10 Hidden Gem 2022 WWE Matches You've Forgotten About
There is only one week left in 2022, and you know what that means. Your favorite pro wrestling news outlets will scramble to put together year-end lists of the top performers and matches.
It's a gratifying way to recap the year, but let's face it: there will be a lot of overlap on these lists. That's not even a bad thing because even though it's all subjective, most writers will inevitably agree on some of our favorite matches.
For example, The Bloodline is undoubtedly part of the hottest storyline of 2022. To that end, most viewers would unanimously vote for Clash at the Castle as the best WWE event, and Gunther vs. Sheamus will top many lists for match of the year.
So, let's do something a little different. Instead of revisiting memorable entries like Seth Rollins vs. Cody Rhodes from Hell in a Cell, we'll look at some of the top television matches you may have forgotten.
After all, most fans consume so much wrestling every week that it's easy to forget all the amazing matches we've seen this year. These are ten hidden gems from WWE programming in 2022.
Big E vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins, Jan. 3 episode of Raw
The similar fatal five-way from WWE Day 1 likely overshadowed this potential number one contender's match from the Jan. 3 episode of Raw. Still, this was a fun main event where Bobby Lashley continued to look dominant following a strong showing at the pay-per-view.
It also featured an entertaining alliance between Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens. In the end, Lashley prevailed and earned a title shot against Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble. It was bittersweet to see WWE move on so quickly from Big E's reign, but this highly-anticipated dream match gave fans reason to be excited.
AJ Styles vs. Rey Mysterio, Jan. 31 episode of Raw
AJ Styles may not be in the title picture anymore, but he has participated in several exceptional television matches this year. In this Elimination Chamber qualifying match, two legends clashed in what would become a highlight of the Jan. 31 episode of Raw.
The displays of one-upmanship, smooth counters, and thrilling high spots made this one worth the price of admission. The Phenomenal One's inventive transition into the Style Clash was an excellent finish to this contest between two of the best high-flyers ever.
Charlotte Flair vs. Naomi, Feb. 11 episode of SmackDown
On May 16, Naomi and Sasha Banks abruptly left WWE and became the topic of discussion for most of the summer. The Legit Boss stayed relevant all year as she looks to embark on the next chapter in her career in 2023.
Unfortunately, her former tag team partner has been a footnote in some accounts of the most significant headlines of the year. That's a bit of a shame because WWE has consistently missed the opportunity to give her a push or even a meaningful storyline.
Her performance in the main event of the Feb. 11 episode of SmackDown proved that she could shine when given the opportunity. She and Charlotte Flair showcased excellent chemistry together in this sleeper hit.
Ricochet vs. Sami Zayn, Mar. 4 episode of SmackDown
2022 has quietly been Ricochet's best year on the main roster. His short-lived run with the WWE Intercontinental Championship and subsequent feud with Gunther has produced some bangers.
Earlier this year, The One and Only star participated in an underappreciated rivalry with Sami Zayn. Johnny Knoxville may have quickly overshadowed his title win on the March 4 episode of SmackDown, but this was actually a great opening match. The two had a lengthier bout a week later, but this was the better iteration of their matchup.
Asuka vs. Bianca Belair, May 30 episode of Raw
Asuka returned to WWE after a nine-month hiatus during the April 25 episode of Raw. The Japanese star and Becky Lynch went on to challenge Bianca Belair for the brand's women's title in the opening match of Hell in a Cell.
Their outstanding triple-threat match was one of the best WWE pay-per-view matches of the year. However, The Empress of Tomorrow also faced the reigning champion in a losing effort on the go-home episode of Raw.
It may be predictable to fans who don't enjoy non-title matches for bragging rights over a champion. Nevertheless, this is still a rare one-on-one encounter between two of the best women's wrestlers on the roster, and it exceeded expectations.
Riddle vs. Sami Zayn, June 10 episode of SmackDown
2022 has been an incredible year for Sami Zayn. The Honorary Uce has become a breakout star as a surprise addition to The Bloodline, but he has also participated in several noteworthy matches.
His Anything Goes match with Johnny Knoxville from WrestleMania 38 or his appearance in the men's WarGames match will immediately stand out. However, some fans may forget about his competitive exchange with Matt Riddle from the main event of the June 10 episode of SmackDown.
Of course, Riddle churned out a barn burner with Roman Reigns in the following episode, which will likely make plenty of year-end lists. Still, this hotly-contested bout granted him that shot at the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.
Montez Ford vs. Seth Rollins, Aug. 1 episode of Raw
It doesn't take an expert to see that Montez Ford has the makings of a bonafide star. It's only a matter of time before he tries his hand at a run as a singles competitor.
In fact, many fans thought that The Street Profits would split up following their loss to The Usos. WWE commentary even seemed to hint at a breakup angle over the summer, but it never materialized.
Nevertheless, Ford noticeably bulked up this year and stepped up as an in-ring performer. His showing against Seth Rollins from the Aug. 1 episode of Raw was a perfect litmus test for those hoping to see what he can do if he strikes out on his own.
AJ Styles vs. Ciampa, Aug 1 episode of Raw
The episode of Raw following SummerSlam was such a refreshing change of pace. As noted, Ford vs. Rollins was an unexpected highlight of the night.
However, the renewed focus on the United States Championship also produced a fantastic number one contender's match. AJ Styles and Ciampa won their respective triple-threat matches and competed in an awesome one-on-one affair.
Yes, The Miz did interfere to help his new ally secure the win. Still, his interference didn't ruin this fast-paced and hard-hitting matchup. Unfortunately, a hip injury derailed Ciampa's angle with The A-Lister, but this match briefly raised his profile.
Gunther vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Aug. 12 episode of SmackDown
Shinsuke Nakamura seemingly hasn't done much of note in 2022, but The King of Strong Style was actually the reigning Intercontinental champion at the beginning of the year. Then, he and Rick Boogz challenged The Usos for the SmackDown tag titles at WrestleMania 38.
The Japanese superstar and Gunther also tore the house down in the main event of the Aug. 12 episode of SmackDown. His dynamic showdown against The Ring General for WWE's workhorse title gave us glimpses of Nakamura who headlined shows at the Tokyo Dome and captivated a new audience with NXT.
Chad Gable vs. Johnny Gargano, Sept. 12 episode of Raw
On Aug. 22, Johnny Gargano's long-awaited main roster debut started on a high note as he surprised the Toronto crowd. However, the former NXT champion has lost his last few matches, and his storyline with The Miz has been too long.
WWE needs to remind fans what Johnny Wrestling does best as they did in his first match back against Chad Gable. These two put on a clinic, which shouldn't surprise viewers who enjoyed the black and gold era.
Gable is such a tremendous talent. The former Olympian made Gargano look like a promising addition to Monday nights. Hopefully, we will see more matches like this from both men in 2023.