I cannot aptly describe the pro wrestling scene as a whole in 2022 as a landscape, but more of a hellscape as it pertains to my tastes. This seems like an interesting way to open a column about my Match of the Year list.
I was in my early twenties when the last major pro wrestling boom happened, and frankly, even though I watched, I thought it mostly sucked. Nothing since the Attitude Era has come close to capturing the attention of casual audiences since. The Attitude Era is the last time I can remember feeling as disengaged as I did in 2022. So, it begs the question, “Why would you choose 2022 to fulfill the longtime goal of writing about pro wrestling if you are so disinterested in it?”
When I asked myself this last Sunday, this is what I came up with.
The content on Voices of Wrestling has been an integral ingredient in holding my interest in pro wrestling since 2014. Rich and Joe introduced me to NJPW and countless other promotions and wrestling scenes, through their website and podcasts. A week without a Flagship always throws my routine for a loop. In early 2018, I suffered a health event that nearly took my life. This was right around the time Flagship Patreon was launching. From a hospital room, I subscribed prior to a single content release. I trusted and believed Rich and Joe would produce what they promised. Those initial content drops were very welcome distractions for me.
I appreciate that this group of writers and content creators who make up the Voices of Wrestling staff take what they create seriously, and their passion bleeds through. Throughout the years, I have taken recommendations from the website and managed to keep a fire lit inside me for this ridiculously dumb but mostly awesome form of entertainment. Without some of the excellent writing and recommendations across the Voices of Wrestling Universe (I hope this sets Rich off), my 2020 would have completely fucking sucked rather than just really sucked.
Early last year, I was coming out of one of the darkest periods of my life. In the midst of this darkness, I felt compelled to do something positive in hope of adding some light to my life while also doing achieving a long time goal. It was Match of the Year year time on the website, my favorite time of year. I love going through the list, hoping matches from my personal notebook would wind up on it, somehow needlessly justifying my tastes. As the last of the list was revealed, I felt compelled to compose an email to Rich, the editor of Voices of Wrestling. I didn’t hide my motivation when I proposed to him that I review NJPW Strong on a weekly basis. Yes, Strong is a mostly good weekly show in my opinion. But, contributing to the site would hopefully allow me to provide a MOTY list at the beginning of 2023. He welcomed me to the website, and I began contributing. In 2022, I contributed several reviews of Strong until my professional life became too hectic to allow me to do so consistently. I have also written a few articles and columns, which I am the proudest of. In doing so, I have felt a part of a community of the smartest people in wrestling media. I am so indebted to Rich for allowing me a small role in something I revere.
Late 2022 saw the introduction of what, I believe to be the coolest wrestling-related project I have seen. Kevin Hare and Robin Reid have collaborated on creating Wrestling 101, a compilation of matches fans should watch to truly be fluent in the language of pro wrestling. I fucking love this project and through sheer luck was given the opportunity to contribute a column on my favorite match of all time.
Yes, 2022 was mostly a shitty year for any professional wrestling promotion that found itself outside of Tony Khan’s immediate control, in my opinion. The lack of audience participation made NJPW mostly a no-go for me, the American independent scene seems to be rebuilding itself and may be a year or so away from capturing my interest again, the British and Oceania scene is also in a rebuild following COVID and Speaking Out. That leaves WWE, which I refuse to watch on anything resembling a consistent basis, I don’t care how good Gunther and Sheamus are. So that left me with AEW television and pay-per-views which were historically great, a reborn Ring of Honor (also mostly great) and NJPW Strong; a consistently enjoyable watch discounting the production values. My top ten is not a practice in diversity or a journey across the Global Wrestling Scene, maybe next year. It is however a representation of what I love about this sport. We are living in strange times where I can describe something as a ‘hellscape’ while also presenting my top ten list which contains more than one match, I feel containing some of the best wrestling I have ever seen.
Most ‘firsts’ should be both harrowing and exhilarating. Revealing these matches brings forth both emotions for me. I have always enjoyed writing from the perspective of giving the reader something to think about and through self-deprecation, something to laugh about. Writing for the public is a true test for my self-esteem (or lack thereof most days). When I look back and think of the firsts in my life, I think of how many of them affected the trajectory of it in a surprisingly positive way. It may seem bizarre to some that I have put this much effort and time into reflecting on a top ten list for a simulated sport. But I didn’t write this for you.
For the first time in my life, I am writing for me.
My 2022 Voices of Wrestling Top Ten Matches of the Year:
- Adam Page (c) vs. Bryan Danielson
AEW Dynamite 01/05/2022
- FTR (c) vs. The Briscoes
ROH Final Battle 12/10/2022
- Chris Jericho vs. Eddie Kingston
AEW Revolution 3/6/2022
- JAS vs. The BCC, Eddie Kingston, Ortiz and Santana
AEW Double or Nothing (5/29/2022)
- Fred Rosser vs. Gabriel Kidd
NJPW Strong (2/19/2022)
- Biff Busick vs. Slade
Beyond ‘Day 91’ (2/4/2022)
- Will Ospreay (c) vs. Orange Cassidy
AEW/NJPW Forbidden Door (6/26/2022)
- Claudio Castagnoli vs. Konuske Takeshita
AEW Rampage (8/6/2022)
- Eddie Kingston vs. Tomohiro Ishii
- Mike Bailey vs. Konosuke Takeshita
West Coast Pro (6/10/2022)