2022 was one of the most eventful years in professional wrestling history, with major news stories affecting companies worldwide. It was also a great year for this website. Not only did we begin our 11th year by celebrating the 10th anniversary of The Flagship Podcast, but we continued to grow and evolve in new and exciting ways both with high-level written content—columns, previews, reviews, series, etc—but we continued to grow the Voices of Wrestling Podcast Network into the gold standard of pro wrestling podcast networks.
Today, thanks to inspiration from VOW contributor Ewan Cameron, we present VoicesofWrestling.com’s Best of 2022. This series—which I hope becomes an annual tradition—enlisted VOW contributors to promote and write about the proudest individual accomplishment/contribution to the site this year and their favorite contribution outside of their work. It was a fun challenge to contributors and works to help promote one another across the website and podcast network.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy VoicesofWrestling.com Best of 2022, and we thank you as always for your continued support of VOW and everything we do!
-Rich Kraetsch (Editor, VoicesofWrestling.com)
The Good, The Bad, & The Hungee: Does Tony Khan have a booking problem?
As the host of the network’s AEW podcast, we break down the program in-depth on a regular basis. This segment from our December 6 episode breaks down the issues that AEW has with Rampage and if Tony Khan has a booking problem.
Column: How AEW Evolved From the First Blood and Guts
After the latest Blood and Guts match, it was abundantly clear that AEW learned from their first rendition and made the last one better.
#IMPACT20: AJ Styles vs. Chris Sabin vs. Petey Williams (January 16, 2005)
In my life, there have been a few matches that have truly stood out and this is one of them. Three-way matches are weird and usually full of the standard tropes, but this one was different. The best singles Ultimate-X match in the history of Impact Wrestling, the story and action were brilliant, as was the finish.
Something I Enjoyed: The Dynamite Dozen by: Suit Williams
The Dynamite Dozen is something that I look forward to every year. The best matches of the year written by Suit who knows how to paint a picture.
Column: WWE VS. AEW Live Event Experience: What’s The Difference?
This past summer, I was able to attend AEW’s Blood & Guts and WWE’s SmackDown double taping at Detroit’s Little Ceasar’s Arena less than two months apart from each other. I went to AEW with my now-wife and two of my best friends, and WWE as a part of my bachelor party. I noticed some similarities and differences between the two, and got a picture with The Fiend.
As for something that I enjoyed this year from the site, like many I’m sure, I absolutely LOVE the Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame coverage. I learn something new every year and love hearing the arguments for some of the more obscure and “maybe not so much as a hard no as you’d think” candidates. Just outstanding stuff from all involved.
This year was the 20th anniversary of that veritable Ship of Theseus TNA/Impact, and as part of Voices of Wrestling’s #Impact20 series, I wrote an article on perhaps my favorite feud from the promotion, EC3 vs Rockstar Spud. In many respects, this was the storyline that got me back into wrestling and I’ve always thought it was an underrated piece of long-term storytelling from an under-looked era for the company. It’s an article I’ve been wanting to write for a long time, and I was glad to put pen to paper this year.
I’ve enjoyed many things this year from VOW, most notably, listening to Neil David’s Eurograps Express, fittingly enough as I took a few train journeys through this sceptered isle we both share. A solo podcast is somewhat unusual in the wrestling world, but Neil’s monologues, where he intersperses match reviews with the occasional philosophical quip, are a pleasure to listen to and the perfect companion for those intercity travels.
I’ve also enjoyed Andrew Sinclair’s continued output as the voice of Impact wrestling on the site. Andrew generally has a sensible and measured take on all things Impact and is also a talented match reviewer. In particular, I enjoyed his incisive review of Josh Alexander vs Alex Shelley, that pointed out many things that I had missed.
In general, VOW show reviewers are, dare I say, a step above other review sites that merely recount in painstaking detail every single move, as if they were writing out a play-by-play radio transcript. VOW reviewers have realized that readers want the vibes as much as the moves, and I think Jack Beckmann’s review of Ric Flair’s last match did a great job in reviewing a match that I’ll probably never see. It’s times like this that you appreciate a reviewer.
There have been a lot of standout pieces on the site this year (like every year, it seems). VOW has so many excellent writers whose passion for their subject comes through in their words. This year, there was a piece written that help to remind me why I have remained a fan of this stuff for almost 40 years. Liam Byrne’s column imagining a universe where Terry Funk never came back from his first retirement really stood out to me as a reminder of what a gift the Funker has been to contemporary pro wrestling.
Wrestling 101 is the project that has most inspired me to keep watching. The late summer and fall was very frustrating to me as a fan. The out of the ring bullshit that effected the quality of the wrestling I love almost pushed me away completely. Wrestling 101 has given me reason to stay with this sometimes stupid pastime.
Don’t You Forget About Jake Lee
Starting the Emerald FlowShow
Thing I did: Music of the Mat #130: Brodie Lee
Podcasting is a grind. Music of the Mat will be celebrating its sixth anniversary in January 2023, and with over 150 episodes to its name, I find it difficult to calculate the sheer man hours I’ve spent working on it. Still, no matter how numbing and difficult the grind can be, I always look at each finished episode with a genuine sense of pride. The one I’m most proud of happened this year, the Brodie Lee tribute episode with special guest Colin Delaney. As one of Brodie’s best friends, Colin brought a personal and emotional resonance to the show, making it feel extra special. It was sad at times, but also heartwarming and funny, and I couldn’t be more thankful to Colin for coming on and sharing his love and memories of Brodie with me and my listeners. I also want to give a special thanks to Gran Akuma for connecting Colin and myself. I’ve had a bunch of favorite episodes over the years, but that one will be hard to top.
Thing someone else did: Gerard Di Trolio’s AJPW reviews
I want to give Gerard Di Trolio a major shout-out for his AJPW reviews this year. These days VOW can go large swaths of time without reviews for major companies like WWE or New Japan, but when it comes to covering the oft-underseen (and oft-snickered at) world of All Japan, Gerard does so with sterling regularity. I cannot think of anyone else who diligently previews and reviews that promotion as much as he does. His write-ups are essential if you want to keep up with what is happening, and while I’m sure all the VOODOO MURDERS shenanigans have cost him years of his life, I’m grateful that he’s part of the site and growing an archive that you can’t find anywhere else.
Things I did: One More for the Good Guys: A DoT Scott Hall Special
Lee and I brought our show to VOW this year, and maybe the proudest we’ve been of an individual show this year was our Scott Hall tribute show. As well as just being a great discussion about Razor’s career, it was awesome to be able to reach out to people across VOW and get so many contributions. It turned into a patchwork quilt of the impressions he left on so many people.
Days of Thunder #54: Hello Clarice
Just a very solid episode of the show I’m fond of because I think it is a great exemplar of the dynamic Lee and I have while enduring 1999 WCW. In particular, our booking of Bob Wire as part of our deathwatch fed is one of my favorite bits we’ve done.
Thing(s) other people did: You’ve Got To be Kidding Me
I think a lot of YGTBKM as our partners in suffering. Trying to find the diamonds in the rough, always looking over our shoulders for Jeff Jarrett or Vince Russo. Garrett and Liam have a great and natural rapport, and I think they do a consistently fantastic job shining a light on elements of TNA we have (sometimes rightly) forgotten.
5 Star Match Game #27: King of The Ring
I love a good quiz. They are one of the very few practical applications for the otherwise useless information rattling around in my head. We’ve all played along shouting answers at our phones.
Joe is a great host and quizmaster, I’m sure you know this already, but the King of the Ring episode achieves what my favourite quizzes do: make you realise how little you ACTUALLY know about a subject under pressure.
Chris Jericho, Daniel Garcia, and the Makings of the Modern Villain
I was really happy with this. I got to dig into what it means to be a heel in a very online world. Unfortunately, I tucked it all into a preview for Jericho vs. Danielson at AEW’s All Out that became obsolete 36 hours after it was published. Oops!
5 Star Match Game #30: In Your House!
When I listen back to this, I think I’m audibly nervous and frazzled, but here’s what matters: I won an episode of 5 Star Match Game.
Honestly, though, whenever an episode of 5SMG shows up in my feed, it’s a genuine special occasion. I was really just happy to be involved.
Christian Gascoigne’s Pro Wrestling FREEDOMS Reviews
Look, I love FREEDOMS. I’ve written at length about it too! I was so glad when Christian’s reviews started popping up on the site, not only as a reader but as someone who hopes more people are exposed to the promotion. FREEDOMS, at its best, really exhibits how much MORE Deathmatch wrestling can be (and the non-DM stuff is pretty good, too!). Christian’s stuff is well-written and informative for new viewers. I hope he keeps it up!
Thing(s) I did: Where Everybody Knows Your Name: Cheers For Bad Dude Tito Vs. Minoru Suzuki (13 September 2022)
Sticking with New Japan this year has been a toilsome, grueling, excruciating journey. The perpetual promise of the return of cheering has been particularly exhausting, producing nothing but deflation and discontent. But when cheering finally returned, on September 5 at Korakuen Hall, it was a spectacular experience. Joel Abraham of the Super J Cast and I analyzed that first match back, Minoru Suzuki v. Bad Dude Tito, in 15-second increments:
Thing(s) other people did: Neil David’s Eurograps Express
Neil David frustrates the fuck out of me. Not only does he consistently outwrite me, but he also does great audio. As shown by my dreadful guest hosting spot on the J-Cast, not everyone can do audio. But Neil can. He somehow weaves compelling audio, SOLO, about the desiccated British scene.
Things I Did: Wrestling 101
This project has been a ton of fun. I’ve rediscovered my love of wrestling writing, I’ve watched a lot of old stuff I haven’t seen in a while, and the discussion around it has been interesting. Wrestling discourse is worse than ever, and I think this project has been a bit of light in the darkness for me.
Things other people did: Match of the Year
Match of the Year is my favorite thing the site does each year, and this year’s was the biggest and most diverse yet. Always proud to be associated with it after it is complete.
Things I Did: Five Star Match Game #31:2022
I liked every show I put out this year, but the most recent show with Alan Counihan, Mike Spears, and Case Lowe covering all of 2022 was especially fun. Not only did it have a lot of great banter, it covered every facet of wrestling in the past 12 months. Alan’s incredulity at Roman Reigns limited title defenses will be hard to top in 2023.
Things other people did: Open the Voice Gate
Dragongate had a fascinating year and you won’t find more comprehensive coverage anywhere else. Mike and Case not only break down every major and minor show in detail but add vital historical context. A must-listen for new and old fans.