The PS 50 produced every year by Power Slam Magazine was the trendsetter for what became Fighting Spirit Magazine’s FSM 50. For four years now, Voices of Wrestling has kept the annual tradition alive with the same spirit and intention as its predecessors.

The goal of the list is to be as well-informed and wide-ranging as possible. One of the beauties of the list in previous years was being able to highlight names that a reader may not be aware of. For me, that was a gateway into Japanese wrestling 20 years ago. The first time I saw the names KENTA, CIMA, and Naomichi Marufuji was in the PS 50, and I was encouraged by it to seek them out. We hope to not only provide a credible ranking but also to expose readers to some new wrestling. Discovering new wrestling was always one of the most enjoyable parts of my fandom when I was younger, and too often nowadays, people are closed off to that like it’s some kind of bad thing.

Unfortunately, 2022 is yet another year that feels the effect of the pandemic. Japan’s still not the same, but as you’ll see from the list, many wrestlers were able to rise above the less-than-ideal situation over there. Elsewhere we were treated to a full 12 months of “normal” feeling wrestling, and it was certainly very welcome for fans. With an expanded panel of knowledgeable voters this year, we hope to have covered every corner of the wrestling world well. Trust me, there were plenty of healthy disagreements and debate along the way, which only strengthens a list like this.

We hope you enjoy this breakdown of all 50 wrestlers (and some honorable mentions) with some short blurbs about each of their years. I know it’s tempting to skip straight to the list, but there are some sneaky match recommendations and other pearls of wisdom you’ll miss out on, so do so at your peril!

Thanks for reading!

-Alan4L (Coordinator)

The FSM 50 2022 Voters

Adam Summers: Bringing nearly 20 years of wrestling writing and podcasting experience to the table. Co-host of the Adam & Mike Big Audio Nightmare and [email protected] podcasts. Writer/Editor of the Three Count Fall newsletter.

Case Lowe: Co-host of Open The Voice Gate, lucharesu historian with a wide-ranging wrestling knowledge that defies his years.

Gerard Di Trolio: Co-host of The Emerald Flowshow specializing in NOAH and All Japan. Knows the Japanese scene inside out.

Ian Hamilton: Writer for 411Mania and BackBodyDrop.com and an expert in European wrestling to complement a well-rounded knowledge of the wrestling world.

Joe Gagne: Wrestling podcast OG and trivia master! Joe keeps his tabs on everything and often provides a balanced voice to our rankings.

Joe Lanza: The King Of Banter. The Most Compelling Voice In Wrestling Media. A Reasoned And Well Explained Man. The Leader Of The Hardcore Wrestling Intelligentsia. Internationally Acclaimed Broadcast Journalist As Heard On BBC Radio. Also heard and read on FlagshipPatreon.com.

Rich Kraetsch: Co-host of the long-running Flagship Podcast on Voices of Wrestling, editor of VoicesofWrestling.com and one-half of FlagshipPatreon.com. Rich keeps an eye on the full world of wrestling with an emphasis on America and Japan.

Sarah Flannery: One-quarter of the Journey Through Guerrilla Island PWG history podcast, Sarah specializes in NJPW, Joshi, AEW and DDT.

Scott Edwards: One of the most passionate up-and-coming wrestling writers around. Scott represents VOW, Fightful and Fightgamemedia where he hosts the Five Star Joshi Show.

The 2022 FSM 50: The 50 Best Wrestlers in the World

50. Jamie Hayter

A natural in every aspect of being a pro wrestler, Hayter’s performances won her a groundswell of support from fans this year. Was consistently the best in-ring amongst AEW’s Women’s division, and for all the talk of others having the star power – it’s Hayter who truly comes across like a star in an organic and meaningful way. Best bouts were against Toni Storm, Hikaru Shida, and Willow Nightingale – all of which tore the house down, and Hayter was dripping confidence every step of the way. (AC)

49. MIRAI

For whatever reason, MIRAI has gotten a baffling amount of derision since her jump from TJPW to STARDOM. Maybe it’s because her look isn’t what STARDOM has been going for lately. Nor is her powerhouse style with technical elements, which isn’t as flashy as others in STARDOM. However, she has proven to be a dependable workhorse and was one of the most unexpected highlights of STARDOM in 2022 including winning the Cinderella Tournament. Her haters are now in the mud. She is a throwback to a rougher Joshi style that we last got in the 1990s on any big stage. Her rivalry with Suzu Suzuki could become legendary if it is continued. The biggest obstacle in her way is just how big a star Rossy Ogawa and Bushiroad think she can be. But if she is given the chance, she can be one, a very big one. (GDT).

48. Takuma Fujiwara

The Iwate-born prodigy had barely wrestled ten matches when last year’s list came out. Fujiwara had a rookie year that should be compared with the likes of Jun Akiyama and Kurt Angle. He became a white-hot rookie in Japan before being shipped off to Mexico and seamlessly transitioning to the lucha scene. Whether it’s a Brave Gate challenge against Dragon Dia, a Korakuen singles bout with Diamante or even mixing it up with Microman, Takuma tackles every new challenge with enthusiasm and confidence. Expect him to be a name on this list every year going forward. (CL)

47. Swerve Strickland

Another wrestler that continues the theme of confidence separating the wheat from the chaff in modern wrestling. Strickland is great, and he wrestles like a guy who knows it. That fits perfectly with his character, which marinated to perfection in 2022, culminating in his full heel turn on partner Keith Lee. Before that, Swerve In Our Glory thrived with their “Shaq & Kobe” dynamic and were the glue of AEW’s tag division. (AC)

46. The Briscoe Brothers

Jay & Mark have now been having genuinely great tag team matches for 20 years. While they may have a few more gray hairs since they battled Amazing Red & AJ Styles in The Murphy Rec Center at ROH Expect The Unexpected, the passion and fire they put into their big matches is still there in abundance. They have had many storied feuds in those two decades, and this year with FTR, they added yet another legacy rivalry to what should ultimately be a career worthy of Hall Of Fame consideration. (AC)

45. CM Punk

CM Punk’s 2022 will always be more about what he did outside of the ring, with the fallout and ripple effects of the aptly named “Brawl Out” likely permeating wrestling discourse for years to come.

Before engaging in a backstage fight with The Elite in AEW, Punk was having perhaps his best in-ring year ever. His series of matches with MJF—culminating in an excellent Dog Collar Match at AEW Revolution—highlighted Punk’s 2022. Outside of MJF, though, there was a lot to love about Punk’s year. His singles matches earlier in the year against Dax Harwood, Hangman Page, and Dustin Rhodes were high-level. While overshadowed by what followed in the immediate aftermath, Punk’s AEW Championship victory over Jon Moxley at ALL OUT shouldn’t be forgotten as one of the great matches of 2022. (RK)

44. Hijo de Vikingo

Vikingo became the AAA Mega Champion in 2021 because AAA had no real alternatives, and spent 2022 proving he was the best option. From a battle in the rain against Johnny Mundo, to a five-way in Tijuana, to a state-of-the-art TripleMania match with Fenix, to a battle (nearly) to the death against his closest ally Laredo Kid, Vikingo came through big whenever he had the chance. He did everything in the ring you’d want for the promotion’s champion. Vikingo’s skills remained a cut above everyone else even in a time of amazing highflyers; it never felt safe to blink during his matches. (Special guest writer TheCubsFan of LuchaBlog)

43. Atsuki Aoyagi

Like his older brother, this Aoyagi had a breakout year. As recently as early 2021, he seemed to lag behind his Dojo classmates Hokuto Omori and Dan Tamura. By the end of 2022, he had lapped them and was on the path to possibly becoming an actual junior heavcyweight draw for All Japan. His new high-flying style has been helped by a new look and increased charisma. His flying looks smooth and effortless. Not only did he have great matches against Rising HAYATO, Minoru Tanaka, and Hikaru Sato, but thanks to his presence, junior heavyweight tags in All Japan’s midcard are becoming must-watch. He ended the year by winning the Jr. Battle of Glory tournament as the Jr. champion and looks to continue his dominance of the division in 2023. (GDT)

42. Ricky Knight Jr.

One step forward, one step back for the breakout British star? Lost the Rev Pro tag titles in January, then started an on again, off again feud with Will Ospreay that culminated in Knight finally unseating Ospreay for the Rev Pro title in August…only to lose the title (via proxy, with his brother Zak replacing him due to a broken wrist) in December to Great O-Khan. 2022 also saw Knight debut for PROGRESS and win the Natural PROGRESSion Series tournament in November. (IH)

41. Adam Page

Hangman entered 2022 the reigning and defending AEW champ, and front-loaded his year with enough high-quality work that he could have done nothing from June on and still been a lock for this list. There’s an argument to be made that his January 5 defense against Bryan Danielson is the best AEW singles match ever. He kept that momentum going in spirited bouts against Adam Cole, Lance Archer, and a forgotten gem with Konosuke Takeshita. Sadly, he was pretty much on the shelf from June on, wrestling just eight total matches in the second half of the year. (AC)

40. Shigehiro Irie

Irie gets around. Japan, Canada, and Europe was the bulk of his 2022, but if you’re looking for key matches or moments his match against El Lindaman for GLEAT in May and the demonic laugh and headbutt to Fuminori Abe during wXw’s Ambition stand out, along with a tag bout with Fuminari Abe against Violence is Forever for wXw in October. His Strong Championship challenge against Yuji Okabayashi in BJW was one of the most intense matches of 2022. A year spent in many places not normally on the wider radar, but a year that rarely disappointed when you sought him out. (IH)

39. Bandido

The lucha standout wrestled in a number of high-profile places this year, but my favorite work from Bandido took place in his own promotion, Big Lucha. In September, he became the promotion’s first champion by defeating Flamita in one of the best world title matches of the year. (CL)

38. Daniel Garcia

What a damn fine professional wrestler Daniel Garcia is, and hanging just fine going toe to toe with Bryan Danielson should be the only proof any of us need. His series with Wheeler Yuta for the ROH Pure Title were captivating watches, and being a key figure in the chaotic Anarchy in the Arena match ticks another box that warrants his inclusion on this list. Outside of AEW’s walls, running the BOLA bracket in impressive fashion before winning the PWG title from Bandido, and then delivering great defenses against the likes of Konosuke Takeshita, shows  this is just the start for Daniel Garcia, and I’ve no doubt we’ll see him jump up many places on this list in 2023. (SF)

37. Sheamus

The Gunther matches will get all of the hype come awards season, but the Brawling Brutes tags were a constant highlight of WWE TV and PPV all year long. We’ve reached a point where it’s probably time we start thinking about whether Sheamus is arguably the best WWE television wrestler of all time. (JL)

36. Josh Alexander

The unsung hero of pro wrestling in 2022. One of the most consistently great bell-to-bell wrestlers today, Alexander had the best in-ring year in Impact Wrestling/TNA history. The problem? He did it in Impact Wrestling, where, in its current state, it’s near-impossible to generate buzz or attention. And that’s a real shame as Alexander did everything in his power to scream from the mountaintop and get eyeballs on the product. Alexander set the standard for Impact Wrestling/TNA history in 2022 with some of the company’s best matches.

Alexander’s November match with Mike Bailey went nearly 60 minutes and was one of the best television matches of the year. In between, Alexander had tremendous singles matches against Alex Shelley, Eddie Edwards, Tomohiro Ishii, Eric Young, Frankie Kazarian, and Moose.

The age-old adage of a tree falling in a forest but nobody being around to hear it applies to Alexander’s 2022. But if you were around he did make a sound. He made a loud and resounding sound in 2022. Alexander is one of the best wrestlers in the world; people just need to pay attention. (RK)

35. Tam Nakano

One of the best in-ring storytellers of this generation had another great year, this time largely centered around her feud with – and eventual team with – Natsupoi. Their June 26th steel cage match, much like Nakano’s hair vs hair match with Giulia in 2021, put Nakano’s skills on full display. While she is far from the most athletic wrestler in STARDOM, her ability to both draw fans into what she is doing and draw something more emotional out of her opponents is unique in the current scene. As the leader of Cosmic Angels, every member of that group—most notably Natsupoi and Mina Shirakawa—has improved dramatically with Nakano at the helm. Nakano’s Meltear duo with Natsupoi is one of wrestling’s biggest success stories, seeing the two main event shows also beginning to break into the mainstream. (AS)

34. Dragon Dia

In his first year without a mask, Dragon Dia has become Dragongate’s next great white-meat babyface. He takes a beating, he fights back, and on his best nights, he’s able to win big matches. Dia is everything a babyface should be. His work as both Brave Gate and Twin Gate Champion this year was superb. (CL)

33. Tetsuya Naito

The absolute iron man of the New Japan roster, it feels like Naito is on every show. Now a (deserving) Hall of Famer, Naito’s big singles matches this year added to that resume. Ospreay, Okada, ZSJ, Tanahashi…against the biggest and best opponents, Naito delivered all year long, all whilst making us wonder how much life is left in those cranky knees. (SF)

32. Starlight Kid

If there is anyone on this list who should be climbing up in 2023, it will be Starlight Kid. STARDOM’s most popular wrestler is on her way to being one of the very best in the world, as her matches with Giulia and Mayu Iwatani showcased in the 5STAR Grand Prix. Her tag team and trios runs this year earned her a comfortable spot on the list while her singles work should have her among the elite come the end of 2023. The sky is the limit. (SE)

31. Kenoh

In a promotion largely dominated by much older wrestlers and mostly devoid of larger-than-life characters, Kenoh stands out in Pro Wrestling NOAH. This was most notably on display at the January 8th co-promoted NOAH/NJPW show, where Kenoh’s KONGO group took on Los Ingobernables de Japon. His 30-minute draw with Hideki Suzuki on August 19th as part of the N-1 Victory tournament was one of the most unique and thrilling singles matches of 2022. Other standout performances include his GHC Title loss to forever-rival Kaito Kiyomiya, a February 11th victory over Go Shiozaki, and a thrilling GHC Tag Team championship challenge with Katsuhiko Nakajima against Takashi Sugiura and Satoshi Kojima. (AS)

30. Aussie Open

Starting the year by dropping the PWA tag titles to the VeloCities, “Dunkzilla” Mark Davis and Kyle Fletcher went nomadic, wrestling all over the globe. Brief runs with the OTT tag titles and the first NJPW STRONG tag champions were the precursor to them hitting New Japan proper in November, followed by being agonizingly close to winning the World Tag League in December. Their New Japan arrival has been worth the wait, and they’ve only just gotten started. (IH)

29. Mayu Iwatani

Another year where Mayu Iwatani deserves her flowers. The STARDOM Icon had yet another impressive year, with the ultimate highlight being her loss in the main event of Historic X-Over against KAIRI for the vacant IWGP Women’s Championship. There are still so many directions to go with one of wrestling’s true greats, so here’s to hoping 2023 is yet another year of greatness, much like 2022. (SE)

28. PAC

In a turbulent year for AEW, it was ironically PAC—someone who had gone through multiple stop/start pushes over the years for various reasons—who was able to be one of the anchors of consistency. He got to shine on both the singles front as the first-ever All-Atlantic Champion, in addition to trios contests as part of Death Triangle. (AC)

27. Yuma Aoyagi

Aoyagi has been trending in an upward trajectory since 2020, but this year he hit new heights by winning the Champion Carnival in a fantastic final against Jake Lee. On one of the few shows All Japan has had this year with cheering crowds, his fan reactions rivaled that of All Japan ace Kento Miyahara. The one knock against Aoyagi is that the company seemed to have nothing for him during the second half of the year. But despite the aimless booking at times, Aoyagi continued to be a part of some strong tag matches. He should win the Triple Crown in 2023. (GDT)

26. Giulia

The excitement heading into 2023 will be all about how Giulia can top her second half of 2022. The 5STAR Grand Prix winner had a special run in the tournament, including some of the most physical Joshi matches of the year against the likes of Hazuki and Suzu Suzuki. She also kicked off 2022 with a killer 30-minute draw against Mayu Iwatani and her first title challenge against Syuri. 2022 was good for Giulia, but 2023 will be special for the Donna del Mondo leader. (SE)

25. AZM

Quite possibly the most confident and self-assured wrestler in the world, and with good reason. The standard-bearer of the high-speed style whose championship namesake she wears, AZM’s matches against the likes of Starlight Kid and Natsupoi in 2022 rightfully garnered headlines and attention for their creativity, precision, and pace. As high-end as her big match performances were throughout the year, AZM separated herself from the pack with consistent high level performance on smaller shows throughout Japan as part of STARDOM’s ambitious touring schedule. Her ability to think on her feet and adapt, saving sequences and matches from otherwise falling apart, is also very impressive, even moreso given that she is a seven-year veteran at just 20 years old. (AS)

24. El Desperado

Good ol’ reliable Despy, the heart of the New Japan junior heavyweight division. Despy always delivers. His defense of the junior title in the Tokyo Dome against fellow junior mainstay Hiromu Takahashi started the year on a good note. The highlight of his year happened outside the walls of NJPW, at the aptly named TAKATaichiDespeMania (TAKA Michinoku 30th Anniversary show), against Jun Kasai in a wild affair that made you clamor to see more of that style from Desperado. (SF)

23. Kento Miyahara

When Jake Lee broke his orbital bone at the end of 2021 and had to vacate the Triple Crown, it was no surprise the company immediately pivoted back to Miyahara. During MIyahara’s reign, AJPW immediately saw an increase in business and produced many more great singles matches versus the two previous years, during which the company seemed hesitant to put the Triple Crown back on him while Jake Lee got his chance to run with the ball. On top of returning to his top singles form, Miyahara was also a part of several high-level tags throughout the year, ending with winning the Real World Tag League with Takuya Nomura. 2023 is shaping up to be his biggest year since 2019. (GDT)

22. Diamante

Diamante is far more than a “nice little wrestler.” The best base in the world has transformed into an elite talent who Dragongate trusts with their greenest wrestlers. On a roster where the margin for error is so slim, Diamante represents the perfection that Dragongate preaches to their talent. He was a huge part of the critically acclaimed Shunmante vs. Kung-Fu Masters tag, but also crushed it whenever he had a chance to wrestle in a singles capacity. (CL)

21. Rey Fenix

Fenix continues to be one of the most underrated great wrestlers in the world. Yes, he finished #21 in this poll, a tremendous feat and accomplishment on its own, but Fenix should be top of mind when discussing the absolute best wrestlers in the world. Sadly, he rarely, if ever, is. The high-flier continued to dazzle audiences worldwide in 2022 with standout matches alongside his brother and tag partner Penta El Zero Miedo and his Death Triangle stablemate PAC.

Fenix had perhaps the best Lucha match of the year against El Hijo del Vikingo at TripleMania: Mexico City, a tremendous singles match against Andrade El Idolo, and several great multi-man matches in AAA and on the Ric Flair retirement show for the revived Jim Crockett Promotions. The smoothest high-flier in history, Fenix’s effortless gliding and maneuvering through the air makes the otherwise impossible look routine. 2022 was yet another excellent year from one of pro wrestling’s best. (RK)

20. Tomohiro Ishii

Ishii has reached a point where he has been so good for so long that we probably take him for granted, because there is no way there are 19 wrestlers on this planet better than he is. Even if you took away every match Ishii wrestled in Japan in 2022, he’d still easily be a Top 50 worldwide wrestler based on his AEW, Impact, and U.S.-based New Japan work alone. (JL)

19. Shingo Takagi

Because Shingo spent the back half of the year defending the King of Pro Wrestling title, people may have forgotten just how good the rest of his year was. Shingo opened the year with a fantastic match against Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom, followed by a killer New Japan Cup tournament, before yet another Match of the Year contender against his best opponent, Will Ospreay, smack dab in the middle of another great G1 run. Shingo and Taichi worked hard together to have the best and most creative matches in King of Pro Wrestling history, including producing a late Match of the Year contender in December on a JTO show. (JL)

18. Chris Jericho

Is it out of the question to say that 52-year-old Chris Jericho just had the best in-ring year of his career? Had one of the best PPV openers ever with Eddie Kingston at Revolution, crafted the unforgettable Anarchy In The Arena, and had an ROH title reign that delivered some really fun bouts with Tomohiro Ishii, Bandido, and Claudio Castagnoli. Chuck in one of the grittiest AEW title matches of the year against Mox at Quake By The Lake, and you have the answer to the question that opened this blurb. (AC)

17. Gunther

It could have gone so differently. A rebrand in March almost had the former WALTER share some history that, to be kind, would have been super problematic. Retaining just the forename still led to the usual name change hand-wringing, but it was a main roster call-up where things could have gone especially badly, particularly with Vince McMahon still in control. However, with the new regime behind him and a new slimmed-down frame, Gunther produced his typical great in-ring, highlighted by the violent Clash at the Castle win over Sheamus. (IH)

16. Saya Kamitani

Throughout 2021, the questions were all about Saya Kamitani and if she could live up to the moment. In 2022, there were no more questions. “The Golden Phoenix” captivated audiences with her stunning aerial offense and fantastic run as the Wonder of STARDOM Champion. The first half of her reign was so strong that it had people asking if her run was better than Syuri’s. It’s up for debate but one thing that isn’t is that Kamitani belongs on this list and your watchlist heading into 2023. (SE)

15. Yuki Yoshioka

Dragongate’s new top man has hit a home run every time he’s stepped up to the plate this year. On the first Korakuen Hall shows of the year, Dragongate established that this year was going to be all about Yuki Yoshioka and his foe-turned-friend Dragon Dia. Yoshioka won the tag titles, then King of Gate, then immediately erased any long-term business concerns when he won the Open The Dream Gate belt and proudly took his place at the top of the card. He’s been a phenomenal major league champion. (CL)

14. Suzu Suzuki

At the age of 20 years old, Suzu Suzuki already has a claim to being called the best wrestler in the world. Her hard-hitting style was on full display in 2022 when she stepped into STARDOM, making many take notice of how talented she was. Her feud throughout the year with Giulia was one of the very best in wrestling, with their match on the final night of the 5STAR Grand Prix being the perfect way to top it off. Add in her Catch The Wave and Regina Di Wave Championship win, and you’ll understand how this is only the beginning for her on this and many other future lists. (SE)

13. Bryan Danielson

Followed up his MOTYC with Hangman Page by engaging in a nasty feud with Jon Moxley before the pair came together under the stewardship of William Regal. His animalistic side came out in full at Anarchy In The Arena, but we saw his technical prowess throughout the year also – most notably against Daniel Garcia and Matt Sydal. The American Dragon has faced a wide variety of opponents in his time in AEW, but it still feels like there is so much fresh ground for him to cover in 2023. (AC)

12. Mike Bailey

WrestleMania weekend is a dying concept after years of being beaten to death and abused. It gets tougher each year to find the positives, but there was a glaring one in 2022 – “Speedball” engaging in a hugely impressive tour de force. Nine excellent bouts in three days made him unquestionably ‘Mania weekend’s MVP. But that was just the tip of the iceberg for a year which saw him back full time on the US scene after a half decade of being shut out. To say that Bailey has made up for lost time would be an understatement. One of Impact’s finest, and someone who has given indy promotions across the country their best bouts of the year. (AC)

11. The Young Bucks

Hopefully, every year-end poll accurately reflects that the Young Bucks were once again the best tag team in the world. Once Kenny Omega returned to the picture, The Elite reestablished themselves as, for lack of a better term, an elite trio. They are routinely the most entertaining wrestlers on American TV, and no one delivers in a big match better than they do. They are the best to ever do it. (CL)

10. Syuri

Syuri has been the standard when it comes to world champions in 2022. No world champion was able to touch her greatness this year. Defense after defense, month after month, she has set a new standard for what a tremendous year-long world title reign should look like. Matches with Risa Sera, Utami Hayashishita, and both bouts with Giulia highlight what everyone should watch if they haven’t been watching. She’s become undeniable and one of STARDOM’s true greats with this title reign being the exclamation point. (SE)

9. El Lindaman

Lindaman has successfully become a big fish in a small pond. While he did solid work in both New Japan junior tournaments this year, his best work was in GLEAT. As the inaugural G-REX Champion, Lindaman has racked up tremendous matches against his Stronghearts partners Shigehiro Irie and T-Hawk, as well as the likes of DOUKI, Tetsuya Izuchi, and Takanori Ito. I have been a vocal supporter of Lindaman since his first match, and 2022 was, without a doubt, the best year of his career. (CL)

8. Kaito Kiyomiya

Kiyomiya had a MOTYC on the first day of 2022, and from there, it was an incredible year even if NOAH’s booking wasn’t always on his side. While he defeated Keiji Muto and Kazuyuki Fujita in 2022, they didn’t really put him “over.” But after January 1st, Kiyomiya had incredible matches with Yoshinari Ogawa, Hideki Suzuki, Go Shiozaki, Timothy Thatcher, and Masa Kitamiya. He’s still at the stage in his career where he gives 110% even on small shows and can have a great match against any type of style, including juniors, shooters, and technical types. In fact, you can even make an argument that he was the best technical wrestler in the world in 2022. Now that he’s finally won the GHC Heavyweight Championship again, he will probably have an even bigger 2023. (GDT)

7. Dax Harwood

In addition to being one-half of the best tag team in the world and being one-fourth of the three best tag matches of the year, FTR Bald padded his resume with rock-solid singles matches against the likes of CM Punk, Bryan Danielson, Claudio Castagnoli, Cash Wheeler, and Will Ospreay. Some feel the Ospreay match is a sleeper Match of the Year contender, and while I’m personally not quite that high on it, Harwood repeatedly showed that he could hang with the absolute best in the world in singles while also putting together a legendary tag team year with Hair. (JL)

6. Kazusada Higuchi

For many years, Higuchi flew under the radar in DDT, all whilst consistently delivering good performances, be it as part of Eruption or as a solo. Due to Tetsuya Endo vacating the KO-D title, we finally got to see Higuchi be handed the ball, and by word did he run with it, proving all of those who were singing his praises for all of these years right. The match that will ultimately define Higushi’s championship run was his title defense against Konosuke Takeshita, a bout that will no doubt rack up some points in the MOTY race. Higuchi also delivered in tag performances too, alongside new tag partner Naomi Yoshimura (who he also had an outstanding match against in the King of DDT finals, which not only crowned Higuchi king, but also KO-D Champion). Their tag title win against ASUKA and MAO is worth the watch. Many were concerned that they’d put the title right back on Endo once he returned, but the company has stuck with Higuchi, and we all have reaped the rewards. (SF)

5. Konosuke Takeshita

A 10-year veteran and multiple-time world champion, or maybe a young up-and-comer depending on who you talk to, Konosuke had a proper breakout year. He’s truly made a name for himself in AEW with impressive showcases against the likes of Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, and Eddie Kingston. Also whilst stateside he was one of the stars of the U.S. indie circuit, with his match against Lee Moriarty at Prestige Wrestling a must-watch, as was his battle for the PWG title against Daniel Garcia. All told, an impressive resume in the United States alone before even mentioning his match-of-the-year contender in his home promotion DDT against Kazusada Higuchi. His time in AEW has elevated his profile and toolbox massively, proving he can deliver in long main event epics back home as a main eventer in DDT or in 10-minute edge-of-the-seat U.S. TV sprints. All in all, Takeshita’s former nickname, “The Future,” is ringing true, and with his move to America, you’d expect to see his name littered amongst the best in the world for many years to come. (SF)

4. Jon Moxley

“Break glass in case of emergency.” Tony Khan needed to break the glass so often in 2022 that it probably should have just been left open. In every emergency, Jon Moxley was there, and he delivered. With 47 matches under his belt for AEW in 2022, Mox was one of the promotion’s hardest workers. Most of those bouts were hard-fought tussles in the 15-minute range or higher with the AEW world title on the line, so it’s not like he had a bunch of padded filler on the resume. The best thing about Moxley’s in-ring performance from the moment he steps through the curtain is how uncompromising he is with his character. He always wrestles like Jon Moxley SHOULD wrestle, and that’s a rare enough attribute these days. He’s still waiting to go fishing with Egotistico Fantastico. (AC)

3. Shun Skywalker

Last year as Dragongate’s top champion, Shun Skywalker finished 11 in our poll. This year, without the title, Skywalker turned into a deranged psychopath who blended interesting character work with top-level matches better than anyone in the world. His best work was alongside Diamante on July 31st against Jacky “Funky” Kamei and Jason Lee, but he also racked up a number of great singles matches against the likes of Kzy and Dragon Lee. Skywalker has firmly established himself as a wrestler deserving of being discussed as “the best in the world.” (CL)

2. Kazuchika Okada

In hindsight, it was oh so obvious. New Japan’s 50th anniversary was built around Okada. Beating Shingo for the IWGP World title on the first night of WrestleKingdom suggested that’d be the case, while incredible defenses over Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr., and perennial rival Tetsuya Naito teased us into thinking that it’d be a straightforward year of Okada dominance…until Jay White shockingly dethroned him at Dominion. Okada winning the G1 set up a rematch with White at the Tokyo Dome that will perhaps see Okada start 2023 the way he started 2022, as champion, which would symbolically end New Japan’s 50th anniversary year the same way it began, with Okada on top. (IH)

1. Will Ospreay

Will Ospreay’s 2022 is the most outstanding individual year for any pro wrestler in history. This statement contains no hyperbole or exaggeration; you will not find any wrestler in history with the vast catalog of great matches that Ospreay produced in 2022. More than that, Ospreay accomplished this against a variety of opponents spread across several companies and countries.

Ospreay kicked off his year on January 5 with an incredible Tokyo Dome main event against Kazuchika Okada and rounded out his record-breaking 2022 on the last RevPro show of the year against Tomohiro Ishii. In between, Ospreay had standout performances against the likes of Tetsuya Naito, Zack Sabre Jr., Shingo Takagi, Michael Oku, Orange Cassidy, Nick Wayne, Ricky Knight Jr., Mike Bailey, Jon Moxley, Blake Christian, Dax Harwood, and Titus Alexander among others.

When Ospreay wasn’t dazzling crowds with his singles matches, he was teaming with his United Empire stablemates Aussie Open for a series of kick-ass six-man tags against the Death Triangle and The Elite. Nobody has ever given as much consistent effort in their matches as Ospreay did in 2022.

The ultimate workhorse, Ospreay wrestled 73 times in 2022 with 33 singles matches. Of those 33 singles matches, 28—28!—currently have a 7+ rating on Cagematch.net. 22 of them have an 8+ rating and 10 have a 9+ rating. Chances are if you watched Will Ospreay at any point in the year 2022, you saw a great match. Who else in history has had such a prolifically great year?

I’ll listen, but the answer is no one.

To put Ospreay’s year into proper context, our #2 finisher, Kazuchika Okada, had two matches finish with a 9+ rating on Cagematch.net. Those two matches?

January 5 vs. Will Ospreay and August 18 vs. Will Ospreay.

Leave your outdated and ignorant criticisms of his working style at the door. Ospreay stood alone and was the clear and obvious choice for the best wrestler of 2022. (RK)

2022 FSM 50 Honorable Mentions

Atlantis Jr

The breakout star of the year for CMLL had a great summer run capped off by a thrilling mask vs mask match victory over Stuka Jr, which was one of the must-watch matches of 2022. (JL)

Komander

One of the only good things about the US indie scene this year was that they helped shine a spotlight on Komander. Whether it was AAA, Big Lucha, or lesser US indie promotions, the 24-year-old routinely pumped out “gif-worthy” spots en route to great matches. (CL)

Cash Wheeler

FTR Hair doesn’t have the outstanding singles resume of his partner, but he deserves mention based on his tag work alone, as FTR was the runaway pick for tag team of the year. (JL)

Minorita

You’d be forgiven for forgetting that the diminutive mascot is only a year into his Dragongate career. Considering he’s one of the heartbeats of the promotion it’s easy to do so. A natural pro wrestler who has taken what could have been a career-killer gimmick and made it special. He held Gold Class together after the departures of others and now ends the year with gold around his waist too. (AC)

Orange Cassidy

With OC it’s always been about finding the right balance with his gimmick, and in 2022, he achieved perfection with that. His All-Atlantic title win in a Dynamite main event was a really cool moment in AEW’s year. (AC)

Cody Rhodes

The Seth Rollins series was arguably the best overall work of Cody’s career, but don’t forget the January ladder match against Sammy Guevara. (JL)

Hiroshi Tanahashi

2022 marks a big change to the FSM 50 as it’s the first year without The Ace. Being honest, he has every right to be in there, and we’ve done him dirty, no question. A true legend who may never make the list again, but if he does, would you be surprised? (AC)

Chihiro Hashimoto

Both Hashimoto and her home promotion of Sendai Girls have had a sneaky good 2022. Fresh booking has led to a much more interesting promotion and Hashimoto as their top star has helped that along by delivering high-level main events. She is undoubtedly the best powerhouse in all of women’s wrestling. Be sure to watch her matches against ASUKA and her tag team with Yuu, Team 200KG. (GDT)

Miyu Yamashita

The ace of TJPW had another strong year despite losing the Princess of Princess Championship back in March. Since then, she’s taken more international bookings in Europe and North America, raising her stock globally. Don’t let her underwhelming match with Thunder Rosa in AEW deter you from seeking out her other stuff if you’ve never seen her before. Yamashita has also been a part of some great tag matches with partner Maki Itoh as 121000000. Oh and check out her match against Miu Watanabe in the Tokyo Princess Cup. It was a legit MOTYC and a great example of how to put over a young up and coming talent. (GDT)

FSM 50 2022 FINAL RANKING

  1. Will Ospreay
  2. Kazuchika Okada
  3. Shun Skywalker
  4. Jon Moxley
  5. Konosuke Takeshita
  6. Kazusada Higuchi
  7. Dax Harwood
  8. Kaito Kiyomiya
  9. El Lindaman
  10. Syuri
  11. The Young Bucks
  12. Mike Bailey
  13. Bryan Danielson
  14. Suzu Suzuki
  15. Yuki Yoshioka
  16. Saya Kamitani
  17. Gunther
  18. Chris Jericho
  19. Shingo Takagi
  20. Tomohiro Ishii
  21. Rey Fenix
  22. Diamante
  23. Kento Miyahara
  24. El Desperado
  25. AZM
  26. Giulia
  27. Yuma Aoyagi
  28. PAC
  29. Mayu Iwatani
  30. Aussie Open
  31. Kenoh
  32. Starlight Kid
  33. Tetsuya Naito
  34. Dragon Dia
  35. Tam Nakano
  36. Josh Alexander
  37. Sheamus
  38. Daniel Garcia
  39. Bandido
  40. Shigehiro Irie
  41. Hangman Page
  42. Ricky Knight Jr
  43. Atsuki Aoyagi
  44. Hijo de Vikingo
  45. CM Punk
  46. The Briscoe Brothers
  47. Swerve Strickland
  48. Takuma Fujiwara
  49. MIRAI
  50. Jamie Hayter

Full list of names that received at least one vote:

  • Alex Shelley
  • Aramis
  • ASUKA/VENY
  • Atlantis Jr
  • Atsuki Aoyagi
  • Aussie Open
  • AZM
  • Baby Allison
  • Bandido
  • Bianca Belair
  • Bryan Danielson
  • Calvin Tankman
  • Cash Wheeler
  • Chihiro Hashimoto
  • Chris Jericho
  • Claudio Castagnoli
  • CM Punk
  • Cody Rhodes
  • Cyrus & Shuji Ishikawa
  • Daniel Garcia
  • Darby Allin
  • Dax Harwood
  • Diamante
  • Dragon Dia
  • Drew McIntyre
  • Eddie Kingston
  • El Desperado
  • El Lindaman
  • Francesco Akira & TJP
  • Fred Rosser
  • Fred Yehi
  • FTR
  • Fuminori Abe
  • Gabriel Kidd
  • Giulia
  • Go Shiozaki
  • Great O-Khan
  • Gunther
  • Hangman Page
  • Hektor Invictus
  • Hideki Suzuki
  • Hijo de Vikingo
  • Hikaru Sato
  • Hiromu Takahashi
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • ISHIN
  • Jacky “Funky” Kamei
  • Jamie Hayter
  • Jason Lee
  • Jeff Cobb
  • Jon Moxley
  • Josh Alexander
  • Jun Akiyama
  • Jungle Boy
  • KAI
  • KAIRI
  • Kaito Kiyomiya
  • Katsuhiko Nakajima
  • Kazuchika Okada
  • Kazusada Higuchi
  • Keith Lee
  • Kenny Omega
  • Kenoh
  • Kento Miyahara
  • Kevin Blackwood
  • Kevin Ku
  • Kevin Owens
  • Komander
  • Konosuke Takeshita
  • Kyle O’Reilly
  • Kzy
  • Lee Moriarty
  • Leon Slater
  • Luchasaurus
  • Luke Jacobs
  • Madoka Kikuta
  • Maika
  • Masaaki Mochizuki
  • Masato Tanaka
  • Mayu Iwatani
  • Michael Oku
  • Mike Bailey
  • Minorita
  • MIRAI
  • Miu Watanabe
  • Miyu Yamashita
  • MJF
  • Momo Watanabe
  • Naomi Yoshimura
  • Natsupoi
  • Nick Wayne
  • Orange Cassidy
  • OSKAR/Oskar Leube
  • PAC
  • Pentagon Jr.
  • Peter Tihanyi
  • Ren Narita
  • Rey Fenix
  • Ricky Knight Jr.
  • Ricky Starks
  • Rika Tatsumi
  • Rising HAYATO
  • Robbie Eagles
  • Robert Dreissker
  • Rush
  • Sammy Guevara
  • Satoshi Kojima
  • Saya Kamitani
  • SB Kento
  • Seiki Yoshioka
  • Seth Rollins
  • Sheamus
  • Shigehiro Irie
  • Shingo Takagi
  • Shota Umino
  • Shotaro Ashino
  • Shotaro Ashino & Ryuki Honda
  • Shun Skywalker
  • Shunma Katsumata
  • Starlight Kid
  • Suzu Suzuki
  • Swerve Strickland
  • Syuri
  • Taichi
  • Takuma Fujiwara
  • Takuya Nomura
  • Tam Nakano
  • Tetsuya Izuchi
  • Tetsuya Naito
  • The Acclaimed
  • The Briscoe Brothers
  • The Young Bucks
  • Titan
  • Titus Alexander
  • TJP
  • Tom Lawlor
  • Tomohiro Ishii
  • Toni Storm
  • U-T
  • Utami Hayashishita
  • VeloCities
  • Wheeler Yuta
  • Will Ospreay
  • YAMATO
  • Yoshiki Inamura
  • Yoshinari Ogawa
  • Yoshinobu Kanemaru
  • Yuji Okabayashi
  • Yuki Ueno
  • Yuki Yoshioka
  • Yuma Aoyagi
  • Zack Sabre Jr.

FSM 50 All-Time Rankings (2022-2014)

Wrestler202220212020201920182017201620152014
Will Ospreay17713632050
Kazuchika Okada298461132
Shun Skywalker311-35-----
Jon Moxley481023----19
Konosuke Takeshita52435--24---
Kazusada Higuchi6-43------
Dax Harwood7--------
Kaito Kiyomiya8353345-----
El Lindaman9--------
Syuri1044-------
The Young Bucks1159-133132237
Mike Bailey12----50-41-
Bryan Danielson131------28
Suzu Suzuki14--------
Yuki Yoshioka15--------
Saya Kamitani16--------
WALTER1726-1718--43
Chris Jericho18--26--46--
Shingo Takagi193321818926-
Tomohiro Ishii2027568415165
Rey Fenix2114271416334333-
Diamante22--------
Kento Miyahara2348163101318--
El Desperado242834------
AZM25--------
Giulia26-49------
Yuma Aoyagi27--------
PAC2818297-43-3029
Mayu Iwatani29-37--42---
Aussie Open30--------
Kenoh311024------
Starlight Kid32--------
Tetsuya Naito33-1711937-11
Dragon Dia34-50------
Tam Nakano35--------
Josh Alexander3623-------
Sheamus37-------23
Daniel Garcia3812-------
Bandido39--4445----
Shigehiro Irie40--------
Adam Page411519------
Ricky Knight Jr.4242-------
Atsuki Aoyagi43--------
Hijo Del Vikingo44--50-----
CM Punk4516-------
The Briscoe Brothers46--------
Swerve Strickland47--------
Takuma Fujiwara48--------
MIRAI49--------
Jamie Hayter50--------
Kenny Omega-2425524--
Katsuhiko Nakajima-411-36----
Darby Allin-623------
SB KENTo-13-------
YAMATO-17----36-38
Eddie Kingston-19-------
Hiroshi Tanahashi-2018971014412
Thunder Rosa-21-------
Kzy-22203240----
Jeff Cobb-25-------
Jungle Boy-29-------
Jason Lee-30-------
Zack Sabre Jr.-31-13255814
MJF-32-------
Masaaki Mochizuki-333821----9
Yuji Okabayashi-34218-281615-
Kota Ibushi-3665425-934
Christian Cage-37-------
Robbie Eagles-38-33-----
Adam Cole-39-30----17
Takashi Sugiura-40153419----
Utami Hayashishita-41-------
Davey Richards-43-------
Tom Lawlor-45-------
Rusev/Miro-46------49
Britt Baker-47-------
Serena Deeb-49-------
Kota Minoura-50--------
ACH--44--38---
AJ Styles----5011211
Akira Tozawa------132210
Asuka-----32---
Austin Aries--------32
Bayley-------45-
Ben-K--3016-----
Braun Strowman-----41---
Brock Lesnar-------11-
Buddy Murphy----42----
Cavernario-----48---
Cesaro------391713
CHANGO & Kaji Tomato--48------
Charlotte Flair----48----
Chris Dickinson---47-----
Chris Hero------612-
CIMA----4934--27
Cody--1328-----
Daichi Hashimoto--45------
Daisuke Sekimoto---10471981822
David Starr---153330---
Dolph Ziggler--------31
Dragon Lee---20---48-
Drew Galloway-------37-
Eita--22---41-44
El Barbaro Cavernario--------26
El Phantasmo---31-----
EVIL-----44---
Finn Balor--42---2721-
Go Shiozaki--1-41----
HARASHIMA-------34-
Hiromu Takahashi--2-289---
Hirooki Goto------403235
Ilja Dragunov----3846---
Io Shirai---48-40---
Jay Briscoe-------4633
Jay Lethal-------43-
Jay White--321837----
John Cena------34525
Johnny Gargano---38122349-40
Jonathan Gresham---4026----
Jordan Devlin---121149---
Juice Robinson----24----
Jun Akiyama-------4448
Jungle Kyona---49-----
Kairi Sane----34----
Kaito Ishida--14------
Katsuyori Shibata------123516
Keith Lee-----21---
KENTA--4143-----
Kevin Owens------102-
KUSHIDA----277212437
Kyle O’Reilly----31-242815
La Sombra-------39-
Lance Archer---37-----
Luke Harper--------18
Mark Andrews--------46
Mark Haskins------5049-
Marty Scurll-----371147-
Masashi Takeda----32----
Masato Tanaka--31------
Masato Yoshino-------1939
Matt Riddle----142637--
Matt Sydal-------10-
Meiko Satomura----25472540-
Michael Elgin-----121936-
Minoru Suzuki--28-22---30
Momo Watanabe--46------
Mustafa Ali----21----
Naomichi Marufuji----43-22--
Naoya Nomura---22-----
Naruki Doi--12------
Nick Jackson---42-----
Pentagon Jr----35-4531-
Pete Dunne----201429--
Randy Orton--------36
Rey Hechicero--------47
Ricky Starks--47------
Ricochet----231628276
Roderick Strong----29--7-
Roman Reigns-----36203845
Rush--------42
Sami Zayn------17-8
SANADA---1939----
Sareee---27-----
Sasha Banks-------6-
Seth Rollins----17-47144
Shane Strickland----46----
Shinsuke Nakamura------30133
SHO--2639-----
Shotaro Ashino--3941-39---
Shuji Ishikawa---46-2931--
T-Hawk---29----20
Taichi---------
Takuya Nomura---36-----
Tetsuya Endo--25------
The Bar-----35---
The New Day-----22---
The Usos-----15--21
Timothy Thatcher---2430--25-
Tommaso Ciampa----44----
Tommy End-------2941
Tomoaki Honma-------4224
Trent Barreta-----20---
Trevor Lee-----2744--
Tyler Bate----1517---
Volador Jr-----453550-
Yuya Aoki--40------