Like most other days, August 30 was a day where Impact Wrestling tweeted a lot. There were promo clips for Bound for Glory, a birthday message for Trey Miguel and some retro footage. There was also one tweet, however, that was very different from the rest.
IMPACT Wrestling star @bigjoedoering is stepping away from competition to take care of his health. Join us in wishing him a speedy recovery.
More: https://t.co/7BZAgitESq pic.twitter.com/y7VE7NPbOS
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) August 30, 2022
They announced that Joe Doering would be stepping away from wrestling for a while because the brain tumour he was first diagnosed with in 2016 had returned and he needed to pursue treatment.
On seeing the news, my first reaction was one of great sadness. Cancer is one of the greatest scourges of modern society and here was a guy who’d beaten it once having to get strapped in for another big fight.
When Doering returned to wrestling in 2017 after beating it the first time, it was clear that it was going to take a while for him to get back to his best. Understandably, he was a step off speed-wise and the power that had been a hallmark of his style was still slightly below 100%.
He found his feet eventually though, having good matches with Kento Miyahara, Daisuke Sekimoto, and Zeus, winning the Strongest Determination Tag League for the fourth time in his career and enjoying a second Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship reign.
When he linked up with Impact Wrestling at the end of 2020, I’ll be honest enough to admit that I wasn’t sold on how much he’d got left. He was 38 at the time and his body, with everything he’d been through, had a fair few more miles on the clock than that. I thought he’d be a great backup for Eric Young and he’d offer a different dynamic with much of the rest of the roster but that his in-ring abilities were likely in decline.
He repeatedly proved me wrong, though. From his second debut in 2020 right through to his last match with Impact last month, a trios match alongside Young and Deaner against Time Machine, Impact presented him as a brilliant, no-nonsense, six-foot-five ass-kicker.
Much of his work in this Impact run has been in the tag division, where they made him a two-time tag champion. His most common dance partner has been Deaner but he’s also regularly teamed with Young, Rhino and Doc Gallows. Regardless of who he’s been in there with, it’s been the perfect setting for him – he comes in, looks cool and does big hoss things like flattening people with big running crossbodies or taking their heads off with Hansen-esque lariats. To my mind, it’s no surprise that Deaner has been one of the most improved guys on the Impact roster over the last two years after working with Doering on a regular basis.
While less regular, his important singles matches have rocked too. His match with Satoshi Kojima last year is a bit of a hidden gem and he then absolutely knocked it out of the park against Josh Alexander at Against All Odds in July. I wasn’t sure what a Joe Doering main event would look like in 2022 but it was so much fun. It felt genuinely different from all of Alexander’s other great matches, with Doering positioned as this video game boss who repeatedly staggered the champion but couldn’t land the KO blow before his health bar emptied out.
As per Cagematch, Doering has had three of the 10 highest-rated matches of his career this year in Impact. Taking a wider view, it’s six of his top 15 and nine of his top 20. In other words, he’s having a consensus great year. His work more than passes the eye test too; he’d been a great watch this year and with a return to All Japan scheduled for September, he seemed set to finish off 2022 in a very strong way.
That will have to wait for now. Impact wrote him off the TV this week and handled it perfectly. Having teased a split of Violent By Design for a while, Young said that they’d hit a crossroads and that Doering had got a path of his own to tread. He noted that they’d cross paths again though, with Doering, who never normally speaks, saying ‘You know it’ before fist bumping both Young and Deaner and walking off. Young and Deaner will now go in a separate direction and given how motivated they’ve both been this year, I’m sure Doering’s battle will spur them both to step it up even more.
Check out what @TheEricYoung had to say to @bigjoedoering and @CodyDeaner about the future of Violent By Design backstage on #IMPACTonAXSTV!#IMPACTWRESTLING pic.twitter.com/uQwwEO6JNf
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) September 2, 2022
When the news broke, you saw the wrestling community rally behind him. Countless current and former Impact personnel praised him as one of the good guys. He was ‘Big Joe’ or ‘Uncle Joe’. A friend, a confidant, a brother.
Joe Doering has beaten cancer once and we’re all rooting for him to beat it again. As the t-shirt Impact have had made to support him and his family says, Keep Calm and Kick Ass.
Pro wrestling is better with people like Joe Doering in it.