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LONG STORY SPORT

My 15 Favorite Wrestling Shows of 2022

Hi everyone, and welcome to my SECOND annual list of my fifteen favorite wrestling shows of the past year. Just like with 2021, 2022 was jam packed with some genuinely incredible events, so it was difficult to pick which ones were good enough to make the list, but I think that's what made this exercise all the more fun to do.


Just like with my list last year, which you can find here, I'm going to be listing these events in chronological order. I will also add a link to their corresponding CageMatch page, as well as include my favorite matches from each show. Additionally, I'll also be including my 2023 Superlatives at the bottom of the page.


With that of that being said, thank you all once again for being a part of Long Story Sport in 2022. Whether you've been following along all year, or this is your first post you've ever seen, it means the world to me that you'd take the time to read what I have to say. I hope you all had a happy and healthy new year.

 

NUMBER 1

January 1st, 2022

Photo Credit: @_MarkPickering on Twitter

Pro Wrestling NOAH kicked off 2022 better than they could've ever hoped for on New Years Day with this excellent event from the legendary Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan. For those of you who don't know already, NOAH is perhaps the company that best upholds the principles of strong style wrestling, as most of their top level matches feature men who absolutely beat the bells out of each other with lung stopping kicks and back breaking suplexes. And that style was put at the forefront in the best way possible with this show.


On this night, we saw an exciting tag team match between members of the "M's Alliance" faction, which included some bonafide legends like Masato Tanaka and Keiji Mutoh, an unreal semi-main event clash between Kenoh and Kaito Kiyomiya for NOAH's secondary belt, the GHC National Championship, and of course, the incredible main event clash for the GHC Heavyweight Championship between Go Shiozaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima.


All in all, I thought that this was an awesome show from Pro Wrestling NOAH, and a brilliant lead in for their co-produced show with New Japan Pro Wrestling, which happened a week later. Definitively check this out on Wrestle Universe if you get the chance, especially that the genuinely incredible main event.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. M's Alliance (Keiji Mutoh and Naomichi Marufuji) vs. M's Alliance (Masaaki Mochizuki and Masato Tanaka)

  2. GHC National Championship - Kenoh (c) vs. Kaito Kiyomiya

  3. GHC Heavyweight Championship - Go Shiozaki (c) vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima

 

NUMBER 2

March 6th, 2022

Photo Credit: @WrestleJoy on Twitter

Following All Out and Full Gear at the end of 2021, AEW Revolution 2022 put a bow on what I personally believe to be the greatest modern trilogy of wrestling pay-per-views here in the United States. This show had it all; a terrific three-way tag team match featuring more crazy spots by the minute, the match that sparked the creation of one of my favorite factions in pro wrestling based solely off of who was in the group, a thrilling battle for respect between Chris Jericho and Eddie Kingston, and a fun main event clash between Adam Page and Adam Cole for the AEW World Heavyweight Championship.


But what made Revolution so special to me, and ultimately worthy of a place on this list, was the horrifically violent and emotional Dog Collar match between the "Best in the World" CM Punk and the biggest piece of scum on the planet, MJF. Watching the absolutely beloved Punk eviscerate MJF in the fashion that he did was rewarding, cathartic, and a blast to watch. If you want to watch how a blood feud should be ended properly, then you owe it to yourself to check this one out if you haven't.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. AEW World Tag Team Championships - Jungle Express (Jungle Boy & Luchasaurus) (c) vs. reDRagon (Bobby Fish & Kyle O'Reilly) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson)

  2. Dog Collar Match - CM Punk vs. MJF

  3. Bryan Danielson vs. Jon Moxley

  4. AEW World Championship - Adam Page (c) vs. Adam Cole

 

NUMBER 3

March 20th, 2022

Photo Credit: DDT

DDT's product in 2022 wasn't nearly as good as it was in 2021, but they at least put on one brilliant show last year, that being their "Judgement" pay-per-view from March 20th. This event was absolutely massive for DDT as it marked the 25th anniversary of the promotion, so you know that everyone was gunning to give the 2,500 people inside the Ryugoku Kokugikan a card to remember.


After a few undercard matches, Judgement really got going with the event's first singles match which saw DDT's lone signed female talent Saki Akai take on freelance Joshi superstar Maya Yukihi in a great clash. The show would then give us some other fun matches starting with Shunma Katsumata and Yuki Ueno taking on Yukio Sakaguchi and Isami Kodaka, Jun Akiyama and Takao Omori battling Eruption's Hideki Okatani and Kazusada Higuchi, in one of Higuchi's final ppv matches as a member of Eruption, and MAO somehow staving off Daisuke Sasaki and Jun Kasai to win the DDT Universal Title.


But Judgement reached show of the year territory thanks to the fantastic main event which saw Tetsuya Endo take on his career rival Konosuke Takeshita for the greatest prize in DDT, the KO-D Openweight Championship. These phenomenal wrestlers didn't just steal the show, albeit in the main event, but they put on one of the best matches all year. For all of you who've just discovered Takeshita over the past year, as he's now on the AEW roster, I can't recommend this match enough.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. Saki Akai vs. Maya Yukihi

  2. The 37KAMIINA (Shunma Katsumata & Yuki Ueno) vs. Isami Kodaka & Yukio Sakaguchi

  3. DDT Universal Championship - Daisuke Sasaki (c) vs. Jun Kasai vs. MAO

  4. KO-D Openweight Championship - Konosuke Takeshita (c) vs. Tetsuya Endo

 

NUMBER 4

March 27th, 2022

Photo Credit: Stardom

The first of a few Stardom shows that will appear on this list, World Climax Night 2 featured a ton of great matches while also planting seeds into what would happen in the promotion for the rest of 2022. AZM continued her historic High Speed title reign, as did Hanan and her Future of Stardom belt. Donna Del Mondo and Prominence continued what ended up being a year-long war. And future IWGP Women's Champion KAIRI competed in her first ever singles match in Stardom since May 3rd, 2017, against the up-and-coming Starlight Kid.


But just like with many of my favorite Stardom shows in 2022, this show continued to get better as the show went on. Case in point, the rematch for the Wonder of Stardom Championship pitting then-current Wonder of Stardom Champion Saya Kamitani and the woman she beat for the belt, Tam Nakano, was another early Match of the Year contender, while the main event match between Syuri and Mayu Iwatani for the World of Stardom Championship was a physical war of attrition which saw Syuri try in vein to put Iwatani away with bomb after bomb until finally beating her after nearly 30 minutes. If you want to watch the best underdog babyface in the world show just how special she is, then watch this match.


Also, future Goddesses of Stardom Tag League winner, Nanae Takahashi, made her first pay-per-view appearance in Stardom after spending several years away from the company she helped build. So that's cool too!


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. Hazuki vs. Momo Watanabe

  2. KAIRI vs. Starlight Kid

  3. Wonder of Stardom Championship - Saya Kamitani (c) vs. Tam Nakano

  4. World of Stardom Championship - Syuri (c) vs. Mayu Iwatani

 

NUMBER 5

April 1st, 2022

Photo Credit: ROH

This show will always be remembered for two things; first for being the first Ring of Honor event that was produced by AEW President Tony Khan, who had previously purchased the fledgling promotion earlier in the year, and second for being the site of the first of what ended up being three legendary matches between FTR and The Briscoe Brothers for the Ring of Honor Tag Team Championships. And if there's any show on this list that makes it here based off the sheer strength of one single match, it's this one.


And that's not to say this was a one match show, far from it. In fact, Supercard of Honor 2022 was packed with quality action from start to finish. Swerve Strickland and Alex Zayne started things hot with a fun junior heavyweight sprint. Jay Lethal and Lee Moriarty had a fun back-and-forth affair until Lethal finally flipped out and turned heel for the first time since joining the AEW roster. Minoru Suzuki beat Rhett Titus in six minutes to win the ROH World Television Championship, the first championship Suzuki's ever won in the United States. Wheeler Yuta outlasted Josh Woods to win his first ROH Pure Title. And in the main event, Jonathan Gresham, a man who championed Ring of Honor as it's world champion while the promotion was in limbo, successfully defended his title against another former ROH World champion, Bandido.


But smack dab in the middle of this show, between the ROH Interim Women's World Championship man between Mercedes Martinez and Willow Nightingale, and the aforementioned TV Title match, we had The Briscoe Brothers trying, and ultimately failing, to defend their Ring of Honor Tag belts against a tag team that went into GOD MODE in 2022, FTR. This match was an unbelievably physical and violent tag team battle featuring two tag teams that completely understand the art of two vs. two wrestling. Little did we know at the time that these four men would have two more matches in 2022, both of which are just as good as this classic.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. Jay Lethal vs. Lee Moriarty

  2. ROH Tag Team Championships - The Briscoes Brothers (c) vs. FTR

  3. ROH World Championship - Jonathan Gresham (c) vs. Bandido

 

NUMBER 6

May 23rd, 2022

Photo Credit: @0929_hazuki on Twitter

One year after hosting my favorite show in 2021, Kyoko Kimura and her gang of wrestling pals descended on Korakuen Hall once again and put on yet another one of the most heartfelt shows in modern wrestling history with "Hana Kimura Produce "Bagus"", a show dedicated to commemorating former Joshi superstar Hana Kimura, who tragically died in 2020.


This card featured some of my favorite wrestlers in the Japanese scene including Kenoh, Masahiro Takanashi, Miyuki Takase, Kaori Yoneyama, Aja Kong, ASUKA (also known as Veny), and Syuri competing in light-hearted matches that were done more to purely entertain the crowd than tell a dramatic story, which I really appreciated.


But it was two wrestlers who alone made this one of the most memorable shows from all year. Those two individuals were Jungle Kyona, who finally returned to the ring to face Kyoko Kimura herself after she had spent around a year and half on the shelf. And the second was a man named Yuu Ishino, who didn't wrestle, but showed his usual heelish tactics to try and help Kyoko notch the victory over Kyona. Of course, for those of you who don't know, Yuu Ishino was a former World of Stardom Champion when he wrestled under the name Kagetsu.


I don't think these incredible people could do a better job at celebrating the life and legacy of Hana Kimura through these past two shows. They might not be the most incredible matches in terms of dramatic in-ring master works, but they more than fulfill their goal in making all their viewers entertained, which i more than enough to earn a spot on this list.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. The Tag Team Battle Royale

  2. Jungle Kyona vs. Kyoko Kimura

  3. ASUKA vs. Syuri

 

NUMBER 7

June 26th, 2022

Photo Credit: AEW

If there was a show that was specifically designed for wrestling nerds like me, then it would be AEW/NJPW's first ever co-produced pay-per-view, Forbidden Door. While the show's build left a lot to be desired for multiple reasons including multiple wrestlers being injured and AEW struggling to introduce many of New Japan's top stars to the casual audience, the show itself still featured incredible action, amazing moments, and a white hot crowd inside the United Center in Chicago.


During this show, we saw Minoru Suzuki team up with Chris Jericho, FTR take the IWGP Tag Team Championships for the first time, PAC win his first singles belt in his AEW career, the newly minted All-Atlantic Championship, Sting team up with his son Darby Allin and the dominant Shingo Takagi, and Thunder Rosa successfully defend her AEW Women's Championship against Toni Storm. And that was just the warmup!


Forbidden Door really picked up the pace starting with the next match, which saw the "5-Star Bout Machine" Will Ospreay take on Orange Cassidy in a certified Match of the Year candidate. Directly after the match ended, Ospreay continued to beat down Cassidy until the indomitable Katsuyori Shibata made a stunning appearance to save his CHAOS buddy. Seeing Shibata is always a treat for me, and hearing his music never gets old.


Following that, we got to witness two incredible debuts. First was Claudio Castagnoli, the man formerly known in WWE as Cesaro, but also Claudio Castagnoli's incredible, god-tier theme song. I remember listening to that song over and over and over for days after I first heard it. To quote Claudio's former WWE tag partner, Sheamus, that song is a "banger". Nevertheless, he went on to have a terrifically physical match against New Japan's resident octopus, Zack Sabre Jr.


Then after another really great semi-main event bout for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, which saw Jay White successfully defend against Adam Cole, "Hangman" Adam Page, and Kazuchika Okada, we had the absolutely pleasure to see the greatest wrestler of all time, Hiroshi Tanahashi take on fantastic Jon Moxley in a scorcher for the Interim AEW World Championship, as then champion CM Punk was forced to miss time due to breaking his foot.


For many casual wrestling dans, this show might not have felt like a massive deal, but as someone who's loved both New Japan and AEW, this event was a celebrating of all things that have made both companies great. I hope they continue to do these shows for a very long time.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. The Jericho Appreciation Society (Chris Jericho & Sammy Guevara) & Minoru Suzuki vs. Eddie Kingston, Shota Umino, and Wheeler Yuta

  2. IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship - Will Ospreay (c) vs. Orange Cassidy

  3. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

  4. Interim AEW World Championship - Jon Moxley (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

 

NUMBER 8

July 9th, 2022

Photo Credit: @kjkatsura on Twitter

One of my more underrated promotions from this past year had to be Tokyo Joshi Pro Wrestling, which is the sister promotion of the aforementioned DDT. This company had a consistently strong 2022, but they're greatest night was on July 9th when they hosted "Summer Sun Princess", a show that not only featured some excellent action inside the ring, but also crowd cheering for the first time since the pandemic.


Unlike a lot of ordinary shows we see in Japan, this one didn't feature many throwaway multi-woman tag matches, not counting tags of course. In fact, Summer Sun Princess only featured one. Instead, this card was littered with five singles and three tag team clashes, which combined. to make this show an easy watch.


Some of the highlights for me included my favorite TJPW wrestler, Miu Watanabe, taking on Ryo Mizunami, Alex Windsor beating Maki Itoh to win the International Princess Championship, the secondary singles title in TJPW, Miyu Yamashita taking on then AEW Women's Champion Thunder Rosa, Saki Akai and Yuki Arai taking the Princess Tag Team Titles from Mizuki and Yuka Sakazaki, and two other tag team matches featuring returns from AEW wrestlers Hikaru Shida and Riho.


This fantastic card's main event saw Princess of Princess Champion, Shoko Nakajima, successfully defend her strap against the great Rika Tatsumi in what was one of my favorite Joshi matches to have not taken place in Stardom.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. Miu Watanabe vs. Ryo Mizunami

  2. International Princess Championship - Maki Itoh (c) vs. Alex Windsor

  3. Princess Tag Team Championships - Reiwa AA Cannon (Saki Akai & Yuki Arai) vs. Magical Sugar Rabbits (Mizuki & Yuka Sakazaki)

  4. Princess of Princess Championship - Shoko Nakajima (c) vs. Rika Tatsumi

 

NUMBER 9

July 30th, 2022

Photo Credit: WWE

It warms my heart seeing WWE earn a spot on this list, not only because I used to work for the company and want to see them put on great shows, but also because they have some of the best wrestlers on the planet, and they deserve recognition. 2022's SummerSlam was not just "The Biggest Party of the Summer" as it is every year, but is was also one of the most historic events in WWE's long and storied history. This event was actually the first pay-per-view, or Premium Live Event, to take place after Vince McMahon's retirement from the company and thus the first to be run by the Triple H.


This show was jam packed with your typical WWE pageantry and over the top moments. We saw a fantastic opening contest between Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch for the RAW Women's Championship. Logan Paul's first ever singles match, which ended up being really great. The Usos successfully retain their Unified Tag belts against the Street Profits, with Jeff Jarrett as guest referee. And the incredibly over-the-top Last Man Standing Match pitting Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for the Undisputed WWE/Universal Championship in a match that featured farming equipment lifting up the ring.


Aside from all the crazy action, we also got to see Bayley return with her new friends Io Shirai and Dakota Kai, who collectively came together as the "Damage CTRL" faction, and Pat McAfee hilariously beat Happy Corbin. And all of this was made even more exciting, in my opinion, as it happened while Michael Cole was having the best night of commentary he had given us in years.


All in all, SummerSlam 2022 was a triumphant show, in my opinion, that proved to many of us that WWE would be just fine under the Triple H regime.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. WWE RAW Women's Championship - Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch

  2. WWE/Universal Championships - Roman Reigns (c) vs. Brock Lesnar

 

NUMBER 10

October 1st, 2022

Photo Credit: Battle-News

Stardom concluded their 2022 5STAR Grand Prix in epic fashion on October 1st with this absolutely tremendous show from the aforementioned Ryugoku Kokugikan arena. This card featured a whopping 13 singles matches, including several that either reached or barely missed out on Match of the Year candidacy. These included the intra-Cosmic Angels struggle between Mina Shirakawa and Natsupoi, a fantastic bout pitting Hazuki against Momo Watanabe, and a fight between two old friends, Mayu Iwatani and Starlight Kid. And that was just in the first hour or so!


The show really kicked it into high gear whenever Giulia came out for either of her two matches. That's right, you read that properly. Giulia didn't just wrestle once on this show, but twice. She started the night by taking on her former best friend turned mortal enemy, Suzu Suzuki, in a match where she couldn't lose or would lose her spot in the 5STAR GP final. And then after surviving Suzuki and earning a draw when it went to the 15-minute time limit, she took on her other mortal enemy, Tam Nakano in the main event.


I'd be remiss to mention, however, that before Giulia and Nakano fought for the crown, Himeka and Maika had a glorious hoss fest and then Risa Sera somehow defeated World of Stardom Champion Syuri in the semi-main event.


However, while both of those matches were fun appetizers, the main event clash between Giulia and Tam Nakano absolutely blew it all out of the water. These two have an almost supernatural chemistry with each other as opponents. The only other pairing I can really compare these two with are Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega. Perhaps I'm overstating it, but the fact stands that whenever these two find themselves in a main event spot against one another, they put on an absolutely show. And they did again on this night.


Giulia would see her arm raised when it was all said and done, and with the win she became the number one contender for the World of Stardom Championship. But we'll get to that a little later on.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. Mayu Iwatani vs. Starlight Kid

  2. Giulia vs. Suzu Suzuki

  3. Himeka vs. Maika

  4. 5STAR Grand Prix Final - Giulia vs. Tam Nakano

 

NUMBER 11

October 15th, 2022

Photo Credit: @MuscleGlamour on Twitter

For many including myself, Deadlock Pro Wrestling has been one of the greatest surprises in all of pro wrestling last year. In the span of just about a half a year, company owners Anthony Douglas, James Darnell and John Blud grew their promotion from a tiny indie sporting some promising young talent to one of the best independents in all of North America. They've been at the forefront of introducing many fans to staples of the scene like Kidd Bandit and Lucky Ali, while also being one of the go to places for Joshi talent to travel to when they come state side. Women like Miyuki Takase, Miyu Yamashita, and Mei Suruga have all made the pilgrimage to beautiful North Carolina last year.


My favorite show they gave us in 2022 was their Carolina Classic event from October 15th. In terms of in-ring quality, this card featured some excellent matches from the opener between Andrew Everett and Shun Skywalker, the insanely good "Speedball" Mike Bailey/Colby Corbin clash, the two women's matches which featured such amazing talents like Jungle Kyona, Emi Sakura, Hyan, and Mei Suruga, and of course the four-way elimination match to determine the first winner of the Carolina Classic.


To think that DPW was able to put on a card with that many incredibly talented wrestlers is absolutely astonishing and incredible. If I have the opportunity to head down to North Carolina in 2023, I would love to check out one of their shows live. Especially if Miyuki Takase is on the card.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. "Speedball" Mike Bailey vs. Colby Corino

  2. Emi Sakura vs. Mei Suruga

  3. Carolina Classic Final - Andrew Everett vs. Lucky Ali vs. "Speedball" Mike Bailey vs. SB KENTo

 

NUMBER 12

November 5th, 2022

Photo Credit: NJPW

New Japan may have only had one show make this list, not counting joint cards, but what a show this was. The name "NJPW Battle Autumn Night 16" might roll off the tongue like dried cement but they delivered the goods. We saw three title matches here; Francesco Akira and TJP successfully defended their IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Titles against BUSHI and Titan of LIJ in the opener. Later on, FTR defeated the United Empire's Great-O-Khan and Jeff Cobb to retain the IWGP Tag Team belts in the semi-main event. And then in the main event, the incredible Will Ospreay survived Tetsuya Naito for 30 minutes to hold on to his IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship in what was a Match of the Year finalist.


Aside from those title clashes, we also got to see Ren Narita and Zack Sabre Jr. beat their opponents to each earn spots in the NJPW World Television Championship finals, which would later happen on January 4th, 2023 at Wrestle Kingdom 17. The Narita match against SANADA comes highly recommended. Additionally, Kazuchika Okada teamed up with Tama Tonga to beat Jay White and KENTA in a crowd pleaser, and El Desperado tagged with Master Wato to take on Hiromu Takahashi and IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Taiji Ishimori in another certified MOTY candidate and preview to their Fatal-Four-Way for Ishimori's belt at Wrestle Kingdom.


For such a low key event, Battle Autumn Night 16 ended up being my favorite New Japan pay-per-view to have taken place in Japan last year.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships - Catch 22 (Francesco Akira & TJP) (c) vs. Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI & Titan)

  2. El Desperado & Master Wato vs. Hiromu Takahashi & Taiji Ishimori

  3. IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship - Will Ospreay (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito

 

NUMBER 13

November 20th, 2022

Photo Credit: NJPW

Two weeks after New Japan had their best show of the year with Battle Autumn Night 16, they teamed up with sister promotion Stardom to put on another spectacular super card at Historic X-over. This card featured three mixed tag team matches featuring top stars from both companies, as well as two marquee title matches; one for the IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship, and the other for the newly minted IWGP Women's Championship.


The show started off a bit slow, but it got really good once the trilogy of mixed tag team matches began. First we had Zack Sabre Jr. team up with Giulia to take on a pair of former UFC fighters, Tom Lawlor and World of Stardom Champion Syuri, in a terrifically fun clash. Then we saw a chaotic eight-person tag featuring Suzuki-gun's DOUKI and El Desperado teaming up with Oedo Tai's Black Desire tag team, Momo Watanabe and Starlight Kid to take on another Suzuki-gun tag team in Taichi and Yoshinobu Kanemaru who paired with the Goddesses of Stardom Champions in Natsupoi and Tam Nakano. And finally, we got to witness Hiroshi Tanahashi tag with Utami Hayashishita fight Hirooki Goto and Maika.


As if this show wasn't historic enough, we then got to witness The Great Muta's final match inside a New Japan ring, as he teamed with Kazuchika Okada and Toru Yano in a victorious effort against the United Empire's Aaron Henare, Great-O-Khan, and Jeff Cobb. And then finally, we reached the two title clashes. First we had the IWGP United States Heavyweight Title match between the often mentioned Will Ospreay and Shota Umino, who had only recently returned from his training excursion a few weeks prior. After Ospreay won what was a scorcher of a match, he was blindsided when the Titantron turned on to show Kenny Omega, who announced that he would return to New Japan to take Ospreay on for the belt at Wrestle Kingdom in January. To say that was a shock would be a gross understatement.


But then after all that, we reached the main event, which featured two of the greatest wrestlers in Stardom's history, Mayu Iwatani and KAIRI, battle to become the first ever IWGP Women's Championship. These two had an unreal match, but after 25 minutes KAIRI was able to dig deep just enough to somehow climb to the top of the turnbuckle, hit her picture perfect Elbow Drop, and pin Iwatani to take the gold and make history for herself.


Suffice to say, this show was all about making history. And in more ways than one, New Japan and Stardom passed with flying colors. Here's hoping they make these Historic X-overs an annual tradition.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. Giulia & Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Syuri & Tom Lawlor

  2. meltear (Natsupoi & Tam Nakano) & Suzuki-gun (Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs. Black Desire (Momo Watanabe & Starlight Kid) & Suzuki-gun (DOUKI & El Desperado)

  3. IWGP United States Heavyweight Championship - Will Ospreay (c) vs. Shota Umino

  4. IWGP Women's Championship - KAIRI vs. Mayu Iwatani

 

NUMBER 14

December 19th, 2022

Photo Credit: @Pharron_ on Twitter

Easily one of my favorite things in pro wrestling this past year was the "TakaTaichi" series, which were co-produced by Suzuki-gun teammates, and longtime friends, Taichi and TAKA Michinoku. While these shows had a fair share of New Japan influence, they also incorporated wrestlers from all over the scene, including deathmatch legend Jun Kasai, and the entire roster from TAKA's Just Tap Out promotion. While every show in said series has been special for one reason or another, their final event, "JTO 50th Anniversary For TakaTaichi Together ~ Last TakaTaichi" was not only my favorite, but it was also a surprise addition to this list.


This show featured an excellent women's match between Suzu Suzuki and Tomoka Inaba, a fun tag team match between Suzuki-gun's El Desperado and Lance Archer and DAMNATION TA's Daisuke Sasaki and MJ Paul, and, dare I say, the greatest ever King of Pro-Wrestling Championship match between Taichi and Shingo Takagi in the main event. However, if there's one match all of you need to check out from this excellent card, it was the tag team clash pitting the "Murder Grandpa" Minoru Suzuki and his protege DOUKI against the aforementioned deathmatch legend, Jun Kasai, and his UNCHAIN teammate Tomoaki Honma.


I'm not the biggest deathmatch wrestling fan, but this match right here hit all the right notes. It was chaotic, it was brutal, and most importantly, it was genuinely emotional. Knowing that this was going to be the final time Suzuki and DOUKI would ever tag together since Suzuki-gun was going to disband in the next week following added another layer of intent to everything they did. At the end of the day, they gave us my favorite tag team match from anywhere in Japan in 2022.


If you want to see a feel good show that also incorporates gallons of spilled blood, then I can't think of a better show than this one right here.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. Tomoka Inaba vs. Suzu Suzuki

  2. Suzuki-gun (DOUKI & Minoru Suzuki) vs. UNCHAIN (Jun Kasai & Tomoaki Honma)

  3. NJPW King of Pro-Wrestling Championship - Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Taichi

 

NUMBER 15

December 29th, 2022

Photo Credit: @giulia0221g on Twitter

Stardom capped off 2022 with their second annual "Dream Queendom" event on December 29th, and while it might not have been as consistently fantastic as the 2021 edition, Dream Queendom 2 managed to conclude with a singular moment that rivals just about anything wrestling has given us over the past several years. For this was the night when Giulia, who had previously won the 5STAR Grand Prix at the end of my number 10 pick, finally ended Syuri's legendary reign as World of Stardom Champion.


Before Giulia reached the pinnacle of women's wrestling in the main event, Stardom put on a terrific show. AZM began the event with her ninth successful defense of the High Speed Championship after beating Hikari Shimizu. Then we saw the arrival of a new faction, or sub-faction in this case, as Mina Shirakawa returned to action with her new friends, Mariah May and Xia Brookside. And closing out the non-title portion of the show, we witnessed a dream match pitting the IWGP Women's Champion, KAIRI, against former World of Stardom Champion, Utami Hayashishita.


Following that contest, this show went into overdrive as four titles were defended in succession. First, Hiragi Kurumi, Risa Sera, and Suzu Suzuki of Prominence defeated Momo Watanabe, Saki Kashima, and Starlight Kid to win the Artist of Stardom Titles for the first time. Then Nanae Takahashi and Yuu from the Neo Stardom Army stable beat Natsupoi and Tam Nakano of meltear to win the Goddesses of Stardom belts. And then right before the main event, Saya Kamitani would successfully defend her Wonder of Stardom Championship after beating upstart freelancer Haruka Umesaki.


And then finally, Giulia and Syuri went to war for in the main event for the most prized title in all of women's wrestling, the World of Stardom Championship. If you are able and have a little over a half hour to spare, I implore you all to check out this match when you can, not only because of how historically significant this match is in the history of Stardom, but also because it's simply too awesome to miss.


Long Live Giulia as the Queen of Stardom. Long may she reign.


Highlights (Bold is my top pick):

  1. KAIRI vs. Utami Hayashishita

  2. Goddesses of Stardom Championships - meltear (Natsupoi & Tam Nakano) (c) vs. 7Upp (Nanae Takahashi & Yuu)

  3. Wonder of Stardom Championship - Saya Kamitani (c) vs. Haruka Umesaki

  4. World of Stardom Championship - Syuri (c) vs. Giulia

 

The N(E)XT 15

 

My 2022 SUPERLATIVES:


Primary Awards

  • WRESTLER OF THE YEAR - Giulia (Stardom)

  • TAG TEAM OF THE YEAR - FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood - AEW)

  • FACTION OF THE YEAR - The Bloodline (Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso, Paul Hyman, Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn, and Solo Sikoa - WWE)

  • MATCH OF THE YEAR - AZM vs. Starlight Kid (2/23/22)

  • EVENT OF THE YEAR - Stardom 5TSTAR Grand Prix Night 20 (10/1)

  • PROMOTION OF THE YEAR - Stardom

  • FEUD OF THE YEAR - Natsupoi vs. Tam Nakano (Stardom)

  • BOOKER OF THE YEAR - Rossy Ogawa (Stardom)

  • ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Bron Breakker (WWE)

  • RING ANNOUNCER OF THE YEAR - Justin Roberts (AEW)

  • COMMENTARY TEAM OF THE YEAR - Kevin Kelly and Chris Charlton (NJPW)

Secondary Awards (Wrestler)

  • Male Wrestler (North America) - Roman Reigns (WWE)

  • Female Wrestler (North America) - Jamie Hayter (AEW)

  • Male Wrestler (Japan) - Will Ospreay (NJPW)

  • Female Wrestler (Japan) - Giulia (Stardom)

  • World Champion - Syuri (World of Stardom Champion)

  • Brawler - Jon Moxley (AEW)

  • Hardcore - Jun Kasai (FREEDOMS)

  • High Flyer - Rey Fenix (AEW)

  • High Speedster - AZM (Stardom)

  • Powerhouse - Kazusada Higuchi (DDT)

  • Technician - Zack Sabre Jr. (NJPW)

  • Talker - MJF (AEW)

  • Main Eventer - Will Ospreay (NJPW)

  • Babyface (Male) - Jon Moxley (AEW)

  • Babyface (Female) - Mayu Iwatani (Stardom)

  • Heel (Male) - MJF (AEW)

  • Heel (Female) - Starlight Kid (Stardom)

  • Rookie (Male) - Bron Breakker (WWE)

  • Rookie (Female) - Miyu Amasaki (Stardom)

  • Most Improved (Male) - Solo Sikoa (WWE)

  • Most Improved (Female) - Mina Shirakawa (Stardom)

  • Most Underrated - El Lindaman (GLEAT), Kidd Bandit (Freelance), & Miyuki Takase (Freelance)

  • Favorite Return - Jay White to New Japan

  • Favorite Debut - William Regal to AEW

  • Male Feud - CM Punk vs. MJF (AEW)

  • Female Feud - Natsupoi vs. Tam Nakano (Stardom)

  • Favorite Wrestler Who Retired - Triple H

Secondary Awards (Tag Teams)

  • Male Tag Team - FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood - AEW)

  • Female Tag Team - Fukuoka Double Crazy (Hazuki & Koguma - Stardom)

  • Intergender Tag Team - Best Bros (Baliyan Aki and Mei Suruga - Gatoh Move)

  • Babyface Tag Team - The Acclaimed (AEW)

  • Heel Tag Team - The Usos (WWE)

  • Most Improved Tag Team - The Acclaimed (AEW)

  • Tag Team Feud - FTR vs. The Briscoes (ROH)

Secondary Awards (Factions)

  • Male Faction - The Bloodline (Jey Uso, Jimmy Uso, Roman Reigns, Sami Zayn, & Solo Sikoa - WWE)

  • Female Faction - Cosmic Angels (Hikari Shimizu, Mina Shirakawa, Natsupoi, Rina Amikura, SAKI, Tam Nakano, Unagi Sayaka, Waka Tsukiyama, Yuko Sakurai - Stardom)

  • Most Improved Faction - The Judgement Day (WWE)

Secondary Awards (Matches)

  • Male Match (North America) - Gunther vs. Sheamus (WWE Clash at the Castle, 9/3)

  • Male Match (Japan) - Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay (NJPW G1 Climax 32 Night 20, 8/18)

  • Female Match (North America) - Miyuki Takase vs. Miyu Yamashita (DPW No Pressure, 6/5)

  • Female Match (Japan) - AZM vs. Starlight Kid (Stardom Cinderella Journey in Nagaoka, 2/23)

  • Tag Team Match (North America) - FTR vs. The Briscoe Brothers (ROH Final Battle, 12/10)

  • Tag Team Match (Japan) - Suzuki-gun (DOUKI & Jun Kasai) vs. UNCHAIN (Jun Kasai & Tomoaki Honma (JTO 50th Anniversary For TakaTaichi Together ~ Last TakaTaichi, 12/19)

Secondary Awards (Events)

  • TV Show - AEW Dynamite

  • YouTube Show - Gatoh Move Choco Pro

  • Tournament - Stardom 5STAR Grand Prix

Secondary Awards (Promotion, ETC)

  • Promotion (North America) - WWE

  • Promotion (Japan) - Stardom

  • Most Underrated Promotion - Just Tap Out (JTO)

  • Most Improved Promotion - WWE

  • Most Unexpected Moment - Vince McMahon retires from WWE

  • Wrestlers I met in person - Alan Angels, Baliyan Akki, El Bendito, Ele Elemental, Ken Shamrock, Marcus Mathers, Matt Sydal, Michael Oku, Sonny Kiss, Robert Martyr, Starboy Charlie, Titus Alexander, Tony Deppen, and Tre Lamar

 

Special thanks to WhoScored, Transfermarkt, Baseball Reference, Baseball Savant, Fangraphs, Cagematch, and 1.02.JP for helping make me a more well-informed fan.


Thank you all for helping make 2022 another incredible year for Long Story Sport. I can't wait to continue exploring the world of pro wrestling with all of you in 2023!


Featured Image Credit - Myself





Contact me at AndrewSoS@protonmail.com if you'd like to write for Long Story Sport or if you have any general requests, questions, or comments.

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