WWE's 2022 MVPs

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01: Sami Zayn is seen on February 1, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. - Photo by Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images

To say 2022 has been an important year for wrestling is vastly underselling how much news, drama, and behind-the-scenes changes has occurred in seemingly everyone's promotion, not just WWE or AEW. And while numerous users and Wrestling sites have already covered ad nauseam the best and worst of this year when it came to moments, matches, wrestlers, PPVs, and new stories, I wanted to look at something different and shine a light on those who’ve in WWE perhaps been valuable assets anytime they’ve been on screen.

To be clear this is not a look at the top acts of the year: I’m not really looking at wrestlers who’ve had good matches on TV and PPV, nor am I going to give easy picks to wrestlers who’ve had streaks of success like say Bianca Belair. I’m looking at those who’ve subtly elevated this year whether it be with fantastic character work in promos and segments, star-making performances, or simply general growth and elevation compared to where they in previous years. Consistency is also key, which is why sadly Cody Rhodes will not be here. Despite having the best return of the year and having one of the best matches of the year, all of it happened in the span of two months. I’m looking at those who were available for most if not all the year. Cody will hopefully have his year in 2023, but for now let’s look at the Most Valuable Wrestlers of 2022.

15. Chad Gable

Chad Gable

No, this is not a joke entry. I really am being serious when I say Chad Gable was one of the MVPs this year. That might seem like an odd statement to say considering his only accomplishment was winning the Raw Tag Titles early in January and since then, he’s been treated as nothing but a glorified jobber.

But as I said, this isn’t necessarily about who’s been over or been getting wins all the time, this is about who’s been a valuable asset and in terms of a solid and reliable midcard, Gable’s been one of the best this year.

He’s always been great in the ring and when he’s been given the time, he’s reminded people of his surprising strength, technical prowess, and cruiserweight agility but where he’s really shone have been in his comedy segments. From the Alpha Academy’s feud with RK-Bro that produced great matches and the Academic Challenges being some of the best RAW segments of the year, to his segments with Kurt Angle, hell even being the one to do a moonsault into an RKO, he’s been underappreciated in helping make some of the best TV this year.

Hopefully with Triple H in charge of creative, the regular appearances can actually start including big wins in 2023, and with the dorky attitude combined with legitimate wrestling talent, be the second coming of Kurt Angle. The year of Academic Excellences, ah thank you!

14. Liv Morgan

Liv Morgan

Given the scope of the women’s roster and given it isn’t as broad as the men’s, there aren’t a lot of underdog women in WWE’s history. Sure there are several who are underutilized or underappreciated but for the most part, most women given title opportunities or who’ve been tangentially close to the title scene have won the big one. Even Gail Kim, someone famously underused by WWE, has a singular Woman’s Title reign under her name. That’s why the story of Liv Morgan is so interesting.

A sudden single push and feud with a heel Becky Lynch towards the end of 2021 saw her build up fan momentum and resulted in several good. And while she didn’t win her match, it no doubt helped build Morgan up as one of the top babyface acts in the Women’s division. All of the organic fan swell culminated on her biggest moment to date: winning the Money in the Bank briefcase and cashing in later that night on Ronda Rousey to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship to an enormous reaction.

And while there are still detractors of Miss Gionna Daddio, not exactly helped by a lackluster title run and still inconsistent in-ring work and mic skills, you can’t deny the fan support she’s gotten and let’s hope she’s able to sustain that support while improving as a performer. She’s got potential to be a top babyface for many years.

13. Roxanne Perez

Roxanne Perez

The youngest person on this list both in terms of age as well as time spent in WWE and yet despite only debuting in May, the former Rok-C has quickly become one of more accomplished wrestlers of the Shawn Michaels era of NXT.

I’m not really one for listening stats and wins as title and tournament wins are only as good if it amounts to much or if the person actually gets over. But since debuting in May, she’s won the inaugural Women’s Breakout Tournament, won the NXT Women’s Tag Titles with former best friend Cora Jade before eating Jade over the next few months, won the very first Iron Survivor challenge and most of all, the chosen one picked to finally dethrone Mandy Rose for the NXT Women’s Championship.

In less than a year, Perez has managed to get organically over thanks to her natural babyface charisma and solid workrate nature - shining in matches with Rhea Ripley, Tiffany Stratton, Meiko Satomura, and yes, Mandy Rose. Now on top of the NXT Women’s division and with various women such as Zoey Stark, Kiana James, Cora Jade, Isla Dawn, and Tiffany Stratton (another breakout women talent this year) hungry and ready, Roxanne’s future looks very bright.

12. Logan Paul

Logan Paul

I like many, groaned when they heard Logan Paul had been signed to a full time deal and would even be working matches after his appearance at Wrestlemania 37. Selling a stunner well was one thing, but a celebrity coming in even for a part-time deal to work matches, let alone someone as controversial as Logan Paul? It seemed like a recipe for a go-away heat disaster.

And yet, despite his limitations on the mic and being miscast as an underdog babyface after WrestleMania rather than an easily unlikeable heel and having only three matches in 2022, Logan Paul became one of the best and reliable marquee attractions WWE has found in a while, someone they can call upon to make headlines and give a good match in the process. The idea of Logan Paul fighting whoever was always going to draw eyes to the product, whether people wanted to admit it or not but the fact he’s taken so quickly to the business and gotten more than just the fundamentals in only three matches, that’s something to be in awe of.

Sure, most of this entry might be down to his show stealing match at Crown Jewel, but he more than showed his talents at both Wrestlemania and Summerslam. His speed and athleticism in the ring, his timing for spots never coming at the expense of underdog babyface selling, and his charisma to get the crowd on his side are traits that have eluded even veteran wrestlers. And he’s managed to get all three in less than a year.

To some, the stain of the Paul brothers has yet to be fully washed away. I won’t dictate whether it’s right or wrong to move on from their controversial past but it’s undeniable that his contributions this year have been mostly positive. It’s an experiment that could’ve easily blown up in WWE’s face and yet imagine telling someone a year ago, wrestling fans would be excited and actually want to see more of Logan Paul in the ring.

11. Carmelo Hayes

Carmelo Hayes

While the new era of NXT has without a doubt had a rollercoaster of a year going with Shawn Michaels at the head of the booker chair and going through the 2.0 and now White and Gold rebranding. It’s gone through many highs and lows, received fan backlash and derision to a more positive reevaluation and high praise, seen controversial gimmick changes and unexpected people get over.

No matter what’s happened though, one of the most consistent acts on the show and biggest success stories since the Black and Gold Era has been that of Carmelo Hayes. Since cashing in his Breakout Tournament title opportunity on Isaiah "Swerve" Scott and aligning himself with newcomer Trick Williams, Melo has established himself as an ultra-charismatic workhorse and through his many show-stealing defenses - with special mention to his matches with Ricochet, Cameron Grimes, and Grayson Waller, he’s solidified himself as the best North American Champion to date.

The way he carries himself in and out of the ring is pure talent in the ring and earned swagger out of it, as he says; Melo don’t miss. Whether he continues to shine in NXT or hits in the main roster, he's a future star that needs to shine even more.

10. Roman Reigns

Roman Reign

There might be a bit of a surprise that PWI’s Wrestler of the Year is down so low, especially since the storyline he’s created - The Bloodline - is currently one of the best factions and best storylines in company history. But his part time status this year - not to mention an underwhelming build and Mania match with Lesnar - has meant I can’t really.

But dare I say it, Roman might be the least interesting piece of the story. Don’t get me wrong: Reigns’ present is omnipresent, always with an unspoken air of authority similar to Galactus to the Emperor. And when he is on the show, he carries himself incredibly. He’s absolutely gearing for a Hollywood career because of his facial expression.
And despite not being around weekly or event from PLE to PLE, he’s still the biggest act. And he’s still had great matches this year against Seth Rollins, Matt Riddle, Logan Paul, and a ludicrously entertaining Last Man Standing Match against Lesnar, almost redeeming their Mania Main Event.

If this is a list full of MVPs, Roman is the star player kept for the final quarter of the game to clinch the victory. And sometimes, you don’t need the star player.

9. Bron Breakker

Bron Breakker

If we’re going to talk about success from the new era of NXT, we have to talk about Bron Breakker. From the very first episode of NXT 2.0, the son of Rick Steiner has always been penciled in for great things. And since the passing of the torch from Tomasso Ciampa, he’s more than lived up to the hype and justified his push as the face of the White and Gold era. He’s the prime talent, intensity, and even agility of the Steiners in their prime with the natural charisma of his uncle. And despite odd feuds with Dolph Ziggler and Joe Gacy, he’s remained top champion and the face of NXT for a reason.

He’s by no means a perfect in-ring worker yet but he’s more than held his own against more experienced ring generals like JD McDonagh, Tyler Bate, Cameron Grimes, and Ilja Dragunov, helping to create some of the best matches of the NXT rebranding. More than anything, much like Carmelo Hayes, the young Steiner has carried himself like a star and importantly one who’s more than capable of being in a main event position. If NXT truly is reverting back to a developmental system of crafting future stars, then they've more than succeeding in making a future main eventer in Bron Breakker.

8. Mandy Rose

Mandy Rose (TA)

(For the record this is not a pity entry, I had Toxic Attraction penciled in weeks before Mandy’s untimely release)

Mandy Rose, Gigi Dolin, and Jacy Jayne’s accent to the top has been controversial to say the least as many fans of the IWC seeing the pair’s push as a regression of the old days of the Attitude and Ruthless Aggression Era mentality of prioritizing looks and beauty over talent and skill. We can debate whether they should’ve been pushed to the top or whether they've been good for the NXT and their women’s division but what’s not to be debated is the push has been a success in elevating two former indie talents as credible tag wrestlers and in making Mandy Rose the biggest star she’s ever been.

Regardless of their in-ring calibur, neither of the three women have fallen into recent trappings of typical chicken shit heels of fluking their way into victories. They’ve used dirty handed tactics but have generally used intelligence and cunning to get the upper hand. And as one of the first truly dominant female faction in WWE, even more dominant than Lay-Cool and even more so than the stagnating, Triple H pushed Damage CNTRL.

And particularly praise has to go to Mandy Rose, not only in having the second most title defenses in NXT Women’s history, only behind Asuka’s legendary reign, but because she’s more than stepped up to the plate when it comes to higher profile defenses. The fatal-four way defense at Stand & Deliver, an underrated battle with Zoey Stark, unifying the NXT and NXT UK Championships against Blair Davenport and Meiko Satomura, and her matches with Roxanne Perez, she's more than proven herself to be the top woman in NXT.

Yes she isn’t a smooth ring general, yes their segments could get stale, and the attempt at marketing them for their sex appeal was cringeworthy (and eventually hypocritical following Rose’s release) but between the dominant booking, title defenses, and length of the reign that probably would’ve surpassed Shayna Baszler and being able to handle herself thanks to her charisma and presence, Mandy will go down as the second best NXT Women’s Champion of all time, like it or not.

In the words of the woman: put some respect on her name!



Success for the wrestler formerly known as WALTER wasn’t particularly guaranteed with his main roster call-up. And yet despite a controversial name change earlier this year and talk of actually being buried by Vince McMahon before the disgraced CEO had resigned, GUNTHER has not only thrived on the main roster, he’s become one of the top acts on Smackdown in just a short amount of time.

What’s great is that little has actually changed about his presentation, it’s that now him being on a bigger stage hasn’t meant more eyes on his unique, old-school presentation and wrestling style. In just a short amount of time, he’s become one of the best Intercontinental Champions of the last 10 years. With hard hitting and acclaimed matches with Shinsuke Nakamura, Ricochet, a dream match with Rey Mysterio, and an already certified classic in Wales against Sheamus.

And with the opportunity to wrestle more taller, beefier opponents (including talks of a match with Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania), the legacy for the Ring General will only grow louder and louder with every chop.

Give us all the big men slapping meat please.

6. Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley

Dominik and Rhea

I could really put all of Judgment Day on this list as they’re consistently one of the entertaining acts on Raw, surviving what some deemed as a career killer by booting Edge prematurely, giving Damien Priest a new purpose and personality, and rejuvenating Finn Balor to actually feeling like a person of value for the first time since his main roster call-up back in 2016. But to me, you have to look at the two acts the stable has helped the most.

I don’t care what anyone says: Dominik Mysterio is the best heel in the company right now and one of the best heels in wrestling PERIOD. Whilst wrestlers like Roman Reigns and GUNTHER command an unstoppable, final boss aura, and people like MJF and Chris Jericho have consistently evolved their character work but still maintain a sense of respect from the audience, all Dominik has to do is mention him being part of the Judgment Day for the crowd to absolutely boo. He just effortlessly radiates this smug douchebag energy that you just want to see someone wipe this smug little shit’s smile off his stupid slick back hair. And while yes he’s been the punching bag for the faction for the most part, it makes it even better when he eeks out a win against people like AJ Styles or takes credit for a tag win when he got beat up for the majority of it.

And of course, all of this is made possible thanks to Rhea Ripley. She’s been drawing a lot of Chyna comparisons by actually getting physical with the men and being one of the most dominant and protected women since her heel turn earlier this year. Not just with simple low blows or pushing wrestlers off the top either, Dominating Dom as a way to get him to join the faction, body slamming Luke Gallows, even being booked to win a match against Akira Tozawa! Rhea is currently pegged (don’t get any thoughts) to win the Royal Rumble and many are saying she should be the one to dethrone Bianca Belair and have the division built around her. With how she’s been booked and protected, she’s more than ready to be the top women not just on Raw but maybe even the company. What Mami wants, Mami should absolutely get. And lets hope her Dom also gets some leather (with gold) around his waist this year.

5. Sheamus


I think people forget that prior to the middle of 2022, it didn’t seem like this would be one of Sheamus’ best ever years. After all in the same night his faction of the Brawling Brutes rebranded Pete Dunne into BUTCH with a Scrappy Doo-esque gimmick, an errant overhead suplex from Ridge Holland led to the beloved Big E breaking his neck and indefinitely putting him out of action.

But with Triple H taking over, there was suddenly a focus on Sheamus talents as one of the best brawlers in WWE. And after one of the company's best ever matches at Clash at the Castle, even in defeat, Sheamus was over. With one match, Sheamus was the most over he’d ever been and he and the Brawling Brutes had turned into one of the most over acts on Smackdown. Hell, on the PLE after Extreme Rules, it was Sheamus on the card, not GUNTHER. It was Sheamus who’d gotten over with the crowd that he was the one to challenge the Bloodline to WarGames.

It’s rare that people are able to have the career renaissance that Sheamus has had over the past few years. And while we don’t know how much he’s got left in the tank. But for now let's celebrate the man for giving us banger after banger after banger.

4. The Usos


It feels odd to say the Usos have elevated themselves this year after almost 5 years of proving themselves to be one of the best tag teams in WWE, if not one of the best tag teams in the industry.

Having spent a year as champions, defending them with various teams including having an unexpected MOTY candidate with the Street Profits at Money in the Bank, unifying the Raw and Smackdown Tag Titles against RK-Bro, and then breaking the record for longest Reign against the New Day, if they aren't one of the best tag teams ever, I don't know what else they have to do besides go on a belt collecting spree in different companies.

And of course we have to talk about Jey and Jimmy’s unique interactions and evolving dynamics with Sami over the past few months. From Jimmy's friendly demeanor to Jey's pissed off bulldog snarl at Sami before all three finally get along and embrace after Survivor Series, it was masterful storytelling.

Even if their reigns are coming to an end, they've more than proven they they are the Ones for a reason.

3. Kevin Owens

Kevin Owens

Most of the participants below have benefited most from Triple H’s movement at creative but for the Top 3, they’ve consistently thrived no matter if it was at the top making creative decisions.

Kevin Owens has always been a reliable and respected talent the past 6 years for both good in-ring work and his gift on the mic. I mean when you’re handpicked by the company to main event Wrestlemania with a returning Steve Austin and cut promos to build the feud all by yourself, you’re probably in a good spot.

What separates Owens from others is his chameleon ability to adapt to any program regardless of tone. From a dumb comedy feud with a debuting Ezekiel to living his dream with a feel good program with Steve Austin to his role as the badass Prize Fighter cutting incredible promos on Austin Theory and Drew McIntyre to his work with the Bloodline and especially reigniting his rivalry with Sami Zayn and becoming a credible contender to Roman again. It’s been one of his best years on the main roster since 2016 and hopefully he can continue the momentum with his best friend in 2022…well either of them.

2. Seth Rollins


Earlier this year, Seth Rollins made the comment that despite having several world titles, he’s never felt like one of ‘The Guys’ in the company, I’d argue he’s been the one of the most consistent players for big storyline events, being part of almost every PLE this year - save for SummerSlam, and like Owens being consistently great in anything he’s done.

>He and Roman Reigns put on the only good thing at this year’s Royal Rumble with their match and especially his troll entrance as a member of the Shield. He was the handpicked opponent to help reintroduce Cody Rhodes at this year’s WrestleMania and helped protect a one-armed, injured Cody in one of the best Hell in a Cell matches ever. His feud with Matt Riddle led to great TV segments - including a shocking staged interview - as well as a great match at Clash at the Castle and the introduction of the Fight Pit to the main roster. His slow babyface turn from people loving his theme music has elevated not only the U.S. Title to being one of the top championships on RAW, but has also helped Austin Theory feel like a bigger deal more than a WrestleMania match or Money in the Bank win ever did.

While he may rub some the wrong way with his intentionally annoying laugh and the gaudy outfits, whether you like his gimmick or not, it’s only added to his presentation and has helped cement him as one of the top acts in the company. Throughout the year, Seth Rollins has always been there, always laughing, always annoying, but also always entertaining. And if that’s not the traits of one of ‘The Guys’, well hopefully he gets more main event slots to solidify that niggling urge.

1. Sami Zayn


…I mean I feel like most would have predicted this from the title.

It’s funny that Sami is seen as everyone's favorite wrestler in WWE right now. He’s only had four PLE matches this year, in fact with the exception of his Wrestlemania match, andhe’s statistically had one of the worst win-lose odds all year,

But as I said earlier, this isn’t about which wrestlers had the best matches, it's who's been valuable for making the product more entertaining and no act this year has elevated any segment they’ve been a part of more than Sami Zayn.

I think most tend to overlook that prior to joining, what seemed like a random and waste of time feud with Johnny Knoxville ended up producing one of the best comedy matches in WWE history. Since Johnny Knoxville wasn’t consistently appearing on Smackdown, Sami basically did most of the feud’s programs by himself, including crashing a real red carpet event for Jackass Forever. It’s almost reminiscent of Jericho feuding with Dean Malenko while Malenko was away.

But of course it’s all about the Bloodline storyline. What could’ve easily been a throwaway program that Sami himself said wasn’t supposed to last more than a few weeks, he single handedly rejuvenated what had been becoming a stagnant faction and storyline into one of the most engaging stories in WWE history. If the past few years weren’t proof enough, this was the year that Zayn showed himself to be one of the best actors. The slow-build of backstage segments of talking to the Usos to him finally meeting Roman, the various times he’s been able to make everyone break character, and every moment of dread where it feels like he’ll be kicked out for making a slight error, it’s all been great subtle pantomime that no other wrestler in really doing. Practically the entire Survivor Series PLE was centered around Sami’s allegiance to the Bloodline and that moment where Jey finally hugs Sami got one of the biggest reactions of the event.

And despite being part of one of the biggest heel factions ever and assisting in heel beatdowns, Sami’s become one of the biggest crowd babyfaces. The segment where he’s finally acknowledged by Roman as part of the Bloodline is one of the best feel good segments of all time. There’d even been audiences chanting and clamoring for Sami in Saudi Arabia despite Zayn legally being forbidden from entering the country.

All eyes are on what they have Sami do in 2023 with many hoping that the new fan support leads to a World Title win, perhaps with Sami even being the chosen one to dethrone Roman Reigns. Whatever it is, let’s hope something good happens to Sami after being WWE’s MVP of 2022.

The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Cageside Seats readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cageside Seats editors or staff.