First things first, this is an Occurred List. These are Wrestlers, it occurred to me, I remember enjoying watching and wanting to see more of them in 2023.
I didn’t think all that deeply about it and perhaps if I had, other names would have popped up and it would have been a 22 Wrestlers list for 2022 – those names appear in the final paragraph and are no worse or better than those highlighted in this piece.
As a creature of habit in what has been a challenging 2022, I rushed to the safety of wrestling promotions I watched regularly. These names feature from those wrestling promotions.
And so, here are those Wrestlers who caught my eye in wrestling in 2022.
JPR | UK Wrestling
The self-professed loudest man in wrestling, air horn in hand and light up jacket pulling focus, this proud gentleman is the UKW champ.
Actually, he won it twice in 2022, the first with a broken ankle. Yes, a broken ankle. And not only that, he had to wrestle twice that night, winning it early on, and losing it later.
Actually, he won it 3 times, I forgot the win over the enormous, unstoppable Mustafa Khan which was immediately overturned on a technicality.
This man went from commentary to heel switch to revealing on my podcast that he only did that as part of a master plan to destabilise a heel stable, to becoming a hugely popular champ.
Emotional and easy to wind up, JPR keeps finding a way of winning and yet there’s always the feeling that his title reign is brittle.
Shalonce Royale | OVW
What a gimmick. Shalonce has an operatic type of voice and she wants us all to know about it. That’s why she sings on the way to the ring, with a head mic, and then punctuates her moves with high, piercing notes. She blasts her opponents and some refs with that too.
She’s powerful and innovative in that ring too, recently won the OVW women’s title and has an excellent Twitter game. This is Shalonce’s time.
JR Kratos | NJPW Strong
Kratos is huge. He’s also mobile and has an excellent promo game. This is an impressive offer and he works really well with it.
His work in NJPW Strong with another excellent tough guy strongman, Magnum lookalike Alex Coughlin, has been pretty stunning and he has Team Filthy’s backing too, so we know he’s in a good place.
Although Kratos came up short against Fred Rosser for the Openweight belt on the last NJPW Strong episode, it is surely only a matter of time before he sits atop this, or his other promotion, the NWA.
Mike Anthony | Memphis Wrestling
The champ is here! Mike is the Memphis Wrestling Heritage champ, which he won sneakily in a 3-way dance from his nemesis Brett Michaels.
Every champ creates an atmosphere in the promotion they’re at the head of. Memphis Wrestling is fun and very entertaining, which makes Mike’s moments so interesting.
You see, Mike is a layered offer, he has remarkable intensity, complete confidence and a sense that he could attack you just for breathing, combined with a seeming coward’s streak which has seen him hire other operatives to beat up other Wrestlers.
And then there’s his selling, he makes other Wrestlers look good, for instance reacting to the shots from younger, just out of the Memphis wrestling training centre, Big John Dalton. His selling works so well, the size of the selling works with the size of the character.
I can’t wait to see what the Mike Anthony era creates.
KiLynn King | Coastal Championship Wrestling
The ‘Mother F’ing King’ may have lost her Coastal Championship Wrestling Women’s title to Marina Tucker in an amazing Triple Threat match in which she wasn’t actually pinned, but KiLynn King has been a mainstay of CCW Alive on YouTube along with Brian Cage and Ariel Levy.
Her matches just sing with Wrestling goodness, she has a long and lean gait which gives her a reach advantage and she uses it to her advantage to hit extraordinary, stunning moves.
Check out her recent cage match with Tucker; classy because they actually wrestle in the cage, rather than let the cage take the strain.
Chris Castle | UKW
He’s had a good year, has Chris Castle. Simple perhaps, but hard to sustain for much of the year – Castle is an arrogant heel with little connection to reality; Castle thinks he’s the hardest-working man in UKW and Castle thinks that his work is fabulous.
Thing is, he’s been a champion and in the ring, he has a surprising quality of move set and some power too; this is a very good idea as just to have him beaten on by other UKW wrestlers regularly could have buried his heel work.
Arriving as a ref who seemed to align himself to wrestlers in the main heel faction the Persian Empire, made a member and working as a constant loudmouth, Castle is easy to boo but also very easy to like.
The West Coast Wrecking Crew | NJPW Strong
OK, I know it’s 2 men, that’s what a tag team is, fans and this combo of Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson are setting NJPW Strong alight.
Aligned with the nasty and successful Team Filthy, they may have fallen short in the first Strong Tag Team tournament, but surely it’s only a matter of time before the belts are around their waists.
Isaacs’ freakish strength, Nelson’s high- flying action, Isaacs’ high-flying action, and Nelson’s freakish strength, the West Coast Wrestling Crew have it going on.
Leonie Rose Is A Wrestler to Watch in UKW
The best Playground Heel in wrestling at the moment, Leonie Rose is currently the UKW women’s champ. I say currently because she’s dropped that strap a few times recently.
Whether she has the belt or not, she won’t shut up and the main tenor of her discourse is that it’s not fair.
How she’s treated when made to defend the belt, how she’s treated when not made to defend the belt; UKW can’t win, Rose’s whining continues, as well as kicking out at the guardrails, which separate fans from Wrestlers, of course.
Perhaps patterned after Brit Wrestling excellence Lana Austin, that’s a great example to use, but just like Austin, Rose is also rather excellent in the ring and mixes it up with male Wrestlers too; matching and often beating them.
Another heel we love to hate.
Chris Ridgeway | From North West Strong to The Arc
Uncompromising attack is the name of the game from North West Strong stalwart Ridgeway and this year his excellent work has been recognised in other countries as he was successful in the GHC tag team picture with NOAH.
Having seen his work close up (No more than 3 feet distance), I can confirm how much sauce there is on those amazing kicks, but he can tie Wrestlers up like a pretzel.
You have to be a tough and consistent wrestling excellence to allow you to lay back on the wacky character and nasty promos.
Chris Ridgeway is.
K-Toomer | Find Him In Memphis Wrestling
That’s what the purveyor of Fatjitsu K-Toomer likes to tell us. He’s making a huge impact in Memphis Wrestling.
Is he big and powerful? Sho ‘Nuff.
Does he get off his feet to hit a variety of kicks? Sho ‘Nuff.
Did he tell my podcast he wanted to just get better before wearing any belts? Sho ‘Nuff.
Is he a future champ for Memphis? Say it with me…
They Also Were Glimpsed
So many excellent Wrestlers, so little space, like Kidd Bandit, a whirlwind of high-impact moves and a lovely character which beds fans to take the journey with they/them.
Richard Holliday has delivered some horrible angles since he became a heel and was shoved together with real-life girlfriend Alicia Atout and onscreen face-hugging ensued; his in-ring work in hardcore matches, where blood really flowed was good to watch and kept his rich heel persona together to be personable and nasty; that’s tough to do.
So many more Wrestlers; Wheeler Yuta, Danny Limelight, Joe Sedgwick and Johann Hunt, Jacob Reid, Mo Mentumm, Jason Genesis, Trace Hunt, Austin Lane – good God, Wrestling is in good health. And a special mention for Steven/William/Lord Regal for enjoying himself, making his colleagues feel discomfort and being a pantomime dame in a wrestling promotion.
There’s no one quite like him.
There’s nothing quite like Wrestlers.
There’s nothing quite like Wrestling.