AEW 2022 Awards for Best Match, Wrestler, Tag Team, PPV, Storyline, Promo and Moment
All Elite Wrestling had one of its most difficult years in 2022 as injuries and unexpected controversies caused changes to creative plans and short-notice shifts across the board.
Still, the men and women of the company picked up the pieces and carried on, ensuring the fans of the promotion would have matches, moments and stars they could invest in and point to as their favorite of 2022.
What were those contests? How did the moments affect the company moving forward? Which male and female wrestlers left the greatest impression on the audience from an in-ring perspective over the last 12 months?
Find out now with these year-end awards for wrestling's most beloved major promotion.
Best Tag Team: FTR
This is one award not up for debate.
FTR was head and shoulders above every other team in AEW in 2022, and it is not even remotely close.
Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler established themselves as the premier team in professional wrestling this year, backing up their claims of greatness through show-stealing matches and some of the best bouts anyone will see from any company.
The trilogy of matches against The Briscoes from the three Ring of Honor pay-per-view events alone would win them this award, but when you factor in one of the best bouts of the year against The Young Bucks in April, their contest with The Acclaimed in December and an all-world showdown with New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Aussie Open, one simply cannot deny the excellence of the seven-star tandem.
FTR was so good this year that Harwood damn near earned himself the Male Wrestler of the Year Award for his efforts in singles competition against the likes of Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli, among others.
Best Promo: MJF Shoots on Tony Khan
Real life bled over onto the television screen in our best promo of the year.
MJF, frustrated with his position in the company and his contractual status, had no-showed an autograph signing and then unceremoniously left following a squash match loss to Wardlow at Double or Nothing.
Defiant over his perceived value in relation to what was actually on his paycheck, he showed up to the following Wednesday's Dynamite to air his grievances in front of a live audience.
And did he ever.
The Generational Talent laid into Tony Khan, talking about the moments and matches he created and taking exception to the competitors who arrived from other promotions and were treated better creatively and financially than him.
MJF took months, years even, of frustration and laid it out for the world to see. To the point that his mic was cut to avoid any serious vulgarities making air.
By the time he exited the arena, he was the most buzzed-about professional wrestler on the planet and Khan had no choice but to try to smooth things over with him. He made himself even more valuable to the promotion with one promo.
So valuable that he became the centerpiece of creative in the fall and, at November's Full Gear, realized his potential with an AEW World Championship victory over Jon Moxley.
The only promo that really stands out as an even close No. 2? Also MJF, this time with Ricky Starks, in a preview of their championship clash on the December 14 episode of Dynamite.
Best PPV: AEW Full Gear
AEW did not have a single pay-per-view event that really stood out among others as their best of 2022. Every show had something good or great, but the company struggled to put together a complete event this year,
The closest thing to it was November's Full Gear, which featured a great AEW World Trios Championship match between Death Triangle and the returning Elite, a solid world title bout that saw MJF finally ascend to the top of the company by way of his win over Jon Moxley, a strong women's title match featuring Toni Storm and Jamie Hayter, and The Acclaimed defeating Swerve In Our Glory one last time to prove they were the legit tag team champs.
The wrestling was anywhere from very good to great and showed signs of the company AEW would hope to be by the end of the year. There was greater emphasis on fresh, new, young faces and enough of the favorites to keep things interesting.
It felt like the culmination of several journeys and a potential launching point for what one can only hope will be a better 2023.
Easily the most coherent broadcast and forward-thinking effort by AEW this year.
Best Moment: Wheeler Yuta Earns His Way Into Blackpool Combat Club
There was some doubt on the part of William Regal, Jon Moxley and Bryan Danielson that Wheeler Yuta belonged in the Blackpool Combat Club earlier in the year. A former member of Best Friends, the Philadelphia native had to prove himself worthy of inclusion in the elite group.
He did just that on the April 8 episode of AEW Rampage.
Yuta took an ass-whupping from Moxley, the former world champion beating the unholy hell out of him in an attempt to test his toughness. Yuta was resilient, though, countering Moxley's best stuff and kicking out of his trademark Paradigm Shift finisher.
His face bloodied, Yuta dared Moxley to bring more, and the Death Rider did just that. Yuta, though, continued to counter and reverse his way out of it all. That is until he found himself in the grasp of Moxley and the bulldog choke. He was put to sleep, his chances of upsetting his opponent passing him by.
Win or lose, it did not matter as Regal and Danielson hit the ring, the former extending his hand in a show of respect and in acceptance of him as the newest member of the faction.
Yuta may not be the most electrifying personality, but he can channel all of his emotions and thoughts into his in-ring performance and translate it to the audience, which was undeniably behind him by the end of the bout.
A genuine star-making performance.
Best Storyline: CM Punk vs. MJF
The rivalry between CM Punk and MJF may have started in 2021, but it escalated with the turning of the calendar, leading to the hotly anticipated match between The Straight Edge Superstar and The Generational Talent on February 2.
MJF won that match with an assist from Wardlow, and the feud continued to intensify before culminating in a good, old-fashioned Dog Collar match at Revolution in March. Punk won, ironically enough assisted by Wardlow.
The program saw MJF battle his idol and raise his game while doing so. We had seen the young star compete against the likes of Chris Jericho and Cody Rhodes earlier in his AEW run, but the program with Punk helped elevate him to an entirely different level.
The promo work featured some of the best from two of the masters of the mic, while the in-ring action was cerebral and methodical and gave fans who may not be as into the party-style trios matches something they could invest in.
There were other solid feuds throughout the year, but none brought the emotional intensity of Punk vs. MJF, making it the undisputed winner here.
Best Match: Orange Cassidy vs. Will Ospreay (AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door)
Orange Cassidy and Will Ospreay had no build to speak of, but that did not stop them from going to the ring at the AEW x New Japan Pro-Wrestling Forbidden Door crossover PPV and having the best match of the year.
Was it a flashy display of high-flying action? No. Was it a party match with big spots and no substance? Nope.
Instead, Cassidy and Ospreay told the story of a celebrated in-ring performer taking an unserious comedy wrestler for granted and finding out the hard way that the afterthought was more dangerous than he could have ever imagined.
Cassidy exploded with Orange Punch, his trademark tornado DDT and a Beach Break, all of which nearly upset the overconfident Ospreay. The crowd erupted for every one of the two-counts, believing the unthinkable to be near.
Ospreay weathered the storm and ultimately won, but not before Cassidy earned the respect of him and the AEW faithful as a wrestler far better than preconceptions suggested.
Note: The FTR vs. Briscoes matches were not considered as they occurred on official Ring of Honor pay-per-views, which were presented as separate from AEW.
Best Women's Wrestler: Hikaru Shida
Hikaru Shida may not have benefited from the television exposure that other eligible competitors may have, but she was the best in-ring performer on the roster by a sizeable margin.
The former women's champion engaged Serena Deeb in one of the most underrated rivalries of the year, a hard-hitting affair that saw them bring an entirely different style to the show than the other women on the roster.
From there, she had randomly placed matches against Nyla Rose, Dr. Britt Baker, Toni Storm and The Bunny before putting an exclamation point on her year in the form of an AEW World Women's Championship Match against Jamie Hayter on the December 21 episode of Dynamite that ranked as one of the 10 best AEW matches of 2022.
A superb wrestler, Shida has earned better than the inconsistent exposure that she has received of late. Given the strength of her work, it would behoove Tony Khan to find ways to keep her relevant and prominent moving forward.
Hayter certainly earned consideration based on her breakout year, but it is difficult to award anyone else when Shida's work was among the best of her career.
Best Men's Wrestler: Jon Moxley
Nobody did more to bring some sort of consistency to AEW in 2022 than Jon Moxley.
Whether it was regularly competing on the company's television or carrying the world title on two separate occasions when injury or controversy struck, he was the guy and face of AEW over the last year.
His bulldog tenacity in matches with the aforementioned Wheeler Yuta and newcomer Konosuke Takeshita, all the way to CM Punk and Chris Jericho, provided the show with a grittiness and toughness that set his work apart from others.
The fans responded favorably, blowing the roof off for the double-tough, no-nonsense badass and respecting him doubly for stepping up when the promotion most needed him.
Moxley was a figurehead, a stabilizer and the most consistently great wrestler on the AEW roster. There is no denying that he has better matches at a greater clip than anyone else on the roster and was essential to righting the proverbial ship following the events of All Out in September and the far-reaching consequences it had on AEW's creative plans.
Then, when the time came, he put over MJF in the world title match at Full Gear to really hammer home his commitment to the company and its long-term future.
A lesser talent could not have handled everything thrown at Moxley, who negated a planned vacation for the sake of the company. All things considered, his year was one of great selflessness, and that should absolutely be taken into consideration alongside the wealth of extraordinary in-ring performances.