will have to tune in at 3 AM to see her live. – JB

Mandy Rose is fired from WWE (December 14)

Mandy Rose was three days away from becoming the second-longest reigning NXT Women’s Champion when she suddenly lost the championship to Roxanne Perez on the December 13, 2022, episode of NXT. The next day, it was announced that Mandy Rose had been released by WWE due to the explicit nature of the content on her FanTime account. It was a very sudden end to a years-long reign, but we’ll see how Mandy Rose moves on from this turn of events.. – DM

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