Logan Paul at Crown Jewel and the Most OMG WWE and AEW Performances of the Year

Erik BeastonDecember 21, 2022

Logan Paul at Crown Jewel and the Most OMG WWE and AEW Performances of the Year

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    Logan Paul's unforgettable match at Crown Jewel is just one of the "OMG" performances of 2022.
    Logan Paul's unforgettable match at Crown Jewel is just one of the "OMG" performances of 2022.Credit: WWE.com

    2022 brought with it unforgettable, jaw-dropping performances by top stars in WWE and All Elite Wrestling.

    From seething promos to unforgettable returns and undeniable performances, the last 12 months have left fans exclaiming "OMG!" for one reason or another.

    As the year draws to its conclusion, relive these most excellent exclamatory moments from wrestling's top two promotions.

10. Darby Allin Soars vs. Jeff Hardy (Dynamite, May 11)

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    The moment Darby Allin vs. Jeff Hardy was announced for the May 11 episode of AEW Dynamite, fans everywhere had certain expectations of what the contest would look like.

    It did not disappoint.

    Allin and Hardy tore the house down with a display of the type of car-crash action that has defined both of their careers. Both men threw caution to the wind, soaring through the air with reckless abandon and crashing as spectacularly.

    It all culminated with Allin scaling a ladder and delivering his own variation of the Swanton Bomb, wiping out Hardy and crashing into a display of steel chairs. Despite the incredible stunts and jaw-dropping bumps, the finish was brilliant in its simplicity.

    Allin delivered his Coffin Drop finisher from the top rope and, while exhausted, haphazardly covered Hardy. The veteran competitor grabbed his arms, trapped them and rolled him up for the win.

    A wild, chaotic match, it ended with good, old-fashioned wrestling and put a nice bow on a contest that was exactly what it was expected to be.

9. Orange Cassidy Hangs with Will Ospreay (AEW Forbidden Door)

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    Will Ospreay is widely recognized as one of the best wrestlers in the world, so when it was announced that he would square off with Orange Cassidy at Forbidden Door, there was plenty of intrigue surrounding the bout.

    Cassidy is considered by many to be a comedic performer but has a history of performing up to the level of his opponent. Would his skill set mesh well with that of Ospreay, and how would fans react?

    The answer to the first part was an emphatic "yes" as Cassidy portrayed the underestimated babyface, striking back against the overconfident Ospreay. On several occasions, he answered Ospreay's hubris with Beach Break and Orange Punch, but in the end, the New Japan Pro-Wrestling star bested Freshly Squeezed with Stormbreaker.

    The OMG element of the match was just how incredible it was despite nearly nonexistent expectations. We knew Cassidy could be great and we knew Ospreay was, but the fact that it was not the anticipated showdown between the latter and Kenny Omega or some other combination of competitors had this one flying under the radar.

    By the time it was over, fans recognized it for what it was: one of the best matches AEW produced all year.

8. Ricky Starks Verbally Bests MJF (Dynamite, December 7)

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    There are not many who can go word-for-word on the mic with MJF. He is a silver-tongued, verbal assassin who has made even the best talkers in the business look like amateurs through his ability to spit insults on the mic.

    Then, he ran up against "Absolute" Ricky Starks, a charismatic young star who, like him, is one of the pillars of AEW's future.

    Seven days from a world-title clash with the scarf-wearing villain, Starks verbally decimated MJF, ripping him for his desperation to be "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. A classic heel, MJF responded with a low blow, knowing he had nothing to combat the words coming out of his top contender's mouth.

    It was a watershed moment for Starks, who had been touted as the future for so long but whose creative support had not measured up to that point. Given the opportunity to showcase his strengths, he proved he could go word-for-word with the best in the business and won the fans over in the process.

    Some will argue that individual matches like the Dog Collar Match between FTR and The Briscoes or any of the Best of Seven Series matches for the AEW World Trios Championship should be on this list somewhere, but neither of those matches had the potential long-term effect that Starks' performance on the mic did here.

    In terms of him and his benefit to AEW moving forward, this was a breakthrough moment, and the OMG elements from that trump the typically great in-ring action we expect from those involved in the aforementioned matches.

7. He's Got the Whole World In His Hands (WWE Extreme Rules)

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    For weeks, WWE teased the return of Bray Wyatt to television through a major social media campaign that featured Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" and cryptic QR codes.

    At Extreme Rules, that journey down the rabbit hole paid off.

    Moments after Matt Riddle defeated Seth Rollins in a Fight Pit match, the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia darkened. The familiar voice of Wyatt filled the arena with a rendition of "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands."

    From there, the puppets that had previously appeared in The Firefly Funhouse popped up but this time were live. They appeared at random spots throughout the arena before cameras focused on a door. It was kicked open and Wyatt appeared, stepping through it with his trademark lantern. "I'm here," he warned before the show faded to black.

    It was a moment that generated one of the loudest ovations from the WWE Universe all year and an emphatic statement from Triple H that he would continue to right the wrongs of the previous administration by bringing back those stars who never should have been let go in the first place.

    More importantly, it stated that Wyatt would be allowed to tell his stories and given the production values necessary to make an impact on the audience. It is something that continues today and recently peeled back another layer with the emergence of Uncle Howdy.

6. Saraya's In-Ring Return (AEW Full Gear)

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    After five years on the sidelines, forced to watch her career and the pro wrestling industry pass her by as a result of a devastating injury that led to a scary moment in Madison Square Garden, Saraya signed with AEW in 2022 and made her debut in New York at Dynamite Grand Slam.

    Two months later, she set foot inside the squared circle for the first time in half a decade for a match with Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. The match was often uncomfortable to watch if only because of the genuine concern fans had for the Brit, but as it progressed, it became clear that she would be just fine.

    Once celebrated as one of the revolutionaries of women's wrestling, she reminded the audience why that was the case, working a smart match with one of the best in the business today and ultimately beating her.

    It was a triumphant return and one that set the second-generation wrestler on a path toward the AEW Women's Championship, a feat that would pay off her journey back to the top of an industry she once thought had cast her aside.

5. Sheamus and Gunther Beat the Hell Out of Each Other (WWE Clash at the Castle)

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    On September 3, WWE returned to the United Kingdom for its first internationally broadcast premium live event since SummerSlam 1992.

    With the man who headlined that show, Bret "Hitman" Hart, watching from the stands, Sheamus and Gunther waged war for the latter's Intercontinental Championship in one of the best matches any promotion produced in 2022.

    The Celtic Warrior and The Ring General punished one another with their physical arsenals, clubbing away at their bodies in an attempt to beat the fight out of each other.

    The fans in Cardiff, Wales, reacted favorably, hanging on to every dramatic near-fall and false finish while riding the edge of their seats in anticipation of the victory. Gunther would be that guy, but it was in his defeat that Sheamus won over the audience and kick-started a career rejuvenation that continues today.

    Now one of the most popular stars on the WWE roster, Sheamus is as hot now at 44 years of age as he has ever been. Gunther continued his run as one of the best wrestlers on the planet and the company, just weeks into Triple H's run as head of WWE Creative, had a genuine five-star instant classic on its hand.

4. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin Returns to the Squared Circle (WrestleMania 38)

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    "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had not wrestled a match in 19 years when he stepped onto the WrestleMania 38 stage in Dallas this past April, and there was no reason to think that what he would accomplish that night with Kevin Owens would be anything special.

    Maybe it would be entertaining and it would probably be fun, but there was a very real reason to question what the overall quality would be. It is not every day that a then-57-year-old emerges from two decades of retirement and stuns the world with a great match.

    That is exactly what happened, though, as The Texas Rattlesnake and KO had a match that was reminiscent of the Attitude Era brawls that captivated audiences and made Austin the most beloved star in WWE history.

    It was a great match and everything fans could have hoped for. More importantly, there was no masking things to make up for Austin's deficiencies. He took big bumps and worked a match that he would have worked two decades earlier, looking for no excuses along the way.

    By the time he dropped Owens with the Stone Cold Stunner and stood triumphantly, the audience recognized they had just seen a special moment featuring the guy that had instigated so many of their fandoms.

    Austin was as good as he needed to be, and Owens, typically underrated anyway, delivered the understated showing that helped guide his mentor through while allowing him to shine.

    A great showing by two all-timers whose professionalism and willingness to give to each other helped elevate it.

3. MJF's Pipebomb Promo (Dynamite, June 1)

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    Any performer who channels their frustrations and anger into their art is destined to captivate audiences. We have seen it countless times over the years, usually in the form of a "pipebomb" promo popularized by CM Punk.

    For MJF, his pipebomb moment came on the June 1 episode of Dynamite, when he voiced his frustration over his contractual status and the talent Tony Khan had brought into the company and positioned higher than him on the card.

    He spoke passionately and venomously about everything that had been speculated online and addressed the issues he had with management live and on-screen for the world to see. The reality of the situation and the issues facing his long-term employment with AEW had fans buzzing, but it was the performance of MJF that left the greatest impact.

    He looked directly into the camera, spewed his venom and won fans over with the honesty and emotion he spoke with. It was the performance that elevated him from great to genuine star. Arguably, it served as the spark that ignited his run to the AEW World Championship.

    It is too early to know where his run as champ is heading or if MJF remains with the company beyond 2024, but one thing is for certain: That promo and the connection it spurred with the audience was one of the most jaw-dropping performances of 2022 and legitimate star-making.

2. Logan Paul's Show-Stopping Performance vs. Roman Reigns (WWE Crown Jewel)

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    Logan Paul had no business being as good as he was at WrestleMania 38. He was even better four months later in his second match ever against The Miz at SummerSlam.

    As hot of a mainstream commodity as he was and as vastly better than expected as he may have been, most understandably thought WWE and Paul had bitten off more than they could chew with an Undisputed WWE Universal Championship match with Roman Reigns—especially given the hype being put into the match as it was.

    More eyes would be on the product and social media would be paying attention, so a failure would be monumental.

    Except it never came.

    Instead, Paul showed up and showed out, leaving the harshest critics of the booking of the match amazed by what he accomplished against The Head of the Table.

    One spot in particular is expected to live on, that being the top-rope frog splash from the ring onto Reigns and through the announce table at ringside. The moment, captured by Paul on his cellphone, gripped social media and had fans buzzing well beyond the match.

    Logan Paul @LoganPaul

    THROUGH THE TABLE <a href="https://twitter.com/WWE?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@WWE</a> <a href="https://t.co/hmVslclxgs">pic.twitter.com/hmVslclxgs</a>

    Reigns overcame an offensive by Paul to score the win, but the YouTube celebrity won over critics and proved he not only belongs in a wrestling ring, but may be a key figure in the future of WWE.

1. Cody Rhodes Fights Through The Pain (Hell in a Cell)

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    In any other year, Logan Paul and MJF would have been the definitive one-two on this list.

    In any other year, Cody Rhodes' return to WWE at WrestleMania 38 would have made this list.

    In any other year.

    The year 2022, though, brought with it one of the gutsiest performances of any wrestler ever as Rhodes battled through a torn pectoral muscle to have a Match of the Year candidate with Seth Rollins.

    From the moment he removed his ring jacket and revealed the stomach-churning bruising that had decorated his upper body and into his right arm, fans knew that what they were about to witness would be often uncomfortable but also one of the defining moments of the second-generation star's career.

    They were right.

    Rhodes held nothing back in his pursuit of a great, feud-ending match with Rollins. To his credit, The Visionary delivered an equally great performance in which he took care of his opponent safely and ensured Rhodes would not further injure himself.

    It was a pro's match, a contest that could only be executed to perfection by guys who knew what they were doing and could do it at a high level.

    Rhodes won the match, but both men emerged looking better for it. Rhodes, though, earned enormous respect and firmly established that he was the best pure babyface in pro wrestling today.