Wrestling fans were taken on a real roller-coaster ride in 2022, with the industry seeing many up-and-down moments. Both the on-screen and behind the scenes action saw many highs and lows, ups and downs, and anyone trying to keep up with it all might have very well suffered motion sickness. And just when we thought that nothing could top 2022 in terms of being a wild ride, it didn’t take long for 2023 to say “hold my beer.”

For now, let’s just reflect on the year that was. Remain seated, keep your hands and feet inside the ride, and hang on as we recap the top professional wrestling stories of 2022.

Vince McMahon’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year

Mr. McMahon is gone … or is he?

The stories of Vince McMahon’s love of working have circulated forever. He never took a day off, he worked at all hours of the day including on weekends and holidays. It was expected that, when he eventually shuffled off hi mortal coil, it would be while sitting “in Gorilla,” producing and directing one of WWE’s weekly shows or Premium Live Events. The thought of him leaving WWE was inconceivable.

Well, perhaps the thought of him leaving willingly.

However, in June 2022, McMahon did indeed step down as Chairman and CEO of WWE. His decision was reportedly done under pressure by the Board of Directors who had launched an internal investigation of McMahon’s actions, which had been the subject of a bombshell Wall Street Journal report. The report alleged that McMahon had made hush-money payments to former employees with whom McMahon and company Executive Vice-President John “Johnny Ace” Laurinaitis had had sexual affairs. The board investigation identified multiple such payments totaling $12 Million. It was later determined that the payments — which McMahon had made from his personal funds — should have been reflected in the company’s financial statements, and the company was forced to disclose through an SEC filing that historical financial statements were misstated and would have to be re-filed.

In July, perhaps in an attempt to distance himself from the company in hopes to shelter it from further SEC scrutiny, McMahon tweeted a retirement announcement. Interestingly, the announcement was worded to imply that his age was the rationale for the decision.

But, like many wrestling retirements, the question remained as to whether McMahon was truly gone, and if so, for how long? Indeed, in a leaked internal memo to staff, his final comment could be interpreted as an ominous threat to the new leadership team, co-Chairs Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan, and Triple H who took over as Head of Creative.

“One other thing—I won’t be with you,” he wrote, “but I’ll be watching.” [And we covered it as best we can, see the McMahon archives.]

As McMahon still maintained control over WWE through his shareholdings, he effectively could force the company to make any changes he wanted — despite being neither an officer nor director of the corporation. It was a position of strength that allowed him to hold all the cards until he decided to play them. And in late December, he did indeed reveal his hand. Despite the board unanimously denouncing his intention to return, McMahon went on record saying that he had been given poor advice to resign his post and expressing his desire to return to the WWE. Of course, 2023 did see McMahon flex his shareholder power and come back. But that, and the resulting fallout, is likely going to be the top story for 2023. So stay tuned.

— Bob Kapur, Senior Editor

CM Punk goes All Out in media scrum

CM Punk. AEW Photo

Generally speaking, post-game interviews for any televised sport offer all the excitement of watching Russian propaganda, delivered in monotones that are so dull that you feel your brain getting scooped out of your skull. Outside of paint drying or watching grass grow, I had never seen anything so dull and uninteresting that I could never envision watching such a thing.

Enter the AEW All-Out media scrum.

The literal pipe bomb that CM Punk threw to the unsuspecting wrestling journalists in attendance, and its fallout, have become a well-worn topic. The short-form version is that Punk verbally unloaded on some of the younger talents in AEW, including “Hangman” Adam Page and the members of the Elite, and suggested that if anyone had a problem with his comments, they should come see him backstage. Reportedly, the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega did so, and the situation ended up in a physical confrontation involving the wrestlers and some backstage personnel, including producer and Punk’s friend Ace Steel.

As of this writing, Steel has been fired from his backstage position, and the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega have returned from a lengthy suspension and are once again being prominently featured on TV.

But what of The Best in The World? He was reportedly suspended and has not yet returned to TV (though, it is noted that he was injured during the match at All Out, so would likely not have been able to return yet in any event). Apparently, Tony Khan and company are working on a buyout of his contract, with one sticking point being the length of any non-compete clause in the agreement.

And despite no formal decision having been announced, the waters are being further muddied – in a recent podcast, for example, Dax Harwood of FTR, who is friends with Punk, suggested that everyone should kiss and make up so that it can help unify the AEW locker room.

If the two sides could actually do that, there is no doubt this could lead to some monster business for AEW. But the situation seems to have revealed that the conflict was likely inevitable, and the history behind it could make it irreparable.

It should have been an enormous coup when Punk returned back to the squared circle, and for a while it was. But there were problems that were bubbling underneath the happy veneer that is All Elite Wrestling when he returned. Part of it has to do with some of the wrestlers – including Omega and the Bucks – siding with Colt Cabana, with whom Punk had a personal and professional fallout years ago. Part of it had to do with other wrestlers feeling that Punk had rubbed them the wrong way while in Ring of Honor or any various promotions; it is noted that Punk has a reputation of being a direct personality who is not shy about sharing his feelings.

So there was hydrogen in this Hindenburg, and after Punk made the comments he did at the press conference, it wasn’t too long before the cries of “Oh, the humanity!” would be heard. What might have been unexpected is where and when the explosion happened — in such a public forum, with his boss, AEW President Tony Khan sitting next to him (his dumbstruck expression during Punk’s tirade spoke volumes).

Overall, the entire situation is not a good look for such a young company that is barely five years old. Worse, that scenario made Tony Khan look weak when it comes to dealing with his employees, let alone his EVPs. Add to that, I echo what John Powell spoke on the same subject that Omega and the Bucks should have lived up to their EVP titles and handled the matter in-house through bureaucratic channels rather than treat the matter like it was in the worst outlaw mud show this side of Panguitch, UT.

This is not to knock down All Elite Wrestling. God knows that we need an alternative promotion to WWE. But if they want to truly be one, AEW needs to be doing things better and smarter. For the most part, they have, but they can’t continue having more controversies like this going forward. This is especially important since AEW is featured on TNT and TBS, which are owned by Warner Bros-Discovery, and given their slash-and-burn thinking on entertainment, it’s not a stretch to think they may not want to devote airtime to the wrestling equivalent to The Real Housewives.

At this point, it would seem that Punk’s goodwill is gone and AEW appears to be moving ahead with its current roster.  Punk’s departure may be a costly blow to AEW, but perhaps they can spin the negative into a positive. At the very least, they could learn how to avoid future public relations breakdowns. Lesson one: be careful what you say in a media scrum.

— Tommy “Milagro” Martinez, Contributing Writer

Many Journalists Fooled: MJF walks out of AEW

MJF fooled us all. AEW Photo

MJF is better than you, and you know it. And in 2022, he proved that he’s actually better than most wrestlers at working an angle and keeping kayfabe. So much so that when he “walked away” from the company for several months during the year, speculation ran rampant throughout the industry as to whether he had really walked out on his contract, if he had been granted a release and was heading to WWE, or whether it was all a work. Even after his return, the details of what happened have never entirely surfaced.
What is known is that MJF had been feuding with his former storyline bodyguard Wardlow, and at the Double or Nothing pay-per-view event, MJF suffered his first clean loss in AEW singles action after taking ten powerbombs from Wardlow. It was suggested that the convincing loss may have been punishment for MJF having skipped out on the company’s Fan Fest that took place the day before the PPV. The company had to offer refunds and make other concessions to fans who had paid for autographs and photo ops with MJF, and reports suggested that management was furious with his no-show.
The next week, MJF cut an in-ring promo during which he expressed frustration with the company and with AEW management, requesting to be fired. In interviews he did leading up to that promo, including with an apparently-unsanctioned one with sportscaster Ariel Helwani, MJF made references to WWE, including mentioning Cody Rhodes — who himself had left AEW and headed to WWE earlier in the year. MJF also had reportedly been making noise about his contract, noting that he had emerged as a major pillar for the company, and that the terms of his contract should be reviewed midway through and renegotiated, reflecting his status as one of the company’s major stars. On Twitter, he made some disparaging comments about the company and owner Tony Khan.
Neither Khan nor the company made any public comment about MJF’s situation — though, it was noted that the day after his scathing promo, he was removed from the company’s active roster website and all his merchandise was removed from the company’s online store. In interviews, Khan didn’t deny MJF had expressed frustration but wouldn’t provide any detailed answers about MJF’s contract status or whether he had any intentions of addressing the concerns MJF had made.
For months, it seemed that the two sides had reached an impasse and that MJF might simply ride out his contract on the bench. But then at All Out in September, MJF made a surprise return, entering the Casino Battle Royal under a mask, and winning the match, only to unmask at the end of the show.
Two months later, the prodigal son — after a series of promos teasing a babyface turn — showed his true colors by screwing over Jon Moxley to become the youngest AEW World Heavyweight Champion. It was the culmination of MJF’s story that took him from walking out to walking out with the gold, which he still holds today.
Though he’s the champion, MJF continues to stoke the flames of speculation, and in many of his recent promos and interviews, he has been making reference to a major bidding war for his services in 2024, when his contract with AEW ends. What the self-professed “generational talent” does then could indeed help determine the future of the business. And we may never see it coming.
— Jon Waldman, Contributing Writer

Triple H has two words for you: You’re Hired!

Triple H … or Lex Luthor? WWE photo

Never has the term “Never say Never” rung so true in the world of professional Wrestling. Following the announcement of Vince McMahon’s (first) retirement on July 22, 2022, everyone was waiting to see what WWE’s new regime would look like. After the appointment of Stephanie McMahon and Nick Khan as co-CEO’s everyone was eagerly waiting to see who would take over the creative side of WWE. On July 25, 2022, it was announced that Triple H (Paul Levesque) was returning to lead the creative side of WWE.

Levesque had already served as head of creative for the NXT brand during what many would consider that brands glory years and signed some of the most established independent stars to WWE including Shinsuke Nakamura, Sami Zayn, Finn Balor, Kevin Owens, Adam Cole and many more before the brand was changed to its rainbow-colored incarnation  in 2021 (a change in direction reportedly ordered by Vince McMahon).

After he took over, the “Triple H effect” was quickly felt as WWE began to focus more on the in-ring product during its weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown. Levesque also brought back formerly-released superstars including Karrion Kross, Scarlett, Dakota Kai, Hit Row (Ashante “Thee” Adonis, Top Dolla and B-Fab), Dexter Lumis, and was able to re-sign free agent Johnny Gargano among his first moves as head of creative. The largest and most impactful return architected by Levesque was the return of Bray Wyatt. That “White Rabbit” campaign began as small Easter eggs during backstage segments and live events then evolved into elaborate puzzles that kept fans guessing who these mysterious promos were for. All of that culminated at WWE Extreme Rules in October as Bray Wyatt was revealed to be back during one of the most elaborate and high-end production pieces of WWE’s 2022. Wyatt’s return garnered over 1.2 million views on YouTube, 400, 000 Instagram views, and 500,000 Facebook views.

Fans seemed to have responded positively since the change in creative as WWE reported in September that under the Levesque pencil, Monday Night Raw viewership rose 15% and the company saw a double-digit increase in social media engagement including the numbers for Bray Wyatt’s return which was seen as one of the best overall segments for 2022. All of the early positivity and boost in business lead to Levesque being promoted to Chief Content Officer in September.

With the calendar turning to 2023 and the future of WWE being analyzed by Wall Street analysts, Internet Wrestling Community members, and everyone in-between, one thing is certain; that Triple H’s WWE has at the least garnered curiosity back in WWE. While the jury on WWE’s overall product is still out, one thing is certain: Paul Levesque knows how to play the game and always has an Ace of Spades up his sleeves.

— Boris Roberto Aguilar, Contributing Writer

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.”

Kevin Nash, Dallas Page, Sean Waltman, Shawn Michaels, Cody Hall and Triple H. Twitter photo

Leading off with a line from Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie seems about right. The book is about loss, and in 2022 that was certainly felt in the wrestling world. Some, like Antonio Inoki, had been ailing and his death wasn’t a surprise. With Scott Hall, though? That was out of nowhere, even if he had battled his demons publicly for years. Those are probably the two biggest names from 2022 to leave us, though “Judo” Gene Lebell‘s legacy is pretty great too, but not confined to the wrestling ring the same way. (We archive all the obituaries here.)

The fact is that we try to cover death here at SlamWrestling respectfully but also with that word I just used — fact. And sometimes we get it wrong. The major mea culpa for me this year was Bad Boy Buck, a little person who had always claimed to have been Wink the Clown, one of the posse of Doink the Clown in WWE. That was what was originally reported here, and it’s even in the URL. Only problem is that it wasn’t true. The story was fixed, the correction acknowledged prominently … but the URL couldn’t be changed. Of all the stories at the site, the obits get the most post-publication additions or corrections, and, where needed, we say what was changed — additional children that had been overlooked, or an adjustment to a cause of death, or even the funeral information.

It’s also not possible to cover every single death. Sometimes you don’t hear about it until months later, sometimes there just isn’t enough information, sometimes there just isn’t time — not excuses, just realities. Or we just don’t have the knowledge (we’d love an expert on lucha and Japanese wrestling history). To the families of Katsuya Kitamura, Raziel, Starman, Masashi Aoyagi, Super Muñeco, Toro Bill Jr., Freddie Fargo, Bubba Monroe, Bobby Lane and so many others, we express belated condolences.

We’ll let Albom have another say in closing: “The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.”

— Greg Oliver, Producer

Aldis gone from the NWA and Tyrus is the champ. Yup… Tyrus.

It’s been a couple of months since the National Wrestling Alliance had a bit of a scandal when Nick Aldis posted via Instagram that he would be exiting the company at the end of 2022. In response, NWA owner William Patrick Corgan suspended Aldis for the rest of the year. All this took place within days of the Hard Times 3 pay-per-view, which saw Tyrus claim the Ten Pounds of Gold from then-champion Trevor Murdoch and Matt Cardona in a three-way matchup.

To say that it was a whirlwind of activity is putting it mildly.

Aldis, a two-time holder of the NWA  Heavyweight Championship, had been the face of the NWA in the Lightning Era. He was instrumental in launching the Ten Pounds of Gold Series against all comers like Tim Storm and Cody Rhodes. Aldis had been the primary cheerleader for the company when doing press junkets and had carried himself like the champions of old, and in that way, was reminiscent of his mentor Harley Race when talking about the history, legacy, and tradition of the NWA.

What also cannot be dismissed is the fact that he and Corgan had very different visions of what the NWA landscape should look like.

So what does his departure, and the subsequent installation of Tyrus as champion mean for NWA?

My colleagues have dissected this topic in more detail than I can offer, from his mobility to his politics to his age. Plus, I see the same comments on a subReddit where users are not happy that the gold is around Tyrus’ waist, and they cite the same reasons. This is nothing new nor surprising. It’s like me saying, “Breaking News: Water is wet!”

But that would ignore some reasons why Tyrus could still be a benefit to the NWA. First, he is on The Gutfeld Show which, according to a Forbes article from July 2022, has 2.5 million viewers. To put this into perspective, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert has an average viewership of 2.4 million. That’s not chump change, and it could result in casual viewers will take notice and that his fame could result in new viewers.

Also, Tyrus is a natural monster heel who is just as good at riling the fans on the mic. As part of a heel faction — a traditional trope in NWA’s history — there is potentially good business from fans who want to see him eventually get his comeuppance.

So, with Aldis gone and Tyrus in, what’s ahead for the NWA? Recently, the company announced the FITE All-Access pass will be done away with, and all first-run episodes of NWA Powwerrr and NWA USA will be available on YouTube, with the PPVs still available on FITE to purchase individually. It is curious to see why they went this way, but considering they did away with the All Access model in August 2022 prior to this announcement can still help garner more eyeballs. It is the model that Major League Wrestling still does, and it has a loyal base. As for Corgan’s wish to have NWA be considered a “mainstream wrestling product,” until there is a major TV deal in place, that is still a ways off.

But they are making strides, as they will be doing a live event on January 31, and working with AAA in March of this year. And, yes, Virginia, whether you like it or not Tyrus will be the face of the promotion for the foreseeable future. Can anyone step up to take on The Man-ster? Maybe Cardona or Murdoch, and there are other possibilities with EC3 and Thom Latimer if booked right. Even “Thrillbilly” Silas Mason and Kratos would be dark horse favorites at this point.

But what of The National Treasure? His skill and experience could make him an asset in whatever company he goes to. The potential hindrance to that would be if he carries the bitterness of what happened during the last few months of his NWA stint, as he could be seen as someone who would bash his home promotion, and potentially alienate potential employers.

The NWA has made a lot of changes since coming back from the pandemic, and that they’re still continuing on despite changes to the roster speaks volumes of their longevity. As for how they pivot to fan reactions down the road, that part, to quote the Smashing Pumpkins song, is “obscured through these eyes.”

— Tommy “Milagro” Martinez, Contributing Writer

Tony Khan buys Ring of Honor

Back in February 2022, AEW owner Tony Khan began teasing that a major announcement for All Elite Wrestling was coming, saying that this would be an atypical announcement more about the business side of things. As a follow-up, he made a rare on-screen appearance to kick off the March 2nd edition of AEW Dynamite to announce that he had acquired Ring of Honor (ROH).

The announcement ended the speculation of the future of the company after its previous owners, the Sinclair Broadcasting Group announced in October 2021 that it would reimagine ROH and release all performers from existing contracts. While some pundits predicted WWE would snap up the company’s video library and intellectual property, it was Tony Khan who ponied up a reported $40 million to buy the company outright (though that number seems high).

Later, when two ROH pioneers Bryan Danielson and Christopher Daniels wrestled in a ROH-centric match on Dynamite, more speculation began swirling about what the acquisition would mean for the future of Ring of Honor. Unlike WWE’s purchase of WCW back in 2001, Khan intended to keep the ROH brand alive and as its own entity. Khan also had a playbook on what not to do as he could learn from WWE’s mistakes with their lack of overall plan for the WCW brand.

A month after the acquisition, the Tony Khan era of ROH began as they ran a previously announced PPV, Supercard of Honor. As soon as the show faded to black Tony Khan continued to reiterate that the search for a TV home for ROH was a priority for him. As ROH ran two additional PPVs in 2022 (Death Before Dishonor and Final Battle) and was featured on regular AEW programming people constantly questioned Tony Khan when he would announce a TV deal for ROH. Ultimately on December 10, during the Final Battle post-show presser, Tony Khan announced that a weekly ROH show would stream on the relaunched Honor Club streaming service. While many were left underwhelmed, Khan made the best of his announcement as he also mentioned that New Japan Pro Wrestling will be factored into the equation in some shape, way or form. Khan also mentioned that further announcements would be made in January 2023.

The Tony Khan purchase of ROH gave him a brand with two decades of history along with a tape library featuring many of AEW’s top stars. What the future holds for ROH is still in the air but what we do know is that in 2023 we will get regular content from ROH and that, is good for business but more for wrestling fans.

— Boris Roberto Aguilar, Contributing Writer

Josh Alexander – Wrestler of the year?

Josh Alexander at Impact Wrestling Bound For Glory on Friday, October 7, 2022, at the Albany Armory in Albany, NY. Photo by George Tahinos, https://georgetahinos.smugmug.com

Impact Wrestling may not always be part of the discussion, which is unfortunate. Because anyone who has been sleeping on the company is really missing out on some of the best in-ring performances in wrestling today, courtesy of the company’s World Champion Josh Alexander.

After re-signing with the company in February, Alexander won the World Championship shortly thereafter, beating his nemesis Moose at Rebellion. Since then, he has been racking up the wins — and the star ratings — by putting on veritable in-ring poems against a series of opponents. Every match has been a highlight, including his hard-hitting battle against Japanese veteran Tomohiro Ishii, a bloody brawl against Eric Young, and wrestling clinics against Alex Shelley and Frankie Kazarian.

Perhaps Alexander’s best performance in 2022 took place on December 8th on an episode of Dynamite in  what was booked as an impromptu match against “Speedball” Mike Bailey. The two of them put on a modern-day classic that lasted nearly an hour. With a combination of intense physicality, and dramatic psychology, the two opponents put on a match that surely will be seen as career-defining, when their eventual life stories are written.

As Alexander is still only a year into his current contract with Impact, fans of that company are fortunate that they’ll get to see him continue plying his trade. Everyone else will have to start realizing what Impact has to offer — or risk missing out on seeing one of the best in the world today.

—  Bob Kapur, Senior Editor



The Bloodline and Sami Zayn: As Ucey as they wanna be

Everything is Ucey.

Had it not been for Sami Zayn, the Bloodline may have run cold by now. But the inclusion of Zayn into the faction — perhaps the unlikeliest of pairings ever — has been a breath of fresh air into the Bloodline, and helped turn them into one of the most entertaining acts in the business today.

At WrestleMania 38, Roman Reigns became the Unified Universal Champion when he beat Brock Lesnar. And a couple of months later, the Usos unified the Tag Team Championship. With Paul Heyman acting as their mouthpiece, and with the addition of Solo Sikoa as the family enforcer, the faction was already featured prominently on TV.

But when Sami Zayn inserted himself into the mix, the juxtaposition of his goofy giddiness and the seriousness of the Bloodline made for some great comedy. It helped that everyone played their part perfectly, from Roman’s serene intensity, to Jey’s blatant disgust with Sami, to Heyman’s alternating blustering and toadiness. But things were about to hit even higher heights.

It all came to a head on the October 28th episode of Smackdown, when the lingering tension between Jey and Sami came to a head. In the heat of anger, Jey blurted out that he didn’t “give a damn what the Tribal Chief said,” a comment which clearly surprised and angered Reigns. In trying to defuse the situation, Sami — perhaps ad-libbing, perhaps not — tried to make an excuse for Jey’s outburst, explaining to Roman that “lately (Jey) hasn’t been very Ucey.”

The reactions were immediate, with Jey and Roman visibly breaking character and smirking. From there, things ramped up, as Roman double-downed on trying to make Jey laugh, while Jey tried to hide his face behind his hands.

The moment was an immediate hit with the WWE Universe, and they erupted into chants and cheers for what might have been the Uciest moment on WWE TV in years. And the company has leaned into to the Ucey phenomenon, now even selling “Feeling Ucey” shirts in the online WWE Shop.

Storyline-wise, the act continues to be a featured act on both Smackdown and Raw. The Ucey phenomenon has put a new focus on Sami Zayn, who the fans have embraced to the point that they are routinely cheering for him despite his affiliation with the heelish Bloodline. Indeed, his popularity has some pundits predicting that the company may be forced to change plans, have Zayn split from the Bloodline and go on to challenge Reigns for the title at WrestleMania.

Which might lead to the Uciest ending of them all.

— Jon Waldman, Contributing Writer

Other Big Stories

  • In May, WWE Hall of Famer Tammy “Sunny” Sytch was arrested after she was involved in a car crash that resulted in the death of a 75-year-old man. Police alleged that Sytch was driving her car while intoxicated and that she crashed into the victim’s car which was stopped at a red light. Sytch was initially released on bond, but that was revoked when the judge deemed her to be a danger to the community. The arrest was the most recent one in a series of them over the past few years, including two in January 2022 for a weapons charge and for making terroristic threats, and for various driving offences including a DUI. If convicted in the most recent case, Sytch could face up to 26 years in prison.
  • On July 31, the legendary “Nature Boy” Ric Flair wrestled in what was billed as his “Last Match.”  The event, which was produced under the banner of Jim Crockett Promotions and featured a variety of wrestlers from various global promotions, was main-evented by Flair and his son-in-law Andrade El Idolo taking on Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal in one of the biggest independent shows ever to take place in the United States. While the match received mixed reviews, and Flair’s performance was widely panned, the significance of the event — putting a cap on Flair’s nearly 50-year career — was indeed notable. That said, Flair had retired once before and returned to the ring. And he has already made overtures about wanting to return to the ring again, despite his age (73) and recent health issues. So while Flair is far from reaching Terry Funk’s record for the most number of retirements, it looks like he’s going to at least give it the old college try.
  • In May, WWE’s Women Tag Team Champions Sasha Banks and Naomi walked out on the company, reportedly over a creative dispute. Later that week, the company announced that the two had been stripped of the titles and suspended indefinitely. Over the next few months, there were rumors that they were in talks to possibly return to the company, but that never came to pass. Indeed, in December, Banks announced that she would be appearing at the New Japan Pro-Wrestling Wrestle Kingdom show on January 4th (she did) and she is scheduled for a match at NJPW’s sister company Stardom’s show in February where she will challenge for the IWGP Women’s Championship. Naomi, on the other hand, seems to have dropped off the face of the earth, with no announced plans for her to return to WWE (where she could easily be dropped into the Bloodline story as she is Jimmy Uso’s real-life wife) or anywhere else.
  • It feels like eons ago, but in February 2022 Cody and Brandi Rhodes left AEW for WWE, the first big name to return since AEW was established (with Cody as one of its architects). Cody was immediately pushed big time, said the right thing in interviews, and then … got injured and all momentum stopped. Both Rhodes had been involved behind the scenes in AEW and had a reality show on TNT as well, so it was a surprise when they left.
  • In sad news, Impact Wrestling star Joe Doering announced in August that his brain cancer had returned, six years after a previous tumor had been surgically removed. To support Doering’s fight against the disease, the wrestling community rallied around the popular star, through a GoFundMe campaign, and other initiatives, including Impact Wrestling selling T-shirts and eBay items with proceeds going to Doering.
  • A couple of wrestling videos went viral this year, both of which presumably made solely to give wrestling Jim Cornette a conniption fit. In the first, an independent wrestler named Luigi Primo showed off his pizza-tossing skills while in a match. The popularity of the video garnered national attention, including an appearance on Fox News, and even an appearance on AEW TV. The second one, from Toronto-based promotion Smash Wrestling, saw wrestler Psycho Mike Rollins take on  – and lose to – a dog. To date, the dog hasn’t appeared on AEW TV despite being a safer worker than many of the wrestlers on the roster.