AEW and WWE Stars Who Had the Best Summer of 2022

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured Columnist IIISeptember 6, 2022

AEW and WWE Stars Who Had the Best Summer of 2022

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    Roman Reigns stands tall as undisputed WWE universal champion at Clash at the Castle. (Credit: WWE)

    With Clash at the Castle, Worlds Collide and All Out this past weekend, WWE and All Elite Wrestling have enjoyed explosive finishes to the summer.

    Since June, some wrestlers have had a fantastic summer. Championships were won, history was made, major victories were scored and some classic matches took place.

    As we head into the fall, let's look back on those who had the best summer of 2022.

The Bloodline

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    Roman Reigns remains the unquestioned top dog in WWE, surpassing over 730 days as universal champion and managing to topple Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam and Drew McIntyre at Clash at the Castle.

    As The Tribal Chief continues to rule with an iron fist and a Superman Punch, his presence is magnified by the success of The Usos, who also continue to break records with their unified tag title run.

    On Saturday, The Bloodline got even stronger, with Solo Sikoa now joining the ranks. His main roster call-up gives the faction a young and talented Superstar to help assert even more dominance over Raw and SmackDown.

    It will be even harder for someone to take down The Bloodline, if not impossible at this point.

Blackpool Combat Club

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    Credit: AEW

    Though they've had some losses, like Bryan Danielson coming up short against a cheating Chris Jericho this weekend, Blackpool Combat Club have largely been the best faction in AEW this summer.

    Their victory at Blood & Guts in June was one of the first major wins for the group, but they also have three champions in their ranks.

    Wheeler Yuta holds the ROH Pure Championship, Claudio Castagnoli had a star-treatment welcoming to AEW that gave him the momentum to win the ROH World Championship, and Jon Moxley capturing the interim AEW world title at Forbidden Door before beating CM Punk on Dynamite to make it an official title run.

    Moxley lost the title back to Punk on Sunday night, but he's still going down as the first-ever two-time AEW world champion.

    Blackpool Combat Club has stolen the show at many events and should remain one of the most popular groups in AEW for some time.

Bobby Lashley

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    At Money in the Bank on July 2, Bobby Lashley beat Theory to win the United States Championship for the third time.

    Since then, he's been prominently featured on Raw, successfully retaining his title on numerous occasions while being treated like an absolute star who is boosting the championship's value every week.

    In fact, if house shows, dark matches and all live events along with television episodes and PPVs are counted, Lashley has won all but two of his 25 matches since June. Those two losses only came about by disqualification by outside interference, too.

    The All Mighty seems unstoppable and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Wardlow

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    Wardlow has been on the path to stardom for some time, and he made good on his promise to start winning gold when he claimed the TNT Championship from Scorpio Sky on July 6.

    Mr. Mayhem is one of the most unstoppable wrestlers in sports entertainment today.

    His overkill four-powerbomb dismantling of Jay Lethal at Sunday's All Out was an emphatic statement on his part.

    This is likely a test run to see what Wardlow would be like as world champion and top dog in AEW. So far, he's doing a great job in showing he can handle that responsibility.

WWE's Returning Talent

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    WWE has seen several Superstars return to action in the past few weeks.

    Bayley and Iyo Sky are finally back in the ring after many months on the shelf due to injuries, and also have Dakota Kai as an ally to round out Damage Control. They made a huge splash at SummerSlam and have been the top featured act in the Raw women's division since.

    Karrion Kross and Scarlett, as well as Hit Row, were re-hired and are now making waves on SmackDown.

    Dexter Lumis has gone from being one of the many released names earlier this year to a recurring presence on Raw. His feud with The Miz has been an engaging, fun storyline and a fresh addition to the lineup.

    Johnny Gargano took nine months off and could have wound up elsewhere. Now, he's back and set to become a full member of the red brand next week.

    Most recently, Braun Strowman came back on Monday's Raw. The Monster Among Men is looking better than ever, and there's no telling how much destruction he'll cause.

Hook

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    Hook's popularity has grown considerably this year, but he transcended the meme-worthy "send Hook" fandom in the summer and turned it into something tangible.

    On July 27, he defeated Ricky Starks to win the FTW Championship.

    Capturing any title is impressive, especially for the first time, but this was extra-special knowing the belt is a creation of his father, Taz.

    Keeping that belt within the family is a huge responsibility that the 23-year-old has been able to hold up well, most recently retaining over Angelo Parker at All Out.

    In all likelihood, Hook could be the last person to hold the belt, but it may be the first step in his career taking off into bigger and better things beyond the FTW Championship.

NXT Talent Unifying the NXT UK Championships

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    Credit: WWE

    Worlds Collide saw the end of NXT UK as three titles were merged into the NXT 2.0 roster.

    Bron Breakker defeated Tyler Bate to unify the NXT and NXT UK Championships, Mandy Rose beat NXT UK women's champion Meiko Satomura and Blair Davenport to become the undisputed women's champion, and Pretty Deadly scored an upset to dethrone both NXT tag team champions The Creed Brothers and NXT UK tag team titleholders Brooks Jensen and Josh Briggs.

    Being able to not just win a championship but also to retire another in the process is an enormous mark in a wrestler's resume.

Toni Storm

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    Credit: AEW

    While it technically isn't the full AEW Women's World Championship yet, Toni Storm won the next best thing when she beat Jamie Hayter and former champions Britt Baker and Hikaru Shida at All Out for the interim title.

    Had her originally scheduled match against Thunder Rosa gone down as planned, this is a good indication Storm would have won the actual title, though.

    It remains to be seen when Rosa will return to fight Storm to settle who will carry that undisputed belt going forward. But if the Antipodean beats the lineal champion, her reign will have started here.

    That is a big step up from taking a pie to the face from Charlotte Flair when we last saw her in WWE.

Gunther

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    Gunther won the Intercontinental Championship from Ricochet on June 10 and has steadily received more attention since then.

    With the belt around his waist, he finally broke the year-and-a-half streak of the title not being defended on a PPV. From WrestleMania 37 to Clash at the Castle, no one holding or the belt was deemed worthy of being on a major WWE show, for whatever reason.

    Gunther not only put an end to that, but he also did so by beating Sheamus. Scoring a win over a multi-time champion like The Celtic Warrior is one of the biggest victories of his career.

    On top of this, The Ring General has also reenlisted Giovanni Vinci to stand by his side, reforming the core trio of Imperium.

    The Italian's presence alongside Gunther and Ludwig Kaiser will make this group even more powerful.

Liv Morgan

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    Liv Morgan won the women's Money in the Bank contract and quickly used it to capture the SmackDown Women's Championship by the end of the same night.

    In the process, she became the second person to score a pinfall victory over Ronda Rousey—something only Becky Lynch had achieved.

    Since then, Morgan has defended since with another pinfall win over Rousey and a victory against Shayna Baszler.

    The underdog has had a rather weak time as champion, coming off more like she's getting fluke victories than truly deserving to be called the best. But the longer she holds these belts, the better it is for her overall clout.

    Just making it to the mountaintop in the first place means this has been the best summer of her career.

Honorable Mentions

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    Credit: WWE

    Rounding out this list are a few honorable mentions who had notable achievements, but the jury is out on their lasting impact.

    Aliyah and Raquel Rodriguez won the vacated WWE Women's Tag Team Championship. It is Aliyah's first belt in WWE and Rodriguez's first title on the main roster. But the titles haven't meant much for most of their existence and there's no telling how long of a reign they'll have.

    Had the reported post-All Out issues not occurred, CM Punk and The Elite would have made this list.

    Punk regained the AEW World Championship in the main event in front of his home Chicago crowd, while Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks became the inaugural AEW world trios champions.

    However, the backstage issues overshadowed their title wins and could have devastating consequences for AEW as a whole going forward, it feels foolish to say they've had the best summer when their career highlights were followed immediately by major problems.

    Lastly, Triple H deserves a mention. Vince McMahon's retirement from WWE allowed The Game to ascend to the head of WWE Creative. Since then, his output has been met with positive reviews.

    WWE has been through the wringer in recent years, but Triple H has turned things around to boost morale and give fans some long-awaited upgrades to its product.


    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, Spotify and everywhere you find podcasts. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.

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