So here they are…the best WWE matches of 2022 according to our King Of The Ring Andy Spoors.
10) Sami Zayn vs Johnny Knoxville – WrestleMania 38
Sometimes wrestling just needs to be fun. When Johnny Knoxville posted a video signalling his intent to enter the Royal Rumble, social media collectively groaned at the thought of yet another celebrity appearance. A rivalry with Sami Zayn proved entertaining, but culminating with a match on the ‘Grandest Stage Of Them All’ was a brave call by all concerned.
Those inside AT&T Stadium didn’t take much persuading to get behind this hilarious match, as Knoxville used a plethora of props and weapons on a game Sami Zayn. The 78,453 conjured up a huge pop for Wee Man body slamming Zayn in an all time Mania Moment.
Simply put, the match almost stole the weekend. Kudos to everyone involved, including the commentary team of Michael Cole and Pat McAfee, who sounded like they were having the time of their lives throughout.
9) The Usos vs The Street Profits – Money In The Bank
When you have held the titles as long as The Usos, naturally you are there to be shot at by a variety of different tag teams. Sometimes they are flash-in-the-pan, makeshift teams and sometimes they are long serving rivals. All of them legitimate, but The Street Profits unarguably belong in the latter of those categories.
At Money In The Bank, The Usos were firmly in their stride. Dispatching team after team, it was always going to take something special to wrestle the Undisputed Tag Team Championships away from Jimmy and Jey. But the resurgent Profits pushed the brothers all the way in Las Vegas. Some slick and smooth tag action ramped up into a thrilling finale.
A beautiful blockbuster and an always impressive Frog Splash from Montez Ford had the WWE Universe believing the titles were about to change hands.
A few superkicks and a 1D later, hearts were broken as The Usos picked up a hard fought victory. With replays showing Ford’s shoulder clearly off the mat, it protected both teams even with the familiar sight of The Usos holding their championships high in celebration.
8) Alpha Academy vs RK Bro vs Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens – Monday Night Raw – 7 March
There’s no escaping that tag team wrestling within WWE at least, has been left in the cold in recent times. 2022 has, however, provided something of a renaissance for the division. One criticism often levelled at the company is their tendency to throw two individual Superstars that are kicking their heels into a team together and hoping for the best.
That strategy has provided, let’s say, mixed results at best. When the two Superstars thrown together are as good as those on display on the 7 March edition of Raw, all bets are off the table. A true triple threat tag match (unlike the matches where only two teams have a representative in the ring at one time) showcased all six men in fantastic fashion.
With a secondary story of punching your ticket to WrestleMania threaded throughout, the action had an edge and urgency sorely lacking in previous years. A special shout out to Chad Gable who is ultra talented but criminally underrated. Here he took a ridiculous RKO while upside down from a moonsault. Sublime.
7) Roman Reigns vs Seth Rollins – Royal Rumble
For as dominant as Roman Reigns has been for the vast majority of his career, curiously, his old running buddy from The Shield Seth Rollins, seems to have his number. Ever since masterminding the heist of the century at WrestleMania 31, Rollins knows exactly how to get inside the Head Of The Table’s mind.
At the Royal Rumble, Rollins made his way through the crowd to the ring accompanied by the original Shield theme and in full Shield garb. Instantly putting Reigns on the back foot, the crowd lapped up the shithousery and firmly got behind the challenger. As you’d expect from a pair of Superstars that have come up through the ranks together to the very top of the industry, the action was tight and flowed throughout.
Despite Reigns record breaking run as champion, both men have established their character in the past 12 months. Whether it be Reigns confident and dominant persona or Rollins knocking the sleazy, arrogant, ‘Visionary’ style out of the park, both have come a long way since their days as the Hounds of Justice.
As Rollins closed in on a deserved win, Reigns caught him in a triangle submission. But as the former wriggled his way to the ropes to force a break to the hold, the champion refused to acknowledge the referee’s count resulting in a disqualification.
As boos rained down, Reigns destroyed his former brother with a steel chair, eerily reminiscent of the night The Shield fell apart at the seams. Long term booking indeed…
6) Roman Reigns vs Logan Paul – Crown Jewel
Logan Paul. Possibly the human embodiment of Marmite. Some love him. Some hate him. Either way it is hard to ignore him. Unbelievably the Youtube star, energy drink peddler, Pokemon card collector and occasional boxer can also wrestle.
Like him or loathe him, it is impossible to deny the guy has charisma. That charisma only goes so far and in October astonishingly Paul challenged Roman Reigns for his Undisputed WWE Universal Championship in a Las Vegas press conference.
An obvious ploy to grab the inevitable headlines that follow Logan Paul, social media went in to melt down at the very idea that a Youtuber could hold arguably the biggest prize in the industry. But would WWE be brave/cazy/silly enough to do that? An angle where all it takes is one lucky punch was enough to plant that seed of doubt in even the most ardent Roman fan.
Having shown glimpses of his talent in a tag team match with The Miz and then a singles match against him, Logan threw caution to the wind and put on an incredible performance. It may have been his first loss in WWE, but the ring prowess and ability shown completely vindicated the opportunity afforded.
An outstanding Buckshot Lariat drew particularly high praise, but filming a selfie while executing a Frogsplash from the turnbuckle to the announce table set new records for WWE’s social platforms. Expect to see more of Logan Paul once he recovers from some serious injuries
5) Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar – SummerSlam
Some wrestlers seem destined to fight forever. Rock & Austin. Cactus Jack and Triple H. Brett Hart and Shawn Michaels. Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. The pairs are cosmically linked and no matter how far they seem to pull away from each other, inevitably another chapter of their rivalry is always just around the corner.
After the winner takes all match at Mania, most fans not only expected but hoped for Reigns and Lesnar to go their separate ways forever. But a Last Man Standing match between the pair at SummerSlam laid on what turned out to be one of their best bouts to date.
From the minute Brock Lesnar made his way to the ring in a tractor, all bets were off. A fun and brutal back and forth in the sticky Nashville night air provided a moment most fans will never see again in their lifetime. After several close calls, Lesnar jumped onto the tractor’s controls and partially flipped the ring onto its side, sending Reigns tumbling.
It may not have been enough to wrestle the championship from Reigns, but it provided a moment that will never be forgotten. After falling to defeat thanks to interference from The Bloodline, Lesnar still managed to climb to the top of the upturned ring, donning a cowboy hat and beaming smile. A truly entertaining and bizarre sight to behold.
4) Seth Rollins vs Cody Rhodes – WrestleMania 38
Spoiler alert, this won’t be the last time these two Superstars feature on the list of top matches in 2022. In the build up to WrestleMania, Seth Rollins found all roads and possible matches shut down. As one of the best and most popular workers on the WWE roster, the idea of Seth ‘Freakin’ Rollins not appearing on the Mania card was unfathomable.
A few weeks before the biggest event in the industry and outside of the goldfish bowl that is the WWE Universe, major news broke that Cody Rhodes had become a free agent. Leaving his previous position of Executive Vice President of AEW, Rhodes surely couldn’t return to the company he not only left six years prior but helped create their biggest rival too?
But as Rollins stood in the ring awaiting a mystery opponent assigned from Vince McMahon himself, the lights cut and the American Nightmare’s entrance theme boomed out around AT&T Stadium. Cue bedlam. It may have been a badly kept secret, but the crowd in Arlington, exploded with noise and social media blew up.
The build up may have been a Mania moment in itself, but the match more than lived up to the instant expectation. Shaking off the understandable nerves, both Rollins and Rhodes knocked it out the park and wrote chapter one of a new rivalry on the grandest stage of them all…
3) Becky Lynch vs Bianca Belair – WrestleMania 38
If not for the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin, this match could and perhaps should have headlined night one of this year’s WrestleMania. That is as high a compliment that can be paid to both Superstars involved here.
Becky Lynch has long established herself as one of the greatest women to lace a pair of boots and step into the squared circle. Bianca Belair is the poster-child for any aspiring Superstar that looks to cross over from another sport and reach the top quickly. Both ‘Big Time Becks’ and ‘The EST of WWE’ were afforded grand entrances and looked every bit the stars they are.
That line of thought continued even after the bell rang to start the match. The bumper crowd in Dallas ramped up the volume and stayed vocal throughout. As the action continued, a gnarly looking top rope, rolling thunderkick by Becky Lynch saw her heel strike Belair squarely on the left eye.
The match continued for a further four minutes with Belair’s eye slowly swelling shut, but injury aside it was to be The EST’s night. For the second year in a row, Bianca Belair defeated one of “The Four Horsewomen” for a title at WrestleMania. That’s no mean feat and if there were any doubt left, there surely can’t be now. Belair is a bonafide Superstar.
2) Gunther vs Sheamus – Clash At The Castle
All the build up to Clash At The Castle seemed focussed on the night’s main event between Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns. Exiting the Principality Stadium it was this match that the WWE Universe were talking about.
It’s fair to say Sheamus has been around for a minute in WWE and never really been a top tier fan favourite in that time. All that changed after a brutal encounter for Gunther’s Intercontinental Championship in Cardiff. And brutal really is the one adjective that truly encapsulates the theme of this match.
Slaps, stiff punches, forearms galore, this was not a match for anyone hoping to see high flying manoeuvres. As the skin of Sheamus began to welt and bruise from the constant barrage of abuse by Gunther, the British crowd came alive. Gunther appears to have the ability to make moves others might only receive a two count and turn them into devastating finishers.
Here, a wicked lariat gained him the win over the game Irishman but even in defeat, Sheamus had a night that will live with him forever. Finding himself alone in the ring, the Celtic Warrior pulled himself upright and soaked in the adoration that poured out of the WWE Universe. A fitting tribute for a hard hitting warrior.
1) Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins – Hell In A Cell
Ever since his return at WrestleMania, Cody Rhodes found himself unable to escape the attentions of Seth Rollins. Two back to back victories for Rhodes, were still not enough to head off a maniacal Rollins leading to a third match. This time inside the confines of a Hell In A Cell match. But just a few hours before the match, news started to filter through social media that all was physically not well with The American Nightmare.
Similarly to his match against Roman Reigns at the Royal Rumble, Seth Rollins played his usual mindgames, coming to the ring dressed in a version of Cody’s late and beloved father, Dusty Rhodes’ ring gear. The drama however, was barely beginning. The rumours of Rhodes carrying an injury proved true as he removed his entrance jacket.
A sickening amount of bruising revealed a partially torn pectoral muscle, instantly drawing a gasp from those inside the AllState Arena followed by near silence. What was to follow was nothing short of phenomenal from Rhodes. A straight one on one match would have been tricky enough to negotiate, but a savage bout inside the Cell, with one arm was near superhuman effort.
Kendo sticks and kicks focussed on the injured area drew groans and winces from the WWE Universe, but Rhodes found a way to grind out a third and final win over his new nemesis. A hard watch, but one that will live long in the memory for all those watching or involved. At the time of writing, we are yet to see Rhodes back in a WWE ring for a match, but when he does, prepare for Dusty Rhodes’ baby boy to receive yet another monster pop.
Corey Graves summed up the night with the iconic line, “A fallen angel with a broken wing descended into hell and survived a battle with the devil himself.”