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The biggest news stories that dominated 2022

I’ve been doing this since 1996 and can’t recall a crazier year in terms of news like the one we just had this year.

The number of stories that 2022 provided us were just insane, stories that I thought I’d never write about. 2022 was the gift that kept on giving wrestling-wise, although not necessarily always the nicest content to write about.

For me, there are five stories which dominated 2022. If this year didn’t have such many shenanigans, each story could have been the top one.

VINCE MCMAHON RETIRES FROM WWE AFTER HUSH-MONEY SCANDAL

Vince McMahon leaving WWE for good was hands down, and without any shadow of a doubt, the biggest news story of the year. Never in my wildest dreams I thought I’d see that. Vince was practically immune to everything, he was like made of Teflon and survived every imaginable story thrown at him…

…until he was taken out by a woman.

Not even the U.S. government manage to overthrow him from his position. But horny Vince couldn’t keep it in his pants and kept shelling out money to cover it up. That, in today’s times, is a big no no and ultimately suffered the same fate that many other high-level ranking officials working for other top brands went through.

The sheer significance of this story was like a magnitude 10 earthquake on the Richter scale. Maybe some fans cannot grasp how big this is or was but we’re talking about the most influential figure in this industry walking away after 40 years. There have been rumors that Vince wants back after he blamed his close advisors on “bad advice” but chances of that happening aren’t very good. You would think advertisers and TV networks would not be up for it and it would hit WWE big time when it comes to money.

Many dreaded the day when Vince was to leave, but as we have learned, Vince leaving was probably the best thing to have happened to WWE in a very long time.

CODY RHODES LEAVES AEW, RETURNS TO WWE

The second most eye-popping story of 2022 was certainly Cody Rhodes quitting AEW and going back to WWE. I thought, just like many, Rhodes was AEW “for life” considering he helped build the company to take on WWE.

Boy, were we wrong.

From the initial rumors that he was working without a deal, to the delays in signing a new one, to eventually the Valentine’s Day break-up and return at WrestleMania, Cody’s 2022 has been a roller coaster ride. His WrestleMania entrance still gives goosebumps and fans welcomed the prodigal son with open arms. One thing that WWE nailed for his return was that they kept his American Nightmare gimmick intact from his AEW days. Gear, music, everything. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it, and AEW Cody was not broken at all.

An injury has been keeping him out for the past six months, but big things are coming for the American Nightmare in 2023. Will he become the first Rhodes to win the big one in WWE? I certainly hope so.

Just like the Vince story, this was a big significant story in the world of professional wrestling. Cody was the first one to jump ship from AEW to WWE after several went the other way. WWE landed the biggest fish for their first “steal” and with not everything so rosy in AEW, more will follow.

STEPHANIE MCMAHON AND TRIPLE H ASSUME POWER AT WWE

The regime change in WWE was another top story. We often wondered, with Vince gone, who would take his place? We didn’t have to wait long to find that out. His daughter, Stephanie McMahon was named Chairwoman and co-CEO while Nick Khan, one of the most powerful men in the company, grabbed the other co-CEO position.

And then came the inevitable. Six months after the old regime gutted his team in a power play, Paul “Triple H” Levesque ascended to the throne as Chief Content Officer, bringing back many people who were unjustly fired under Vince and John Laurinaitis, and taking over the creative role Vince had. Simply put, the buck stops with Triple H now.

There seems to be a better vibe at WWE and more harmony backstage ever since Vince McMahon left the company. Triple H is said to be more approachable and he’s been one of the “boys” before so he knows the drill. WWE television improved big time with new ideas, better commentary, and sold-out events. While the “honeymoon” is “over” for the new regime, things are certainly moving in the right direction.

Remember in 1996 when Vince McMahon punished Hunter Hearst Helmsley for his involvement in the Kliq curtain call and lost many hog pen matches along the way? Fast forward 26 years and who is laughing now?

ALL OUT BACKSTAGE BRAWL

CM Punk coming to AEW was definitely the biggest story of 2021. Absent from the business for seven long years, Punk showed everyone that he still had it. Punk for AEW was a stroke of genius business-wise. He moved merchandise, he moved tickets, and thanks to him, AEW started a trend of $1 million-plus gates at pay-per-views.

But the honeymoon didn’t last long. CM Punk is an explosive character, many of who even brand as toxic backstage. While he was on his best behavior in the first couple of months, old CM Punk came creeping back.

An altercation with Hangman Page was the beginning of the end and a post-show press conference after All Out sealed the deal. The backstage brawl with The Elite dominated the news for several weeks and saw Punk and his buddy Ace Steel locking horns with Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks. Things got ugly, very ugly which led to the suspension of everyone involved.

Punk was injured and got stripped off his AEW World title that he had just won. The Elite got stripped off their AEW World Trios titles they had just won. A two-month suspension followed for The Elite. Steel lost his job. Punk is pretty much on his way out.

AEW President Tony Khan has to share the blame on this one. He was sitting right next to Punk when he decided to throw everyone under the bus during the press conference. Khan sat there, looking like a deer in headlights, nodding, instead of taking the microphone away and shutting down the whole thing. It was embarrassing. Embarrassing for Khan, for AEW. Punk was on a warpath and the young, inexperienced Khan let him run riot.

STEVE AUSTIN RETURNS TO THE RING AFTER 19 YEARS

Rounding up the top five biggest stories of 2022 has to be the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin to the ring after an absence of 19 years.

On any other year, this would have been number one on the chart. But that’s how crazy 2022 was. Austin’s return to the ring doesn’t even make the top three.

There were rumors in the months leading up to WrestleMania that Steve Austin was training to return to the ring. He had not wrestled since WrestleMania 19 and his loss to The Rock as neck and knee problems spelled an end to his career. Those rumors intensified when Kevin Owens started thrashing the state of Texas at every opportunity he could. Surely, someone had to come to shut him up. While not advertising a match, WWE said that Steve Austin was going to be the guest on the Kevin Owens show on night one of WrestleMania 38.

When the segment was upgraded to the main event, everyone knew what was coming: Steve Austin. Dallas. WrestleMania. Main event. You don’t need a Harvard degree to come to that conclusion.

Getting one of the biggest pops ever, Austin marched out and then rode an ATV to the ring, exchanged some words with KO and then was “tricked” into accepting a match. With two resounding “Hell yeah” from the crowd, Austin and Kevin Owens brawled in the ring and in the stands and the Rattlesnake won with the Stunner in the middle of the ring. Return: complete!

These are just five of the many stories which 2022 offered us. We can’t forget the likes of Sasha Banks and Naomi walking out, the whole MJF drama at Double or Nothing, Triple H bringing over a dozen previously-fired Superstars back, William Regal joining and quitting AEW in the same year, and many more.

Here are, month by month, the stories that stole the headlines in 2022.

JANUARY:

FEBRUARY:

MARCH:

APRIL:

MAY:

JUNE:

JULY:

AUGUST:

SEPTEMBER:

OCTOBER:

  • After weeks of teases, Bray Wyatt returns to WWE at Extreme Rules
  • WrestleMania 40 is announced for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at the Lincoln Financial Field
  • Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson return to WWE on Raw and align themselves with AJ Styles
  • Zelina Vega returns to WWE on Smackdown and brings Legado del Fantasma with her
  • Former Tough Enough winner Sara Lee passes away at age 30
  • Renee Paquette signs with AEW, debuts on Dynamite
  • Ace Steel is released from AEW, becoming the first All Out backstage fight casualty
  • Andrade El Idolo is sent home after backstage fight with Sammy Guevara
  • Ava Raine, the daughter of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, is unveiled as newest member of The Schism
  • Emma returns to WWE on Smackdown
  • Holy Ucey! The Bloodline break character after Sami Zayn floors them with one-liner!

NOVEMBER:

DECEMBER:

Colin Vassallo
Colin Vassallohttps://www.wrestling-online.com
Colin Vassallo has been editor of Wrestling-Online since 1996. He is born and raised in Malta, follows professional wrestling and MMA, loves to travel, and is a big Apple fan!

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